Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's stupid? Intervals in 105-degree weather.....

I've spent the last 6 summers in the "Mediterranean" climate of Davis, California. Sometimes it gets really, really hot there; highs of over 100 degrees sometimes reoccur for eight or nine days in a row.

But it's dry. Really dry. As in, no rain. For 6 months.

Riding in those conditions creates hydration problems because the sweat evaporates so damn quickly that you just don't know how hard your body's working to keep itself cool.

But rolling along at 22 mph in 15% humidity is a helluva lot more comfortable than riding through 70% humidity.

Which is what I did yesterday. Like a jackass.

My training plan (and almost entirely healed back, woo hoo!!) has begun to transition from base miles to intervals. Yesterday, I completed two 12-minute "ME" (tempo) intervals and three five-minute sets of 30/30 over-under intervals.

Oh. Man.
Did. That. Suck.

Basically, I stood up on a big gear, spent 10 seconds spinning it out, and then sat and tried to hold that speed for another 20 seconds. After a 30-second effort, I'd shift down and spin at a high cadence for 30 seconds of recovery before sprinting again for 30 seconds. 30/30.

The first five-minute sequence made me curse the nature of the universe, the injustice of the 2000 presidential election, Fremont's racist immigration ordinance, blackberry seeds, Walt Disney, Judd Van Sickle (author of this particular workout), The University of Texas, photosynthesis, the downward-facing dog pose in yoga, Luxembourg,  dactylic hexameter, and Darjeeling tea.

The second was easier: my legs were supple, my breathing no longer felt like I was trying to inhale a Buick, and the sweat stayed out of my eyes. 

But the third set started a cardiovascular armageddon: plagues erupted, horsemen appeared, beasts slouched toward Bethlehem.

I rolled home with a slight tailwind and tried to spin the crud out of my legs.

Outside my back door, I took off my jersey and wrung it out like a wet beach towel; at least 6-8 ounces of fluid squirted out of the spandex all over the driveway. The heat index when I was doing my 30/30s was ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE DEGREES. It was like riding in a steam room or spinning for two hours directly into a hot dog's breath.

Yeah. I miss Davis.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A cake out in the rain

No, I'm not alluding to the immortal Donna Summer / Richard Harris hit "MacArthur Park." Well, I am, sort of.

Lots and lots of rain has fallen in Omaha lately. The Elkhorn River has jumped its banks repeatedly during the last two weeks, causing pretty widespread flooding outside of town. Portions of the channelized Papio creek system that forms the bulwark of Omaha's hike/bike trail system have been flooded:
photo courtesy of Omaha Bikes

Blank's training for our summer trip to Crested Butte has taken a pretty serious hit from the eight straight days of rain he's endured in St. Paul.

And I've been think about W.H. Auden.

Yeah, more poetry.  But wait--there's a method to my madness. And I'll make it tangentially about cycling, I promise.

Auden once said, "My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain." I'm going to the Outer Banks of North Carolina this weekend (and missing the Cornhusker State Games Time Trial!) to read a poem at the wedding of my beloved friend Ginny Robinson. Weddings? Rain? Obviously, I delve into Auden in response to the confluence of these two events.

This photo is from a collection of Richard Avedon portraits I saw last year at the SF MOMA:

That was a banner day, the day I saw this. I miss San Francisco and all of Northern California. But this portrait has followed me back to Nebraska. It captures Auden's 60 years of poetic suffering and presages a lonely sinking into old age that my impending birthday has made me fear.

In an eerily prescient gesture, my daughters bought me a copy of Auden's Collected Works for Father's Day. And other recent events have centered my thinking around one of his most famous openings:
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
Suffering is a frequently invoked word in the cycling vernacular; we often describe a bad day on the bike or a hard interval as "suffering." But while one rider is "suffering," another can be coasting along and feeling great. 

One year ago today, I flew back to Omaha from Davis because my grandmother had walked into the hospital with a mild pneumonia and immediately degenerated into active dying. I sat up all night with her for eight straight days. As my grandmother lay in her hospital bed, slowly suffocating and struggling to find the strength to plead for death, somebody's child was being born downstairs, and a janitor stood in the hospital cafeteria and tried to choose between baked and regular Lays potato chips.

