December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Here's what I look forward to in 2007, in no particular order:

  1. Moving into a house with a lot of bike storage
  2. Helping my nephews learn to ride their new bikes
  3. Celebrating my parents 40th wedding anniversary
  4. Racing for Little Guy Racing
  5. Finding a new hobby that has nothing to do with bike racing
  6. Downer's Grove
  7. Superweek
  8. Girls Weekend in WI with all of my lady friends
  9. Snow-shoeing with friends in CO (since they actually have some snow)
  10. Traveling to Europe again
  11. Cheering for the #44 and #9
  12. A new Masi!
  13. Reading more stories about The Donimator
  14. Scrubs

Some things I'm not looking forward to:

  1. Finding and buying a house
  2. Having most of my weekends filled with training and/or racing
  3. GU to avoid The Bonk
  4. Trying to keep my blog updated more than once a week
  5. Karla moving
  6. Riding circles at Opus
  7. Temps below 20 degrees
  8. Trying to get back in shape after two weeks of non-stop eating and no exercise

Here's to a happy and safe New Year!

Strats

December 16, 2006

"Tim M"

Karla meets coaster boy Tim M.














Tim M and cousin Derek meet the women behind Karla's phone service.














I found this picture from Karla's party last year....those two guys look suspiciously familiar...




































December 10, 2006

Sunday's ride

~4 hrs of riding, 1 flat tire, and one bonk.

I wasn't very happy about Pete taking this "aftermath" picture at the time, but I was too tired to do anything about it.

But it was a beautiful day to be out riding with LGR and friends, so it was totally worth it.

December 05, 2006

MCF & related topics

So there's quite the discussion going on about the MCF on some of the local blogs. At the risk of opening myself up to much ridicule, I'm going to chime in on this discussion here at Got the Bonk, but before I do, I'd like to list a few of my qualifications for the skeptics out there - my resume doesn't quite look like Skibby's or Smithers', but it's better than nothing:

  • I am a MN Cat 4 bike racer on the new Grumpy's/LGR club
  • I volunteered for a plethora of races before I even started bike racing, and I have volunteered for a bunch since I started racing
  • I am the co-founder of the local Velo Bella club and I promoted the State Crit/Campus Crit for two years as part of that club (and helped promote a third race, the Withrow TT)
  • I attended almost all of the MCF meetings while on Velo Bella (~ 3 yrs), and never once left early (not that I have a problem with that)
  • I helped start Midwest Women's Cycling Made Real (MWCMR) last year, and I kept track of all of the points for that series throughout the season
  • I am involved with planning for MWCMR for next year
  • I was part of the 3-person committee who started StartBikeRacing.com (and I created the original website which is now being updated by StevenCX)
So I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think I'm entitled to an opinion or two, and I'd like to share a woman's opinion since it seems most of the people posting comments on this MCF topic are men:

  1. While I agree that the MCF should do more to help race promoters, specifically first-time promoters and/or new clubs, I think that promoting/encouraging new racers, especially women and juniors, still deserves some attention from the MCF.
    • Women's racing here in MN is not like men's racing. Imagine rolling up to the line for your very first race, along with only 10- 15 other women, and when the race starts and you're trying to clip into your pedals newbie-style, Teresa attacks. Your race is done before it really even started, and this is not uncommon for a women's race here. Women's Open races do not promote growth in women's cycling. Or imagine doing an Opus race with only 6 - 12 other racers - there really isn't any such thing as "sitting in", and "tactics" rarely come into play (unless 5 women on one team are ganging up on the other 4 women who are all on different teams). The MCF was involved in helping start MWCMR which provided Cat 4 only races for women. Like Cat 4/5 races for men, women's Cat 4 races are an integral part in growing women's cycling, and while MWCMR has made some progress and hopefully will continue to make progress, the MCF has helped make that happen...both through funding and support.
    • While the StartBikeRacing.com initiative hasn't gone as far as we originally planned, I still think there's more that can be done with it, and it could eventually serve it's original purpose - to provide general cycling information (e.g. licenses, rules, types of races, etc.), to provide information for new racers to make racing less intimidating, and most importantly, to connect new racers with local clubs. We did recognize that getting people on local clubs will give them the support system and encouragement that they need. The StartBikeRacing.com initiative has also been funded and supported by the MCF. (note - sometimes it's difficult for a lot of the experienced racers to remember what it was like to be a newbie)
    • Juniors - I'm no expert on juniors racing, but there are currently very few racing in MN. Why is that? I'm not sure what the answer is here - but I do know that I was a very athletic kid, yet I wasn't exposed to serious bike racing until I was in my mid-to-late twenties. Cycling is expensive, it's not a high school sport or even a club (with a few exceptions), and very few kids get exposed to it. The junior discussion used to come up a lot at MCF meetings, and the bottom line was just that there were no "adults" willing to volunteer their time to help out with the juniors program (after Banning left). Dag has done a great job this year, but I'd like to see the MCF sink something more into a juniors program - any ideas?
  2. Race promotion
    • I think it's great that the MCF is willing to consider the "First Time Race Loan" that Super Rookie had proposed. When we first started Velo Bella and wanted to promote the state crit, we had $0 in our bank account (like Cat6, VB doesn't have membership dues). A few teammates and I had to front a lot of the money with hopes that we'd be able to get that money back. Amongst many costs, the police for the race (which is required by the U of M) cost $600. We were lucky enough to have a big cash sponsor (which was awesome, but is obviously not the norm), but we didn't get that money until after the race. That first year, I was truly amazed/overwhelmed by the costs and efforts that go into race promotion.
    • I didn't know what the hell I was doing the first year I promoted the state crit - but I was lucky enough to have one of the previous promoters hold my hand through the whole thing. I think it would be great if the MCF did more for promoters, but what are your ideas? They've been doing the "Promoter's Clinics", and I attended one of those before promoting the state crit the second time around, and I thought it was really helpful...so I'd like to see the MCF continue that, but what else? If you think that race promotion is the biggest thing the MCF should be working on, what are your ideas?
    • I don't have any great ideas (just yet anyway) for doing more for race promoter's, but I'd love to answer any questions about race promotion.
Personally, I'd like to see the money that is spent on the MCF banquet go towards other initiatives - race promoter clinic(s), juniors, MWCMR, StartBikeRacing.com, etc. As I mentioned above, a lot of these things have been funded the past few years and I think the MCF is on the right track, but could do more. Do we really need a MCF banquet every year when there's other seemingly more important things to fund? It seems like the banquets are just for those people who feel strongly about ROY, CRY, TTOY, and TOY...but I admit I could be wrong about that. I have been to the last few banquets, and while Bob Roll was awesome, I think one really good speaker every 2-3 years (if that) would be sufficient.

