Friday, October 26, 2007

Traffic, traffic, traffic

Traffic #1: Beth and I drove to the Cities Thursday evening for a fundraiser dinner at the Depot. We ran into the usual bumper to bumper traffic on the way to downtown, and it got me thinking about how happy I am to be in podunk little Saint Cloud. In Mpls, rush hour is actually multiple hours, especially with the I-35 bridge down (God rest their souls). In Podunktown, we have rush minute from about 7:49 to 7:50 every weekday. It sometimes even makes me miss the one stoplight I have to go through. By car, it's 7 minutes to work during rush minute; by bike (my Bianchi Cafe Racer) it's 11 minutes. DOC'S ADVICE: Read it and weep, Big City Boys!

Traffic #2: props to JimmerC for calling a spade a spade with his cheaters post. He got a lot of comment traffic on that one. Not to say I wasn't impressed by seeing those pix of guys riding the rails up the stairs. Wow, that's another league. But it's still not the intent of the course designers, and at face value, it seems pretty obvious that running was what was intended. Heck, next year maybe I'll enter Boom Island, bust all the tape in the "Pyramid of Pain" (unlike Painman here, pic courtesy of SilverSone), and maybe win the A1 race (unless everybody follows me, which is usually what happens when one guy chooses to flout the rules).

I'm just a lowly Cat 2 Master, a mere grasshopper to the strong and mighty Elites, but I think the young bucks should think about the effects of their decisions on those coming behind them. You might say "I'm no role model" as I heard Charles Barkley say once, but just because you don't want to be one doesn't make you not be one. If some young kid looks up to you, then you are de facto a role model. The question is: don't you want to be a GOOD role model? Sure, the option for riding the rail presented itself as a possibility, but if there's a doubt about the legality of an action a fair rider chooses the fair approach while the presumptuous [adj. (of a person or their behavior) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate] rider takes the chance and hopes to get away with it. DOC'S ADVICE: this isn't the Tour, and you don't have $20M riding on the win. Even if you did, you should still play fair and be a good role model (don't we all wish that the EuroPros would take Doc's advice?!!).

Traffic #3: Chia Chi posted some Chinese traffic rules that sound awfully similar to ones I've observed around the 3rd world: in Guatemala City, Bogota, Bankok, Phnom Penh, and most other 3rd world capitals that I've witnessed. Phnom Penh was particularly interesting: I was visiting the city escorted by an American friend who is a missionary there. As we pulled up to an intersection, we would be engulfed by a sea of mopeds and motos that filled ALL the lanes at the intersection. Those waiting at the opposite side of the intersection did the same thing, so that it looked like two moped armies poised to rush headlong into the intersection and engage in hand-to-hand combat. Which is basically what happened, minus the knives and bayonets. Somehow we got through the gauntlet unscathed each time, though every once in a while we saw a twisted moto on the ground next to a still body in the middle of a street. I think of that when I'm tempted to bust the yellow line behind a particularly nasty echelon in a crosswind attack. DOC'S ADVICE: traffic rules and common sense are there for a reason. Don't be 3rd world or you'll end up a flaming wreck.

BTW, I finally felt the love and got back on the road today. Three hours of balmy sunshine and no traffic. I rode to Jim Bell's house and he took me on a tour of southern Stearns county (and maybe northern Meeker county). Ha! Riding in this weather in late October is like CHEATING (but it isn't since the Intelligent Designer of the weather intended for us to do what we did). DOC'S ADVICE: 'nuf about cheating. Let's learn the lesson and go biking instead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking a break

There is still no joy in riding right now, and I got a new toy to put together, so Jim Bell is riding over to my house to help me assemble this:

I plan to extend my deck dining well into December with this baby. In fact, we might just have outdoor seating at the GrandStay team party in January. Heck, we have 4 hour team rides when it's zero out, why not have a team party in the great outdoors? Outdoor attendance won't be mandatory for the wives, though.

