Friday, January 29, 2010

Freakin' Foto Friday

In December drinking horchata
I'd look psychotic in a balaclava
Winter's cold is too much to handle
Pincher crabs that pinch at your sandals

- Vampire Weekend

Long week, swimming has left me shelled. But it's a good kind of tired. I'm tired like a little kid, aching muscles without the aching bones and joints. Swimming gives you that pure beat-down, not like the bike beat-down where you feel satisfied but just totally wrecked and hurt. My body is humming right now, I can barely lift my feet off the floor. It's great.

I can't imagine having a cycling coach like this swimming coach. Someone there at the wall to tell you "if you take too long between sets, I'm gonna put you on the clock!" And, when I slip off the bathroom for a wee, "I saw that, you owe me 200!" I also can't imagine doing such structured, arduous workouts. I mean, I've done intervals on the bike but not like this...not like this. Help me.

The Fiddler Crab Chronicles
My pedaling was less Fiddler Crabbish today, thanks to a session with Ruben Millor of Big Hands Massage Therapy. We sat and talked for a long time about my issues. It was more like talking to a Psychiatrist than a massage therapist. He saw right off the bat that I was sitting crooked in the chair and we went from there. My hips were way off kilter. By the end of the session I was in much better alignment and on today's ride I could really feel the difference. More on that later, gotta go, my face has an appointment with my pillow.

I leave you with photos from last Friday's run out South Natick with M and my sister. The beautiful sunset almost made running worth it. Almost.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Product Review:
Gore Bike Wear Race Power Over Shoe

(and Poop)

I've been meaning to talk about my Gore booties for months, so I'm going to go ahead and get that over with and then get back (briefly) to the matter at hand: poop.

The booty I'm using is the Race Power Over Shoe. In a two words: they freakin' work. What else can I say? They keep my feet warm and dry. I guess I could trash talk the Pearl Izumi Amphib booties I've been using for years — er — I mean, compare and contrast. What it comes down to with the Amphibs is basically that the zippers suck. They are hard to zip when your hands are warm. In fact, you're lucky if you don't blow out the zipper putting them on. Then there's the issue of taking them off with cold hands. Operose is a word I would use...if I knew the meaning of it. When I'm in the dressing room at the shop, trying to take them off after a cold ride I let out such streams of profanity that my co-workers have to tell appalled mothers, as they cover their child's ears: "sorry mam, that's Tommy, he has Tourettes Syndrome, we get a big tax break for employing him...please don't sue us."

Conversely, the Gore booties utilize a velcro system. I can put them and on and take them off standing on one foot like a damn flamingo. The version I have are uninsulated, for colder weather riding (sub-20°) I'd probably recommend the insulated version. Or you could just do what I do and cut a hole in the bottom of an old wool sock and pull it over your shoe before donning your booties.

Why I'm not riding a single-speed
Oh, for Doug and the other folks who might have missed it, here's my e-xx-plantion for why I'm riding gears in 2010. I was going to try to offend every Single-Speeder in the known universe with a philosophical rant on the subject, and make all the people who read The Big Bikes just because I'm a Single-Speeder hate me more than they already do for "selling out," but I'll save that for another day.

Why I am riding a single-speed mountain bike at The Harpoon ITT Saturday
Why not? It's January, I'm totally out of shape, all the roadie and tri-guys I'll be racing against in the elite race have already logged thousands of base miles. I'm just gonna go out there and act a fool and see what happens. I will be putting a slick on the rear of the Superfly SS so I don't wreck Brian's compu-trainers and drive everyone half-batty with the rumbling of my knobbly rear tire.

Why poop is an important element of any good story
Poop was an element in the first written story: The Epic of Gilgamesh. In Gilgamesh Ishtar convinces her dad Anu to unleash The Bull of Heaven upon the land of Uruk. The Bull of Heaven descends upon Uruk, he goes nuts, tearing the place all up. Gilgamesh and his best bud Enkidu get into it with the big bad bull, the bull is apparently no stranger to fighting dirty:

"Then Enkidu jumped out and seized the Bull of Heaven by its horns.the Bull spewed his spittle in front of him, with his thick tail he flung dung behind him."

That's right. In the oldest written story, in one of the pivotal battle scenes, a giant demi-god-bull flings poop at one of the protagonists.

I read Gilgamesh for the first time about fourteen years ago, what do you guess was the only part I remembered? Of course in my recollection The Bull of Heaven killed Enkidu with poop. This was not accurate. Death by poop...can't think of a more ignominious end. Except for maybe death by injecting cocaine directly into your penis.

Never underestimate the power of poop.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fat Tuesday - Part II

Height - 5' 10"
Weight - 169.5
BMR - 2757.78325
BMI - 24.5
Weight Goal - 157 Lbs.

Yes, we've gone there. I'm posting photos of me with my shirt off. I'm like a not-hot-male-version of Liz Hatch over here. I don't know how to feel about that. I'm pretty sure I know how you feel about it. OK, Shut up or the shorts come off next week.

If you're lost go back and check out this post.