One last thing - I know this has been said before, but if you've been to the MCF meetings over the years, you know there's one common theme - there are not enough volunteers to help make all of the great ideas come to fruition. Say what you will about the MCF, but remember that everyone on the MCF board is a volunteer - and most of those people have been volunteering for years. I'm by no means saying that there's not room for change/improvement...of course there is, but cut these guys some slack.

Strats

December 04, 2006

NYC

I haven't been riding (or blogging obviously). I've been working and hanging out with my sis and her husband in NYC.

Where's Waldo?










The infamous tree.












(Dis)pencer's favorite car.










Three rich NASCAR guys.










One rich multiple racecar owner,
two not-even-close-to-being-rich
multiple bike owners.











Since Pete, my sister, and I were standing behind the #48 car, we ended up getting in a bunch of the official photos from the photo shoot outside the Waldorf Astoria before the big championship dinner (Pete's in a white t-shirt, I'm in black, and my sister is the one in the cream-colored sweater next to me). The funny thing is that we just happened upon this photo shoot. Needless to say, I was so bummed that Kasey didn't win the championship...or anybody besides Jimmie Johnson for that matter. But it was still kind of cool. Jimmie is short in real life (which must mean that Jeff Gordon is approximately half my size) and he seemed really awkward, and his wife needs to eat some donuts. Rick Hendrick was kind enough to take a photo with us. And as soon as he turned his back, Pete informed me that Rick Hendrick was the recipient of a presidential pardon (by Clinton). Sweet.

December 01, 2006

And you thought NASCAR was over...

Recognize anyone in these photos (besides Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus)?



























These photos are from Yahoo.com. More personal photos to come...(Dis)pencer should have been here.

November 21, 2006

The beginning of an era...


Since the Little Guy recently got hit by a car while riding his bike, I figured this would be the perfect time to honor him by revealing the much-anticipated sweet new LGR kits. If this kit doesn't scream "Little Guy", I'm not sure what would. Like Super Rookie said, "Stars. Baby. Stars."


The end of an era














The 88's getting left behind, but I still look forward
to watching DJ racing in a brown Prius (or whatever)
next season!

November 12, 2006

2006 racing season revisited

After witnessing the MN State Championship Cross race last Sunday, I'm happy to announce that the 2006 MN bike racing season is officially over. Props to everyone who did the race on Sunday...that is a hard course. I rode out there early Sunday morning (before the race) with Pete and Patty Cakes with the intention of doing a hot lap, but I decided that there was no need for me to climb the hill, run through the Creek, or run up the stairs. I thoroughly enjoyed watching a few cross races this year - don't get me wrong, I missed not racing CX just a little bit - but generally speaking, I'm glad I had the cx season off, and I had much more fun watching than I would have if I had been racing.

Looking back on the 2006 racing season, there are definitely a few races that stand out for me. The highlight of my season was my first (and only) win at the track. Granted, a few of the big dogs were missing from the women's field that night, but it was still the highlight of my season (and my cycling career) since I had never won a race before (and haven't won one since). Another race I really enjoyed was the early season crit I did in Neenah Wisconsin in May. It was the first long crit I'd ever done, and it was one of my best races. I also thoroughly enjoyed the big pack riding experiences at Superweek...I'll definitely be headed back next year. What is strange is that my best/favorite races all took place out of town (with the exception of my one glorious night of track racing). I'm not sure what that means, but I'm hoping to do better at the local races next year. And while crits are my favorite, I realize I'm going to need to train better for road races as well.

Speaking of the 2007 racing season, I'm currently in southern MN recruiting for LGR. More on that later.

On an unrelated yet equally important note - for those of you who enjoyed my blog more than usual when I was in France, check out Eye of the Beerholder - Chadley now has his own blog, and I'm looking forward to it. Although it took him a month and a half to get it going, so I'm a little nervous about how often he's going to post...he may need some encouragement.

Strats

November 07, 2006

Car-buying Part 2: The Research

The first step of my research was to consult Consumer Reports, so I paid my $26 annual subscription fee, and went to work. I found the information to be very helpful and was amazed at how accurate it was. For example, the Honda Civic is one of Consumer Reports highest ranked cars. The only thing that was rated "poor" on the Civic was the exhaust systems for '97s, '98s, and '99s. I just happen to have a '99, and I had to replace my exhaust system a few years ago. And that's the only problem I've ever really had. The new car I was looking at was a Consumer Reports "recommended" car and after reading their rankings and road test results, I was more than satisfied.

The next step was Edmunds.com - and this is where I found the mother load of car-buying advice. If anyone reading this is considering buying a car, I highly recommend that you read the series of articles on Edmunds.com called "Confessions of a Car Salesman" - this dude went "undercover" for Edmunds and became a car salesman and the information he provides in this series of articles is extremely valuable and sometimes almost unbelievable. One of the things I learned about in these articles was that car dealerships now have "Internet Sales Managers" (I realize this may be old news to some of you, but I haven't bought a car since 1999) - and your typical floor salesman does not like it when someone enters the dealership and asks for the "fleet manager" or "Internal sales manager" because typically that means that the customer has done all of their Internet research. Which leads me to step 3...

