Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oh, and. . .

My Garmin was delivered this morning! Two days ahead of schedule! Yay! Thank you, Amazon. Thank you, USPS.

Grrrrr at the fact that it is now sitting on my doorstep back home. Lonely. While I'm stuck in a hotel until Friday, my bike looking oddly naked without a computer on it.

Garmin-Chipotle names Tour squad

As captured in this posting on velonews.com. People will probably anticipate my next statement: I'm really depressed to see DZ isn't on the list, since that basically confirms the rumors that he hasn't fully healed from his accident.

On a happier note, CSC released their squad, too. Both of the Schleck brothers made the cut, which makes me happy. Seeing the two of them cooperate in the peleton has always made me happy.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I mentioned in a post last week that I'd just bought an Edge 305:

It gets here Thursday. Of course, I'm on the road this week, which means it'll be sitting on my doorstep until Saturday (when you travel nearly fulltime, you learn to give up on getting stuff quickly.) I've never had all of these functions on a single device, so I'm excited by the prospect. The Cateye computer I've had on my main bike "stopped working" last week, which prompted the Garmin purchase. I'm guessing it's just dirty contacts or something (seems to happen every few months) but I'm sick of dealing with the thing, anyways.

Also just got a new trainer, and I'm bringing it with me on the road - so on days with crappy weather, I can ride my own bike instead of relying on hotel fitness rooms. It's the nicest trainer I've ever owned, and that definitely helps encourage use. Yay! Go me!

I'll post more detailed reviews of both gadgets once I've had time to use them for a while. Now I just gotta start producing results worthy of all these new toys. . .

Friday, June 20, 2008

More freaky coffee adds

Take a minute and look at the blown-up version of this image:

Now, help me answer some questions:

1) What's up with the fence behind him? There's netting on it to the left, but not to the right? Can we really imagine that the netting just happened to end right behind this fool?

2) What, exactly, is said fool looking at?

3) The answer to #2 is obviously not the ball he's supposedly about to hit. Speaking of said ball, could it have been photoshopped into the image any more clumsily? I think not.

4) What exactly is he trying to do with the racquet he's holding? Is a forehand swing imminent? If so, his grip looks pretty awkward - the racquet looks a good 90 degrees off-kilter. Is this supposed to be the follow-through of a backhand? I certainly hope not, because I wouldn't even know where to begin picking it apart in that case. . .

Perhaps the caption at the top of this image should have read: "Redefine Doubles. Really test your skill by playing with a complete Idiot!"

This just in: Slipstream signs a title sponsor!

It's Garmin, if you haven't heard. Announced in a press release on Wednesday. Looks like the official name for the team will now be "Team Garmin-Chipotle Presented by H30."

I hope they don't change the scheme or kit too much, I kinda like the argyle look. I'm fond of Garmin (and the timing here is interesting - considering I just bought an Edge 305 and was on Garmin's site looking for a downloadable user manual for it), so I guess I should be happy that they're sponsoring one of my favorite teams, but somehow it's a hair disappointing. I've really been hoping that someone exciting would get into the pro peleton - someone like Apple, or maybe Marvel or Pixar or something. A brand with some flair. Right now, the only team with that sort of support is arguably Rock Racing, and I shouldn't have to go in to all the reasons why I think they suck. I actually feel a little dirty having just looked up their website on Google in order to post the link here. . .

Monday, June 16, 2008

An open letter. . .

Dear Sir:

Hello! You may remember me from yesterday, or perhaps you may not. Let me refresh your memory: around 6 PM, I was headed south on Rt 81 near the NY/PA border. You passed me, driving a dark green 1992 Griffen Edition Saab 9000 CD. I didn't really pay attention to you at first - after all, plenty of cars passed me last night, since I was on the highway for 4 or 5 hours.

At any rate, soon after passing me, you slowed down. I noticed that one of your passengers - a young man sitting in the back seat - had turned around to stare. He had a big, stupid grin on his face. When you had slowed to the point that I was traveling faster than you, I signaled, then pulled into the passing lane to execute a pass. I had my cruise control on - in fact, I had it on through this entire ordeal, so I can be sure it was your erratic driving habits that caused this issue, not any fluctuation in speed on my behalf.

