Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Human - Superfly

Editing video is time consuming...especially if you suck at it. I know someone who sucks pretty bad at it. I wouldn't say he's a close friend of mine but we do wear the same shoes. At the same time. Every day. And his shoes smell. Must be all the rain-riding. Or the not showering and wearing the same funky Adidas sandals for six years.

Before I let you go watch a TOTALLY SICK MOUNTAIN BIKE VIDEO that makes Danny Macaskill look like, well, Danny Macaskill and makes me look like...me, I'll tell you all the exciting news.

I am not doing my one token road race of the year, Battenkill. It conflicts with The Fells opening day festivities. Doing things like that is now actually part of my job description so in the interest of not sucking at what is a pretty freakin' cool job and in the interest of not doing a road race, I will be foregoing Battenkill and going for The Fells Opening Day Celebration. You know what's cooler than a Battenkill? A Macaskill. Seriously, go watch that video...after you watch mine. He makes me feel like I took a helmet cam video while pushing a shopping cart through Johnny Foodmaster's. And not on a Saturday either.

Now you can go watch!

Human Superfly from thom parsons on Vimeo.

This was footage taken during my Old School ride the other day. The Helmet Hero was offline for a while there. Relegated to be used a hand held digital camera. The thing is awesome, so much fun, the only drawback I've found is that the fastex style fastener which attaches the camera to the helmet mount becomes brittle in cold weather...and breaks. Twice. I'm sure if you don't try to reverse the position of the camera on your head during a sub-twenty degree road ride you'll be fine. Except for the fact that you are on a sub-twenty degree road ride which is inherently horrible, for at least two reasons. I've now replaced that bit and you all have hours of poorly edited video scored with my idea of good music to look forward to.

Duckies, you are really quite freakin' lucky!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

When I Don't Ride I Don't Write
(About Anything Interesting)

Yes, I have trouble writing when I don't ride my bike. A rest week produces very little material for a bike-based-blog. I generally try to steer away from boring people with the banal existence I stumble through outside of my biking life. So While I wait on the uploading to Vimeo of the totally wicked awesome video I edited during the extra hours my insomnia gave me this morning (thanks insomnia, you rock!) I will share some more super-secret-crazy-crap with you.

If you are actually versed in the intricacies of diet and nutrition then the following will look like the ravings of a lunatic. If you are more like me and base your day to day actions on a hodge podge of half-remembered and misinterpreted articles and incorrectly overheard advice (that often...er, sometimes works), this will make a lot of sense.

Since I've been here, doing this blogging thing, I have generally been pretty skinny. There have been fluctuations (wild!) in my weight during that period, but mostly I have stayed pretty thin. Therefore, in the great American tradition of having a mild amount of success in a given area, declaring yourself an expert, and getting up on a soapbox to tell everyone else how they too can have such mild success I will share my "diet" with you.

But first...further qualifications! I have not always been thin, I was a fat kid. How fat? It doesn't matter. In the lead up to the last presidential election there were people out there trying to tell us that Obama is not black. Defining "black" as term used exclusively to describe those descended from West African slaves. The KKK doesn't care who you're descended from. If Obama had gone to Bob Jones University would he have been allowed to date white women due to the technicality that he was not actually descended from West African slaves? My point? You are as black...or as fat as people (white/jerks) think you are. And I was fat enough to get made fun of for years.

My Norwegian neighbors took Polaroid photos of me sitting in a chair in the kitchen with my shirt off, my rolls stacked up, my boobs hanging over them. They had never seen a fat kid before, they wanted to send the photo back to their friends in Norway.

After a trip to the swimming hole in High School one of my good buddies told me later that one of the girls present said that I had "the worst body she'd ever seen".

Thirty pounds overweight or three hundred pounds overweight, that shit hurt.

Unlike being some other color than paper white or gay or disabled due to a congenital birth defect or an accident, being fat is generally something you can change. I was fat, not because of some glandular or emotional problem. I was fat because I was lazy, played Nintendo constantly, ate snickers bars and drank coke all day, and did nothing active whatsoever. That is the case with most fat people I'm afraid.

I just wanted to spell that out for you because people often say things to me like "Oh it's easy for you, you have a great metabolism". I am not naturally thin, I try hard. I have the torn up fat kid photos to prove it.

The story of how I stopped being fat initially is something I will spare you from...for now. I will get on with the VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS at hand.

This is what I eat throughout the day when I want to lose weight for the big bike races while training wicked, wicked hard:

  • At around 7:30-8AM I get up, have a big glass of Orange Juice with my generic Multi-Vitamin and make my two spinach and egg wraps*.
  • If I'm doing a longer, harder training ride on the way to work I'll have a GU as well. Shorter ride? I'll just go with some GU2O in the water bottle. If I'm just commuting, no food at all.
  • If I've done a hard ride, when I get to work I have some chocolate milk before I change out of my clothes. A little while later I'll eat one of my two spinach and egg wraps.
  • A couple hours later I eat the second egg wrap.
  • An hour and a half or so after that I have a small yogurt.
  • About three hours before I plan on riding home I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  • Between then and when I get back on the bike I have an apple or a banana.
  • If I'm doing a 2+ hour ride on the way home I'll have another GU.
  • For dinner, if I'm being good, I'll have a big salad with tofu, chicken, or fish, tons of colorful veggies and maybe a small amount of cheese.
  • If I'm too hungry to sleep later on, I'll have a glass of soymilk.
* Spinach and Egg Wrap:
- Begin heating pan on medium heat
- Scramble three eggs (I don't use milk) with a little salt and pepper
- Spray or coat pan in thin film of Olive Oil
- Dump eggs in, swirl pan to distribute egg evenly
- When they firm up, split into two halves and flip them
- Throw a small amount of cheese on (I usually use Feta) and some hot sauce
- Toss some spinach on top, sprinkle some salt on top (helps the wilt)
- Put a small Tortilla over each pile of egg and spinach and throw a lid over the pan so the spinach steams and the tortillas get soft and supple
- Let them sit while you go brush your teeth or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich something
- Wrap 'em up, put 'em in a tup(perware container) and take them to work where you'll make your co-workers jealous because they ate McDonalds for breakfast.

