In Association With "The Mid-Night Baker"

In Association With "The Mid-Night Baker"
In Association With "The Mid-Night Baker"

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Quote about which you should actually THINK.

First off, this quote is about doping & cheating in biking but it applies to every single sport, life action, etc. You like baseball? Yes, it applies to you. Football? Yep. Soccer? Damn straight. Curling? .....probably.

I present to you...

Adam Myerson, on bikes/doping. And, as always, on life itself:
"No one's saying these dudes should be put to death, or that they're not allowed to find some kind of peace and happiness in life. It should just be outside of cycling. If you care about bike racing, don't cheer for them. Don't buy their products or merchandise, don't go to their camps, don't like their pages, don't do their fondos, don't welcome them back like all is forgiven or even worse, nothing happened. If you find you can't do that because you're haunted by what you might have done in that situation, do it because of those of us who were very clear about it. Do it for the guys that walked away or said no and kept racing anyway, the Scott Merciers and Darren Bakers and Matt Johnsons and Kevin Monahans. If those are the guys you want to be able to cheer for and believe what you see, at the very least, don't support the ones you know did it wrong, even if you understand their choices. Otherwise, you might as well hire Bernie Madoff to do your investing."
"WE" are part of the problem. By supporting people who doped you are in effect giving current dopers a promise that doping won't actually cause them long-term harm. And when a given action has little negative effect on your future, then that action is well worth the risk.

Quote taken from a recent post in discussion of an article, "Hey Ryder, Fuck You", which addresses Ryder Hesjedal, partially in response to his recent admission to doping (without penalty, persecution, or concern).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sweet Potato Stew

On a whim, with a smattering of ingredients, I made a sweet potato stew in the crock pot. I just got my last farm share and had too many to put in my fridge. The celeriac (celery root) I had no idea what to do with and didn't want to throw it I chopped the rooty third off and just sat the cut side down into the stew so the top stuck out a little. I did this on a complete whim so I have no clue how much of the spices are in it. So, go by the ingredients then spice to taste!

2 Sweet potatoes (at least medium), into 1cm cubes
24oz can Crushed Tomatoes or sauce (all I had was Hunt's Pasta Sauce Vegetable Medley)
2 small (1 Large) Red Onion
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Leek stalk, somewhat chopped
1 large bunch Kale, chopped
1 can of Beets (with juice!!)
1 Celeriac (Celery Root), with rooty part chopped off
~2tsp Cumin
1tsp dried basil
1/2tsp Ginger
1/2tsp Chili Powder
1tsp sea salt (more or less depending on how you like your flavor)
Water, to cover almost all

I'd suggest adding something for spice, whether it is ground chipotle chili pepper or Frank's Red Hot
I threw in 2 jalapenos, chopped thinly. I'd highly recommend starting with 1 or omitting all seeds.

It's a dang crock pot. Put everything in, add water to almost everything is submerged. Then turn it on. Low 6-7 hours should do well...but High for 3 worked great (as I was going to be nearby and didn't want to wait 6 hours). Serve and I suppose you could garnish with Leek greens, but I wasn't that patient when it was done...


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That Question: "What Should I Do?"

This exact thing bugs me most of the time I hear it.

Everyone asks this question. Everyone acts like they need an answer. Maybe some people actually do. Most really don't. Some people ask it and could really care less; I still don't know why someone asks for your opinion then doesn't consider it and keeps on...keepin' on. Ya know?

What this is about isn't actually "What I..or you...or he she they it...should do?" This is about a simple question, that is seemingly harmless and sociable, but tells a lot more than most people realize. Asking this shows a host of things. Uncertainty in one's self is the most common and strongest tell in this question. Why not hold off, and take a damn 'leap of faith'. Even though the leap of faith you'd be taking isn't anything big in the grand scheme of things. How badly could it REALLY go if you don't rely on someone else to make a decision for you, how horrible could that be? Hey, maybe you will even learn something about yourself. Jeez, now that'd be a really sad thing, wouldn't it? In a world where we rely on almost everything and have such close contact with almost everyone...we have become less of ourselves. And that sucks.

