Friday, September 28, 2007

High Tides and Old Fields

Forced myself away from the home office at noon today and took the Zank out for a tour of the surrounding towns and a trip to see my old friend, the Port Jefferson field. Colleague Al has been busting my chops in a huge way to finish a written proposal we started, but at some point I just have to readjust my priorities and get out on the bike. (and any moment now Al is going to call and start screaming F-bombs because I didn't finish my portion of the proposal....)

A fall high tide down the road from the homestead.

High tide around these parts means flooded roads--especially bad with the higher peak tides in the fall.

So I got in a good hour and a half through the surrounding towns, mostly easy, before heading over into Port Jefferson and my "secret training ground" under the power lines (y'know, I take off the team kit and throw it in the bushes, replace it with the black kit, park the team car behind the trees half mile away....). In late summer the field is a waste-high brambly mess, but come the second week of September the town mows it all down for the local apple festival parking. It's not too exciting, but it does have upper and lower fields with a fun little bumpy, washed-out dirt climb that connects them.

Lower field. Very artistic shot through the spacious triangle of the Zank, no?

Upper field. Lots of power lines add a nice, rhythmic buzz in the air and prolly do some scrambling of the chromosomes as well.

And, as an added bonus, the fields are lined with all the shit you could ever want for building some nice obstacles!

With some creative back and forths I've put together some decent 5 minute laps. After my tour of the towns I did 30 minutes--as those cats in Connecticut say--in The Pain Cave before heading home.

Still waiting for Al to call and blow a gasket...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tighten UP!

So, yes, I did manage to blow out of the office in what I consider to be a reasonable amount of time (I mean, c'mon, half a day is plenty of work) and had a good three hours before the bus and the kids would be screaming down the block. Good amount of time to hit the road and get in some hill repeats.

Was feeling rested and springy after the unscheduled day off yesterday. Dang weather knob could use some turning down, though. Enough with the heat and humidity, K? But all was going smooth and fast. About 10 miles into the ride it started: click, click, click.... Then: click, click, click....

Ah Damn. What's going on? So many possibilities. So I start trying to diagnose on the fly--turn cranks, don't turn cranks--stand, sit--grab seat and wiggle--sprint--one leg unclipped, then other--look for wobble/possible loose spoke....

Click, click, click....

I stop bike and inspect. All appears to be straight, clean, lubed, functional.

Then I grab my shoe. Presto, loose cleat.

Note to self: Do a better job of checking/tightening shit once a month.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I didn't train today.

I had every good intention to train, and train hard.

But it was too hot. And I was too tired. And I started reading blogs. And I had a second helping of spagetti [or, if you're in a pissy mood, "spaghetti"]. And I should be doing work right now, but I'm not.

Maybe I'll take the dog for a long walk tonight.

I'll ride my bike into work tomorrow.

Do you care?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Van Dessel Hole Shot

A few mostly random shots from the first race in the NJ series:

Zank was primed and ready to go in the foggy, wet, steamy countryside.

Solo rider warming up early in the morning through nice, fresh course tape.

Cool little climb on gravel past the barn.

Start line off yonder.

Rutgers friend of Meg? Very green!

Good to see teams sticking together.

More course, more tape. Some great looking country roads off in the distance.

So I lined up with the other "beginners" in the C race, partly because yes indeed I am a beginner and feel that's where I should be and also because of time and the need to race early and hustle it back home.

C race had something like 45-50 entries--by far the largest field of the day--and some of them looked pretty damn fast. Could it be that because the winner of the Hole Shot would get a new Van Dessel frame had something to do with both the size and quality of the field? Hmmm....

Anyway I was very pleased with my race. I purposefully hung back at the start and just wanted to ride my own race and see if I noticed any results from my weeks of practice. My run-ups and barriers were very strong. My turns not so strong. And I felt like my last two laps were my best by far, which again made me feel good. At the end of it all I was happy and finished near the middle of the masses.

So...this morning I got a mass email from the promoter--who, by the way, did a great job with the event. Turns out the first seven times/lap times from the "beginner" race were faster than the winner of the B race. Sandbags anyone? Oh well, one of those lucky speedsters got a new frame.

Serious good will to promoter Bob Cary! Beautiful venue, well-designed course, great organization, super friendly people--first-rate all the way. My only gripe was the horrendous drive back through NY City to get home (two hours to get there in the morning, four and a half to get home). Apparently the GWB needs a new road surface and so traffic crawled for miles. Next time I think I'll go out of my way and cut across to the Tappan Zee to get back to the island....