That's about it. The idea is that you keep your energy up, never get bogged down, and never get ravenously hungry to the point where you freak out and eat something gnarly. It works for me anyway. Once a week I go out and go a little nuts with the food and maybe the drink. Other than that I just (try) to avoid fried foods and baked goods when I'm actually trying to drop weight. Once I'm racing and at a good weight I'll have a scone or cookie when I feel like it. Fortunately for me I worked in an Ice Cream shop when I was 13, and that pretty much killed my sweet tooth, by drowning.

OK, more than enough out of me for today, the alleged awesome Video will have to wait for tomorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Man, I started out strong this week (at least I thought so) and then blew up like Contador on Stage 7 of Paris Nice. I must need better blogging dope. For Chrissakes, I couldn't even get yesterday's title right. "Now, if You Really Want to Geek Out About On The Single Speed 29er Thing...". Geek about on? Geek about out on? I mean, admittedly my editing is often just plain abhorrent. I have an incredible talent for seeing what I want to see. I transpose letters, fill in letters that aren't there, fill in words, fill in whole sentences, and even read things back to myself in a way that is much more clever than what appears on the page. I'm hilarious as read by me. To myself. And a talent like that is about as valuable as having a Latin to Esperanto Phrase book while traveling in Myanmar.

Boring things about me. I am on a rest week. I didn't ride my bike today. It felt weird not to ride my bike. I made my weight goal, which gets me almost to race weight. And you know I gotta make weight for the big bike race. I don't ride a trainer anymore, I ride an Aerodyne while wearing a suit made out of big, black trash bags.

I celebrated making this weight goal by eating a bunch of Dunkin Donuts, Girl Scout Cookies, and capping off a night out a the pub with late night pizza (Calzone actually, sausage), Mozzarella Sticks, and a crime against culinary decency called "Buffalo Bites". They were so slippery and skinless and slimy with Buffalo sauce that, despite the fact that they were the size of little baby fists, one could have swallowed them intact.
Try that with an actual baby fist, you'll choke. Unless maybe you cover it with slimy Buffalo sauce.

Beer is not your friend when you're trying to lose weight either. I must have had eight or so beers over the course of the night. That's a crazy amount of calories. We'd gone out to dinner, I was beyond full, and then I drank all those beers. When was the last time you ate dinner then sat around eating four or five donuts afterward? I only do that like a couple nights a week.

Light beer is not an option. If I have to explain why, you won't get it. I'd have better luck explaining whatever the hell my last blog post was about to my couch. That could take hours.

I kind of toyed with that whole "Drip Diet" thing. It did not work for me. I felt funny and not satisfied...ever. I'm back on what I think of as the "100 Miler" diet. I just eat several small meals throughout the day. I always feel energetic and I never get bogged down from a big meal. I might elaborate more on it later if anyone gives a crap.

This kind of ended up being a rest week blog-quality-wise a well. I definitely wasn't peaking for this week. Hopefully next week I'll be on better form. Weak, weak, weak.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Now, if You Really Want to Geek Out
About The Single Speed 29er Thing...

Again, I don't have much to say myself today, so I'm going to redirect you to more interesting regions of The Internets.

My buddy Geroge from the IBC team wanted to know how to make a single speed out of a frame with vertical dropouts without using a singleator or eccentric hub. PVD can show you how. In fact, if you have any questions about super-techy bike stuff, he probably has all the answers.

If you "simply" want to calculate your chain length to make a single speed out of a bike that isn't really meant to be one without a tensioning device of any sort check THIS out.

If you want to turn your single speed into a Two-by-Two, go look at THIS. A great way to get to the trailhead without spinning your brains out then switch to a more trail-worthy gear when you get there. Or, if you're a big, lazy bonehead like me, you can just run too big of a gear all the time.

And if you want to truly be a nerd about your single speed gearing, go NUTS. There's a whole lot more to it than throwing around the term "Two to One...Two to One...Two To One".

Marshall, the maker of Kick Ass Cogs and other good things, has some SCIENCE to drop as well on the subject of perfect single speed gear selection.

Now this was a subject brought to my attention by Big Bikes reader Steven. Unfortunately he lost me at "Coefficient" but I thought you folks might enjoy some of his insight on rolling resistance. He pointed me toward this article on the Schwalbe site which basically reaffirms the conclusions I've come to over the years regarding tire choice. Biggah is bettah! My five year old nephew is better at math than I am, anything beyond basic arithmetic makes my brain sweat but if you want to go play around and see how your tire choice might effect your power output, check this out. Steve actually came up with a nifty Speadsheet examining some of the factors.

Sorry, that's all I've got today. See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Something Out of Nothing...or Something

I made a commitment that I would write something here five days a week. Five consecutive days, Monday through Friday. This has to do partially with modeling myself, or at least my blogging habits after super-bloggers like Fatty and Dicky. To model one's self after the biggest of bike blogs would be an exercise in futility. No one who works has that much time on their hands.

This has taken me out of race reports on Mondays and vast expanses of nothingness in-between territory into proper blogger territory. Unfortunately you'll have to bear with my lapses in and out of sanity and coherence, and of course the wild fluctuations in quality. Some days reading Big Bikes will feel like visiting a comatose patient in the hospital. As opposed to "normal" days where it'll feel more like visiting a patient in the mental hospital. Or a retarded cat at the animal hospital.

I don't have time to write anything substantive and I definitely don't have time to jabber in circles about nothing until I hit upon something worth reading, so what I'm going to do is answer a couple questions from the comments on my last couple posts.

Question and Answer period:

Q: Hey Thom,

Did you ever get the Bontrager XR1's set up as tubeless?


