Monday, July 21, 2008

Semi-Pro Short Track National Short Race – Shorter Report (hopefully, but I can’t make any promises)

Why did I sign up for three races in three days? I didn’t think about the consequences much like the time I blind-sided Derrick Hughes with a flying choke hold during a schoolyard brawl in 4th grade. He did go down, but not for long, and the ultimate result was me getting body slammed to the hard ground like a rag doll. I feel much worse than that right now, much worse. Probably because I tried to throw a flying choke on a mountain this weekend and the result was that IT body slammed me to the ground for a total of four and a half hours over the past three days. But I’ll be stronger for it right? Please tell me I’ll reap some sort of benefit from this horribly failed experiment.
Short Track, it’s the deformed love child of Mountain Biking and Cyclocross. Like a flipper baby with Nunchucks where it’s flippers should be. When you coo at it whacks you in the mouth with it’s deadly wooden appendages. Bastard, stupid, Numb-Chunk baby.

Me and Wheels Hammering away.

So I’m last up the hill into the first corner, only one way to go from there, each lap I’m able to move up, mostly on the small hill, which was nice because that’s where my family was watching so at least I looked alright in front of them. I rode around drooling, panting, and grimacing for about twenty minutes before Todd Wheelden gapped back up to me and made the pass, then we got pulled. At first I thought I’d misunderstood, because when I looked up the leaders were well up the course behind me and in the end the guy who was ten feet in front of me was able to finish. I didn’t really care, I was spent, I’d had quite enough bike racing for a while. 21st place out of about 40…outstanding.
That’s it for me.

The inevitable post-race sprawl.

Wicked Official Single Speed National Championship Mt. Snow

Day Two
: Why We Fight

Woke up an entirely different person on Saturday, it was just before 5AM but Dan had woken up well before me and had the coffee going, already a good start. There was a whole lot more singing and general silliness and shenanigans going on than there were Friday. Miriam opted to ride to the mountain with Montello due to the fact that he was spinning some smooth R & B jams, while Dan and I were getting ourselves pumped up with some Maiden, Halen, Misfits, Motorhead, Ministry, and all sorts of other assorted hardness and or loudness. It was working.
Since I had room in the car I’d brought my trainer, and despite Monty’s heckling “Dude, you’re the only guy warming up for the single speed race on a trainer”. I didn’t care, my legs were hammered from friday, and they needed help getting going. I spun solid on that thing for half an hour and hopped on my bike feeling good, I might have to make a habit of it.

Yeah, we're runnin' a little bit hot tonight
I can barely see the road from the heat comin' off
You know what I'm sayin'

There were a whole lot of single speeders on the line, close to forty I guess. Some of the guys up front looked like serious pros. There was a big mud puddle in the middle of the front row, I wasn’t deterred , I figured standing in the puddle wasn’t going to be close to the worst thing that happened to me all day so I sidled up and planted my feet in the dirty water. I gotta face the facts, I suck at starting, I thought the reason why I got so shot to the back at the start of friday’s race was due to my single-speediness, but no…I was got shot to the back of the SS start as well. I swear I was behind a guy who’s chainring was smaller than his cog, now that’s a climbing gear. I didn’t know how my body would react to three more laps after racing four on Friday so I took it easy, riding well within myself, just getting up stuff and trying to keep it smooth, fun, and efficient.
My strategy for the first climb, which with the new course design was basically the beginning of a massive larger climb was to jump off and shoulder the bike ‘Cross style up the first tier, hop on as it flattened out, then ride the rest of the course from there on up. What I saw first lap and throughout the race was that anyone who rode the first tier had to walk the second up to the singletrack, by conserving on the first bit I was able to move into the top ten on lap one by riding from the corner on. One of my favorite parts of the course aside from the descent was the technical, slightly uphill singletrack after the nasty, access road climb leading up to the next nasty, access road climb. A really nice addition.
One difference between this day and the day prior was the that I was just stoked to ride my bike during this race, I was riding all but one little section of the course and feeling good doing it. I was also moving forward, passing riders while no one was gapping up to me, not even the leaders of the many Expert fields, always a good sign. Not only was I riding within myself, I was riding with full self-absorption, I don’t remember much about how things unfolded really, just the riding. I guess that’s a good thing. I do recall chasing and chasing this one dude, he was always just out of reach until the last lap. I closed down on him on the final ski slope portion of the climb, passing him on the one of the rocky traverse sections. He out-sprinted me to the hole shot for the descent, but I shadowed him, breathing down his neck, waiting for a slip up…and he did slip up, literally. There was this near 90° corner on the descent that happened to be on flat ground. I had trouble cleaning it when it was dry and now it was a mess of wet roots, the only place I dabbed on the entire course. I went inside, not even thinking about cleaning it as the other rider went wide to the more rideable line, he slipped, I picked up my bike and ran in front of him, almost immediately passing two lapped riders, putting some traffic between us. I heard a decisive move was made in the same spot during the Expert 50-54 race, but it was shut down with some dodgy/aggressive tactics, i.e.; rider getting passed put a death grip on passing riders arm and dragged him back. The better, less dodgy rider would win the day though. Some things do work out in the end.