Step 3 was using Edmunds.com "Free Price Quote" tool. Using this tool, I just entered in the make and model of the car and my zip code, then all of the local dealerships that sell the car I was looking for popped up. Then I just entered some info (like my e-mail address) and choose which dealers I wanted to send my "price quote" to, and hit "submit". Within hours, all of the dealers I had chosen starting sending me their price quotes via e-mail. And I couldn't believe it...their initial quotes were $1,000 less than the sticker price at the dealership. While the price quotes were coming in, I used Edmunds to get a "True Market Value" (TMV) report. This report lists the MSRP price of the car (including any add-ons you may want) and the destination fee. The TMV also lists the invoice price for the car (and any add-ons) so that you have an idea about what the dealer paid.

Step 4 - I started e-mailing the Internet Sales managers back. In their initial e-mails, they all said "have you driven the car yet?" and "we should set up an appointment for you to come in and drive the car and talk" - they were trying to lure me to the dealership, which is exactly what I didn't want to do since I realized that I was actually feeling like I was the one in control. So in my responses, I started dropping names - e.g. "I know you said you were giving me the best price in the state, but dealer X offered me this much lower, and dealer Y offered me the same price plus a bonus package." One dealership started getting whiny about what the other dealership was offering, and the others kept trying to sweeten the deal....and this was all via e-mail. I had everything in writing. It was awesome. And I was actually having fun.

The 5th step would turn out to be the key step in my research process - I phoned a friend. I called a friend/car saleswoman and I talked to her about the offers I was getting and she told me exactly what to do. Long story short, I offered to buy the car from one dealership for $200 less than invoice (plus some discounts on my add-ons), and much to my surprise, they accepted my offer. In the end, I got the car and add-ons for about $2,000 less than the sticker price. I was satisfied.

Still to come...Financing with Mr. Slippery and Lessons Learned.

LGR update

I've gotten a few more questions, so I thought I'd share:

What do the LGR kits look like?
Oh, they're cool. Think they're not? They're very celestial.

Does the Little Guy really have hairy legs?
You tell me:












I haven't seen Tuffy out riding for a while, is he doing some secret training?
Only the monkey knows.

So I see that Time is one of your sponsors, does that mean Smithers is joining LGR?
While that would be a natural fit, I think Smithers prefers to race against Super Rookie at the track so that he has something to talk smack about. But maybe if Ped joined, Smithers would reconsider.

What do some of the LGR member's tattoos look like?
I'm glad you asked. Guess the LGR team members:












































Are you really getting a tattoo?
No mom. No Pat. But I would like a NASCAR belt buckle.

What's the most number of piercings that a LGR team member has?
I haven't taken a poll yet, but I'm told there's one team member that has eight...so that might be tough to beat. Although rumor has it Gilby's going for nine.

Car-Buying Part 1: Let the games begin

Four days ago, I dreaded the idea of buying a new car. I've only bought a car from a dealership once before, and it was the cliche car buying experience - slimy salesmen throwing out phrases like "trust me, you're getting a great deal", "you should definitely get the extended warranty", "I need to talk to my manager", "okay fine, we'll throw in the floor mats for free", "you're not going to find a better deal anywhere else", and "want to go water-skiing with us?" (okay, the last one wasn't typical, but I was actually asked that). That was about 7 years ago and I had to take my dad with me to help with the negotiating part because I was so nervous about getting ripped off.

So it's no surprise that I was not looking forward to going through this process again. But last weekend, Pete convinced me to go test drive the car I've been eyeing up for a while now. Having been through the process many more times than me, Pete is much more experienced at it - but he's also much more cynical about it. The second a car salesman starting walking towards us, Pete put his head down and mumbled to me "quick, walk away before he talks to us". When the salesman asked if he could help us, I politely told him that we were just looking, and to his credit, he left us alone. But when you actually want to test drive a car, you have no choice but to deal with Mr. Slimy Salesman - but much to our surprise, we got to deal with Ms. Friendly-and-Not-Too-Pushy saleschick. Pete and I both drove the car, and really liked it, so when we got back to the dealership, they got us right where they wanted us - in the office talking numbers. I actually liked Ms. Friendly-and-Not-Too-Pushy, and felt like I might actually be able to buy a car from her eventually...but then her evil twin, Ms. Used-Car-Sales pushed her way into the office. Ms. Used-Car-Sales was the cliche car salesperson - smoker with raspy voice, lots of bling, pushy, annoying, and not a good listener (e.g. her-"what color do you want?", me-"black", her-"we don't have a black one, but we have a yellow one", me-
I definitely don't want yellow", her-"well we have a red one too", me-"I'm actually set on black", her-"well that limits your options", me (to myself)-"no shit, that's why I want to buy a new one"). By the time Ms. Used-Car-Sales was done yammering, we'd had enough of the process for the day. And fortunately, since I wasn't in a hurry to buy, it was quite easy to walk out (knowing that they'd be contacting me soon anyway).

Having test driven the car, I decided it was time to do some Internet research. And I was amazed at what I found...

November 01, 2006

For (Dis)pencer

Happy holidays!
















p.s. the ears were too difficult.

October 30, 2006

Brick Tamland would be proud

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I recently bought a "Wireless Forecast Projection Station" -i.e., an indoor/outdoor thermometer/weather forecasting dual alarm clock that projects the time and outdoor temperature on the ceiling. I've been wanting a projection alarm clock for a while now, and I found this one for half price at SierraTradingPost.com. So I finally set up my new clock yesterday, and I love this thing.