As I slowly passed, you slowly increased your speed until you were matching mine. We then proceeded to drive for a mile or two immediately adjacent to eachother. As we approached a slower vehicle in the right lane, you immediately nailed your throttle, cut me off, and passed the slower vehicle. Since you were once again several car lengths ahead of me, I pulled back to the right.

This process repeated itself many dozens of times over the next half an hour. You would start out ahead of me, then slow down until I was forced to pull to the left and get next to you. At this point, you would nail the throttle and take off into the distance.

Perhaps I am jumping to conclusions, but I'm guessing that you put such effort into your driving pattern because you were trying to encourage me t0 engage in street racing.

To curtail the risk of becoming long-winded, let me get to the point by making a statement: I only race on the track.

I apologize if my car looked tempting to you because of its sporty nature. Sure, I have a large exhaust, big wheels with low-profile tires, and a big honkin' spoiler, but hey - the car came that way from the factory; and it has more than enough performance to actually justify these features. I have absolutely nothing against Saabs - especially some of the limited production models from years passed. In fact, I own an older, limited production Saab myself. However, I'm not sure what your goal was in trying to race me - my car, stock, has more than 60 hp and 60 flt-lbs of an advantage over yours. Your car has a sluggish 4-speed automatic transmission, while mine has a close-ratio 6 speed. Plus, my car weighs 100 lbs less - empty, that is: you had 4 friends with you and I was by myself, so the real weight difference was likely far greater. I think we can clearly agree that at highway speeds, I would have embarrassed you in a street race (in front of said friends, no less.)

At any rate, I appreciate the attention you showed. However, I am sure that you were extremely frustrated to miss an opportunity to show off in front of your friends, and as such I would like to extend a (sincere) invitation: If you are truly interested in seeing how you and your car stack up against me and my car, pick any Solo II event in the Northeast US and I'll meet you there. Heck - I don't normally enjoy drag racing, but if you're afraid of corners, I'll even meet you at any local drag strip. I'll even bring a set of wheels and tires that would be appropriate for your car to use in either situation (I have more old Saab wheels in my garage than I'd like to admit) in case you're worried about ruining your street rubber on the track. You can even bring your buddies along, though they'll have to watch from the sidelines. Given your display of driving skill, this might be the safest place for them, anyways.

I look forward to the opportunity to get you hooked on (legal) auto racing.


PS - Whiteys from the sticks look really, really silly with oversized, flat brimmed baseball caps propped sideways on their head.

PPS - If you ever see me on the highway and try these stunts again, I'm going to call the police. I know which exits you got on and off at, and I know your license plate number - so I'm sure I'll be able to help them find you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I haven't done anything this week - partially because I needed a break after my first race of the season, and partially because I've got only two months 'till my A race. Oh, and because I'm on the wrong side of the country, so I couldn't bring my bike with me - and without the joy if biking, other forms of exercise are just no fun. I can't believe how tight my legs have been this week - I'm used to soreness, but it just seems like everything has locked up in absence of exercise. Just spent half an hour stretching during Extreme Makeover - tomorrow I'll be on airplanes all day, then
Saturday is gonna be spent on the bike! YAY!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The final countdown

Were leaving together,
But still its farewell
And maybe well come back,
To earth, who can tell?
I guess there is no one to blame
Were leaving ground
Will things ever be the same again?

(This message brought to you courtesy of Wednesday Afternoon.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I am. . .

My bike and my body are one.

It's stiffness and my strength create power.

It's handling and my nervous, drug-induced energy create agility.

It's saddle is a good place to snort lines from, once I've cut them with a skewer lever.

I am Tom Boonen.

I am Specialized.

This just in!

My bag did, indeed, show up at the hotel last night. Minus a nice pair of black oxfords and the matching belt. I'm off to united.com to file a claim. . .

Did I mention I hate flying?

Monday, June 9, 2008

A day in the life - 24 hours of smartypants

(Consider this an explanation of yesterday's content-less post.)

Sunday, June 9, 6:30 AM EST: The alarm goes off. Roll out of bed, shower, finish packing.

7:15 AM: Review my itinerary, as follows:

-10:20 AM: depart from my home airport on the east coast
-11:25 AM: Land in my first connection: Dulles International, in Washington, DC
-12:25 PM: Depart from DC, bound for my second connection in Denver, CO
-2:07 PM (Mountain time): Land in Denver
-3:00 PM (Mountain): Depart from Denver for my final destination in California
-4:11 PM (PST): Land in California.

