Monday, January 30, 2012

Sepia Sky


“Men have become the tools of their tools. Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul. Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

(Henry David Thoreau)

Now In A Fast Acting Formula: The Juice


After receiving Mongo's "official" endorsement mere days ago, Omega Pharma-Quickstep go out and win the overall at the Tour de San Luis with the "Li'l Bronze Medalist"...and...also win the final stage of the race with Tom "When do we go to Qatar?" Boonen.

Shocking The Monkey: Time To Get Serious

In a little under three weeks Mongo will be competing in my first  "sanctioned" race of the year. It is also a kicking off, of sorts, for the 2012 season and the entire Smyrna Bicycles (pronounced "lay-o-pard") Cycling Team.

Though it is only a TT, and a length of Prologue proportions, it is still the ultimate race of truth...and smack talking. What has thrown a wrinkle into the equation this year is the change of course venue. All previous results and times mean nothing...we all get a clean slate.

Of course this doesn't mean that Mongo will all of a sudden threaten the podium in my new, less populated, Masters category, but there are always horses for courses...and this might be my track. We'll see. My point to all of this is that my training and time in the saddle have both increased exponentially as of late. This has been a rude wake-up call for my honey-bun infused physique, but it feels good to get back at it.

I had a strong team ride on Thursday with a bunch of the fast guys. Forty-plus miles with lots of climbing and speed work. On Saturday, Mongo returned to the Cat 6/7 "Enemy Bike Shop" ride and took the win...again..."I really should cat-up"...against a pretty small yet formidable field. Sunday was the day of the progressively worse headache.

I rolled out early with "New Bike...Again" Tom and "Danimal" for a brisk thirty on the trail, but I was already feeling a potential migraine coming on. I had a shitty ride and bailed out about three quarters of the way through to get some Goody's at a gas station. Long story short...Goody's didn't work, headache got worse, took more drugs, was asleep by nine.

Today Mongo went out and did a solo loop on the 23/2300 Hammerfest course. It was slow and easy but I was enjoying the sixty degree sunshine. I'm tired... but looking forward to the upcoming cycling season.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm Rolling With These Guys


Mongo is always a sucker for a good comeback story...and I have reason to believe that 2012 could be the year for my man, "Shetland Jens Voigt". He's looking fit and tiny, he's leading the Tour of San Luis, and he finally broke free from the "Bruyneel Triangle" and is the GC leader on a solid European team.

Don't forget about Tom Boonen...he's also on the team. So is the best TT rider in the world...Tony Martin. Plus, they've got a bunch of star riders, young and old, quite capable of competing with the other "Superstore" teams at all the races.

As fate would have it, one of only four members of the Pro Tour peloton to share Mongo's birthday is also on the team. I am pleased to announce that all of my "Juice" for the 2012 season will be given to Omega Pharma-Quickstep.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started


Andre Greipel wins the first stage of the Tour Down Under ahead of (Two of Mongo's boys) Heinrich Haussler and Edvald Boasson Hagen.

A New Wheel And Cramps

Mongo is sore and tired...but in a good way. I've managed to get in 150 miles over the past four days of riding. Two half centuries, a fast Hammerfest loop, and twenty miles of trail and singletrack have led me to this point.

I finally got my American Classic Hurricane rear wheel rebuilt after months of confusion and the ultimate tragedy. It was supposed to be done by master wheel builder, John Kovachi, who is a local legend and who had done several wheels for Mongo in the past. Unfortunately, he passed away suddenly at the end of last year. Ironically, I was using an old school, Kovachi built custom wheel as a substitute while I was waiting on my AC.

Anyway, the wheel was built by someone else and Mongo finally got it back early last week. I was eager to test it out and went on a long shakedown ride with "You Need A New Wheelset" Tom on Thursday. All was good until the way back when Mongo heard a symphony coming from the wheel. Long story short...All the spokes loosened up and threw the wheel out of true. I limped the final twenty miles back to the shop for a crude truing before I rode home and spent a good hour micro-truing the wheel properly.

On Saturday I decided to test my work on some climbs that would put stress on the wheel. The wheel was fine but Mongo wasn't. I was so eager to ride that I not only didn't eat properly, but I didn't bring enough liquids with me. I bonked early and often! The wheel only needed some minor tweaking afterwards and I felt pretty good about my "skillz" with a spoke wrench.

On Sunday, Mongo hooked up with teammates, "Cap'n" Clay, "Full" Gass, "World Traveller" Jason, and "Danimal" for a serious training ride. Fifteen miles of hills followed by thirty miles of 23+ mph speed work. It was lots of fun but exhausting. Mongo had a foreshadowing of what was to come when I started getting pre-cramps towards the end of the ride. Later that night I had such bad cramps in my crotchetal/thigh area that I think I squeezed out a tear or two due to the pain...but don't tell anyone. The wheel held up perfectly and didn't need any more work. Hopefully, there won't be issues down the line.

