Thursday, June 28, 2007

Had to share

For any complaint I've ever had about my house, I can never argue with the view in the backyard on a summer night. Enjoy (oh and sorry I'm a crappy photographer and got those overhanging branches in there).

Just because

That's right, this is a post for the sake of posting. I hate to keep both people who read this wondering where I've gone so I figured I'd throw something on here. The geniuses at the body shop managed to beat their estimated repair time on the minivan by 2 days... aim low, shoot high. It worked out for the best since it saved me from paying for another rental today so I could pick the boys up. Wife has a 6 o'clock game so I get pickup and dinner duty. The pool has gotten heavy use this week, but probably none tonight. My wife is the ex-lifeguard part-fish in the family so she's good with bringing all 3 of them in the pool alone. The older two are getting more confident in the water so it's ok. I, on the other hand, am a paranoid mess with the kids around the water so I don't think I could hack it. We'll see if it's ridiculously hot still and I change my mind.

Rode with a teammate out of work using a different route yesterday since I was headed to Natick to get my car. Commuting down Beacon St all the way from Boston out through Wellesley sure keeps the reflexes sharp. My favorite was how many people pull the "Oooh look, a parking spot" and jack the brakes on or pull right in without regard to what cars, bikes, small furry animals, or people might be around them. Hey, parking ain't free around the city so I guess a few cyclists is a fair price for a spot right in front of your favorite Starschmucks location. Anywho... it was fun commuting with someone for a change and the heat was very bearable.

Time for more of that work stuff...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another reason cycling is expensive

Food. That's right... you think gas is expensive for your car? Try buying enough food to replenish the 1300 calories you burn riding to work... and the 2500 or so you burned yesterday... and the 2000 a day you need to just function. I tell ya... eating becomes a challenge sometimes and it sure does empty the wallet quick too. Definitely time to restock the food drawer in my office with a BJ's size box of oatmeal and maybe some Newtons (Mmmmm, bug infused fig paste). Anywho... skipping the ride home tonight and getting a Zipcar. Planning to ride home tomorrow night, but the wife is concerned about the fact that it's going to be about 100 degrees. Might ride half way and then get a ride. We'll see...

The pool was officially christened for the summer last night (without me... still need a couple more days before I pour chlorine in the healing skin). Turns out the oldest can stand in the pool now. Yes, he's 6.5 and he can stand in our 52" wall height above ground pool with his head above water. Granted the water is a little low right now, but c'mon. This poor kid will be singing the I-can't-buy-pants-or-bikes blues by the time he's 10.

Ok, back to work or something that looks like it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Back on the horse

So last week I was genuinely disinterested in riding any of my bikes. I thought for a brief time about driving to VT yesterday to do the Root 66 race, but it was only in passing. My body didn't feel up to crashing again and my brain hasn't recovered yet from being sure that I'm going to every time I get into a pack. Saturday I took my mountain bike out for like 45-60 minutes and mostly just tooled around. Wasn't really going anywhere, but needed a short stint of exercise. Yesterday I legitimately went for a ride and it wasn't so bad. It was still only an hour, but the speeds are still up in the 20 range and I'm not really pushing. Today I had to leave my car in Natick and ride in from there which is about an hour. A couple times during the ride I was just enjoying being outside on a bike and making motor noises going around corners. I think I need a while more of that kind of fun and fortunately the calendar is pretty empty for the next few weeks. I have a fear that it's going to take some effort to line up again, but I need to. Multiple reports of sketchiness from the weekend do not have me feeling better so we'll see. I've got multiple days of riding in this week since we've only got 1 car for the week so at least I'll be getting the workouts in. There's still cross to be ready for.

