Friday, June 29, 2007
The cashier is an Asian girl whose nametag reads Ninja. "That's my nickname too!" said I.
"Okay, my fellow Ninja, what name should I put on your order?"
"No way. Let me see your ID." It's true, my name is Don.
"No way! I'm Ninja Dawn!!!"
Thursday, June 28, 2007
For whatever reason, His Royal Yellow-and-Green Highness has expressed his interest in remaining anonymous. Apparently he considers himself "professional" and "responsible" and "respectable"...
Poppycock and balderdash! I'm hereby outing you, My Liege (-Bastogne-Liege).
For the true identity of King Hermes, click here!!!
When I encounter a girl, I picture her without any hair. Her head is shaved. She is completely hairless from the neck up. I can't stop. Please make it stop.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
It was about 95 degrees when we rolled out (that's 35 Celcius, Jenksy), and there were about 30 starters (that's 30 in metric). The race was 20 laps of a 2 mile course, consisting entirely of pancake-flat roads - this being Cleveland, the roads were choppy, potholed, and gravelly... seriously, my right hand is still numb, 24 hours later.
So, the whole field was on Zipp wheels. Half of them were too-rich-for-their-own-good racers with bling-bling bikes, and the other half (including me!) got to use Zipp demo wheels. I'll tell you what, they accelerate like all get-out, but I am not cool with cornering on tires that I've never used before.
After a mile, I felt the need to stretch my legs, so I attacked and stayed away for a while. A few laps of surfing the front of the field went by, and I watched prime after prime go by, waiting for the right conditions to emerge.
And emerge they did! With 24 miles to go, a small group got off the front during the sprint for another minor prime (this time for a Zipp hat). I bridged up, shouted "we have a gap, work it!", and then took as hard a pull as I could. Within about 3 minutes of 20sec pulls, everyone had been dropped except myself and a guy from SnakeBite... his team had about 6 guys in the race, so I took advantage of their teamwork and enjoyed the blocking.
We swapped pulls and primes for the rest of the race... I wanted cash, and he wanted little Zipp trinkets, so it worked out well. I ran out of water with 5 laps to go, which was fun.
Not wanting to get caught, we kept digging deep. I asked the police officer marshalling a turn to clock our gap. The next time we came by, he shouted "20 or 30 seconds!" Oh, shit. Fortunately, this was actually our gap to the P/1/2/3 field, who were about to lap us. In the end, we took about 3 or so minutes out of the field.
I stopped pulling with about 600m to go, then jumped at 200m. I looked back, and seeing that I had a few lengths of room, I then zipped the jersey and faked a jump-shot... this will probably only make sense if you're a Rutgers racer.
Some notes from the race:
- It is NOT COOL to hitch a ride from the passing P/1/2/3 field and move from the 4/5 field to the 4/5 break. Thank you, random unattached d-bag, for at least owning up to it and dropping back to the field.
- The Zipp tires on the Zipp wheels were designed with unidirectional speed in mind. They might not be particularly grippy in the corners, but damned if the dimpled rubber didn't save me 0.07 Watts.
- Zipp gave the winners some nice schwag. That's all I've got to say.
- Big thanks to SpikyHairWill, whose "let's take turns leading each other out" sprint workouts prepared me for the 2-up sprint very nicely.
- Racing is not the same without teammates. I'm not talking about in-race tactics, it's the pre- and post-race comraderie that was lacking yesterday. Whether we're commisserating about frustrating anecdotes or celebrating exciting results, having teammates is a vital part of being a racer.
So, I won some stuff, and I got some cash, but mostly I FINALLY WON AN F'IN BIKE RACE!!!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
So, rather than talk about that sort of jibba-jabba, I'll give you a simple experiment to perform on yourself.
Say "AbCd", where the capital letters are emphasized. Now say "AbCdAbCdAbCd"... you can say it pretty fast, right?
Now say "AbaBabAbaBab". There are only two letters to repeat, but it's so much harder to say them quickly, isn't it?
The difference is that AbCd is repeated exactly every cycle, but the emphases on A and B are constantly being remapped. This has implications on the blah-dee-blah-dee-blah, but don't even worry about that.
On Sunday I played soccer for a couple of hours. I was one of two Americans, the rest were Brazilian, Argentinian, French, Dutch, and Russian. On Monday I couldn't walk. Fun, though!