If you're wondering why I'm looking less Selleck-ish than last week, that's because I suffer from a rare form of Sympathetic Chest Hair Loss. Whenever I shave my head, my chest hair tends to thin down to just about the same length, (which would be exactly 1/4"). There has got to be a cure for this anomalous, naturally occurring, man-scaping.

Due to scheduling changes at the Big Bikes I am now going to be writing all posts at night. If they don't get writ then, they ain't gettin' writ at all. Which makes this post kind of odd because I won't be weighing in until tomorrow AM. So what I have to do is make an assumption as to whether I've made zero progress toward my weight goal or actually gained weight. I'll do the weigh in tomorrow and plug the number into the stats above. We'll see how that goes.

Hey, I'm a bike racist, I'm a master of the preemptive excuse.

I have my reasons for thinking that I'm going to weigh in a little hefty tomorrow. In Matt Fitzgerald's book "Racing Weight," he talks about how athletes let down their dietary guard on weekends. Athletes do it, and I do too. I stayed on a decent plan this week. Generally my daily intake looked something like this:

  • Breakfast - 3/4 Cup Steel Cut Oats with dried cranberries, soy milk, and brown sugar, pint of O.J. , and Two cups of coffee with soy milk.
  • Lunch - Turkey on wheat with provolone and spinach.
  • Snack - Cup of Greek 0% fat yogurt and an apple
  • Dinner - Some sort of protein (tuna, chicken, tofu) on Salad with maybe a little brown rice
That's not a whole lot of food mind you, but I'm not really on a crazy/sick riding regiment right now. Problem is the freakin' weekend. Friday was dinner at the sister's house, which always means overeating. It is a house of magnificent snacks and wonderful culinary delights. "Hmm, while I'm waiting for my healthy dinner dinner I'll just finish my nephew's meatball sub...and my niece's pepperoni pizza." Yes dinner was preceded by a brisk 5.5 mile run that looked something like this:

Strange, I've never noticed my striking resemblance to a proboscis monkey doing a Richard Nixon impression before.

Oh, this is whole soy milk and tofu business. I was vegan for longer than M*A*S*H was on the air. I still can't see myself drinking "real" milk. Unless I could drink it straight from the udder and get it while it was still hot. That would be so yummy...and normal.

I had points to make about Fitzgerald's book today. Oh yes, the rest of my weekend cheating involved a bunch of beers at an engagement party Saturday night and some late night cheese-eating. And then there was ihop after our little ride Sunday followed by Thai take-out Sunday night. Not good if you want to be not-fat.

I did learn something from the book, I learned that an 8% weight gain is not only normal, but a good thing. For a guy of my stature that means a ten pound gain! I'm a little over 8% above weight though. Usually professional cyclists burn that ten pounds off during their first training camp.
OK, when's my first training camp? 29er Crew boss man Travis Ott emailed me today to say that my new GEARED Superfly HT frame will be here next week. He must have forgotten to mention the training camp. What's that? Somewhere amongst all the gibberish I actually mentioned something you want to hear about? Tough shit skippy, we're going to talk more about my fatty-fatty-boom-boom.

But not much more, I swear.

Fitzgerald also talks about how Kenyan marathon runners (Please don't quote me on this. I don't get paid to do this and I can't be bothered to open the book back up to confirm the crap that is coming out of my fingers here.) and how they can't possibly eat enough when they're in their peak training phase. I think he said they burn like 172,000 calories a day and they just walk into KFC and say "can I have a menu? Did I say 'a menu,' I meant THE MENU...the whole thing. Moses, pull the truck around." I take that back. That's pretty much verbatim from the book. Amazing.

Matty does say that when cyclists are training 20 hours per week, like Kenyan marathon runners, they have trouble keeping up with their body's caloric intake requirements. With how hopeless I've proven to be at sticking to the plan here, that might be my only route — 20 hours per week.

Unless, unless, hear me out...Fitzgerald also talks about "sending messages to your body" a whole lot. Like if you starve yourself, your body gets the message that your metabolism should slow down and hold onto more calories. Well I'm going to try sending my body a message that says, "Bacon and beer are good for you...gooood for you. You got it? Now cut it out with this turning them into man boobs and man-handles (that's what we called them in prison) crap OK?"

I hope you're finding this series on weight loss helpful.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trail of Tears is a Weird Name for A Trail System

Hi there. Happy Monday morning. I know you've just gotten to work. Maybe you've gone and grabbed yourself a nice hot cup of coffee. You've already interrupted your boss in mid-sentence to tell him, "Hey Mr. Penis-Breath, I've got some real important stuff I gotta take care of, so why don't you piss off and come back when I give a flying f--k." And then he probably said something like, "When pray tell, do you think that might be?" And you likely replied, "When pray tell? When pray tell? Do you have any idea what a royal douche you sound like when you say things like when pray tell? Well I pray tell that you can come back around when I'm good n' ready-thirty!"

And then you come over here to Big Bikes looking for a some mind-blowing shit. Problem is, the mind-blowing shit isn't here today, it's over HERE on the 29er Crew site.

