Mongo has ridden very well over the last couple of weeks. Several hundred miles, two successful insertions into the "Enemy Bike Shop" peloton, a half-dozen smackdowns, a couple of hard sessions of interval hill training...not too shabby. But the fact still remains that Mongo needs to lose twenty pounds o' fat if I'm going to step it up and get some results in my "Cat 5 Domination" campaign of 2011. So...
Once again, Mongo will be temporarily putting my addiction on the shelf for the entire month of December...and quitting the consumption of ice-cream.
Mongo doesn't do moderation with the vices I have, or have had, in my life. It's all or nothing! I plan on entering the new year at least 5-10 pounds lighter than I am, right now, sitting on my fat ass in front of the computer.
One of the things that Mongo has a bad habit of doing while riding is not looking where I'm going. This might seem like a "major' problem, but in reality, it's not really. Sometimes when tired, I let the weight of my massive cranium bring my eye-level down to only a few feet in front of my bike...causing me to lose track of any obstacles that may be further up the road. Though I always eventually look up, sometimes this has gotten me into trouble.
Potholes, dogs, people, debris, snakes...have all been on the receiving end of my lack of "farsight". Though the only things I've ever hit are road craters, there have been some close calls.
The other day I was on the home stretch of another successful smackdown, and was in the drops hammering the final nail in the coffin, when I looked up at 27 mph and realized I was thirty feet away from plowing into the backs of a nice young couple and their dog. Luckily, my years of Ninja training in Okinawa paid off, and I narrowly avoided an unexplainable and inexcusable catastrophe.
Today I was in a similar situation when I was forced to bunny-hop a large branch at the last second that I never saw coming. It was a "sweet" hop, by the way, with the kind of amplitude not usually found on the skinny tire circuit.
My point is this...As road cyclists, we are at the mercy of cars and their drivers. Careless and ignorant motorists literally threaten our lives every time we take to the roads. In the same vain, pedestrians, joggers, bladers, people on that "super-gay", stand-up, Trikke thingy, deserve the same consideration and respect from cyclists as we expect from motorists.
Mongo got a rare opportunity to ride over the past three days. I did the "Enemy Bike Shop" ride on Saturday with Clay and "Snow Bunny"...which everyone not named "Snow Bunny" completed and enjoyed. The peloton was 40+ strong, and the pace over the ride averaged close to 20 mph. I was actually quite surprised how well I rode. Mongo's performance was unexplained and unexpected...but I'll take it!
On Sunday, I took LPE out for a 30 mile recovery ride. It was fairly uneventful until I was forced to chase down and pass a dude on a Look 595. It is part of the fun, as well as the burden, to smackdown pretentious roadies on my tricked-out mountain bike. No one can believe it's happening to them...by me...so they expend every bit of energy in a losing effort.
Today, Mongo did a medium paced ride around the 23/2300 Hammerfest loop...then I added another 15 miles on the Silver Comet Trail. In my tired and depleted state on the way home, I was jumped by what I can only imagine was a husband/wife team, due to their matching Independent Fabrications titanium bikes, and had to do the final five kilometres (European for miles) at 26 mph to stay ahead of them.
It's not looking good for the "Frito Bandito" and "Mellow Johnny". There was no Clenbuterol found in any meat from the alleged, Spanish butcher, and Yaroslav Popovych has been raided and worked over by the Feds and Interpol like he knows something...maybe implicating not only MJ, but also exposing the the structure of institutional cheating in cycling?
Mongo expects Contador to get a two-year ban, and Armstrong to go down in much the same way Roger Clemens did...defiant to the end, but unable to escape the overwhelming testimony and evidence against him.
Mongo's been on the verge of getting sick for about a week now. Normally, I have the immune system of a trailer park Skunk, but at approximately 4:00 pm yesterday, Mongo officially succumbed to whatever is succumbing me.
It also just so happens that that time was a couple of hours after I had finished a tough ride. I did 30'ish miles of hard climbing and traffic avoidance with teammates, "I only ride at the front" Jason, and "There's an orchestra in my cassette" Clay. The combination of exertion, cold weather, and potholes, finally defeated my defenses.
I felt so shitty, that after some food and a shower, I went to sleep at seven thirty...bad idea! Mongo never, ever, ever, sleeps for more than eight hours...no matter what time I go to bed. You do the math...I was wide awake, and still very much sick, at three o'clock in the morning. Only after another hot shower and then watching Boardwalk Empire did I manage to get a couple more hours of sleep.
I'm looking at a week, at least, of no riding if I'm going to shake this bug.
Today, in Mongo's nape of the neck, it was 75 degrees and sunny...and I didn't ride. Instead, I stayed indoors, taking care of "bidness" on the computer. You know how it goes. One minute you sit down to check your e-mail, and then three hours later you're watching the "alleged" Chelsea Handler sex tape... It happens to all of us!
The day was not all for naught, because Mongo managed to get in a couple of runs at dusk on the Alva. It was cool, quiet, and peaceful...which I would have appreciated more had I not been lost in the rock and time signature of "Lateralus" on the mp3. Mongo got his "Fibonacci" on!
