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.