One of the reasons I wanted one of these fancy weather stations is because I'm terrible at dressing for those weekly weekend group rides - doesn't matter if it's spring, summer, fall, or winter - I never seem to dress appropriately. So now when I wake up in the morning, I'll know exactly what the temperature is and I'm hoping that will help me figure out how to dress for riding. Of course, the obvious major flaw in this plan is the fact that when it's less than 20 degrees outside in winter, I'll know before I even get out of bed...which will make it extra difficult to get out of bed and motivate myself to go ride. This leads me to my next issue - finding good winter cycling clothing. Over the past few winters, I've found a few pieces of winter cycling clothing that have significantly improved my winter riding experiences - Craft windstopper tights, Louis Garneau lobster gloves; and a super warm Velo Bella winter jacket. I have some Castelli booties (that I use with toe warmer packets), but I don't think they're that great - I'm looking for something that will keep my feet a little warmer. I'm also looking for some medium-weight bib tights - the kind of tights you can wear this time of year. My Craft tights are awesome, but they're too warm to wear in the 30 - 50 degree weather. Suggestions? Favorite booties and bib tights? Any other cold weather gear that a cyclist in MN can't be without? Bring it.

October 25, 2006

"this guy isn't competitive stripe"

Attention NASCAR fans/members of LGR:

Did you read "We Wonder" this week? Mark Spoor was wondering whether or not Denny Hamlin should remove the rookie stripe from his car, and he says:

Isn't it time the rookie stripe comes off?

It's not like the other drivers see the stripe on his car and think, "Oh boy, I better watch out. This guy might not know what he's doing."

Instead of a rookie stripe, there should be a "this guy isn't competitive stripe." We all know there are more than a few non-rookies out there that should have some sort of warning label on their car.

Talk amongst yourselves.

I like the idea of the "this guy isn't competitive stripe" (see Michael Waltrip) in NASCAR. So who do you think is most deserving of the "TGICS"? My favorite non-competitive guy is Hermie Sadler - family dinners at the holidays must be rough for that guy.

I also like the idea of bringing the rookie stripe to bike racing - first year racers should have a big yellow stripe on their helmets. Or maybe they should have a rookie flag for their bike.





October 24, 2006

19 going on 40

Head over to Patty Cakes's blog and wish the future of MN Cycling a Happy Birthday!




















Photos courtesy of www.skinnyski.com

October 23, 2006

For Skibby

Let me just preface this by saying "I got nothing"...i.e., I have nothing that interesting to be blogging about lately. However, since Skibby seems to think I'm slacking here at 'got the bonk', I'll post just for the sake of posting (see Super Rookie). I should also point out that there is just one of me - I do not have a list of "contributors" (see Skibbysez). Nor am I a football fan (see The Donimator). Nor am I a baseball fan (see Tuffy Town). I haven't gotten my car stolen just yet (see Karla!). I'm really not that good with a can of spraypaint (see (Dis)pencer). I didn't go to track nationals (see Ugly Bike). And let's face it - I just don't have half as much to say as some other bloggers (see Smithers). Although I apparently have way more to say than at least two local bloggers (see Pure Jenius and Ladyvelo).

But since Skibby wants to know what I've been up to for the past week, I'll go ahead and bore everyone with a few details.

I didn't really do much last week - I've been enjoying the last few weeks of my "rest month". I've been taking the time to cook good meals, drink some wine, and I've been trying to take it easy so my hip heals. My doc has ordered up a cortisone shot if/when I need/want it.

On a more serious note, my grandma who has been in the nursing home for several years has taken a turn for the worse after a series of strokes. My mom got the call last week that grandma wouldn't make it through the weekend (this is not the first time she's gotten that call). But grandma rallied once again, and assuming she makes it through this week, I'll have a chance to see her next weekend. It's difficult because she hasn't really been able to communicate well for a few years and I don't think she remembers me...it seems like the strokes have caused her memory to go back about 30 years. I remember the last "normal" conversation I had with her many years ago before she had her first stroke. My grandpa was in the hospital and I had gone to visit. That was around the time that I was considering having leg surgery and I remember my grandma asking me all about it. I am glad a have that memory.

On a much lighter note, I had a fun weekend to help take my mind off the more depressing part of my week. Saturday I did my first Little Guy Racing team ride. Apparently Super Rookie was feeling a bit nostalgic, so we did the Tour de Super Rookie's Childhood. It was actually pretty cool because I haven't done much riding on that side of the Twin Cities, so it was nice to mix it up a bit. Unfortunately, our team's namesake had a mechanical problem (i.e. broken spoke) during the ride, so we were Little Guyless for most of the ride. And so began Little Guy Racing...without the Little Guy.

After riding in the chilly weather all morning, I got home just in time to avoid the bonk. I felt it coming on, so I went straight to the shower to thaw out for about 40 minutes with my recovery drink in hand. I really wanted a nap after that, but I didn't have time - I was cooking a pre-cx-race dinner for eight that night (it felt like Thanksgiving), so I had to start dinner prep. I spent the afternoon and early evening prepping and primping until our dinner guests arrived. We ate a lot of food, drank a lot of wine, and told a lot of cycling stories (and there was one poor non-cycling soul that had to listen to it all!).

On Sunday, Pete and I had decided to forego watching NASCAR in favor of watching some local racing action over at Powderhorn Park. I made some hot-chocolate-to-go, we got bundled up and headed out on the Rollos. Powderhorn is a great race venue, and The Hub did a great job putting on the race - although the "mud pit" that had gotten a lot of attention on the MCF message board was a bit of a disappointment - if you're going to make a mud pit, make it a serious mud pit...not just a mushy little turn where even the C racers can all get through it upright. Apparently my pre-race dinner didn't have enough punch, because everyone who ate it struggled more than usual at Powderhorn...apologies from the chef. Anyway, it was fun to watch and I was so glad I wasn't racing...that course really looks hard. And the cold ride home on the singlespeed into the headwind was hard enough for me (it's my rest month after all!).

I wrapped up the weekend by visiting my other little guys who were excited to show me their Halloween costumes and to show me the toy section of the Fleet Farm flyer that contains what they want for Christmas. And I'm happy to report that one of my nephews wants a Lightning McQueen bike.

Wow, this got long...and it's all Skibby's fault.

