February 28, 2011
I alluded yesterday that I am having some decent fitness on the bike. It has been a few years.
When I first upgraded to category3 on the road I was living in Chicago. I had a good run of races in the category4s and got enough points to upgrade. When I first became a cat3 I was able to feature in races and score a top10 once in a while. The form carried over to the track as I was able to score some big wins in the 3s before upgrading to the 2s. That form disappeared.
I think it is back.
I am not the fastest guy around here, nor do I play one on television.
I may never win a race in the cat3s or get a top5 as I no longer put that type of pressure on myself. I am racing and riding right now because it is 100% fun.
The instant the fun goes away I will hang it up.
On a side note. There are a lot of cars in Florida that have custom paint jobs. Every day I see a different one.
Here is one:
February 27, 2011
I have been reading Scouting NY for a few months now. It is a blog written by a location scout for Paramount Pictures. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but it is easily one of the best blogs in the country. The amount of history, architecture, goofiness and unknown places gets me lost everytime I check it out. The founder of the site was recently featured on CBS Sunday Morning.
Here is a recap of that visit and links to some of the best posts on the site as chosen by the author himself.
The riding is going great. I am at 169lbs which is just a tad over where I would like to be, but who is complaining?
If you like professional cycling and think more about it than anyone else you should check out Rouleur Derby.
It quite possibly could be the greatest cycling website ever.
February 23, 2011
I have been fairly frustrated with the ordeal in Wisconsin. As a proud teacher and union member I am having difficulty understanding how stripping collective bargaining rights is going to help solve the state budget deficit.
I think most sane people understand that this attack on the unions has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility, but more with hurting the Democratic party while they are down. It isn’t a secret that the Unions are the number one source of fundraising for the Democrats. The Republicans have pulled out an amazing tactic to kick the Dems while they are down and hide behind the excuse that it is all just part of the budget crisis.
Either way, I was directed to this cartoon from my friend Megan’s Twitter the other day.
February 18, 2011
A few years back Little Guy Racing decided to put on the Campus Criterium. It proved to be a major headache and a lot of hard work. While it was a great day the end result for the promoters was that it was way too much for too little reward. We made a few rookie mistakes in our promotion, such as, having the biggest prize list on the circuit and the lowest entry fees, but we stayed true to our guns of offering races at an affordable rate. While we could have raised the entry fee by $5 and still have been the cheapest event on the calendar, and broken even, we figured in the end that the unfortunate collapse of the 35W bridge was the biggest factor in our failure to break even as it happened just 3 days before our event.
(David Zimmerman took the win and posted up in front of easily the biggest crowd of the 2007 racing year outside of the NVGP. Smithers has a great video of the finish that you should check out here. Thanks to Skinny Ski for the awesome finishing sequence which can be found here. That 1/2 race was a ton of fun to watch as the Flanders guys put on a clinic against the entire field. Not only winning the race, but also taking every single $10 and $20 primes during the final 10laps of the race!)
A few months after the race another local promoter came to an MCF meeting asking for money to help finance chip timing (another debate entirely). During the discussion he mentioned that the Campus Criterium lost money because it wasn’t a professional event and if it was more professional it would have attracted huge crowds, etc. Naturally, I took offense to this and as always blew it out of proportion, after all, we had worked night and day to make that event possible.
A year later the same promoter decided to promote a $35 cyclocross race on the outskirts of the city. I was a little aghast. A few other riders mentioned their personal disgust at the abnormally high entry fee (the “unofficial” series standard was $20-25). While I wish I was the only one that had the idea to confront this issue, a few of us masterminded an alternative guerrilla-style race and dubbed it, Gorilla Cross. It got posted on various message boards and before we knew it the promoters of the Green Acres cross race dropped the price to the standard $25.
(It was only going to cost $5, but it got canceled when Green Acres became $25. Yet, it seemed like it was going to be the start of something special, and perhaps it was?)