7:30 AM: Leave home for the airport

8:20 AM: Arrive at the airport. As expected this early on a Sunday morning, the place is nearly empty, so I get through ticketing and security without fuss. Like a good, conscientious traveler, I've arrived at the airport exactly 2 hours before my flight's departure time.

8:45 AM: Arrive at my departure gate. Flight is supposed to board at 9:50 AM. Read some email, do some expense reports, etc.

9:45 AM: There's no plane at the gate, and we're supposed to board in 5 minutes. This makes me nervous. My connection in IAD is tighter than I'd like already, if we get delayed here, it'll be ugly. Missing your first connection on a 3-hop flight across the country is always messy.

10:20 AM: We're supposed to be taking off, but still no airplane.

10:21 AM: A ground crew worker comes up the jetway. Someone else asks him what's going on (as if he had a clue). He responds that he doesn't know, but he thinks the airplane will be here shortly.

10:35 AM: Huzzah! There is an airplane taxiing to the gate.

10:49 AM: The flight boards.

11:05 AM: We take off. Kudos to the crew for turning the plane around so quickly, but I'm already giving up on making my connection.

12:08 PM: We touch down in DC.

12:15 PM: I'm off the plane. For those not familiar with IAD, the airport is divided into concourses that are on opposite sides of the taxiway, so you have to take these funky looking shuttle buses to get between them. They run every 5 minutes. I sprint to the shuttle entrance, only to see a shuttle pulling off seconds before I get there.

12:20 PM: The next shuttle is leaving, this time with me on it. From the shuttle, you can see the planes sitting at gate. I find my plane. It's still there! I know that technically they've closed the doors already, but I hold out hope. However, as we draw closer, I notice a bad sign: The ground crew is starting to move around the plane, prepping it for departure.

12:23 PM: Off the shuttle, and sprinting to the gate. I arrive, literally, seconds too late. If I'd caught the earlier shuttle, I would have been on the plane. Sadly, I watch it push off and depart as I'm standing in line at the service desk to get re-booked. The earliest available alternative has me re-routed through Phoenix instead of Denver, and that flight doesn't leave until 6:18 PM EST. I don't even want to know what time it puts me in California. The agent assures me that she has re-routed my suitcase, so it'll follow me through my new route and arrive on the same flight I do.

1:00 PM: Find a seat in a Gordon Biersch in the airport. Order a pint of Marzen and a pulled pork sandwich.

1:15 PM: The first (and pretty much only) positive thing today occurs. The bartender switches the TV right in front of me to the Canadian Grand Prix F1 race. I hardly ever get to watch an F1 race, so I'm pumped. It's a great race, but other patrons are constantly asking the bartender to flip to something else. At one point a frustrated gentleman simply declares "college baseball!" and walks out. I guess the bartender liked me or something, because she left the race on until the finish. At one point, another patron starts watching the race as well. I notice he has an Ironman Finisher t-shirt on, so we strike up a conversation. Turns out he had just completed the olympic-distance triathlon that took place on the very same racetrack the F1 cars are currently on. Later, after he's left, I overhear a woman describing the "half-iron marathon" (her words, not mine) her friend just completed to someone on her cellphone. It's kinda cool to randomly bump into two other triathlon-aware people.

2:45 PM: The race is over and I've managed to suck down a few pints, so I leave the courteous bartender a big tip and head back into the real world. The next few hours is a blur of email, magazines, pacing the gate, and trying to find other ways to waste time - something I'm not generally good at, at least in environments that I have limited control over. It just KILLS me that I'm cooped up in some building with thousands of strangers doing NOTHING for hours on end when I could be on my bike. Heck, I'd even rather be moving the lawn or scrubbing the bathroom floor - ANYTHING to feel productive. And the sad part is, I'm only technically an hour of flight time into my cross-country journey. At one point during this period, I log on to this blog and post the "I hate flying" message from my phone.

5:50 PM: The flight to Phoenix boards.

6:18 PM, EST: We're off to Phoenix. The flight will be 4.5 hours of the same nervous, fidgety, fruitless time-wasting efforts as my last several hours in the terminal. There's a movie on about treasure hunting divers (Fool's Gold or something like that.) It's OK at best. The acting is awkward and the script is contrived. Luckily, there are a few bouts of comic relief that are actually pulled off well.

