Friday, March 27, 2009

My dad is better than your dad

I remember a "reality" show last year called my dad is better than your dad where the fathers and their child competed against one another in athletic and "intellectual" challenges. Being 28 years old I think I am just a bit too old to take part in such a show with my father but last Thursday night confirmed in my mind that my father is truly better than everyone else's.

After spending a week in Providence helping my sister and brother-in-law welcome their second child into the world, he agreed to spend Thursday night helping me pimp out my basement workshop area with high quality lighting and electrical outlets. Those who have visited my basement workshop know I am quite fond of the space. Being a bit of an afterthought when we bought our condo it has been an absolute savior for a guy with too many bikes and a general addiction to "gear." In fact I think the only way I get away with owning so much stuff is because the stuff is out of sight and out of mind most of the time.

So yeah, my basement is an invaluable space but it needed some upgrading, so with the help of my dad we pulled down the old low wattage track lights and installed blindingly bright flourescent lights. We also rewired the lights to function off of wall mounted switches instead of impossible-to-find-in-the-dark pull strings. Not being satisfied with improved lighting and switches, I also mounted a bunch of outlets (previously had 0) in the workshop area so now my entertainment sources for winter trainer sessions and my power tools can have appropriate homes instead of relying on extension cords run throughout the space. I can't help but brag about the improved functionality of my basement now. I am just a couch and fridge away from moving in full time.

Oh, but back to why my dad is better than your dad. After supplying the majority of the knowledge and tools to conquer this job, he's heading back to Connecticut to perform his real job, saving peoples' lives as a physician. How many people do you know that can cure disease during the day and re-wire a basement lighting and electrical system during the evening.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday Single Speeding

I rode my single speed 'cross bike to work and conned my buddy into transporting my single speed mountain bike to the trail head. 15 mile morning commute, 14 miles of evening riding, 2 different bikes, and no shifting. Add a few post ride beers at the trailhead and you've got a great Wednesday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Perfectly dialed

Now that my commute is 15 miles each way I've had more of a challenge getting my attire selection correct each morning. Sure in the warm weather it'll be easy but in late winter and early spring it's a daily struggle between freezing and overheating.

Today, I had it dialed. Knickers, toe covers, thin long sleeve jersey and the wind resistent Rapha coat I inherited last June. I'm not very good at riding a leisurely pace to avoid sweating so it was even more rewarding to arrive to work without being frozen to the core or pealing off sweaty base layers. It almost makes the fact that today is Monday seem tolerable.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Charitable Donation

Maybe hanging out with a group of roadies last night was a bad idea. Why do I bother with this yearly donation to u-sucker-cyling? Because I naively think this year will be the year, every year.

UPDATE: Already made use of the license by joining the first Wells Ave crit of the 2009 season. Maybe I'll get my money's worth before cross season starts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why do I lie?

Recently I've caught myself lying repeatedly at restaurants. It doesn't matter how bad the food is, I still feel compelled to lie to the staff when they ask me "how is everything?" Why don't I tell the truth. "Actually the chicken is rubbery, the lettuce is rusty, and the beans are burnt." That's what I should have said last night at our company gathering. And I know I'm not alone because as soon as the staff retreated we all talked about the sub-par quality of our meals.

Perhaps this is why Americans are overweight and why big chain restaurants are flooding the landscape. Too many people have become complacent (lazy?) and willing to accept poor quality in the interest of not offending or challenging the establishments we patronize. Too many Americans prefer the safety of a familiar menu or greasy spoon from one town to the next. I don't make a habit of visiting chain restaurants (Subway and burrito joints excluded) when given the choice. I usually find myself at one of these sub-par spots as a result of the desire of others or the result of being in "Anywhere, USA" and not having other options.

The truth is, it is not the waitstaff's fault that the food sucks but they are the faces the customers see. Since I am in the mindset of making changes to my behavior, I am going to change the way I respond to the sub-par food I too often receive. I'm going to be honest and tell them what they don't want to hear. If the cooks never get negative feedback about their food, they are never going to improve, right?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Turn down the bitch knob

This winter has been cold and snowy in Boston. It's been a challenge for me to remain positive and upbeat because I really don't enjoy snowy or cold conditions in Boston. I like being outdoors and being able to get around town comfortably on my bike. I much prefer riding my bike to work as opposed to driving and fighting with traffic. I know it's still possible to get outside when the weather is nasty but my motivation to do so drops significantly.

Even though I grew up skiing every weekend I just don't get as excited about it anymore. Maybe it's the painful process of packing up and getting out of Boston with the hoards of other people trying to do the same or maybe its the fact that it's an expensive undertaking to ski 8-10 times a year. Either way, the winter time distraction I enjoyed as a kid is no longer something I look forward to so I'm left with more time to stew and sulk during the cold, snowy, dark winter months.

