With what's left plenty to get done. Get closer to the next step, push Always more into focus until you're cross-eyed and drooling.


2 days left

It's not the number of angels on the head of a pin, Or the number of knobs on the tire. Even the number of studs in the tire is irrelevant. It's avoiding friction that offers the clearest path. The keys are in my pocket, in my head is the map, Remember last winter, forget last week.
This wasn't a particularly bad season. Obviously the one crash that broke my shoulder wasn't good but the other, my hips still look like an archipelago of scar tissue. Not all orderly like one of the strings of islands off the coast of Dubai, shaped like a palm tree or the flag of Cypress. Instead I have reminder of missed turns or ill-chosen lines and the idea that my skills aren't always where I would like them.
I like that for some reason, if it was easy would it be as fun? I think about points in races when the lap card reads higher rather than lower, knowing I have a lot more time before it stops. The smile (that at least was inside, maybe outside too) meant that I was able to stay in that place a while longer. The place that now because CX is over I won't be visiting until September.



Different ways to try to get to the same destination. Not really new, just a different vehicle, same place. The hurdles change year after year but the step is the same. Sometimes I feel like I'm swimming, up stream. Other times just lucky to tread water without going under.



2009 is almost in the rear view mirror, though I keep dwelling on the success' and failures. At this point racing is what gets me out on the bike when it's 15 degrees or gets me on the rollers when it's 0. Recovering from a broken shoulder took a lot more than the 6-8 weeks that was threatened. I'm still working on it. Oddly cross hurt less than cold commutes. 2 hard days of racing on the weekends was nothing compared to a 10 degree commute mid fall. Shitty recovery times at 40. Looking at 2010 I think the focus is going to be some longer training rides, the one long day I did with John was the highlight of the rides I did. Something about rolling along with good company for 6 hours made me want to possibly not do a few races in favor of a 5 hour day on the bike. Easily my longest ride in years; it left an impression. Some great races but not much can compare to 5-6 hours (or whatever it was) on great roads. So, I have a list of rides I need (want) to do next year. It's in pencil right now. Maybe make it a bit more permanent in the next few weeks. Little things to get me through to 2010 CX.



Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.

Alternative tentacles

Aside from looking at pics and video of the big cross races there is plenty to be read right now. The bloggers are running off at the keyboard espousing thoughts on what failed (oddly more than what worked with the exception of mud and cowbells- who is almost always positive!) Me? I won't bore anyone with race reports, in depth equipment reviews-BTW my Ridley X-Fire killed it this year-and I know already what will be under me next year. The gather and hoarding will begin as soon as I purge the shit that is cluttering up my garage. I too dream of supple casings (no, not sausage) and well put together machines. But, for now other work takes the place of the bike. Too sketchy in a ski town to ride right now aside from the trails that are too soft if you don't have a Pugsley instead rollers and skis, ideally both.

Working around the gluttony that the holidays foster has me balancing the treats with the work and trying to stay a bit hungry, OCDs aside the caloric accountant has a bit of holiday. It's not even January. Plenty of time to do 3 hours on a bowl of oatmeal and a Mojo bar later in the winter. In the meantime I'll dive in and out of the light, try to push home a few efforts that need to appear and avoid the crowds. 9 pm grocery store visits and no crossing of Main St. for 2 weeks.


Simple enough

My last winter in the East I got into winter camping, not out of a love of being cold or to prepare myself for the next however many years of living at almost 10,000 feet but to get out and be alone. The solitude for someone who has ALWAYS been afraid of the dark (for no valid reason, mind you) was like a drug. I'd go off into the woods of a nearby state park or drive a little North to the AT and walk a bit and set up my sleeping bag and pad under a Rhododendron tree. My little trip into the woods happened a few times a month, the woods in the winter at night was far more appealing than sleeping in them in the summer. Having read My Side of the Mountain about 20 times as a kid I understood the appeal of being alone in the woods but I just lacked the fortitude that kid had. Also, having recently read Into the Wild I didn't want end up like that idiot. Short hike to a spot out of the wind, maybe bring a stove maybe not but just really to sleep and get the hell out of the way for 12 hours. Sometimes I'd wake up and make oatmeal while still laying in my bag, quietly starting the day at 20 degrees all around as the stove hissed up to boiling my water. Fully rejuvenated for a little while (at least) I'd get dressed and walk out, hoping that my car wasn't towed or broken into by the road. No iPod or cell phones, just a book usually and some noises in the woods. Simple enough.



Cleaner in the dark, longer nights can only go so far before the longer days come in. Whatever it is that gets me through the darker days makes the lighter ones better. Just push. Old miscues change today, but keep the machine on the ground.



This weekend is going to be easy. So far I have a few hours on the week, nothing serious; just days on ice and snow. It keeps my head calm, just pedal, pretty simple, I think. Maybe start to ski and run a bit but the snow sucks too much to really try to ski and the legs are shredded if I try and run. Simple solution, ride.



I'm a pussy. Flecha rides the Pyrenees in Winter on a road bike. I'm on the cross bike with a studded tire up front. A classics hardman. But this will get me out for 2 hours tomorrow regardless of the weather, I'll wear a helmet though. Photo ⓒ Timm KÖLLN


With winter not quite taking hold and Summer long gone, I need to do something else. The skis are almost ready, though without a pass I'll be poaching. Maybe just put the snowboard on my back and walk up the hill. easy enough.