So go check it out!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pedalin' Like A God Damn Fiddler Crab

The way my body works, or doesn't work, is an enigma coated in a secret sauce and breaded with a flaky crust of puzzle pieces. I have always had bio-mechanical issues. Whether it was wonky knees back in the beginning of my riding days (somehow single-speeding has never re-aggravated this issue) or back problems related to my mid-nineties surgery; I have never been 100% comfortable on the bike. Just how imbalanced and screwed up I am at a given time varies, right now I'm at about a 7.5 on a scale of one to ten. One being "I feel frickin' awesome on the bike, Yeah dude!" And ten being "I am going to give up on cycling and become a professional Wi-Tennis player."

OK, it's not that bad.

But I am pretty messed up. My pedaling action is way off kilter. I've done some work in the past with Bill Peterson at We Do Feet. He definitely improved matters, but there was still something awry. I've been to see several other folks as well, none of them could unravel the mystery either. Yoga helps. Stretching helps. Swimming seems to help as well. But never have I felt like I have been able to lay down even and balanced power to the pedals.

Like a message in a bottle or a distress signal from a doomed spacecraft, I will leave this post up as a desperate cry for help. If you know of anyone who has an MRI machine that will accommodate me, my bike, and my trainer, let me know. Because at this point that's what I think I need — an orthopedist to watch me pedal my bike in an MRI machine.

Today I did make a trip over to The Boston Shop to see Mr. Craig Gaulzetti to have him take a look at me on the bike. We spent a lot of time pedaling and talking and trying different things. He said of my pedal stroke, "it is odd." After observing what just might be the root of the problem (a leftward tilt to my hips), several changes were made and I pedaled away from the shop in better alignment than when I arrived there.

Craig told me to pedal through the bottom of my stroke like I was scraping dog poop off my shoe. "No Thom, you don't actually have poop on your's an analogy, get it?"

Do these shorts make my butt look big or is it just perspective?

The Racing Weight plan is working by the way,
or something's working anyway. More on that Tuesday

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Idiot's Ride

A wise man named John Allis (wow! a Wiki page, someone's been busy) once said, "The best cyclists have the worst sense of direction," (I have no doubt quoted this before). His meaning: cyclists who get lost on training rides and end up doing more miles than they set out to do end up stronger for it. Back in his day all the other riders were touting the merits of using a compass and sextant, he wasn't having any of it. And he showed them what was up at the races.

I've taken things a pedal stroke further (hur!). Not only do I have a horrible sense of direction, I have now begun a strict regimen of imagining appointments and forgetting personal items in far way places. A few weeks back I rode to work wearing a pair of Tifosi glasses. When I went to ride in the next morning, I realized I'd left my "A glasses" at work. So I donned a second pair and...straight to punchline: I did the same exact thing two more times, leaving a grand total of three pair of glasses at work. There they stayed until today, when I made a special trip over to get them although I wasn't actually working.

Was forgetting my glasses at work three times in a row the dumbest thing I've done recently? No, not really. Today I rode over to the Newton shop "for a Trek/Fisher clinic." I have to learn to skim my emails better. I'll put that on the long list of crap I must master by the time I'm 40. I showed up to the shop and almost no one was there. "It must be over at the Boston shop, man I'm an idiot!" No, I am a much bigger idiot than that. Right shop, wrong week. The email said Wednesday February 3rd. That's a week from now they tell me.

Would I have gone for a ride at 8:15 AM today if I hadn't hallucinated an appointment? I seriously doubt it. My sense of accomplishment for getting so much done by noon was only eclipsed by my sense of being such a raging idiot.

On the upside, when I was at the Boston shop Uri said "Hey-A Thom PEEEE, what's that on your bag — a whistle?" It was, I have owned a Detours River City pack for over a year and a had neglected to notice that it has a whistle on the sternum strap (you can see it, it's that orange thing in the upper left photo).

We couldn't decide whether it was a rape whistle or a bear whistle or a bear-rape whistle. When you get charged by a bear you never really know whether it wants to kill you or hump you. Better start whistling just to be safe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So Stupid With The Basal Metabolic Rate

Alright so the first rule of Fat Club was, that I was not going to talk about Fat Club. Except for on Tuesdays when I would talk about Fat Club until I was blue in my fat face. I now have to break this rule because, just after I posted yesterday's post, M (My wife) pointed out that I had ignored a rather crucial step in the process.

I had forgotten all about Mr. Harris Benedict and his Wunderbar Equation. After I went HERE to calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate, I was then supposed to go HERE , determine my total daily caloric needs, then multiple my BMR by the number given in the supplied chart.

This is where I think I rank on the chart:

If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55

And yes "moderately" was misspelled and no I would not, at this time, classify myself as "very active," I am not doing "hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week." At least two days are allocated to completely and utterly faffing off right now. Just wait till I get busy, this blog is gonna take such a nose-dive in quality, you won't know what hit you. Unless you're standing under a security camera, then they might be able to rewind the tape and figure it out. I'm going to guess...sock monkey poop. It's odorless and looks like little, black buttons.

And when you multiply my Basal Metabolic Rate by 1.55 you get a much better number — 2757.78325

Thanks Harris Benedict, you're the man! And that egg dish you invented is even better than your equation. And thanks to your equation, I can eat it too. That's just silly, everyone knows Harris Benedict didn't invent "Eggs Benedict!"

