Thursday, February 26, 2009

could it be bubba ??

i am one of those people you occasionally readabout who elects to get their news exclusively from jon stewart and stephen colbert. great american? or Greatest american ?? - stephen colbert ??? i say greatest.

anyway, in a segment last evening, stephen related a deeply troubling incident from his past, wherin a "varsity wrestler from 'Tosa East" made off with his childhood sweetheart while on a school outing to six-flags in gurnee !!

there is only one such person i can think of capable of pulling a chick from the greatest american alive, and bringing her home to Tosa. nice work !!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the one(s) that got away

getting back to my excitement over the upcoming NAHMBS ( and the beyond cool company of naer-do-wells we are goin with { am i really bringing my 17 y/o daughter with that band of pirates ?? - well she survived SSWC05 . . . . . } ), i thought i would talk about those dream bikes that just never quite got into the net. the big ones, the ones you see only a couple times in a life, and then you break a line, or they slip the net, or they just swim past and laugh while you flounder like an idiot. i have 2.

1st. actually this is the one that really gets me, and wasn't even for me. in the late 80's gretchen and i rode for suntour/ibis. shortly before the original ibis was shifting over to their next style of production, the owner called us up and told us we needed to get in line for the last batch of old-style road bikes. there wer egonna have all the tricks, the sculpted seat collars and headtube reinforcements, the erica paints jobs, all the stuff that made those bikes what they were only in a road configuration, never to be done again. i was on a shop race bike at the time, and didn't care about the road that much but gretchen we got in line. but then - for reasons i still cannot recall - which makes it al the worse - we pulled out. nicol pleaded with not to, saying we would regret it, if it was $ don't worry we'd work it out, but we resistied. those bikes, like the slim chance road bikes, and original Kb race-light road bikes from the famed bontrager garage were a rare hi-water mark in road frames. i kick myself to this day for letting that one go.

2nd. a nagasawa for me. this one i just put off too long. you can have your sachs, and your vanilla's. a nagasawa is what richard sachs BUYS, when he wants to see how the other half does it. yellow jersey used to seell them, and now nagasawa-san doesn't make em anymore.

the bikes we see this weekend wil be every bit as sweet as those ones i saw from the boat, but never pulled in, if not moreso. such an age of handmade bikes we live in !! but to me, nothing is as sweet as that one you saw, swiming back into the murk, chance of lifetime there . . . . . . . . and then gone.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

old skool new again

spent the weekend chaparoning not one but two all day hi-skool snowboard trips with nicky. we travelled in style on a sweet coach, and spent a sum of zeero dollars for two killer days of riding. fresh pow on both days, no less. not bad !!

nicky could snowboard before he could ride a 2 wheeler. and when he was a baby i used to rock him to sleep doing fakies on a masonite micro-half pipe in the garage. coming from my background, if he showed so much as a shred of stink-bug style he went to bed without supper. hence, he rips with a grace and low driving skate/surf-style natural beauty on the board that almost reminds me a tom inouye. but not in the pic above !! in between trips sat eve, as i am trying to sleep, he comes in sporting my old purple pants he dugoutta some closet, and grooving on how he is gonna break them out. the pants - straight outta the 80's as ya can see, are older than he is by a good number of years.

well and good. but then today he proceeds to rock them out with fully first-gen era-appropriate terry kidwell style tweaks, besides. i love that kid.