Dan, killing the big post-race breakfast at Dot's.

I’d roll across the line for 5th place, good enough for a place setting at the kiddie table to the right of the podium and a tin medal. The kid that won the SS race had finished 4th in the U23 race, which would have been good enough for a 10th in the Pro race, the guy’s no joke apparently. Local rider John Foley finished second with a kick ass ride, especially for a dude who races a single speed once a year.

Foley coulda won too if he didn't do the race while piggy-backing his kid.

Later we’d watch the Pro races, Mo had a killer ride with a 16th place in her second Pro MTB race. She’s already known for her mad skills on the ‘Cross bike, with her newly honed MTB skills she’s going to be a nightmare rolling come this fall. Watching Adam Craig own the downhill is always worth the hike and seeing Jesse hanging in the top ten on his SS up the first climb was pretty cool too. If you’ve been reading Big Bikes for a while you’ve probably heard me sing the praises of Greg Carpenter’s sick descending skills, well that kid had a crazy good ride with an 8th place in the U23’s, which would have been good enough for top twenty in the Pro’s, he put it all together when it counted. Kind of wish I could have done the same, but, hey…what you gonna do? Plenty more racing to be had this season, plenty more racing. Time to get back to trying my damndest to defend my lead in the Root 66 series and get ready for SSWC08 and The VT50 beyond that.
Thanks to Miriam for all the support, Colin and Linnea for the awesome cheering, Teri for the lodging, my parents, sister, and Noah and Lyla for coming up, I wouldn’t call it a successful weekend, but it was fun.

Swimming hole of the gods. West Townsend, VT.

Dan and Greg attempt to become statistics.

National Championships Mt. Snow, VT What’s The Point of That? Or Bad, Bad Brain

After I’d finished my race on Saturday, I was walking up to check out the Pro Men on the downhill section of the XC course. I overheard a guy telling his friend that there was a whole single speed category, that people rode the Mt. Snow course on one gear. His response: “What’s the point of that?”. After Friday’s Semi-Pro race I was kind of asking myself the same question. I’d pre-ridden the course on Thursday to check out the changes which had been made since the Root 66 series race a few weeks ago, what I saw was good…not necessarily good for a single speeder racing geared guys, but good for humanity as a whole, so I’d have to suck it up. The singletrack at the top was definitely an improvement, and not having to hike-a-bike for the whole first part of the climb was a plus. Problem was, during the race I would be hiking the first sections of the climb while other riders were riding up it in their granny gears.

A couple days before the race, riding in Wolfeboro, NH.

It was hot, the course was more dry than I’d ever seen it, not the way I prefer it, I like my Mt. Snow course served up wet and gnarly…just like my coffee. Just a warning; this is not going to be the most positive, least whiny, wanky report ever, I apologize in advance. I’m not even going to ramble on about all the stupid crap that happened before the race, much like the actual race, I just want to get this thing over with and move on to the next thing. All my prep had gone well, had a vacation week in-between Windham and Mt. Snow, but somehow something didn’t go right, a piece of the puzzle was missing. This was apparent early on and then more apparent later on in the race, things went from miserable to downright depressing.

A car full of crap, and a whole bunch of bikes on the roof, that's happiness to me.

