Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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Monday, February 13, 2006

The future is now

I don't know why it took me so long to post this one...
He's a cute kid, there's no way around it.

If only Merckx made a tricycle, we'd be on it. If he's got his grandfather's legs, this kid will rule Trexlertown.

This Spring we'll get him out on the trails somehow. I'm sure he's cut out for trailwork. Rearranging sticks, throwing dirt, eating rocks, falling down... Sounds like a quality volunteer.

Oh, did I post the trailwork dates for Patapsco Valley State Park for Spring 06 yet? Well, if I didn't, April 9 and May 21. Details to follow. I was out there on Friday and there is still a lot of work to do. The bad spots just keep getting worse out there. We've done a bunch of re-routing over the years but we still have some notorious sections. I've been hesitant to work over on the Balt side of the river. Most of that stuff is legacy trail where the only way to fix it is to move HUGE sections of it up the hill or re-route it quite a bit of distance out of the 'existing corridor.' That's kind of important for the park management and their approval process.

Check out this new fitting system. Got any ideas? Shoot 'em this way.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

There's snow way in...

We got a solid 10 inches of snow here. Not a man's 10 inches, actual, measurable 10 inches.

So we are out shoveling the driveway and my next-door neighbor and I are talking about a bunch of people took over the community association. I signed over a proxy vote for the board election and we've hit paydirt.

Among a bunch of lifestyle esoteria, he tells me that we (the community association) own 35 acres of land just around the corner (land E of the intersection of Johns Hopkins and Underwood) next to the golf course.

I hiked a bunch of that when we first moved to Crofton. 'Boy, would this be a rad little loop, close to home,' I was thinking. Now, we are talking about developing a little network of trails for the community to ride/hike. It won't be much, but we'll be able to have a little jump section, maybe some natural technical trail features (read: log rides/drops). There's a little bit of vertical which should keep it interesting. It will be rad to rip around the golf course (which we actually own but lease to the operators) on the paved singletrack then hook up with some of the twisty, turny stuff that we will build. There's even a budget for it! WooHoo!

I have some track laid out with GPS that would provide a little over a mile of trail. That's without doubling back...

It's hard to have thoughts of Spring with this much snow on the ground but hey, it was in the 60s just last week. Here's hoping.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


I can't find the cartoons that everyone is upset about. I thought that I would pop through to see them for myself through Google. After a few quick searches, it came to occur to me that it would be harder than I thought to find them, that's why people are so upset, eh?

I don't want to start political-punditry here, but I have to point out the obvious irony that there are so many people upset about the depiction of The Prophet as a violent figure (bomb-shaped headwear, I have heard) that people of the Islamic faith started killing people.

I went to a Catholic school for a few years and had religion class every semster. Unlike a Bob Jones sort of experience, I had some of the most elightened nuns on the planet. Talk about an oxymoron. When you are a 17 year old, angst-ridden teen, there's nothing better and a cool nun. Sounds weird but there you go...

We learned a lot about other religions. What I took away from a lot of the studying was how close all world religions are. The nuns (School Sisters of Notre Dame, SSNDs) taught us how almost all religions, pagan and monotheistic, all had similar sorts of myths about creation (two people started it all, temptation in paradise, flood-related Noah stories) that all arose from an early mass historical-consciousness that evolved through an oral tradition (or something like that).

I learned that Islam was a beautiful, peaceful religion whose Great Book held a lot of the same values as the Bible. This set of values allowed me to really devour the Autobiography of Malcolm X and know the end of the story while reading about all of the crap that he went through to get there. His own visit to Mecca was meaningful to me as well.

It bothers me when any religion is co-opted for political purposes. You see it in the US ALL THE TIME when people talk about religion, it's usually just justification for some sort of politics of exclusion. The knuckleheads in the KKK claim to be some sort of religiously-afilliated group of dudes doing stuff that is moral and just. Leave it to idiots to grab hold of something that can be beautiful and just murder it.

The same thing happens when people use Isalm as a justification for violence. There is NEVER a reason to resort to violence as an individual (international political norms sometimes require it, and I use 'require' loosely). One thing that we should have all learned in gradeschool is how to deal with people we disagree with or when we want a turn on the slide.

Granted, all of this cartoon anger is really just part of a global condition that needs some serious attention. We can't forget that we started attacking the Middle-East during the crusades and those crazy Romans started a lot earlier than that. I have a great amount of respect for the people that invented beer and distilling (modern-day Iraqis) and I think the majority of people who live in that region want nothing more than peace and prosperity under their own terms and brand of freedom. I just wish they could have electricity all day and jobs and police-recruits who aren't constantly getting killed.

I'm not going to expound on whether being in Iraq is right or wrong. I don't like how we got there, but I do think it will be better, eventually. Despite all of the mis-information and outright lying by the knuckleheads in the Bush administration, I supported going into Iraq when the cruised on over to Kuwait.

So, I can't find the cartoons. I searched for about three minutes. As we all know, you should be able find whatever you are looking for in a matter of seconds, certainly under a minute. Google posts how quickly their search returns results for a reason, right? So this self-imposed censoring sucks. I thought all of us adults out there were supposed to be able to make up our own minds. I'm sorry that people are afraid of upsetting others, and I'm certainly not FOR upsetting people, but we all need to learn to talk and work things out without killing.

