Friday, June 9, 2017

I'm hurt

 

I hate this post. I hate it I hate it I hate it. 


I didn't want to even post it after I wrote it. But some tragic events have happened in the Ohio cycling community that have made my stomach sink.


And like the one-too-many beers, the post has to come out, along with some bile and the taste of self-loathing. 


So, if you're not a die-hard cyclist, don't read it. You won't understand. It will cause you concern. It may reinforce your  preconceived notions about why I'm stupid. 


Still reading? Another warning: this post isn't funny. It may make you sick like I am. 


So here it is. 


I'm rattled. And I am scared lately. Too many close calls. Too many friends hurt. 


Cycling is dangerous. There, I said it. 


I suppose I should qualify my statement. 


Riding sensibly on bike paths, in bike lanes, and on low-traffic roads are not inherently any more dangerous than any other outdoor activity. Possibly less dangerous than, for instance, hiking or rollerblading. 


But the kinds of cycling that I enjoy are inherently dangerous. 


Traffic is the main danger in city cycling. 


Fast-paced road riding risks include getting run off the road, tangled up in a peloton, chased by dogs, and wiping out on a downhill, a patch of gravel, or a tricky corner. 


Gravel grinding is, well, essentially riding on a bunch of loose rocks. Duh. 


And mountain biking. Yeah, my favorite, might be the most dangerous. When you start riding, you crash a lot. As your skill progress, you crash less, but your crashes are faster and harder. Some say, if you're not wrecking, you're not progressing as a rider. 


 


I must be progressing, because I have had every kind of wreck on every kind of bike. Some caused by me (or my lack of skills or attention), some caused by other cyclists, and I've been hit by car drivers twice. 


 


I have had concussions, broken several bones, had many, many lacerations, and I have been rendered unconscious twice. I've suffered road rash, bruises, and dog bites. I've even been burned by a brake rotor. 


 


I can't fully bend my middle finger anymore, and sometimes the screws in my collarbone painfully remind me of their existence when I try to use a shoulder bag. My right knee squeaks and gets stiff, my hip pops, and I'm pretty sure I'm ignoring a chronic rotator cuff injury. 


 


Overall, I'm healthy and no lasting harm has befallen me. I'm fortunate. 


In the last couple weeks, I have been buzzed at high speed by drivers, and have had a couple close calls on the mountain bike. Happens all the time, but I can't stop thinking of my friends, for whom that couple centimeters or milliseconds were the difference between eating dinner at home or not.  


I won't go into details mostly out of respect, but also because describing even minor injuries to my friends pulls me into a dark place. 


I have fallen into a cycle of reflection and introspection. I'm trying to understand myself (and my friends). I mean, I know it's dangerous. And I have kids and a spouse who would be deeply affected if I got hurt. 


 


So, why do it? 


Analytically, I suppose it is explained by personality. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of risk-averse to thrill-seeking. In economic terms, this is the difference between being "thrifty" and being "greedy."  Some are content with a small reward, if the cost is not high. Others are willing to gamble big for a big payout. 


I admit to being somewhat closer to the "thrill-seeking" side. This makes me greedy, because the potential adverse consequences are high, and would affect my loved ones, yet I do it anyway. 


 


But this is not a full explanation. It's not just the thrill of risk that I seek. 


It's the escape. I love the outdoors. When I'm in nature, I refocus, find my center, and at the same time, lose the baggage of everyday life. 


And there's the adventure. The new place, the new trail. What secret surprises await? 


And the challenge. Small accomplishments, like a faster lap on a trail or a smoother landing on a drop, are tiny rewards to myself. The soul-clearing exhaustion of hard and repeated physical activity is addictive. 


Cycling has given me my health back. As I age, I see a fitter, healthier, sharper me. A better me than existed before. 


I could make all of these things sound really meaningful, purposeful, important. It's easy - in western culture, rugged individuality is romanticized and constant self-discovery and self-improvement is applauded. Self-love counts more than love for others. 


Individualism is an appealing concept; it enables self-centered behavior - and it makes for inspirational memes. Imagine a picture of a winding trail through the woods with a quote like "life is meant to be lived" or some other tag line. Heck, you have probably seen one today. 


But isn't this just enabling self-centered and destructive behavior? 


 


And don't get me started on the notion that "he died doing what he loved."  Yeah, but he fucking DIED. 


I'm spoiled. Riding bikes makes me happy. So, I do it. I have the money, the free time, and I'm healthy enough. 