That loss still haunts me. It provided the last straw of compulsion to move back here: to help look after my mom after her own mother's death, to let my children know her while they still could.

I wrote a few weeks ago about relationships and careers imploding. I'm still quite worried about loved ones both near and far. While Ginny's getting married, others are grieving and coping. To the lonely, the lost, and myself, I offer this reminder, courtesy of Auden:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the mindful poetics of mountain biking

I suffered some technology snafus this week, but they taught me a valuable lesson about the allure of mindfulness.

I've written about my never-ending struggle to build up my bike on my own. Now the left shifter has gotten all tweaky. Heck, it's 5 years and 30,000 miles old, so perhaps it's made its last jump from the 53 to the 39. Jake at the Midtown store is looking at it, so I took the old mountain bike out of the garage and rode two laps at Swanson park, a suburban Omaha oasis that hides about 5 miles of twisty single track. But I forgot to move the Garmin 350 Edge from the road bike to the mountain bike, so I rode without a speedometer or a hart rate monitor. (Editor's note: the misspelling of "heart" was NOT intentional, but Vanessa's comment ((see below)) was so cool, I'm retaining the homophone for its metaphorical qualities.)

I just rode. I didn't pay any attention to exertion, or pace, or cadence, or any of that mathematical crap that cyclists use to justify how much they hurt or don't, how much they've improved or haven't. I just tried to find a peaceful calm amidst the trees. I pushed myself--maybe harder than I would have--but I also noticed a lot more:

Two yearling bucks sauntered away as I approached, but they stopped and let me contemplate them for almost 3 minutes.

Yes, I know--I was riding a highly engineered dual-suspension bicycle that was made in Taiwan and shipped here with fossil fuels. I snapped this picture with a freaking iPhone, itself the target of several investigations of unjust labor practices in the Chinese factory where it was made. No part of this day on the bike would've been possible without technology--but I was still riding a bike. Not driving a sports car or revving around on a powerboat, but riding a bike, one of the simplest and least invasive pieces of transportation technology we've invented. No one farther than 10 feet away would've known I was even there.

The bike immerses you in your environment. It doesn't box you up like a car, or dazzle your senses with incomprehensible speed. It places you squarely inside the particular bit of space you happen to inhabit in that moment. And becoming hyper-aware of the variables embedded within that space might help a dedicated student of mindfulness. So would sitting still, but my mind rests most effectively when my body is in motion. (Wordsworth wrote while walking around.) 

I felt like I was a part of that forest, just as integral to its micro-climate as the deer and poison ivy. I was covered in bugs, nettles juices, dirt, and mud. In the moist air I was sweating profusely and laboring to retain any fluids. Even my jersey and base layer were coated in humidity and sweat. Which posed a problem when I saw this sign:

The imperative voice (the command) omits both subject and object of the verb. It basically says, "hey, you, don't ride!" But the adjective "wet" creates an ambiguity. The sentence means, of course, that one shouldn't ride the trails when they are wet, because doing so creates ruts and increases erosion. But in the absence of an object of the verb "to ride," the imperative voice makes the verb transfer to the implied you: "Don't ride (when you are) wet." I guess I should've stopped, because I was soaked to the skin.

These are the sorts of things I think about while riding without a computer.

But I thought a lot more about trees, and hills, and other Romantic stuff like that. Which got me thinking of something besides syntactic ambiguity: the benefits of serenity and mindfulness. I've been writing a lot of poetry lately, much more than any time since my early twenties.  (Missives of forlorn longing,  "written in black ink on black paper: 'O Moon, pity me not!'" Dreck.) Sitting up nights at my grandmother's deathbed offered me any number of powerful emotional cues to catalyze my writing. And some of it's pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. I read a lot of poetry, so I should know, sort of.