Friday, February 20, 2009

alpha and omega

in honour of next week's NAHMBS, i am gonna feature my two most nasty bikes. i love them both. the observant viewer will discern they are, in fact, made of aluminum, something which comes as a surprise to some. but there is a significance in this: these two bikes represent the very best aluminum road bike ever made, and the very worst. the interesting twist is this, however: the entire bicycle industry only made 3 aluminum road frames - apart from these 2 distingushied examples it is a well guarded secret that every other aluminum road frame ever made was actually the same damn thing. oh sure, they were clever about it and all - sometimes they squeezed a tube here or there into a shape like an aero-plane's wing - sometimes they glued a little piece of CF someplace or another. and so forth. but they never fooled some of us.

in the meantime, we are left with these fine examples of the wilder bloodlines:

1st up. the vitus-that-beat-us. best alu bike ever made. why is that ?? the art-deco lugs alone should do it, the crazy elmer's glue consturction technique. the way it would shift across a 5-speed spaced freewhel from flex in the frame on a climb. the buttery smooth ride never matched to this very day. all these things are good enuf but the main reason is of course this: the frame in actuality utterly sucked, but sean kelly kicked ass and took names on one anyway. that, my friends, is the beauty of cycling.

2nd up. the first generation c-dale SR900. this is - bar none - the worst road bike of the modern era. c-dale made them before they realized that aluminum gets soft like butter when you heat treat it, and they had no idea how to keep the soft tubes from drooping this way and that after they were welded. ride one thru a puddle, and you will seee its wheels track on two entirely different planes. it weighed more than a steel bike of the time. it rode like the brooklyn bridge. the cable guides all fell off, as did the paint. its geometry was grafted from a touring bike, or something. in order to move them once people realized what they were, they had to EP them under the cost of the campy group that came on them. but you know, i rode mine at the halloween-cross and it sure beat working that day.

so, i am pretty easy to please. next weekend, in the hall full of the finest bikes on the face of the earth, i just might lose it. B-there-or-B-square, say i.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

one other thing . . . .

XC ski racers are the tri-geeks of winter sports. need proof ?? how about a revolutionary new ski that does away with that pesky part which actually makes it a, you know - ski ?? behold:

so we have a hi-end racing ski that you can't use it it snows out. i wonder what would happen if they they let these guys loose, revolutionizing say, the "boat" !! perhaps they could do away with that wasteful tall, long, pointy bit at the front of these "boats"and replace all that with a keen space-age hole, instead.

there are some things that are good to do . . .

once. run a marathon. do an ironman triathlon. 24 hours solo on a ( hopefully singlespeed ) mtn bike. if you live in wisconsin, i think the birkie falls into that category. even twice, seein as your first one will be from the back and all you do is walk the whole time. but here we see a group of fellows who have lost perspective - indeed i was once amongst their number. the first wave of the birkie is not the place of a civilized human being, and i spent too mant february mornings among that number. i expect to be in "recovery" from that for a long time. how uncivilized a place, you ask ?? how about this - my buddy and i are standing there, shaking and shivering in the group, when a nearby speedy female asks us to "form a circle" for her. you know where i am going here. in a crowd of 1000, with close to 20 times that number in the immediate vicinty, helicopters in the sky, the governer up on a podium making a speech, and the star spangled banner about to play, this lady wanted a bunch of skinny dudes dressed in stretchy underwear to provide cover for her pre-race ritual - quite literally ON the freaking start line.

one of the esteemed circle-makers was a young hot-rod, and i am reasonably sure that until then the exact nature of the mechanics involved in all those ladies rooms he had seen all his life was a bit of a mystery to him, apart from perhaps how one powder's their nose - he certainly found out.

so good luck to all those infected with birkie fever this weekend - that particular incident, along with a few other things over the years provided my prescription for the malady. and whatever ya do - watch out for the yellow snow ( and it may not be from where the huskies go ).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

the mean trees of Oz

everytime i ski past this tree on our local trail, i haul ass before it starts throwing apples at me. kwik kwestion: if you had to pick a person to be on your team for a zillion-dollar Wizard of Oz trivia contest, whom would you pick ?? sux for you, because russell and i are going to be riding some very fine steel bikes indeed for the rest of our lives with our winnings. MK and i once shared a room at the iceman with russel, and he not only knows every line, but every detial of every scene. when you watch the W of O with russell, it takes on a whole new flavor. for example do you know the scene with the menacing flamingos in it, and what they are doing ?? neither did i.