Friday, June 22, 2007
Normally, an uneventful drive would not be worth writing about. However, en route to the same location a year ago, my car started shimmying so violently when braking that it became hard to control. My advisor was taking the train into town, and I had to pick him up, so a scramble ensued. I rented a car at an airport 30 miles away (rather, my labmate did, as I am still but a wee lad), took my car to a local-yokel mechanic, then hustled to pick up my advisor at the train station. Everything worked out okay, but man oh man was I freaked out.
This year... completely uneventful. Phew.
So today is my birthday. Huzzah! Luckily, this conference includes a 6 hour break between the first and second sessions, which is perfect for meals and workouts. I knew from last year that the roads here are too narrow and busy for running, let alone riding, so there would be no birthday ride.
Still, I wanted to do something special for myself during today's break. So here's what I did:
- 240 1-legged squats (per leg)
- 240 crunches
- 240 back extensions
- 240 sec of wall-sits
- 240 pushups
Tomorrow I'll run for 24 minutes. Maybe if I was still a triathlete I'd run 24k, but that's just silly. Next year, I'd like to ride 250k. Who's in?
You know what? I think that tonight, I'll drink 2.4 beers. If you know me, you know that's all I need.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Poor little Donnie, and poor little Will
Left their apartment to ride up a hill.
The Spiky One led, clearly out of his mind,
The Ninja kid sneakily hiding behind.
Towards Watchung our two brave bicyclists did leave,
In weather a camel would nary believe.
How epic! How moving! But I should rebuke,
This ride didn't cause either cyclist to puke.
They struggled up River, then up Mountain Ave
Knowing their goal was what they would soon have,
The chance to ascend that deplorable run,
Known to the people as the road of Washington.
First up, and then down, nine times over again,
'Tween pickup trucks shouting "in spandex? not men!"
Up switchbacks and kickups and false-flats galore
'Till neither could stand to ascend any more.
Now back towards New Brunswick these two did attack
The wind now an aide, pushing them from the back.
They checked their cyclometers, quite pleased to discover
The high speeds well known to any tail-wind lover.
First 20, then 40, then 60 did they see,
(this is a literary device known as 'hyperbole'.
Ask angry-faced Mark, he'll surely attest,
for he's an English dude, and one of the best!)
Upon contemplation, they knew they had shown
Something every roadie ever has always just known
A truth that's been known since ancient rides past,
It can't be the tailwind, you're just fit and fast!
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
This year I'll be at the Motor Control Summer School in PA, and I won't be back in NJ until July.
I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm looking for attendance.
My new birthday will be Thursday, July 5. Harvest Moon. Dinner at 8, Karaoke at 10. It is on. You will participate.
Monday, June 18, 2007
At French Creek, Jay beat me by about 90 seconds. At Granogue, he beat me by a heart-breaking 14 seconds.
Now, Jay and I are good friends, don't get me wrong. It's just understood that in our circle of friends, it's perfectly acceptable to be competitive to a fault, so long as the rivalry stays on the road or the trail. And in the blogosphere.
So, we started pretty well, entering the singletrack in 7th and 8th, respectively. And then somebody (who shall remain nameless, although you can guess who it is, can't you?) bobbled at the base of the first little climb, at which point I scrambled by on foot to maintain my position.
I never saw Jay again. Near the beginning of the third lap, I heard the screeching sounds of ready-to-be-replaced brakepads... was Jay coming back? My pace lifted, and I began mentally preparing for a sprint finish. However, he never caught me, and I outpaced Jay on a MTB for the first time ever.
So yesterday was the best I've ever ridden a mountain bike. I was smooth on every climb (except one, but I was tired, shut up!), I dove through the turns, I even rode the descents like someone who isn't terrified of anything that isn't paved. There is nothing about how I raced yesterday that I regret, which is a first for me.
This is why it was so disappointing to me that Jay cheapened my victory over him. Selfish prick! Knowing that he was doomed to lose to me for the first time in the history of Don-vs-Jay MTBing, Jay made the conscious decision to get a flat tire in the middle of the woods. Jerk!
Here are some photos. I hate you, Jay.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
"Look at the hand-holds on the big cables. Somebody has to walk up those things. You know they've got to pay him seventeen hundred thousand dollars to do that," answered Jim.
This brought up the hypothetical question of whether any of us would climb the cable that suspends the roadway a dizzying distance above the water (228' to the road, 693' to the tower).
"Hell no," said everyone.
Jim reconsidered. "I'd do it for a million dollars, I guess". This prompted me to think hard, and I decided that I would climb the cable for no less than $10,000. There's something to be said for overcoming your fears, and ten Gs would buy a whole lot of marshmallows (don't ask me why, I'm just jonesing for marshmallows).