Excuses, excuses, my stomach was full of angry baboons throwing poop, I felt like I was going to puke and, like that horrible song by that Horrible band “Boston” it was “More than a feeling”. Mountain-Berry Accelerade, you are now officially retired. Regurgitating bright blue, looks like port-a-potty fluid stuff during a race is something I only want to do once. While walking up the second tier of the beginning of the main climb, I was doubled over my bike, just letting loose the blue juice, another rider asked if I was alright. “Yup, feelin’ GOOD!” was my response. I was lying and vomiting through my teeth simultaneously. Don’t try that at home.
I think my first couple laps were pretty good, the first was around 30 minutes, the second wasn’t much slower, yet somehow on the latter two laps I was able to find a way to add twenty minutes on to my finishing time, that’s talent! I mean, yes I gave up, but I kept riding my bike, just at a greatly diminished rate of speed. I walked all the steep stuff, hoping to save something for the SS race at 8AM the next morning, and tried to concentrate on descending well. My brain was total crap. I have never had so many negative, self-defeating thoughts during a race in my life. “You suck at Ski area races, maybe you shouldn’t even race tomorrow” was my favorite. It was astonishing how much I was sucking out there though, I mean I had to run a really low gear (32 X 22) but I didn’t realized that a gear like that actually causes you to move backward. I felt like a club rider on the side of Alp d’Huez watching the GC riders of the Tour De France blow by, pushing out enough Watts to power all the Toyota Priuses in Cambridge, MA for a week.
So yes, that went well, finished over twenty minutes down in 40th place, don’t know what else to say about that. Afterwards we did go to the swimming hole of the gods though, and that was a small, good thing.

The descent to the swimming hole in Jamaica (Vermont, uh...Dread), more difficult than the new Mt. Snow course. Miriam wouldn't let me post the photo of her busting her ass three seconds later.

Greg cooling off "The Leg[s]".

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

His head looks like Jack Nicholson - Don't smile like that, it will stay that way

Matt just sent me some photos from the weekend. I think they capture how oblivious I was prior to the race and how shattered I was post race pretty well. I was struck by how much I have come to resemble my childhood hero Jet-Jaguar (when I smile in a bizarre way). It is possible that by thinking about Jet Jaguar, I was able to alter my facial features to look like his. This is a concept detailed in the Talking Heads song "Seen and Not Seen". I went ahead and found some photos of Jet-Jaguar on the interweb.
I had never really noticed his resemblance to Jack Nicholson. I then stumbled upon a Youtube video where the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys had "translated" the lyrics to the Jet- Jaguar theme song. "His head looks like Jack Nicholson" was part of the silly "translation".
Then I turned on the TV and there was a show on The History Channel About how Jack Nicholson had hired a mad Japanese scientist to create an army of Super-Mecha-Jet-Jack Nicholsons in his image in the late 60's. They ended up escaping and wreaking havoc which forced the Japanese Military to hire a giant space turtle who loves children to destroy the rogue, crazy-smiling robots. All but two Jet-Jack's were terminated, one was reprogrammed and re-branded as "Jet-Jaguar" while another escaped to the U.S. where he would impregnate my mom.

Isn't it funny how things come in threes? OK, everything after the part about the Youtube video is mostly made up, there was no show on the history channel, but no one can prove that an escaped Jet-Jaguar isn't my dad...unless they use science.

Yeah! Riding bikes is fun! Woo!

What? 4400 feet of climbing in less than 20 miles. How bad can that be?

John Burns was nice enough to hand my ass back to me after the race. didn't cut your own appendix out and throw in the bushes in a desperate act to shave weight during the race? You don't say.

This ain't cuttin' it, I need a recovery drink that replenishes bone marrow, blood, and viscera.

Monday, July 14, 2008

East Coast National, Windam, Mt.


I was on the fence about this one. The original plan was to hit the NMBS race on Saturday, which is about three and a half hours from home, then head up to New Hampshire and do the EFTA Pinnacle race on Sunday at 10AM (which is wicked, but we wouldn't end up doing it). This plan started to mess with my head and I thought of scrapping the whole deal, didn’t want to dash all hopes of having good rides at Nationals in VT the following week. by biting off more than I could chew. After a bit if encouragement from carpool mate Mo the bestest bike racer I know, I decided to stop being a god damn sally and do this thing.

The camping area was mighty dope.

Friday I tried unsuccessfully to sleep in, drank a metric butt load of coffee, and watched The Tour, waiting from Matt and Mo to pick me up. We got out there in time to pick up our packets and pre-ride the course. What struck me most about the course was how well built and maintained it was compared to Mt. Snow. It had more climbing and descending but the way it was broken it up made it seem easier in a way. There were lots of man made wooden bridges, flagstones, berms, fly over bridges with chicken wire laid down for traction, and super steep, dusty, loose downhills. The soil was odd as well, very red in hue, so different from anything I’ve seen on the east coast, I really felt like I was somewhere out west.