I lasted 9 days. I think I knew it would be short of 2 weeks, the bike felt really good even though it was only 20 degrees and I was riding across the ice, it couldn't have felt better. We'll see what Mag Chloride does to me and the bike this winter. A dirt road effort is planned I think for next week, maybe even real singletrack. As I sank the front tire into the slush and slid around an iced corner I smiled, no more bullshit time off the bike, get busy with what's next. Nats was last weekend, I wasn't there, that won't happen again.



Not exactly an RV I would want but better than getting changed for a race in the front seat of my car. Except in a hoopty like this I'd be lucky to even make it to the venue. 2010 starts today. Enough break, it was almost 9 days!



I think today was either day 4 or day 5, whatever it was- I'm done with the break, I've forced my self to snack a little more, eat a bit more junk than I normally would, generally resist the training mindset. Instead of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for being off the hook for a few days, I have rot gut from eating shitty food, dehydrated from being stupid, and generally ready to get back on the bike, skis, running shoes or whatever vehicle gets me to my Happy Place. If nothing else this has taught me to appreciate what I have set myself up to do. I twittered the other day how much I was enjoying dark chocolate peanut buttercups, I'm not alone, it's an OK vice, considering, but now they only succeed in turning my stomach, the instant gratification is gone, replaced by guilt and nausea. Maybe I'll find some new coffee to focus on, not much else is working. Any ideas? Heart? De la Paz? Stumptown? Any input on the options is appreciated.



I don't have a posse. I don't think I ever will. I do have good coffee and a lot of solitude today. A sleeping child offers a little too much. Too much time to let my mind wander, re think a lot of 2009. A few mistakes but a lot of moves put to right, put through the wringer a few, in the end of the 1st week of December I have the time to reflect and learn from the mistakes, draw on the success, build up.


Crystal Ball

I'm starting to look for a spot just like this. A place to ride, drift a little and pedal.
It already started, 2 days into my break and sure enough I'm waking up early looking to make my 1st espresso, hit the trails, or just kill time until the rest of the time zone wakes up. I'll get to about a week out of commission before I'll have to pull the plug, mount up the fenders and really begin 2010. It's ok, if it wasn't the beast would knaw at me for weeks until I capitulated. I need to do something, too many things playing over and over in my head, at least I can still not leave the house on weekends. That's always the nicest part of the break. Then it's just to pedal anyway.



I missed the call this year, not setting up a real mud/snow day set of tubulars. Yesterday combined with the Blue Sky Cup a month ago put to right why that was a mistake. On a borrowed clincher (first time racing them since September) I rolled the front tire on an off camber high speed section while off the front with the eventual Winner. I earned 9 months of motivation yesterday, Road, MTB again is all gravy leading up to cross. Time to take a little break and get outside on the other stuff, no need to push 2010 yet, just get my shit together and make sure I have it all dialed for the fall.



I wonder sometimes what it would be like to put it away for a while, no real regimen or pressure to put together results. Having never been a real "PRO" it's been easier to get through bad seasons, knowing I wasn't letting a sponsor down (one where I'm catching a check), sometimes though I think it's worse, inward pressure. Enjoying my expectations, Ari Gold would say "Manage your client's expectations" I'm my own client and worst critic. It gets hard to be happy with anything less than a stellar result. But that's not always a result that quantifies my effort or skill or commitment. Recently it's been less about results and more about the process, whatever it was; road, mtb or Cross. It wasn't always a work ethic, it was an escape but now it is about getting out to do the work, the process of maximizing my time. Not just "going for a ride" but making that ride count because of all of the things that are being put on hold so I can do it. the thought of not doing this and putting in the time wakes me up at night, the idea of not living my pseudo-institutional life is confusing. How else would I avoid that donut or that extra helping, what would I do to take up this block of time that makes my head quiet(er)? It's this process that I love and respect, getting out of it would only succeed in trying to get back in it. I really enjoy my life as it is. It puts a smile on my face as I get to pedal, no matter what is under me and what it is keeps me warm. Inside my little cocoon I get to move around enough, and maybe on Sunday I will go the Bakery. The last one is tomorrow, at least the one I have on my radar. For now. At least in the next week or two. Unless someone schedules more cyclo-cross meetings.



More evidence that on Sunday that I did in fact ride a bike outside. Right now it's -10 outside. I was on the rollers today.



As the lines are getting burned into the gravel shoulder, the path and the wind burns them into my face I hear the end of the season coming. Rumors of extra racing makes me wonder if I can renege on the promise I made mid suffer back in September. I don't know how many times you can lie to yourself and expect the body to respond in kind. I want to find out. Sort of a field of dreams thing, if you hold it we will come. Who wouldn't want to race through New Years? Extra motivation to skip the second helping of potatoes, one less slice of ham, more water instead of soda or beer. Suffer later in the year to make the break that much shorter, if I can't flog myself with 50 or 60 of my closest friends why even show up at the dinner table? Earn your surfeit.