I actually got a chance to do something manual and productive this weekend so that made me feel a whole lot better. We've been talking for at least a couple years about finishing the basement properly (it was really poorly done when we moved in and had to be gutted) to use as a play room and some extra space. After spending a year to do the bathroom, the thing holding me up from starting on the room was primarily cleaning. Saturday I managed to take a truckload and a 1.5 contractor bags of crap out of there and clean up what was left. That went quick enough that I was then able to do one of the first things on the project list which was finish off the giant storage closets I started building years ago. The upper level has been done forever, but the lower level was never properly framed or anything (yes it sounds backwards... long story). I managed to get the wood subfloor down in that part of the room and then go through and properly frame the supports and lower level of cabinets. It's about 16' long so I even have a dedicated Yakima roof box storage cabinet with room for other cabinets. Now that I can see progress being made, hopefully I can keep the motivation up.

Back to work... that is if I can find some motivation to do any...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Running is good

So it's now fair to call the torn groin/leg thing healed. 2 nights in a row of running and no problems (other than being out of practice). For those who don't know, I spent most of 18 years running fairly competitively with moderate local-level success. It's been quite a while since I toed the line, but it's been so long now that it really is second nature. Last night is a good example... 4th run since completely tearing something in my groin, 4 very hilly miles at 7 minute pace. Granted I was pushing at the end to beat the thunder storm, but still. I had said all along that this summer I would cut way back on biking in August to get ready for RTB and I probably still will, but I may also start my training a little earlier by throwing in 2 days a week of running between now and then. Even though I decided at one point that biking would be more sustainable than running because it's lower impact, there's a lot of times that I agree with Kerry and think that running is easier.

Anywho... enough pissing and moaning. Could be kind of a crazy weekend. My wife has an all day soccer tournament tomorrow so I'm chasing the monkeys. I have to find something the 4 of us can do to keep them entertained. It'll be easier in a couple years when the littlest can be more easily included, but there's some things now where he just needs to be contained and thrown in a stroller or something. A 6.5 year old and a 2 year old can't quite do the same stuff sometimes so that's always a challenge. Sunday is up in the air so we'll see.

Enjoy the weekend folks.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting there... again

I knew after my latest date with the pavement that it wasn't as bad this time and it seems that I was right. I've gotten to the point of only mild stinging in the shower and only if I'm in there too long. My cut on my elbow has also gradutated from triple-layer non-stick pads and tape to giant band aids (my wife is thrilled because I can manage a big bandaid with one hand solo). I wish the internals of my elbow were progressing as well so that's kind of a big TBD right now. I think the proper diagnosis is "repeatedly banging the shit out of it". I made it through mowing the lawn the last couple nights, but realized that any amount of jarring of that arm isn't so good. Kinda rules out mountain biking and biking on crappy pavement, but I'll probably test it tonight or tomorrow anyways. Haven't biked this week at all (partially due to pain and partially due to temporary lack of interest). I did run last night and it was the first run since the big accident where the groin/leg felt normal. That was a good sign so at least I know I can run for a while to keep the ice cream and beer from setting in too much.

Not much more going on at this point. I'm pulling out of both races this weekend so I'll have to come up with something to do. Maybe I'll finally get started on the next house project (basement cleaning so we can start the room). Might see if the elbow is healthy enough for a round of golf, but I'm not optimistic. Van goes in for repairs next week so I signed up for Zipcar to help get us through the 4 or 5 days they have it (still don't understand why it takes more than 4 hours to just replace the freaking rear gate). Combo of biking in and the short term rent-a-car service should work nice.

Time to be productive (and get more coffee)...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Well things are finally back to normal in many ways, and unfortunately I'm not liking one of the "norms" I've fallen into. Hit the rewind and strap in...

Friday night my wife misses her connection in Dallas so what should have been a 9ish arrival at home turned into 11:15. Could have been worse, but it meant the 6th straight day I was getting to bed after 11 and then getting up early. What it also meant was that any thoughts of buzzing out to Monson and signing in for the Cyclonauts race were gone since it meant a 5ish in the morning departure.

