Saturday, February 16, 2008

Frosty Bro’s race 2/16/2008

Race day, the phone rings it’s Rea-Rea, I ask what time is it?
“did you see the Grammy’s?”
“The Grammy Awards, the the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of ...”
No, did you? and what time is...nevermind what’s the temperature?
“Fifteen degrees, but have you ever heard of Amy Winehouse?”
who? no, why?
“How about Feist? Michael BublĂ©? Plain White T's?”
No, no and No...and such are the seeds for the conversation for the MASTERS race set to begin the 2008 season in mid-February. Normally I don’t race in subfreezing temperatures but since this is a leap year and the hollywood writer’s strike had just ended, I couldn’t stay at home one more saturday and NOT peal the old wallpaper off the ‘looks-just-fine-to-me’ kitchen. Besides the Masters race was to feature the likes of Cadillac George, Luca Brasi, and the aforementioned Rea-Rea (all slimmed down and jacked up).

I roll up to the start and Cadillac is ranting about Herbie Hancock winning album of the year, “Did you hear his Joni Mitchell Tribute? trash!” he proclaims.
I know Geo., I prefer his work with the Miles Davis second great quintet, or Rockit, for that matter, but pop music is more about Starbucks than, well music these days.
The start line also finds Farmer John and the Young-and-the-restless Andy in the 1-2-3-4 race (good luck cat. 4s), and trailing our start, in the Cat 5 race, was the man of Gawd, Dan T.

We roll out and Luca sings a constant refrain from a George Thorogood record, maybe as a way to block the Grammy conversation. “Yeah, Luca, you’re bad to the bone, shut up already!”

Three laps at ten miles a lap - the pace is brisk here’s the stats. First lap 21.3 MPH, Second 20.7, third 21.4 mph. Everyone takes turns at the front, and because we are in a heavy discussion about the state of the music industry we cooperate. Yeah, by the start Rea-Rea’s Grammy fever had spread. Sure we all had gone online to listen to a few notes from Amy Winehouse’s “hit” the lyrics go something like this:

They tried to make me go to rehab
I said no, no, no.
Yes I been black, but when I come back
You wont know, know, know.

I ain’t got the time
And if my daddy thinks im fine
He’s tried to make me go to rehab
I wont go, go, go.

“Brilliant” Rea-Rea chimes in sarcastically - might be Alexander Vinokourov’s theme song, But the music sounds like something from 1960’s motown. “Sure, that’s the thing, these kids have NO music of their own time, for their own time.”
Who did we have, I ask Peter Frampton? The Eagles? Styx? I think I’m gonna be sick...
Finally Luca wakes up (I think we are in lap two), “hey what about the Commodores? Then he starts singing - which makes us all start singing

She's a brick----house
Mighty mighty, just lettin' it all hang out
She's a brick----house
The lady's stacked and that's a fact,
ain't holding nothing back.
She knows she got everything
a woman needs to get a man, yeah.
How can she use, the things she use
36-24-36, what a winning hand!
She's a brick----house
Mighty mighty, just lettin' it all hang out
She's a brick----house

Nothing like the classics! and the race is on, all the brotherly love displayed in the first 2 laps of the race turns into a a family reunion for Uday and Qusay Hussein. I’m trying to figure out how I can drop my teammates and they do the same.
Luckily the finish of the Frosty Toes sets up just like a Baghdad street with parked cars, bomb craters, and gravel everywhere. We make the final right turn and I follow the diesel engine of Cadillac George (outfitted for 2008 as an olive oil bio-diesel ) up the short incline past a few of the locals to get third place just behind the newly revamped star Rea-Rea. 2.0.

Summary: no crashes, no frostbite, no Pascale - so, no underwear dance. We take 4 out of the top 5 finishes in the Master's race, and thus it starts...

Monday, February 11, 2008

I saw my own death on a training ride

Training in February in Ohio in a 25 mph wind merits induction into the Become-Belgian-For-a-Day club. Forget Beech Mountain, Ventoux, Mt. Washington, etc, etc. Planning an interval session on the open farmland roads of Ohio in the wind is about as epic as you can get. Last Saturday, ManRay, and the two Wills joined me for a 2 hour survivor episode that included flooded roads, 25 mph winds gusting to 33, and temperatures nearly 40 degrees! (wind chills below freezing).

But who knew? At 8am the temperature was 37, no wind, and I think I saw the sun come up. I immediately phoned the ManRay waking him from his doughnut induced sleep. The plan was to do a couple sets of 25 minute intervals at LT. That’s “Lactate Threshold” intervals, not “Life Threatening” as it turned out.

We rolled out to sunny skies and the locals tossing rose petals at our feet (maybe it was beef jerky). The road to Waldo was clear, and after 30 minutes warm up, I was feeling strong – some say it was the 25 mph wind at my back. The intervals start, and of course we turned into the wind. My speed slowed from the brisk 24mph to a crawl. Was my brake stuck? Do I need a new chain? Old man winter blows. We invented a new cycling posture with the wind blowing sideways, I rode straight ahead AND leaned as if in a criterium turn while I pushed one break hood and pulled the other to stay upright. At one point there was inquiry if I could maintain the speed of 12mph. The answer was no. I rode at 170bpm and 11mph! Snot froze. Hands numbed, and then we arrived at the road closed by the winter flood waters. At least in New Orleans you got gumbo – all we had was a second hour of trudging back to home base and of course the weather had turned from bad to Belgian. Winds shifted, more riding into the wind and not one fatty to draft behind.

At one point I had to slap a delirious rider to keep him from taking refuge in a drainage ditch and accepting the gentle sleep afforded by hypothermia. Luckily our team is sponsored by a nice bookstore with a fine espresso machine. That was probably the only saving grace and the one beacon calling us back to civilization.