Monthly Archives: February 2011

Murphy’s Law

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It seems that I’ve been proving Murphy’s Law right for the last couple weeks. For most of the trip to Belgium and now back in Kansas. Yesterday I woke at, my now normal 5 am, only to find it 50 something degrees in the house. The furnace wasn’t working. So, I spent the better part of the afternoon trouble shooting the flashing codes and messing with it. Finally after a few hours, I found that the collection sump for the condensation was clogged and it was shutting off the gas. So, I felt pretty smart and lucky. I figure that would have cost at least $300, probably more, and the guy probably wouldn’t have found the problem any faster than me.

Then, the weather changed dramatically here in Kansas. I was going to go for a ride before this blizzard hits, but the roads were black ice. I went to the store to get some stuff and it was out of control. You could hardly walk up any isle. It was like the day before Thanksgiving. The gas station in front of the parking lot had lines of cars waiting to fill up. It was supposed to dump up to a foot of snow today, but it seemed like people were being a little extreme in this day and age.

So, now Murphy’s Law. The brakes went out on my AWD van last night. Completely out. I nursed it back to my driveway, put on my overalls and got a flashlight. The brake line to the rear wheels is broken above the gas tank. Something completely inaccessible to get to. I called a Chrysler dealer in California, since they were still open, and the guy in the parts department told me they don’t sell the lines anymore. So I have to remove the two brake lines to the back and either fabricate them myself or take them somewhere and have them made. All this with the high temperatures today supposed to be in the upper teen’s. Plus, don’t forget, up to a foot of snow. There is no reason that this broke on the coldest and nastiest day of the winter. It could have very easily broke on a nice sunny, summer day. It is just Murphy’s Law in full force.

This might put a damper on going x-country skiing for a few days any time soon. It’s right about now I wish that my garage wasn’t completely full of bikes and wheels.

Not close to enough room for a car. But, there will be soon, I hope.

I was just trying to get some fruits and vegetables.

Ever Had 3 Cars Stolen on One Day?

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I have. Now. Yesterday was a Comedy of Errors. Yesterday made the day before look like a vacation. Yesterday pretty much sucked. I’m pretty sure that yesterday has to be in the top 5 of all weird days of my life.

Yesterday started at my now normal 5 am, with a little dog surgery. Then the engine of my van caught on fire while trying to get it into the garage. But the highlight of the day was discovering that I am missing 3 automobiles that I previously had.

I have been meaning to write about Jeff. Jeff is a desert storm vet. He has lived in a house I own here in Topeka for 2 1/2 years. He is/was my “renter”. But, he never paid rent. Not one month. He got behind the first month and, I guess, could never catch up.

I liked Jeff. He is raising 4 step kids. He seemed pretty honest. Other that nothing he ever said about money ever occurred, he seemed pretty nice. I didn’t really care that much about the money. I cared some, but not enough to confront him.

I think I justified Jeff by thinking it was a charitable thing. A poor black man, who was disabled through the Iraqi war, raising kids that aren’t his. And his kids are great. But, things went downhill fast today.

I got a call in the morning by the Gas Service Co. that they had a disconnect order for my house. I asked if it was because of lack of payment, but it was because a service disconnect had been ordered. Jeff was moving. I told him to leave the gas on.

I drove over to Jeff’s only to find no one there. There were no footprints in the 8 inches of fresh snow. There was a lot of furniture on the porch, so I figured they weren’t gone yet, but weren’t living there.

Behind this house is a detached 2 car garage. With 3 of my cars in it. A 1970 Saab Sonett, a 1983 Honda Civic S, and a 1986 Dodge Caravan (manual transmission, 4 speed). I noticed that the door to the garage was open. I had a padlock on it last time I saw it, which hadn’t been for awhile. Anyway, I go look in the garage and all three cars are gone. And there is a bunch of other stuff being stored there. Crazy.

There has been a ton of stuff in the paper about people ripping off metal to sell for scape. There is a crime spree by some guy that is going on top of commercial buildings mainly, and stealing the copper out of the rooftop air conditioners. And three city employees just got caught stealing metal from the city and recycling it. I thought you were supposed to have the title to scrape a car, but this is Kansas.

So, I’m pondering what to do here. Report it to the police? Forget about it? Civil court? Maybe just rack it up as a life experience? Pretty strange day.

A highlight of yesterday was riding indoors. I know, I usually hate that with a passion. But, yesterday wasn’t so bad. I rode for and hour 15 and had pretty unbelievable power. For me at least. I’ve had this Tunturi ergometer for nearly 30 years. It just uses spring tension for wattage, but that is accurate enough for me. As long as it is consistent, it doesn’t really matter what the numbers are.