People are becoming less of themselves and more like the first person who responds to a text message. Think about that for a second.

[Pause. Seriously, think.]

Now, I understand well that every once in a while it is a genuine concern for direction in unknown territory, or asking someone who is, comparatively speaking, and expert in a field. To that, I repeat myself:
"How badly could it REALLY go if you don't rely on someone else to make a decision for you, how horrible could that be? Hey, maybe you will even learn something about yourself."
So, you know what? Next time you're thinking "What Should I Do?" just make your own damn decision. Don't ask someone just to show your uncertainty or need for input. You'll realize that it is a freedom with which you very well may have lost touch. Or maybe you'll think to yourself it was idiotic and why did you ever consider what I wrote here in the first place. least someone made you think, for yourself, today. And if that is the case, then you're better for it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chris Horner

I'll say it here, as I've said it before: Chris Horner is clean. So many people I know were speaking in complete doubt by the time he won stage 10 at La Vuelta. But this is not about doping, I just had to get that out of the way for all the doubters out there. I might expand on my 'why' later on, but I'll just go with this:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>If you don&#39;t think Horner&#39;s performance is believable, you haven&#39;t been paying attention to the little details of his career.</p>&mdash; Adam Myerson (@AdamMyerson) <a href="">September 14, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Adam Myerson is a class act. Especially when it comes to doping/anti-doping topics. I had the good fortune of spending some time riding with him last winter. I saw him (at 40 years old) come back from his offseason. I went from riding ahead of him, to getting dropped on a 1% grade in the matter of 3 weeks. He said himself, that his FTP has improved and the only part of his riding that has fallen off is his peak power. Which makes sense: It has been long known that muscle composition is reduced in Type II as we age (especially following 30+ years).

The real reason for this post is about how much I like Horner and the fact that he has not yet signed on for a team for 2014. I'm 'new' to cycling, and don't know a whole lot of its history. The first year I really even watched the Tour (de France) was 2011. My favorite rider going into it was Chris Horner. He was by far a longshot, but I watched some of the Tour of California and was enthralled by his ride there. I had no clue how small or big his chances were, but I was excited to see him head to the big race. Sadly, he crashed early on and was out of the race. My interest dropped quite a bit. Nevertheless it was formed that he was one of my favorite riders in the peloton.

Now, following an injury-ridden midseason, he was able to come back and get 2nd at Tour of Utah and then get on the squad for the Vuelta. He made his underestimated presence known, when he was "let go" on Stage 3 by the "Big Names" and took a stage victory. It was a summit finish, so a decent selection was already made. With 1K to go, Horner attacked and people just looked at each other. If it was 2K left, the result would have been VERY different. But the short lack of response/concern with such a short distance left gave Horner the gap he needed to win. He lost the lead the next day (intentionally?), and thus the team was not under pressure. Horner went on to take stage 10 as well. And the overall victory. An unprecedented feat in a Grand Tour for a 41 year old to do (even the stage victories hadn't been done).

So, Horner did something that has never even close to been done before. That's pretty awesome. He is 'old' in terms of pro cycling, and is fragile - reinforced by his broken ribs at Worlds (although, if I fell on a coke can in a hard crash I'd be busted up pretty good as well). How much more time does the guy have left? Well, for one he's clearly in the best form of his career. He's a class act and is responsible AND respectful of his sport and his peers. That alone is reason to hire him. I don't know what sort of money he wants and what he's being offered - so that is likely the full reason why he has not yet signed.

Teams are hesitant to do an unprecedented thing - give a lot of money to an guy his age. But didn't Horner just prove his capabilities and riding at his current age are exactly that? Should he be getting a two-year high paying deal? That is debatable. He definitely deserves at least a good, solid 1-year contract. Then that team gets a nice boost in WorldTour Points...who knows what extra he could have gotten if he hadn't crashed out of Worlds!

