Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Shut Up and Enjoy the Ride

I can't say that going without a full night's sleep going on a week and a half straight now is anyway to live, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Maddy is a trip, except for the fact that her theme song is Up All Night (Sleep All Day), preferably the Slaughter version, remember those guys? or at least their hair? What parents wouldn't want a newborn that sleeps all day right? Not when there's hell to pay when the sun goes down.
We're starting to get into a groove with her, thanks to Melanie and her book of wisdom. The past few days were busy for us and we're all pretty wore out. Christmas started Sunday with Gina's brother, sister-in-law and mother coming down. Monday was my family. Maddy made out in her first Christmas, money, clothes, toys, what else could a girl want? Oh yeah, how about a Harley? Compliments of uncle Paul.
So I knew it had to happen, and it probably would have taken a bit longer if it weren't Christmas, but out came the pink. This girl already has more clothes than Gina and I combined and more pink clothes than Gina has owned in her lifetime.

I'm not sure about all babies, but Maddy loves the water. We gave her a bath Friday night and she loved it, especially getting her hair washed, she would arch her head back trying to get further under. Baths go great until they're over and she realizes she's cold.

Boulder still thinks she's a special toy he's not allowed to play with yet, but he's getting used to her. He still insists on getting as close as possible.
I am looking forward to some long rides this weekend, unfortunately the trails will probably be a no go with all of the rain and temps not cold enough to freeze the ground. Time to get out the fixie and rack up some long miles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

We're Still Alive, I Think

Maddy and Gina came home yesterday from the hospital. I have to say this was probably the scariest part of the entire experience, not just traveling in the car with her for the first time but also that we were now officially on our own as responsible parents. We gave this outfit to our good friends Thomas and Ann when their son James was born and they gave it back to us for Maddy so I thought it was appropriate to bring her home in it.

Last night was rough, more so for Gina since Maddy hasn't quite found a rhythm when it comes to feeding. I think she was up every hour from 11:30 on. She falls asleep while eating then wakes up and either realizes she's still hungry, or that she has completely blown out a diaper. This morning was her first Dr.'s appointment, already.

Boulder is so excited he can't contain himself. After several hours of letting him sniff her out he was finally able to get up close and check her out. She's so small compared to him.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Madeline "Maddy" Marie Harshman
Born Friday, 12/14/2007 at 6:43pm
6lbs 8.4oz., 19 1/2 inches

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Show Time

So Confused

Boulder has been particularly out of sorts with all of this preparation for the baby. Everything that we unpack he thinks is for him. We put together the pack and play tonight which also has a mobile, so of course, he thought all of the animals were his new toys.

As for the nursery, both dogs aren't quite sure why they're not allowed to move back into the room. All Boulder knows is that the giraffe and elephant he's been looking for for 2 months are finally back. Now, just how to get to them is the question.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Home Stretch

The past few days have been a furious effort to finish the nursery. Over the weekend the last of the wall paneling went up and painting could start. I had the grand idea of using a paint sprayer on the paneling to save time, well that plan went to hell in a hand basket quick. We coated the walls and floor with paper to prevent over spray from covering everything in a mist of white paint. I've never used a paint sprayer before but here are my tips:
  1. If using inside of a finished space, cover everything you do not intend to paint that color,
  2. Use a full face respirator mask, not a dust mask and safety glasses
  3. Make sure the material you're painting/staining will absorb the paint or stain
If you follow these simple rules you'll have a better experience than I. As soon as I started spraying, I had a cloud of latex paint fill the room, my dust mask wasn't really designed for this and neither were my safety glasses, I was inhaling paint through my eyeballs and had a headache for the next two days. I soon realized that wood and MDO do not as readily absorb primer as quickly with the sprayer as when brushed on which made getting an even coat difficult with out putting on too much paint. I ended up have to brush around all of the paint I sprayed on, which kinda worked out since that's the most annoying part of painting, constantly going back and dipping the brush in the paint. Also, those clouds of paint will settle somewhere, usually the first surface it hits. I made out fairly well here except for an area on the floor where we didn't cover it with paper.