October 15, 2006

Grumpy's Cycling/LGR

I recently made the difficult decision to leave the Velo Bella team and join a new team for 2007. It's truly been an honor to be involved with such an unique, all-female team these past few years. When I put on the Velo Bella kit for the first time a few years back, I had no idea how supportive everyone would be of a team that wears a pink and blue kit with a Schwin Slick Chik (with a flowered basket), a very feminine looking woman, a black cat, and an "Ooh La La" on it. Velo Bella has done great things for women cyclists both locally and nationally, and I'll definitely miss the "go Bella!" cheers I get from perfect strangers no matter where I'm racing. Thank you Bellas, Fellas, and Friends!

For 2007, I'm joining a brand new team here in the Twin Cities...Grumpy's Cycling/LGR. I'm really excited about having another team mixing it up in the local cycling scene and I'm especially excited to have yet another women's team representing in the women's fields.

I've had a lot of questions about Grumpy's Cycling/LGR, and while I don't have answers to all of them just yet, I can at least give them a shot:

  • Who's sponsoring your team? Well, I guess the most obvious sponsor is Grumpy's Bar. Moose and Sadie's coffee shop is also on board, amongst others that I'm not sure I'm supposed to mention just yet.
  • How many people are on your team? I'm not actually sure. I'd guess about 10-15 at this time, but you'd have to bug (dis)pencer or Super Rookie for a more accurate answer.
  • Are there other women on the team? Yep. One of them is Gilby.
  • From what I've heard, this new team is all trackies and/or bike messengers. That's not really a question, but it's true that pretty much everyone on the team races at the track, but I think everyone also races on the road. And yeah, there are some messengers...I'm not sure how many are actually practicing messengers these days, but they definitely have some messenger history.
  • I've heard that messengers are all tattooed and don't shower. Again, that's not really a question, but I know that a lot of my new teammates do in fact have tattoos. As far as not showering, I don't know the answer to that - but I hope that's true, because it could motivate me to ride fast enough to be at the front of group rides so that I'm not downwind. So I could be fast next year.
  • What does "LGR" stand for? Little Guy Racing.
  • Why Little Guy Racing? It's better than Team Awesome (in my opinion anyway, Super Rookie probably disagrees).
  • Yeah, but where does "Little Guy" come from? Um, I'm actually not sure where he's from. I actually don't know the Little Guy very well, but I'll be sure to get the details on a group ride soon...I wonder who his favorite NASCAR driver is?
  • Little Guy's an actual person? Oh yeah, he's a legend at the track, and he's got some of the coolest kits around...you can't miss him. I'm actually not sure if he'll be wearing the same kits as the rest of us next year...it might be against everything he stands for.
  • What's the deal with everyone on Grumpy's Cycling being NASCAR fans? Being a NASCAR fan is a prerequisite for being a team member...it was on the application I had to fill out. I think it said "Who is your favorite NASCAR driver and why?". More importantly, there was another question that said "Who is your least favorite NASCAR driver?", and I'm fairly certain if you answered the #19 or #48 that you won't be on Grumpy's Cycling/LGR next year (unless maybe you're the Little Guy).
  • So are you getting a tattoo? Probably. Since I'm not a messenger and have never actually ridden a fixed gear outside of the track, I might struggle to fit in, so a tattoo would definitely help me bond with my new team. I'm leaning towards a team motto...maybe something like "Little Guy Racing - where nobody dis's a rookie".
  • What's up with the talking monkey? Nothing says "Grumpy's Cycling/Little Guy Racing" like a talking monkey.
  • So is your pink Peacock Groove track bike going to clash with your new kit? No, I think our new pink, teal, peach, and bright green colored kits will match just fine (I think those are Little Guy's favorite colors, so the kit colors really do make sense).
  • Did the Donimator really offer his Hummer as the Grumpy's Cycling/LGR team car? Wow, I haven't heard about this offer. I suppose it's possible...what with the high gas prices and such...maybe he's looking for car-poolers.
I'll try to answer more questions about Grumpy's Cycling/LGR in later posts after I have some more accurate answers to all of the questions I've been getting.

I'm looking forward to '07!

Strats

What do weddings, NASCAR, and CX all have in common?

Alcohol.

My sister got married last Friday, the 13th. So my parents rolled into town last Thursday afternoon and helped me clean for the post-wedding brunch we'd be having at my place on Saturday morning. My parents don't mess around when they clean - my dad was taking screens off my windows and taking them outside and sweeping them off, and my mom was using every unique cleaner I have (stainless steel cleaner for the stainless steel appliances, ceramic cleaner for the ceramic oven top, Resolve for all of the grease spots from our bikes on my white carpet, etc.). It was amazing...I totally appreciated their help. After my place was sparkling clean, we headed to Cafe Lurcat for the groom's dinner. We met everyone in the wedding party, had an excellent meal, and started the drinking.

Friday was the big day...coffee, hair (and a bottle of hairspray), make-up, nails, lunch at Yum!, and pictures...7 hrs of prep time for a 10-minute ceremony...now that's a short and sweet wedding! Then it was time to celebrate with my sister and my new brother-in-law, Jazz (also a big NASCAR fan)...eating, dancing, drinking, catching up with relatives, drinking...it was a great time. I decided that weddings are a lot more fun when you know both the bride and groom. So now both of my siblings are married...and it became very obvious on Friday night that I could no longer avoid the inevitable "so when are you getting married?" comments. Ugh.

My sister and Jazz then swung by Saturday morning to say goodbye and head off on their honeymoon somewhere in the middle of some ocean on some island that I had to Google to figure out where it was. Then the relatives came over for coffee, brunch and mimosas. More drinking. After everyone left, my mom helped me clean once again, then my parents headed home...that was probably around 1 pm, and I was exhausted.