Update: Jim and I assembled the heater, then we had dinner at 8 with our wives, on the deck: grilled chicken shish-kebabs and basmati rice, with pumpkin pie for dessert. Air temp: 40 degrees, slight breeze. Diners were toasty warm under the deck heater. We sat out there until 9:30 and only our knees got cold. OK, Beth had her furry coat on, but I was in a sweatshirt and jeans. I'm going to like this a lot this fall. I'll even be able to fire it up in the winter so grilling out on the deck won't be so cold. DOC'S ADVICE: get yourself one of these babies if you like to grill and eat on the deck.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sesame Street - Bein' Green (1969)

It's Not Easy Being Green

Found this on the epic battle of GrandStay's very own Swanson brothers at the Orono CX. It might be sibling rivalry, but I bet I can tell who lead most of it (hint: his face actually has skin visible). Turns out it was all brotherly love at the end, with a lot of soft pedaling and "after you," "no, after you," "no, I really must insist," etc. Score 1-2 for the brothers Swanson and for the green team. DOC'S ADVICE: Maybe it really is easy to be green.

Which reminds me, I saw a clip on one of the network stations last Sunday morning while I was at the hospital making rounds. I wish I could find it, but I've looked all over the networks' websites as well as Google and YouTube and haven't located it. It was during an NFL pre-game show featuring a game between the lowly Jets and Eagles with 2 wins between them this season. It featured Kermit the Frog singing an altered version of "It's not Easy Being Green."

Since I couldn't find that version, I got the original 1969 version off of YouTube (one of my all-time favorite time-waster sites ever invented). I forgot most of the words, not having actually heard the song in, like, 35 years. I can't seem to embed a YouTube player into this blog (anybody less video impared than me, please help me out here), so Kermit is in a separate window above.

I got all pensive and thoughtful after seeing Kermit again. For me, it's not that easy being green, training with all these strong riders on the GrandStay team. Don't get me wrong, I had a fantanstic year, my second on the team, and it's entirely because they pushed me harder than I've ever trained before (I'm basically fairly lazy and content with easy ridin'). Right now I'm pretty happy to not be lining up for the Flanders CX, which starts in a couple of hours, because I feel like I've raced enough for one year. Besides, CX is just behind time trials as my worst cycling discipline (OK, MTB is right up there too). DOC'S ADVICE: stick to what you're good at as much as possible if you don't want to look like a dork.

Oh, but when Kermit sings: "but green's the color of spring," I get a little zap of energy thinking about next spring and training weekends and all the road races and crits. Then I think about all the great guys on GrandStay, and the friendships that I have made with cool people I would never have met otherwise. I remember last year's winter party (watch for it some time in January, green boys), and all the trash talkin' with Doug and Matt and Mean Dawg, and I realize that Kermit sums it all up at the end: "I'm green, and it'll do fine, and it's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be." DOC'S ADVICE: it may not be easy being green, but nothing good is ever easy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lovely weather for a spin, don't you think?

I feel like I've been transplanted to Seattle or something. Not because their sports teams stink just like Minnesota's (although that's true, since the Mariners, the Supersonics, and the Seahawks all have very mediocre records resembling the Twins, Timberpuppies, and Vikings). No, I feel all Northwest because it seems like it's been dreary and rainy for weeks, like what my brother Jonathan describes living north of Seattle. The picture above must be fake, because the sun never shines there.

Anyway, it feels very Seattle in Minnesota right now. The only thing missing is a latte stand on every corner (although I make my own french style latte at home every morning anyway). Other than getting out last Saturday to ride long enough to really screw up my shoulder diving off my MTB, it has been raining every time I've had the chance to ride. DOC'S ADVICE: Doc should maybe ride his MTB indoors instead of outdoors, even when it isn't raining.
Not that I feel much like riding this time of year: what I really feel like doing is eating an elk (whole) and curling up in a cave to sleep it off until springtime. Once Chequamegon is over, I am either too injured or too unmotivated to race much CX, and the weather is usually fairly uncooperative for joyrides on the tandem or MTB. Of course, once January comes with -10 degree temps and packed snow on the roads, I'll wish it was 50 degrees and rainy. But for now, I am looking for alternative motivation to keep my weight from ballooning and my fitness squandered forever.

Ergo, Heroes! I finally set up my little exercise room by taking out a coat closet and building a countertop with storage underneath for assorted fitness paraphernalia (rollers, trainer, crunch ball, dumbbells. On top of the counter I have a sweet 42" flat panel swivel mounted TV and DVD player. Lined up opposite the TV counter is my LeMonde revmaster spin bike, a Cybex arc trainer (a little smaller than the health club model, but just a sturdy and full-featured), and a Hoist H310 universal gym. So the last 2 weeks I've logged 20 hours of happy indoor fitness watching the heroes save the cheerleader!