Benedict Arnold did.

By accident though. He was selling American culinary secrets to the British. The British Empire desired, more than anything else, the recipe for the Dunkin Donuts Bacon, Egg & Cheese. BUT, through a fateful game of telephone, Benedict's messages were garbled and by the time the recipe reached London it was completely confused. What was a pure assembly of bacon, egg, and cheese on a real American Croissant, became a tangled mess of English muffin (what else?), poached eggs, ham, spinach (you ain't gonna find that at Dunkin's kid!), and Hollandaise sauce.

Oh yes, the photos. We went skiing for two days in New Hampshire this past weekend and all I took photos of was this weird, woolly mammoth of a horse named Bob.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fat Tuesday

Height - 5' 10"
Weight - 170.5 Lbs.
BMR - 1779.215
BMI - 24.5
Weight Goal - 157 Lbs.

This is the beginning of a human experiment. Over the next two months or so I will be applying principles gathered from the new book by Matt Fitzgerald: "Racing Weight - How to Get Lean for Peak Performance" in a desperate attempt to...get lean for peak performance. I'll be dedicating Tuesdays from now until race season starts in April to documenting my progress.

While my family and some friends (besides Jon Bruno) tell me that I'm already too thin, I know that amongst the ranks of wanna-be-professional cyclists I am pretty overweight. I'm sure Jay Leno's family tells him that he doesn't have an incredibly over-sized head. This is nice but it's not true. We're cyclists, we have a different idea of what ideal weight is. It has nothing to do with "looking good" or "being sexy." It has everything to do feeling good and going fast. If we wanted to look good and be sexy, we'd hit the gym, go tanning, then do laundry. Um...bro.

Part One of "Racing Weight" outlines why an endurance athlete will benefit from losing weight. Fitzgerald discusses Lance Armstrong's huge transformation from powerhouse sprinter to Tour De France winner: "Do you need to get cancer and lose a lot of weight to become a better endurance athlete? Absolutely not!"

Phew! I'm relieved that I don't have to go out and get cancer. I have no idea how to do that, and I don't live anywhere near a DuPont plant.

The first step is finding your optimum racing weight. According to Fitzgerald: "If you're close to your ultimate performance level, you're close to your optimal performance weight." This blog may seem to serve no purpose whatsoever but it does serve some me...sometimes. I don't keep a training log but, thanks to the blog, I can go back and really see what was going on at a given time. To determine what my "ultimate performance level" is, I just had to look at the best race of my best season: Root 66, Hodges Village Dam 2008. At the time I weighed about 157 Lbs. That is not what I weighed at any point last season and it is far from what I weigh now.

Next step was to calculate my Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. This tells me how many calories someone of my height, weight, and age should ingest in a day. The calculator defaults to the "female" setting so my first calculation gave me a start — 1561.175 calories, AAH! I take in that many calories before breakfast. Recalibrate for male and calculate...1779.215. That's better. Still a little intimidating, probably no more Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on Boston Cream Donuts anytime soon. Apparently counting calories-in is key to successful weight loss, so this is a start.

I'm going to begin calorie counting today, I'm only three chapters into the book at this point, I'll apply any other awesome weight loss tricks I learn over the next week and report back Tuesday.

A guy named Michael Pollan is on NPR right now. He may have s simpler plan: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Maybe I'm over-thinning this. Over-thinking...thinking.

1.19.10 Morning weigh-in 170.5 Lbs.
See, I don't look all that skinny, do I?
Body Dysmorphia my fat ass (and man-boobs).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Night Swimming

Swimming is much harder than I thought. It's not like I've never swum before either. I re-habed from my back surgery with swimming. And periodically throughout the past ten years I have hopped in the pool a few times a week in a sort of therapeutic way. I guess that's the issue — I've always kind of just gotten in there and splashed around, just trying to loosen up my tight bike muscles. The only stroke I would do (or know how to do) is freestyle. The fact that I only know one stroke (and not all the well it seems) has become abundantly clear.

My breast stroke is a joke. My backstroke is a nightmare. And oddly enough my kicking is by far my weakest point. I seriously suck at kicking. I make it half way across the pool, begin to sputter, then cramp, then sink. "Kick from your hips!" The instructor yells. But my hips don't comply.

My wife (M) and I have this ongoing swimming-related competition. As I see it I'm 1 and 1. As she sees it she's 2 and 0. This all started back when we first started dating. I took her out to my family's lake house in Wrentham. There's this sunken island way out in the middle of the lake. We swam out there, hung out for a bit. I saw that she was a good swimmer (something about competing when she was a kid and something else about junior Olympic swim trials). I don't know who suggested racing back, but that's what we did. It is not a short swim.

Quickly I found myself being "half-bodied" (like half-wheeled, get it?), and in no time my hands were barely overlapping M's feet. I started working harder, struggling to keep pace with her. By the time we reached the floating dock near the beach I was at death's door. She easily gapped me and stepped out on the beach first.