Jim continued, "I'd climb it for a million dollars, but only with a parachute, and a backup parachute, and a crapload of bungee cords".
To which I responded, "If I climb it, all I'll need is a diaper"
Friday, June 15, 2007
It wasn't until I was 21 that I finally figured it out. The significance of the fact that I could legally drink at the time might imply that liquid courage helped me overcome my fear of crashing, but sorry, that is not the case.
I was en route from Akron to Cleveland with the Case Cycling Club. We had stayed in Akron overnight and were riding through the Metroparks to get home. Spirits were high and the pace was not-so-high, so to amuse myself I pushed off the handlebars, leaned back, spread my arms, and found myself riding no-handed. And that was that.
See, over the previous months, as the weather in Cleveland had grown semi-tolerable, I had started riding outdoors, and I had gotten more and more angry that I still couldn't ride no-handed. Every day, after a few hours on the road, I'd coast down the street I lived on and try to convince myself to let go of the bars.
I'd relax my grip on the handlebars, then try to get myself as centered as possible. I'd stare at my front wheel and open my hands, leaving only the heels of my hands on the bars. Once I felt solid enough, I would lift my hands an inch or two. The front wheel would immediately turn, the bike would veer, my center of gravity would shift way outside the wheelbase, and I'd grab the bars to save myself from hitting a parked car. This happened every day.
I was trying to ease into it, to progressively get further and further away from the bar until I was sitting upright. The truth is that all I had to do was instantaneously sit up, getting my weight onto the rear wheel and committing to the no-hands position.
The moral of the story, kids, is that many things in life can only happen if you fully commit. I suppose this is comparable to the cliche of ripping off a bandaid. Anyway, I bet you'd like some second part of the story, a parallel that I could draw to give context to my no-handed riding story. Well, lucky for you, there is such a story.
Karaoke, like riding no-handed, like removing a bandaid, is only properly done when you fully commit. There is no hiding, no wall-flowering, no spectating. Karaoke is a total-immersion activity.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The Japanese love this race. They invented it, and it's their version of horse racing. Keirin gambling is a big-money industry there, with bazillions of yen changing hands every race.
When the Sega gaming system came out, it was probably inevitable that a video game based on the Keirin was created for the Japanese consumers. The unparalleled crappiness of this game was also unavoidable.
At least the soundtrack rocks.
My biggest problem with this game is that you can move through other riders like they weren't there. Okay, thats not true. My biggest problem is that they don't have this game on Playstation or Wii, 'cause I'd move into Jenks' apartment and play it 24-7.
I think I can fix it, though. I think I can make a verion of this game where the laws of physics are (mostly) followed, where the computer players ride like they have any idea how Keirins work. The graphics will suck, like Bomberman suck. Pong suck.
But I think I can do it.
I told Will as much, and he bet me I couldn't. In fact, he and Aaron have 3 pools going: When I will give up entirely, when I will "complete" a barely-functioning version, and what the frame rate of the final product will be. They don't think I can do it.
So now I have to do it.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Will was not asked to be a mentor. Will is misanthropic. At least his posts are entertaining.
My N00B is from my alma mater, and I'm looking forward to answering his questions. Mostly I'm looking forward to observing the pure joy that comes from escaping Cleveland.
My only hesitation is this: why is this program called "E-buddies"?!?
Monday, June 11, 2007
- Dave Kim, for spending 10-to-go through 5-to-go at the front, working like a dog (dawg?) to keep the attacks in check.
- BeastMasterChris, for staying upright even when the idiot in front of him locked up his brakes through the 2nd turn and took him onto the grass.
- CaptainChaz, for coordinating (or at least attempting to) the leadout train with 2 to go.
- FlantasticDan, for riding the crit like a crit racer. Welcome back to the world of elbows-out.
Yesterday, though, was the big money day, watching the USPro - or whatever it is called now - race. Jenks and Mark have already described most of it, and Craig doesn't have a blog but he'd probably echo their sentiments. I will, however, add one story (to which Jenks has alluded but that I will explain in glorious detail)
So we're riding on Diamond Street in North Philadelphia, through some less-than-opulent neighborhoods. Jenks is riding in his Hermes kit, and I'm festooned in the truly badass, always stylish Rutgers kit. Rolling up to a red light, we hear a girl's voice shout "Nice ass!!!"
Awesome... but who's the young lady referring to? Jenks has a nice enough bottom, I suppose, but my ass is world-renowned as excessively nice. Fortunately, the girl clarified a few seconds later... "Nice ass, red!"
