Monday, September 21, 2009

I left my street I'm a guillotine Pulling away In my machine, Where have I been, now?

Two weekends ago, I did my first cross race, Sucker Brook Cross in New Hampshire. It probably wasn't ideal to make the first ride on my new cross bike and my first cross race the same thing, but I'd say it worked out. Jeff Elie was there too, and we both lined about as far back as possible (in a sport where the hole shot is crucial), so we had to move up the crowd. In a group of 82, Jeff got 32nd (with no rear shifting for the second half) and I got 58th.

My only food prior to the race was a melted/frozen Balance bar (back-seat find), so after the race I needed food and coffee. Also, my car needed gas. On the way back, I took a random exit and found a gas station that charged me $2.79/gallon and sold me a sandwich comprised of ham blocks and the sort of cheese that tasted like it should be spelled with a z. About a mile later, I found a strip of restaurants and gas stations selling $2.56/gallon gas as far as the eye can see. Welcome to New Hampshire

Bryan trued my wheels, and the Spooky was ready to go again..

This past weekend, I did the cat 4 and cat 3/4 races at Blunt Park. It was cold and wet for the first race, though being the first race of the day, the course wasn't too sloppy yet. I managed to start in the third row, though from the gun, my tire did more spinning in place than going forward, and I again found myself near the back of the group. It was a tough course, and while it was mostly rideable, there were some technical sections, most notable a log across a straight in the woods. I rode it once, and it made a sickening crunch (and I still don't know on what), so I ran it every other time. I got 24th out of 42 finishers, which while proportionately close to the week before, certainly felt faster. Congrats to Jeremy Durrin on the win (on Sean K.'s bike, in his first cross race ever...asshole), and Jeff Cronin on his 16th place (also first cross race).In the 3/4 race was an absolute mudfest, and against faster guys, but I was in it for the experience. This time I managed to line up in the first row, and right after the start, someone overcooked the first corner (a hairpin on tarmac) and went down, stalling most of the field. It was a very different course than the first time around, in fact feeling sloppier with each lap. On the second to last lap, I successfully recreated my landmine crash (still no pictures, I'm afraid) over the aforementioned log, but I limped back to not last place (just), with blood, dirt and lumps to show for it. Inadvertent mega-sandbagger Jeremy Durrin got 2nd place (on Sean K.'s bike, in his second cross race ever...asshole), and Sean K. got 5th. Jeff did it too, and got 17th.

Thanks to Crossresults for the fast results listings.

I stayed with Umass people this weekend, which was fun, and I went into heavy food/race coma on Sunday, so I stayed an extra day, which was extra fun.

I lost a few letters from my front wheel (presumably because of all the mud), though the result is kind of neat.The other side only lost the a from Bontrager.

Jesse had more Good News for us.

Continuing the "...a placeholder" tradition, of capturing Newton's finest parking, here's a couple more, in the interest of science of course.

First, this Lexus which would be taking two spaces, were it in actual parking places to begin with. I suppose this sort of thing happens when as soon as the driver in in the car, they make the presumption that the length of the car in in fact the width, and the width is actually the length. I suppose it could be because the owner wants to protect the car from dings (though someone could park between the Lexus and the Subaru), and realistically, in this case, the body of the car serves to protect the engine, which IMHO is the part worth protecting in this case.

Case #2 is another Lexus (which based on empirical data, is no coincidence), and in this case the owner of the vehicle has decided that the obvious solution to a full parking lot is not to go to the other (empty) parking lot and walk around the building, but to simply park directly behind another car in the lot. I would have trouble saying this isn't the result of garden-variety laziness, given that I saw the owner stand a few feet behind the car, hit a button on his key chain, and wait for the vehicle to open its own trunk. After loading his bicycle, he hit another button to make the hatch close itself. No doubt in this span of time I could have walked to my car, opened and closed its trunk several times, and walked back inside, but I was too distracted by the slowly enlarging crevice of trunk access.