A: Nope, not yet. I will make another attempt though. I'm pretty confident I'll be able to pull it off. One of the other 29er Crew guys, Travis, did make it work, he has some tips over on the site. Basically he used the double rim-strip trick. This helps the bead of the tire get up in the bead hook. Soap and water helps, as does a compressor. Another thing I'll do when I'm desperate to get a tire set up tubeless is mounting the tire, particularly if it's brand new, with a tube, then letting it sit for a while. This helps it take shape and hold its form making it easier to mount tubeless.

Q: beer?

- Jeff

A: Yes. More specifically Dale's Pale Ale and its brethren Old Chub. I had my first Dale'sPale after collapsing at the finish line of SSWC08 Napa. I was sitting there, my face encrusted in dust (more so than most people's for some reason that I cannot explic) some guy who was so awesome, he made Ghandi look like a prick handed me a can of beer. "Can of beer" I thought "like Bud or PBR, only with a much cooler can" as I brought it to my dirt-caked lips. Wrong! The low expectations coupled with the delivery of the most amazing beverage I had ever sloshed onto my palette was as close to a religious experience as an Atheist such as myself can have. Remember how I said I like to approach sponsors who's products I already actually use? Probably not, anyway, I hope after the guys from Oskar Blues experience the "Big Bikes Bump" they'll come a knockin' .

Q: Where in the general metrowest area is good riding right now? I'm here for a few days on spring break and would like somewhere good to ride my bike that's not TOO muddy and snowy.

- Luke S.

A: NEMBA has a whole directory of spots on their site. Surprisingly, from what I've seen anyway, trails aren't that wet right now. A sure bet is Otis. Reuters has a great write up on How to Ride Otis. Dogtown tends to stay pretty dry, the water pools in finite areas in the low spots, and it is technical and awesome. Foxborough shouldn't be too bad, I'm headed there Thursday and I might just write about it. I hear tell that Harold Parker is clear as well.

Hope you all found that stuff helpful and informative. Thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Horribly Failed Experiment

And this time I'm not talking about my imaginary children which were taken away from me because I was an imaginary unfit parent. What I'm talking about is the recovery drink I "invented" after my ride yesterday. You have to understand, I was desperate, I was out of my mind with hunger. All I'd had to eat all day were a few packets of GU...it was four thirty in the afternoon.

There was a dearth of real food in the house, definitely nothing I could make fast enough to prevent me from devouring my own arm up to the elbow before it was ready. Time to get creative, time to throw all preconceptions of what is suitable for human consumption out the window with my imaginary babies and the not so imaginary bathwater.

Here is my recipe for gastrointestinal disaster:

  • 1 cup or so soy milk
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 packet instant oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons hot cocoa mix
  • 1 scoop of I'm not freakin' kidding

Combine ALL ingredients in blender and push the button that makes the blender do its thing.
Then dump the gelatinous mess of glop into a sauce pan and begin heating (if you are as prodigious a moron as me). The idea here was that it would be akin to my "Recovery Cocoa" which, I have to say, is quite a delightful way to follow up a cold, winter ride. Variables here include the addition of Oatmeal and peanut butter. Those two elements caused this concoction to go horribly, horribly awry.

As it heated and began to bubble like some evil brew in a Witches cauldron, lumps appeared. Then globs. Then large masses of solid matter. It started doing that thing where the bubbles explode, sending brown nastiness sailing skyward, besmirching the cabinets or falling through the air looking for skin to stick to or vegetation to defoliate like a less palatable form of Napalm.

It quickly took on the consistency of pudding. Or a hybrid of beef stew and pudding. Now there's an idea for a recovery smoothie! Maybe some good will come of this yet. Then it started to adhere to the pan, badly. I aborted the experiment, dumping the obscene shuddering amalgam of putrid grossness into a large mug. Which, after a small amount of forethought, I gulped down. Maybe not so much "gulped". This was a recovery drink you could eat with a fork.

It was worse than the time I mixed up my Hammer Gel with my Liquid Plumber Gel. Man that sucked. The bath tub was doing laps around the house (it was one of those claw foot deals, which makes this story so much less absurd) while I lay writhing in a puddle of my own bile as my lower intestine dissolved. I didn't feel quite right for weeks.

And there you go. A recovery drink which just might land you in the recovery room of your local E.R..

Monday, March 23, 2009

Exploration Date

There was a time when I didn't even have a road bike. The only bike I owned was my mountain bike. I rode the thing everywhere. And by everywhere I mean everywhere and anywhere. 80 mile ride to the Cape on knobbies? Sure. Hour long commute to the trailhead? Why the frick not? Dinner at the parent's in the burbs? I'd be rumbling to and from without a second thought. All day on/offroad epics linking together several unconnected (by dirt) trail systems? That was my bread and butter man! Hell, I even did the God Damn AIDS ride from Boston to New York on the thing.

I don't really know what the crap happened but at some point over the past couple years, in the interest of being a "serious" bike racer I have spent way too much time on the road bike. Commuting to and from work in gnarly weather on the Fix-Ed gear is excusable, but the amount of my so called training I have opted to do on a machine that looks like it was created in the image of Kate Moss is just plain unacceptable. Over the past couple weeks I have begun a journey back to my roots. My roots happen to lie in a place where there are (oh god) a whole lot of roots. The woods. That was horrible.

A couple guys from the first shop I worked at used to drag my (then quite doughy) ass all over creation, connecting every wooded area in The Metrowest region and beyond. It was great, Half the time I had no idea where I was. We'd be popping out here and there, I was constantly surprised.

Hell, I could go on and on about those days, I'll have to save that for a later date. I just wanted to give you the idea of where it all started for me. Exploration. Going places. I didn't have a car to put my bicycle on to drive to some trailhead. Suiting up in body armor and doing rock drop repeats didn't appeal to me. I gave up Skateboarding because bikes go places. The ones I like do anyway. I was tired of hanging out behind some shopping mall sessioning a curb, I wanted my sessions to last all day and cover fifty miles.