But is it really right? 


I don't know. Probably won't ever have a satisfactory answer. Maybe there isn't a rational answer. 


I don't want to get hurt. I don't want my friends to get hurt. But I like riding too much to stop.  I can't imagine not riding. But I can't shake the cold in my stomach at the moment. 


There's no message in this. No advice. It's up to you. 


Be brave and be safe. 


Monday, June 5, 2017

Road diets and MTB diets

 

What's happening? 

I'm hungry today, so I'm posting food pics. 

That up there is a beet, asparagus, and quinoa salad with goat cheese on a bed of arugula. 

So good. 

Anyhow, some of you know I like to cook. Making good, healthy food is the only way I can stay on the diet. I can't just eat canned tuna and protein bars. I'd lose my mind. Got to have something to look forward to. 

But right now, I'm kinda hungry. 

 

Mango avacado slaw with pulled chicken and peanuts over spinach.

Not all diets are bad though. They just have to have a purpose. 

I'm on the "cut" right now. Trying to lose weight for the race season. And because I could still stand to lose 10 pounds. I'm a couple weeks, before my next big race, I will switch to "maintenance."  

 

Spicy turkey with cilantro and cabbage. 

Know what else is on a diet? The roads in my neighborhood

It's pretty cool. This four lane road (with center turn lane) will be cut to three and some protected bike lanes will be added. Can't wait. 

This section of road "technically" has a 30 mph speed limit, but nobody follows it. Which sucks, because there are a lot of pedestrians and bikes. 

So, the "road diet" should help. Bike lanes and low speed limits have a calming effect on traffic and promote local people to go to local business by foot or bike  All good. 


Breaded cauliflower bites with hot sauce and carrot salad. 

My wife and I already ride all over our neighborhood for errands and fun. This road diet opens up a whole new corridor for us. Baller. 

 

Ennyhoo, I have the perfect bike for the new bike lanes: my awesome Peugeot commuter. 

 
 
I wrote a whole story about how much I love this bike for Dirt Rag. Check it out here: http://dirtragmag.com/mountain-bike-trailer-park-the-rime-of-the-ancient-peugeot/

Be brave and diet. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Way behind again

 

So, here I am, gliding into summer and I am realizing I have badly neglesctes this blog. So, I apologize to all three of you. But, I have been busy. 

Busy with COMBO. 

 

Busy finding miracles in my bacon 


All hail mighty seahorse. 

And busy driving to far away places for long races and longer bar tabs. 

 

This is how an awesome mechanic fixed my missing axlenut at the Cohutta 100

 
 
That's Charles Nelson, the awesome mechanic who did it, of Trailhead Bicycles. Thanks man! 

Also, having fun riding new trails and new races here in Ohio. 

 

This was the Twain Reign of Pain 6-hour put on by Team Knobby Side Down  Great group of people, supporting their local trail system at Camp Tuscozoar. 

And I've been busy training. 

 

And hanging out with goofballs. 

 

 

That said, I owe you a post, so here's a like to one of the best things I have ever written, over on Dirt Rag's website. Hope you enjoy!


Be brace, and be busy. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

WYD? The Barry Roubaix part 1

 

We're stupid. Really stupid. 

We're heading out on a Friday for a three-day trip to Michigan for a three to four hour race, the Barry-Roubaix. 

Think about that for a minute. We're giving up three weekend days for a 3-4 hour race. Does that make sense? 

And, here the forecast for race time:

 

Meantime, it's gonna be nice in central Ohio:

 

Stupid. 

But first, I had to pick up my new bike. So, I headed off to Breakaway

 

As Joe and Mikey and I discussed the race, Dan and Paul started looking nervous. Paul said "your first ride on this bike is going to be a 62-mile race?" "You're killing me."

 

Yes. Yes I am. Paul is right to be concerned. The brakes haven't been burned in yet. No test ride for sizing. No opportunity to shakedown the build. 

I'm stupid. 

The bike is sahweeet. It's a Trek Crockett 5

 

And I'm gonna go get it dirty. 

I dunno. What would you do?

Be. Rave and be stupid. 


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Are we hipsters? And my race calendar.

So, my team just picked up a new sponsor, Mad Tree Brewing  This is our second beer sponsor, since we already are sponsored by Staas Brewing  Oh, and we're sponsored by two blogs. 

 

Two beer sponsors and two blogs. Are we hipsters? Hm, well we do have a lot of beards. 