I really don't think having Horner on your team causes any real doping concerned threats. His history of even mention in any doping scandals is less than most of the 30 year olds in the peloton (that would be zero, to my knowledge). He doesn't carry baggage like Contador, Basso, or even Frank Schleck and Danielson. He has 2 flaws: age and injury.

So, ProTeams, hire Horner. Just listen to him. Expect him to dictate the terms of his own training. And don't over-race him or throw him into crits or Paris-Roubaix. Maybe have him try to double up on the Vuelta by racing early, skipping part of mid-season, and no other Grand Tours.

I think Horner's a badass and deserves a reasonable, good contract. He's a talent whose capabilities are unprecedented, don't let that go to waste.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quenton Cassidy has what is probably the Best Book Quote. Ever.

Again to Carthage, John L. Parker, Jr. Quenton Cassidy, in a note to his college girlfriend and good friend about returning to racing.

"When you're a competitive runner in training you are constantly in a process of ascending.  It's a simple idea, but the more I thought about it, the more profound it became to me.

It's not something most human beings would give a moment of consideration to, that it is actually possible to be living for years in a state of constant betterment.  To consider that you are better today than you were yesterday or a year ago, and that you will be better still tomorrow or next week or at tournament time your senior year.  That if you're doing it right you are an organism constantly evolving toward some agreed-upon approximation of excellence.  Wouldn't that be at least one definition of a spiritual state?

When I was a runner it was something we lived every second of our lives.  It was such a part of us that if we had ever given it any thought, it would have been a mental lapse, a sign of weakness.  Of course I am getting better every day, I would have said, what the hell am I training for otherwise?  As if there were only one alternative, as if the arrow of improvement necessarily parallels the arrow of time, and in only one direction.

You might say that we're just talking about an artifact of youth.  That when you're young it is only natural to grow larger and stronger, to learn things, to master more and more of the skills and techniques of life, to get better, to improve. 

If that's true then how do we end up with so many monsters, trolls, dickheads, and pyschopaths?  So many Pol Pots, Joe McCarthys, Ted Bundys, and Lee Harvey Oswalds?  Or Nixons for that matter?  They were all young once and relatively harmless, and in a better universe they would have stayed that way.

Or consider the religious aesthete whose piety and serenity and good works increase and multiply as the years go by, into middle age, into old ago, onto the deathbed.  She's working on it too, and what keeps her going is the absolute conviction that every day she's getting better, saving more souls, that she's getting closer to God.

My point is that this way of living that we once took for granted isn't necessarily a "natural" process at all.  It's not like water flowing down to the sea, not like aging.  It takes effort, determination, conviction.  But mostly it takes will.  It takes a conscious decision to follow one difficult uphill path, and then the will to stay with it and not waver, to not give up.

Our fellow students at Southeastern back then, all twenty-five thousand of them, were getting better some days and worse some days, and they were doing so at different things and at different times.  There were athletes in other sports who had better sophomore years than they had junior years.  There were athletes who were better in high school than they would ever be in college.  There were some who were good or at least average students when they arrived and then discovered beer or the opposite sex or both and were never good at anything else in their lives.  Generally speaking, most of them probably knew more when they left than when they arrived, but then again what they ended up knowing might have been wrong.  

I'm not saying that we ourselves did not have setbacks, doldrums, bad luck, and reversals of all kinds.  We got sick and we got hurt, certainly, often because of our quest.  We got waylaid and distracted by fads, false idols, wars, and rumors of wars.  I'm not saying we weren't human in every way you can be human.  I'm just saying that all things being equal, by and large each and every day we were getting better at that one singularly difficult task and goal we had set for ourselves.

And I'm also saying that win, lose, or draw, just being involved in such an undertaking was itself ennobling.  It was an uplifting enterprise that we all intuitively understood to be such, and I now know that almost incidentally the spiritual force of our effort created a slipstream that drew all else in our lives along with it and made us better in other ways as well.  Better, happier, more complete human beings than we would have been otherwise.