There are two factors which put me at a severe disadvantage to M:

Factor #1: I was wearing cut-of Dickies which created a lot of drag. M was wearing a very hydro-dynamic swimsuit (much like the one Michael Phelps wears).

Factor #2: I suffer from a condition called "Wookie's Syndrome" which causes my body to be almost entirely covered in thick (but luxurious) hair. I do shave my legs of course. If you saw me naked (which you just might if you read this blog long enough, lucky!) you would immediately see my resemblance to a feather duster. Only with fur where the feathers should be and my bony white legs where the handle should be. This, like my Dickies creates a lot of drag, and again M was wearing a super high-tech bathing suit.

I shambled out of the water like a water-logged mummy. Smack-talk ensued (maybe, just maybe I had gone into this endeavor a tad bit over confident, and maybe, just maybe I had expressed this prior to setting out from the sunken island). We looked up to see my grandfather, who had seen the whole thing, sitting in a lawn chair laughing his ass off.

I needed redemption.

And it came (at least in my bleary eyes) later that summer (or the next summer...I have no concept of time or...or, anything really). We were up in New Hampshire at Lake Sunapee. Same sort of scenario, but a little shorter distance. I think I was still wearing my cycling bib shorts (we had just done a race so this was semi-normal). The race was a little closer coming down to the line, but, and here's the controversial part — as soon as we entered shallow water, I stood up and began to run. And I won!

No I did not says M.

She claims I won the bi-athalon, but she won the swimming race. Hence the incongruity of our competitive records. I can't help it if I have long legs and that I ran out of water before she did. I also can't help that she has short little legs that barely reach the ground.

Did I mention how cute M looked in her bathing suit?

Next Tuesday our "coach" is going to time us and place us in appropriate lanes.

Any bets?

P.S. - A big thank you to those of you who put up and didn't shut up, donating money to the SSUSA trip. You didn't have to do that, but I appreciate it. And Eric live in Somerville, we should go ride sometime. We're thinking about an Otis AFB trip next weekend. Drop me an email at thomp2000 at gmail dot com.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Have Come Here to Chew Bubble Gum and
Look Like a God Damn Fool...

And I Completely Forgot to
Stop at CVS to Pick up Bubble Gum

I was driven out of bed this morning by the thirst for knowledge. I just couldn't wallow (well, snuggle up cozily) in my own ignorance for a moment longer. There were questions I needed to ask my computer:

Question # 1: What does proper Nordic skiing technique look like?

Question #2: What is the deal with that dude "Bucket Head?"

I had to know these things and I had to know them immediately.
Stop looking at me like that. I'm perfectly normal.

So I You-Tubeled "Nordic skiing technique," and this informative video came up.
It has a very generic even-keeled narrator. He says things to the effect of "Diagonal stride, or classic Nordic skiing is about as hard to do as walking and it ranks just slightly above walking on the Awesome Scale." That's a real scale. I have one in my bathroom, although it comes up "0.00" every morning no matter how awesome I think I got the day before.

I can't believe the McTwist I did my Razor Scooter while performing a flaming numb-chuk (that's what they're called "numb-chuks") display didn't even register. I think my awesome scale is busted. I'll have to get super-rad in the pool tonight and see what happens. You should see the dope moves I can shred so hard in the pool. Last week I did a double flip turn to individual medley. The double flip turn was sick, I added that, but just stuck with your standard individual medley. I mean, how much more sick can something called an "individual medley" be? The answer is none. None more sick.

Bucket Head
or, apparently "Buckethead," One word: Buckethead.
He's that guy who plays guitar in an expressionless white mask with a KFC bucket on his head. I googled him and found an extensive Wiki page. This pretty much sums up who this guy is though:

He has been voted number 8 on a list in GuitarOne magazine of the "Top 20 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time"[6] as well as been included in Guitar World's lists of the "25 all-time weirdest guitarists"[7] also known for being in the "50 fastest guitarists of all time list".[8]

That is one successful guitar shredder. Man, I hope some day Bike World includes me in their list of the "25 all-time weirdest cyclists."

Sometimes you gotta reach for the brass...door knob.
You can do it. It's right there, at waist height. Go for it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SSUSA AZ 2010 - I'm A-Goin'

Please excuse the recycled illustration, it really illustrates the sentiment of the post which is not here but over on the 29er Crew blog. This post is just here to tell you to go look at that post. There's really nothing going on here today, so go over there and check out my very intelligent explanation as to why I decided to go to SSUSA.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bad Decisions

This won't be one of my typical posts, it'll be more like a tweet, or a facebook status update or even a, post.

Help me think this through. SSUSA is February 6th in Tuscon, Arizona, I don't have the time or money to go, but I still really, really want to go.

Things I have going for me (which are nice):

  1. It's winter at the bike shop, so getting a weekend off is not a problem.
  2. I have a bunch of Delta dollars I earned by volunteering to get bumped off a flight. They expire soon and this may be my last chance to use them. So my flight will be "free."
  3. That's about it.