Roughly 8:00 PM Phoenix time (Mountain? I don't even know what zone Phoenix is in): We land. Amazingly, I've never been to Phoenix before. I'm about to discover how much I hate it. The airport, at least. We deplane in Terminal 2. As it turns out, my connection to California is on a different carrier. It departs at 9:45, but is in Terminal 4. Since I have so much time, I wander Terminal 2 looking for food. Apparently, no one ever gets hungry after dark on a Sunday in Phoenix, because every single food vendor in Terminal 2 is closed. After discovering this, I wander around trying to figure out how the hell to get to Terminal 4. I finally realize that I have to go out through security.

8:30 PM: Still clueless about transportation to Terminal 4. No one that works here even seems aware of its existence (seriously). There is no indication of a shuttle or other option for getting there. It's not on any of the maps. Finally, I find a map that references "Terminal 3" and a walkway leading to it. At this point, I'm desperate, so I set out on foot. Turns out that the "walkway" is a sidewalk along what appears to be a bunch of highway onramps mushed together. I finally arrive in Terminal 3.

8:45 PM: More awkward sidewalks. Terminal 4 looms in the distance.

9:00 PM: I arrive at Terminal 4. Apparently, this is the real hub of the airport. It's busy and there are actually food vendors open. However, at this point, I'm beyond hungry and not really interested in Pizza Hut Express (been there, done that, never going to happen again thanks very much.)

9:15 PM: Find my gate, board the plane.

9:45 PM: We're off the ground.

11:15 PM, Pacific Time: Touchdown in California.

11:45 PM: I arrive at the baggage claim.

11:55 PM: All the bags have been unloaded. Everyone else on the flight has claimed theirs and left, except me and one other fellow. We both head for the baggage service desk. He gets there first, and proceeds to unload a stream of nasty on the poor desk agent about how he had his house and car keys in his bag, so now he has no way of getting home. (lesson: don't put your bloody car keys, house keys, or anything else important in your checked bags!) When it's finally my turn, I fill out the lost bag form and the agent checks the system. WARNING: EXTREME IRONY! As it turns out, my bag MADE THE CONNECTION in DC, and arrived in California at 4:11 that afternoon. However, since I'd switched carriers, it wasn't in this carrier's baggage office. And, since the carrier I was supposed to be on was done with all their flights for the evening, their baggage claim office was closed and locked - with my bag sitting just inside the door. How sad. They'll have it taken to my hotel the next day (today, that is.) Hopefully, as I'm writing this, my bag is en route to my hotel.

12:05 AM: I get on the rental car shuttle.

12:10 AM: Arriving at the rental car offices, I discover that the provider I have my reservation with is closed for the evening. (Yes, folks. I have now managed to experience EVERY SINGLE bad travel event in one single trip.) I find a desk that's still open and get a car from someone else.

12:15 AM: I'm on the highway headed for my hotel.

12:45 AM: I'm off the highway. My hotel is right next to the ramp. Also right next to the ramp is an In-N-Out Burger joint. Turns out they're open until 1 AM. Suddenly, I realize that I haven't eaten since 1:00 PM EST, which was 15 hours ago.

12:55 AM: I'm checking in to the hotel. In my hand is an In-N-Out bag with an animal style double-double in it.

1:10 AM, PST (4:10 AM EST, about 22 hours after I woke up Sunday morning): My head hits the pillow. I'm out cold.

5:30 AM, PST: The alarm goes off. I'm out of bed and on my way for the day. I've had a little over 4 hours of sleep. I have no clothes. Luckily, the agent at the baggage desk gave me a little pack of emergency toiletry supplies.

And that, my friends, is why I hate flying.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This just in!

Not to be outdone by Shimano's recent release of 7900 Dura-Ace, Campagnolo have released (unofficially, at least) details about the next generation of their top three lines, including a new Super Record group.

While I speculated yesterday about the possibility of the new Dura-Ace line introducing incompatibilities, it seems that this will absolutely be the case with Campy stuff, at least for the next few years, before the lower-end groups catch up. The most substantial change seems to be 11-cog cassettes, which will of course require narrower chain, making the newer groups completely incompatible (in theory) with older stuff. The rear shifter and cassette will obviously be incompatible, having 11 speeds instead of 10, but if the rumors of a narrower chain are true, this means the chain and chainrings (or perhaps just chainring spacing) will be different from older stuff, too. At least they're claiming to have fit 11 cogs into the same width that used to hold 10, so freewheel bodies (and hence rear hubs and frame spacing) will not be different, thankfully.