I felt like this was a successful move. I admit it wasn’t the most mature move on my part, but I was pretty damn pissed off at a guy that discounted the hard work my team put into a race only then to turn around and charge 40% more at his race than any other on the calendar. I was a tad bit embarrassed by my role in it, but in the end I think the message got across. Promoters need to respond to the market. Yes, promoters have the right to charge whatever they want at their event, but at the same time they must be held accountable, and the only way they can be held accountable is by the riders. If riders don’t show up to their event than they will be missing out on the money and changes will need to be made. This is all good in theory, but the truth of the matter is that riders don’t have many choices for when it comes to races to select from, and this drives entry fees up as there are zero alternatives.
(Bike Jerks was responsible for a $5 cyclocross series in Minneapolis this past season. The only person I heard complain about these races was A. Kruse. I don’t know many people that would want to side with him on this issue, as it seems the Bandit Cross series was fairly successful in its first year. Is this a sign of things to come? Working outside of the USAC paradigm helps provide racers with alternative to high priced events. Sure you get zero-upgrade points, but is that why people show up to races?)
In Florida, I recently had the privilege to do the San Antonio Road Race referenced in a previous blog post. The event cost $42. While this is a high entry fee, I felt that I got my full entry fees worth and will more than likely shell out that type of money again for the same race. After all, it was a 2.5 hour event on partially closed roads will full support. It also is the going rate for road races in Florida. This means that this race isn’t the only one that charges 40% more than any other race on the calendar. So, while some may see it as hypocritical that I would attend, I feel that I am paying market rate for an event, rather than getting screwed over by someone charging 40% more than anyone else, which was attempted at the 2008 Green Acres CX race prior to the flyer change.
During the same debate on the seminal SmithersMPLS Blog about various items about the MCF many great ideas were thrown around, but the fact that I had participated in the Gorilla Cross threat was brought up. I was asked if I was ever going to promote an alternative event to protest the high race fees in Florida. This is a very rational question as I do have a track record of being an outside agitator. Well, I don’t think it should be seen as a protest, but a few of us are putting on the inaugural Doc Hollywood Invitational this weekend!
(Turn by turn directions for the Doc!)
The event isn’t really a protest. It is really just a free alternative. The fact is that there are over 35 weekends of competitive racing in Florida, it is hard to find a weekend in which there isn’t a race! Gas prices going through the roof and with lots of quality events to choose from over the course of the season there is also a need for low cost/free events that are located near racers.
The Doc Hollywood is 100% free and self-supported. It is about 70miles in distance and has 10miles of dirt roads. While it isn’t the Alamanzo 100, and its amazing 600 registrants, it does follow the same mold of being 100% self-supported and policed. Riders will get the cue sheet and off we go. The participants are all aware that the rules of the road are in affect. It is going to be one heck of a time, and in my opinion, it will soon become just another event that will help continue to transform the racing scene around Florida. In fact, another event that seems to have captured the imagination of many is the annual Battle of Olustee that gets well over 75 riders every January for its 120mile jaunt through north-central Florida.
The Doc is just another spring classic.
Yet, it is free.
Who could complain about that?
February 16, 2011
This is a CC Manahattan:
It was my grandpa’s drink of choice whenever we out to dinner. I have been trying to finish one for the past three or four years. I don’t know how he did it because it is quite possibly the worst thing I have ever tasted in my entire life. This is ironic, because my grandfather was one of the most standup guys I have ever known.
He passed away in his sleep on Monday evening and he will be surely missed by all of his family and friends. “Baba,” as he was known to his grandkids, was always willing to tell a story or three and made a mean Chicken Marsalla and New England Clam Chowder. We may not of seen eye to eye on pretty much every political issue of our time knowing one another, but you could never hold it against him, nor he towards the more rational ones.
Man, I am going to miss that guy.
February 13, 2011
This weekend was awesome.