I then proceeded to the lay on the couch all afternoon napping off and on, watching cheesy movies on TBS when I was awake, and counting the hours until the NASCAR race started. When the race started, the drinking began again (although it wasn't very NASCAR-like, because we were drinking wine instead of Budweiser). It was a great race - I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with DJ after Sorenson took him out, and I particularly enjoyed that he mentioned how his engine just happened to stall in front of Sorenson's pit box when Sorenson was trying to pit...I believe his comment was "Imagine that". But, the highlight of the night was definitely Kasey's big win. It was particularly exciting because earlier in the morning, I had given my nephew the #9 car (matchbox size) to add to his collection of DJ cars - I figured it might be a good idea to get him excited about a driver who might actually still be driving when he's old enough to drink a Bud while he's watching a race (he's 3.5 yrs old now, so he's got a while). Although I think the blue paint scheme on Kasey's car probably threw him off if he was actually watching the race.

I wrapped up the awesome weekend with a short ride with Gilby before heading to Boom Island to watch the CX races and drink more free beer! It was exciting to see so many people racing. And it was fun to watch the women's B race come down to the final sprint, with Margot just barely nipping Linda S at the line.

Good times, good times.

October 09, 2006

More photos from France

I've uploaded a few more photos from our trip to France...Flickr limits the number I can upload in one month, so I'm trying to be patient.

I apologize that got-the-bonk has actually had the bonk lately. I'm not racing cross this year, so there's not much to report on the cycling front...except that Pete and I did some nice longish rides last weekend and enjoyed the fall colors. And I'm officially sad that it's getting cold.

The big news for the family is that my little sis is getting married this week...on Friday the 13th. And my mom's having Saturday brunch for a bunch of my relatives at my two-bedroom condo...should be...cozy. I'm really happy for my sister and her soon-to-be-husband, so I'm looking forward to this weekend. The wedding/reception/dance will definitely be a good time and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of my relatives.

Speaking of weddings, congrats to my Bella teammate and her Fella on their recent engagement (they're finally making it "official")!!

Strats

p.s. for those of you who enjoyed my guest blogger Chadley, rumor has it, he was inspired to start his own blog...I'll link to it as soon as he actually posts something (hint-hint).

October 01, 2006

Bonjour!

I thought that when I returned from my trip to France that I'd pull out my journal from the trip and blog about anything and everything. But now that I'm home, I'm tired, and there's so much to say that I realize this is a situation where less is more. So I'll just skip right to the highlight of the trip...the day I did my first century ride that included climbing Mt. Ventoux. When I woke up that morning, my goal was just to ride to Mt. Ventoux, climb it, and ride home. The catch is that I had no idea it would involve 100 miles of riding (which also included a Cat 2 climb in addition to Mt. Ventoux). Just as a side note, it turns out there is no such thing as a "flat road" in Provence...you're either climbing or descending...there's nothing in between - and oftentimes, those climbs are many miles long. Riding to Ventoux and climbing it was amazing. Riding home sucked. And while that day was definitely the highlight of my riding career so far, I paid the price for it for the remainder of the trip.

There are 3 routes up Mt. Ventoux - I rode the "easiest" one (up the east side of the mountain from the City of Sault). It's a 26 km climb that rises about 1220 meters. Pete rode with me and photographed my ascent and then he later climbed Mt. Ventoux via the most difficult route - the Tour de France route. The last 6 km of the route I did is the same as the Tour route...and it's steep.

Instead of giving all of the grueling details, I'll just provide some stats from the big day and the link to the pictures for anyone who's interested in seeing them.

  • Number of Category 2 climbs: 1
  • Number of Hors cat├ęgorie climbs: 1
  • Miles ridden on the way to Ventoux before starting the ascent: approximately 40
  • Number of other cyclists climbing Ventoux on mountain bikes: a lot (most)
  • Number of men climbing Ventoux: a lot
  • Number of women climbing Ventoux: about 3 (including me)
  • Number of cyclists I passed on the way up Ventoux: 11 (10 men, 1 woman)
  • Number of cyclists that passed me: 0 (unless you include Pete)
  • Best guess at my average speed during the ascent: 7 mph
  • Lowest speed I saw on my computer during the ascent: 4.9 mph
  • Total miles ridden: 100
  • Total time in the saddle: 7 hrs, 54 minutes (ouch)
  • Total food intake along the way: 5 GUs, 1 bottle of GU2O, 3 bottles of water, 1 almond pastry, 1 espresso, 1 coke, 1 piece of bread
Photos of the big day are located here.

When Pete climbed the Tour route later in the week, I think he climbed it in around 1 hr and 15 minutes (I believe the record was set by Iban Mayo and is somewhere around 55 minutes). That was the other highlight of the trip...watching Pete get to do something he's wanted to do since he was a kid.

It was a really fun trip filled with beautiful scenery, delicious food, wonderful wine, and great riding.

And now it's time for my rest month.

Special thanks to Chadley for updating my blog while I was gone!

September 24, 2006

Rock Starved

So, I said I'd blog about music and bands and rock and roll and all that, right? Well, when I was a kid, growing up in a tiny town in Northern Minnesota, I wanted more than anything in the world to be a rock star. It was the 80s, and I wanted long hair, a bad attitude, and at least one self-destructive-but-glamorous habit. I was also interested in playing music, but mostly because that’s what rock stars did. The ability to either scream your lungs out or play ear-melting guitar solos seemed like the surest path to rock stardom, but therein lie the problem: I could do neither. I could sing, but I had a range of about three notes. And as far as rippin guitar solos went, well, I played the piano. I was decent, but being good at a few Bach fugues doesn’t pull the chicks the way Eddie’s lead on Hot for Teacher does.

I tried to make my piano skills work for me. I bought an expensive keyboard and played in a band with some kids from school. (Believe it or not, one of those kids happened to be Alan Sparhawk of Low.) But let’s face it: keyboardists just aren’t cool. They’ve never been cool and they never will be cool. Think Yanni. They’re like the rock and roll equivalent of the IT department. The better they are at what they do the more likely they are to be considered nerds.