anyway, MK is 2/3rds of the way thru her skool's production of the play - they are doing the "stage" version and it differs slightly from the teevee one - MK plays "gloria", the daughter of the mayor of Oz, and the "Merry old Land of Oz" song is sung as a solo by her in this version. today she is off to SPASH in 'point, attempting to become some sort of youth supreme justice for a later day in madison where kids take over the capital building for a day and then . . . . then . . . . . . . . . .

the belgian coach returns. in honour of the olympics last year, i attempted to be a chinese coach, but my arm got tired from hitting all those volleyballs at her while she cowered on the ground crying, and truth be told i while i know those chinese cats are some smart mofo's, i wasn't entirely sure how the process translated directly to cycling. this year we are entering the way-back machine, and we have her low-geared fixie ready to rock. we're gonna go eddy M style, and roll that fix till she can no longer feel her legs, and then go find some hills, maybe. i dunno. i gotta make sure she knows which end of the bike is the one that points forward first, it has been so long. anyway, no GPS, no PM, no HRM, she doesn't even have a schwinn approved speed-o-meter. what for ?? they all say the same thing anyway ( haven't people figured this out yet ?? ) - "you still suck, ride more".

i love being a belgian coach.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

4 generations

to . . . . . . .

here is a story, in keeping with my recent post. my dad's grandpa jumped off a wagon train by himself at the age of 14 someplace around the missouri/kansas border. he left everybody he knew, took the stuff on his back, and went to work driving a mule train in the coal mines because he was so small the trains could haul more coal with him driving them. my dad, that hardy soul's grandson, was born and raised without running water or electricy - but his dad moved him north to the industrail midwest for a better life, altho he himself died in his late 40's from black lung.

my dad finished hi-skool, raised a family as a meter-reader for the gas company, and worked his way up to vice president until the big downsizing of the early 90's caused him to retire early - he was having MBA interns work for him, as a hi-skool grad. my dad is old-school - to the point that when i wished to go to college he refused to fill out the finacial aide forms because it was " none of their business ". that meant i went to work for several years, sold all my assets ( OK, i kept a couple cool bikes . . . ), and put myself thru school working 3-4 jobs.

MK is only 4 generations removed from that nearly unbelieveable 14 year old who said " i've had it with this stupid wagon train, lemme off right now ". and just yesterday she was awarded a full ride scholarship at the beautiful and deeply student-dedicated ripon college. it so happens that she has a few other leads to pursue yet - she is quite a bit better scholar than she is a bike racer and she's not a bad bike racer by any stretch . . . . . . but i wonder what that young mule train driver would think.

on behalf of him, and my own grandpa who died before 50 of black lung, i would like to thank the fabulous folks at ripon, and the pickard family in particular, today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

homeland security must be slipping

it appears that old letter with anthrax spores was still kicking around, and inexplicably found its way to my mailbox. i feel like shite. or, perhaps it was the pristine waters of the overflowing tosa' river i was riding thru this weekend, working their toxic path thru my skin. either way, i am hurtin today. it is a 3 down-comforter kinda day, as soon as i can outta work. fortunately for me, back in the early O-noughts i was actually a bit of an expert on bio-terrorism public health readiness ( before you laugh, or run for a bomb shelter let me point out that at no time was anybody in WI attacked with bio-active substances under MY watch, so yer all welcome you bunch of ingrates ), and so i have a few cipro layin around still. i am gonna hit those up.

sux for me, as march-hero-ridin weather has come a month early. my ancient cycling lore forbids ridin in violation of the "neck-rule", however - feeling bad above the neck = ride, wheras feeling bad below the neck = stay home. on the brite side, samantha bee has a segment on the daily show, and dimitri martin's new show is tonite, and i still need to check out a certain embarrassing show from last weekend involving space-ships to discuss with a fellow nerd so ridin the couch won't be all that bad.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

no pic today

i started this blog as a way to document a year, looking at today, ahead, and backwards. today it is backwards day. a year ago we held my mom's funeral. she was 73, and went thru a steady 4 month downhill battle with cancer. it was a bit remarkable in that my sister also died in the middle of my mom's ilness, and at one particualry macabre moment my mom was checking out of the hosptial having just signed up for hospice ( " going home to die " ) even as my sister was entering the ambulance sally-port in the same facility with the ER docs validating the do-not-resusitate order with her and my dad.

