Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tricolore Hiatus

Starting tomorrow, my little blog-o-rama will be going on hiatus for a couple weeks. I’m off to Italy on holiday and I’m not sure how much internet access I’ll have, or want for that matter. I hope to write some and take lots of pictures, but I’m not sure I’ll have the wherewithal to do the online thing.

Basso gets tag-teamed—this never happens at my races.

Week one, I will be cheering my man Ivan Basso on to what will hopefully be the first of his two grand tour victories of the year—the other being that little French race in July. I’ll also be riding parts of the course of what’s been described as the “brutal third week” of the Giro d’Italia:

“The 89th Giro d'Italia's final week gets serious on Tuesday May 23's stage 16 that finishes atop the mythical Monte Bondone, where Charly Gaul won fifty years ago and sewed up his Giro win. The next day is another mountaintop finish at Plan de Corones after a steep unpaved climb. After a transitional stage east through Friuli, the Giro's brutal final weekend finale has yet another mountaintop finish atop Passo San Pellegrino after Forcella Staulanza, Marmolada and Pordoi. Saturday's queen stage is Trento-Aprica including Passo Tonale, the legendary Gavia (Cima Coppi) and super-steep Mortirolo.
The final day of the Giro d'Italia was to have had stages, but the 11km uphill ITT up the mythical climb of the Ghisallo has been scrapped and the riders will just race from Ghisallo to Milano for the traditional criterium finish.” -
courtesy cyclingnews

We also may get to do the legendary Stelvio Pass, which is not part of the race this year. Click the pic to check it out…amazing.

My legs hurt with baited anticpation...Passo Stelvio.

Week two will be ‘regular’ tourist time sans bikes mainly in Milan and Venice. I’m sure it will be a welcome change from the steeps of the Dolomites by then.

Until I return…

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bike to work or else!

Chuck Norris Bike to Work Day
If you know anything about Chuck Norris—and you do—you know he’s not one to be messed with. Also knowing that Chuck Norris wants you to ride your bike to work on Bike to Work Day (Thursday, May 18th), and knowing that Chuck Norris can deliver roundhouse kicks to everyone in the country faster than Santa Clause can deliver presents, you should feel quite compelled to partcipate if for nothing else than your own personal safety. Chuck Norris has also made it easier for you because he knows how much weaker you are than he is. Here are nine Chuck Norris Bike to Work Day Facts:

9. Chuck Norris will punch down every road tonight so that wherever you ride tommorow, it will be downhill.

8. Chuck Norris will ride every ride on every road tomorrow and if he weren’t going so fast, you’d see him.

7. When Chuck Norris is behind you his breath will be like a 30mph tailwind minimum.

6. After Chuck Norris passes you, you will be sucked to work by the vacuum.

5. If you should happen to break your frame tommorow, Chuck Norris will come by and weld it back together by urinating on it.

4. If Chuck Norris rode a time trial bike, he’d be so fast the earth would start spinning the wrong way.

3. Chuck Norris annually wins the Tour de France by such a wide margin that they don’t bother even listing him. The “winner” is really just the second place guy.

2. The wind resistance of Chuck Norris’ beard is the only thing that keeps his bike from melting beneath him.

1. When asked if he needed a carbon fiber frame to be competitive, Chuck Norris grabbed the irony out of the question and bent it into a bike.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wasted but wanting

I am wrecked. Wasted. Shelled and spent. In the words of Ben Kweller—maxxed out like a credit card. I just got back from the Tuesday lunch bike ride in Santa Cruz. Today’s edition was especially gruesome. It’s always a bit more than casual. High intensity, high speed, high testosterone. Twenty-seven miles or so…out Highway 1 from town, up Bonny Doon Road to the top, turn around and come back. Headwind on the way out, bitch of a climb up, then a no-holes barred attack fest on the return.