Today I didn't want to tempt fate with the cramps so I went on a moderate ride on the F600. Trail work and singletrack on a brisk Winter's day. Though I had no energy, it was good to switch things up and work some different muscles.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Pen is Mightier

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Chose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Down With The Sickness: Time To Cat Up

Mongo is sick...not "and tired", not "in the head", and nothing to do with my sense of humor. Instead, I've got a good old fashioned cold. I wish I had paid more attention to that tale told by the old wife. Is it "feed a fever, starve a cold", or "feed a cold, starve a fever"? Whichever one it is, I'm doing the wrong one.

Anyway, I'm four days deep into this sinus extravaganza and it has put a damper on my ability and want to go riding. Interestingly enough though, my ability and want to complain and be miserable to be around is at an all-time high. I needed to get out of the house this morning and put some miles on my legs and loosen up some phlegm.

I figured my best bet was to go to my old stomping grounds at the Cat 6/7 "Enemy Bike Shop" ride and just sit in the middle of the peloton. I had no thoughts about contesting the win or even hanging up front because I was quite sure that I would have nothing in my legs and lungs but sickness and excuses. Just in case though, I doped to the gills.

It was a very large and expensively outfitted group today. In between the usual Madones, Colnagos, Serottas, S-Works, and Di-2 equipped machines, was the newest "look at me" bike of this peloton of poseurs...A ghost-black, Willier Zero-7 with a Campy Super Record 11-speed gruppo and Zipp 404's. Mongo has to admit that it was a sweeeeet bike. Unfortunately, it was ridden by an incredibly douchey older gentleman who Mongo had a run-in with previously on a different ride when he was riding a yellow and black "Petacchi" Willier and complained to me about not holding my line as he was drafting me up a fast , steep climb. What a dick!

As the ride started I got to chatting with my nemesis, "Hairy Guy With Beard...Today On Ridley CX" and we both figured we'd be taking it easy for different reasons and not push it. That didn't happen! All the other usual contenders/pretenders sensed our weakness and dropped the hammer early...including my pal on the Willier. I would have been content with a mid-pack effort if this blatant affront to my domination of this ride hadn't happened. It was now "on"...whether I or they liked it or not. Fortunately for me, "Hairy Guy With Beard On Ridley CX" felt the same way and we both jumped in the ten man breakaway.

Mongo's ride would best be described as savvy! I used as little energy as possible while in the draft, and purposely controlled the pace when I found myself at the front. Even in my sickly state, thanks to my strategy and PED cocktail, Mongo was fresh and in a strong position going into the final few miles (American for kilometres). By the time we finished the climbs and made the turn onto the final straightaway there were only two of us up front with the other eight about two hundred metres (European for yards) behind us and gathering steam.

The guy who was with me is a climber so I knew I could take him in the sprint. The trouble was that with almost half a mile to go I might not beat the other eight guys who were organized and closing. I attacked off the front anyway...and won! It should have been sweet but it wasn't. I think it's finally time to move on to a bigger pond. Mongo has exhausted his competitive welcome with this group and it would only be ego stroking and blatant sandbagging if I were to continue frequenting this ride...See you guys next week!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Irina Shayk Vs Bianchi Oltre

...Or Half A Page Of Scribbled Lines

This is a bad photograph of one of Mongo's watches taken mere minutes ago. Though a nice Tag-Heuer that I have owned for over twenty years, it is not the thing, but instead the memories attached to it, that I have treasured all this time.

Mongo doesn't wear jewelry...Unless of course you count the "big-ass" gold and platinum cross, the diamond studs, the pinky-ring, and the assorted, bedazzled "kicks" that I wear to the club on occasion. Other than that, I have always only just worn a watch.

Like most people of my generation, my first watch was a Timex. It had a brown leather strap and gold trim around a very basic, hand wound, analog dial. I was so proud! This was second grade if I remember correctly.

The watch that officially made me cool was given to me by my brother in-law when I was about thirteen. My parents gave him a Rolex or an Omega for getting my sister off their hands, and he gave me his Seiko divers watch. It was big, bulky, and bad ass! The only problem was that it lost about two minutes per day.

My first expensive'ish watch was once again another Seiko. I talked my parents into coughing up the $150.00 (in 80's dollars) for my Christmas present when I was sixteen. It was a sweet, stainless steel, quartz, diver-style watch that I wore proudly for almost thirty years.

The above Tag was also a present from my family. I think both of my sisters went in on this one as well. It continues to be worn frequently and I hope to get another twenty years out of it. Though I have owned, and do own, other watches, some cheaper, some much more expensive, these four watches in particular have been there for every meaningful stop along the timeline of my life