Wednesday, April 29, 2009


What a day. What was suppose to be an hour appointment in Baltimore turns into a 6hr trip from hell.

Baltimore, or Bawlmur as it's more closely pronounced by the natives, is now full of the newer Pay to Park meter systems. Rather than feed a meter, you buy a ticket with a time stamp from a kiosk and place it on your dash. This undoubtedly ensures no one taking your parking spot, and any remaining time on it, can short the city a few cents. Majority of street parking expires at 4pm on weekdays, with the exception that is of several poorly marked sections maybe 25ft in length at random street corners. These are dubiuosly marked as no parking 3-6pm, if you actually see them. Here's the photo I'll be bringing to court.
As we came up Paca St for the second time looking for a spot we had decided to just park in the garage there on the right (first entrance after the second Pay to Park sign). But there just happened to be a space right infront the entrance by that second Pay to Park sign. Needless to say we never see the first sign with the No Stopping 3-6pm only posted at the corner behind several other signs. No where else except on the oppostite side of the street on the same corner is that No Stopping sign posted above a Payto Park sign. As usual, 1:20 appointment runs late so finally realizing my time should be expiring, I go out with Maddy to re-up the meter. Hmm, no car. Many expletives followed by a call to tell Gina, a few more expletives in convincing her it's not a joke, the car is gone. I call information to get the city impound lot, the girl there says she doesn't have the car and for whatever reason cannot call any of the tow truck drivers to see if it's being brought in.

I was so livid over the poor street markings and disorganizaion of the parking enforcement I called and reported it stolen. The police show up 15min later (2 officers for a non-emergency call, hmm, and this city has a budget crisis and one of the highest crime rates i nthe country?) . 45min later the impound lot finally confirms it's there so we walk over to UMD hospital so I can catch a cab. Now I have to leave Gina and Maddy sitting there in the atrium while I cab it across the city to the impound lot, during rush hour. $262 and a $10 cab ride later ($2.50 of which was just getting out of the hospital) I have the car.

While I'm there I see this guy sitting with three little kids, two boys and a girl all under the age of 4, looking pretty dejected. All I could think of was Maddy, then I got worried for the kids so when I go out to get the car I stop and ask him if he wass ok. He tells me how they got towed while at John's Hopkins hospital during his son's Dr.'s appointment. Worse part is they are from PA, two hours away. Feeling even worse for these kids I give him $40 and tell him to at least get his kids some food if they have to wait around for a ride home and at least take a cab to a better part of town if it gets dark. As I'm ready to leave, his girlfriend comes out of the office crying saying she has no idea how they were going to afford $262 to get their car out since it's an entire week's paycheck for him and they don't get paid until Friday. I wasn't sure what to do but I had to get back to maddy and Gina so I wished them good luck, got the car and left.

As we were leaving B'more I was telling Gina this story and she got a bit upset so we decided to drive back across town to the impound lot. It just kind of sucked to think of those kids and the sacrifices they would have to make to go without a week's pay for one of their parents. When we got there they were gone but the girl in the office said they had walked down to City Hall to try and get someone to help them revoke the fine. A few minutes later they were back since City Hall was closed and still with no idea how to pay for the ticket. The guy was so surpised and happy to see me, and started telling us how he had just started going to church and turning his life around for the sake of his kids. Just as we were ready to pay his fine so they could get home his girlfriend finally got a hold of a family member half willing to pay their fine but she wasn't sure the impound lot would take the credit card over the phone so we stayed with them for next hour until it was all sorted out and they were on their way back to PA.

We finally got home around 7, 6hrs after getting into the city for a 1hr Dr.'s appointment. The guy called me around 10:30 to let me know they all got home and the kids were in bed. All I can say is, when you think things are bad, just remember they could be worse.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


It used to be I didn't care about some of the really f'ed up shit that happens in this world, I was accepting of the fact that there are crazy people willing to do crazy things for who knows what reasons and there was not much I could do about it anyway.

I don't know if it's the fact that Maddy has come into our lives or that this just hits too close to home but is really pisses me off. I grew up in Middletown, went to middle and high schools there and stuff like this just didn't happen nor would anyone ever think it could. She graduated the year after me, I didn't know her, just of her but enough to know she was well liked and never did anything to deserve something like this, no one does for that matter. On top of that, who can justify killing innocent kids? Regardless of how f'ed up your life or marriage is, there's just no reason for it.

What is really getting to me more than the act itself is the media surrounding it. I'm ok with free speech and even freedom of the press, but at some point someone has to make a consciencious decission about the amount of detail the public really needs to know about what "really" happened, such as the details of the actual deeds. What's the point in it? A horrible act was committed and we should grieve with the families of the victims in knowing that something terrible and tragic has happened but to feel the need to put this amount of detail out is unecessary and almost as disturbing as the act itself.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Element 6

So, I can't really say where the past month and a half has gone, that sucks. All I know is I turned 34 last month and life didn't come to an end, got six more years for that. I do know that I can now race Master's in 'cross this season. Finally got the team bike built up, it's a bit on the heavy side but it's just a crit bike. I have to say though, after putting in 8hrs in a weekend, I remember why I switched to carbon almost 10 years ago. I promptly rebuilt the Madone with a SRAM Red group, I think that group could lighten up a Wal-Mart Huffy.
Maddy has been keeping us plenty busy. Between exploring and learning all kinds of new words it's hard to keep up with how fast she's growing and learning. She did give us a new experience a few weeks ago. One Friday night we all ventured out for Pho. As usual, Maddy scarfs down an insane amount of food, she can regularly out eat Gina. About a half hour into dinner she's doing her usual boredom thing and throwing herself over the side of the high chair. All of a sudden she spits up some food. We take her out of the chair to get her cleaned up and no sooner is she sitting in my lap and the rest of her dinner comes up on me, nice. Besides that she's doing a great job of keeping us sick, just got back from the pediatrician, another ear infection.