So I decided to try my hand at guitar. I picked it up pretty quickly, thanks to my familiarity with chords and scales and all that, but I had no luck with those blistering solos I was so desperate to master. Eventually, I gave up. I didn’t stop playing guitar, and I didn’t lose my interest in music, but I did stop dreaming of rock stardom. That was over fifteen years ago.

And then, one night last fall, I had a couple buddies over for beers. We got a little drunk and I started singing along to a CD. Now, like I said, back in high school I could sing, but only about three notes. But years of singing along to the radio in the car had actually improved my range a bit. That night my buddy heard me singing and suggested I try out for his friend’s band, which was in need of a lead singer. I didn’t even have to think about it.

It’s been almost a year now since I joined that band, and although I have no illusions of potential rock stardom (or even long rock-star hair), I am singing and playing guitar at high volume at least once a week and also working on a couple self-destructive habits (tame stuff; mostly staying up late on weeknights and not wearing earplugs during practice; that kind of thing). But really, it’s not about being a rock star at this point. I’m old. I gain weight easily, and even when I was young and skinny I would have looked ridiculous in leather pants. Now it’s about playing music. Not great music, just music. I’m still not much of a singer, but I’m better at guitar than I used to be. I can’t play any brain-bending solos, but I don’t really care. For me, now it's about getting together with some friends and playing. You know? Sometimes it's nice to just be in the moment and really enjoy it. Not every ride has to be a training ride, and not every practice has to be a rehearsal. I mean, training or rehearsing when you have a an event coming up is fun, but so is just getting on the bike or strapping on the guitar or lacing up the running shoes simply because it feels good. And seriously, thank god for that, because a lot of us spend our days doing things that we don't really enjoy all that much. So here's to the things we do enjoy, whether we're stars or not.

September 20, 2006

Lurnin' the Hard Way

Things I’ve learned recently:

If you put a bag of frozen corn down the garbage disposal, it’s probably not necessary to wait until it has thawed out to run the disposal. In fact, it’s probably best not to, because you’re likely to forget about it and then the next time you walk into your kitchen you will briefly believe that someone has just stepped barefoot out of a swamp and jammed their unwashed toes up your nostrils.

If you’re screening potential renters for your newly constructed basement apartment, you might want to ask them if they raise snakes. Granted, this might be a bit difficult if they happen to be deaf, but trust me, it’s worth the effort to write it out.

If you’re going to participate in a mountain bike race held on a ski hill over a period of 24 hours, get your flabby ass in shape first. And if you’re not going to do that, if you’ve failed to prepare yourself in any other way whatsoever, at the very least try to avoid eating a can of Spaghetti-Os just prior to the first lap.

I rode the 24 Hours of Afton mountain bike race for the first time in 2001, and I distinctly remember putting on a pair of cold sweat-and-dew soaked biking shorts and almost simultaneously promising myself I would never, ever, ever ride in that race again. I like riding and I like racing, but the 24-hour thing just ain’t my cup of tea. Unfortunately, I am an idiot, and an idiot with a short memory at that. And so, at the end of last month, I found myself once again pulling on a pair of very uncomfortable shorts and wishing I, a) was in better shape, b) wasn’t riding the 24 Hours of Afton, c) could get the taste of Spaghetti-Os out of my mouth, d) all of the above.

It’s d.

To be fair, I appreciated this race much more than the one I did in 2000. The trail was pretty sweet, the weather was decent, and our team wasn’t pretending to compete, which is good, because we’re not even remotely capable of it. But it’s still nice to ride well, to ride a fast lap now and then, and I like to put forth an effort. But something besides my beer gut was really slowing me down: a cramp in my left ass cheek.

It wasn’t one of those full on cramps that totally debilitates you, but rather one of those dull almost-ready-to-go cramps that might actually get worse if you stop pedaling and fully straightened your leg. But still . . . ouch. I was pretty uncomfortable until the cramp migrated from ass cheek to lower back. That’s when I decided to skip a lap or two in favor of lying very still and occasionally gulping fistfuls of ibuprofen. It’s amazing how a cramp in your lower back can really dampen the fun of going without sleep for a day.

Anyway, eventually my back loosened up and I rode a couple more laps. And I’m fully aware that my ass wouldn’t have cramped if I were in great shape. But I’m not, and it did, and I can only hope that this particular pain in the ass sticks in my memory long enough to keep me from doing it all over again next year. At least the riding and not sleeping part. The Spaghetti-Os weren’t really that bad.

September 17, 2006

My First Blog (sponsored by Fisher Price)

Ha! Check me out: I’m blogging! Thanks to Strats and her invitation to be a guest blogger on Got the Bonk, I’m finally hip, maybe even cool. Oh sure, I’m well behind the curve on blogging and the coolness it imparts, but that’s pretty much “how I roll” (to use an expression I’ve been led to believe is something hip/cool people say). I’m rarely on the cutting edge of cool, especially when it comes to pop culture. I wish I could say I’m old school, but the truth is I’m closer to no school. For example, I didn’t even know what MySpace was until it made news for being a dangerous place for kids. I don’t own a TV and have never seen a single episode of Desperate Housewives, which, for all I know might not even bee a cool show anymore. Although between you and me, if it’s not a cool show anymore, I’d suggest they make a few more episodes where Teri Hatcher wears nothing but a potted plant for a good portion of the show. If an uninformed pop culture doofus like me knows about that episode, it has to be good for a show’s Q rating. (See how I worked in another hip phrase there? Q rating. I have no idea what that means. That’s just total BS. I may not know what the hell I’m talking about, but I’ll be dammed if that’s going to keep me from talking.)

Anyway, as Strats' guest blogger I’ll be sure to blog about biking. For example, I recently rode the 24 Hours of Afton (a.k.a., 24 Hours of Asspain), and that’s one of those experiences that’s more fun to talk about than to actually participate in. Seriously. The only part of that race I enjoy is the 364 days a year when I’m not actively involved in it. Which, I suppose, is why I end up doing it every couple of years or so. But I’ll probably mix in a few other topics, too. Like music, maybe. I just picked up the latest disc from Silversun Pickups, and it’s amazing. You should buy it. Maybe I’ll add in a few bits about my new rock star lifestyle, complete with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Those are interesting things, right? I’m not actually involved in all three at the moment, but I’m not going to get into specifics at this point. I’ll just have to pretend.