I also bought a couple of books on training to add to what my coach has been telling me about winter training. I hope to train even smarter this winter so I can have another good year racing in 2008. Here they are:

ISBN: 193138293X
ISBN-13: 9781931382939
Format: Paperback, 302pp
Publisher: VeloPress
Pub. Date: November 2006

ISBN: 1931382794
ISBN-13: 9781931382793
Format: Paperback, 231pp
Publisher: VeloPress
Pub. Date: February 2006

I'm not going to tell you anything more about them; I'm not giving away any secrets that might give me an edge. DOC'S ADVICE: buy and read them yourself.


OK, I just finished Heroes season 1 on DVD, and it was fantastic. I was riveted to the screen until the final second, and they left me ready to jump into season 2 (which I'm am conveniently recording on my TiVo so I can watch 4 or 5 episodes back to back). Here's a trailer for season 2 that doesn't give much away about season 1, so you can still catch up. BTW, I think all of season 1 is available for watching on your pc on or youtube.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Figure skating : a dangerous sport

I feel soooo much better about MTB after watching this. As usual, the girls get the worst of the throws, but they do get revenge when they fall on top of the guys. Who would do this day after day for like 10 years? Come on Jimmy--let's go MTB again right away. The trail is so much softer than the ice rink.

Clip from The Magnificent Ambersons

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Magnificent Bagleys

Pardon me for hijacking the title to Orson Welles' second movie for my title today. Question of the day: what was Welles' first and most famous movie? And tell the truth, did you actually "get it"? Did you even stay awake through it in film class? What was this "rosebud" thing anyway? DOC'S ADVICE: skip Orson altogether and watch Heroes on NBC, cuz if you're hip enough, you'll get that show for sure.

Actually, the Bagleys don't have anything in common with Welles' Ambersons, the title just has a ring to it. If you want a sample of the Ambersons, scroll to the YouTube clip above. The Bagleys are magnificent for entirely different reasons:

1. Most of my gentle readers know father John because he has torched a lot of us in bike races over the years, and remains one of the top time trialists in the state at an age when most of us are looking for our lost Mojo. DOC'S ADVICE: don't go around John for a town line sprint win, because you will pay dearly for the next 10 minutes to hang onto his wheel.

2. Mom Aimee is a formidable roadie and triathlete, who is also a dietician and makes healthy meals that taste so good you keep looking for the trans fats (but they're not there).

3. Donald probably holds a Guiness record for the longest continuous solo game of garage roller hockey ever played, and will probably play in the NHL in a couple of years.

4. But Haley, she is the REAL DEAL of the family. Her name is all over Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Publisher's Weekly, and GOOGLE! Don't believe me? Google her yourself, or use this link to her B&N site:

Her book, "My Side of the Trench," written at the ripe old age of 11, was published and released yesterday (but yours truly scored a pre-publish edition). It's quite a yarn, but I won't give anything away because I wouldn't do it justice. I would also post a picture of the young author, but I don't have her mom & dad's permission (Haley may be a precocious author, but she still has to get permission to stay up late and stuff like that).

I ran into Aimee and Donald at Mississippi Bean and Tea this morning, and I could tell they are pretty psyched about Haley's accomplishment. Me too.... Let's see, age 11 for me was 5th grade in small-town Iowa. I was just trying to explore the world on my Schwinn Stingray with my cousin Mark, discovering the world beyond our little town, and trying to hide my crush on Nora. Books? I read lots of them, but to write one? Forget it. That's for grown-ups.

Look at me now: still riding my bike with my friends and discovering a world (of pain) beyond my little town, with a 24 year crush on a certain redhead (not named Nora), and still reading lots of books. Guess I never will be a grown-up. DOC'S ADVICE: don't grow up at all unless you are going to be a mensch. If you're a schlub, stunt your growth and stay in 5th grade. And whatever you do, keep reading. Why not start with Haley's book?

Bike Messengers Are on Crack

Some of my GrandStay teammates were on this team before...

