Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mexico, day 1

I got to watch the sun rise over NYC while at Newark Airport.

14 hours later, I saw this view.

Rob, Mark, and Prem met me at the airport with a beer. Now that's service.

A few hours later, we had dinner at The Nowhere Bar. It was all-you-can-eat sushi, honestly the best sushi I've ever had. Fishing is a big industry in Cabo, and to say that this fish was fresh is an understatement. Also, it was all-you-can-eat... at least it was, until they cut us off.

Yes, we got cut off of all-you-can-eat. Yes.

This is when the drinking started. Continued, I guess. This is actually when the binge drinking started. Handloff bought me a jello shot. This is Mexico, though, where a beer is just a beer, a vodka-tonic is just a vodka-tonic, but a shot is an experience.

Then Handloff made a friend.

And so it went.

Today started slowly, as we all recovered from hangovers. The pool was a nice place to sweat out the alcohol.
View from the pool

After lunch, we went to a beach downtown - appropriately enough named "The Office" - where the adventure continued. The music was great.

Handloff bought himself a shot. As always, buying a shot entails more than you bargained for... in this case, assault with a phallus.

This is Cabo
This is Cabo's weather

Monday, May 28, 2007

Camp LivingRoom

One of the unsung features of the domestic racing scene is host housing. Why pay for a hotel when you can sleep on a couch? As far as what the reward is for the host, well, it's less tangible... but I'm pretty sure that one becomes faster by proximity to a pro.

Like meandering herds of grazing fauna, the pros roam the country, seeking sustenance in the form of prize money. I'm pretty sure Steve Irwin was going to do a special on the migratory habits of the professional cyclist (properly termed Tanlynicus Wattagous), but he felt they were too risky a species to work around.

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the convergence of the crit-mongers in Central Jersey. Crits are multi-lap, intense races around a short course, the Arena Football to road racing's NFL. You watch the race pass you dozens and dozens of times, you feel the gust of wind generated by the racers, and if you know what you're looking for, you can watch the drama unfold from the comfort of a lawn chair.

Friday through Sunday were pretty much the minor leagues, a chance for mediocre newbies such as myself to race before the big boys came out to play. Even today, they let the Juniors, Masters, and Cat3s warm the crowd up before the headliners took to the course.

Jenks plays in the Cat3 race

My good friend Mandy was the first Cottage of Wattage to grace my humble apartment. She rides for TargetTraining. She rides fast for TargetTraining.

On Sunday, after watching the 3/4 race in Bound Brook (which took place not 100 yards from where my Mom grew up), we collected a small group of Rutgers kids - Beastie, Rich, and Pluto joined us - and headed for the hills. It was a thoroughly fantastic ride, ~70mi of playing on the bikes.

The middle hour was super-competitive, and I set a new PR on my benchmark climb (3:32, 9 sec off my old time but still 2 sec behind Jenks' best). Then Mandy brought out the big guns. Withering, whimpering, wheezing 4 wheels back, I watched as she moved to the front of our train and her body language changed. I'm struggling to verbalize the metamorphosis; suffice it to say that if you've raced bikes, you know what she did, and if not, don't worry about it.

Mandy corners

Eventually I recovered. Since Mandy is racing a World Cup race in Montreal next weekend, I took it upon myself to aid her in her training. As we climbed the easy side of Washington Rock, I shouted such encouragement as "Allez l'Americain!", "Merde!", and "Fromage!"

We met up with Mike, of Team Jelly Belly, at the barbecue at the house of His Majesty King Hermes. Thanks, King Hermes! 'Twas delicious. Mike, too, invaded my living room, bringing the average wattage-production potential of the apartment to near-dangerous levels. The air was abuzz with wattage.

Am I going overboard?

Today was the big show, the Tour of Somerville. I drove Mandy and her sexy-hot Aegis out, then met up with the Rutgers kids and our sponsors, the Efingers crew. Like last year, we were lucky enough to mooch off the Colavita BBQ, and let me tell you, those guys know how to cook a burger.

Will, Mark, and Don represent Rutgers Cycling... so pro

There was, of course, a little chaos with which to contend. Mandy's stuff had to be transferred from my car to her team car, the location of which was a complete mystery to me. Even worse, she got crashed out of her race (she's too nice to write about it, but I saw it go down... she got crashed), so I had no idea whether she was at her team car, in an ambulance, at a hospital, or what.

During Mike's 2 hour race, Will and I set off to find Mandy. It turns out she was fine. A little bruised, but none the worse for wear, especially after a few cups of the Recovery Ale she'd liberated from somebody's keg.