I'll tangent here for a second and say that the boys really were great last week. The oldest tried very hard to be helpful and the youngest was more manageable than usual. It also gave me a good chance to remember how to be patient with them since it's so easy to just get fired up with them quickly and I just couldn't do that last week or I'd make us all miserable. I joked with them the whole second half of the week that they just had to tell mommy what a great job daddy did.

So Saturday instead turned into karate with the middle one followed by getting the pool hooked up and running (finally) followed by a graduation party for my cousin followed by 35 minutes or so if flying around at warp speed on my bike to remind my legs how to hurt followed by an overly indulgent dinner at The Melting Pot with the inlaws followed by a pint at John Harvard's. Phew... I was tired too.

Sunday I had planned all along to race since I wanted to use my Dad's Day free pass to get away for a bit. I was going to go to Housatonic, but then got shut out of the 4's so I figured I'd just go to Wells. Conflicts with t-ball meant I was driving down and doing the B's. So I get there good and early to do a long warmup and felt ok. I'll note that this was only the 3rd outdoor ride for the Guerch and first race. We get close to start time and they decide to combine the A's and B's. Well this should be interesting... I've never done above the C race at Wells or better than a semi-fast 3/4 anywhere and now I get to race against the big boys... Yeehaw! I'd hazzard a guess that it was 60-70 guys who lined up and we're off. Pace was very sane and I just wanted to spend a while hanging around. My plan going into the B race was that I would try to break away on an early prime lap, take the prime, and then see how long I could stay away before I limped to the back. Needed a new strategy since there was no freaking way I could sprint with the horses that would typically do A's so instead I decided to put myself in a position on every prime I could to go with anything that happened after a prime sprint. That worked well for most of the race and I was really pleased that I was able to put myself near the front almost every time I wanted to. There were a few sketchy guys in the race, but not really any major drama and only one near crash that wasn't that big a deal... just a very quick brake lock by one guy and he was smart enough to get off it. So we make it through basically the whole 40 laps with nobody getting away (or even really trying). I could tell that the official wasn't thinking this was a good thing since he rang 4 or 5 primes in the final 12 laps. I almost fell over when he rang a $20 prime with 3 to go! It was clear he wanted us to mix it up, but after every prime the sprinters sat up and it was back together. So at the end of lap 39, I bust up to the front and find my teammate sitting about 7th or 8th. I jump right on, tell him I'm there, and he starts motoring. Unfortunately, we got crossed up through turn 1, I lost his wheel, and ended up 3 spots back of him. So I just tried to stay near the front hoping for a top 10. We come motoring around the turn and there's 2 cars in the finish stretch so everyone calls them out and we sit up. Great, let's do it again. At this point my teammate who was in front of me just rode off the course and figured he'd had enough fun. So I hang into a decent position as it winds up again. I started sliding back a little, but still had aspirations for a top 10 since I felt good. I hung way wide left going around the final turn to avoid any sketchyness along the right curb and figured I was in a good safe place... WRONG! We hit the start of the straightaway and all of a sudden to my right the world explodes. I hear the unmistakeable sound of impending road rash and broken bodies and now there's bikes and riders spilling left right in front of my nice safe place. I got on the brakes and picked a line through the mess and felt like I was just about to get around the last bike in my way and suddenly I'm sliding on my right side. No idea if someone fell into me, I got hit from behind, or I ran over the mess in front of me, but I was down. The damage this time is WAY less bad than Sturbridge, but I still shaved off the front of my shin, the side of my quad, and my hip/ass. Worst of it was that I banged the crap out of my elbow for the third (or is it 4th) time this year and this time put a decent gash in it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I'm now a road rash pro so I had the bandages at the ready. As far as the bike, it got off kinda ok, but still needs a thorough going over. To be honest, I've been too frustrated to check it out. It's also worth noting that I got out easy... two guys went home in an ambulance with what looked like pretty serious injuries. I think at least one of them will also be spending quite a bit of time at the dentist. Best to those guys for quick healing.