We went with bamboo for the floor, it's considered a "green" material and was relatively cheap compare to regular hardwood but I would not recommend the Morningstar product from Lumber Liquidators. It scratches and dings way to easily. Also, I'm not sure if it's true of all bamboo flooring, but nailing it was a pain in the ars. Standard floor nails would split the wood along the grain causing the tongue to ripple making locking in the next piece tightly difficult. Maybe staples would have been a better bet, I would have glued but I used an under layment to reduce the noise if there were uneven spot in the sub-floor.

After some touching up and filling in small gaps I think the room turned out nice. Still a few small details to knock out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

des Chiens

Fun with Photoshop

So, as you can probably tell from the new masthead, I've been playing with Gina's pictures in Photoshop. I really like the BW with color layer technique and have been playing with a few other photos along with the blur function. Still figuring some things out but here are a few, one from the DCCX race and another from this past weekends MABRA Champs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At Your Own Risk

Monday was a the biggest waste of a day I've had in quite a while, even stacked up against days where I've been so hungover I've pretty much slept through to the next day without ever getting out of bed. I've been putting off a work trip to visit a client down in Knoxville, Tenn. It's not even my client per se but it was a favor to my manager so I agreed to go, it was a quick day trip, in and out in a few hours, right?

Problem #1, finding a flight. Well, first really was the fact that it's around a major travel holiday, I originally scheduled it for last week not realizing Thanksgiving was early this year so I bumped it to yesterday. My real dilemma is I'm a finicky traveler when it comes to flying. There are three major airports around me, BWI, Dulles and Reagan. BWI being less than 15 minutes from my door and the latter two being an hour plus drive in and around DC/NoVA. I would obviously prefer to fly out of BWI, but there in lies Problem #2, for a trip this short I'm looking for a direct flight but guess what? No airline flies direct to Knoxville from BWI, but 6 or 7 go direct to Nashville. Now, do I take a flight with a layover from the airport 15 minutes from my house or do I hike it over to Dulles for a direct and have to fight driving to and from the airport in both morning and evening rush hour traffic?

I opted for the former having found a relatively "safe" route that had me stopping in Cincinnati, my other option was O'Hare, HELL NO. I also had to fly Delta, the same F*@!s who tried to screw me flying home from Paris on our honeymoon. Up at 4am to get there for a 6:15 departure out of BWI, relatively short flight to Cinci with an hour and a half layover. As I was sitting around the terminal I felt grateful that my flight was probably the only Delta flight out of Cinci not overbooked. But that would have been much more welcome than the extra 2 hours my flight was delayed due to a mechanical.

Long story short, I finally leave Cinci at 11:30, get to Knoxville around 12:45, walk out the terminal, go 300 feet to the Hilton and meet my customer for lunch. Eat, shoot the shit walk back to the airport and board my 3:oo flight back through Cinci. Land in Cinci, take a leak, grab a coffee and get right back on a plane parked next to the one I just got off of. Almost get airsick on the flight to Baltimore because the turbulence was so bad and when I asked to use the restroom, the flight attendant said it was at my own risk. Isn't hurdling through the sky at a couple hundred miles an hour in a metal tube with highly flammable fuel strapped to it considered a risk? Land around 6:00, have to wait 15 min just to get off the plane because the lazy baggage guys at BWI didn't come out when the plane landed to unload the gate checked luggage. Finally home around 7.

15hrs of travel for a 1 hour meeting that could have been done on a con call. Who says there's no value in meeting face to face?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend Report

It was another weekend of riding and working on the baby's room. I couldn't make the trip to Jersey for the USGP so I took up the invite from Matt Brancheau of LSV to come help preview the Rockburn course along with Nystrom and a few other non-LSV'ers from the 'cross community. After a few pre-rides we did some hot laps to get estimated lap times and distances. A few modifications later, I think the course is going to be really fast and fairly technical, that's all I'll say so you'll have to register and come find out for yourself. It should be a good last minute tune up for Nationals.

