Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ringing. Endorsement.

Pantera. Mogwai. Earth Crisis. Boy Sets Fire. Unsane. Hatebreed. Metallica. Dinosaur Jr. Helmet. Deftones. Shellac. Spudmonsters. State of Conviction. Tool. Mushroomhead. Soulfly. Quicksand. And on.

And on.

And on.

The list of "loud" bands I have seen play live is virtually endless. And I have probably played 40+ shows in pretty "loud" bands myself.

When things get loud, I throw in some cheapo earplugs. Or toilet paper. It's not usually an issue.

So here I am, at the age where I am easily in the upper age echelon of people who see shows. Except at last week's Swans show, where I was probably the median age. Maybe younger?

And most of these guys playing are, eh, not young, at least for rock and roll. Or whatever you call the noise Swans makes.

Yet they are the first band ever to run me out of the club because of volume.

It was the first time I had seen them, and maybe I should have been better prepared, based on the past:

One of the trademarks of Swans' early period was playing at painfully loud volumes during concerts, to the point where some audience members would vomit or the police would stop the show....Since Swans' reformation, Gira has made a point of maintaining the intensity of their live show, stating that it is at once "soul-uplifting and body-destroying". He has also developed a penchant for turning off the air conditioning before Swans perform, comparing the experience to a Native American sweat lodge.

I left because it was no longer enjoyable. Because I felt sick, and because I want hearing when I'm 80. I am 100% sure that it was incredibly louder than anything I have ever heard.

In other words, I let a bunch of dudes easily old enough to be my dad force me out of club because they were playing too loud.

I have officially lost all cred and will now be only attending Jimmy Buffet cover band concerts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Something new to worry about

Biker's Lung.

If you read the press release from the European Lung Foundation, however, it states that the study only looked at ten people: five bicycle commuters, five pedestrian commuters.

The results make sense though. I'd like to know how much of the higher black carbon levels is due to the proximity of the bicyclists to the cars (opposed to the pedestrians), and how much is due to the bicycle commuters breathing deeper while riding.

And were the black carbon levels exhibited by the bicycle commuters dangerous, or close to dangerous?

I also often wonder about the healthiness of breathing in the road salt mixture when riding on dry days in winter, after a snowfall.

I also often wonder about the healthiness of worrying about stuff like this all of the time.

That may cause more health problems than the deadly black carbon urban cyclist lung.

And that is a shame.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pizza legs

My pre-race meals tend not to be generally accepted by the people who determine the answers to these types of important, world-changing issues.

As such, I will resort to the excuse of pizza legs for a really crappy performance at the Tour of the Valley criterium.

Normally, this type of stuff is kept on the down low, but a certain investigative photojournalist exposed my methods with a rare race appearance on Sunday.

What's not to love about sitting around watching a bike race in the middle of the afternoon on a 90+ degree day.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Observations from the weekend of the Fourth

(1) I have confirmed that Taco Tontos is my favorite place for burritos in the entire universe. If I lived near Kent, I would be morbidly obese. And happy.

(2) The best way to deal with a fireworks display across the street from your house and an Alex dog that is terrified of fireworks is to go somewhere not near a fireworks display. I think he had the most pleasant Fourth of July he has had in a while.

(3) The Medina Twin Sizzler was very fun this year due to the organizers agreeing to allow all "experts" to race together, instead of having us youngsters be caught (again) by the hulking 35+ expert peloton.

Fourth overall, first under 35 expert. Where's my Cat 1 upgrade now, USA Cycling?

(4) After busting out of the Twin Sizzler and being home and napping by the time I would have gotten my boss gold medal from the race, I played with the Reuben, the American Black and Tan Coonhound, to celebrate the day. He is quite the patriot. (Video courtesy of Katie).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Okkervil, Titus, and racing

On Saturday, I drove three hours round trip to race the 72-mile state road race, before turning around to go to Columbus to see Okkervil River and Titus Andronicus at the Newport Music Hall.


Titus Andronicus:

Having never seen Titus Andronicus before, I suspected that they would be best enjoyed in a small, blue-collar club somewhere in Jersey. I think I am right, but they still managed to kill it in the bigger music hall setting.

I had been waiting to see Okkervil River for some time now, and they were as good as I wanted them to be, even though their set list was a lot different that what I was hoping for.