So today I went Epic. Left from my house, crossed the street, hopped the curb and was on dirt within thirty seconds, heading up along The Mystic Lakes to Horn Pond in Woburn. The climb up that thing still hurts. Of course I used to be happy to be able to do it in my middle ring and not use the granny. Now I'm doing it in a 34 X 17 but that schoolyard Bully from my past still packs a wallop. Seems like the kids have been hard at work over there, I'm finding all kinds of new bermed trails and lines taking you over rock drops.

From there I shot down the ATV highway along the powerlines. I had a lot of time to kill so I spent a while looking for a passage through to Burlington or Lexington. Eventually the powerline trails dead-ended into tangles of impassable brambles. I did find some sweet high school party spots. Gotta remember those for Saturday night.

While looking for another inroad to the Powerlines I happened upon Cummins Park. At first I thought it was entirely new to me but under closer investigation , realized that I had been there a thousand years ago. Probably on a yellow Fat Chance. After a few swipes through which dead-ended into housing developments or ATV-shredded bogs, I chose to ride across someone's lawn (Scofflaw Cyclist!) into a kind of geriatric condo compound. I got the hairy eyeball from a couple walking their Shih-Tzu but escaped unscathed.

From there I was in my old hood of Lexington. I zipped down through the old swimming hole and over to Willard Woods. These are not destination riding spots so the folks you encounter in these areas regard you with a combination of bewildered fascination and contempt. I do my best not to startle them and then dash away like a White-Tailed Deer as fast as I possibly can.

Willard takes you almost out to the area I have always simply referred to as "Bedford". Apparently it is called " Burlington Land Locked Forest". Much fancier. The only reason I now know this is because, unfortunately, there are signs up warning of imminent development of this under- utilized gem of a riding spot. This place has always been a bit of no-man's land. Paint-Baller's stealing construction supplies from nearby work sites and dragging them into the woods to make bunkers. Cuz god knows there aren't enough rocks or trees to hide behind. Junked cars and appliances riddled with bullet holes. And on a more positive note, tons of man made obstacles and actual biker sculpted trails with super-fun technical features.

Time was running short but I kept taking turns down awesome trails I hadn't ridden in years. "Oh, I gotta do that one...aaand that one. OK, just one more". This relegated me to a blender blade speed spin back down the bike path for home. I couldn't help but take a couple off-shoots into Arlington' Great Meadows for a another dose of singletrack.

In the end a map of my ride would have looked like one of those Family Circus cartoons where Billy is running all over the neighborhood, leaving a convoluted, dotted line trail behind him. Those were the only days Family Circus didn't make me want to regurgitate my Cap'n Crunch. The comic does have a huge following amongst people who sustained massive brain trauma, fell off a boat, then washed ashore on a desert isle where they were raised by a contingent of rejects from The Care Bears who were deemed to soft too handle mainstream Care Bear society.

That's what I call a good day.

Too tired to write another lick, the story of my horribly failed experiment of a recovery shake and the video from today's ride'll have to wait for later in the week.


I'm taking it back to the old school
'Cause I'm an old fool who's so cool

-Tag Team

Friday, March 20, 2009

It Had To Be Done

Today was supposed to be my big ride day. Had plans to meet up with a couple folks but the weather was close to worst case scenario. 40° and raining. Motivation was lacking, plans were delayed and delayed again. I procrastinated proactively, cleaning the house frantically, while listening to Billy Holiday...and Judas Priest. What can I say, I'm a real Renaissance man (did I even spell "Renaissance" right?). Eventually I bit the big-fat-bullet-of-suckiness and got on the trainer (realizing I would have to clean the sand and salt off my road bike beforehand almost derailed this plan as well) with this really entertaining DVD that came with my trainer with Robbie Ventura doing a Crit workout. I think I almost made it an hour, then I was ready to find out firsthand if sticking my head in the ceiling fan would result in decapitation or just minor, yet multiple annoying bruises.

Buggin' out. Drinking coffee, flipping channels, watching Guy Ritchie movies, or movies that look and feel like Guy Ritchie movies, all futile. I noticed the rain had let up, it wasn't absolutely pissing anyway. I decided I had to get outside and see what happened. I had no idea what the condition of The woods were. If the snow had cleared. If they were a massive bog. I didn't care. I've got the new bike, the new kit. I had to do it. If I came home water-logged and hypothermic so be it.

I am still nursing a weird shoulder injury, maybe something with my rotator cuff. Did it body surfing in St. Maarten. You know you're hurt when you vomit on yourself involuntarily. As opposed to when you vomit on yourself voluntarily. Somehow it doesn't hurt when I ride, when I yank on my bars. You know when it hurts? When I'm putting a jacket on. I've had to learn to put my right arm in the sleeve first then do the awkward swivel thing with my good left arm. Amazing how hard it is to unlearn something like that. And no push ups (Sorry Solo, the video might be a while).

The fact that I wound up going out solo allowed me to stop and take photos of myself
posing on a rock in my new kit. Which would have been weird if I were with other people. Because a lone guy standing on a rock in his underpants with his bike taking self-portraits is considered perfectly normal. Especially in Woburn.

As a card carrying NEMBA memb-ah, I will not ride The Fells until opening day, which is April 15th. I'll be there April 18th at the opening day ceremonies, working for The Shop. You should be there too, it's going to be wicked fun. We're going to ride bikes. I opted to go "Old School" and hit up some spots I haven't been to in quite a while. Horn Pond Mt. in Woburn and Whipple Hill in Lexington. These are not destination riding areas. They are part of a series of wooded areas which can be linked together if you don't mind riding on the road a bit. Whipple has a some super-technical, just plain awesome trails. I always feel like I'm in Maine when I'm riding around up there.

The 34 X 17 was a little steep, definitely got my mashing in. And I got my spinning in on the road sections as well. Riding a Single Speed is pretty good training for racing... a Single Speed.