Hooray for Charlie is all I have to say

Having traveled to Somerville via his bike, Mike rode a helluva race, especially given that he was solo in a giant field stacked with big teams. He made a couple of breaks, fought hard for position, and finished pretty easily in the money. The process of finding him afterwards to coordinate the return trip was, as expected, chaotic. Everything worked out well, though, also as expected.

It's a little like Where's Waldo... can you find the Mike?

What a great finish to an amazing weekend. Frankly, I'm running out of superlatives.

Leaving for Mexico in 2 days. Happy.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Today was my last Cat5 race, the Hall of Fame Crit in Somerville. I've been anticipating this race eagerly, wanting to finally get that elusive result that's been eluding me so elusively.

Will and I were expecting his race to start between 9:30 and 10am, so we left the house at 7:30. Will didn't race until 11. I raced at 1:30. It was a long day in the sun, and you know what? It was totally worth it.

First of all, let me just point out the emerging dominance of Team Hermutgers. The quasi-official alliance between the Highland Park Hermes and the Rutgers University Cycling Team has been pretty damn fruitful so far. Back in April, SpikyHairWill and AngryMark became Jenks' turn-coat lead out train, resulting in a decisive win at Picecone.

Today was a repeat of that, with Will and ProfessorAndy working for Jenks in his Cat3 race. You can read is report when he puts it up, but the point is that Jenks, a Hermes, rode a ballsy race with the help of Will, a Scarlet Knight.
Will corners

Same basic story in the Cat4s. BenedictMark, festooned in his yellow-and-green summer plumage, took advantage of Rich and BeastMasterChris' teamwork to launch a great, looong sprint, catching a late breakaway thanks to Beastie's leadout. He took 4th in a very tough race. Hermutgers strikes again!
(left to right, also back to front) Rich, Chris, and Mark race the 4s

I was all by my lonesome in the 5 race. The tactics of my fellow 5s were somewhat frustrating. I got 3rd.
What can I do but shrug?

By themselves, each of these could be a decent story, if properly told. The point here is that bike racing isn't about the bike... or the racing.

It comes down to the people you're with. Screaming obscenities at Jenks when he's relaxing at the back of the pack, screaming at encouragement at BeastMaster when he's attacking (who saw that coming?), commiserating after races... it's a very social activity.

The standard insult to a fraternity guy is to say "I didn't need to pay for my friends." Funny how every day of racing cost an arm and a leg. Chew on that, my indie friends.
The Highland Park Hermeseses

So we hang out, basking in the sun, for hours on end. We rip on each other. We gossip about other racers. We try to relax, and you know what? It is awesome. I couldn't ask for a better way to spend a weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Karaoke Etiquette

There are a number of non-trivial rules that govern Karaoke Night. Some of them are unintuitive, like the "no Journey or 'Say It Ain't So' before midnight" or "only good songs" rule. I don't expect the novices to know these rules yet, and there's some leeway. No worries, Charlie, you rocked Weezer.

There are, however, some rules that should be completely obvious to all parties. For example, common courtesy dictates that if you have to bribe the Karaoke guy (Milky Manchester is our local Karaoke guy) to get your song up next, you're probably going to piss people off. I'm all for tipping the KJ (Karaoke Jockey, get it?), but going 3 times in a half hour is just rude.

Another easy rule is: don't do the Douchebag Shuffle. This dance involves sneaking over to Milky's headquarters, shuffling the song-request slips to put yourself up next, and sneaking away. You can just go to hell and die if you're that selfish.

If you want to know about how your favorite NinjaDon (that's me!!!) did at the Karaoke, you'll be pleased to know that I took 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' to a new level. I danced, I sang, I screamed... I sang the last line on the floor, in the fetal position, with my thumb in my mouth. Top that, hotshot.

The highlight had to be riding my new fixie home, absolutely drunk. Between the giant curb at the start of the bridge across the Raritan River, the hilly walkway at the entrance to Busch campus, and the many, many beers I drank, the ride home was an adventure.

SpikyHairWill, known primarly for his spiky hair, had a dilemma. What could he do to protect his intricately coiffed hairdo from the ravages of helmet-head? This question has been answered by our good friends at Scrubs.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Science in the News

I move that the news media no longer report on scientific discovery. Can I get a second?

The majority of newspaper and television audience members can't understand and don't have the patience for the depth and jargon of journal articles. By definition, the critical nuances of a study will be smoothed out to make the story more palatable.

At best, what we the audience are exposed to is a watered-down blurb of trivia, disguised as current events. At worst, the so-called news is thinly-veiled yellow journalism.

