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The Season is (not entirely) Over

Sep. 22nd, 2008 | 10:55 pm
mood: boredbored

I've been home for almost a week after the tour of Missouri and some easy work at the warehouse and that was the last of it. The race itself was a bit boring, if not really fast, and nothing particularly exciting happened, but it was cool all the same. It was one of the few races where we've hired our second mechanic, so that was nice to hang out with Jim O'brien and have a really easy time working and getting done really early in the day so we could hang out and relax.
While the season is certainly gasping its last breath for me, it's not entirely over. I still have one last trip to make before I can actually say I am in the off-season. I have to go to Interbike. I'm looking forward to it this time because last year I was just so totally overwhelmed with the grandeur of it all that I wasn't able to focus myself on anything specifically, but just the shiny mass of bike shit that surrounded me. It's definitely going to be an eventful trip no matter what goes down. I'm excited.
I also have to drive home from Las Vegas in the brand new Bissell Pro Cycling team car, which I was originally planning on stopping and camping at cool places along the way, but considering my grand plans for an actual bike tour in Oct., I'm going to just haul sausage back to MI so I can do some shakedown trips and what not before the epic begins.
On that note, I've made great strides towards my ultimate goal of riding my bike from MPLS to Caddylack. I fired up my old-ass MSR Whisperlite stove that I haven't used for a great many years and after cleaning out the pump, replacing a few o-rings and praying nothing blew up, it worked like a charm, so I'll at least be able to boil water for coffee while I'm on the road. Anyway, whatever. What else do I do during time off? I go to the dunes. It's better there.

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Bite the Bullet

Aug. 14th, 2008 | 01:14 am
music: Working At Perfekt - Geddy Lee

I suppose I should just bite the bullet and write a new blog entry. I've sadly let this blog slip and I don't think anyone really reads it anymore. It's really been due mostly to laziness and the fact that nothing has been happening. This season has been stressful and I don't really feel like writing about shit that isn't very entertaining or cool. I've been home for a total of about 20 days since January 2nd, which means I've been on the road for basically the entire year. I left and didn't come home for five months, which sucked, but was partly by choice so I shouldn't get too bent about it. I'm basically waiting for this season to be over so I can regroup, and try to get back into shape. That's probably been the biggest bummer of the season is the fact that I was in pretty decent shape last year and this year has been an absolute disaster in terms of me actually getting exercise.
I have a plan though to pull myself out of this nose dive. I recently purchased a cargo bike frame from a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's a frame that is built around the xtracycle rack stuff and it's pretty cool. I had a bike a long time ago, back when it was the only way I got around, that had an xtracycle attachment and I really like those things, and I'm imagining a frame with the extension already built in will be stiffer and way cooler. The problem that I have is that I won't be able to get it home because I simply don't have a car big enough to get it home. My only option is to ride it back to Michigan. I came up with the idea of riding my bike to my brother's place in Minneapolis when I was living in France and never really got around to it, and this is sort of a different version of the trip I initially envisioned, but it'll still be cool. I have some ideas that will make it better. I plan on riding home after The Homie Fall Fest in Minneapolis, which is basically a giant, pre-halloween, gathering of crazy bike people in the city which usually degenerates into debauchery and people jumping their bikes over a bon-fire. It's an all day event, and it's fun. I went once with my brother and a couple of my (read, my only two) friends from Michigan. Jim broke his finger like a retard, and it while it was a bit of a buzzkill, it was pretty classic Jim Oliver, getting drunk and falling down.... Anyway, the ride will start in late october which means two things. The first being that I will not be able to take the boat across the lake, and I'll be forced to go through the UP so that'll be cool. And since I'll be in the UP in late October, I should run into some pretty good weather at some point. I'm also considering riding south from the Mackinaw Bridge to my house on the North Country Trail, which would add a pretty stupid amount of off-road mileage on non-bike friendly trails, but I still think it'd be pretty cool. Anyway, that's my plan for the off-season. My next blog entry will probably have something to do with how work has dashed my hopes and dreams once again, but hopefully it'll all work out. The planning is coming along well, now I just need the time, and thankfully my job does generally afford me some big gaps of time off in the fall.
Despite all the stresses and the sad beginnings of repetition that has come with going to the same races for the last few years, there have been some bright spots. I have seen some funny stuff on the road and had my usual run-ins with crack-heads, bike-nerds and your average run-of-the-mill-asshols that I enjoy so much. And I managed to take some photos to prove it. Anyway, the season is winding down now, with only the Tour of Utah(which is one of my past favorites), USPro stuff, which will be fun because J.O.B. will be on staff, some podunk Michigan thing, and The Tour of Misery, which I haven't done before so I'm excited for something new. Then it's over, so at least it'll be a strong finish.