Cabin Fever Already/Groundhog Day

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I have it and I’ve only ridden 2, yes, 2 days inside. And, pleasantly surprising, both of those times it hasn’t been like sticking needles in my eyes. I’ve been renting movies and just riding. Pretty hard actually. Riding indoors is always hard mentally though.

There is a ton of snow here, as just about everywhere else in the country. I don’t know the reason exactly, but there was virtually no plowing of any roads the first 24 hours of snow. Must be no $$$. It is pretty sad when city services can’t do something as simple as remove snow from the major streets so people can get around and go to work. I wonder if anyone takes into account how much revenue it costs the city in the long run by having everyone stay in their houses and not work or spend money.

Today I’m going to ride outside on my MTB bike. There is nothing like a little/a lot of snow and ice to keep your bike handling skills up to par. It got down to way below 0 last night, so it might take a bit to warm up today. The high is supposed to be around 20 today, so if you go by the winter rule, I should get a least 20 miles in. The winter rule, at least mine, is one mile for one degree temperature under 40. So, 28 degrees, at least 28 miles. It’s about as long as your extremities can handle it before they fall off. My fingers are having issues at any temperatures anymore. I use the rule mainly as a minimum mileage anyhow. Sometimes I ride 40 miles when it is 15. It’s all a matter if there is sun out, whether it is damp or wet and motivation, of course.

Yesterday was Groundhog Day. An early spring is on the way, if you believe the little guy. Do you think? One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day. Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. We have a dog named after her. I grew up with the exact same alarm clock that is so ever present throughout the movie. I like the movie because it is thought provoking. What would you do if you lived the same day over and over? Bill Murray becomes a physician, learns to play the piano and learns what is important in life. Pretty great movie, that could qualify as a film.

Sometimes bike racing becomes a little like Groundhog Day. Not in a bad way. In a good way. One of the best things about the sport is that there is always the next race. And we get the opportunity to compete way more than other sports. It switches up some, but I probably average close to 80 race days per year. I think one year, way back, I had close to 125 race days. That involves a lot of stage racing and a lot of travel. I can’t think of another sport which you can compete so often, if you desire.

I’m getting lighter since I got back from Europe. I think I’ve just be lazy eating. Oatmeal and tea for breakfast. Not much lunch, then I try to eat dinner, but that has been sort of hit or miss recently. Maybe I’ll be light all season. I doubt it.

I need to put my road bike back together sometime soon. I swore I wasn’t going to bastardize it during ‘cross season, but I still did. I need to go somewhere warm. This winter stuff, snow shoveling in particular, is getting quite old. And I’ve only been in it a little over a week. Man, am I a pussy.

Boy, this is just turning into a wandering ramble. I guess that is what happens when you have cabin fever.

Dinner last night. Pretty lazy. I did eat some olives later though.

This isn't normal here in Topeka.

Domestic Elite BS

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I got into a discussion with a bunch of guys about the “new” formation of domestic elite teams for the National Racing Calender. I know this doesn’t really have much to do with many riders and not many people reading this even know anything about it or care. But, after thinking about it for a couple days, I think it addresses a bigger issue.

The deal is that USAC has made a new designation of Elite Teams for NRC races. You receive this designation by paying USAC $250 and submitting a list that has the names of up to 25 Cat. 1 riders on it that you want to be able to “earn” points at NRC races throughout the season for your team. Here is a link to a Velonews article that kind of explains the idea.

The main complaint I was hearing was the $250 fee for keeping track of something that they did already. I agreed. So, I called Micah Rice, the National Event Director at USAC and talked to him for awhile about it. Micah and I go pretty far back. He ran the Jittery Joe Team and before that raced, so he is the right guy to have in the position at USAC. At least he understands the issues. But, I really didn’t get a great explanation to the question of why the money to do something that you’d think would be done automatically.

Why have a series of races that you call the National Racing Calender, but don’t score all the overall points unless each participate pays extra money to have their points tallied? It would be like racing the NORBA Series, but only scoring points if you paid an extra $100 for them to keep track of your points. Or racing UCI Cyclo-X events in the US, which is the National Cyclo-X Calender, and only getting the points scored if you paid extra. Can you imagine that if Major League Baseball couldn’t keep track of who won games throughout the season. Or, the PGA couldn’t score the Ryder Cup points, a selection series that they came up with themselves. I could go on and on. It seems just wrong.

