Sunday, March 29, 2009

This weekend, I decided not to race in Philly (ECCC)

On Friday, I went on a fun road ride with Jake M and Andrew from UMBRC. We went for about an hour and a half loop to Mt. Holyoke and back. There's still snow up top (despite it being 60 and gorgeous out), so Andrew and I precariously navigated that bit half on tire, and half on cleat. MTB maestro Jake just rode over it, though he did have a front cross tire. At this point I can't give nearly as thorough a list of the music I ride to as Thom P (I just let ye old Dell DJ do it's thing in shuffle), but I will say the songs I found to work especially well on the climb were:

The Stooges-T.V. Eye
M.O.P.-World Famous
Pulp-Common People
Elvis Costello-Lipstick Vogue

And for the descent:

The Rosebuds-Unwind
Ben Kweller-Red Eye
A.C. Newman-Come Crash
The Minus 5-The Old Plantation

Later, I saw Jeff Tweedy live at the Calvin theater, and he sounded really good. The seats were very far away from him, which took away from the intimacy of the venue (and also, that's why the shots are so blurry, a combination of 12x zoom, no tripod, and a crazy long exposure to make up for the fact that flashes were verboten.)

It was still warm out, so Jeff, Dan, and I rode there by bike. When I went in, the guy at the door took my headlight (but not my camera) and said he'd be there all night. At the end of the show the new door people said the guy had left, and the light wasn't in the office. Prick.

There was a really cool Saab Sonett V4 outside though, which I enjoyed.

On Saturday, I went out MTB riding at Batchelor St. with Jake again and Hucker Joe. I learned a few things:

1. Riding the trainer all winter has cost me the bit of technical XC skill I did have, Gotta work on that. Bryan would be ashamed.
2. Having acclimated to 30-40 degrees, 60° feels absolutely sweltering on the MTB. Should have brought more water.
3. My XC tires lost less than 10 psi just sitting there for over a month. Wowee Zowie, UST (with some help).

After that, Joe and I rode the almost done course of the upcoming Umass Orchard Assault Course. It's quite excellent, with a good mix of punishing up, and technical down. It should be an excellent race.

For this week's video, we have the newish fourth (or fifth, depending on which you count) installation of Derek Waters' excellent "Drunk History" series. If you haven't seen these, be sure to check out the others too, especially the first and second ones (with Michael Cera and Jack Black respectively).

Happy Birthday Chris J!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Virginia is for Cyclists

In the past 10 days, I was in VA, PA, MA, DE, NY, NJ, MD and briefly PA. First, there was a race right in New York, which was very cool and very fast. The next day, there was a race in Hoboken, NJ (an apparently historic town) that had lots-o-climbing, which is bad news for me, so I did not so good, but it was fun nonetheless. You can see Joey C's excessively humble (he did win his race) race report here.

After that, Josh, Jeff Cronin, Jeremy and myself jammed a whole bunch of stuff (including my big-ass folding mattress, which was totally worth bringing), into Jeremy's Silver-Bullet Honda Accord for a long trip south. It was a fun trip down, especially because we had already passed the dreadfulness that is the George Washington Bridge. On the way, we ate at a Virginia IHOP, where we got our first taste of proper southern hospitality, which always takes some getting used to. In VA, we met up with Jeremy's brother Tim and a couple of other guys from Jeremy's team in Fitchburg, We stayed at an old firehouse in Lynchburg that's being rented by two guys down there. Special thanks again to David and Ashby, it was awesome. Every day would start with a trip to Barb's Dream Hut, where the breakfast is tasty, and real cheap. Barb was awesome too, and she gave all of us hugs before we left. Pictured at Barb's, this is (L-R) Brad, Jeff L., Jeremy, Barb, Tim, myself, and Jeff C.

After Barb's, we would go out for a short ride in the morning, eat at the firehouse, go for a long ride in the afternoon, eat again, watch a movie, and go to sleep. It was awesome.

One of the coolest things about riding down there (apart from the excellent weather) was the fact that the Blue Ridge Parkway was right near us, and it's a breathtaking ride. Quite literally so with a 12 mile climb on Wednesday.

There was ample mountain-biking down there too, so I think Bryan would have had a good time too.