The most classic example was at a bar on Tybee Island, GA before the start of the Tour de Georgia whereupon a police officer walked into the bar I was drinking at and started throwing a set of the bar's darts. After losing a couple of rounds he inspected the darts, left for about fifteen, then came back, still in uniform, with his own darts. It was pretty awesome.

I also went to Durango with my girlfriend. I saw this deer, standing all regally on a hilltop in the snow. I'd of been a fool not to take a picture.
Then there's been work.... I've seen a lot of the following:

Broken Shit

Crappy Dinners that would give John McCain a flashback

And my greatest triumph: getting Mark to buy black handlebar tape. It is true, what they say about 'going black.'

I also got these sweet coveralls thanks to Jim O'brien and his hook up with DEI. They have my name on them.... I suppose they can spare a set of coveralls being that they probably have more money than NASA at that shop.

And plenty of Parking Lot Weirdos


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You Know You've Arrived When....

Aug. 7th, 2008 | 11:25 pm
music: Thin Lizzy, Goddamnit.

You have a belt buckle with your name on it. It's just Johnny Cash bonus cheddar style points when it proclaims you Queen of the 1999 Durango Rodeo, and it's the real buckle from the rodeo. I've apparently been doing things right this whole time. Who knew?

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Jun. 2nd, 2008 | 11:47 pm

Well, this is another one of those blog entries where I apologize for not writing a blog entry to people that probably don't read my blog anymore. It's the circle of life though, I'll get new readers... maybe....
Anyway, I just read my last entry, and it's pretty insane thinking about all the places I've been since I wrote the last entry. I'll try to recap things a bit. Since spending Easter in California, I drove across the country to spend about a week in North Carolina with a few day stop in Durango, CO. After NC, we did the tour of Georgia, which was pretty cool. From there it was a week in New Mexico for another race, then ten days or so in Oregon, uh then drove to Michigan for the Tour de Leelanau, had about three days off which I spent reorganizing my life after five straight months of being on the road, then had to leave again for Arlington, VA and the Philly week crap just as I was getting ready to relax at home. Maybe next time I guess. I have a bunch of photos that are on my dead phone, I'll try to post those a bit later. I'll also try to come up with an interesting blog entry in the meantime. Thanks for checking in.
I did get attacked by a bat when I arrived at our house in Pennsylvania.... Maybe I'll tell you that story when I return. I'm thinking it was trying to get some retribution for it's fallen comrade that I murdered last year while making the drive from Oregon to Philly. I did post a photo of the desiccated corpse, so I guess I had it coming....

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Does the Pope Shit in the Woods?!

Mar. 25th, 2008 | 11:04 pm
music: Faith No More - Ashes to Ashes

There are a lot of situations people find themselves in on a day to day basis where the path isn't always clear; moral quandaries, where you don't always know what you should do or what the right thing to do is. Well, I didn't have any problems on Sunday for Easter when Glen's neighbor, Tony asked me if I wanted a glass of Brandy before noon because he followed it up by telling me that, "da pope-a-called and a-said dat it-a was okay." Phew, I was worried for a second. Why not partake in the Sacrament? It's f'n Easter!
Glen's neighbor Tony is this super old guy from Italy who has two acres of land smack in the middle of downtown Santa Rosa, upon which he grows grapes and makes his own wine. He reminds me a lot of my friend John's dad. He has a garden, makes most of his food from scratch and lives a life completely different from most everyone around him. He's a disappearing piece of this country's history of immigrant labor, who came at a time when sucking it up and working your ass off actually meant that you would someday get ahead and live comfortably without being a wage slave for the rest of your life. Those days are gone now and we only have these old dudes who were kids during WWII left as proof. Thanks VISA. Thanks Master Card. Thanks debt industry. I don't think you have the same kind of chance in this country now and it's an interesting look back at a very different, and in my opinion, more common sense time.
Anyway, he made Easter pretty interesting, and that was cool. He cooked us an absolutely enormous meal for lunch and then another one for dinner after Glen and I had split a bunch of wood for him. Anyway, I took a bunch of photos because he has a pretty cool compound, and it was a good way to begin the end of my time in the land that sanity has apparently forgotten. It's off to San Dimas tomorrow, Redlands next week, then the Tour de Georgia and beyond.... Shazam.