So now I'm again dreading the shower, messing up the sheets, and supporting 3M, J&J, and the generic factory that slops bacitraicin into a tube. As I was cleaning off the blood and gravel on Sunday I swore to myself that the next time I lined up would be cross season. I've calmed down a little, but I'm still considering just getting a refund on both races this weekend and staying home. I'm actually not 100% sure my elbow will take much abuse for a while because it's pretty screwed up. On top of it, I can't keep paying to fix bikes. I've got stuff that was brand new a week ago that may or may not be trashed. On top of that, I need to go to work on Mondays (unfortunately) so I can't keep doing this to my body. It sucks because mentally, I can't race if I know I'm not going to try to win. The moral victories of a prime or holding good position against fast people wear off quickly. If I have to sit up every time I'm not in a clear break or have a 3 man leadout train in front of me, I'm not going. I think I need to stick to mountain biking (and cross of course). At least then it's my own fault of I get banged up.

Ok, that was way longer than it should have been. Still won't stop me from maybe putting up more later.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Almost there

For those who have checked in, yes, I'm alive. We're all hanging in there and I think all 4 of us are starting to miss mommy (a lot). The 2 year old has saved me by not having a "I need mommy" meltdown. The 4 (almost 5) year old has saved me by just being so damn funny (he always is)... he's the type of kid that will probably get away with more than he should in his life just because he's got that thing about him that makes it hard to be mad or even serious with him. The 6 year old has been genuinely trying very hard to be helpful. Me and him have butted heads a couple times, but we do all the time because he's my clone.

Hell, I've even ridden the trainer twice this week so it can't be all bad. Probably racing this weekend... no clue where.

More when I can...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How do they do that?

Ok, I should be working since I was wikid frickin late (thanks traffic), but I had to share this...
It's day 2 of the solo daddy routine and we're hanging in there. I've decided I have an allotment of frustration this week and once I use it up it's gone so I'm trying to spread it out and stay calm as much as I can. This morning I got up a few minutes later than planned so I'm in the shower and the 2 older ones are up. One of them opens the door and is talking really loud so I told him to quiet down since he was right across from the 2 year old's room. He's still trying to tell me something so I stick my head out and there he is with the 2 year old. Apparently he was crying so they decided they'd be nice brothers and go get him. Yes that is nice, but it was 6:05 and he normally sleeps until close to 7. Argh. So I ask them to make sure he doesn't burn the house down and I finish getting ready. As I'm eating breakfast and trying to get all 3 of them moving in the right direction, the 2 year old comes over and just says "Poop". I was hoping he meant he wanted to go to the potty, but I checked the diaper... no luck. Great, now we're having fun. So I get him in his room layed down on the bed and I'm starting to dip into my bucket of frustration. Just then, outta nowhere, he just looks up at me, start clapping and says "Yeah Daddy ride the bike!" Damn, I hate when they get all cute like that. That certainly helped us finish getting ready in one piece.

3 mornings to go...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

It's magic

With a simple wave of the hand and collision with a Sentra, I have managed to turn this:
into this:

Yes folks, that's a big damn bike. Components are a combination of new replacements from the crash and stuff that wasn't damaged and I could reuse. Goal is to go to 10-speed campy next year when I have some $$.

Have fun drooling tall guys.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Freaks rejoice

We too can now empty our wallets on some carbon goodness. Sad thing is I'd have to switch to Campy to get longer than 175 cranks in order to get down to an 89cm saddle height. I'm currently between 90 and 90.5 :( Anyone know why Shimano (or anyone other than Campy) isn't on the longer crank bandwagon?

Oh, and to steal one from the Gewilli rant machine, share the farkin bike paths and sidewalks people. If I have to make sure I pass you safely going 20mph on my bike or even 8mph on my feet, you should have to make sure that you:
1) Know which side of the path you're supposed to be on
2) Pay attention to where the hell you're going
3) Shut off the friggin deathpod so I don't look like a dick by having to scream "On your left!"
4) Don't waddle your asses 4 wide across the whole path at 1/4 mile an hour and act annoyed when someone is coming the other way or goes around you from behind.