Take, for example, this gem. Apparently, WiFi causes cancer! Save the children! Run for the hills! Armageddon! Except, if you look at the very bottom of the article, you see that "wi-fi radiation [is] about 100,000 times less intense than that emitted by domestic microwave ovens." A journal article would've put that in the introduction, if not the abstract.

And then there's this report, which asserts that the relative lengths of your fingers are predictive of your relative SAT scores. Yeah. Wow.

I want to make some quip about phrenology, or the correlation between beady eyes and criminals. Will, however, already put it best: "I also heard that if your hand is bigger than your face, it means you have AIDS."

For whatever it's worth, I didn't just find some questionable websites and troll them for quasi-scientific content. Earlier tonight, Fox 5 News reported these stories, and I simply Googled them on my internet machine.

Screw the news. I'll just stick to watching Leno, because who could find fault with that big-chinned everyman?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


All that matters is this: first things first.

Caesar often negated God's rule, allowing Thespians unlimited libations after their inherently ostentatious nativity shows. Yesterday obviously undid his army's very elaborate, codified religion, and Caesar kicked every dog that he encountered. Could ordinary dictators, even heroic ones, want men using classical humanitarianism to interminably, miserably endure disrespect, indignity, dolorous youth? Oh, unfair world! Alas, such treachery everywhere!

Theatrical hedonists, each seeking every cool, refreshing entertainment, trade medicines eagerly. So sated, a gentleman's ego imparts surly genuflection on rogues. Each afternoon, developing actors betray old Occidental kings.

Bacchanalians enjoyed tasting heaven, every fermented imbibation resonating satisfactorily. Truly time only passes over such trespasses, thusly heroism and temerity make equally sordid sins. Again, given enough trust, only those hearing Euclid could obvioate Man's meager embellishment. Now, teaching Socrates' adages, newcomers develop wayward ideas. Never allowing parochial, rural interference, zealots earnestly yearn over understated habitats. Any valuable euphemism, once neglected evasively, will eviscerate, even kill.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Day in Philadelphia

I discovered recently that I lost my passport, and that the only way to get one in time was to spend a day at the US Customs House in Philadelphia. In time for what, you ask? In time for my trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. More on my trip to el Mexico-o some other time.

From now on, all plans involving Philadelphia will have to include some time earmarked for getting lost. Once again, I had to wander about until I saw the signs (and they opened up my eyes, I saw the signs) for the Ben Franklin Bridge. By the time I got in line #1, it was about 9:45.

Line #1 was the security line. It was about two dozen people long, and it was flowing like molasses. How hard is it to have your pockets empty before it's your turn to walk through the metal detector? We're going one by one, with a very predictable frequency. You know when your turn is.

This led me to Line #2. For an hour, I stood in a windy serpent of a queue, waited my turn to see what I call the "dispatcher", who asked if we had all the proper materials before giving us numbers. Everybody spoke with the dispatcher, everybody got a sequentially-iterated number, and everybody then waited in Line #3. Line #3 was, thankfully, done in chairs. I read a book.

Truly this was the belly of the bureaucratic beast.

Finally, at 12:30, I got to leave the Passport Office. I would have to return at 2:30 to pick up my new, ultra-expensive passport. Okay.

What followed was indubitably the highlight of my day. After taking a walk, I wound up at the Delaware, making a few phone calls in a quiet little park. I went back to Chestnut street and stumbled across Eulogy, the Belgian Tavern. Their menu had frites, and their beer menu brought a tear to my eye. Alas! Alack! They were closed.

On the verge of dispair, I turned around, only to find that directly across the street was Triumph Brewery. Some of us patronized their New Hope location in November, after a brutal 'cross race. Their food and drink were found to be most worthy back then, and today did not disappoint. I had an inexpensive gourmet pizza and washed it down with a superb Oatmeal Stout (thanks, Jay#1, for the recommendation).

Olivia, Charlie, Mike, Perla, Jay, and Myriad Microbrewed Beers

With an hour left to kill, I got a coffee at a Starbucks a few blocks away, wandered into a Messenger Service office and spoke with their wrench about fixie conversions, and generally just tried to entertain myself.

Line #4 was a repeat of Line #1. The clerk had promised that anyone picking up a passport would be able to bypass the line for the security check, even if not the check itself. The clerk was wrong.

Finally, I said screw Line #5. People who'd been waiting on Lines 1-3 with me were picking up their passports, and were waiting on an unofficial line (Line #5) that had formed arbitrarily. It was shocking how mindlessly they flocked to the line, especially given that all day, people picking up their passports had been called up by name. I watched as one by one, they approached the first open clerk, only to be told "yours isn't ready yet". Silly sheep.