i kinda spent 15 years of my nursing career as a specialist in hospice style care, but these losses hit me harder than i thought. 2008 was a largely horrible year for me as a result, and people who know me generally saw i was not myself until sometime in august - maybe halfway thru the O2S race, oddly enuf. there are too many friends to thank for hanging in with me over that time, and you know who you are anyway. otherwise, the ultra cool cycling community in general was always there, and even tho i was only going thru the motions for much of 08, that also counted for a lot.

my sister was a special person - she had down's syndrome. born in 1961, she was one of very very few retarded persons who was sen in public in that era. the deal at that time was you sent such people to the state-run psych hospitals - my parents refused, and they were shunned and treated like shit by the social-work profession at that time for doing so. later of course, times changed and the very same people who called my parents selfish and cruel for keeping my sister at home had the unmitigated balls to show up on our porch and start telling my parents how they were doing wrong by not having my sister in normal schools, and so forth. the hypocricy, and outright evilness of this bizarre turnaround was too unbelievable for me to even elaborate on.

not that nancy ever noticed, or gave a shite. she lived a life of joy, and wonder. she never wanted for anything, and she never held any of the darker aspects of the human condition in her self - she had no provision for them. anybody who ever knew her loved her, and for those who didn't she cared not a whit. i always thought that she lived within a veil of grace on this earth, and if you were gonna feel sorry for anybody over the situation it was the rest of us who needed the pity, not her. maybe angels are all around us, and it we who can't see it thru our own fault.

as for my mom, i will say 3 things about her on this day, and move on:

1. in all my life, i never once heard her say a bad thing about anybody. not me, or my siblings, though we deserved it greatly. never one of our friends. no celebrity, or neighbor. she never gossiped. no public figure, politician, or relative. nobody, at no time. even when the church kicked nancy out of the congregation because of her retardation did my mom did not say a word, or intimate any malice.

2. as a dad, i can say that my kids will always be my kids. but in my mom's case it was actually true that she stayed " mom" her entire life. she had essentially a forever 4 year old at home. when her peers all moved on to retire, or travel, or learn to golf, and so forth my mom let them go and her relationships withered by and large. she did not mind. i believe she was happy about it, in fact.

3. my mom worked for over 25 years as a school secetary. when she finally retired, everybody was in a panic over what to but her as a gift. the fact was that nobody, not even people she knew and worked with for decades had any idea what she liked, or wanted. the only thing she ever wanted was for the people around her to be happy. she was the most selfless person i have ever known, or heard of.

finally - when gretchen and my sister were cleaning out my mom's effects, they found a plastic bag deep down in one of her closets. in it were pictures and momento's from every year of nancy's life. she had 6 kids, and all the rest of our childhood crap was scattered around the house like normal. but, nancy's stuff was contained in a secret place of honor, and none of us, even my dad, had any idea it was there. it was a treasure from the angelic forever child held by the selfless forever mom. on their worst days either one of them were 10 times better a person than i have ever been, and i never knew. they lived on this earth together, and they left together but they were better than it is, or maybe something more - the world did not deserve either one of them, in my opinon. i am not a religios person, but i do believe in a Divinity of some kind, and ya never know when it it is right in front of you. in fact it probably is right now, and the only reason we don't know it is ourselves.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

where's russel ??