Ok, I'm done.


No not like We've got the funk... more like in a funk. After having a pretty good week all around last week, this week has just been weird. From a training standpoint:

Sunday - race
Monday - walk around a golf course in the rain for an hour
Tuesday - nuthin (time constraints)
Wednesday - rode to work
Thursday - 90 minutes in the morning
Today - running
Tomorrow - TBD

On top of it the legs have just felt like crap the couple times I did ride. The wind on the way home Wednesday didn't help at all, but it's still just been bad. Options for tomorrow are driving to CT to do 2 races at the Nutmeg crit or a 3 hour ride to the mountain. Not sure yet... need to decide. Yesterday didn't help my mental state at all either because we had my son's kindergarten "graduation" in the morning so I got in late and worked late. The biggest thing that sucks about working late is that it doesn't mean you can go in late the next morning. It just means your non-working time gets condensed to the point of basically having dinner and going to bed.

Funk can also refer to funky (or maybe it's funny) events of this week. Since my wife started telling people this story herself, I can avoid divorce if I share... Tuesday night I get home from work and the guys are there putting the new liner in the pool. They have one side of the driveway blocked so I park the Explorer behind the minivan (don't start on me about the gas suckage of my cars... that's a whole different rant/conversation). Wednesday morning I go out to hop on the bike and saw that I never moved the truck. I was going to go back in and get the keys, but I got lazy so I figured it would only take her 2 seconds to move it out of the way. When the fam came out to head to school/daycare, she looked at it and said to herself "I'll just get the baby buckled in and then move it". Well as proof of how distracting 3 little boys can be, in the span of buckling in the baby, she forgot that it was there, got in the driver's seat, started it up, and put it in reverse. Now the truck was close enough that by the time she started rolling and looked in the mirror, she was already hearing crunching. Despite the slow speed and the lack of runway however the rear liftgate is pretty well trashed. There was a license plate holder on the front bumper of the truck and there is now a nice deep impression of said holder in the rear gate. The wrinkles also cascaded across the gate because it had to move from somewhere. I tried to take pics last night, but it was too dark. I'll post those later. Fortunately for both of us, my attitude about it has been "Shit happens". She's being hard enough on herself and is somewhere between amused and wanting to cry that she did $2k of damage to our car, in the driveway, by hitting our other car.

I may be going dark for most of next week... my wife is heading to Austin for a conference so I've got daddy duty on top of work and maybe riding on the trainer for a grand total of an hour. I should have lots of rambling to do after all that...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The long version

OK, start at the beginning... So back sometime in December of 1973 my parents were... wait... too far back. Fast forward to this past Saturday morning... My dear wife takes the 3 monkeys out to breakfast with her dad to give me some time to work around the homestead. I pick up the house and head out to do the lawn. I get about 10 minutes in and shut it down to empty the bag and notice smoke coming out from under the engine cover. I didn't think much of it because last year a little bit of dry grass got in there and just kinda burned up and stopped. So I keep going. About 5 minutes later I shut it down again and now smoke is pouring out of the engine. Ok, this isn't going away itself. Time to go get the tools. I start taking apart the lawnmower and the whole thing is still smoking. The thought did cross my mind that I had a full tank of gas and there's oil in there, but hoped for the best. I get the outer couple layers of cosmetic covers off and now I get the bright idea that maybe I can blow the hunk of stuff that's in there (still not being able to see said hunk) with the leaf blower. I go get the leaf blower, plug it in, and fire it up... fire was the appropriate word to use there. I look and I now have flames shooting out from under the engine cover. Ok, this is bad. Shut down the blower and got the flames to stop, but it's still smoking like crazy. I go back to disassembly and finally take out enough screws to find this:

Turns out that one of the friendly local mice had decided to build himself a nest inside my lawnmower engine. Now I'm all down with C Todd's be nice to animals shizzle, but the only redemption here would have been if the little bastard was still in there (he wasn't). Cleaned up the mess and went on my way, but that was an adventure I didn't need.