I'm free to move in and out of the country. That's all that matters.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chief Wannatokabonga

Roadies unite! The title alone (which I've blatantly stolen from AngryMark) should be enough to express my feelings about the world of Mountain Biking. What a silly sport, where fitness is less important than handling, where the ability to bully people from other races trumps everything, where the finishing order of a 90 minute race is affected by the pre-race scrum for position. Give me a crit anyday.

Charlie on My Favorite Double-Track Climb

The real problem for me lies in the corners. I just don't trust myself, or my tires, to change my direction, and so I brake way too much. Cognitively, it is clear to me that I don't have to brake too much - in fact, the laws of physics dictate that less braking will make me safer. But still I ride the brakes through technical sections.

Clearly, though, I'm a roadie. Granogue has a lot of double-track, gravel, and pavement, which gave me plenty of room to open up the engine without worrying about obstacles. Every time the course went uphill, I just stomped on the pedals and made up time. On the steeper climbs, I was able to pass people pretty handily.

Charlie on My Favorite Road Climb

What I need is to find a form of racing that consists mostly of open, non-technical climbs. Egad! Road racing!

Thus, I officially announce a hiatus from the MTB. It's been a fun couple of weeks, but I need to get back into a world where the fitness I've worked so hard on can actually be applied to the pedals. I want to follow wheels and attack and chase and bridge and trade pulls, the poetry of the road race. You can have your single track, Chief.

For the bean counters, I got 7th today, 14 seconds behind my arch-nemesis Jay. Jay passed me with about 1/2 mile left in the 14 mile race, putting a ton of time into me on the last tricky descent. He then held me off valiantly, even breaking out the patented Rutgers "Look, Zip, Shoot" celebration. Of course I despise losing to Jay (loathe, abhor, am nauseated by the very thought of), but Jay gave me a delicious, cold, pre-noon beer, and that made it all better.

Don, Jay, Mark, and Beer!

Mark and Jay will probably write up their own posts about the race. Charlie is too cool for the blogosphere, so I will take the liberty of encouraging you to congratulate him; Charlie got his first top-10 finish in the Expert Category, putting nearly a minute into 9th in the last 3 miles and finishing very strongly.

High Fives for Charlie!

For all of the emo whining that occasionally works its way into my race reports, there is one invariable truth that is always worth reiterating. This is a team that I love racing with, and that I'm proud to be a part of.

Don, Mark, Jay, and Charlie

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Medium Thursday

When in a rut, one might as well enjoy that rut.

So I worked on the manuscript for a little while (hooray for technical writing!), then got on my bike. Knowing that Charlie was going to be doing 2 hours in the Watchung hills, I decided to do about 2 hours in the Watchung hills, then meet Charlie, then do his 2 hours.

Normally, a ride like this enables a lot of contemplation, or at least lets me induce some clarity in the usual mental chaos. Lately, though, my damn bottom bracket is making creaky noises to the point where I can't tune out. Which is okay. Not every ride needs to be nirvana.

I could've used a little solace, though. Apparently my legs have yet to recover from the combination of the 3 races in 4 days. If they feel this dead on Sunday, Granogue is going to be not-fun. The name of the game is recovery, kids.

Before meeting up with Charlie, I rode over to Shady Lane in Bound Brook. It's out of the way, but it has a special place in my heart. Until 2000 or so, it was where my grandparents lived, and I spent a lot of time there. In fact, it's where I learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. As I rode by, munching on a granola bar and decked out in my oh-so-pro Rutgers kit, I waxed a little nostalgic.

Charlie took me on a route I'd never traveled before, with some really nice scenery. Someday soon I'm going to have to go back there with a camera, especially Washington Rock, from which you can see Manhattan on a clear day (or so sayeth the Chaz).

Karaoke was pretty good as well. Will had a less than stellar time, mostly because while Eric the Karaoke Guy was singing, some drunken ass-hats moved their song-request slips in front of his. Jay, Ted, Ashley, Lena, and Jen were glowing the distinctly excited and terrified glow of recent college graduates (congratulations, guys!). I sang a little, and I danced a little. I got hungry around midnight, so I went with Dani and Megan to the DunkinDonuts. When I came back, my turn had come up, so I got to sing "Paint It Black" with half of a Croissant-Egg-Cheese sandwich crammed in my mouth.

Finally, the sad truth has sunk in... my femurs are of medium length. Not too short, I guess, but certainly not long enough to give that pro-ish leverage that drives the ladies wild. Check it:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I wish it was the 60s
I wish we could be happy
I wish, I wish,
I wish that something would happen

My labwork has, of necessity, been drier than usual. It's okay, I guess. I'm plodding along. Still, it's got me looking for some outlets. Stupid, pointless, misanthropic outlets.