It wasn't the "workout" I was planning on, it was a hell of a lot more fun.

Black is back, all in, we're gonna win
Check it out, yeah y'all c'mon, here we go again

-Public Enemy

In Other News: Threw up a little post over HERE. Basically a rehash of the Otis post.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Know Kung Fu

Above: Got a little package in the mail today from my friends in Waterloo. I was pretty sure I knew what it was. Yup, Crew kit. I was a little bashful at first, my stage presence was lacking. Then I began to feel the power. Sort of like The Quickening.

Hmm, something's happening. I think I know...Quantum Physics. No...no, definitely not that. More like...more like KUNG FU! Kee-Yah!

Watch out now!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Is short, but things is good. What means death for the writing means good things for the riding. Soon enough I'll be writing frenetic, gasping race reports. Too soon really. 2 1/2 weeks to the first event of the season, The EFTA King of Burlingame Off road Time Trial. I've never done this event, but it seems like a great way to start the season. You're racing against yourself, no fear of getting dropped by the group. It's The Race of The Painful Truth (About your fitness).

In other fascinating news, I've stepped up my commuting/training. This I accomplish by incrementally increasing the distance and or the difficulty of the route. Here, I'll outline it, so if you care to, you can be as tired and grumpy as me at work and unable to blog effectively at home:

  • I love this bullet point list function, don't you? So neat.

  • Monday - Easy, active recovery, spin the 45 minutes to and from work through Arlington/Belmont/Waltham/Newton in my 39 X 19/21 (don't cheat, no pressure to the pedals). 1:30 total.

  • Tuesday - Depends how I'm feeling. Feelin' good? I ride hills on the Fix-Ed gear. I add one climb every week and do all climbs to and from work. All stuff that's just off my standard commute route in Arlington and Belmont. 2:00 total.

  • Wednesday - Tempo commute, if I'm not too hammered from Tuesday. If I'm draggin' I do endurance, trying to keep my cadence high. At this point I'm heading out into Lexington, then over through Lincoln, Weston, and Wellesley. If you've got an hour and fifteen minutes to kill, the ride from Somerville to Newton can be beautiful and downright relaxing.

  • Thursday - I have the day off from work so I try to go big this time of year. I'm a late baser. It's a long season, I don't like to start too hard and getting your hours in outside during New England winter or trying to do it on a trainer inside is often an exercise in frustration and misery. Waiting for the better weather to do long rides is advisable. I try for 3 + hours, shooting for 4 + if possible. After a few weeks of these rides at endurance pace, I like to add blocks of Tempo. Riding fast over long distances feels good. Covering ground is satisfying. I have a bunch of routes for these rides, but I tend to favor heading west toward Harvard and Littleton.

  • Friday - Same as Monday, or completely off. Usually not, I have to get to work and I hate public transport. I don't get sick a lot, there's a reason.

  • Saturday - I'm working at The Shop. I try to get in at least an hour on either end of the day. Hopefully soon I'll be leading NEMBA Explorer kids rides in the AM. Check IBC's event calendar for info after April 1st. Those'll be a great workout. I am going to run those little buggers 'til they puke! Kidding.

  • Sunday - For the past little bit it's been a repeat of Thursday. Of course last Sunday we got out for the Otis ride. I'd be psyched if I could get out for an MTB epic every Sunday. I'm so much happier when I get to ride on dirt. The road is just a tool. It helps get me up to speed for the dirt with less impact than mountain biking every day. If I had my druthers I would ride road only for recovery and spend the rest of my pedaling life on trail. Sorry roadies, it's true. The choice between riding road and riding mountain, for me, is like offering a kid the choice between going to the Dentist or going to Six Flags.

Between this and the ipod loading post I have shared far too many super-secret training details. I'm going to go swallow a cyanide pill now before they get to me.

It's not about the bike. It's about the Waffle Sandwich.
Forget the Cyanide pill, I might just eat ten of these things instead.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Otis, My Man!

I'm going to try out Speed-Blogging here. Expect more mistakes and less attempts at cleverness. The idea is that I need to find more time in my life somewhere. The ride time is going up, so is the work time, but the writing time has remained constant. As a result we've seen major cutbacks in the sleep department. This may have lead to a decline in quality on the blogging front as well. For one thing, I try not to talk about blogging when I'm...blogging and here I am doing it.

The World's Foremost Authority on Otis was away. I believe he was being brought before an International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague to address charges he utilized Cross Top Levers during the 2007 Cyclocross season. Irre-re-regardless of that fact M and I loaded up the car with friend Jane and my new IBC teammate Kevin and drove down to Bourne for a 10AM start time.

Above: Precious Thing's first ride in/on the car. It thought we were goin' a-racin' and got all excited. It'll have to wait just a few weeks for that. Yikes. Big Dan Barry at the meeting spot. Supah-Dupah-Fly. Weird photo of normal trees or normal photo of weird trees?

The crew was huge, fourteen people. I love watching a group that big snaking through the trees on twisty singeltrack. It was my first real ride on The Superfly. The 34 X 17 I was running for a gear made much of the ride feel like weight lifting. Like something was going to go "Pop!". Hopefully I'll be stronger for it later on.

Above: Top and bottom left; Tom Greene was our fearless (seriously, try holding his wheel, he is a Ninja) ride leader. He did a great job showing us all around Otis on this refreshingly warm and sunny day. Top right; Andy shows The Stoke. Bottom Right; Will ripping on his rigid SS.

I had this misconception, that I believe, I share with many others that Otis is a place you ride when there is nothing else available due to snow or ice cover. This place should be a destination. I imagined the terrain was predominantly flat, buff, and sandy. Not true. Miles of high-speed, swooping singletrack, punctuated with areas of round rocks, small drops and enough punchy uphills to remind you that it is still early season and your lungs are still hanging out back in September somewhere. The curves become hypnotic. You get so many chances to dial it in, to lay it down just far enough...or just a bit too far. You get the feeling that if you clipped your bar on a tree you might end up in the hospital. Everything becomes technical at speed.

