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.


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

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'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 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 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".