Wendell Berry, a working farmer in the Kentucky foothills and a founding father of both the environmental and agrarian movements, is also one helluva good poet. He has this to say about immersion in one's space as a prerequisite for creating art. And make no mistake -- riding a mountain bike on technical terrain is an art:

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   

Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   

Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.

Now, if only I could respect that silence just a bit more--I almost always say something inane like "Watch it!" or "Careful Careful!" when I'm about to crash on my mountain bike.

But I do a pretty decent job of living, on my bike, a "three-dimensional life."  And now, I know why we should sometimes "stay away from screens."

(Thanks to Carole for most of these ideas. When her Sabine finally sees the light of day, everyone else is gonna thank her, too.....)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

They come in threes

Savoie is down:

Redemske's bruised:

And now Brady's out of commission:

Hey, cycling Karma? Enough already, okay? 

Stupid sport--always breaking people.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The back abides: a pain-free TT

The last time I really, really screwed up my back, the TT position was the culprit:

l to r: Adam Smith, Nate Anderson, Cervelo-mounted walrus

That's the UC-Davis Men's "B" team time trial squad racing at the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference Championship outside Reno, Nevada in 2008. We beat a very determined and talented Stanford squad by about 20 seconds and put over two minutes into UC-Berkely, Cal Poly, Nevada, and the like.

I had played a pretty large role in getting us beaten the year before (thee of the four of us went to the wrong place on course and missed our start by three minutes), so I was hell-bent on winning in Reno. The altitude was tough, but it affected everyone the same. The course was mostly flat, with only one climb and a bit of a false flat in the homestretch, so my usual problems with climbing weren't too much of a handicap. But I had strained my back racing a crit at UCB the week before, so I knew that spending 30 minutes in the aero position was going to pose a challenge.

Warm-up went reasonably well; Marisa teased me mercilessly for about 35 minutes of trainer time, and my back loosened up enough to let me get onto the aero bars.

We started with four riders (Daniel Stuart isn't in the photographs) and maintained a good, steady rotation for the first two-thirds of the course. Skinny climber Danny took a monster pull on the course's sole climb, and the rest of us powered up the false flat into a headwind. My normal lactate threshold heart rate is around 175 bpm, but I averaged almost 188 the last two miles. I think I rode harder than I ever have, before or since.

Since we were the last team on course, we knew we'd won shortly after we crossed the line. That elation turned to agony when I tried to dismount my bike -- I fell over sideways because I could barely stand. My lower back had completely seized into a convex shape, and I couldn't straighten my lower four vertebrae. The best I could do was shuffle along in a sort of half-bowed position.

Three of my teammates took me back to our motel and went to work on my back. We iced, stretched, massaged, embrocated, and medicated. Nothing worked. I was in near constant pain, even as I tried to race the conference championship criterium the next day. I didn't really feel whole again for about two and half months.

I've been cautious about my TT position ever since. Judd at the UC-Davis Sports Performance Lab and Joe Santos at Davis Wheelworks have done wonders with my fit over the last two years; even though I'm much lower in front, I'm much more comfortable in my lower back, and I felt good enough to race (and badly lose) three Master's 1/2/3 time trials in Norcal last season.

Still, given how long I've been suffering with my latest flare-up (seven months now, off-and-on),  I was pretty cautious about racing the Nebraska State Time Trial last Saturday.

I previewed the course with Sam Oakes the Wednesday before, and I really liked it. Three stinging rollers after the start line give way to a false flat that continues for about 10 miles. After the turn-around, the almost-imperceptible ascent back toward the finish forces the rider to contend with a headwind, and the return of the rollers near mile 21 really hurts a fatty like me. But I was able to ride the course at ME / Zone 3 / Tempo pace with NO back symptoms of any kind.

I had planned to do endurance work on Thursday and race prep on Friday, but the car accident and subsequent car shopping ruined those plans. (I bought another black Civic on Friday, BTW...)

Saturday dawned hot and humid, with the expected northerly wind. I weighed less that morning than I have since I returned to Nebraska, and I was well-hydrated. I even slept reasonably well, a rarity for me the night before an event.