I asked Micah and he said that USAC had hired someone exclusively to keep track of points in the National Racing Calender and maybe other series. I got the feeling that the fee was to offset some of the salary of this guy. I asked him how many teams he thought would register. He guessed around 25. I’m guessing less. It would surprise me if there are 25 teams in the US with 8 Cat. 1 riders on them.

I checked out the 2010 National Racing Calender points from last year and it is all jacked up. I looked at my TradeWind Energy Team points. From what I can tell, Brian Jensen had 38 points and I had 21 points, but our Team total was 33 points. So obviously, I might not know how to add the point total or the total points are all jacked up. So, if the later is true, then USAC needs a much better way to keep track of the points.

But, I can’t agree that charging amateur teams a $250 fee to keep track of the points is the correct method. It is pretty much bullshit in my opinion. We’re not going to do it. And we won 2 NRC races last year. UCI teams don’t pay anything. So if a foreign team registered with the UCI comes and races NRC races, they will be scored. But, the US elite teams, which each rider paid USAC a license fee, have to pay again. It seems just wrong.

So, the bigger issue is if we, as riders, are going to be nickel and dimed by USAC for services each and every time they decide to implement “new” services. Or upgrade the services they already have. I’m sorry if they have a hard time keeping track of their own race series overall results. DON’T have the series if you can’t score it. Pretty simple. And quit making the sport more expensive than it already is. Between gasoline prices, airline charges and entry fees, riders have enough to deal with. We shouldn’t have to be paying our governing body extra for the basics.

The point of this isn’t to slam USAC about this “new designation”. Micah and the USAC have good intentions here. But, I don’t think that USAC realizes as they make all these minor errors, it alienates another segment of their support. Micah said that the organization (USAC) needs to become more professional as it grows. This isn’t the way.

Maybe all the guys I was talking with would be appeased if USAC gave out a pair of socks with the $250 registration fee.

Tour of Qatar – Chinese New Year

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The Tour of Qatar begins tomorrow, Sunday. Trudi and the BMC Team flew to Qatar Thursday afternoon from Paris. She has done the race the past two years, so it isn’t new to her. I think a lot of people are ready to get the races going. It is amazing how much travel and work is done at training camps, ect. before a Pro Team ever even clips in. I’ll keep you updated as much as possible to the inside happenings over there.

The Chinese New Year started Thursday too. The year of the rabbit. Chinese year 4708 on the Chinese calender. It’s a pretty big deal for them. There are 1.3 billion Chinese people. Maybe we should be paying more attention to their holidays/celebrations.

Waiting for the Team Presentation.

Team Presentation area.

It's not always so glamorous. Lots of waiting around.

I guess the hotels are always crazy nice at this race. They are moving from a Ritz-Carlson to another Ritz-Carlson today.

Dessert buffet at the hotel. My kind of hotel.

Super Bowl Sunday

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Lots of sport watching this weekend. KU basketball was on yesterday afternoon after the ride. Now today, I’ve already watched the race in Qatar and the Superprestige Cyclocross in Hoogstraten. Plus, the Super Bowl tonight. I would qualify as a couch potato today.

It is not that cold out right now. In the 30’s. I’ve been getting in okay miles the last few days. But, it takes its toll. Riding in the cold zaps you pretty good. Napping is mandatory. I spray my bike off after every ride. If I didn’t, it would go the way as my brake lines on my van. There is so much salt on the roads.

Not sure what I’m doing riding wise today. Yesterday we got in nearly 3 hours. Bill and I are pulling pretty much the whole time. It was pretty windy, as usual in Kansas. Michael Fatka once told me “it’s not the temperature, it’s the wind”. That is so true. Windchill is a made up thing, but I’d much rather be walking around at -15 degrees with no wind, than at 10 degrees with the wind blowing 40mph. Bill and I did that a few days ago dog walking in the country. It was nearly unbearable walking into the headwind.

Okay. Routing for the Packers. I have too many ties to Wisconsin not to be.

I have no idea who buys these, but I've been observing the display the last few days at the store and they are disappearing quickly.

If you ate enough cheese balls, this is what you'd ultimately end up like.

Bill on the dog walk.

What most of the roads in the country look like. Completely white with salt.

Photos from Qatar

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Just got back from riding. It was 35 going on -15. I’m not sure why that was, but it was a damp, windy cold. No sun. Barely got in 2 hours before I cried “uncle”.

Here are some photos from Qatar. Nothing spectacular, not much racing, but there hasn’t been much racing yet.

View from Trudi's balcony at the Ritz-Carlton race hotel.

Rabobank guys warming up before the TT this afternoon. Lars Boom won.

Sean Kelly getting interviewed.

And, Merckx.

A beach in Doha.

A couple BMC guys getting watched warming up.