ha ha. i am sure russel had me pegged as some sorry indoor ridin scumbag today, but the joke was on him. no indeed, i was instead splashing thru the melting snow in, around, and thru the lovely town of tosa, sans my usual celebrity guide. not without my share of adversity, either. new cleats that would not clip, a broken seatpost binder fixed with a bolt and nut from the friendly crew at cream city skatepark, and i was on my way. maybe not 80 miles. . . . . ( 80 miles in february ?? )but at my advance years i can't be riding 80 miles in feb and not be burned out in august.

and, i even enjoyed such big city amenities as having other riders not smile and wave at my fool friendly small-town self, and getting yelled at by some yayhoo is a car claiming to be a cop, telling me not to roll thru stop signs. anyway, around 2 hours on the new march-hero fix, and it was awesome.

Friday, February 6, 2009

sturgeon bay's own Art Modell

yesterday, the rich guy who owns the bike shop in town walked into the shop at 2:00, and told the manager to mark everything to 50% off, and shut the doors for good at 6:30. this shop was making money. it has been a part of this community for 15 years at least. it, and its employees do all the things a good small town shop should do, sponsors rides and riders, promotes health and health lifestyles, haelps out at community functions, and serves as a cultural hub for both fitness minded adults and passionate kids. the shop is full of inventory, accounts are open. deliveries are being made, and repairs are still in the back. it is weird, to say the least.

the word is, the rich guy didn't get his way at a town meeting concerning a one-way street, and so he is scrapping the shop - all its cultural importance, as well as the livelyhood of the shop's employees as a way of pouting.


i had a supervisor who had a wise father, who had a saying for everthing. one such was: "rich guys are mostly assholes". indeed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

the above pic captures my current attitude perfectly. i am no stanger to the cold, and i like winter. but everything has a limit, and i believe mine has been reached. into week 3 now, of below zee-ro temps in the morning. that is bad enough, but what really puts my spirits into the ice-covered sh!tter are weather forecasts that continually have things looking good 2 days from now, and then change overnite to keep that below zee-ro reprieve forever 2 days away. arrrghhhhhhh !!

Monday, February 2, 2009

i like "lore" in cycling. you know, those pithy little things that exist like a mark twain quote, that cover different things that come up. stuff like: " cover yer knees under 60 degrees ", or " in the spring - little ring ". those 2 get bonus points for rhyming. other things like: "install yer saddle level", or "get out of your bike clothes right away after a race", or "it takes 5 years to make a cyclist/racer" or a million others. even if ya don't follow them all the time, they're good to know and i have tried to jam MK's head full of them. ya never go far wrong using them.

so, on sunday i had to dig one out of the musty, jumbled chaos that passes for my mind. it was hovering around 32 degrees outside. after the week and a half of sub-zee-ro nights and barely single-digit days we've had, 32 felt like 62. or 72 !! i could actually smell things outside, instead of frozen nothingness. and, the newly refurbished rivendell fixie needed a shakedown ride. i haven't ridden outside apart from to work and back since i dunno when - the iceman ?? but, i hadn't skiied the nearby park in a while, and with those temps figured it would probably be good, despite the inconsistant grooming usually found there. hmmm - what to do ??

lucky for me, there is indeed a saying for just such an occasion. "ya don't ride yer bike past a perfectly good ski trail". there it is. in our case with 3 ski trails scattered around our dinky little town, and water on 2 sides, it is pretty dang hard to NOT go past a ski trail on bike ride. so, i slapped some toko yellow onto MK and gretchen's skiis and headed out for a couple hours. the was trail hovering perfectly at that point where it is soft, but not yet slushy so it was fast, and the air was warm. after 15 minutes or less, we felt like it was the fourth of july we were so comfy. we stopped and talked with everybody, including the ever-smiling jonah lens, who was harrassing us locals for going backwards on OUR trail ( !!! ?? !!! ). we were outta the wind, and had a perfect day - built an appetite to eat a whole bag of chips for the superbowl - and ha ha !! i got a great reason to show MK why i always jam her poor head with old sayings. sucks for her. :)