The highlight was a visit from Monty Byrnes and his wife, Zoe. They were in Tampa visiting some relatives and decided to make a trip up to Gainesville to see Sarah and myself. It is always great seeing friends. We took them out to our favorite place, Emliano’s in downtown and we then checked out a cool bar/club/cafe spot on the northside of town called, Kickin’ Devil Cafe. Both places were a big hit with our guests. They seemed to enjoy their time in Gainesville, and as they are the second people to visit us (outside of family) we are starting to feel really lucky to have such great friends that still want to say hello even though we moved across the nation.
Before the arrival of The Proprietor on Saturday I did a bicycle race just outside of Tampa in a small town called San Antonio. Just like the old days when I first started this blog I decided to do the race at the last minute on Friday evening after chaperoning the Junior High Dance (which was amazing, by the way). I didn’t know much about this race, but I had heard a lot of positive things from other racers in Florida about it. I was a tad bit concerned that the field limit of 100 in the 3/4s would fill, and sure enough I was just able to squeeze through as the limit was reached.
I won’t give you the horribly boring details of a 70mile road race, but I will tell you that I was very impressed with the course. It was one of the hilliest courses I have ever raced on. In fact, the flyer said it was, “Florida Hilly”, but I think it could have passed as a “Fairly Hilly” course anywhere in the country, save the mountains. Out of the 100 starters I got 35th overall and 24th in the Category 3s. I was able to hang on and finish with the pack sprint and was pretty stoked with what I was able to do.
It was a lot of fun and racing with the gang from 352 Racing is going to be great this season.
February 8, 2011
On Sunday I did my first race of the year at the Gainesville Speedway. I have never raced this early in the year so, my result is not all that important (16th out of 20), but it was a ton of fun riding with a pack and progressing with my cornering ability. It has been a long time since I have had some confidence going into criteriums, and over the past couple of races here in Florida the confidence is coming back. Coupling the confidence with an actual desire to train I have found myself in relatively good fitness and demeanor for the first part of the season.
The course itself was a real highlight. It was almost identical to the truck track at Dakota Tech, but it was a tiny bit smaller and the elevation change was about 1foot per lap. That being said, it allows for multiple course configurations and it may be a perfect place for a weekday training series if the numbers and venue charge are not too outrageous. I am not promising anything to the racers down here, but I am thinking about possibly putting on a little series over the summer months when I have some time on my hands, plus with an evening start it will help beat the hot weather and enable people to have some fun, but like I said, I am just pondering the possibility. Nothing is for sure!
For the past three years I have been a suscriber to Harper’s Magazine. The subscription lapsed a few weeks back and I have not exactly been rushing to get it back. In fact, I am thinking about returning to the New Yorker Magazine. I was a suscriber to the New Yorker in the 2000s and enjoyed it, but I would find myself getting behind in the issues and being fairly selective on what I read. This is why I decided to go with Harper’s which came in a monthly format, versus the bi-weekly nature of the New Yorker.
But, with two recent articles, both of which I think are amazing, have brought me back into the New Yorker fold and I am going to be getting a Kindle subscription for $2.99 a month. The two articles are:
This article discusses crowd control and the tragic death of a Wal-Mart employee that was crushed to death during a stampede at a Black Friday sale on Long Island, New York. The added coverage of the OSHA case versus Wal-Mart (the retailer is spending 2million dollars to defend itself against a $7,000 fine) is well written and is what I love about the New Yorker.
This quite possibly could be the best article of 2011. It digs deep into the cult of Scientology and everybody should read it before it disappears behind the paywall.
February 4, 2011
A few years back the Minneapolis Public Schools official motto was, “Every Child College Ready.” I had a problem with this motto as it is an unattainable goal, and more importantly, discounts individuals who do not go to college. I have always been a strong believer in the need for our public schools to help produce quality individuals that will be able to have healthy and productive lives as adults. Another downside of this motto is that it fails to honor individuals that go to trade-schools or apprenticeships.
Beth Hawkins, the education writer for MinnPost, recently put up a nice article that links to a Harvard report that finds, “a college for all emphasis may actually harm many American students — keeping them from a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood and a viable career.”