Matt and Mo's base camp set up. Their tent was actually larger than the hotel down the road.

I’m not a very strong camper, sleep ran from me like a kitten pursued by a four year old boy with a can of kerosene and a match. I awoke at 2AM and looked at my phone hoping it was just slightly before when my alarm would be going off, no sir, it was three hours until that time. It was still dark and cold at 5AM. I fired up the camp stove and made up the oats as I chugged my cold can of Starbucks coffee. After breakfast I spun down to the convenience store looking for hot coffee and water. The only other person up and alive at that time was a man jogging in Aqua Socks and white collared shirt. If I ran in that outfit, I would probably do it when most sane people were still sleeping too.

Sunrise spin to the convenience store.

Being a four minute bike ride from the race venue was pretty cool, although as usual I botched my warm up, riding up and down the road in front of the mountain for about fifteen minutes before the race start. I knew a few guys on the line, but most were strangers to me…they looked scary and incredibly strong. Things went off, straight into an uphill start, up and around a corner into a bottleneck entering the singletrack, some of us were off and running. I wasn’t too stressed, I knew from racing Mt. Snow a couple weeks ago that I have to ride these ski area type races at my own pace. On the first lap I did a lot of passing on the climbs, a lot of getting stuck behind people riding a little slower than I wanted to, I thought about all the energy I was saving for later and stayed mellow.
I think it was lap two when super-fast junior Seamus Powell came up behind me, I thought if I could stay on him, he would deliver me into the top ten in my race. It went OK for a while, then I realized that I was just standing and staring at his rear wheel, rocking and gasping along in my red zone. Progress was made and I moved up into the low teens with many of the top ten guys just up the steep, hot, gravel road. Early on in the race a few riders passed me on the descent, but later on I would hold my own or even close down on other riders, spinning like mad on the grassy traverses between the singletrack sections. My only real mishap involved a lowside slide out on a silly grass corner near the bottom, I went right into a 180 on one of the least exciting and technical sections of the course, it was awesome. Later I would fall victim to the same slick grass situation while walking down to the car, completely busting my ass.

The Windam "Fartfest", preceded by the Annual Windham Chili Cook Off.

Third lap the backward slide began, my legs feeling like they really only had three laps in them. I’d struggle to jam my entrails back into my mouth before each successive climb. John Burns and Michael Bartlett and some other dudes gapped up to me at some point. I tried to hang on, but I was cracking. The only thing that got me through the last lap was the quote from Jens Voigt bouncing around my brain. He was talking about he Individual Time Trial in an interview during the Tour coverage the other day, he said sometimes your mind has to tell your body “Shut up and do what I tell you to do!”. I tried it, it kind of worked, at least it kept me from walking my bike. I would come up to a steep pitch and my mind would tell my body “Ride up that thing!”. I was losing spots though, sliding down into the twenties.

Matt is Mo's team mechanic, he is wicked pro.

Last lap I rallied a bit, the caffeine and sugar from Coke Matt had so deftly handed me at the feedzone coursing through my system. I made a couple passes and saw some riders sidelined with flats or mechanicals. That’s why we don’t give up, anything can happen. I passed my friend Dan from IBC on the final approach to the top of the climb. He had driven up at 3AM to do the Expert race (He didn’t want to ask for Friday off from work to do the Sport race). His goal was to place top fifteen and qualify for Nationals. He would accomplish his goal and earn major tough guy points. One really nice thing about this course compared to Mt. Snow was that once you started going down, you kept going down. Mt. Snow throws a few climbs at you even in the middle of the descent, the bastard.
I would roll across the line in 16th place out of forty or so starters. Not super-psyched with my performance but not crushed either. Hopefully I can put something better together for Nationals Friday…and Saturday…and Sunday. I’m doing the Semi-Pro race at 9AM Friday, Single Speed race at 8AM Saturday, and the Semi-Pro short track Sunday at 2. I plan on being entirely destroyed by the end of Saturday’s event. The short track is really just to put on a show for my niece and nephew who can only come up Sunday. The XC is kind of whack as far as spectating goes, especially if you are three or five years old. “There goes Uncle Thom (that’s right, Uncle Thom, and I once lived in a cabin, literally)…
And we’ll see him again in like half an hour”. “Half an hour? That’s more than a year!”.
Anyway, I’ll wrap this uninspired piece of crap up here, take it out back of the barn and put it down like a baby with a broken leg.