 

On the other hand, there are a lot of mom jeans happening. And, we're mostly middle aged. So, probably not. Also, there's this ...


Anyhoo, believe it or not, I have already done my race calendar for almost the entire year of 2017. 

Seems early to do this in January, but there are so many good races and many require travel and days off. Add in family trips and school/work schedules, and you can see why I need to do this so early. 

Plus, I'm already in training for the season. I have to. Long races start already in March. 

My calendar is mostly based around three race series: the NUE Endurance Series  the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship Series  and the Tri-State Six Hour Series

Following the Quickdirt plan, I tried to schedule not more than two events per month, although I still ended up with four months with three events. 

Without further ado, here it is:
 
January
16 COMBO Fatbike
28 Fat Bike Nats Grand Rapids MI*
29 COMBO Fatbike
 
 

February
11 COMBO Fatbike
26 Brewery Vivant Fat Bike Grand Rapids MI*
 
 

March
18 OMBC Mohican
25 Barry-Roubaix Hastings MI*

 
 
April
9 OMBC Eastfork
15 CAP City Short Track Chestnut Ridge
29 NUE Cohutta 100 Copperhill TN*
 
May
7 OMBC Scioto Trails
 
June
17 NUE Lumberjack 100 Wellston MI*

 
 
July
9 Tri-state Eastfork
15 CR 6 Hour
23 OMBC Lake Hope

 
 
August
6 Tri-state Hueston Woods
13 OMBC Westbranch
19 Tri-state Idlewild
27 OMBC Dillon
 
September
OR
3 NUE Shennandoah 100 Harrisburg VA
10 OMBC CR

 
 
October
7 OMBC Great Seal
21 OMBC Championship
 
November
3-5 Iceman Grand Rapids MI

 
 
December
Fat bike racing starts again!
 
 
 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Catching up and coming down


So, I have continued to be pretty busy.  Spending a lot of time on COMBO stuff lately.  But it's all good, because the end result will be amazing.

By the way, head over to COMBO's website before Feb 17 and grab one of the cool new jerseys.  Proceeds benefit COMBO so we can keep building trail.


Plus, the jersey is pretty fly, so, you'll be looking good while you help the trails.

Speaking of kits, my team has a brand-spanking new one:

 
 




Pretty stoked that Mad Tree Brewing joined the crew, along with Staas Brewing, Breakaway Cycles, Quickdirt, and Trek.  And MTBTP is on the kit too (look for the tiny font).  Could it get better?

Anyhoo, I realize I have been pretty bad about posting lately, so for the three of you who don't follow MTBTP on the book of faces, here's my latest Dirt Rag  column.  It's one of my biggest efforts to date.  Damn near good, if I do say so myself,  And there's some good advice in it from racers better than me about how to cope with the end-of-season blues.

http://dirtragmag.com/mountain-bike-trailer-park-esad-i-need-a-fix/

Check it out.  Or don't, but pretend you did, for my sake.

That's it for now.  Should have a longer post up next weekend.

Be brave in the offseason!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

F*** it. I'm hanging with the king

 

Serious question:


Burger King is offering a $4.00 value meal with a whopper jr., nuggets, fries and a soft drink. Assuming that you take a full-strength (not diet) drink, that's around 1,100 calories (including nugget sauce and ketchup). 


I'm not picking on Burger King, other chains offer similar deals, I just keep seeing their commercial and it makes me think about stuff. 


 


So, here's the question. Can you name another source of 1,100 calories that tastes that good for $4.00? 


You couldn't buy the ingredients to make this meal at a grocery store yourself for $4. 


 


That's 4/10 of a cent per calorie. It's hard to buy any food that cheaply. Maybe if you drank straight veggie oil. 


 


Nevermind nutrition, if you're going for bang for the buck, why wouldn't you eat this? 


Assuming a 2,000 calorie diet, and eating this 365 days per year, that's 730,000 calories per year. Or, 664 $4 value meals. That means it would cost you $2,654 to eat all year. Or $7.27 per day. Or, save even more by eating one $4 meal (1,100 calories) for lunch and then 2 packs of top ramen and a coke (520 calories, $1.50) for another meal. Boom. Out the door for $5.50 per day. 


 

Can you beat that? And I don't mean with plain rice or oatmeal. I mean with a flavorful meal with a drink. 


Check this site out if you really want some calorie bang for your buck. Although I don't recommend eating straight flour. 


 


Be brave, and eat a whopper.