I'll admit, I immediately started to gloat. Jenks had been putting the hurt on me for 60+ miles at this point, so I felt like I was due a little vengeance. My swagger, however, was cut short. Sitting on a stoop at the corner was an elderly lady who was quick to point out, "Naw, them asses is FLAT!!!"
Friday, June 08, 2007
The Hermutgers 4/5 crew will be out in force, including cameos by alumni Tedward and DanFlan. We own this course. We have the numbers. Shit is ON.
I haven't ridden my bike since that Sunday with Mandy (so pro). Today I did openers on the crit course. That's 12 days of not-bike. Expectations were low.
And yet I had the good sensations. Not great, but sure as hell good. I know my job for tomorrow (best not to go into detail, lest I give away the plan!), and riding that stretch of course at speed felt sorta okay!
So again, I say... whaaa?
And then Will brought tears (of laughter) to my eyes when he sang a Michael Jackson song, even stealing some girl's fedora to complete the effect.
And then Jenks went a little crazy with the Weezer.
And then Jenks went a little crazy.
The apocalypse is nigh.
It's weird coming from Mexico back to the US. More accurately, coming from El Squid Roe back to Harvest Moon. From Sol and Pacifico to Belgian Witbier and British Nut Brown. From Pablo the Substitute Pimp to Milky Manchester the KJ. It's a complete paradigm shift, necessitating an entirely different mindset.
Things I miss, in no particular order:
- "If you're from the East Coast, the West Coast, the Midwest, the Dirty South, Texas, New Jersey, L.A., make some noise!!!"... jeez, Pablo, why've you gotta leave out Colorado?
- Negotiating the fare for the cab ride home
- The geriatric women of Cabo Wabo and their devotion to Sammy Hagar
- The omnipresence of whistles
- "Chiclet? Chiclet? Chiclet?" No thank you, four year old child, and shouldn't you be asleep?
- "Want some weed? Want some blow? Want some Mexican ladies? Why not, you gay?"
- Hagen-Dazs in bulk
- Santa the Drunken Homeless Radiologist and his opinions on life
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
So here's the new one. It should be the last. Also, it may interest you to know that my lucky number is the number of Rutgers racers at Granogue.
The chief insists your innate prowess assisted his warfare in digital form. Swear, resting at ease, to attach by fealty to our army. Come to your niche, grow up among evils. I assume any aggrieved industry boldens here, or leads to ripping anger. Kin, mirth to us!Seriously, man, airports are boring when you don't have a book.
Solution to Undecipherable #1:
Congratulations! You have cracked the code. How much time did you waste? The secret message is "Go read a book!" Be the first to post that message to the comments and win a prize. You have one week.
Monday, June 04, 2007
The evening was spent playing backgammon and chess, eating innumerable quesadillas, and chatting over a few beers. Prem, Rob, and Handloff had to get up at 5:30 to go fishing on Sunday, which necessitated a very tame evening.
Whatever, Mexico's coastline is the gorgeous
The big deal for me was Sunday afternoon... ATVing. Prem and I had gone my sophomore year - those dunes, by the way, were the location for filming of the movie Troy, and are now closed to the public - and Handloff "loves every activity that has motors and might kill [him]". Before Prem was to leave on Monday, we had to go ATVing again.
We showed up to the ATV home base with about 3 minutes to spare before the next tour and acted very nonchalant about the whole thing... this really helped negotiations and made the whole experience more palatable.
The 3 hours of ATVing consisted mostly of long, dusty back-roads ('roads' is a very generous term) that we used to get to the venues for "free time". We spent 10 minutes in one venue, which was set on the side of a large dune, and 20 minutes in an open field, where bulldozers and time have created jumps, banked turns, and technical sections.
Honestly, riding on the roads was fun in and of itself. Those ATVs can book it. The "free time", though, was amazing, unforgettable, intense, sweeeeet. I used a lot of Charlie's MTB lessons yesterday, like finding "superman traction" before a technical bit, looking into a turn, and so on. We tore up that course, finding the limits of those machines' capabilities.
There's one picture, though, that was never taken. After Handloff went off a jump, I decided to try it. I asked him for advice about how to handle it. He responded "Gas Gas Gas". So I hit the jump with a lot of speed... too much. Apparently it looked awesome. Had I not spent hours at Chimney Rock, French Creek, and Granogue figuring out how to use my body to manipulate an airborne vehicle, I'd probably be blogging from a hospital. Fortunately, all I have to show for the experience is a bruise on my ass.
add a foot or two of air and rotate him
45*clockwise, you'll see my jump
That was my last bit of adventure for the day. Free time was over, thank god, and it was time to go home and cook some fish. What fish? These fish:
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Our apartment... Rob and I have this room, Mark and Prem have the other. Each has its own bathroom and fridge.