The registration and assembly area was situated in the parking lot of the Yutan V.F.W. hall, with a predictable lawn ornament: 

That's me warming up in the shadow of a Sherman tank.

Brady, fellow blogger and racer, introduced himself as I warmed up; he seemed like a really nice guy. I also received my weekly dose of friendly smack-talk from the Puma. He's looking awfully thin in his snazzy Bike Master's skin suit. Seriously, damn near everyone I've met in the Nebraska cycling scene has been welcoming, friendly, and encouraging. There are one or two exceptions, of course, but the ratio of cool-guy speedsters to douche-bag poseurs is much, much higher here than in Norcal.  Conservative politics aside, that's true of the general population in Omaha, as well.

My heart rate on the trainer was crazy high; fresh legs and a heavy dose of adrenaline will do that. I did a nice 10 minute SE opener and managed few intervals of threshold work. Despite the fact that I was positioned 30 yards away from the start and had synchronized my computer's clock with the race officials' timer, I almost missed my start, making it to the line with only 20 seconds to spare.
photo by Rob Skiba

I deliberately tried to go out slowly in order to save energy for the uphill, head-winded return; I've lost count of the number of times I've crapped the bed in a TT by sprinting off the line and blowing up five minutes later. And while I think I went out a bit TOO slow, my heart rate was still off the charts. I powered up a hills in the big ring and spun down the false flat in my 53-12, pushed along by the tailwind. I need to do some more cadence analysis in the TT position, since I found it easier to pedal smooth circles at a lower cadence but ended up going a bit faster when I spun a lower gear.

I seemed to fly along at 32-33 miles and hour and reached the turn-around in ~24 minutes. The first few minutes of pedaling into the wind after the turnaround were brutal. I passed a flatted Brady and briefly entertained the idea of faking my own mechanical to end the pain. It hurt that badly. My lungs were searing, and my naughty bits were going numb, but I managed to avoid slipping into a mid-race Slough of Despond and pedaled hard the whole way home. 

I noticed significant cardiac drift over the last 4 miles, and I started to lose power. I don't train with a powermeter, but my speed and cadence relative to my perceived exertion dropped precipitously. I rolled in at 59:10 with nothing left in the tank. 

Puma put four minutes into me and won the Cat 3 championship, while I finished fourth out of four-- DFL again, baby! I lost third by a few seconds, so I wasn't too terrible.

I drove home feeling good about the progress I've made in the last month: I've built a pretty good aerobic base, established some solid core strength, and managed pain-free riding for about three weeks. I'm going to ramp up the intensity of my intervals the next two weeks and see if that helps establish my ability to quickly recover from hard efforts. 

I still putz along pretty slowly, but perhaps it's coming. Hope springs eternal, I suppose. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Being a one-car family

I totaled my 1996 Civic two days ago. Everybody's fine.

Man, I wish I could trade car for bike:

When I was finishing my undergraduate degree at UNO, my wife and I gave her piece of awesome (thanks to Chris Wolff for THAT sobriquet; I've used it roughly 1,000 times in the last eight days.) to her brother. We lived as a one-car family of three for about 6 months. She drove herself and our infant daughter around in my then-new Civic, and I pedaled everywhere I went. Even in Omaha. During one stretch of days in January, I commuted from Field Club to UNO in 3-degree weather. For a week. 

We continued that lifestyle during my first two years of grad school, but living without a car in Davis was so much easier: no real cold, bike lanes everywhere, table-flat topography, a culture of bike commuting. We only bought another car after we had our second daughter and realized that hauling her around in the Burley trailer wasn't going to be safe for her spine.

So now we're ensconced in our house off Blondo and Country Club Blvd. in Omaha, and my workplace is a flight of stairs away. Jessica's school is 10 blocks away, and the girls' school is also very close. We could certainly live with only one car, but Jess won't ride to her job teaching Kindergarten, and as a stay-at-home dad / dissertation-writing academic, I have to haul kids across town for doctors appointments and the like. We still drive much, much less than the average suburban American family, but when only two of the four of us are willing to ride anywhere,  owning two cars becomes awfully close to necessary. Dammit.