Things I don't have going for me (which are NOT nice):

  1. I have been in school and have not really been working, so I am pretty broke.
  2. I will be in school on the Friday preceding and the Monday following so it'll be tight.
  3. The airline ticket might be "free" but taking my bike on the plane will not be (see #1).
  4. I may not even be able to get in (which might actually fall into the "things I have going for me (which are nice) column, because it will save me from myself.
I'm just thinking out loud here. Well maybe not so much thinking as opening my mouth and letting things spill out of my brain onto the floor.

Perhaps (in my imagination) some magazine will offer to buy my EXCLUSIVE SSUSA STORY which will motivate me to pull the trigger and get my ticket to Tuscon.

Oh ya, and can I race SSUSA on gears?



Monday, January 11, 2010

Running (and Skiing and Swimming)
With The Devil

My body is seriously pissed at me right now. In all seriousness (all "Joan Rivers has taken possesion of my body aside) I have begun skiing, running, and swimming. Simultaneously. Not as in I am running on skis in a pool; as in I started doing all three of these sucking-way-worse than cycling sports in the same week. This is what my cross training (oh and it is making very cross) week looks like in review:

  • Monday - Night XC Skiing. I only have two speeds: Fast and lying on the ground moaning

  • Tuesday - Crash-ridden XC Skiing/repeatedly smashing my ass on rocks

  • Wednesday - Rode 20 mile roundtrip to work on the cross bike. I felt like I had never pedaled a bike before.

  • Thursday - Started Masters swim team at Cambridge Rindge and Latin. An hour and fifteen minutes of cold, wet, chlorinated hell.

  • Friday - Drove to work, walked up and down three flights of stairs nine times, then played some Wi driving game with my nephew. I got my ass kicked.

  • Saturday - Ran home from work. Perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever done. And that's a bold claim.

  • Sunday - More XC Skiing. You ever worn your disc brake pads down to metal but continued braking anyway? That's what I was doing to my body by that point in the week.

I hurt.

Above: Looking at the Charles River through the eyes of a bridge. Regarding XC Skiing wear Colin said to "Wear all your cold weather cycling gear (ok, maybe not the helmet) for now and don't waste another minute worrying about it." I took that literally — wearing my bibs with leg warmers (how else was going to hold my leg warmers up eh?). The river seems to have frozen in mid-flow. M did not like this photo, I have no idea why.

Swimming is hard. And the funny thing is, my kicking is the weakest part of my swimming game. Throw a leg buoy between my legs (well, don't throw it, and aim a little higher will you?) and I can truck right across the pool; make me use a kick-board and I get half way across the pool and begin to sink. I'm not joking. I stop. My feet cramp. Apparently "flutter-kicking" uses nothing like the same muscles in your legs that cycling uses. My coach (that's right) also tells me that my ankles are "too tight" which is "typical of cyclists and runners." She also tells me that I my back hair is "not hydro-dynamic" and that if I pee in the pool one more time I'm off the team.

I used to swim, but when I used to swim I would basically splash around aimlessly for an hour (if that) and then go take a communal shower with middle-aged Japanese businessmen who would slap their bodies in rhythm with their atonal singing. I really just went for the showering.

The addition of a coach to the equation makes for a brutal workout. I can't imagine having a coach waiting for me at the bottom of each of my hill intervals, "stop talking to me, I'm trying to hold my vomit in, leave me alone!"

And the running. Don't get me started. Oh, you don't actually want me to start? That makes me very sad. Fine, I'm going to go over here in the corner and tell this potted plant about my running.

I've been reading this book about a guy who goes through West Point, then Airborne school, then Ranger school on his way to Afghanistan. In Ranger school there's no "adaptation phase." They don't go out for a ten minute slow run before they go out for a six minute mile eight mile run. They just DO IT! And they probably do it in boots, not some $140 running shoes. Ya half the guys get dropped from the program due to injury (even the author has to go through a lot of it with his arm popping in and out of its socket), but this is what inspired me to run home from work.

Here's my LOGIC. My cousin Dave went through Ranger school and became a Sergeant, serving in Afghanistan. I used to play G.I. Joe with Dave when I was six-years-old, and here's the thing: I could totally hang. Therefore it goes without saying that I too can go out for a 5+ mile run — cold. Hell, I could probably breeze right through a 13 mile forced march with an 80 Lb. pack too.

So I drove to work with a bag full of running clothes and went through with my plan. At the end of the day I set out on my mission. I ride this route all the time on the bike, it doesn't seem that far, but in a pair of shoes alone it felt very far indeed. I tried to motivate myself by pretending that I was really in Ranger school, "OK when I finish this run I'm going to graduate...and then I'll get shipped off to Iraq where my nuts will get blown off by an IED." It was 23 degrees out, so the thought of a nice, warm IED warming my nether regions seemed pleasant.

Running sucks. But the nice thing about running is that you get a lot of thinking done. I did. I must have thought: "This sucks, this sucks, this sucks" 1350 times during my 45 minute run.

Friday, January 08, 2010

What The Hell Happened?