So Strats, have a good vacation and expect the majority of your blog readership to be either offended or bored by the time you get back.

Cheers.

my guys at Chequamegon

93rd overall (out of 1702 people), second in their division. Not bad. Congrats to the Donimator and his Stoker! Props to Hareland for an 11th place finish on his cross bike...right on.

I've got one beef with the Chequamegon Fat Tire 40 race though. There were 1702 racers in the 40-mile event...and only 139 of them were women. Yet I've been rejected from the race two years in a row. I know they claim to use the lottery registration system so that it's "fair", but something just doesn't seem right. Yes, I realize that there are a lot more men that sign up for the 40-mile race, so theoretically, the percentage of the total men and women who applied and were chosen during the lottery should be the same, but it just seems like they could use a few more women to help make the Chequamegon Festival less of a sausage fest. I'm just sayin'.

The photos of those guys on the tandem are hilarious...something just doesn't look right (photos courtesy of www.skinnyski.com).

So tomorrow's the big day...vacation will officially begin! I went for a ride yesterday with Karla - my first ride in about two weeks. It went pretty well and my hip felt okay...it's probably at about 75-80%, but I think that's good enough to get me through my trip. But dang, did I feel out of shape...I was out of breath the whole time. And I somehow managed to tweak my lower back...which is not unusual for me (the timing is just bad)...I'm sure 10 hours on a plane tomorrow will help (I think my Real Age is probably more like 40+). I don't know if I've ever mentioned before that I have a fascination with aviation (although I'm a bit of an anxious flyer, so I prefer to "fascinate" from the ground). But I generally like hanging out in airports and watching the planes. So luckily, I don't really mind sitting around in an airport for hours - as long as I can see the runway. A few years back, I went to an airshow in Duluth...it was very cool, and the Blue Angels were there...they were awesome. That's another reason that I like watching/going-to NASCAR races...they always have the cool jets do the flyovers before the race. But I disgress.

It's about time that guest blogger of mine shows up...rumor has it he's posting something before I leave.

Until October,
Strats out

September 14, 2006

pre-vacation update

Only 4 more days until vacation...which means only 4 more days until the guest blogger! I'm fairly certain you will all enjoy my guest blogger...in fact, I think you'll enjoy his blogging more than my blogging, so my biggest concern is that you won't want me to come back. But I'm willing to take that risk just to keep my loyal readers (aka my mom and my brother-in-law Chris) entertained while I'm gone.

On a total side note, I think my brother-in-law Chris reads my blog and ALL of the other local cycling blogs in lieu of watching soap operas. This is a guy who went to his first bike race this year (the State Road Race) and helped me and Pete by giving us hand-ups in the feed zone (he took his job very seriously and did great!) and learned all about the Birchwood Bike Team (he was concerned since my race was 50% Bettys). I think he enjoyed the cycling drama. Shortly thereafter, he informed me that he had read some good gossip about the Bellas on the Birchwood message board. Huh? Yep, he'd been reading through all of the blogs, did some googling, and somehow ended up on the Birchwood message board - and it's not like that message board was just one click away for him...he had to do some digging. He even refers to the local cyclists by their blog names (since he has absolutely no idea who they are). Oh, and he's even a bit of a NASCAR fan. (And I know he frequents DrunkCyclist too...I'm sure it's just for the articles). One of these days I think he'll get brave enough to post a comment instead of just lurking in silence. Perhaps he'll comment on something my guest blogger posts.

I haven't ridden my bike for about two weeks now - I've been trying to take it easy ever since my little golf outing re-injury to my hip. The worst part is that I'm missing the last night of track racing tonight. But that's probably for the best since it seems like there have been a lot of crashes this year. I think taking it easy has paid off because I'm feeling a lot better and I'm going to try to get a few rides in this weekend before heading off to ride in France! You might think that I'm annoyingly excited about this trip and you're probably wishing I'd shut up already about going to France to ride my bike. But here's the thing - I've never been to Europe and I've never ridden my bike in a different country - so I'm not trying to rub it in, I'm just truly excited about this opportunity and adventure. And whether you like it or not, I WILL be blogging about it when I get back.

Anyway, be nice to my guest blogger - don't let Super Rookie scare him off. In fact, feel free to invite my guest blogger out on a group ride...he's been trying to find some good group rides. And while he's not a trackie, he has ridden at the velodrome...I witnessed it. Come to think of it, a lot of my non-cyclist friends have ridden the track...even MommaMissy!

Which reminds me...check out The Real Age Test that I read about on MommaMissy's blog. I thought I'd take that test and it would tell me that my "Real Age" is 25....but no, it said 31.7. Which is less than my real age, but not by much! It's kind of depressing.

Strats out

September 12, 2006

the drive-thru

So I pull up to the coffee shop drive-thru this morning and order me up some coffee. The voice-in-the-box responds with the typical "will that be all?"

"Yes, thank you", I reply.

I then expect to hear the usual "please pull forward to the pick-up window". But instead:

"Do you remember Young MC?" says the voice-in-the-box.

"Yes, I do", I curiously reply.

Voice-in-the-box replies, "Good. Then bust a move."

It cracked me up.

September 10, 2006

Friday night festivities

"This guy got in a dirty joke contest with a clown at a haunted house ride in Shakopee" - says the guy drinking the 40. Come again??


And yes, I know, guys who talk on Treos shouldn't be drinking 40s (nice touch Mikey!).

An excellent 2004 vintage...


One bottle of Bitch and one 40 later...






September 09, 2006

How did your ride go?

I totally got the bonk.

Welcome to "got the bonk".