Post race swimming hole adventure, really the best part of my day.

Recovery spin sunday on the Varsity.

Recovery beverages at Charlie's er...Gatorade garden with Seth and Sophie.

Monday, July 07, 2008


The 4th of July; a time to drink all day, get a lawn dart lodged in your neck, eat products containing raw eggs which have been sitting unrefrigerated for hours, pass out in the sun and get a third degree sun burn on your arm pits, then wake up just in time to blow your thumb off with a malfunctioning bottle rocket OR a time to prepare for an event where you'll wake up at 3AM, the next morning having not eaten any barbecue or imbibed any alcohol, don a neoprene halter top (only if you're a man), have someone scrawl numbers on your body with a sharpie, go for a swim with hundreds of other people, get kicked in the head several times, jump out of the water with a wedgie from Hell, get on an oddly fitting bicycle which may already have your shoes strapped to it, try to pedal it up a hill in your 53 X 11, then get back off the bike and run, I can't say anything more about running to make it seem more horrible and insane than, well...running.

So that's where I was on the 4th and 5th of July, supporting the Patriot Half Ironman. After the race wrapped up on saturday I drove the anonymous, white, Timothy McVeigh Special, box truck across town (Freetown that is) to Freetown State Forest. EFTA used to do a race there years ago, in fact I broke my hand doing that race. I wanted to go out and kick the forest's ass. I tried to retrace the course, got lost almost immediately, came to a sign that said "ORV Trail Parking Lot 5 Miles". That's about all I wanted to ride that day, five miles, so I went down the trail. You might think I'm being a slightly hyperbolic here when I say I did not sit down for a collective minute during those five miles, but I'm really not. It was five solid miles of rocks and rocks and rocks...and some roots to fill in the gaps. I stood for five miles, getting the hardware on the rods in my back rattled out. I came out at the parking lot - it wasn't the right one. I asked some very Road Warrior looking Motocross dudes how top get back to the Ranger Station; "F- me! How long did it take you to get here? We don't even ride that trail, it's too rough!". I guess the gayness of my pink helmet, pink cages, and pink SSWC07 arm band was eclipsed by my hardcoreness. They didn't kill me dead, I was glad.

Miriam hammering on the SS

From there I headed over to The Cape to hang with my family. I can't relax without having first thoroughly flagellating myself so Miriam and I went over to Barnstable to check out Trail of Tears. First impression was that it wasn't really all that scary despite the name. Lots of buff as all hell fast, rolling, undulating singletrack, with sweeping bermed out corners. Very nice. After about an hour Miriam and I parted ways with the plan of meeting up in about half an hour at the car. I went out and started absolutely hammering the remainder of the red loop. When it was about time to begin heading back things took a turn for the worse. This area is finite, yet I found myself hopelessly lost. A short while later I was out of water, dehydrated, feeling the hunger knock, and ultimately bonking out big time. Ridiculous to end up in this state considering the stuff I get away with out there week after week.
In the end it would take me over an hour and a half past the meeting time to make my way back to the car in a horribly diminished capacity.
I'm just kind of going to trail off here, because I have to get up and head out to Windham in the AM, check back soon.

Cleaning one of the "Incredibly technical" sections of Trail of Tears.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Trial