Finally, another sling of good will to Mike Z who built me a frame WAY BETTER than the hunk of aluminum Van Dessel they gave away! The Zank was tight, tuned, and flawless. I'm the one that needs to catch up to it, which is a great challenge to have this year! There were lots of compliments on the Zank, Mike. Only other bike that came close was the pearl number built by Sacha that was at the race (didn't have my camera for that one, but it was nice too).

Friday, September 21, 2007

So By My Calculations...

From Bikereg about the course tomorrow:

"It's 65% grass, 15% blacktop, 10% dirt and 5% sand/loose gravel"

I'm hoping the last 5% is the naked women pit. I hear it's best to run low pressure to negotiate that one.

Where's The Fahking Soccer Ball?

Holy cripes. Ten minutes ago this house was total pandemonium with two kids plus a friend trying to get ready for soccer practice at the same time but going to two different fields at two different locations in this little hamlet of ours. Of course the kids NEVER put their shit back where it belongs after the previous practice or game, so we're in a mad dash around the house to find: balls, cleats, shinguards, socks, water bottles, snacks (currently, Z-Bars by Clif) and appropriate shorts and tops. This entire process leads to bouts of screaming and physical altercations.

See, here's the crux of the problem. When the kids come home--as they will in about an hour and a half--the smart thing for all of us to do would be to carefully disrobe/gather all materials needed for soccer the next time and put them in the soccer backpack. However, this will not happen. Why? Because we're all so freakin' exhausted from pulling off the initial preparation and event that we have no more energy for the final cleanup.

And so, predictably, it happens all over again.

I was lucky enough to get a pass on all responsibilities tonight after all got out the door. Neighbor took one child this way, wife took other child that way. Wife picks up everyone at 6:30.

So here I am, wasting time. And by the way, it took me one hour to find my team jersey today--the one I haven't worn since returning from vacation in Cali. It was under a pile of clothes in the closet, not in my pile of bike shit in the basement. Do you sense a pattern and problem here?

Anyway, Zank is clean and ready, stuff is packed, gonna get some food for the road, and heading out to Jersey in the morning for first cross race of the season. Nice.

(but there won't be no mud tomorrow, fo sure)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Defiling A Course Near You

Sept 22: Augusta, NJ

Oct 6 & 7: Long Guyland

Oct 13: Po-Dunk, Mass

Oct 21: Rockaway, NJ



Is anyone else eating bugs? I'm eating a ton of 'em these days. Not like, y'know, dining on them, but doing the chew or inhale while riding.

Some sort of hatch seems to be happening in these parts. Meaty winged creatures everywhere. Prolly ingested two on my bike commute today.

Yesterday, while doing cross drills in a big field, had one of those huge, hand-sized dragonflies bank in on approach and--for the briefest of moments--enter my mouth. What a freakin mouthful! Talk about convulsive spitting.

At least the hornets seem to be down a bit this year.

Bring on the freeze.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

When you get tired

of your little baby cross races around the NE, come on down where the big boys and girls are gonna play:

Day of Vervecken 1

Day of Vervecken 2

Yeah, I know. Long Island is scary. You have to take a ferry or your private jet to get here. The people talk funny. There's the Joey Porsche thing. The Lohan and Diddy sightings. Blah, blah, blah. It ain't rural fahking Vermont, but if you wanna ride with the Belgies....

Saturday, September 15, 2007


It's mid-September. Do you know where your kids are?

My guess: they're racing cross.

Many have been doing it behind the 7-11 since...ready for this?...August.

I hate to break it to you. I know you thought they were hanging out at the mall and spending your paycheck at Abercrombie.


They're scamming adults to purchase registration a case at a time.


Lots of 'em are at a place called "Sucker Brook" right now.

Yep. They're overindulging and out of control.

Nope. I won't tell you how to get there.

You're on your own. Hey, it's your fault for not paying attention to them when they were young.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Enter Sandman

Son Luke and I got out for some singletrack madness this morning over at the Pines. His first time out on a "real" mountain bike trail (if that's indeed what we have here on LI), and he was AMPED to get out and ride.

So we pulled into the lot and did a quick safety check before first heading out onto a dirt road loop for a little warmup. We got along the back side of the road and I gave a little on-the-fly advice: "Luke, we're coming up to some sand in the road [about 2-3 inches deep of the really soft stuff for a 30 yard stretch of road]. Stay seated, point your bike straight ahead, and just pedal smooth...."

He gave me the "Yeah, OK Dad" and proceeded to stand up, weight his front wheel, and turn.

Down like a wet fish.

