Friday, March 30, 2012

Five seconds

Today's 50-minute criterium came down to 5 seconds. Two turns, 250 meters before the finish line, the entire pack was strung wide across the course like rows of clothes lines in a wild wind. I'd waited too long and couldn't come around into open air for the sprint. Then the penultimate turn thinned us out just enough for me to sneak in on the final bend, leaning the bike and tip-toeing my tires through the gap, the red and white curb blurring underneath my knee.

We all righted our bikes and began the sprint in earnest, violently mashing our pedals like disconnected piano keys and throwing our bikes over the strip of white tape. I would cross in 7th. But before I did, in those five seconds between turns, after I escaped and then dove in to that last turn, e v e r y t h i n g was possible.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

13th loser

I got 14th in today's Ronde von Manor, which, if you do the math, and I have, is only 13 places away from 1st! So naturally, I'm pretty pleased with my just-off-the-podium finish today.

Of course I forgot my sunscreen, though, so right now my arms, neck, and face look like an over-honked clown nose. I look like a lobster and a lobster had a baby, that grew up and got sunburned. I'm so red, Jack Roland Murphy tried to steal me. I'm so red, Glen Beck and Ann Coulter are co-authoring a book about why I'm dangerous. I look like Diane Vreeland used me to decorate her Park Avenue apartment. I'm so red, red wine drinks me for it's heart.

Time to clean up so I can do it all over again tomorrow. Not the sunburn part, or the 14th place part, but the racing part.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day

Last Thursday, with help from my teammate Jordan, I placed 3rd at the Driveway in the Category 3/4 race. The course was the grand prix loop, run counter clockwise, which I love because it puts us through the chicane immediately before the finish sprint. It makes it so there's really a pre-sprint sprint for position. The weather was beautiful, lots of my friends were there, no one crashed, photo finish. Just a great afternoon of racing.

Now, I told you all of that so I could tell you this. On the ride home with my teammates Jordan and Matt, we came upon this fellow. (My apologies for the poor picture quality)

Can you figure it out? It took us a while too. It's a cat, wearing a green neckerchief and leprechaun hat, riding on a man's shoulders, as he's riding a bike.

We all pulled out our camera phones. I rode up next to him and he gave me a queer look as if to say, "What! Haven't you ever seen a leprechaun hat on a cat on a guy on a bike before?"

Thinking about it later I realized that as I was starting my final lap at the driveway, leaning through the turns, this guy was tying a handsome little knot in his cat's bandana, and positioning a small hat on his furry little head, making sure that it would stay on in the wind.

As I was standing up to sprint, and throwing my bike left and right over the finish line, he was picking out the perfect Irish-cat-backpack playlist and calling for his little Patrick to hop on his shoulders. And when I was taking a quick cool-down lap and finding my teammates, he and his festive cat were setting off together on an adventure we could only imagine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creepy Carpetbaggers at SX

I understand marketing firms trying to standout in a sea of standouts at SXSW. But the way these yanks are couching their disgusting publicity stunt in the language of helping the homeless is pretty awful.

Austin has resources for the homeless; we don't need a troupe of techie carpetbaggers conducting an "experiment" in homeless entrepreneurial models. If they really wanted to help the homeless, they could just look out their own window.

I mean, really, the notion that homelessness is a business model problem is so ludicrous it's offensive. These people aren't homeless because they failed to "modernize the street newspaper model." When you study the causes of homelessness, antiquated method of media distribution is not high on the list.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not waiting for trains: Superbus

When Google started really driving their autonomous cars around, I wondered if trains of autonomous cars on existing road infrastructure could replace plans to develop train infrastructure in the US.

This Dutch concept Suberbus, is another take on that idea. They would use dedicated roadways and an improved bus concept to provide high-speed public transportation.

It just makes sense to me, to tweak our use of existing automobile infrastructure in order to provide the same service as an entirely new rail infrastructure. Because, really, the goal isn't trains, it's increased mobility and increased connectivity.

Perhaps sensational smart cars and stretched supercars are only distractions that prolong an unsustainable model of personal transportation, a la GM and electric streetcars. But I really like the idea of mass transit innovations that are available now. I also like how flexible autonomous cars and the Suberbus are. It wouldn't cost millions/billions to change routes and it could be done immediately.

Of course, it actually is available now, and has been for a while down in Brazil, in Curitiba. If they can so handedly substitute buses with dedicated lanes for subways, why couldn't we do the same thing for interstate rail?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Classic at the Driveway

Great race at the Driveway this morning for the Spring Classic. I raced to 7th in the category 3/4. The weather eased up from the thunder and lightning from when I woke up. I thought it was raining during the race, but there was so much spray from the tires that I couldn't really tell.

I had a weird vibe the whole race. It felt like we were all taking it a little easier because of the wet course, which made it feel like we were all waiting for something big to go down that just never did. There were small attacks that didn't really go anywhere. There weren't any crashes, save for a small one on the last lap from a guy who came out of his clips going up the corkscrew hill.

I just kept counting down the time and the laps, focusing on the riders around me and my position in the field. Like Santiago in the Old Man and the Sea, I tried to keep my mind from wandering (I'm a sucker for kits designed by Jed Rogers) and just focus on the race around me:
What can I think of now? he thought. Nothing. I must think of nothing and wait for the next ones.
I had grit in my teeth from all the road spray, and my right lens was completely fogged up so that I had trouble perceiving the distance to the riders around me. Wiping the lense with my glove was no use and twice I pulled my glasses off to lick them clean. Oh tosh, swimmers do it all the time.

The pace rolled faster as the sun came out and the course dried off a little and as we all settled in. By the last five laps, there was no finer place to be, and I finally understood what we'd all been waiting for.

Drew Hochstatter, who rode to second place, captured the last couple laps on his handlebar camera. Watch him making coming around half the pack in the last kilometer look as natural as eating a caramel. I'm the guy with the blue buns in the center of the frame right when the video starts.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

There's a million ways to provoke a reaction on the road without ever running red lights or stop signs. It's all about attitude, and motivation, and your expectation.

A man I admire described it as leaning in. It's never about what you do, it's about who you are. And, really, I'm the guy that drivers don't like to share the road with. Nevermind that, in general, drivers don't love sharing the road with cyclists. Within that context, there's a spectrum and I'm too far to one end.

Time to change that