Today was more work. With the floor down I could finally tackle the wall paneling. I needed to get this done before all of the wood I bought warped beyond usable while sitting in the garage. I've been struggling with the math to get the panel widths on the two opposite walls as close as possible. I worked on the shorter wall today and thought I had it all worked out until I went to nail up the last rail and the gap was slightly wider than the rest. Oh well, it's not that noticeable, I doubt the baby will care.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will Work for Lunch Money

Life is all about give and take, and as I've quickly found out, with a kid on the way it's mostly all give. I've been working to get the room ready but also trying to get some cross races in but as the due date closes in, the room needs to get done. This didn't prevent me from registering for Sunday's race though so I needed to show some progress on the room.

Friday morning I stopped by the Home Depot after therapy to pick up a floor nailer. After a second trip to HD and a third to Lowes I finally got started on the laying the floor.

Want to blow an hour of therapy on your lower back? Lay floor for 4 hours. Boulder inspecting my work and trying to figure out what's going on in his old room.

A few more hours of hammering and cutting Saturday morning and it was finally done. Now I can race Sunday.
I woke up Sunday morning and could barely get out of bed my legs and back were so stiff from laying the floor, but the race was close which meant we could sleep in and take our time getting out the door.

When is a cross race not a cross race? Before pre-riding the course, Nystrom informed me there were no barriers and no forced dismounts, what? So basically it's a grass crit except for one short section of loose, off-camber turns. Not what I was looking forward to, I just don't have the steady power right now to contend a course like this. Although much of the 'cross competition was in Jersey for HPCX, Steve Fife, Taylor Jones, Rob Campbell and Trevor Shattuck were there. I figured the race was Jone's to lose after finishing behind Langley at DCCX.
The five of us stayed together the first lap and a half or so but then things started to break up. For the next 35 minutes I basically rode solo chasing Steve. The legs were heavy and sore and the long power sections just wore me down. After a few laps I realized I didn't have the energy to chase Steve so I just rode my race and had fun on a fast but otherwise boring course.
I picked up the last podium spot a some lunch money for my effort.

Another typical Sunday night, watch some football, drink some beer and put together some baby stuff.

Boulder decided this was just too much for one weekend and needed a beer, he highly recommends the Corsendonk Brown Ale.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Something New

Found this today at the local beverage store, there was also a Pale Ale but this sounded a bit more interesting.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Art of War

Know the other, know yourself, And the victory will not be at risk; Know the ground, know the natural conditions, And the victory will be total.

- Sun-Tzu's The Art of Warfare

This book is often paraphrased to mean something as simple as "know your enemy". That understatement doesn't quite capture the essence of the lessons Master Tzu was teaching. This particular quote comes from the end of Chapter 10: The Terrain. It points out a significant element to waging war, that knowing the terrain on which you go to battle on is just as important as knowing the enemy with which you will meet.

I've made a lot of parallels over the years between this book and life in general, but bike racing more so and 'cross in particular. One can argue that in a stage race like a Grand Tour you need to scout the course and know where you are strong, where you can attack, and where you need to just hold your ground. You have 21 days to work your strategy and make adjustments as necessary. In 'cross, you have 45 to 60 minutes to race and instead of minutes making the difference, you have milliseconds. Where the slightest falter or lapse in concentration can open up a gap that can't be closed. So knowing the terrain as well as your enemy is vital in cross. 'Cross is also about knowing the riders behind you as well as those you're trying to catch. Understanding where they are weaker or stronger can give you an advantage over them.