I kinda want to walk around the student center carrying a big box, maybe a toolbox or something. That way, when people bump into me, I can drop the box and shout "oh no! my souffle!".

Or maybe I can sneak into a urologist's office and put up photos of skyscrapers and swords. Or photos of caves for proctologists.

I want to sing Journey in the middle of bike races. Shit, I already do that.

Immature? Yes. Hilarious? I'd like to think so.

The floor is hereby opened to you, my dear reader. Join me in brainstorming completely inappropriate things to do. Loud noises in public places. Random statements to strangers, like "Don't look now, but is the giant unicorn still following me?" Any ideas?

While we're at it, who do you think would win in a fight to the death: an octopus or a zombie?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Rahway Cherry

There is a weekly practice race in Rahway. The guys have been on my case for a while now to race it, and today I finally caved. 4 miles to HP, 15 miles to Rahway, 30 mile race, and back. Wicked windy, 2 corners, lots of fun. Because it's a practice race, there's a wide range of skill levels, Cat5 through Cat1. When somebody gets dropped, they just wait for the pack to catch them, then get back in.

I'm so spent. I went off the front a couple of times, once in a group of 5 and once by myself because I miscounted the number of laps left AGAIN. This isn't a Cat 5 race. It was nice to be in a race where I wasn't able to ride at the front the whole time, where I couldn't move around in the pack at will, a race that lasts longer than 30 minutes... I really need to upgrade categories.

Will said, "your performance today has earned you a lot of respect, but it makes your lack of results this year that much lamer", or something to that effect.

Jenks won* again. Word up.

Let me point out that right now, I'm completely spent. I could barely peel myself off the couch. Today was hard, and I survived, but now I'm in the hurt-box. The race ended at 7, it's now 10:30, and I can finally take a deep breath without having a coughing fit.

Due to my considerable fatigue and aversion to blog-based embarassment, I'm going to put myself on double-secret verbal probation. If I let this post get any longer, I'm liable to do something obnoxious like make a pun or reference Clone High.

Seacrest out.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Karaoke Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words... so here are 3,000 words, plus captions.
(all photos courtesy of Ashley T)

Jay and I danced with Jenks' Mom

Laughter and Custom T-shirts truly are the best medicine

My Favorite Photo of All Time... poor Will

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Anyone Get the License of That Truck?

This is a familiar hurt, and there's comfort in that. Every race is different, but somehow every race leaves me feeling the same. This drained feeling, the all-around ache. Surely the pain would be worse if my races were longer, but I wonder if the intensity might be the root of it. Am I built for the shorter races?

I'm not the type to do things the easy way, which is probably why I have a Singlespeed with no suspension. Anything worth having is worth working for, right?

So it hurts. Up hills, down hills. I swear to god, every time I close my eyes, I see the rock gardens, my tormentors. Unrelenting rocks in an unrelenting race.

Mistakes were made. A wrong turn or two. That's racing, isn't it? It would've been nice to podium, but that's just not the way it turned out this time. "Deserved" and "possible" are just words.

I'm sorry if this post as been more abstract than usual. The point is, I'm so very much over it, and I can't wait for the next race!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


While I've been pleased, for the most part, with my performances thus far this season, the palmares leave something to be desired. That's why I was quietly hoping for a fantastic result today, to get me out of the spring's doldrums and kick the summer off right.

The course was the 3.3 mile loop around Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I slept on FlantasticDan's couch, woke up at 5:30, and rolled to the park in time to register, pin, and warm up before the 6:30am start. Being a 0 turn course with a mild climb to thin the herd, this would be the perfect reintroduction to the racing scene for Dan, who hadn't competed since April '06.

Ever the 'crosser (and AngryMark's teammate), I got the holeshot and immediately drove the pace up the climb. My policy was "learn how to ride in a pack some other time... if you're unsafe, I don't want you in my pack".

And so it went. I formed an unspoken alliance with a couple of other lone wolves (Harvard and DKNY [you ain't got no alibi!]), bullied CRCA into doing work, drove a couple of breakaways, and generally played with the front of the pack. What a great morning... there is nothing like it in the world.

I made a mistake with about 300m to go. Riding down the center of the road, I expected a surge to my right, and started drifting that way... and then a whole slew came around on my left. I fought into their line, came around some of them, but it was too late. Dan had clawed his way up to my wheel, and we finished 9th and 10th, respectively.

A fantastic result? Maybe not. But definitely one I'm proud of.

One more road race and I'm a Cat4!!! How glamorous...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I am a Little Girl

Beating AngryMark to the punch...