Glen, Tony and myself doing the work that will later get us so well fed... uhh... and lots of wine, and brandy... and grappa....

The barbeque that made the food.... It's a bunch of shit that has nothing to do with barbequeing that is welded together to make an actual barbeque. There's even a chainring off a bicycle in there! Fancy that!

These boxes were filled with the wine Tony made, and everyone drank. It was good. The wine Tony makes has no sulfates in it which means, delicious and no hangovers. Did I mention Tony was cool?

More wine making gadgetry that I thought was cool. I tried to make wine once... it wasn't even this high tech, and the yields were much less enjoyable....

Another interesting thing about Tony was that he dove for Abalone when he was a younger man. He literally had hundreds upon hundreds of shells on his property.

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Mar. 20th, 2008 | 12:45 pm

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Sometimes Life Just isn't Blog-Worthy.

Mar. 15th, 2008 | 04:42 pm

I've been getting a lot of requests for blog updates, and I can only assume that is because people have taken the comment I made about being like a CIA agent literally. This really could not be further from the truth, and I only meant that I was like a CIA agent at that particular moment. If you don't believe me, I'll tell what is going on around me at this very moment.... I'm sitting on a bed at Glen's house, watching one of his cats lick its butthole. Pretty exciting isn't it? Things have actually been pretty damn boring as of late. I shouldn't say boring, but I haven't really been doing all that much. Definitely nothing worth writing about....
The black hole of awfulness that is the month of racing in the central valley of California has been done away with, and I've had a pretty big chunk of time off lately. The team was cool enough to actually fly me someplace in the contiguous 48 so I was able to go to Minneapolis and see my brother for a little while. That was cool. It was pretty bad timing because my visit happened to coincide with the passing of his girlfriend's sister, which meant that my brother and his girlfriend were not at home and I basically sat inside of their house for five days and cowered from the Minnesota Winter, while life passed me by outside. I've become a pretty serious pussy when it comes to winter anymore. I'm ashamed, but I'll probably have opportunities to turn that around later. I did get to see JIM and the rest of the marvelous populous of the great city of Minneapolis though for a few days and that was cool. My brother did a good job of helping his girlfriend's family through their rough time and I was proud of him. Funerals are always strange for me and this one was no different. I didn't know the dead person, but I was still struck by the odd wave of inexplicable sadness at different points during the funeral. Whatever though, just more proof for my theories about life.
Now it's two weeks in Santa Rosa hanging out waiting for the remainder of the crappy crappy California races to finish up, at which point I will head east for the Tour de Georgia, and Jim O'brien's place, where we will further pimp the trailer and eat barbeque pork sandwiches. Yum.
Sadly my current phone has limited my ability to take pictures because it is one of those fancy smart phone and it takes forever to get the camera thing up and running. It's a shame really because Merced was a very target rich environment in terms of parking lot weirdos. I really missed out on that, and I'm hoping to have the opportunity to get back on that horse very soon. There's a lot of nut jobs that aren't getting their pictures posted on the internet because of my phone, and that just makes me sad.
Oh yeah, and in other news, I've been asked to start a blog for the team website here, so you can all go there and look for blog updates if you aren't satisfied with this one... ya bastards.

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If you're gonna spew, spew into this....

Feb. 28th, 2008 | 01:17 pm

It's been a pretty long six weeks. I think the last time I wrote a blog I was doing something like driving in a snowstorm.... We'll, the snowstorm ended and the shit-storm began with training camp once I finally got to California having to try to maintain a fleet of 36 race bikes, plus all of the bullshit you need to run a professional cycling team all by myself. What's that you say? Impossible? Well, it was for me. Thankfully Mark saw the desperation in my eyes and we hired a SRAM neutral guy to help me out so we could get everything mostly dialed before ToC started. There were still a few bumps along equipment highway, but everything was pretty smoothed over by stage two so wtf?
I managed to make the newspaper after the first stage when I got so sick in the car that I had to have Glen pull over so I could vomit. I thought it was an errant case of motion sickness, because every now and again I do get a little pukey in the car when there is someone sitting in front of me, obscuring my view of the race/horizon and there was, in fact, a reporter sitting in the front seat. The reporter had a pretty goddamn big head too, so that was just another thing to deal with. All that aside though, it turned out that it wasn't actually motion sickness because I was sick for the next three days and had some impressively voluminous hurls after the car rides were over. The sort of funny moment was that when I was getting sick in the car I told Glen that I needed him to pull over, but apparently there was something more important happening in the bike race so he hands me a musette bag (the small cloth bags the soinguers put food in for the racers during the race) and says, "I can't pull over, you'll have to go in this...." I would have quoted the line from Wayne's World when Garth says to the roadie "if you're gonna spew, spew into this." and hands the guy a folded up dixie cup, but I was far too sick and trying not to actually have to use the musette bag to throw up in.
ToC is now in the books and, you know... whatever. It was pretty good. I was sick for most of it, so I basically just washed bikes, tried to stave off vomiting in the car by sleeping during the race and that was pretty much it. I was awake and feeling okay in time to see Zirbel have the best race of his life though pulling out two fantastic results and looking like an absolute stud on the last day of the race. Maybe it wasn't the best race of his life, but I think he was definitely our team's MVP. This is all not to mention BJM's top 20 GC finish..... Now it's off to someplace... I'm not exactly sure where. I'm sitting in the lobby of our hotel awaiting instructions. I'm like a CIA agent, bitch.