Saturday I made the solo trip to Fair Hill to race the excellent event hosted by the First State Velo Club. The venue wasn't new but the course was completely different, much improved over years past. Warming up it was apparent the course was going to be difficult to race on. The use of a lower corral that has this deep sand/gravel/ground up tire mixture was ridable but would take a lot of energy making running the first 100m the better bet. I hate running.

At the start I lined up behind Bradley, the kid who rolled his tubbie a the start of the Wiss race so I was a bit worried. As we started up the road and through the first stretch of grass, I was sitting 4th behnd Bradley with Linder and Fife on the front. In the first turn fatMarc made a nice move on the inside. I don't mind following his wheel so I settled in and protected my position. A series of 180 degree turns kept the field at bay letting the 6 or so of us ride between turns and pick good lines. I re-pass fatMarc on the upper corral, ends up he had a flat. I try to stay with Linder and Bradley as long as I can riding a just a few seconds behind them but by start of the second lap, the legs were not feeling the love of the long run.

A chase group of about 5 riders formed with two HVB guys, Rotten Rob and myself. Rob was little extra Rotten today as he took to the pace making and was setting a good tempo at first but then fatMarc came storming around me as we entered the stables. As soon as he moved to the front I knew what was going to happen so I yelled at the HVB guys to get moving because Rob was going to start blocking. As soon as fatMarc got clear from the front, sure enough Rob sat up and the HVB guys didn't make a move. Unfortunately, this also allowed Rob Campbell and David Crouse to bridge to our group.

Our group eventually broke up and the rest of my race was spent chasing Rob C. and David, who with a lap to go picked off Morgan and Fife, as I battled with one of the HVB guys. He was strong between turns but wasn't a good bike handler, my best bet was to set the pace and pick my spots to attack him. On the last lap I attacked him out the lower corral and the series of several tricky turns through the upper corral, just in time to see Morgan a few turns away.

Through the pit area and on to the back half of the course Morgan kept a couple second lead. I finally closed it going into the stables but he attacked on the grassy section leading up to the road where there was one small wooded section to get through before the turn onto the finishing straight. I closed the gap back down but he got on to the pavement with about 5m on me and a long 200m finishing stretch. I remember Morgan telling me last year he didn't want to go up against me in a sprint, not sure why as I am in no way a sprinter, but this ran through my mind as I started to chase him down. After a series of mis-shifts I caught him with about 50m to go and on the line we both lunged, Linder said I got it by a foot.

Afterwards Morgan asked me why I had to chase him down, it's nothing personal but if I didn't I would have just wasted 45 minutes. The race isn't over until I cross that line and I don't give anything away.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

DCCX - The Sandbaggers Ball

I decided late in the week to register for the DCCX race. My week was pretty lazy as far a training and I wanted to go have good time on the 'cross bike so this seemed like a low key event within the MABRA community although not part of the series. To top it off, it had rained most of the week and the conditions for a good 'cross race were ripe. It was also nice only traveling 45 minutes to a race.

On my warm-up lap I was surprised at how dry the course was, only one soggy section in the lower area around the pit, so much for a good old fashioned mudder, a la EVO/Guys from last year.
As I returned to the car I run into Morgan who was frantic about his bike not shifting. I tried to help him out but without tools and a stand and more time, I couldn't help him. My advise was to find a bike to borrow, he returned with HvT's pit bike which was a bit small for him. He also informed me Russ Langley was in the B race, WTF? I'm sorry, I don't mind getting beat by people I know are a bit more fit than I am, but when a guy who's a Cat 1 and has held a Pro license and ridden on a US Continental Pro team shows up to an event like the DCCX and races in the B field, I have to cry SANDBAGGER. The MAC, not so because I know he would have been taken to school on a more technical course with a lot stiffer competition.

Steve Fife from ETS gave it a good go at staying with him but that lasted until the long paved/gravel section on the first lap. From then on I wanted to vomit every time I heard the announcer call out Russel the Muscle.

