Thursday, March 29, 2007

rainbow stripes

This past weekend the pro tour boys over in Europe raced Milan San Remo, the first of the big one day spring classics and by many accounts the biggest prize (especially for the Italian riders) of them all. Paris-Roubaix & Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) are probably more entertaining to watch because of the mass carnage and unusual selection that happens over the cobbled sections but MSR is a very hard race to win. The race has two nicknames ("La Primivera" & "La Classicissima") and is so important that the two multi day stage races the week before are considered warm ups. The course is long, about 180 miles with the selection made in the last 20k or so where riders hit two climbs in rapid succession: La Cipressa and the legendary Poggio with a nasty decent between the two. If the sprinters can hang with the leaders on those last climbs, it will be a fast finish, but a break can get away and win as well. You never really know until the very end. It's really a great race.

Great races deserve great champions and this year was no exception. The current world champion is quickly becoming a legend. He fell three times and fractured a rid in Tirreno-Adriatico (one of those warm up races mentioned earlier) but started MSR anyway. Being Italian and the current WC means you start MSR even if your leg is off. So Bettini crashes in MSR, twice, and considers withdrawing before a teammates talks him into continuing on. He's well back of the field after the crashes, but reels them all back in, rides straight through the group on the Cipressa, and leads the charge on the descent to bring back the last breakaway to help his team's sprinter get in the best position to win. Watching Bettini charge through the field and then throw himself down that hill was incredible: 5 crashes in a weeks time and here's the rainbow jersey doing grunt work for a teammate. He finished 33rd and his sprinting teammate didn't win, but he rode a great race and did the jersey proud. The racae was won by another classy former World Champion, Oscar Friere.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

group ride

I've been commuting... alot. Tonight I hooked up with a few friends for a quick 30 miles on the way home and I felt really strong. The legs are responding well to all the volume.

Friday, March 23, 2007

do what you want

I was asked to post a picture of the bike I've been using with its new rack and fender set up. I will not be entertaining those requests. If you really want to see the Meme-mobile, come on down to Sutton and check it out for yourself. My earlier description of it is honest and accurate: it is really functional but very unattractive. It really needs just a horn and tassles to be a complete joke. Google image rear bike rack if you need a visual, find the most unattractive bike you can, add a 36 year old in spandex, and be satisfied in knowing that is exactly what it looks like.

I'll have more tomorrow.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

owl or hawk?

Cory spotted this bird today sitting on the playset. It's body & tail look like an owls, but the face looks like a hawk. What do you think? I say hawk.

The warm weather has been great. I've been able to ride to work every day so far this week, these base miles are going to make the PMC much easier. I'm trying to convince a few friends to join me in a long ride sometime early this summer, from Westfield MA to Dennis MA, about 160 miles by our estimation. It'll be two days I think, but who knows, maybe we'll pull it off in just one. I've turned a cross bike into my commuter and after struggling with a messenger bag to carry my stuff into work for two years I broke down and installed a rack over the rear wheel. It isn't even close to sexy, but man it is functional! I (hate to admit this in such a public forum but I can't deny the truth: I) love it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

new movies

I've got a friend who can recall the most insignificant detail of just about any movie he's ever seen, and I just don't understand how he does it. Sure I know every line of a few favorites, but this guy sees a movie one time and recalls everything about it. I'm the polar opposite.

Two and a hlaf hours tonight on the trainer, at a moderate pace with a few efforts. I watched The Patriot with Mel Gibson for the first time again... It was great and I appreciate that my brain decided to forget just about every single scene. I can save alot on dvd rentals this way. I got a little choked up when the little girl ran after her father as he was going back to war and will probably remember that part during future screenings, but hopefully the rest will fade away.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

should we shop at walmart?

Today was the grand opening of a wal mart supercenter. it is 1.6 miles away on the other side of rt 146 so while it is close, it doesn't feel like it is in our neighborhood. there has been some development along the highway and none of it has affected life here at all even though it is pretty close. here's a picture:

Walmart as a retail space is impressive, but the true genius is in their incredibly sophisticated distribution model. Most of the items are never owned by Walmart until right at the point of sale. Their distribution resources are managed at an efficinecy rate upwards of 95% and the capital acquisition arm of their buisness alone would make the fortune 500. They hope to open 300+ stores this year, nearly one per day. Another supercenter opened today abotu 25 miles from here.