And Andrea, I missed all that.  The arrow of my life was going one direction one day, another direction another day.  I had people who thought I was wonderful when I won their appeal, or secured custody of their child, and I had legatees who hated me because they didn't end up quite as rich as they thought they would.  Some of it is satisfying, some interesting, but precious little is in the least bit ennobling.

This is not ennui, not nostalgia.  I am not numb or jaded.  I've had revelations in deep waters and gone all light and airy inside listening to good music made by friends.  I appreciate things, I really do.  I can be made happy on a cloudy day by as little a thing as a stray sunbeam on a branch of elkhorn coral.  All of that.  I've been blessed and blessed and blessed and only a scoundrel and ingrate would complain about any of it and I'm certainly not doing that.

But still, I miss the spiritual certainty in the direction of that arrow.  And when recently I looked around and saw people in my life dying of natural and unnatural causes it occurred to me that I myself would not live forever and that I had long ago given up the certainty of that arrow before I had to.  It also occurred to me that I had a little bit of time left to reclaim it.  To be a runner again, to know precisely what it is I'm trying to accomplish every day.  It won't be the same, I know.  It can't be.  But it can be something.  

That's what it's all about."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

300 not on 100. How to jump into what you may not be ready for.

So, most of you know that I rode the #300noton100 ride with the very well known Ted King (TK) and Tim Johnson (TJ), and the lesser known but gloriously entertaining Ryan T Kelly (rTK)...where I remain as the unknown other TK. Much like my days at Rochester, where Tyler Kieft preceded me on the XC team.

The past iterations of the ride, 200mi rides in one day, have been growing in popularity and participation. This one was no different - a 2day/300mile party. I decided (late) that I was going to do the ride. Ted kindly offered to provide hotel shelter for anyone daring to do the full monty, which need be listed in bullet form due to high volume:

  • Me 
So I was the lone ranger, hopping aboard with the well-acquainted three amigos. Fortunately, I knew Ryan from racing and have a few overlapping contacts with Ted. Tim, however, remained unknown to me aside from the guy who has won so many CX Nats I lost count....and is sponsored by Red Bull (thank goodness). I quickly knew I'd like Tim as he gave us the safety/etiquette chat @ D^2 Java, which was very kindly paid for by LOCO Cycling (thank goodness, again). I've never met a rider more dedicated to safe group riding and a mutual responsibility for keeping the road safe for all users. I bet VW is very happy to have him as a sponsored rider.

Another bonus was Andy Levine, Chad Jacobs, and Stephane Dumont of Duvine Adventures. Want an amazing luxury cycling trip? Do this. And no, Andy didn't pay me to say that...although he did provide much amusement to all except himself over the 300 miles!

Anyway, we took off from D^2 (not DD!!) with a hefty group, which slowly dwindled as we approached the Maine-NH line...where we saw A BRIDGE!!! If you'd like to LAUGH YOUR ASS OFF, open the link then immediately open in a second tab. Or click here then here. I rode 125 miles without putting my nose in the wind, which is about 10 times longer than I've ever done that. Well, except I took lead navigator through Portland...but bike paths at 15mph doesn't count as a pull. Speaking of Portland...SCRATCH BAKING CO. Go there. They are awesome and they love bikes too. And they support Healthy Kids Happy Kids (so should you)! Speaking of which, there was a massive gathering that met us at Scratch and more people joined on between Portland and Brunswick. After Bath it was just TK, TJ, rTK, Me, Andy, and Eliot Pitney (who joined at Scratch, went to Boothbay, then rode solo home to Brunswick).We say ANOTHER BRIDGE!

After 125mi: RED BULL (Thanks Tim Johnson fueled by Tim Johnson). Then I took 3 pulls...although I think Tim remembers only one as I recall him saying "You had a good pull there Travis." Maybe 2 were just that weak?

I hung out with our wicked cool support crew Chad & Stephane, met Lyne Bessette, and cleaned the $25,000 beauts of engineering prowess. 4 Cdale's and 1 awesome Giant.