All I know is that I woke up on the cold, wet tile of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin pool last night at around 7:30. After reading yesterday's blog post, I know that Joan Rivers had a lot to do with it. Apparently once she took possession of my body, she took it on what amounted to a reckless joy ride. She'd been trapped in her previous host body for 76 years (except for a brief period when she had that cyborg body in '87). She was all amped up to get out there and do stuff, any stuff, all sorts of painful stuff. Thing is my body isn't all that durable or resilient. It was already pretty beat up from surf lessons so piling on inept, crash-ridden cross-country skiing and then last night's swimming, has made it a bloody wreck.

You probably have so many questions (all three, no sorry four, four people who stop by here on Fridays):

Q: You busted out of the chest of your own body (which looks an awful lot like John Hurt's body BTW) and now you're here blogging away, how exactly does that work?

A: I have no idea. The rules that apply to things like alien parasites and demonic possession are hazy, sort of like US foreign policy or chess with a three-year-old. And you know what? I find it really, really annoying when people use acronyms like "BTW," especially when they're speaking. That's just weird. Did you just sign an emoticon? I am going to punch you in the dick.

Q: Um, in that photo you're wearing sunglasses and a white water rafting helmet. What's up with that?

A: Have you ever seen the medical documentary Fantastic Voyage? Things can get crazy inside a human body. Better safe than sorry.

Q: Not to belabor the point but, let me get this straight, you busted out of your own chest at the pool last night and then...

A: Grew to full size, toweled off, and ate some chili with my wife. Duh.

Q: And the husk of your body...

A: Oh ya, just when we thought everything was OK, my wife is hugging my alien, helmet and glasses wearing body (which was still small at that point), everybody's jumping up and down, really calm music is playing, and then, out of nowhere, there was this loud screech of string instruments and my ex-body stood up REAL FAST and came at me! Yikes. But just when it was about to get me, it went stiff and it's face melted off just like this:

Q: Right.

A: Right.

Q: And how were you able to escape from the grasp of Joan Rivers?

A: I dunno, something to do with a chlorine allergy? It might be like holy water to a creature like Joan Rivers. Like I said, the rules that apply to things like...

Q: Ya, ya, US foreign policy and chess with a three year old...very clever. Do you actually know the first thing about US foreign policy? Do you even know how to play chess?

A: Do you even know the first thing about your butt? Do you even know how to play with your own poop?

Q: OK, this is degenerating rapidly, I think we'll end here. No further questions.

I think that went well.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Rivers Runs Through Me

Alright people I have a confession to make: that total piece of shit Thom P. didn't come back from Costa Rica, Joan Rivers did. I am Joan Rivers and I am now inhabiting Thom P.'s body. Ha! You may have heard about my incident at the Liberia Airport in Costa Rica. They say the gate attendant was confused by my plastic surgery, that she was suspicious because my passport photo didn't match my actual face. Moron! Well it wasn't the plastic surgery, my host body's face was degenerating right there in the airport. I had to think fast. I saw a "great" potential host a few feet away (weak-minded people make the best hosts and this guy looked like an idiot!) and lucky for me, I was able to make the jump to his body before my prior host melted into a puddle of botox and Donna Karan right there on the floor like The Wicked Witch of The West!

Here's the thing people. When I said "“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God's gift, that's why we call it the present.” I was bull shitting (oh, they tell me I'm not allowed to swear...thank you good night!). History isn't a mystery, not to me, because I was there! I've always been here. I mean there was this one time back in the day, and I mean waaaay back in the day, I was working this red carpet event. Cleopatra's (oh god, Cleopatra , woof! Woof! What a dog!) about to get out of her slave-drawn litter, when BAM! This slave A-hole ethnic person drops his end and the thing falls over, decapitating me! What a douche bag. I had to think fast, I mean use my head, cause it's the only thing I had and it's rolling down the red carpet! I know I use way more exclamation points than that son of a bitch Thom P., bear with me people. The only host body anywhere in sight was this shitty little hairless cat (no you morons, we didn't call them "Egyptian Hairless" because we were IN Egypt. What do ya think, in New York we say things like "Oh I'm going to get a real New York Bagel right now")? And I wind up as a F—in naked cat for a quarter century.

So I jump into this host body and get the hell out of that damn airport. This host body sucks, I mean it's worse than that cyborg body I had back in '87, what a joke!

I'm going to look like a real queen walking around in a man's body with a Louis Vaitton pocket book, but at least it's not a 76 year-old wreck and they won't be able to give me a mammogram and a pedicure at the same time anymore.

Oh, OH! And this whole "Thom P. is going geared business, wah, wah, wah!" Shut the F— up you whiny bitches! For whatever reason this host body has some sort of vestigial desire to race mountain bikes. It also has a vestigial penis. You should see this thing, I mean get a microscope people! I've seen bigger equipment on a Yorkshire terrier. God! I hate mountain bikes, if I wanted to shave my legs and prance around in hot pants, whining about my weight and how my arms "look too manly" I'd be a f—in' drag queen not a bike racer! But if I'm gong to ride one of those things I'm sure as hell not gonna do it on a single speed. That's just retarded. I'm gonna be out at those races going "why the F— am I here?" This host body is getting old, and I hate old people. Hate them! I spit on old people, pffthbt! I am going to get the most of this thing that I can.
Sort of like my ex-husbands.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Well on Some Big Skis...No!