The Dover Wednesday Night Time Trial that is...not the book by Kafka where jurors stand stooped in a cramped loft above the court proceedings, pillows on their heads to pad them as they bump into the ceiling. Not the Album by Verbal Assault either for that matter. Just wanted to clear that up, I know it's confusing. I'm confused anyway. So another month another Dover TT, although it wasn't just any Dover TT, we had ourselves some drama, oh yeah. I headed down there from IBC with teammates George Shaw and Colin Reuter. We left with ample enough time that we didn't have to TT to the TT, which was nice. We'd had violent thunder storms just a few hours before, water crashing into the shop like a rogue wave, but that didn't cancel the TT. I was honestly kinda hoping they would cancel it, I was, as they say..."not feelin' it". 
     It was a calm day, not too hot either. My legs still shredded from Mt. Snow, but what I had going for me was acclimation to sufferation. Basically the Dover TT is like doing half a lap of the Mt. Snow course, only way, way easier. After a better than average warm up, I hit the line panting and sweating. I've done away with the ipod by now, too distracting, my inner soundtrack is strong enough. Took me a lot longer than it should have to clip in, my ancient Shimano 600 spd "Road Pedals" are so loose in the bearings they just flip and flop all over the place. 
    My very Greg "The Leg" Montello plan was to go out hard like a mountain bike race, settle in for about eight minutes, then go balls to wall for five minutes or to the end, whichever came first. So I go for it, I try not to fidget too much, try to stay  static in the upper body, knowing every twitch and tick will cost me. John Golden doesn't close on me too fast, in fact while he normally blows past me on the first stretch of Dedham St. he wouldn't get me until after the rollers on Farm Rd. on this particular day. 
    As I took the corner onto Farm, the hairpin, a car in front of me pulls  to the right yet throws it's left blinker on, there's a lot of road between the car and the center line, but I know this trick all too well, the old fake right, then cut left move. I slow slightly, see that there's oncoming traffic (hopefully) preventing them from turning into me as I yell out "I AM GOING BY - ON YOUR LEFT!". I didn't die. Then just after John Golden flew by all resplendent in his Aeroness, there was a weird form of Dover gridlock ahead, cars backed up five deep in both directions. We both coasted, assessing the situation, there was plenty of room down the center line, so we went for it. It only seemed like a wicked differently abled thing to do after the fact. We didn't die. 
      Taking the final corner onto Springdale I see Boston bike icon Scott Chamberlain spectating from the corner and yell "Hey Chame-Bo!". A little ways up the road I draw a bead on IBC customer Anthony Oliva drilling it to the end on his Colnago C-50, he throws out a "Go Tommy!" between anaerobic gasps. As I'm sprinting down over the tracks to the line a guy in a car pulls out, not so much in front of me as into me, I swerve around him and continue up the slight grade to the finish. He's actually behind me to the left and he then tries to drive into me again (he did throw his blinker on at the last second). Defensively I throw a foot out and biff his front fender to let him know I'm there and call out my number to the timers. Here I don't know what got into  me but I looped right into the parking lot and laid into this guy all adrenalized, red-faced, sweaty, and spitting mad. "You know you were wrong - right?". "What?". "You cut me off, almost killed me!". "I had my blinker on". "No, not that, two seconds before that, when you drove out in front of me". "I didn't do that". "Twenty people just saw you do it". "Why're you so mad?". "Sorry, you might not get it rolling around safe in your car, but driving like that, you could kill one of us". "You're not a car". "You're a dipshit". "A dipshit?". "Yeah, a dipshit". IBC teammate George Shaw had rolled up by now, he's not quite as tall as I am but one of his biceps is as big as my waist and he has the bearing of someone you don't want to get on the wrong end of. This probably saved my ass. I did have the satisfaction of rolling away as the dude stood there trying to look tough, I taunted "What? You want me to come back?". His answer was "F%# you!". Original. 
    Oh wait, but that's not all. The cops pull up and ask who's in charge. I sidle up to the car prepared to take the blame for any trouble.  Turns out the guy was pissed about another rider who didn't stop when he had gotten out to direct traffic sometime before John and I threaded the needle between those two rows of stopped cars. Nothing came of it. Altogether a pretty hectic night on the roads of Dover. All that silliness and I beat my best time by fifteen seconds,
with a time of  18:08, for an average of 25.7mph over 7.7 rolling miles. Finally, some improvement. Of course Tony Delogne did come out on a "Non-Aero" bike that was not all that Non-aero and crush the record, setting the bar unattainably high for this aerodynamically challenged guy. 
      I apologize for any stress my antics may have caused the Dover TT organizers, I will try to calm down, I swear. I am the guy who earlier that day audibly heckled a Starbucks customer as he whined about how long his drink was taking and chastised the employees. I told my friend Bryan  in a theatrically loud voice of how I had just heard something on NPR about how people waiting in lines too long at Starbucks is one of the greatest forms of oppression in the world today, that the problems in the southern Sudan relate to it. "Yup, folks in Darfur are waiting too long in lines at Starbucks, just waiting there for their Non-fat Lattes when all of a sudden a Janjaweed Militiamen comes up and WHACK! Chops their head off! Faster service at Starbucks would totally eliminate this problem". 
      Alright, that's it for now, things are going to be kinda quiet for a bit, then they're gonna get real noisy with the NMBS in New York and Nationals coming up, watch out now!