As for the bike race, I spent nearly 50 miles in some form of a breakaway, took ninth, and teammate Aussie took second after a superhuman effort by Brian, who soloed away for the win with 8 miles to go.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Covered Bridge #2

Since I wrote a race report for the team, I thought I would post it here also. Yes, this will be the second consecutive entry that can be considered a "race report" on this blog.

No, I have not been kidnapped by someone who stole my Blogger password and likes to write race reports all the time.

Yes, the "clean set of wheels" part is meant to sound ridiculous and is a reference to a phrase used by a well known bike racing announcer.

Yes, the next post will be about someting other than a "race report."

I hope.

Aussie (Rob), Scott, Derek, Tom K., Brett, and myself lined up for Team Spin at the start of the “A” race at the Team Akron Valley Circuit Race, also known as the “Covered Bridge race,” on Sunday, April 17. Jane G. represented the team in the women’s field.

The A race is seven laps of a five-mile loop, the B’s and women do five laps.

The A race saw about 25 starters, including multiple riders from teams such as RGF/Cleveland Clinic, Team Lake Effect, and Stark Velo, as well as solo riders from Team Panther, Speedgoat, and a few other teams. In the A race, Aussie got away with Joe from Death Row Velo early in the first lap. They built a solid gap, which meant that the remaining Team Spin riders in the field had to cover dangerous looking moves and hope that the two breakaway riders did not get caught.

Near the middle of the race, after a tough half-Iap, I found myself in a group of five riders that managed to extract ourselves from the field. At that point, my job was to simply sit in the break and let the other riders try to bring back Aussie and Joe, who were still up the road.

We caught the breakaway with a little over one lap to go, which meant that we were now a seven-person lead group. I was not feeling very perky at that point, and I confirmed with Aussie that he still felt good.

I tried several attacks on the second half of the last lap, but they were closely followed by the vigilant group. Things were shaping up for a seven-person sprint, which is not my bag. At all. Thankfully, it is Aussie’s.

The group slowed down to a crawl in the last 2k, and I found myself with a small gap inside the last 1k. I took advantage of it and accelerated, knowing that I would either hold it to the line, or, at the very least, cause the other teams to chase me down and set up Aussie for the sprint.

At about 200m, I heard the group approach, and saw Aussie come around me. He held it to the line, and showed the rest of the breakaway riders a clean set of wheels. A win for Team Spin!

Great job to everyone who raced today.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tour of the Battenkill 2011

There are apparently lots of Category 2 racers in the New England area who do nothing but ride bikes all winter long.

At least that is what it felt like at around mile 50 of the race on Sunday when the wheels came off the wagon and I began limping to feed zone 2 where I happily pulled the plug and accepted a ride to the finish from the "team car."

It was still a great weekend that involved nice weather and riding bikes...things could be much worse.

It is mind boggling how much planning and legwork must go into organizing a race that includes 35 separate fields, 2,500 racers, a 100K loop that goes through several municipalities, and racers on the course from 8:40 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I would invite the amateur racers who complain about Battenkill's payout to try to organize something similar themselves and see how much work it entails.

In fact, I can think of several less annoying ways to make a living than organizing bad ass events for unappreciative bike racers.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Into Eternity

On Friday, Katie and I saw Into Eternity at the Cleveland International Film Festival. It is about the construction of a massive underground cave in Finland that is supposed to (safely) hold the country's nuclear waste. It is being built to last 100,000 years, and is an extremely long and deep cave. No one working on it now will be alive to see the completion of the project.

The part of the movie I liked most was how the officials in charge of this project were so concerned about the well-being of civilization 100,000 years from now. Specifically, they talked about the challenges involved in communicating to people 100,000 years in the future about the dangers that will lie beneath the earth in that spot. Will they speak our language? How can we even begin to conceive of the proper way to communicate with these people?

I am pretty sure that a massive undertaking such as this, which takes into account the safety of people more than 3000 generations into the future, would never occur in the United States.

And that is unfortunate.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

T Minus

Battenkill is eight days away.

This year I have the pleasure of doing the 82-mile Category 2 race, which includes the standard 100K loop plus an additional 18-mile loop at the beginning of the race.

I always imagined that the extra loop at the beginning was a flat to rolling stroll through the countryside taken at a conversational pace that allowed the higher level racers to talk about how much better they are than the lowly chumps who only race 100K.