Over the last few weeks I've tried to embrace the last nastiness of New England winter by taking a ski trip to Vermont, riding and commuting despite the cold, wet conditions, snowshoeing, swimming, playing squash, and connecting more closely with new and existing friends. Embracing what's around me and enjoying new company and different activities has lifted my spirits.

As part of this lifting of my spirits I'm going to cut out the negative blogs and forums I used to visit. I'm turning my energy towards family, friends, and positive experiences. Enough bitching about the cold and snow, about how much my fitness is suffering, about traffic during my commute. I've realized the people and the time that I most enjoyed this winter were filled with positiveness so I'm going to continue with that trend from now on.

An end is in sight (it is March, right?) to the cold and dirty conditions that accompany winter in this city and this weekend we jump ahead an hour so we instantly gain extra sunlight at the end of our days. While I'm out there trying to cram months worth of stifled riding and outdoor activities into the first few days of spring remind me not to bitch, not to sulk, and to lift other people's spirits along the way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mission Aborted

I tried to go mountain biking with my teammate and all around great guy Chip Baker today. I even put the studded snow tire on the bike last night. Unfortunately the trails at Cutler Park were still too covered with light fluffy snow so the bike just sank. Maybe a Pugsley would have worked but I doubt it.

So I turned back to the car and we re-equipped with more condition-appropriate gear.

Nearly 2 hours of hiking, a little running, and lots of great conversation including bikes, racing, family, careers, and geographic locations. My legs are tired from the effort but my spirits are high from the company and conversation. Despite being March, Boston is still covered in 8+ inches of snow. It may melt away with the upcoming heat wave but in the meantime I'm doing my best to enjoy what's left of winter.

Monday, March 2, 2009


On February 21st I embarked on a "casual" base miles ride with Chiu, Gunn, Morrison, Bradshaw, Murphy, CCC (on his single speed 'cross bike) and other roadies that are way too fit for February. 6 hours, a few long climbs, and 100 miles later I was home in cozy house nursing sore legs.

Fast forward one week and I met many of the same characters for another Saturday adventure. I had tried to join Colin Reuter and Cary Fridrich for a trip to Otis but my last minute planning did not work out so they went without me. On the road, Gunn and I decided not to be as bold this week and turned off for a reasonable 70 miles while the other animals continued to do the CRW Climb to the Clouds route.

Later on Saturday I met up with the Kyler for dinner and drinks in Washington Square. The best part of the night was watching an overly confident off-duty Brookline police officer who looked to be around 50 or 55 try to hit on the two 30 somethings sitting next to us at the bar. Kyle and I had front row seats to some of the worst game I've ever witnessed. When the guy took a bathroom break the ladies turned to us and asked if we had just witnessed that horror show. Oh yeah, we saw it.

Somewhere in the course of the night I cemented my plans for a trip to Otis with Colin on Sunday. Despite the forecast we figured it'd be worth the trip. We met up on Rt 24 south of Boston and shoved our two bikes into the trunk of Colin's well traveled Honda Fit.By that time the snow was coming down pretty steadily and when we got to the trailhead there were a few inches already.

We were an hour from home, there was no way we were turning back without at least trying to ride. I rode Otis many years ago but have not been back since. Luckily Colin was up for playing tour guide (even if other participants who said they wanted to join the tour did not show up) and we quickly entrenched ourselves in the maze of trails that make up Otis. Within 15 minutes we were both shedding layers and we spotted for the first and only time, another group of riders enjoying the unique conditions.

Despite promising to stop at a convenience store we somehow found our way to the trailhead without ever making that stop. I'd powered down a few bowls of cereal and some hot tea in the morning and I had a banana before we left the parking lot but I forgot to pack any trail food so I knew I'd be in trouble. Well about two hours in I was pretty cooked so Colin split his lone Clif Bar with me. The energy came back for about 20 minutes but that was barely enough to get us back to the car. We were went spent and soaked but had smiles from ear to ear. It was a great 12.5 mile "exploration."
Our bikes were nicely frosted but Colin threw 'em back in the car anyway.

We detoured on the way back to find a Subway and were rewarded with $2.99 footlong subs!

I'm not even joking. I lived off the $5 variety last summer but somehow $2.99 tastes even better. So good in fact that I ate two feet! Well, almost. Colin wisely suggested I save some for later. I never did eat the last 4 inches which is probably good because 20 inches of Subway is enough for one day.

If you haven't been to Otis, look up Colin's tour company for a future trip. It's worth the time, especially now when the trails are a mess anywhere else. If you're lucky, Colin may even be willing to drag you around with him. Actually, there's a damn good chance that if there isn't a ski race or bike race within driving distance, Colin will definitely drag you on a tour of Otis.

Mr. Clean

After a week of great riding in Boston I spent some much needed time cleaning my bikes last night. If you don't already own some simple green or similar type product go out and get some. I know the bike specific companies offer their own cleaning solutions that they claim are ideal for bike specific applications but for $3/bottle simple green is pretty friggin' hard to beat. Use the $5 you saved to buy a burrito at the end of your next hard ride.