Bonny Doon climbs something like 2000 feet in four or five miles. It hurts going slow. It hurts even more trying to keep up with the guy four cubes down. It absolutely kills to try and match pace with the former pro racer guys and gals in the bunch (not that I’ve ever stayed with them for long). My form is far from ideal for this time of year, which doesn’t help, but I’m not complaining.

Despite the pain, despite the lactic build-up, despite the “am I going to puke this time?” doubt, I love every cardiac minute of it. I am high on something indescribeable from within. I am a kook.

So I’d like to thank all my ride mates for kicking my ass. It feels great and I can’t wait to do it again next week.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing

My friend Chris sent me the photo below of he and James Brown at the Tour of Georgia bicycle race.

Before I go any further, could you please stand up out of your seat and scream “James Brown!” in a high pitched shriek. Excellent. Now sit down, and if you’re at work, pretend nothing happened.

So Chris sent me this photo and something seems very weird about it. I can’t put my finger on it exactly—I’d say it’s funky, but with the Godfather of Soul in the frame, that’s a given. Maybe I’m hung up on the fact that Soul Brother Number One is playing to a crowd of crackers at a bike race in Georgia. Or maybe it’s the awkward look, or the way JB is leaning on the fence…or the fact that he’s behind the fence at all—Is he still somehow incarcerated? I’m not sure either, but I need you to stand up from your seat and scream “Free James Brown!” OK, Thank you. Or maybe it’s just the inherent discomfort in the interface between the famous and the common folk. And as I think about my brushes with the famous, I realize they’ve all been awkward. To wit, I present yet another list of things—

Don’s awkward brushes with celebrities:
1) Dr. Quinn causes me to slam into the dad from That ‘70’s Show
OK, so maybe this one isn’t awkward…or any more awkward than the way things generally go with me, but it happened yesterday and I had written most of this post last week, so I think it was fate and must be included. I was in Sacramento attempting to meet a group of colleagues and there was a rally going on for a foster care support group on the capitol building steps. I was waiting with the majority of our group (unrelated to the foster care folks, no pun intended) and noticed that a few or our members were on the opposite side of the steps. They didn’t see us with all the hubbub going on so I decided to gather them and began to walk up the side of the steps, crossing behind the festivities to get to the other side. As I crossed, a stunningly beautiful woman walked out of the door with a graceful smile and delicate gait. I was taken with her eyes in particular and realized that it was TV’s Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, AKA actress Jane Seymour.

As my gaze followed her and I continued walking towards my colleagues, I nearly knocked a man over, who was following a few steps behind the good doctor. He was very gracious as I apologized and gave me a look that said “It’s OK men crash cars looking at this woman all the time, this wasn’t so bad.” After regaining my composure and my colleagues the man was being introduced to speak to the crowd (as had Jane) and turned out to be the guy who plays the dad on That ‘70’s Show…sorry I don’t know his name, but he was eloquent and nice. A final gush on Jane here—the 35 years between her debut as a Bond Girl at age 20 and now have treated her very well indeed.

2) The Lone Ranger is my reluctant Kemosabe
When I was in my early teens, I shook hands with actor Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on TV. It was at some big gathering at the Daley Center in Chicago. I was standing near the front of the crowd while Moore, resplendent in full Lone Ranger regalia (mask included), was answering questions about riding horses or pooping in the Wild West or something. At one point he looked at me—and I can still envision his eyes peering through the mask—and extended his hand. I took this as an invitation and shook his hand. He had a firm grip, no doubt developed over many years of roping cattle and sharp shooting and hitting bad guys over the head with whiskey bottles. I also remember an uncomfortable moistness which I felt through the stretchy polyester black gloves he was wearing—eww. After we shook, he held the microphone away from his mouth and said to me, “You know I don’t mind shaking hands, but now everyone’s gonna want to shake my hand.” Uh, OK.