Walking down the stairs away from the rooms.
The pool outside our apartment. Yes, the slide is as fun as it looks.
The alley between the North and South side of the compound.
Our 'gym', the small yard where we did pushups, situps, etc in an attempt to not completely atrophy.
The view from the table outside the main building, where we have most of our meals.
Looking back up the hill towards the South side of the compound.
More houses on the South side, one terrace lower than the main building.
The house on the lowest level may be the nicest. Paris Hilton once reserved it, but cancelled. No, that wasn't a demonstrative exageration. Here is the living room.
Turning around, you see the Infinity Pool, complete with a sexy-posing Prem.
A gratuitous waterfall.
Apartments on the North side are guarded by a creepy statue.
Finally you have made your way down to the beach.
Who's house is this? See if you can guess. (clue: I didn't give him a Rutgers Cycling shirt)
Saturday, June 02, 2007
I wanted to tell you about the social strata at Nowhere Bar, or about the Substitute Pimp at El Squid Roe.
But no. I get to tell you about my interaction with the Mexican Police.
I volunteered to drive home tonight. We got in the car, pulled out of the dirt parking lot through the dirt alley, and got onto Cabo's Main Street. Then lights started flashing behind us. Now, I was definitely sober enough to drive - you know me, I'm far too neurotic to risk driving drunk - but I'd been drinking enough (N>0) that I was worried.
The cop told me that I'd gone the wrong way out of a one way street. This is, I assure you, a bogus charge. First of all, there's only one exit in that lot. Secondly, doesn't a street have to be paved to be a street?
I know enough about negotiation to recognize the maneuvering he was doing. Really, it was rather artful, and I was objectively impressed even as I was made miserable by it. He refused to speak any English, putting me in a position of uncertainty. He kept deferring to his superior, who was standing a few yards away. He took my license away, not for paperwork but for bargaining power. I was kept off-balance the whole time.
The next infraction of which I was informed was that the license plates were ____. Expired, maybe? Improper? Who knows, it was all in Spanish. It doesn't matter, it never mattered. That wasn't the point.
The fine was $80 per infraction. I would have to pay it at the station the next day. Yeah, right.
So I set about my negotiating machinations, tentatively suggesting that we are poor college kids and can't afford $160, that we just want to make things right. Without naming any numbers, I was able to work the cop down to $80.
Fortunately, I had Handloff with me. Handloff was drunk enough that his playing dumb wasn't really an act. Handloff was bold enough to immediately make a more reasonable counteroffer of $10. Handloff was callous enough to risk my license, because it wasn't his license.
So while I worked on cop #1, Hanloff manipulated the superior. His negotiation progressed much more quickly than mine, and I was so eager to get the hell out of dodge that I was glad to accept their terms. In the end, we had to cough up $40 in bribe money, I got my license, and we were on our way.
In conclusion, rattlesnakes make tequila taste delicious.
Friday, June 01, 2007
After some strong drinks at Martini Jungle, care of a bartender who is a fan of Phi Psis (and Phi Psis' American Dollars), we rolled over to El Squid Roe. Every night ends at El Squid Roe. This is a sign in El Squid Roe:
For whatever reason, half of the TVs in the bar were showing a draft-legal (ie, quasi-road-race) triathlon. Drunk Don was excited. Drunk Don shouted at the triathletes to work together and stop being pansies, exclaiming "What's wrong with you? Go harder!". Drunk Don made a bit of an ass of himself.
Today was a recovery day. After breakfast, we read by the pool, swam in the pool, did a bit of a workout, and just tried to relax. Handloff and I played the ugliest ever game of chess. We set the board up wrong, with his queen opposite my king... I was in check in 5 turns. We forgot to announce checks. During some queen-on-queen dueling, we realized that we'd been playing for 3 turns with my king in check. Chess by the pool. Not bad.
Oh, and here's the view from the breakfast table. That's a wet bar gazebo on the left.
Part of the compound has been rented out for some social gathering, a mucho-dinero-per-plate dinner for 100. I took a picture of the setup before it started. Note that the lawn is actually on the roof of one of the buildings in the compound.
Finally, Handloff has requested that to make up for the last post, I add the following picture, which pretty much speaks for itself.