Above: Me and M. She was out for her first ride on her New Bike. Great place for a late in the ride snack stop. Post ride ihop hooked it up. Mountains of horribly excellent food. Good night and good legs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Let me Take You on a Musical Journey

I'm going to let you in on a little secret; I'm not a mathematical genius. Not like this guy or this guy. And I'm definitely not a big numbers guy, like this...um, guy. Hold on a second before I get down to VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS. If you have a friend or know someone named "Guy" and you say something like "Hey do you know that guy Guy?". Spoken it wouldn't look so bad...because you can't see words (unless you are really, really high) and because the name can be pronounced "Gee" like Guy Picciotto. In print it looks kind of mentally challenged (I'm from Boston, I'm very P.C.). It looks like you're talking about someone who's a real guy guy. Meaning someone who watches every mainstream sport while drinking Bud with his hand down the front of his pants and won't eat Tofu or listen to The Smiths.

Yes, numbers...where was I? Where am I? Are those my feet? (can't take credit for the last one, Father Ted Reference). Warning, the following may get pretty technical. I let you in on the little secret of my mathematical ineptitude, now I'm going to let you in on a little training secret of mine. It has to do with loading your ipod for a 4 hour training ride. You didn't see that one coming eh? Bet you thought I was going to lay down some science, some crazy knowledge about power meters and heart-rate monitors and EPO dosages. But no.

So! You want to do a four hour ride with 3 X 40 of Tempo riding worked in. You don't want to be staring at the clock the whole time because you will go so nuts that you will freak out and come back from the ride wearing some random person's face as a mask. Here's what you do.

  1. Total up your ride time in minutes, 4 hours = 240 minutes

  2. Say you want 30 minutes warm up before your first really rockin' interval. You start dropping songs into a playlist until you see the the total at the bottom of the itunes window hit 30. I warmed up with almost the entire Bon Iver album today for example. My buddy Sully uses that stuff to rile him up during solo 24 hour races. That would not work for me. I find it hypnotizingly beautiful. I am not a guy guy. Big secret there.

  3. Then add 40 minutes of REALLY ROCKIN' SHIT! Until you see the total reach (dur) 70. My first block today was fueled exclusively by dance re-mixes of New Order. Although I prefer their earlier, more "New Joy Division"rockin' stuff, this stuff works really well for keeping your Tempo up.

  4. Again, 30 minutes of mellow stuff until you hit 100. I meant to grab David Byrne's excellent new album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, but I grabbed David Byrne & Brian Eno, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. Which is amazing, but I was hoping to spend some more quality time with the new album. You can listen to the whole thing for free over on Byrne's site. I'd recommend it.

  5. Now add another 40 minutes of The Rock, or whatever gets you stoked to pedal. Taking you up to a total of 140 minutes. For this block I went with a combo of The Pixies, The Mountain Goats, and The Stooges. The Pixies "Manta Ray" coming on just as I started up the Whitcomb Hill climb out of Littleton center. Timing. That hill is perfect for doing intervals on. About ten minutes of sustained climbing up a reasonable gradient. Almost unheard of in these parts (short of riding the access road on Route 2 between Route 60 and Park Ave.) . The Mountain Goats might seem like an odd choice (if you're familiar) for getting your Tempo on. Most of John Darnielle's stuff is not so motivational; much of it recorded on a boom box, the tell-tale hiss omnipresent throughout the songs. His latest album is pretty rockin' though. It's his third album with much more polished recording artist, John Vanderslice as producer and the first album to add Electric guitar. Like Dylan at Newport, without the controversy...because four people listen to the Mountain Goats. Darnielle's stuff was always kind of chuggingly rhythmic so it translated well into the electric form. Songs like Heretic Pride, Sax Rohmer #1, and Autoclave get my legs turning. The lyrics you have to hear to believe.

    At the end of this block I took it up several notches with The Stooges to finish STRONG.

  6. Time to cool it out again. Add 30 minutes of smooth jams, taking you up to a total of 170. Kenny G will work. If you've had a botched lobotomy. Me, I went with some Laura Veirs. Nice Indie-singer-songwriter stuff. Then a little CTA . That's right, Chicago Transit Authority. Singing along to "Beginnings" while riding down country roads with no one within earshot is awesome. And then (I'm not kidding) some Cat Stevens. Hey, I'm trying to share here, you probably listen tot some stuff that I would think is totally re...differently-abled.

  7. Time to pick it back up for one last chunk of Tempo. Add 40 to your 170 and you got 210. Hopefully you've been eating on the bike and you're still feeling motivated and strong. I started this one off with some Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!. The idea being that they are very rhythmic and upbeat, albeit not super-frickin'-rockin'. Like The Mountain Goats, they are an acquired taste. From there, no longer messing around, I threw in a few AC/DC tracks (early stuff, Bon Scott only). I always thought it would be fun to develop a completely contrived character quirk where I said "Hi" to people like Bon says "High" in the song "High Voltage". "I said High!". After that it was some Clash, "Police on My Back" always gets me cranking. To finish this one off strong I went for Metallica. Life isn't too bad if you have The Stooges "Search and Destroy" and Metallica's "Seek and Destroy" on the same playlist. Yes, the same playlist with Cat Stevens. Demented playlist.

  8. And then we cool it right down for the 30 minute spin home. Actually went back to The Clash. "Straight to Hell" off Live, From Here to Eternity. My favorite version. "Sing in tune you bastards!". Then some Wilco and Billy Bragg Mermaid Avenue stuff. Inside my feeble brain somehow this doesn't qualify as Hippy crap. At least it's not all jam bandy.I finished off the set with a couple tracks by 13 & God. The great collaboration between The Notwist and Themselves.
And that's how you get through a hard four hour ride without losing your shit. In my case that's particularly important because I wouldn't know what "my shit" looked like if I found it.