At the start line I figured I needed all the good karma I could find so as Morgan was still flipping out over not fitting HvT's bike, I told him to go get my pit bike after he sized up my A bike and felt it was good fit.

I managed a good start even from 4 rows back working my way in to the top 15 and found myself in a large chase group being lead by Bernie who was riding really strong and took a podium spot.

On the second lap our chase group was still together, I was on Sam O'Keefe's wheel at the back of the train. Riding strong in his first B race, he started to let a gap open and I decided I needed to get around him. Unfortunately I picked a bad section to go and dumped it in a rough, bumpy section. The worst part was my remount, after gathering myself off the ground, I manage to propel my bike forward as I'm remounting and miss my saddle, landing on my rear wheel. Not a good feeling. I went from top 10-12 to some near the 20's. Later that lap on the paved section I was trying to identify the crunching, grinding sound of carbon coming from one of my wheels when I missed the curve to the left and t-boned the guy on my right who was making the turn, fortunately I didn't take him down, but I rolled to a stop and watched several more spots go by me.

I dug it out the rest of the race, rode clean lines, dropped wheelsuckers who didn't want to stick their nose into the wind and fought my way back to a respectable 9th. Left a bit more flesh and blood out on the course again this weekend.

The B bike seeing some action.Enjoying a nice, short trip home, Gina and I grabbed some food from Frisco Burrito and relaxed to a nice whooping of the Redskins at the hands of the Patriots. A bit bored of that after the first half, we decided to break into the baby stuff and start putting things together. We started with the stroller which turned out to be broken so we moved on to the bouncy, swingy thing. Boulder is in love with this, especially the mobile animals.
7 more weeks, please don't come early.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gut Check

I only manage to get up before 8am on the weekends, and only if riding my bike is involved.

Saturday, Granogue 'Cross. 6am wakeup, shower, feed the dogs then load up Special Sauce. Gina was a trooper and was ready to hit the road by 7:30 and everything was going well so far for getting to the race with plenty of time to scout out the course and warm up. That's about as good as my race day would get.

A quick stop at Cafe Bagel for some grub turned into a 20 minute delay as our order got "lost". Still managed to arrive on time to get a lap in after the C Men's race. After the B Masters I decide to take another lap, my race isn't until 12 or so right? WRONG. New race schedule to accommodate the A Masters race pushed us up to 11. As I'm finishing up another warm-up lap I look down to see my race roll onto the start line. F@$%! I'm not even in my race kit. Roll to the start then hurry to the car to try and rip off my clothes and climb into my skin suit, not an easy task. I make it to the start line with about a minute as Gina and some guy from EVC help pin my numbers on, oh yeah, I squander what would have been at least a second row call up and was sent to the back of the race, DFL in a 75+ rider field.

I always race well at Granogue, I just never get a good result. Saturday was no exception, I rode clean lines picking off groups of riders every lap and was technically on, legs were a bit dead on the long climb up to the tower but other than that is was a good race. Mentally, I wanted to just bag it from the start knowing there was little chance of moving up and then having landed on my right man bean on my first remount. I managed to finish 36th, not great, but it was a moral victory.
Today, repeat early morning ritual from yesterday minus the Cafe Bagel stop as I look for a bit of redemption at Wissahickon. I wasn't planning on racing and I knew I wouldn't get a call up since I didn't pre-reg but I figured I could at least scrum for 3rd or 4th row. I managed 4th row. At 15 sec to go before the start the gun goes off, nice. I'm barely clipped in and getting up to speed when I see a rear wheel in the air and hear the screeching of brakes. With no where to go I slam into the guy in front of me who had stopped with some guys on the ground in front of him. After untangling myself from him and checking to see if my front wheel is ok, I look down to take a quick check and see my chain is off. By the time I get the chain back on and look up I only see the dust trail from the end of the race, F@$%!, another blown start. Even worse than yesterday.