3) His Airness gives me the pen
When Michael Jordan was a rookie on the Chicago Bulls he went to a Peabo Bryson concert at the Arie Crown Theater. I was working an entry door when he and a friend—no entourage or bodyguards—walked up. I recognized him and he knew it. Perhaps sensing that I would ask for an autograph, he, without a word, pulled out a pen and, strangely, handed it to me. A bit nervous, but not too starstruck, I said “Mr. Jordan can I see your tickets?” He smiled that cherubic smile as if to say “yeah, of course” and handed me his tickets. I tore the tickets and handed him the stubbs without asking for his autograph. As he walked away, I attempted to give him the pen back, but he said “no, you hang on to it.” It’s not exactly Mean Joe green throwing me his jersey after I gave him a Coke, but I’ll take it. I actually still have that pen…somewhere.

4) David Lowery violates my Scrubbing Bubble
When I lived in Chicago, Camper Van Beethoven was this “amazing band from Santa Cruz.” Now that I live near Santa Cruz and Camper is kinda over, it doesn’t seem as novel, but at the time I was a big fan and “Take the Skinheads Bowling” will forever be one of my favorite songs. Anyway, back in ’92 Lowery’s then-new band Cracker was playing a gig at Cabaret Metro. I arrived early and went to Pravda, the record store attached to the Metro to peruse their new vinyl. They also had odd toys and lunchboxes for sale and I found myself buying a Scrubbing Bubble squeaky toy for no other reason than it amused me. As I was getting my change this guy goes, “That’s so cool,” referring to my purchase. I looked up to see the goofy grin of David Lowery in line behind me. I told him, “Yeah thanks…hey I’m gonna see you play tonight.” He said something about rarely being recognized and asked if I wanted an autograph. I’m not really into autographs, but I didn’t want to offend him so I said yes. He then grabbed the Scrubbing Bubble out of my hand, whipped out a Sharpie and signed it. “How cool is that?!” He laughed, genuinely excited. “Not!” I thought, but just smiled and said thanks. When I got home I scrubbed it off.

5) At the Pisser with Roger Ebert
I once saw film critic Roger Ebert in a public restroom peeing, as one does, at a urinal (for the record, no I did not see his penis). I had not yet begun to unzip when another patron who had just relived himself recognized Mr. Ebert. The man was fairly animated and emphatically stated the obvious—“I thought I recognized you, you’re the movie guy from TV, Roger Ebert!” —as he zipped up, then tried to shake Ebert’s hand. Roger was visibly appalled as his eyebrow raised in horror and he said in a condescending voice that I did not disagree with, “I’d be happy to have a word with you OUTside the restroom AFTER you wash your hands.”

6) Stop nuzzling me your bodyguard is getting mad!
I wanna say it was 1999 or 2000 and I was at Supershow, a sporting goods trade show in Atlanta. My co-worker Matt and I were carrying some boxes from our booth and got on an elevator with a couple other people. As the door started to close a group of four men, two of whom were police officers, jogged toward the elevator. They asked us to hold the elevator and we obliged. The officers walked away and the two others got on with us—one was blinged-out and had a shortish but stocky build. The other, dressed in a suit, was possibly the largest human I’ve ever seen in person. As he got on, he literally put his hands out, turned around and kind of squished the rest of us against the back and side of the elevator and told us to stand back—I thought it particularly rude, especially since we held the elevator for them, but my sense of self preservation kept me from expressing this verbally. Matt and I were particularly cramped as we each were pinned on opposite walls between a meaty outstretched arm and the boxes we were carrying. For no apparent reason the blinged guy began to dance and rap/sing a little then nuzzled himself against Matt and then me for a second, which prompted another warning from the big man for us to stay back. I thought of reminding him that a) his ginormous appendages already had as far back as humanly possible, b) that we neither had, nor could move an inch since he got on the elevator, and c) that his precious little flippin’ buddy was the one invading our personal space, not the other way around! “Keep him the fuck back!” is what I was thinking. Thankfully, the elevator doors opened and they got off. Matt and I looked at each other in confused disbelief as these two kooks who had been squished to the back of the elevator high-five’d each other and told us that we had just been in the presence of greatness—Atlanta Falcons running back Jamal Anderson.

Fame. Whatever.