I got the "Whoa, what happened?" and proceeded to beat his little punk as....

Well, no, of course not. Gave him back the fatherly "see I told you," brushed him off, and got him going again. Yeah, sand.

We had a super time on the trail. The kid did very well on the tight, technical sections. He was keeping up his speed through the turns and even managed to climb a few of the berm walls. Didn't quite have it in him to blast down some of the more rocky, dodgey hills, and the log piles freaked him out, but in all the kid rocked.

Both son and dad are ready for more.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tri Guy?

Not on your life, or the life of your momma. I did, however, partake of all tri sports today.

As non-Jewish members of the region we were given a day off today for no particular reason (and tomorrow too, for that matter), so kids and I went down to the ocean beach. Smith Point to be exact. Crowds were way down, no lifeguards to fuck with the fun, and a toasty sun. Waves SUCKED--prick-ass shorebreak. But we did some swimming out beyond the break and built a few contraptions in the sand. Better than working, fo sure.

Then, got in a 30 minute run before dinner (with son serving as the rabbit on his bike) and then put in 60 minutes on the trainer tonight.

So what's that, a suburban tri? I don't know, I'm tired and grasping at things here. You come up with something better.

Tomorrow my son and I have an early date on the mountain bike trail. His first time out on some official singletrack. Should be fun (as long as I avoid the slick Roots Of Death).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Honeymoon is Over

Got the hell out of Dodge as soon as the all-important department meeting wrapped up today and hit the gas over to Cathedral Pines with my Zank. After the heavy rain on Tuesday I was worried that the trail gods put up the locks on the singletrack, but all was open and clear for riding.

Well, clear for riding meant the trail was open. Actually the trail was in pretty ragged shape. Long Island is one big spit of sand, and when the heavy rains come the sand manages to work its way up and around and into everything. So the trail was very washed out in spots and VERY sandy. Conditions made for some good readjustment of the Psyche--Yes, Moveitfred, it's ok if the wheels slide about the trail. You can relax and ease up on the handlebars...

But the roots got me. Blasting through a tough winding stretch I went perhaps a little too hot into a corner dotted with big, slick roots all about. It was one of those "everything's fine/I'm on the ground" moments. But somewhere along that split second of time instinct kicked in and I cradled the Zank from harm.

Came out in pretty good shape myself with just a little cut and a little pink and a little swelling.

But it's official: The Zank Went Down.

Now I can get on with the business of training and racing and knock off babying the damn thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Feeling High

OK, so feeling better. Well...there is the one problem I seem to be experiencing in the lower GI region that requires immediate access to toilet facilities, but beyond that everything is fine.

Rain. Lots of rain today. And for the first time in weeks (since we've been back from California, for sure). The landscape sure needed it, yeah. This now poses the question, will tomorrow's planned after work ride through Cathedral Pines be a washout? That freakin' place does not drain, and those in charge are quick to put up the blockades if someone so much as spits in the parking lot. Welcome to Long Island: the land of control.

Which sends me on a rant. When in the fuck will people lighten up about ocean activities around here? What I'm talking about is that every single time you go to the beach around here the sheriffs are out in full force implementing and policing the rules. Case in point: swimming (or "bathing" as it is called here) only between the flags.

This is bizarre. We have beautiful ocean beaches here. MILES of them. But every morning the lifeguards come out and stick a couple of flags in the sand about 50 yards apart. And that's where you swim. Only there. Nowhere else.

One of the unfortunate realities of life on Long Island is that you can count on one hand the beautiful, fit people in the entire region (And, yes, I'm one. That leaves four more). So if one chooses to swim in what amounts to an aquatic subway car, one must share close, intimate, wet space with all manner of fat, ugly, smelly humans.

Contrast this with California, my home state (Rah!). There you can swim wherever the fuck you want. There's a tropical storm kicking up 20 foot faces and deadly rips? Hey, grab your boogie board and go! The human group understanding is clear: you better know what the hell you're doing or else you're gonna die and nobody gives a shit about you, you pathetic turd.

Here, however, we demand protection. We matter, dammit. We are important. And if I die, YOU are liable, no matter how fucking stupid I am.

OK, rant and summer are over. Well, at least after Labor Day all the lifeguards go home. I can now go out and drown wherever the hell I want.

Two news flashes from the Long Island bike scene:

Whitmore's is on TV


A mountain bike race on LI? Huh?

Oh, and ps: I "bathe" at home, not at the beach.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Feelin' Low

So I'm feeling like crap tonight. It's nothing specific, just a general malaise, mild headache, slight loopiness, stomach ache.... Damn.