The next weekend, we raced in Delaware, and it's a pretty small state, so the road race actually went into Maryland a few miles in. Also, we went the wrong way for a few miles on the way there and we went to PA, which was cool. My legs were quite beat from the week's riding, so it wasn't great. I wasn't last or first, and I suppose that's what counts. The next day, there was a 5.1 mile TT, which I actually felt really good for, and I passed everyone ahead of me, which gave me a false sense of security in a top 10 spot, as I had only started 3rd or 4th in line. I got 14th of 39, just out of the points. Drat. The crit was a DNF as between spent legs and a fear-of-god inducing-rise-before-a-fast-left-that-sends-the-bike-airborne on the course I packed it in after a few laps.

I rode back to the house I was staying at, we packed up the Honda, and headed back up north. Jeff was crammed into the back (with a bunch of things). We stopped at a BK in dirty Jersey, and I got a BK Veggie. Thom is right, they are good.

We got back to Umass on Sunday night, and I woke up the next day to 31° weather. I can now say I've had the distinct displeasure of frostbite on a sunburn.

This week's video is from Dailymotion, because YouTube's being silly, but it's a good one, Remi Gaillard in real-life Mario Kart!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

another delay

Uri's in Virginia, but he forgot his camera's cable, so a proper update will come soon. They've got proper hills down here!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I wore my New Jersey

On Saturday, the racewheels finally went on the Cervelo, and the UMBRC headed down to Rutgers. It was eerily warm, in the 60s, which is tremendous.

I didn't finish last (or first) in any races, but I reckon it's about time for ulcer-dietto come back into force, as the hills were definitely hurtin' hardcore. I suppose weight gain is in the nature of taking 7 classes at once, but it's too late to turn back now.

Teammate "Hucker" Joe Clemenzi got 4th place in the D crit by acting a fool and just pulling everyone the whole length of the race. If he drafted at all, he'd be unstoppable.

On the second day, Jeremy Durrin ate a whole bunch of pasta at the Princeton cafeteria, did the A race, and promptly returned the pasta to the lawn outside our Motel 6. It was inspirational.

The TT was my strongest performance, but the 180° turns at either end of the course probably cost me more time than they should have. Ce la vie. All told, it was nice to go out and race again, but I've been spoiled by the shortsleeve weather, I'm riding the trainer tomorrow (49 and raining), but I won't like it.

My tires must have disliked the span of time they had spent unused as one of them decided to end its own life on race day, and all my tires are hanging out with Bryan in Newton, so a special shout out to UVM's Jessie "Cream-O-Land" Chebot for hooking me up with one of his.

Back in Amherst, there were some neat sights to see, like a creative replacement for the wiper on this Hyundai XG, and Luke's fresh new kicks.

For this week's video, I found an almost full version of Faron Young's rendition of Willie Nelson's Hello Walls. Here is all that was right with country music in the 1960s.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Despite temperatures edging 60 less than a week ago, western Mass is currently under a whole bunch of powder. I was in the library from 4pm to 4am on Sunday (into Monday). A bunch of bike co-op people were there too, including Constantinos who deconstructed G-funk for us. Step to this, I dare ya. It started snowing in earnest around 1am and Annyeong the Hyundai was thoroughly frosted on a 4am drive home through the snow listening to Explosions in the Sky. Trippy.

Bryan made me a new saddle using only twine, a twinkie, and a ball-point pen. I'd say it came out pretty good. I might keep running my old black SLR a bit longer (early season races will likely be muddy/messy), but when the time is right to pimpify, y'all will know. Hopefully next week will have a raceupdate, because the ECCC season is starting next Saturday in Jersey.

I did manage to take advantage of the warmerish day, riding out to Mt. Holyoke on Saturday, and riding up to the halfway lodge (unplowed beyond that, unfortunately) 10 times. It felt good to be off the trainer again, and elderly walkers going up the road kept saying motivational things at me just drove me to keep on truckin'. I left the head of my Cateye (my Cathead, per Erich) in Boston on the other Cervelo, so I temporarily replaced it with this super-sweet $5 Transformers watch from Wal-Mart. It has a stopwatch (it's in seconds, and I don't know that there's a way to reset it), and there are two buttons on it that aren't actually buttons. I might just use this instead of a computer going forward, we'll see.

For this post's video, I wanted to put up Serge Gainsbourg's timeless "Bonnie and Clyde" video, which reeks of effortless cool, but alas, embedding is disabled on all the copies on Youtube. Check it out if you haven't seen it. Instead, I'm putting up the Pulp song "This is Hardcore," because it's been stuck in my head all week, enjoy.