Day 2: I'm a bit tired. Yesterday was my longest ride ever and despite barely doing any was still tough. Luckily I took no chances on refueling. I likely gained a little weight Tuesday. But if it meant surviving Wednesday, then it was necessary. Wednesday started off hard - 1700ft in the first hour, and being warned by Tim "plan for the whole day" when I took some early pulls. The first couple felt GREAT, then my legs felt like they should have, so I smartened up and sat in.

This happened:

Then THIS, which was followed by more RED BULL then a double espresso after 600m of riding.
Poutine @ Duckfat
Lastly, this:
Old Man Sweat, AKA Bike Killer.
It was awesome to do the full event, and I definitely appreciate Tim, Ted, and Ryan for so happily having me partake in the journey. Next year I'll be in much better shape and very much hope to participate in the full once again...whatever crazy adventure arises. I was thoroughly impressed how long Andy held on, Ryan (an expert on acknowledging when a person cracks) estimated a minimum of 4 consecutive cracks on Day 2. An impressive number, to say the least. Andy held on with a valiant death grip and made it farther than anyone anticipated, chapeau!

I definitely learned a lot (mostly intellectual and not physical) on the ride and that was by far my biggest takeaway. Mostly how respectful Ted and Tim are, on and off the roads...and how friggen funny Ryan is when he cracks...or when bridges happen...

Here's the Teaser Video and Ted's Blog.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Green Mountain Wrap Up, belated

Green Mountain Stage Race is something I've looked at as the culmination and best of Northeast stage racing. This would be my first chance to race it, but I went in knowing I wouldn't be in proper overall placing form. Fortunately, due to a good friendship with a rider on the Grinta Cycling Team (and their whole team being a bunch of good guys), I was going to be able to make myself useful as a support rider for their squad.

We arrived Thursday for the Friday-Monday stage race, in good spirits and with a high level of excitement...because, well, it's Vermont. Maine is amazing and does have the good ol' Atlantic. But this was the first time I've really appreciated the beauty, purity of nature, and terrain that Vermont offers. I like it. Anyone have a ski house in the Green Mountains that I can tend to and take care of the upkeep on a bit next summer?

To the races: Day 1: Time Trial, strong uphill, fast downhill (but nets with some noticeable elevation gain). With my current (lack of) training there are two things I have lost bigtime: climbing and TT-ing. So this was going to be rough. It hurt. The kind of hurt that happens early, often, and flat out bums you out. Because weeks or months earlier that hurt wouldn't happen at this effort. But, today, it sucks. Your only reprieve is to attack that misery and do your best to harness it, even though you know it won't be resulting in a good performance. It was one of the hardest time trials I had done for this exact reason. You are giving it everything, and getting out seemingly nothing. But, life goes on...even if you do get dizzy, can't sprint at the finish, and throw up in your mouth a little. I ended up in a expectedly disappointing 41st place, 1:30 back on the leader - fellow Mainer, Eric Follen, who has shown exceptional form for months on end. The man I picked for a top GC spot. Fortunately, our (Grinta's) top rider - Johan - showed up this weekend with 9th @ 40 seconds back, and only 15 seconds from the podium.

Day 2: Circuit race. Today was for the big sprinter on the team, Jason Barella. I'm a good sprinter, but as a guest rider I was going to be helping keep the pressure off of Jason, Johan, and Reid who would be the finishing crew. Alex and I covered attacks and got into moves. I picked up a few sprint points and got into two breaks, one of which I really thought was going to make a run for the win. I spent a few matches (which, I later learned was ALL of my matches when I cramped up on the last climb). Jason held STRONG - not getting dropped as he did in the Cat 3 race last year - and would come ready for the finish. A group of 3 got off the front on the last lap and the field would fight for 4th. Jason, with a ballsy and strong leadout aid from Reid and especially Johan (the guy who normally would be saving energy for Day 3), nipped off 4th in the field sprint for 7th on the stage. With my cramping, I pedaled in easy 8 minutes back...making myself zero threat for any contender.