Now that the 23/2300 Hammerfest season has ended with the time change, Mongo must find other outlets for my Monday riding. A small groundswell of support has risen for an 8:00 am ride each week, but I'll believe it when I see it. It seems like most people forget to realize that at that time of the morning...during the Winter...it's cold as shit!
Mongo was supposed to go on a noon ride yesterday with "Cat 3 No-Show" MC-Lean. It seems like the young man got drunk the night before, forgot about our plans, and overslept. Though somewhat groggy and remorseful on the phone when I woke him up, he bailed on the ride. Luckily for Mongo, while I was waiting at the shop, my old nemesis and rival, Snow Bunny, expressed interest in going for a ride on his brand new, $6500.00 carbon "whip".
After much lollygagging and dicking around, Mongo agreed to do a five mile climb to meet SB by his house so that we could start the ride. Once under way, we did some of the Hammerfest course backwards and then decided to follow a mysterious marked route that overlapped some of the streets we use...and the adventure was officially on.
If I had more time and inclination, I would describe in great detail how our neighborhood jaunt turned into a 50 mile ride into downtown Atlanta. We just kept getting deeper and deeper into the ride while following the markings, that it got to the point that we were "all in" and had to see where our course ended. We never really did.
After rolling through Georgia Tech, going into a few "hoods", and circumnavigating the Georgia Dome, we decided that it was time to head back. Battling rush-hour traffic, cramps (Snow Bunny only!), and overall tiredness, we made it back to home base over three hours after the ride began.
It was actually a good experience exploring these new routes. We get so caught up in planning and repetition that sometimes you forget how much fun it is just to ride your bike.
Mongo literally (I usually hate this expression, but in this case it applies) owns more than fifteen different Under Armour base-layer combinations. Add in several leggings, knee warmers, ski socks, balaclavas, skull caps, gloves, vests, and jackets, and I am literally (Again appropriate) equipped to handle any cold weather situation. But the fact still remains that I am, and probably always will be, a hot weather guy.
I did a strong 35 today on LPE. It was cold and the trail was sparse, but Mongo managed to dispatch a Cannondale and a Trek along the way. I'm doing a "Nooner" ride tomorrow with MC-Lean and anyone else who shows up that doesn't have a job that requires attendance, so hopefully my training on the "heavy bag" over the past couple of rides will pay off.
Occasionally on this blog, Mongo has talked about music. If truth be told, and it is, music has been as much a part of my life since childhood as anything else important to me. I am not unique in my feelings, thank goodness, for the more people that find inspiration, connection, acceptance, and love, through a beat, a chord, a lyric, or jam...the better. Music stirs the soul from the bottom of the pot...and that's where the real flavor comes from.
Maybe from time to time I'll throw in more snippets of my musical background, but let's just say that my "street cred" is impeccable. Mongo won't "out dork" anyone with discographies of bootlegs and imports, but since the mid seventies, when it comes to rock and roll...Mongo is down!
If you polled a group of road cyclists about their least favorite weather condition, the most frequent answer would probably be wind. Hot, cold, and wet can all be dressed for, but wind is the great demoralizer. Getting buffeted all day from the side, or even worse, the front, can ruin any ride. You might trick yourself into believing that you are gaining training benefits by riding into the wind, but there is no fun or joy in constantly over-exerting yourself just to maintain a tolerable pace.
When you combine drizzle and cold weather with gusty winds, as Mongo experienced today, the ride becomes a chore and motivation wanes. I had intended to do a 50 mile ride on the SCT...I only did 42...reluctantly! LPE and I had the trail mostly to ourselves except for a five-mile smackdown with a surprisingly in good shape old dude on a Serotta.
Pilots of these vehicles hover at the fringes of douchiness...though they are usually strong cyclists. An original Serotta owner, who takes the time to design his ride around the contraption pictured above, is a much more serious opponent than the second hand/ eBay buyer who is willing to ride a bike that doesn't quite fit in order to rock the nameplate.
Mongo finished the day off with a trip to the backcountry on the Alva. I got in a few runs on some intermediate, semi-dry hills, but after some sketchy corners and involuntary powerslides, I called it an afternoon while I was still in one piece...But it was still fun!
Mongo has rung in November with a whimper. My performances and time on the bike over the last few weeks have been both underwhelming and painful. A back issue, combined with weather and work-related problems, have kept my mileage to a minimum. I even had to sit out the last two 23/2300 Hammerfests of the season.
In the meantime, Mongo got to put his golden pipes to good use this past Sunday as the official "number caller-outer" of every race at the highly successful Georgia Cross stop at Life College...sponsored by Smyrna Bicycles. Teammates, Andy, Steven, King-A, and MC-Lean all raced...with MC-Lean crashing while leading the "B" race and recovering nicely for a seventh place finish. Andy finished top fifteen in a 60+ man field, King-A rocked the fairy costume, and Steven raced in two categories. Cyclocross races are a unique and fun atmosphere...I highly recommend it.
Tomorrow, Mongo and LPE have a date with fifty miles of cold, wet road...I can't wait!