So today, I shop for cars. Blech. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Two tales from the back

Last weekend, I raced two events run by the Elkhorn Valley Cycling Club: a 64-mile road race around Stanton, Nebraska, and a 60-minute, 8-corner criterium through downtown Norfolk.

I got popped off the back of my field in both races, so the weekend might have turned into an utter waste of time: time in the car, time away from my family, time that I could have spent on my dissertation, time NOT spent berating myself for remaining so damn slow.

But two moments in these races taught me some valuable lessons and reaffirmed some of the choices I've made in the last few months. Wordsworth called such events "Spots of time;" recovering addicts sometimes refer to them as "moments of clarity."
photo by Lois Brunnert

On the road race course, I sat in the middle of the group and shielded myself from the crosswinds for about 7 miles-- until the field of ~20 Elite 1/2/3 riders hit the first of several rolling hills. I survived the first little stinger, but the effort sent my heart rate soaring over my lactate threshold, and I couldn't recover in time to climb the sharper, steeper hill that followed. I watched in horror as the peleton, to a man, stood up on their pedals and squirted right up the hill. I had to stay on my saddle, limit my losses, and pray that I could re-connect on the flats.

But after that last hill, the course turned south into a headwind. And the rotating lead group was gone, just like that.

I expected that result when I first saw the course, but I thought all the aerobic work I've done lately would have delayed my getting dropped. I'm lighter, fitter, and much more flexible than I was a month ago--hell, my back didn't really start to hurt until almost two hours later. But I still lack any sort of high-end fitness. I just haven't been able to do any high-intensity intervals in training, so I can't recover quickly enough when the terrain or speed forces me to really dig deep to stay attached to the group.

Since I was faced with the prospect of riding alone, building my aerobic base became my new goal for the day. I planned to finish that first lap alone or with small groups of other dropped riders. But I also faced a decision: finish the race--two laps of 32 miles each and 1,100 feet of climbing in 90-degree heat with 80% humidity--or save my legs for the crit the next day?

I worked on my medium endurance for the rest of that first lap; I rode slightly harder than my normal endurance pace, but not so hard that I redlined again. I also mused a fair amount over the pastoral beauty of a Nebraska spring. The race course is very near my mother's hometown and the small college where my parents met. Cornfields, cow pastures, and riparian springs all surrounded me, and except for the occasional aroma of pig shit, the air felt fresh and clean. And in the aftermath of all the thundershowers we've had, everything was a brilliant and glittering green.

I finished the first lap with two bottles and plenty of food in reserve, so I decided to roll past the start/finish and complete the second lap. But after 20 more minutes, the wind shifted and the temperature spiked. I was now spinning into a cross-headwind that would blow against me for the entire second lap, and I was down to half a bottle of fluid to last me the next 75-90 minutes.

I asked a corner marshal if the feed zone would still be manned when I rolled through, and he kindly radioed ahead to ask them to wait for me. I was the last person on the course since the Elite 4 group had passed me and the Elite 5s only raced one lap.

After I drank the last dregs of my last bottle, I noticed that one of the rolling safety marshals was sitting in his truck about 50 yards behind me. He stayed there for almost an hour, waving traffic around me and radioing ahead for water. I've never seen that happen in my six years of racing.

About four miles from the feed zone, I caught another dropped rider who was obviously deep in the pain cave. I patted my ass I rolled by, giving him the universal sign to sit in my draft as long as he liked. He told me, "I'm about to die. You just do what you've gotta do." The effort it took yell those words into the wind nearly toppled him. Before I was even aware of what I was doing, I slowed a bit so he could roll up alongside me. I squeezed his shoulder and said:
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
Yeah, he looked at me like I was nuts, so I explained that acting like an English teacher is a hard habit to break.  But that bit of Tennyson reminded me why I race, even when I'm continually faced with irrefutable evidence of my own weakness and futility: 
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; [. . .]
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
The effort is everything, isn't it? Quitting is never an option. The final conceit in that stanza usually baffles my undergraduates, but during that hot day on the bike, lost in front of my own version of the "ringing plains of windy Troy," I remembered: sometimes just the simple act of moving provides a glimpse of the world from an entirely new perspective.  I am who I am becasue of all that I have seen and known, and I cannot keep growing and learning without continually looking around myself with new eyes. Movement makes that prospect so much easier, for the barrier between the known and the unknown remains forever fluid when the seeing eye maintains its flight.