I am a wimp. If I'm going to do anything fun, you should probably find me a shopvac first.

I overreact to cuts on my knees. Also, I like braiding hair. I go to the bathroom only with a group of friends, and I have female genitalia.

I am a little girl.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Oh, How Hilariously Awkward

Listen up, Ben Stiller. Attention, Ricky Gervais. You too, Larry David. I guess this is your first warning, Steve Carell, but you are on notice!!!

I think I speak on behalf of just about nobody when I say that your schtick is getting to be rather overdone. While your performances are brilliant, and while your gimmicks take indisputable talent and comedic timing, I am getting so goddamn sick of you.

Yours is perhaps the most obnoxious form of humor to be captured on film. Not since a ladder-toting Larry pivoted, knocking Moe and Curly to the ground, have I groaned so painfully. Remember that movie where that dude had sex with a pie? Sex with a pie! You're on that level, gentlemen.

I'm not saying that I don't laugh when I watch your movies and shows. I'm just saying that I hate myself for laughing.

If the entire premise for your comedy is "any reasonable human being could extricate himself from this situation with either honesty, silence, or a simple apology, but I'm going to lie and mumble... hilarity will surely ensue", then I want to punch you in your giblets. There, I said it.

Please, I beseech you: Stop confusing nervous laughter for genuine laughter, stop being the lovable loser with a penchant for blundering indiscretion, stop playing to your audience's "better him than me" instinct (and, in doing so, making millions upon millions of dollars).

Thank you for your time. Now go away.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Girls are Made of Rib

...and we are all descended from Noah's family. The world was created in 6 days, and Adam named all the animals in the 24 hours of the 6th day. The world was completely flooded a few thousand years ago, which explains some geological structures that might otherwise lead you to believe that the world is billions of years old. Kangaroos and Koala bears emigrated from the Ark's final stop (Turkey, they say) to Australia via a land-bridge that is now covered by ocean so you can't see it or prove its existence. I have a girlfriend, but you don't know her... she lives in Canada.

It is infinitely frustrating to me that people actually believe this stuff. Apparently the Creation Museum (located in Kentucky... road trip, anyone?) has a diorama showing men and dinosaurs coexisting... in fact, they have a SADDLED TRICERATOPS. I wonder if Cain and Abel had pets?

Religion doesn't bother me, per se. To each his own. I don't do well with sermons, but I'd never tell you to stop going to church. However, when the core of your faith is the outright denial of science, and when you are actively, openly trying to force your religion into classrooms, then we've got a problem.

I looked up an article on "Young-Earth Creationism" on Wikipedia (perhaps because I'm an undergrad writing a research paper). You should read it too. Go on, read it. It's simultaneously terrifying and hilarious - not unlike PeeWee's Playhouse.

There's a link at the end to a fantastic website, Answers in Genesis. Curious about which politicians hoping to be President think that scientific discourse is equivalent to the disproof of evolution? Read about it here. There is an article encouraging parents to raise their children with a "Biblical Worldview", consulting the bible for all major decisions and interpreting it literally. I suppose they skip the part where every teenager ever should be put to death.

Hell, while you're at it, go to and search for the phrase "put to death". Here, I did it for you. Dylan wasn't kidding when he said "everybody must get stoned" (ooh, that was a bad pun).

Will sent me a link to a video. It is worth watching. Enjoy, my fellow monkeys.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Only One Way... get faster.
"Because after the finish all the suffering turns to memories of pleasure, and the greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is Nature's payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering" (Krabbe 1978)

Coach Alessandro sent me a training plan a while back, the final two days of which were this weekend. I was supposed to do a 3 hour easy ride on Saturday, then a 4x20min ride on Sunday. Yeah, that didn't happen.

Saturday's scheduled road ride was replaced by a trip to Chimney Rock with FarmerAndy and CaptainChaz. Charlie is arguably the fastest MTBer on the Rutgers team, and I say "arguably" only because I'm a nice guy... nobody's actually going to argue against Chaz on this one. Charlie is a guy who'll take the entire summer off, train for two weeks, show up to a race and win. Hairy-legged bastard.

Since FarmerAndy and I lack the handling skills to put our massive (MASSIVE!) engines to use offroad, Charlie was kind enough to drop some knowledge on us. Mind you, he'd already done a few hours of hot laps before we arrived. Also, he switched from his geared bike to his singlespeed.

We rolled around the park, focusing on tricky climbs and momentum-sucking obstacles. Charlie was amazingly patient and didactic, and over 90 minutes the skills I'd long ago forgotten became slightly less forgotten. When we got back to the parking lot, Andy packed it in (it is important to sleep more than 2 hours a night), but Chaz announced that he'd be taking me on a 30 minute fast lap. Seriously, bastard!