Thom Parsons is the author of The Mountain Biker's Training Book of Satan and several other imaginary books.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Freaky Photo Friday

I'm in that spot again. Wanting to get to bed (I generally write these at night and post them in the AM, if you hadn't already noticed) and looking for ways to come up with something fast. Was it really faster to edit and upload all these photos than to finish the totally wicked awesome piece I was working on, which will now get bumped to Monday? I guess we'll never know.

What I did today was retrace our pedal strokes from Sunday's big ride. I got it about 85% right. Only completely blowing the final portion. Suppose I'll have to do it again. It was gorgeous out and the ride did wonders to quell my feelings of longing for those old Marin rides. Wonders but not miracles.

The Helmet Hero is great for unintentional self-portraits. Set on "Photo every three seconds" mode, it takes several shots of your (my) fat face while you're trying to turn it on or shut it off. The wide angle does make everything look cool. Like a Snowboard or Skate video. Everything's that much more sick in Fish-Eye.

Smell the glove. Operation of the shutter button required removal of my glove. Glove went in mouth.

Nagog Hill is a place I always end up gravitating toward. It is just so freakin' beautiful in such a New-Englandy way. When I've got 3+ hours to kill, there's no other place I'd rather go. On the road bike anyway.

This is outside Harvard. I was kicking myself for not getting a shot the other day (not that it came out that great) the group was going wicked haaad (hard) and I would have been dropped. I was consciously trying to mimic the self-profile shot from the top of Tam. Not too far off. Something looks entirely not right with my front wheel on the bottom left. Merely camera weirdness.

I believe this is called Stow Road. A real big ring cranker, if you do it in the right direction. 30MPH through winding corners for a few miles. A real highlight. Something Matt showed us Sunday. It is now on the A List.

OK, I'm really hanging up now. Be back Monday.

And remember,
if you drink, don't drive...
ride a bike.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Super-Sucky Commute Circa 2009

A little while back I started thinking about how much my current commute sucks (despite the fact that it may have been on the Tour DuPont route, thanks Solo) compared to my old Marin commute. You've probably never heard me mention this fact. Not a big complainer, I don't complain a lot. As I rode to work I thought about the photos I'd take to contrast the two vastly different experiences. For whatever reason that day, my ride didn't seem so bad, it seemed kind of picturesque...scenic even.

Well, not today. In fact the above Chuck Close detail lookin' mosaic represents what the bulk of my photos looked like. Slush caked all over the waterproof housing of the Helmet Hero. I thought how fitting it was that the day after I post all the gorgeous photos of my sunny, amazing Marin commute, the weather goes all to hell...again. Now I will show my Somerville - Newton commute no mercy.

Off subject but...last night I took my helmet off outside the pub. I had stuck my glasses up in the vents, I guess they silently ejected and fell to the ground. When I came back outside later on I realized they were missing. I was super bummed, they are totally sweet glasses. As I was about to abandon hope I saw them sitting on top of a parking meter. My commute might be sucky, but whoever picked up my glasses is not. Thanks,
you can't ride in this shit without good glasses.

The amount of suiting up time I go through each winter day is staggering. If my ride were any shorter I could hardly justify it.

The Fix-ed gear. The right choice for New England commuting. We don't have extended climbs or descents. At least not around these parts. Riding in slushy conditions you can essentially downshift with your legs slowly and in control rather than locking up a wheel with your brakes and risking a slide out. The only maintenance required is lubing the chain once in a while.

Looking out my door is always a sort of worst case scenario. My road is one of the last in Somerville to get plowed. If I can make it out of my house, and down my road without wrecking, I'll generally be OK.

A few minutes into the ride my lens was covered with ice and slush. I had to delete several hundred photos of blurry whiteness. There is really no way to stay 100% dry in these conditions. I settle for warm. Wool is good. Wool works. Gore clothing helps too. Gore should sponsor me as a Super-Commuter. I win my commute every day.

Getting doused with piles of brown slush from MBTA buses is par for the course. That metaphor just reminded me. However horrible my commute might be it is still better than a sunny day of golf. Golf courses should be Canada Geese habitats.

The train crossing on the far right. The other day I had a Paris-Roubaix 2006 moment. Only the UCI official part was played by a Cambridge police officer. The train was way off down the way. I rode between the gates and began to pass the line of stopped cars coming at me. A door opened, it was a cop. He gave me a pleasant verbal warning and I promised not to do it again. I have held to my promise...except for when no one, particularly The Man is looking. I can imagine that it looks terrifying from the perspective of a driver sitting in a car. It's not.

Riding the roads through Belmont/Waltham/Watertown is like mountain biking. If you don't keep your thumbs hooked under the bars at all times you risk getting knocked off your bike.

The middle photo, again, watch me look at the bright side. Riding in 38° rain and sleet beats the hell out of waiting for the bus like that person with the umbrella is doing.

On the right. My stability tree. If I catch a red light, I hang onto my tree for a minute still clipped in. Fascinating.

My stability telephone pole. Same deal as my tree.

Fresh Pond Parkway, a great place to get killed if you trust human beings to obey laws of man and common sense. One out of four lanes never stops. The last few cars passing through a rock solid red light at 50MPH. Then you have to play chicken with left turning traffic. Point like Champ Kind time.

I have no idea how much climbing my commute has. Somewhere between 0 and 4 feet. Definitely nothing sustained. I do have alternate routes I take which have considerable amounts of climbing. No Mt. Tam around here.

There was traffic out Marin but the attitude was different, I had way less issues with belligerent drivers. Luckily I never ran into my favorite actor, Sean Penn. Apparently he's not a fan of people that "Ride those things". I still think Milk was the best film of the year.

Some days these roads clog up so bad that you can't even negotiate around traffic. If the sidewalk in iced over, that is out as well. You are relegated to waiting in line like all the lemmings.