My new friend and I pedaled through the final third of that last lap at no more than 13 miles an hour; the headwind was brutal, and the crosswind after we turned again nearly blew us sideways a few times.

But we finished.

*       *       *
On Bryan Redemske's recommendation, I wore a pair of Skins recovery tights in the car during the 90-minute drive home to Omaha. And for the rest of the day. And in bed that night. And in the car on the way back up to Norfolk the next morning.

Damn, man. Damn!

Honest-to-God, I felt like I hadn't raced the previous day, like I'd gotten a professional massage or received a blood transfusion. (Not that I'd know what THAT felt like. You gotta read Vino's blog 'bout that blood-doping sensation, I'm afraid.) 

As I get older, recovery becomes harder and harder. But I felt fresh and newly powerful, even after three hours of hard riding the day before.

The racing still sucked--I lasted five laps with a very fast and determined Elite 3 field of 16 guys and then got caught behind a split when a rider in front of me insisted on taking corners at a horribly shallow angle and got himself gapped. I still can't close gaps like that without blowing, which is exactly what happened.
I stayed with a pretty cooperative group of six guys and rotated through with no problems for the rest of the race--but then the posturing and pull-skipping started with three laps to go. This from guys who formed the third group on the road and were racing for tenth? C'mon.

I let my teammate Devin Bethune get a gap during a tailwind section and watched as the rest of the group took the last corner like idiots in order to sprint for 12th. Ryan Feagan seems like a stand-up guy and is pretty fun to ride with, so I was happy to see he and Devin keep their separation. I rolled in last, I think, but much happier and fresher than after my last crit. I'm improving, and I was actually able to race a bit. And, drumroll, please--I suffered no back pain. None.

As the field rolled around the course to cool down after the race, a guy pulled up alongside me and asked, "Having fun yet?'

I laughed and answered, "That's one word for it."

"I can think of another "F"-word to describe it," he said.

I thought about that for awhile--"F" stands for _______in bike racing:
  • Fun
  • "Fucked gibbering" (in the words of David Millar)
  • Failure
  • Futility
  • Fat
  • Flexibility
  • Flatulence
  • Future
I'll go with that last one. I keep pining on numbers and toeing start lines--even though I'm hurt, old, fat, and the like--because the future remains unwritten. One of these days, I may actually recapture some of the sheer exultant joy of sticking a break, decimating a sprint, or leading out a winning teammate. Until then, the effort's everything, isn't it? I've set some goals, and the truest measure of a man is how hard and diligently he strives to accomplish his goals, not how easily he folds in the face of setbacks.

*       *        *  
The highlight of the weekend, however, came next. IT was the essential spot of time I experienced during the day, and I wasn't even racing. 


That's my eldest daughter, Abbey, racing the kids' event during the criterium. She was the only kid there with a skinny-tire bike, but these were all older kids, too. She raced hard, had a blast, and won.

If my daughter learns anything about perseverance from watching my failures, then the racing's never futile. Is it?

Maybe "F" is for family....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I met a traveller from an ancient land

Omaha's becoming a stop-over for wayward Aggies. This one spent a year interning as a Nutritionist in Pennsylvania and stopped at Hobbit House on her way back to California. She'll start an MS in nutrition at Cal Poly SLO in the fall.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kansas City, there I went

Clockwise from the top left: Denby, Turner, Wyeth, Seurat, Mondrian.

Clockwise from top left: Specialized Shiv, Fuji D6, Chevrolet Meatwagon.

And BTW--the damn Caravaggio is part of a Rome. I missed it.