But I'm afraid that the damage that they do to local business is undeniable. I'd love to see whitinsville develop into a nice little town with a few shops and restaurants but walmart and the inevitable tgifriday's that will follow will keep people from ever getting to whitinsville at all. Their low prices are good, my elderly neighbors on a fixed income deserve a break and the convenience is there but I'll feel guilty every time I shop there.

The ride to work today was great, and short sleeves (65 degrees) on the way home. It all changes tonight: rain and even snow from now until Saturday morning. Good thing I was born in March or otherwise it would be my least favorite month.

The moon over some farm on the sutton/oxford line on the way to work.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

three hours on the bike

Mike Z. and I went out today for 3 hours somewhere between recreational pace and an effort. The difference between 32 & 42 degrees is enormous: it wasn't sunny but we were warm and the ride was very nice. Thanks to Mike for coming down for the ride.

Friday, March 9, 2007

funny guy

"Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we've grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it's not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we areto the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing."

This past tuesday was my 36th birthday: on the monkey bars of life I just let go of "30" rung and now I'm only holding the 40 and incredibly starting to swing my free arm towards the 50. how's that for an uninspiring thought.

Some disturbing things happened this week in the news. Some guy torched himself and his own two kids in a car in Springfield to get back at their mother, and another guy in Indiana picked his daughter up from school, went to the airport and flew himself and her in his plane into his in-laws house. If you're going to be coward enough to check out in some sort of spectacular fashion like that, do everyone a favor & drop the kiddies off at the Dream Machine with a couple of rolls of quarters and a king size pack of Spree, ok?

Monday, March 5, 2007

there is no chain

ooooooh... today's ride home was *fantastic*. I had to check for a chain afterwards, it didn't feel like there was one on there at all. I was pushing the 53/16 the whole way and it felt effortless. It was super windy out to. Strange because my legs were heavy on the way in and sore all day from Saturday's run. The bike guys over at Trek Stop will cringe when they see this picture: I'm pretty sure that any more than 5 or 6 nanograms of sand per square inch is out of spec for the oclv Treks. At least it gets used, so if you're reading this Gerry just think of it as job security.

So what is the likely explination for the good feeling in the legs? There's no question that a major factor is the fact that I'm more than half way to raising the required $3,600 for the PMC, with 6 months to go before the ride. I'm fortunate to know so many generous people who share a desire to do something about cancer. Your donations have made a difference! I've told so many people that I didn't solicit about your generosity, and I've seen them react with suprise and admiration. Your committment to this worthy cause has not gone unoticed or unappreciated.

Faith in humanity: restored. Thank you.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

we've got it simple, cause we've got a band

If you were to ask one of the half a dozen or so people I talk to on a regular basis, you'd know that I've been trying to live more simply latey. It started sometime before christmas when I saw a woman in target freaking out about gifts she could or could not find... I'm not even sure which. The commercialization of the holiday hit me hard, and my anti-consumerism thoughts have been getting stronger ever since. Stuff, I'm realizing, isn't important. It doesn't make you better, it just gives you more things to worry about and more things to fret that you don't own yet.

It's working into many parts of my life. This morning, CJ pointed out a toy thrown into the woods down the street and asked why someone did that. I offered a brief explination, then suggested he never do anything like that himself. Then I laid it on him... "better yet, before you even buy something like that, decide if you really need it, and if you don't, skip it. If a few hundred people make that same choice, the toy company will make fewer of them to be thrown in the woods when the next *must have* toy comes along." Heavy for a 5 year old, but he can hack it.

Anyway, why the picture of Gump? I often wish I enjoyed playing basketball or running cross country, it would have been much simpler and easier than playing hockey like I did. Much less of a burden on my parents and much easier to do when ever or where ever I wanted to. I went running yesterday, and everything about it was great: made me wish I was running the marathon again this year. Good runs like that make me feel guilty for spending money and resources on my relatively new hobby of cycling, but I can justify it because I ride to work often enough. Yeah, I know I have more bikes than I need, but I'm working on getting that down. Keep your eyes on ebay if you are in the market for a coulpe of carbon wonder bikes from a well known american mfgr.

Friday, March 2, 2007

homeownership is sometimes overrated

frozen ground + rain storm + snow on the ground = water in the basement. Coming in at about 42 gallons per hour. If you don't have kids, buy a nice condo in a development with snow removal service, landscaping, and a pool.