So we took off on a short loop, and true to his word, Charlie made the lap fast. He stayed just far enough ahead to act as a rabbit, forcing me to dig deep on the climbs and stay focused on the descents. I didn't bonk, but I came damn close. Chaz said that my performance Saturday may foreshadow some good results in the coming weeks' races. We'll see.

After not getting much sleep last night (and on a couch, at that!), I was tempted to not ride Sunday, but Jenks called me up to ride 1st Bridge, the nice flat 25 mile loop. Okay. Within about 3 miles, though, the plan had changed to my hilly route, with the goal of setting a new personal best up Washington Rd.

I was reluctant, because the MTBing had seriously kicked my ass. My biceps are shot from cranking on the bars, my upper back is shot from cranking on the bars, and my core is shot from cranking on the bars. Also, Jenks had already raced on Sunday. This new plan was not looking good.

I'll spare you the details of who went what pace on what part of the climb. Jenks's Powermeter data might be somewhat interesting, as our weights are somewhat comparable and he only gained about a second or two at the top. Whatever. Here's the point:

I knocked another 22 seconds off of my benchmark time. 3:41. Holler.

If you're wondering what it is that's enabled these performances, the answer is simple: I accredit my new-found speed to my dinners last week. Almost every night, I ate:
  • Double-stacker burger (2 patties, bacon, and cheese)
  • Onion rings
  • Cheesy Tots
  • Cherry Pepsi
  • Vanilla Milkshake
Feel free to steal this delicious (and nutritious) recipe for success.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What a Difference

Mark put up a post about how the team has changed in 2 years. He was on the team at that the time of his "Before" photo, so his post is a bit more poignant, but I've got to post my own version of "dramatic change".



I dunno, maybe I should be jealous... they have a bicycle in their picture


I want to post about last night's Karaoke night. I really do. And I'm going to, once I get ahold of photographs.

If I don't post photos, you won't believe some of the stories.

I can tell you, though, that I had a raging hangover this morning. Also, I made a very wise decision while waiting for the bus... I purchased a Fat Gibbons, which is a sandwich consisting of:
  • Cheesesteak
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • French Fries
  • Mozarella Sticks
Take that, arteries.

Many thanks to EpicRob, who bought me a shot halfway through the night "to help forget" what had happened up to that point... Unfortunately, I still remember everything, but that also includes the hilarity that ensued when the liquor hit my bloodstream.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

So Hot Right Now

just in case you didn't see it on NTW...

Rutgers University Cycling Team, '06-'07

from Left to Right:
top: FarmerAndy, Ray, HeyItsDave, SideshowKevin, Cap'nChaz, SpikyHairWill, AngryMark, HardTailJay, EpicRob, Blake, Rich, ProfessorAndy
bottom: Jen, Alex, NinjaDon, Smilin'Kyle, BeastMasterChris

not pictured: 53x12Will, Amy, Sparky, Dave A, Taylor

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


I am a roadie. I love my narrow little tires, how the asphalt-rubber interface feels as it gets translated to my hands, how the world sounds different at 25mph than it does at 20.

Is Mountain Biking better than Road riding? Can one truly be better than the other? Yes, of course. Road trumps MTB hands down.

Personally, I disagree with Mark and Jenks when they say that criteriums are the ultimate form of bicycle racing. I'll take "aggressive and epic" over "patient and reactionary" any day. I'd rather be the protagonist. More on that some other time.

Today, however, it is time for me to play the traitor. I will leave the ranks of Jenks and Will, and join our nefarious opponents, Cap'nChaz and HardtailJay. I will discuss the beauty of the MTB.

Let me first note that MTBing remains stoopid. If road racing is a chess match, then MTBing is a game of paddleball. If you make a mistake in a road race, a wise competitor will take advantage and close the door on you. A MTB mistake is like a missed paddleball bounce... simply pick up where you left off. Where's the drama? The esprit d'guerre?

I'll confess that my opinion in this matter is rather skewed by the fact that I'm a horrible MTBer. HardtailMike has described a MTB race as "GO GO GO"... my version would have to be "GO GO crash remount GO crash etc". Maybe it's because I'm colorblind and can't detect obstacles as well as you normals. Maybe it's because I don't ride the MTB enough to ingrain the skillz. It's just not fun to do a ride where you can never get into a rhythm because you keep yardsale-ing.