Nice one, Linda

Linda Sone is just about the nicest person I know. It doesn't hurt that she's married to my teammate Casper the Crazy-Fast Ghost. Seriously, she can really make you feel good about losing. Even when she dusts you, she tells you what a great race you rode. Here's an interview she did for
Actually, truth be told, almost every woman I've met who races bikes (or even rides bikes fairly seriously) is among the nicest people in the world. In fact, even among the jerk gender (of which I lay claim, though it's not really my fault--doesn't it feel good to blame your parents for stuff?), most of the cyclists I know are near the top of the niceness scale. Maybe it's the natural hormones and endorphins, or all that fresh air, or training so much that there's no time left to do really stoopid stuff. Anyway, props to all you menschs* out there. The world's a little better because you are out there. DOC'S ADVICE: be a mensch, not a schlub.**

*[A] mensch is someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being "a real mensch" is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous. (Rosten, Leo. 1968. The Joys of Yiddish. New York: Pocket Books. 237)

**schlub: a clumsy, stupid, or unattractive person (Yiddish zhlob 'hick', perhaps from Polish żłób) (OED, MW)

Now for something completely different (see the Bicycle Repairman video above for more Monty Python): is anyone else crazy about Heroes? Warning: I'm currently recording season 2, and haven't watched any of it, since I'm just finishing season 1 on DVD, so if you give anything away I'll have to saw the top of your head off like Sylar. I've been riding my trainer indoors even on perfectly good fall days just to finish this fab NBC series. Save the cheerleader, save the world! If you're a mensch I might let you borrow season 1 for a couple of weeks this winter.... Don't let young children near it, though, since Sylar's preferred M.O. is pretty graphic. DOC'S ADVICE: if you read Marvel or DC when you were a kid, or if you know how to IM, you are hip enough (or in my case, a dinosaur enough) to love Heroes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A little advice from the doctor...

I haven't blogged since last winter (see Mon Avis blog at if you are really bored), and since blogs about a year-old trip to Paris may strike some as a little stale, I decided to start a new blog. I didn't take any trips to Paris (or anywhere else) this year, so the gentle reader is stuck with tales of glory and heroism (or at least a couple decent crashes) from my summer of racing.

News flash: my wife and I are waiting to hear from the Chinese government regarding travel plans to adopt a little girl. We applied in the summer of 2005, our dossier was accepted January 12, 2006, and we have been waiting ever since to hear from China. According to the best estimates of our adoption agency, IAS, we are within a couple of months of getting our referral (which is a picture and medical report of the infant selected for us, and a paper to sign accepting the adoption). Once we get our referral, it's usually just a matter of 4 to 6 weeks before we travel to receive our little girl. DOC'S ADVICE: Keep your dial tuned to this station for ongoing updates.

Here's my road racing season in fast forward: bought a Scott Addict, trained with some really fast guys on the GrandStay Hotels team (the Swansons, Mean Dawg, Micah, Matt, Bell, Bagley, Coyle, Casper, BK, and Chia), got better and faster almost every race, took 2nd overall at the omnium race in the Master 35+ group (the hometown boys went 1-2), narrowly missed the podium for Rider of the Year for the M35+ category, and moved up to cat 2 with 28 points. Not bad for my second year of serious racing. The road has been berry berry good to me.

The MTB, on the other hand, has not been particularly good to me. Last December I fell really hard while riding a borrowed single speed on icy trails, and screwed up my left shoulder pretty badly. It still hurts to sleep on that side. Then in Chequamegon last month, I was in the top 50 or so on the asphalt before Rosie's field when some poor sucker went down just in front of me in the middle of the peloton. We were elbow to elbow, so I had to roll right over top of him, and I launched pretty good, landing on my left shoulder and ribs. I didn't hurt my shoulder much, but I managed to break my 9th rib. I went ahead and rode the other 39 miles of the race, and took 5 minutes off last year's time, but didn't break the top 100 like I wanted to. After that it really hurt to sleep on my left side.

Then last Saturday I took a sweet Giant Anthem Advanced out for a spin around the North Loop, and after getting cocky on a fully suspended MTB for the first time, I caught a pedal on a turn and flew off just like I did at Chequamegon, except that I landed on my right shoulder this time. Now I have two mildly separated shoulders (but I can still ride just fine--the only thing I can't do is lift heavy stuff that my wife wants me to move). Only now it hurts to sleep on either side. DOC'S ADVICE: don't pretend you can ride fast on a MTB when you really can't.

Maybe when I die and go to heaven (which may not be long if I keep crashing my MTB), God will let me ride really fast like Doug Swanson or Jim Bell. For now, I've hung up my CX bike for the fall and decided to order one of those Anthems so I can injure more body parts. No, I'm not going to the orthopod, and I'm not going to get anything x-rayed. DOC'S ADVICE: try to take more of your own good advice sometimes, and don't be so pig-headed.

At least I'm smart enough to stay far, far away from these LUNATICS!!!!>>>>>>>>

Stay tuned and see if I post any more updates from the disabled list.