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The Reports of My Demise Have Been Greatly Over-Exaggerated

Jan. 21st, 2008 | 10:00 pm

I made it to Calfornia. My friend John was the only person that called me to express any sort of concern. He also wanted to call dibs on my motorcycle. I'm not sure how to take that, but when I do die for real, John gets everything. Photos!

When Jim O'brien and I get together, sparks, and scotch, always fly! In process of building the new, giant trailer.

This is the beginning of the end for my drive through Wyoming. These two semi's got side by side and herded, nay shepherded traffic through the blinding whiteout at an agonizingly slow 15mph.

Same thing, but during daylight. It may not look like it, but this is what Eisenhower spent all that money on... a baron, snow drifted wasteland of expedience through the middle of the US.

Everytime I drive though Nevada, I see some really awesome trick of light. This wasn't the best angle to take the picture from, but I was too busy eating a pop-tart to catch it in time. Hopefully not all impact was lost due to pop-tarts... but damn are those things tasty.

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Here Lies BenO

Jan. 19th, 2008 | 04:56 pm

I remember when I was in High School my Mom took my brother and I on a cross country drive from California to Michigan. And on that drive I remember thinking a couple of things. One was just noticing how immense this country is, second was me thinking how cool it would have been if I would have been born back in the pioneer days and third, being amazed by just how much boring shit there is between California and Michigan. I thought that if I had been born back then I'd of been some Jim Bridger type. I'm realizing now, considering the fact that I am, as I write this, stranded in a rest area hunkered down just outside of Laramie, WY while a snowstorm rages outside the van, that I would not be the heroic, Jim Bridger type that kills bears and rescues white women from the clutches of indians, but the more common and less storied retard that gets drunk and falls into an ice cold river a tad west of the Mississippi and dies of hypothermia, or gets mauled by the same bear Jim Bridger will eventually kill with a sharp stick. Oh well, the world needs Janitors too, right?
I figured I'd write this as both the usual blog chronicle of my travels, but also as a last will and testament because at the rate I am going, there is no way in hell I'm going to make it to California. I left Mark's place Wednesday around 4:30pm and drove to about Des Moines, IA where it started to snow and blow so hard that I was forced to pull off the road. I probably saw about 15 accidents happen, and that particular stretch took me back to my bedwetting days in High School because every time I'd hit a patch of ice on the road, the back wheels of the van would lose traction, the rear end of the van would slide out and the trailer would start to swing. And every time that would happen I would pee just a little bit. It was very humiliating, but thankfully I was alone.
I pulled over at 1am after that happened about a dozen times or so thinking that I shouldn't push my luck, and climbed into the waiting arms of the first bench seat in the van where I slept for a comfortable nine hours and resumed my forward march. As an aside, the new Merrell winter jackets we got (Merrell is one of our clothing sponsors, buy their shit, I command thee!) are great because they are pretty long and double as a good blanket if you ever have to sleep in a van during a snowstorm.
The scene that greeted me upon returning to the freeway was that of a frozen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. There was CAR-nage everywhere. Some wrecks, mostly just people that probably didn't turn off their cruise control and dumped it in a ditch, but a couple of the accidents were very serious, zero-percent survivability looking disasters.
Anyway, now I'm here, nowhere, writing a blog post because I'm bored and stranded. And for the last will and testament part... uh... I pretty much threw everything I owned away, but if you like guitars, I've got a few of those at my house. Or if you need tools to fix bicycles I have a lot of those laying around, and several bikes to choose from.... FIrst come, first served. I'll repost when I'm in California so you vultures don't take all my stuff before I'm actually dead.

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