My sinuses have been on and off all winter, I was doing fine until last weekend when I decided last minute to hike up to Lancaster and do Mt. Joy. This would be my second 1/2/3 road race, after a dismal effort at Jeff Cup and having to bail on Walkersville becasue I was sick if figured I needed a long hard workout. I knew it was doomed from the start because the rain that was suppose to have passed through by morning was still pounding us here and all the way up 83. I knew the course and felt it wasn't hard enough that I shouldn't be able to at least finish this race and get a good workout in. By the start the rain was letting up but then the wind had really picked up. I blindly ignored the 25-30mph gust description on the weather report hoping for the best but this would ultimately be the deciding factor. Around the start of lap 3 we made the first right turn after the start finish which consisted of small stair step climb. It also happened to be the place where the wind was the worst, a 30+mph head/crosswind that simply ripped the pack into shreds. The group was strung out on the opposite side of the road, gaps opening and everyone fighting for a wheel. For some reason fear of the ref actually enforcing the yellow line rule made me get out of line and over to the right where I had to burn a few matches to stay in contact with the main group before cresting the top of the climb. I managed to last a few more laps before my inattentiveness cost me and I found myself chasing desperately on the long fast decent after the main climb as some huge guy I was using for a wind break opened up a significant gap. The field was strung out single file so I knew they were rolling so I put my head down and drilled it. I made contact just before a small rise before the 1k to go mark but I was out of matches and the pack accelerated just as I latched on. Dangling about 500m off the back I tried to get on Tom Soloday's wheel who had flatted and was chasing back on but to no avail. I rode another lap in earnest then called it a day as I was starting to notice how cold and wet I was.

Fast forward a few weeks. Still sick and not really training, just riding my bike from time to time. I skipped the Syn-Fit crit, just wasn't in the mood to drive an hour and a half for a pancake flat crit in some industrial park by Dulles airport. Anyway, Gina cashed in some chips and went shopping with some friends while Maddy and I spent the morning together. Before hitting yoga we had a snack at Bean Hollow.

Yesterday was Carl Dolan, I like this race, especially since it's close to my house. The team was figuring out what the plan, a couple of guys were up for not letting it come down to a sprint finish but I couldn't remember ever seen a race won the in a break. The course is fairly wide open and difficult to get out of site. First race was the 3/4 in the morning so I got up early, rode Cafe Bagel for some breakfast and headed off to the race. The guy at Cafe Bagel asked if I was carrying extra wheels on my backpack in case I flatted, I thought that was funny. I told him no, they were my race wheels.

I didn't realize it, but the last time we really raced together was back in February at one of the last Tradezone races. Kyle decided to save his legs for the 1/2/3 race later so it was just Stephen, HEFs 1 and 2, Lance and myself. The 3/4 race started off pretty fast, we kept attacking off the front in hopes of getting something going but nothing ever stuck. So plan B was to just make the pace hard enough to make the so called "Sprinter" teams work more than they want to. This is pretty easy for us since everyone is willing to go ride hard and leave everything on the course. I can't say I see that from other teams out there, everyone is out for themselves I guess.
Me on lap 3 heading into the climb
Stephen trying an early flyer and taking a preme
Hef2 on one of his several attempts to go off the front and get something started
Hef1Lance looking pretty and smiling for the camera (yes, it was the donuts causing your rear tire to feel flat)
Fast forward to the last few laps, a few last ditch efforts to get off the front by some guys who sat in all race but nothing is sticking. I lost contact with Hef2 and Stephen but figured they were near the front. I was sitting about fifth wheel with two NCVC, a Bike Dr. and a R1V guy. My job was to disrupt and organization at the front and keep the pace high going into the couple hundred meters. As we make the last turn towards the finsh, the Bike Dr and R1V guy sit up and look around allowing the two NCVC guys get a gap down the hill as the pace temporarily slowed. I swing around and drill it knowing I'll get swarmed if I don't go now. I catch the two NCVC guys at the base of the climb and go right around them. At that point all I can do it keep drilling it so I stand with about 400m to go and give it whatever was left in the tank. I see Stephen coming over my left side so I figure my day was done so I just sat up and watched as Stephen destroyed the field for the second day in a row.
Stephen sealing the deal two days in a row

After a shower, some food and a little rest I decided to jump in the 1/2/3 race later in the day. The beautiful sunny weather we had in the morning turned to grey, overcast skies with the threat of rain and much cooler temps. I was just using this race for training and everyone we had in it had already raced once so no real expectation for the team either. A small break got off the front on the first couple of laps, I didn't know who was represented so I made a jump to a chase group in the hopes of bridging up to it. As the chase wittled down to three of us, with an LSV and an IM rider I later realized why we never closed the several second gap, they had teammates in the break. Oh well, back to being pack fodder. 8 more laps and I realize my legs are starting to cramp so rather than make things worse and risk have to take an extra day or two of rest from the dehydration I just decided to cut bait with about 4 to go and spectate. Like I said, I've never seen this race won in a break, that is until yesterday. The 4 man break consisted of two LSV (one of which was Rick Norton), Mark Warno (IM) and Josh Frick (DC Velo). With two to go Warno was dropped at the base of the climb leaving Frick in a two on one situation. In cycling this is not good. In an impressive effort, Frick won in what ended up being a two up sprint after Rick must have given his all to attack and force Frick to counter. Nice job.