The one and only redeeming facet of MTBing is singlespeeding. On a road bike, gears let you maintain a comfortable cadence but still focus on the tactics, and shifting becomes almost subconscious. While MTBing, the gears offer a similar cadence-normalizing functionality, but the nature of the terrain forces the shifting to be much more attentive. Maybe not for the good MTBers, but certainly for me. Shifting just distracts from the experience.

Like any good Spartan, I'll take the simpler option. Given the choice, I'll always singlespeed. Put the bike under my butt, point me towards the trail, and I'm a happy boy. If I want to get up a hill, I'd better pedal hard. If I want to go fast, I'd better spin like a crazy person.

MTBing, then, becomes a very pure experience. I would compare it to yoga, or to marathon running. It hurts, certainly moreso than geared MTBing, but it is far more zen.

I messed up my singlespeed last year. It was on its last legs, and it failed rather spectacularly. I've gone MTBing once since then, sorta; Chaz, HermesChris, and I took our cyclocross bikes to Hartshorne and rode like fiends among the incredulous full-suspension riders. It was fun, but it was far too cerebral.

I don't want cerebral. I want ommmm.

Somehow, some way, I will have you, Kona Unit 2-9

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


There is no better way to start your day than to suffer in the hills with your friends. What today's Bleed From Your Eyes (BFYE) ride lacked in attendance (apparently, there are finals this week or something), it more than made up for in aggression.

HardtailJay, SideshowKevin (he looks like Barry Wicks! I stand by the nickname), and I took to the hills this morning. In last night's email, I explicitly defined the nature of today's ride:

"let's attack the hell out of each other."

and so we did. Kevin dropped his chain at the bottom of Washington Rd., denying him the chance to go toe-to-toe with the old guys. Jay and I watched each other up the first half of the climb, then pushed the pace through the switchback all the way to the top. Brutal.

View from Washington Rd...
this is as elevated as it gets in Central NJ

Kevin flatted in the valley, where he revealed that he had neglected to bring a pump. Or levers. Or a tube. Freshmen. While Kevin was busy fixing the flat (thanks to Jay's generosity), the Hardtail-Afficionado and I conspired to stick it to Kevin. It's not cruel if you advertise it in advance, right?

As we hit the lower slopes (oddly enough, the steepest part of the climb), I jumped hard, and Jay followed. Sorry, Kevin! We duked it out rather aggressively on the shallower stretch at the top. That one hurt, and there was a lot of fish-out-of-water gasping on the descent.

Once we regrouped, it was time for the 5k sprint of doom. The nature of this road makes it just as conducive to last-minute sprints as to suicidal solo attacks... it all depends on who's willing to play.

Jay commenced hostilities with an abrupt opening salvo at 4k to go. I think he was just trying to test our legs and see how we would respond. With 3 to go, I put in an attack, recovered as best I could, then attacked again (a one-two punch patented by the Jenksster). Both times, Jay chased me down... Kevin sat in, showing some real racing savvy.

To put things in perspective for my non-racing friends, these flat-road attacks were well in excess of 30mph. The SpikyHairWills and ElSalvadorean-StageRacers in my audience (did you know that a National Champion reads my blog? true story) are probably yawning, but every once in a while it's nice to step back and appreciate the utter ridiculousness of propelling ourselves that quickly, and on tires measured in millimeters! Alas, no speeding tickets today.

Jay put in a vicious attack with about 1k to go. He caught me by surprise, forcing me to dig deep and plow through the wind. I clawed my way back to his wheel, fighting for every inch and the increased draft it afforded me, until finally I was hiding from the wind. Jay glanced back at me, and when he turned forward again I shifted up and counterattacked.

So yeah. That hurt. It was fast, and it was every masochist's dream. That'll get the blood flowing, that's for sure.

Morning Glory is one of those deceptively tricky hills to climb. It is shallow enough to be a big ring climb, but it is still steep. We ride it fast enough to let wind resistance significant factor into the tactics, but the grind can sap the energy out of your legs if you let yourself get pushed to hard. The best part about it, frankly, is the very steep, very straight descent back to Bound Brook. Weeee!

As far as I can tell, I've earned the BFYE overall leader's jersey. And by "as far as I can tell", I mean that I announced last night that today would yield a new overall leader, because I've lost track of everyone's points and I like being arbitrary.

So, yeah... benchmarks. Being the sort of guy who's not averse to monotony in his routes, I have a few favorite rides, of which this loop is one. When I rode hill repeats last fall, not 8 months ago, I would do so on Washington Rd. 5:00 became my benchmark. On one particularly brutal ride with Will and Charlie, I had to turn myself inside out to chase them, yielding a new Personal Record of 4:30. I thought I would die.

This morning, I clocked myself at 4:04.