Day 3: Road Race, 100 miles, 4 climbs, one sprint. Summit finish on the epic Appalachian Gap. There was a long neutral roll out until the official start. The plan today was keep Johan saved up for when the last 30 miles came along, which would decide the final standings of the overall race. I had a few sprint points and decided to make a move I had never done. The official signaled the start of the race. Everyone was cruising at 18mph. I attacked, no one with me, and put my head down. Looking back periodically I noticed minimal response from the field. It was clear no one else desired to ride 100 miles out front today. I was ready, whether or not I could survive it. The gap to the field floated between 50 and 200 meters, until my teammate Reid made his way up to me - safely and alone. We worked it really hard to get the sprint points for me at mile 13. Once it was set, I thanked him and told him to keep it steady but conserve. I would do what I could to keep the pace high: we had averaged nearly 27mph for the first 45 minutes of the race. I was riding stronger than I had in the 15 minute time trial two days prior. I was, as we say, feeling wicked good. Shortly after, a good group of seven made their way up to us. I greeted them, "Welcome to the party, boys!" There was no response...they had to have been absolutely crushing it to get to us. I was pretty impressed (and happy to see more people) actually. Jurgen, a good friend and mentor, insisted that I rest a bit because I had been out front for so long. I did after he told me more sternly. Fast forward to mile 65: our break was now down to 6 and showing notable cracks in the foundation. We were all still working together, but the whole working thing went from "hard" to "whatever I can still do". It's a long day, being out front like that. I now understood. First up baby gap and I'm hurting. Clearly my shot at making a stage placing is out. On the descent, I was left with Alberto from, and a group comes flying by us. As the pass my brain makes a realization: "JOHAN IS IN IT. SHIT, I NEED TO GET UP THERE." I barely have enough to catch onto their group and immediately get to work. Johan is going for a top placing and this group is a couple minutes back as the remaining distance dwindles. I put it all on the line, as I know with 10-15 miles to go there are a couple short uphills that will likely end my day. I tell Johan that the next uphill will likely see me getting dropped, and sure enough it does.

The rest of my race goes as follows: get caught by group, get dropped on uphill. I'm SPENT. I eat/drink every last thing in my pockets. Drink a Coke on the final feed zone within 100 meters. 5 miles of (mostly) climbing and then I finish.

The rest of the important part of the day goes as follows: Johan's group makes its way to the leaders. The large group doesn't work together at all. Johan tries to get people to help out. Proceeds to tell everyone to "please go away" in a not-so-pleasant way, because no one is being agreeable, and attacks. He rides solo with a lead into Baby Gap. He is eventually caught by a mere 3 other riders, taking FOURTH (WOOOHOO!!) on the day. He would be in 3rd GC after the "Queen Stage". Everyone on the team makes the time gap, and we live for....

Johan's call up. With Grinta! clearly showing a serious presence.
Day 4: Criterium. Hard, technical, uphill, downhill. In one word (if I were fit): "FUN". In one word (today): "ohshit" haha. Today would, in theory, be for 2 things: 1) get me the sprint jersey and hopefully a top placing on the stage. 2) keep Johan on the GC podium and hope even that first or second might lose time. One of those theories held. Someone slammed into me at the start and, bending my derailleur hanger, I went from second row to last few riders. My shifting was now off, and accelerating was showing an unhappy drivetrain. I had to pit twice, and nearly needed to get a new bike from the pit. But, thanks to SRAM Neutral Support's diligence, I was back in the race. At this point I was toast and was in survival mode. I was no bit on top of my game. I wasn't riding smart or strong. I tried to get up near the front of the pack but failed. I ended up surviving the day and both Reid and Johan did incredible work. Johan would hold onto 3rd place GC and make the entirety of our weekend worth it all!
The Squad. Tired, but happy.
It was nice to seriously ride with/for a team for the first time since I started racing. Thanks, Grinta, for having me. It was a fun and enjoyable weekend. Next year, I won't be finishing 48th of 53....that's for sure!