Yeah, that's me waaaay back there, the blur looking down at the ground as everyone goes around us.

I just wanted to walk right off the course, what was the point? I decided that wasn't why I was here and instead of getting to ride a steady pace in a chase group, I'm now throwing it down out of every turn and long straight section on every lap like I'm leading out the last lap with a small gap. Again I'm able to ride to another moral victory in this debauchery. I spent most of the race passing guys who couldn't ride their bikes in the technical sections but would get repassed. I couldn't hang around for the race results so not sure how far back I was.

I love 'cross so regardless of my fitness, I'm going to race and leave it all out on the course, for better or for worse, just like everyone else.
Unfortunately these may be my only two MAC races of the season, the baby is coming and the house still needs some work.

I miss it already.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Matter of Time

There are certain things in life that are inevitable, given time. Death and taxes are for certain and if you ride and race on the road long enough, so is meeting the pavement in the most unpleasant ways. In ten years or riding on the road I can count on one hand the number of times I've hit the deck, twice. Although I've ridden around, through and even over crashes in road races I've never gone down in one, the one thing you learn from riding mountain bikes is handling and it comes in handy on the road just as well.

The first time I went down on pavement was about 8 years ago, while practicing sprints my chain dropped from the 53 to the 39 causing me to slam my chest onto the stem then fishtail until finally laying it down at 30mph. Big patch of skin missing from my hip but nothing major.

Last weekend after the Bagel ride, I had a close call coming into my neighborhood after the ride. I always practice my high speed turns on the intersection at the bottom of the hill but last week for some reason I decided to not hit the turn hard and it was good timing. I hadn't noticed that my rear tire had a slow leak and was well below a reasonable pressure for leaning hard into turns at speed but I was still traveling fast enough for the tire to start to roll off the rim. Fortunately I reacted quickly enough to correct myself but it was almost too much and was close to pulling a Joseba Beloki '03 TdF maneuver and flipped sideways. Bike handling to the rescue.

Today I wasn't so lucky and now I have two road crashes to my palmares. After another Bagel ride I again wasn't looking to take this turn at speed, although I did check before hand to make sure my tire wasn't going flat. As I approached the turn I leaned into it as usual and prepared roll through it until I noticed a wet spot in the faux brick crosswalk. Already leaning I knew grabbing a handful of brakes was the quickest way to hit the deck. Instead I tried to stand the bike up and straighten out my line and roll straight through the intersection. No dice. No sooner did I try to sit the bike up I was on my head in a heap in the intersection. It was a weird fall, even though I was moving I pretty much just hit the ground and stopped, maybe with a slight skid for good measure. Fortunately I was wearing knee warmers and arm warmers, the latter of which were pulled down so when I hit the pavement they bunched up partially covering my naked hands. Even with the knee warmers, I lost a fair amount of skin. Let's just say this wasn't in my plan for preparing for Granogue this weekend.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Operacion Alcoba de la Bebe: aka Operacion Destruccion

10 1/2 weeks. That's all the freedom I have left. The technician said she's never seen a baby stick its tongue out during an ultrasound, well here's your first. Time has been slipping by at a pretty good clip lately. We're well into October already, another two 'cross races have gone by and I still haven't raced but Granogue is less than two weeks away. May be my one and only 'cross race this year. I've been feeling good on the bike and was having a good practice last week until I rolled through a broken beer bottle and flatted a tubular practicing starts. I'll never buy Tufos again, just too much money for something that can't be repaired.

This weekend was Gina's baby shower so we came home Saturday with a car full of loot, too bad it's all for the baby. The gift from our friends Bill and Kyle was a hit, especially with Boulder. The dogs aren't quite sure what's going on, they know something is up and it's going to affect them they're just not sure what it is yet.

Today I started work on the baby's room, formerly the dogs room. Ripped up the carpet and tore out the drywall preparing to put up wood paneling.
They are definitely worried now that the door is closed and they're not allowed in there.