I've written an account of my attempt to go out cross training on the cross country skis over on the 29er Crew Blog. It's way better than anything I've written here for a while, so go CHECK IT OUT!

It's a pretty good description of how not to do it. Far removed from Rooter's how to do it series.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

XX in X

That's right, I've done gone geared for 2010. And not just geared, SRAM XX geared. That's two in the front (in my case a 26/39, SRAM has 29er specific gearing...sweet!) and ten in the rear. Whatever am I going to do with all those gears?

It's an experiment, a human experiment. Or something. Although the last time I did one of those I wound up with a prehensile superfluous nipple. But how superfluous can such a useful extra appendage be really?

I've thought this through as well as I think anything through.
That would be not all that well. Excuse me, I'll be right back. I have to go wander into the kitchen in my Snuggie (even Mr. Cool Ice likes to be warm and cozy sometimes) to make some hash browns with my Slap Chop.

An opportunity came up, it was time sensitive, I decided to douse myself with gasoline, light myself on fire, and jump off the cliff.

I struggled with the idea of going geared for a few minutes (or maybe it was seconds), then I came up with the shaky justification which allowed me to go forward with the decision. The important thing about my bike is not the number of gears it has (or doesn't have), the important thing is that it's a freakin' bike. It takes me places. I take it places, crazy stuff happens, I have new stories to tell.

I skated when I was a kid. We used to session a curb or a bank for hours. Pushing around in circles in the roughly the same space. Then I got a bike. I would ride around Wellesley College (illegally) and some other assorted town lands on my too-big orange Rockhopper with the saddle too low. There were some real woods about five miles away, over in the town of Dover, the Noanet Woodlands. I started riding over there. I don't recall ever driving over, it was always the "long haul," ten miles round trip with usually at least an hour ride in-between. I would come back shelled. I would pull a chair into a cold shower with a half-gallon of orange juice and sit there trying to stop sweating.

What was my point?

Oh ya — my bike takes me places and that's a big part of why I like it. I don't like downtime in my sports (hence my lack of interest in pretty much any mainstream sport). On a bike you're always rolling. With the right eye you can make almost any terrain exciting.

This doesn't mean I am giving up single speeding. I'll still be riding my single a ton and racing it whenever I can (hopefully "doing the double" when possible). Who knows, once the SRAM guys see how slow I am on gears, maybe they'll tell me to take a hike and I'll be back to constantly whining about improper gear choice. For the time being I'll keep the Blog subtitle "2 Dumb 4 Gears," until we see what happens out there come April.

It's actually more relaxing to think about going to a race with 20 gears at your disposal instead of one. All you have to sweat is tire choice (oh and I will be sweating it).

Don't worry, I have some great ideas as to how to make my life more interesting (miserable) even on a snazzy geared bike.

Bring on the "you're a pansy" comments. I'll have Bronski Beat cranked up so loud, I won't be able to hear you.

Monday, January 04, 2010


We got back from our no-bike-Costa Rican-honeymoon Saturday night. And while a whole lot of great stuff that is very interesting to my grandmother happened; I don't think it's really going to be of much interest to readers of The Big Bikes. So we're not going to talk about that too much. It was a tough transition coming back. We walked off the plane at Logan and we could feel the 40 MPH winds whipping through the cracks of the breezeway, coming in off the snowdrift-covered runway. I was wearing shorts, a T-Shirt, and flip flops. I was pissed, "why the fuck do we live here again?"

Imagine if Boston had nice weather and was actually a hospitable, pleasant place to live. It would be really crowded and traffic-snarled and the cost of living would be absurd. Just imagine.

No bikes were ridden in Costa Rica, but surfing was learned. Sort of. I felt it a couple times. I also felt it after I got all excited and spent an hour too many out in the hot sun trying to catch waves. That night my nose damn near fell off. I thought I was going to look like Michael Jackson in the morning. It was quite possibly one of the worst sun burns I have ever received. This kept me from surfing during our last two days in Playa Avellanas. Which was too bad. Aside from the obvious awesomeness of riding a wave, the paddling and the position you have to hold while paddling seemed like the perfect antidote to the constant hunching of cycling (or blogging). I've always been jealous of the surfer posture: head and arms back, almost behind the spine, chest out...OK, maybe I'm just jealous that their arms are bigger than my legs.

SSWC 2010 New Zealand

I was away from the internets when registration opened for SSWCs, but apparently it didn't fill up quite a fast as SSWC Durango or Napa. So I registered with no trouble yesterday. I still have no idea how I'm going to get there. I mean, when I punched my address and " New Zealand" into the Google Maps get directions box, this is what came up:

We could not calculate directions between
33 Irvington Rd, Somerville, MA 02144
and new zealand.

I start swim team this Thursday. If I work really hard maybe I can get swimming-fit enough to freestyle my way there. I couldn't find a "get swimming directions" function anywhere on the Google Maps site. I'll keep looking.

There's some crazy stuff going on over here, big changes...big changes. I'm not ready to make an official announcement, but I'll maybe drop a hint — I may have to change the subtitle of the blog for X.