Hey, we could just go on a bike ride and sit down all tired and talk about it over burritos and a beer... or falafel and a turkish coffee.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Loggin' the miles

I managed to get out on the bike for another 38miles today. That must be the magic number. Roberts and I rode that down towards south county but today I did the Tour 'de Severn - a nice, scenic loop around the Severn River. It starts out me front door in scenic Crofton, from 424 to 450, past the Annapolis Mall (fine piece of road, you can imagine) to Bestgate Rd. Old Bestgate goes to Melvin Ave then right through West Annapolis then past the Naval Academy and over the new-old Severn River bridge (nice climb). Hook that into the WB&A Trail towards Severna Park, past Severn School then onto Benfield Rd at Severna Park High, back to Old Benfield then Rte 3 to 178 to Millersville Rd to Cecil Ave to blah blah blah.

Today was one of those days. The wind was blowing about six different directions and those Aros 58 wheels pick it up. Try deep dish wheels at 25 miles an hour. Then try them into a headwind at 14mph. I thought I was on the Eastern Shore, where the wind blows in all directions all the time.

It was a nice ride. I'm pretty used to it so there are no surprises. There are plenty of short climbs that keep you honest and the side-trip into downtown Annapolis for the sight-seeing is always nice. This time of year, I try to avoid riding too hard and eating while riding to try and work on losing some weight. Back in 'the day,' my race weight was around 163. Kicking it around 180 doesn't help you go fast... I'll tell you all day about it...

I have a buddy, also named Mike, who has been bumming about not riding enough. He has a real job and real responsibility and he travels a metric a$$load (100k miles a year or MORE!). So if you are lucky enough to be riding everyday or even every week, think about big Mike, sitting on a plane, crisscrossing the country.

I'm cruising into DC tonite to hit up the City Bikes Mountain Bike Team meeting (of which I have made myself a member) to hang out and see what's going on with the 2006 team jersey. I'm pulling for a naked picture of Joel and I've got a few Jackson's to try and get the votes I need, Abramoff style.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Old Man Winter must be on vacation...

It's the beginning of February (what's up with the spelling of that month) and it was in the 50's today. I'm certainly not complaining about a warm Winter. In the bike business, anything that decreases the temperature-based seasonality is fan-freaking-tastic. It can make a huge difference in the bottom-line if you can keep your payroll under control in Jan/Feb while making 10-20% more than expected. It can be the difference between entering March flush with cash and product versus delaying hiring or bringing in the latest and greatest stuff. Let's just say that mild Winters are good for people in this industry.

Roberts (our outside Cannondale guy) and I talked business today during our 'meeting.' We managed to talk our way through 38 miles in chilly weather. I mean ALL THE WAY. Nobody ever called me a wall-flower and Roberts is in sales so it's not much of a stretch to get us to talk for 2 hours straight. We have a lot in common and we both really enjoy the goings-on in the bike industry in the DC area. It's actually an exciting time/place. DC is considered an important market to many companies. Specialized (who I work a lot with) and Trek have both identified this area as a key market. There's so much density in DC and people have plenty of disposable income as well. It's the 8th biggest media market in the US (where did I hear that one?).

I have to say, the DC area is a pretty great place. I certainly miss my adopted home of California and the riding there, but there's so much more substantial going on here. And I've found that people are pretty accessible in the bike world. A perfect example of that is the WABA Auction. I'm pretty partial to the event. Susan and I have worked for WABA one way or another since about 1999. Susan was a full-timer for them at various times, bouncing between there and America Bikes during her pregnancies. The Auction raises quite a bit of cash for the bicycle safety programs that WABA runs in the local schools. The event has settled in to the Finnish Embassy the last few years but before that it was held in the Turkish Embassy (rad), Dutch Embassy (almost as rad) and now the crazy Finns. Not the Finn brothers of Crowded House fame (how many times did I use that joke?). You should go. Put on a tux, shave, hang out, have a few coctails, talk to Joel Gwadz behind the bar...

So I show up to the 'meeting' with my gear thinking 50's. Roberts is fully covered, head to toe, in cold-weather gear. I brought shorts, short-sleeve City Bikes wooly and mtn bike gloves. First thing Roberts says is 'you wanna borrow some clothes?' Oops. I grabbed the dirty ear warmer and barely-dry Nema vest hanging out from the abrupt Sun AM ride at Patapsco and jump on the bike. One thing I hate about leaving from the 424/50 park-n-ride is that the first 15 minutes of the ride are basically downhill. Not until Govs Bridge Rd do you get a quick little sprint uphill. I was literally shivering, holding onto the bike, trying to stay upright. Needless to say, the day warmed up and I felt great (relatively speaking). Not until I got back to the car did I realize how cold I actually was. The sun had baked the car and it felt great. The 20-minute shower did wonders and my body decided it was time to shut down. I had a quick bite, a big glass o water and sat down to do some work. I'm glad I called Roberts and I'm glad I got another ride in this week. If the weather stays reasonable, Sunday at the 'shed should be fun, if my energy shows up. And I need to get a bike from the shop. I haven't had a real (for me) mtn bike since November. The stumpy carbon is still a few weeks out... thru axle or not thru axle, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to suffer having to pull that sucker out in the unlikely event of a front flat or to just rock the QR. Who bloody knows. I should stick with the QR if I'm going to do a lot of racing this year, eh? Let's keep the 5" travel bike below 27lbs for racing... heh heh.

So, to sum up: warm weather good, DC and bikes good, WABA and drinking good, bikes good.

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