Wanted to rock a big ride today out on the road. Had the time, all was set. Even had the rare opportunity to start the ride with my lovely wife as the kids were both swimming at a neighbor's pool. Kim (wife) completed a 75 mile charity ride yesterday for Hope House Ministries. This is a really well organized ride that leaves from our hometown of Setauket and finishes at a beautiful Atlantic beach out near Montauk (ie, "The End" as all the tourist bumper stickers proclaim). My job yesterday was to transport the kids (and one neighbor kid) out to the end and enjoy the post-ride music and clambake on the beach.

As has been the case every year, the weather was beautiful, the beer was cold, the clams tasty, and everyone was yippy to finish the ride. I was going to take some pics of the bikes propped all over the hillside at the finish, but they were all Trek and Cannondale and Specialized. You can go to the manufacturers' websites if you wanna see them.

After a long afternoon of play in the rough surf a bunch of us stopped at Lunch for some fresh seafood and beverages. This, my friends, now marks the end of the East Coast summer.

So getting back to today....Kim and I did an easy 15 mile spin and then she turned toward home to rally up the kids and I planned to hammer out another 20-30 miles and some hills. But I just kept feeling more fatigued and loopy as I tried to push on down the road. I suppose with my advancing age I have acquired one good habit: I have a better sense of when to quit. And so I did--put my tail between the seatstays and went home.

I hope a good night sleep brings better feelings tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Copenhagen Blog

One of my new favorite blogs, for a number of reasons:

Cycle Chic

Friday, September 7, 2007

bout time

the Zank got a little dirty!

Took the new cross bike over to the Cathedral Pines mountain bike trail today for a couple of laps through the circuit. As always first time out in the woods after a summer on the road I was a timid infant--death grip on bars, picking my way through the rough spots, dabbing when the going got tough. My first lap was a slow crawl as I worked to get a feel for the trail again.

Second lap was a different story. Got my lazy ass in the drops and really opened 'er up. Gotta say the new Zank was a dream. Clearly it's a bike that likes to go fast. I don't have much to compare it to other than my low-end, crappy mountain bike, but I gotta say the new Zank has the potential to really smoke! I just gotta work on MY engine and technique to do it justice...

I'm looking forward to more time out on the trail with the Zank. For those of you who know LI, you know the technical aspects of our trails are not much to talk about. But that makes it good for a cross bike that likes to go fast. I only had trouble in three spots: two short climbs with lots of loose gravel/sand (found the skinnier tires were digging in and I died half way through each climb) and one log pile that I just simply pussed out on. But that's what practice is for.

Hey Mike, nice work!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fixie Gods

Despite G's proclamation that fixies are dead, I have to ask:

How do I negotiate the issue of chain tension on a 20 year old POS steel bike with semi-vertical dropouts?

Is this currently geared bike worth trying to convert to a fixie this winter?


Quiet Commute?

So my usual quiet commute was shattered this morning by back to school.

What were previously lazy streets in the 7am hour suddenly transformed into chaos--heavy volume, high school drag racers, kids packed like crayons into SUV's.

Gotta get up earlier....

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bike Commute, So Far

So I'm entering my second week of commuting to work by bike. What have I learned from the experience so far? Not much really. It's pretty much been riding a bike as usual. I guess that's good and what bike commuting should be: not an extravagant production, but just get on your bike and ride.

My commute isn't far (9.8 miles each way) or very complex and technical. I pretty much head straight up a gentle climb from my house for about 3 miles and then turn right on a dead-straight residential street that dumps me out near work at the community college. At this point I have to cross a busy street (lots of traffic lights help) and then do a zig-zag through another neighborhood to get to the back entrance of the college.

From driveway to office door takes me 40 minutes.

One thing that has really helped is the Deuter backpack I picked up at Sierra Trading Post. It's not too large, has lots of compartments and straps to tighten/stabilize the load, comes with a built-in rainfly, and is constructed with an awesome mesh backing that keeps the pack off your back for non-sweaty performance.

I'm pretty lucky in that I can pretty much wear whatever to work, so I've stashed some jeans/shoes/socks in my office and bring in a clean shirt in the backpack. Do a little quick cleanup in the bathroom and I'm set. The bike stays parked next to my desk. Nice.

The weather has been beyond great for commuting by bike, and so what I need to thing some more about are the inclement days. I think I'll refurbish and tweak an old steel bike I have for the bad day rides. That'll be the real test...the bad weather days.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Bye Road

Last circuit road race on LI last night.

I'm done with road racing.

For a long time.