For this week's video, there's some Talking Heads from the Old Grey Whistle Test. All the video I've seen from this show has been excellent (especially this Ry Cooder session). Shame it went away in 1987.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There was something about a love that didn't treat him right, and he'd wake from troubled sleep and cry her name at night

I still miss the "Good Ole Tom" adverts which are endemic of western mass TV. but I sadly couldn't make it out to Umass's race at Mt. Snow (though I heard it went very well, despite the rain). Bryan had just tuned my bike, so it was shifting again, which is neat, and I figured I really should race it.

IBC's own "Good Ole Thom" convinced me to do the Landmine classic at Wompatuck State Park on Sunday. It was muddy (apparently the park is colloquially known as "swampatuck") and wet, but it just made it feel more intense in that Under-Armor ad kind of way. At 25 miles, it was the longest MTB race I have ever done, so I found it easier to think in a road riding context bubble, which was popped when Thom told me how long he expected his (50 mile) race to take, and I realized it would be a long race.

I made my goal finishing ahead of last place in my age group, though after a full speed dive off the bike into a puddle (with the bike going into a tree), finishing became objective one. Ultimately I achieved my goal managing 16th out of 22, though I got nicely banged up in the process..In the end I was in a world of pain, and covered in mud, but I'd still do it again, it was a certain kind of fun on the whole.

Jesse is continuing his grand trek across the country and seems to be having a fun time.

For this week, we've got some advice from Dr. Steve Brule.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Let's all meet up in the year 2000, won't it be strange when we're all fully grown

It's been pretty excellent riding weather for over a week now, though not without the sort of autumnal chilled waves of air which seem to confirm that the properly hot days of 2009 are behind us, which is always a bit depressing. Air-conditioners are no longer whirring outside my window, and the insect orchestra is down to a loan cricket. I am psyching myself up for cross season though.

Jesse is headed out west for some adventures (he's a bicycle man, I think you'll agree.) and I hope all those guys have a fun trip.

My TV stand, which had been bowing into itself is now doing less of that thanks to a section of birch, some foam pads, and a saw from Home Depot. I feel like a handyman now.

The cross bike's still hanging over Bryan's stand.

The parkers of Newton have reaffirmed my previous assertions.

For the rest of W. Mass's pictures:

One of the most euro things I've seen at Wal-Mart, as well as a pretty euro thing at Norm's.

Pictured left is the Crapshack's apparent birth name, which only now, when nobody is living there, do I know. Perhaps the name only appears when it's vacant. There's a plot in there somewhere.

A trailer made of half a Chevy.

This upcoming weekend, I'll be helping out UMBRC at their ECCC race at Mt. Snow, and soundly getting my ass handed to me if I do any racing. Head on down for fun party time bike racing excellence!

This week's video has a very fun visual flavor, getting quite a bit done without too much ever actually on screen. I suppose there are some technological limitations there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

They paint the moon today, some brand new future color

It's hard to believe it's already September, but last weekend, a visit to the crapshack was in order, as the (sort of) lease was about to (sort of) run out. It was fun to see the place again, and being there on a weekend when it wasn't particularly hot or cold didn't make its (countless) faults easily apparent. It made it seem more quirky and fun than it actually was.

I went on a fun (and quite high-intensity) road ride with none other than HUCKR JOE, and then we split a party pizza from Bruno's.

Finally, me and Dan went to a Chinese food place in Amherst where the service was not very good, but I did get a fortune cookie with 5 fortunes.I accidentally ate the fifth one. More western mass stuff next week.

The cross bike is still almost done, though now that it's got cable and housing on, it's not only looking more like a bike, it's almost kinda-sorta rideable. I just need Bryan to get it shifting when I ask it to (and not when I don't). SRAM confuses me.

Jesse and Mitch had their last day at the shop. Mitch is going back to Umass for another semester, but Jesse's going all the way out to California. Presumably to do more freeriding.

On another note, I read about some slick looking cargo bikes from Madsen, and while not fully in the spirit of Africabike (and likely somewhat safer for it), I'll give them a plug: MADSEN Cargo Bikes

This super-sweet Trans-Am was spotted outside the store last week, and it needed to make it here. I shouldn't need to explain why. The best part of all has to be the inside.

I feel like we've not visited the 80's in too long, so in the spirit of that T/A above (more or less), this week's video is totally synthed-out

An offer that cannot be ignored indeed.