Then I recently read the updated website that shows this loop consists of the first 16 miles or so of the 100K loop, after which we then head back towards town and then do the entire regular 100K loop. This means that we get to do the 18% Juniper Swamp climb at mile 11 not once, but twice.

It's good thing that I climb well for a guy with a beard.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

13 Most Beautiful . . . Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests

A few years ago, the Warhol Museum commissioned musicians Dean and Britta to compose music to accompany some of Andy Warhol's "Screen Tests," which were four-minute silent films of the faces of people with whom Warhol associated in the 1960's when he worked out of the Factory studio. Dean and Britta wrote music (and in a few cases played covers) to go along with 13 of these screen tests, and also released an album and dvd as part of the project.

The whole show, including Dean and Britta and their backing band, played the Cleveland Museum of Art's Gartner Auditorium last Wednesday.

Despite not necessarily being a Dean and Britta devotee (and not really being a devotee of their past bands), I had a good feeling about this performance. I couldn't have been more right.

First, I was shocked by how many people the museum's auditorium held, and I also couldn't believe how many people attended this event. I was initially afraid that the $26+ price tag, combined with it being a Wednesday night, would result in low turnout. Instead, the place was nearly packed, and I just read that it holds almost 700 people.

As they played the songs, the movies were projected on a giant screen in the background. Dean and Britta talked about most of the movies in between songs, and gave brief summaries of the lives (and some tragic deaths) of the lesser known subjects that the show featured.

Given the nature of the event, and the fact that the screen tests of both Lou Reed and Nico were chosen to be included in the program, the entire show had an unmistakable Velvet Underground feel. Which most of the (very age diverse) crowd ate up, myself included.

The show was worth every penny, and I left with the feeling that this town still knows a good time when it sees one.

Here are a few clips of the show from other cities:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Just where we last left off

As of last weekend, it had been over six months since I lined up for the start of a road race. However, in many ways, it seemed like six days. The same people, the same butterflies, the same vibe.

The Malabar Farm race had a small (but strong) 1-2 field, and teammate Jason took a respectable fifth place. Sunday's Race at Deer Creek in southern Ohio was better attended, windy, and cold. Teammate Aussie Rob made the early place and rocked a third place. I lost the sprint for 10th (the last paying spot) after getting away from the field on the last lap with Katsu. Oh well.

I wish I could find a hobby less time consuming and oppressive than road racing, but the allure of beating myself into the ground with a bunch of other insane dudes week after week gets the best of me every year.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Katie often tells me that the type of beer I enjoy is made for old men in creepy sweaters, and for hipsters who wear old man sweaters. She might be right.

But the real question is why do I always find myself paralyzed with indecision when confronted with a few shelves full of such beer. I can spend $130 in a grocery store in about 13 minutes, and then I spend 15 minutes obsessing over an $8-$10 six (or sometimes four) pack of a pretentious microbrew.

I am, however, improving. Tonight I actually bought some beer, opposed to looking at it for an extended period and then leaving the store empty handed.

I think it has has something to do with being really cheap.

Or maybe I am just wearing the wrong type of sweater.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Basketball Diaries

I was devastated when I was cut from the Holy Name High School basketball team during my freshman and sophomore years, thus ending any hoop dreams I may have had. My problem was that I thought I had more game than I actually did. In retrospect, I am glad I was cut.

As a junior, I was asked by friends to play on a (non-school related) team in a tournament open to anyone. Our team consisted of some high school team players, and some scrubs like myself.

We were immediately eliminated, and I remember playing against a team full of complete badasses. Some of them ended up playing on big-time college teams, and one of them turned out to be this guy, who scored 26 points the other night against the Dallas Mavericks. I remember trying to "guard" (if you can call it that) this 5"5' dude when he would drive the lane. Let's just say things got very ugly very quickly, as evidenced by the number of times they would block our shots, and the ball would sail 30+ feet into the roaring crowd, who were all there to see the Cleveland all-star team wreck shop against us.

As they used to say on The Wire, I'm pretty sure that, even back then, I was slower than a white man in slippers.

But I can totally beat Earl Boykins in a time trial.


Monday, January 03, 2011

How is it...

...that sometimes I am asked if I am ever going to "grow out" of bike racing?

Or that people often think it is "immature" for adults to wear band clothing?

Yet it is not immature for adults everywhere to be obsessed by, or for a metropolitan newspaper to devote 25% of its front page and a four-page pull-out section to, a perennially losing football team.