Here is a link to the article. If you are at all interested in public education, or your child’s future I highly suggest a quick perusal.
Let’s not forget that individuals such as electricians, carpenters, sales representatives and construction workers can do pretty darn well, and for the most part get hired with zero student loans!
I have made it no secret that I am a fan of Transit Oriented Development on this blog. TOD sites are usually suburban communities that are designed around livable ideals such as walkable neighborhoods, alley ways leading to rear facing garages, smaller lots and access to transit. The basic idea of these places is to create suburban development in a controlled manner that takes into account water rights, environmental concerns, and above all, getting Americans out of their cars.
The King Farm development in the Washington D.C. suburb of Rockville, Maryland is one of the most awarded TOD development to date. The community was designed around an eventual light rail line that would run down the middle of a median on the main street in this neighborhood of over 3,200 homes. The plan meant that home owners were no more than a 10minute walk from one of the two stations in the development. The light rail line would connect to the famed DC Metro and allow workers to commute to the city with relative ease. In addition, it has recently been rumored that the US Department of Health and Human Services was going to move their headquarters to the facility, thus creating even more need for the light rail line.
Well, just like classic NIMBYs in the big cities a small group of vocal citizens have started a movement against the installation of the light rail line! They claim that they were unaware that the wide median outside of their homes was meant for light rail expansion and are afraid that trains will bring down their property values. Naturally, it has been proven many times that this is not the case, in fact, transit such as light rail helps property values rise. The King Farm community will now be faced with a 15minute drive to the nearest train station, rather than a 10minute walk.
Seriously, who are these people?
Designed for light rail. Marketed as an area for light rail. Now, being denied as an area for light rail.
February 3, 2011
Soccer season is fast approaching.
Since I am no longer in Minnesota I will have to travel down to Tampa to get my professional soccer fix. I am pretty stoked for the Tampa Bay Rowdies as their fan group, Ralph’s Mob, has been awfully welcoming. Heck, they even understand that I am an NSC Minnesota fan during our head to head match-ups. The name of the group stems from the original Tampa Bay Rowdies of the old NASL in the 1970’s. They had a mascot named, Ralph Rowdie. The group has decided to keep the name and has been doing a good job of spreading the love, just like my friends in Minnesota.
Here is the logo of Ralph’s Mob:
One of the members is the real life Ralph:
The Mob gets about 75-100 fans a game. Here is just a glimpse of what they look like in the stands:
With the new stadium in St. Petersburg it will be a tad more difficult to get to a game, but it will still be worth it as 12 of 15 home games this season are on Saturday evenings.
The Stars come twice and I hope to catch a game while visiting Minnesota over the summer.
February 1, 2011
My 7th season of bicycle racing starts in 3…2…1…
I have been getting some good riding in. Put in a few 90+ mile rides as the start of my season approaches this coming weekend. I have two days of racing to choose from, so I am going to go with the Cat3 crit on the road course over at the world famous Gainesville Speedway (home of Gatornationals!)
The Saturday option is an office park criterium in a 1/2/3 field. Blah. There is also a 3.2mile Time Trial for $20. I am not going to take that bait. Why other riders continue to support promoters that charge an arm and a leg is beyond me.
Instead of racing we are going to the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. As you may remember, we love our medieval faires!
A few trips are on the docket:
Mid-March I will be rolling out to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the Rouge-Roubaix bicycle race. Mike Lalla and Mike Sobol are going to be there. This guarantees a crazy time. More riders from Minnesota should randomly show up.
On President’s Day weekend we will be heading to Cedar Key, FL. Apparently, this town is one of the best small towns in America. It was also at one time the honeymoon capital of the United States, and it is only an hour away from us. That trip will be fun.
There are a boatload of MLS teams doing their pre-season training down here, so we may make a trip down to Orlando to see a game or three at the end of the month.
Lots of sun down here in Florida as of late. This is a welcome change from the below-freezing we have been getting. I know this sounds like complaining, but the orange crop just wasn’t as good as I expected it to be this time around.