At some point I will post photos of the alleged picturesque and scenic elements of my commute. I do have an equivalent to the Mt. Tam route. And, I suppose The Paradise loop...it's a stretch but I have a vivid imagination.

Then there's the awesomely exciting On/Offroad commute. That might warrant video. Sorry, I had to do it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Super-Commute Circa 2006 Part Two

Continued from Yesterday:

...I was going 35, maybe 40 miles per hour down the hill coming from the bridge. An old couple in a Cadillac came barreling out of a driveway just before the corner. This sent me into the other lane over those little reflective knobs that act as the yellow line through much of California in a sideways slide. As I slid around the corner I came face to face with the back of a van.

It gets hazy after that but I found myself in a crazy nose wheelie going around the left side of the van into oncoming traffic. If a car had been there, that might have been it for me. Next thing I knew I was stuffing the bike underneath me, spread-eagling over the bars, the contents of my pockets sailing through the air around me like a Salvador Dali photo, then I was running, but not fast enough to deal with my velocity so I started rolling and tumbling through some bushes. I've seen footage of Moto GP riders crashing in the low-side to high side manner in which, I imagine I crashed. But I've never seen footage of cyclists doing it. Except maybe Beloki. Ugh.

When it was over my bike was on the sidewalk, my lock, cell phone, keys, and other assorted crap were all over the road, and not one driver stopped to see if the guy in the hedges shaking the birds and stars off from around his head was alive or well. I got back on the bike and began rolling down into the scene pictured below. Then BAM! The rear tire suddenly popped. The skid over the reflector bumps had turned a portion of my rim's braking surface at a near right angle to where it should have been.

I went to figure out how to get a bus back up to Fairfax but a concerned cabbie saw me walking and stopped to see what was the matter. He was a cyclist himself and knew by my slumping gait that I was in a bad spot. He gave me a ride up to Bicycle Odyssey. They were closed but the Cab driver knew the owner and gave him a call. Within seconds the door was open and I was fixing my flat on a professional bike stand and bending my rim into a ride-able configuration. The wheel wouldn't last long but it got me home that night. And I wasn't even close to being actually dead, which from time to time since then I have thought might be a good thing.

Little bit nicer weather than the Tour of CA guys had

As gorgeous as this bridge is, riding across it could be a nightmare, for various reasons. The wind and the rain could be formidable. Causing you to come to a grinding halt or slide sideways on one of the many expansion plates. The ocean side was only open to bicycles after 4 or 5 (I forget) so in the morning I had to ride on the city side, which on a Saturday morning would be completely overrun with tourists. Some on horrible rental bikes, weaving out of control. Then there were the Japanese families, each one of them viewing the world through their own, personal digital video camera, even the smallest child. You could scream your lungs out but they would continue backing into your path undeterred. The truly frightening thing is that up until a few years ago the only thing separating Cyclist from traffic traveling at 50+ MPH was a hub-high railing. Just enough to launch you into space after making contact with a tourist.

Chrissy Field

An interesting piece of information in case you ever want to jump off The Golden Gate Bridge (wouldn't really recommend it. 10% of the people who do it live...but not very well). The gates close at night but not for cyclists. You hit a buzzer, wave into a video camera, the guard makes a judgment call "Well, he looks happy and well-adjusted" or "That dude has jumper written all over him". Then he opens the gate. Or not. You let yourself out on the other end.

I always thought that if someone wanted to jump at night all they'd have to do is show up with a bike. As I did more reading on the subject I came to the conclusion that snuffing yourself by leaping off a National Landmark is such an inherently narcissistic act that very few people were going to do it without an audience. There's a documentary about The bridge and suicide called, strangley enough, The Bridge, not exceptionally well executed, but interesting nonetheless.

I'm going 30MPH with very little effort, this is awesome...
oh, but it is going to suck on the way home

Down along Chrissy field I would get my spin on. Practicing maintaining an absurd cadence for prolonged periods of time. Going through the park at the end I once came upon a tour group on Segway Scooters, all with giant headphones on. I couldn't help myself. "Oh my god, it's an expedition from the planet LAME!" I yelled.


Market St. Bagel stop

Every day I'd grab an Egg sandwich on an everything bagel with Swiss cheese, spinach, and scallions at Noah's Bagels. I like food. It's important to me. It's why I ride really.


I don't have a picture of Brainwash, my favorite coffee spot in the neighborhood where I worked. It was rad, I'd come into town sopping wet and cold. Roll straight to the cafe which was also a laundromat. I'd change in the bathroom, throw my clothes in the dryer, get my coffee, and head to the shop. When I'd come back later (not much later) on for second coffee my clothes would be dry. Now I just hang my clothes by the furnace, they don't really dry, and I ride home in wet clothes. That is far from rad. Hey Starbucks in Newton - get a dryer.

Road Rage

This shop had its share of problems (and it purchased stock in other people's problems as well) but we had fun. It was a great experience overall.


Jorgen was a worldly lad, raised by Dutch/Finnish parents but he could do the best Massachusetts townie accent around.

Ferry Building

There were nights I would feel too tapped to ride home. The double shot of Espresso I'd get just before crossing the bridge wasn't enough inspiration. On those occasions I would take the ferry to Larkspur and spin the twenty or so minutes up the flat valley to Fairfax.

Beats the hell out of the bus

Often this rack would be full of swinging bikes getting pelted by the salty spray from the wake. If you want get out of San Francisco and do a real ride, the ferry is the way to go, cuts out all the crap, gets you right to the good stuff.

I don't think I will ever get tired of this view

Wow, I totally shot myself in the nuts with this "little" project. Wasn't the cop out post I had planned it to be. Not like when sitcom writers do those "remember when?" episodes. When I do my contrasting current commute photo essay tomorrow I'll try to keep it more photo, less essay.

In Other News:
  • I posted a little something over on the 29er Crew Site
  • Also posted a How-To article for folks looking to get started with mountain biking over on the IBC Blog. Astonishingly it contains almost no sarcasm.