Saturday afternoon I figure it will be fun to go mountain biking nice and easy to get ready for Sunday. I posted up to see who wanted to go and one of only two takers was a guy who's about 1000 times better than me which is probably why I get hurt every time I ride with him. We headed down to Hopkinton State Park and got at it. The third guy who joined us hadn't been out much this year so he eventually bailed early to head back to the car. Before that however, we're riding up onto a bridge that has a granite step in front of it and I get the front wheel onto the bridge and then slam the rear right into the lip of the step. Pssssssssssssssssssssss... Damn, didn't feel like changing a flat. Get that taken care of and keep going. Other than riding through some crazy deep water at one point, there wasn't much adventure until about 10 minutes to go in the ride. We're going down this not very steep little nothing hill and I misjudged a little hump in it that dropped off right after (I do that a lot). I hit the seat ejector, go flying over the bars, and the bike gets thrown ahead of me. It bounces off a little concrete bridge wall thing and then drops down 5 or 6 feet into the stream bed. The whole thing looked pretty damn dramatic but fortunately the bike survived as did I... mostly. I managed to screw up my ribs again so I nursed that back to the car.

Sunday I felt ok from the crash so I decided to make the trek to Andover, CT for the Channel 3 Kid's Camp MTB race. Had to leave around 6 to get there early enough for a warmup lap etc. Made it down there plenty early, signed in, mounted up, and headed out for the preview. Course was nice and not ultra technical, but you never would have known it from watching me warmup. I swear I was off the bike more than on (not crashing, just getting off) so I was having bad visions for the race. Oh well, I was there to have fun and get dirty. Race kicked off and we headed up the first mild hill with me in 4th, but then one guy exploded (little early for that dude) so I was in third, but it was a distant third already. Most of that lap I spent pulling away from everyone on any uphills and then looking like that roadie who just bought a mountain bike on anything semi-technical. About half way through lap 1, I found one of the top two on the side of the trail putting his chain back together. Now 2nd was mine to lose. Fortunately, I started catching some of the group ahead of us and only got caught by a couple silly fast guys from the group behind. I still really sucked, but I was holding my place. Fortunately, I almost looked like I knew what I was doing by lap 2. There's even some proof here. Now what this doesn't show is that I immediately flubbed it after she took the picture and I almost rode off the right side of the bridge :) I did however finish the race crash free and in second place. I have proof of said podium-goodness as well. The day was capped off with an actual face to face meeting with the one and only CTodd. It was hard to tell if that was more exciting than the podium, but he didn't hand me any free schwag so I'll have to go with the podium.

Yesterday I polished off the weekend with what was supposed to be an ultra swanky golf tournament. I'm getting tired of typing so this part will be short(er). Despite the weather yesterday, some fool decided we should tee off. Let's just say the downpour started 5 minutes before we teed off and got harder for the first hour. Finally they drove around the course and pulled everyone back in... game over. We're rescheduled for sometime in September, but it was purely foolish to have us even try yesterday. The greens were like trying to play mini golf in the ocean with floating golf balls. I wasn't in work and the whole thing was a little funny, but it would have been better if they had been smart enough to just can the whole thing.

Phew... I'm tired now. If you lasted this long you must be tired of listening to me (ok, not listening, but you get the point).

Stories pending

So many stories, so little time. I've got flaming lawnmowers and MTB racing with picture goodness, a brush with greatness, and a sopping wet golf tournament on tap... it will take way more time than this to hit the flush lever on my brain though. Hoping for a long-winded story tonight.

It's sunny... go outside. Hell, even if it starts raining again... go outside.