Rumor has it that the Super Record group will have a pricing structure following that of gas pricing atTom's Shell:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

And on that note. . .

I present you the conclusion of my perfect trifecta of blog posts for the day. This particular post puts more of a smile on my face than the other two combined, because it displays one of the simple moments of beauty present in nature.

Here's a crappy photo of an orchid I keep in my office - as of a few weeks ago, when the buds were just beginning to open:

And here it is, as of this morning, in full bloom:

My cell's cam doesn't nearly do a good job of showing off the delicate purple veins near along the extremities of each petal, unfortunately. This particular plant was a "rescue" from a back shelf at Home depot last year, it was in terrible shape. I'm very pleased with it's progress though!

Thanks, Shimano

Shimano released details on the new 7900 Dura-Ace group yesterday. I'd like to take the opportunity to officially say "thanks" for two things:

1) In a serious tone, thanks for preserving the breadth of offerings included in this kit. You've kept the tri/tt crowd happy by not only providing bar-end shifters, but also carbon bar-end brake levers! Yay! But you didn't stop there. You also made the STI levers shorter throw and reach-adjustable, included like eleventybillion possible crankarm length and chainring tooth combos, and even carried on with downtube shifters! Hooray!

2) In an ironic tone, thanks for changing the cable ratios. I haven't seen anyone writing about this yet, but I'm assuming this essentially means none of the new stuff will be compatible with any of the old stuff. Now what remains will be to see what you do with Ultegra, 105, etc. Will they adopt the new cable ratios immediately, leaving all us slightly outdated cyclists with a dearth of new equipment compatible with our old stuff? Or, will they trail by a few years, recreating the 8-speed days when you couldn't mix certain components between Dura Ace and the rest of the line?

On Posers. . .

Following up on the always-controversial BSNYC's recent blog post in which he essentially calls out a fellow road cyclist whom many have interpreted to be a poser, I found myself in deep reflection.

3.2 seconds later, I'd run out of mental capacity with which to perform said reflection, so I decided instead to just do another photo-heavy post of poser-ish things I've noticed on my recent travels:

I spotted this Benz a few days ago:

Perhaps unremarkable at first glance, but my eye was quickly drawn to the goofy aftermarket tail lights. Then, the absurd stick-on chrome trim around nearly every panel (seriously, he had the stuff stuck all the way around the trunk and each door's opening.) As if that wasn't enough, the vehicle's owner had chosen to apply an AMG badge to his trunk. But, Look again - it gets better. There is also an AMG banner across the top of the rear glass. A purely overwhelmingly poserish thing to do. The best part? He left the factory E420 badge on the trunk. AMG never produced a model called E420, though they did sell aftermarket parts for the E420 (of which, this car had none.)

Now, I realize the blatant nature of that Benz makes it ho-hum blog material at best. So here's something perhaps more analogous to BSNYC's recent post:The astute among you will instantly recognize this as a 997, i.e. the current production version of the Porsche 911. Those of you vividly aware enough to pick up on small details in my crappy photo may recognize that this is, indeed, a GT3 RS. For those not in the know, this is pretty much a fully factory-prepared race car, complete with roll cage and uncomfortable bucket seats. It's designed for people who want an out-of-the-box track machine - just slap on your sponsor's decals, don your nomex and helmet, and you're set.

This gentleman, however, was taking a different approach: Pop open your cell, blare some tasteless music, and sit in rush hour traffic for half an hour. Inappropriate? Absolutely, to the point of being dangerous (the thought of riding in a cage-equipped car without a helmet on makes me nervous). Why am I posting this? Am I jealous? Hell yes - in a way. I can't help but admire his taste, after all. Though if I had $124,900 (plus options!) to drop on automotive goodness, it would probably have been a gently used 911 and, say, a Lotus Elise or something.

At any rate, the true irony cannot be grasped without examining my last photo. After trudging along highways for quite some time immediately in front of Mr. Midlife Crisis, I spent the next day enjoying this sort of vehicle in their intended habitat: