Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Top 10 List

Well everyone else is doing their top 10 list for 2008 so I’ll take a stab at it, though 10 items might be a little extreme.

1. Racing Green the Team – I put together a team for the season with a goal to have fun, promote riding and utilize the bike to lessen your personal environmental impact. The team did good, especially given our small size and new entry to the sport (as a team). A couple of wins by riders and a middle of the pack team classification placing at Winter Park. More important were some of the extra things the team did, putting on an event in the community to promote riding that drew 25 people, we attracted some local press and the ride was pretty fun. Next year I’ll still do an event to get people riding, though probably not the team.
2. Bike to Work Day – Coordinated Bike to Work Day at my company had 50 people participate (out of 200 in Denver) a huge increase over 2007. Gave away some sweet prizes thanks to my personal (and team) sponsor Pedal Pushers www.pedalpusherscyclery.com
3. Racing – No break through results, or in reality any good results this year, but man I have fun racing. Getting out on trails, pushing myself, trying to compete with others it makes riding fun.
4. The Election – Man I’m a political geek and this was a year for geeks. A diverse set of candidates putting in serious bids, African-Americans, Latin Americans, and women, add in some divergent views and an electrifying candidate or two and this year was great for watching the electoral process.
5. Books – Damn I’ve been reading a lot this year, the most in years probably. If I didn’t spend so much time riding I’d probably sit around drinking, reading and getting fat. Bill McKiben, Charles Bukowski, David Sedaris, books on politics, books on Starbucks, environmental books, medical books, poetry and biographies.
6. Writing – All that damn reading got me writing again. Cool.
7. Drive by Truckers – Saw them live this summer, red neck rock and roll damn that was a fun night.
8. New Bikes – Two new bikes in 2008, Cannondale CAAD 9 road bike and Orbea Oiz mountain bike. Nice rides
9. Travel – Most of my travel in 2008 was for work, but I try to make sure to enjoy it when I’m out. Chicago is a new favorite. New York is cool but Chicago just fits me better. The one downside, airlines and delays.
10. Ade and Seamus – They support me in all this. The ride I put on was on Mother’s Day and they came and had fun. Long rides, days away racing always supported by my wife. Kicking back watching and talking about politics with the wife was great through the fall. A seven year old who is growing into a great and unique person. Trips to the zoo, museum and wherever else he wants to go, each day I see him grow, better himself and turn in to the person I want/hope he’ll become.

So there is my view of 2008 in 10 easy installments. Hope you had a good year and hope 2009 is even better.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Week 7

The week that wasn’t, as in minimal training, lots of eating and some relaxing. As promised I didn’t take my bike to Salt Lake with me, allowing for plenty of relaxation during the holiday. It is just too bad the weather didn’t cooperate with the relaxing. But first, quick totals from the training front; two rides for a total of 3:00 hours; two runs for a total of 1:00 hour; three yoga sessions for a total of 1:30 hours. Not a huge amount of volume but enough to make me feel like I didn’t lose any fitness and stayed on track. The riding came Monday (a trainer session early) and Sunday with a 2:00 hour ride.

On to the lack of relaxation, which can be wrapped up with two words both starting with W: windy Wyoming? We drove to Salt Lake on I-80 through Wyoming; leaving Monday night we got to the stretch between Laramie and our planned stopping point for the night of Rawlins in a dark snow storm with wind blowing about 50-60 mph. If you have never driven in these conditions try to avoid it, if you have you know the word relaxation is not possible. It took 2.5 hours to drive 100 miles, a stretch that during the summer is 1:15 to travel. The next day it was windy and snowy again from Little America (don’t get me started on a gas station that is a destination) to Salt Lake. After that travel a few days chilling at the mother-in-laws house was welcomed and allowed for a little relaxation.

Too bad we had to drive back. The good news this time is very limited actual snowfall; the bad news was even fiercer wind and plenty of snow on the ground to create white out conditions. At points you couldn’t see 20 feet in front of you and it went on like this for hours. We ended up calling it a day in Laramie because neither of us could (or wanted to) focus on driving). This morning more wind 60+ mph gusts but no snow causing white out conditions. We did see a total of 6 semis that had been blown over because of the wind; two between Rawlins and Laramie on the 27th and four just south of Cheyenne on the 28th.

The good news is we made it home safe and have vowed to never make a winter time drive to SLC again (that’s why there are airplanes). Tomorrow begins real work (bike wise) again, but I have another week off work to relax and take care of Seamus on vacation. If you’re in Denver and see us causing terror through town join in.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 6

Well the week that was was cold, snowy and busy, leaving minimal time for training. The good thing is it is months till the first races and a couple of weeks of shorter (or no) riding won’t be too bad. Prior to this week I had gotten in five solid weeks of base training. The reality is week 6 wasn’t all bad considering the other factors; I rode six days, put in a few hard efforts and didn’t burn myself out on the rollers by keeping the rides short.

The week started with a solid cold snap that caused the car battery to go out. With Ade sick and a car not working riding time was limited. This forced me to drive in (the cold, Ade being sick and the car issue) to get the car taken care of and make sure I was able to get to school on-time to pick up Seamus if needed. I of course also needed to finish my Christmas shopping which limits time, so life took priority and riding was on the rollers and night for short periods of time. Of my scheduled work I really only short changed the weekend long ride, as I had no desire to ride for 3-4 hours in the bitter cold, on ice ridden streets while drivers weren’t expecting to see a cyclist. Still I managed to get in 5.5 hours of riding and 1.5 hours of strength training during the week.

I’ve also officially started the holiday eating plan, consisting of way too many cookies, treats and food in general. I’m trying to make it through the end of the year with little to no weight gain so I can drop it quick in the beginning of the year. Since starting to follow the LW plan I’ve dropped 4 pounds and would like to drop another 5. If I can be conservative with food between now and the end of the year the last 5 should come off pretty quick. Of course there is one problem; I’m not really going to be working out this week so keeping the weight off may not be easy.

We’re hitting the road this afternoon for Salt Lake and will be gone for a week. If I manage to get in a total of 3 hours of any sort of exercise this week I’ll be happy. Long hours in cars and parties will limit that though, but I should be mentally fresh when I get back to start back with the training and finish up base training in style.

Hopefully everyone gets what they want from Santa this week. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life of the Rollers

Life on the rollers can be tough, the same view the entire time, no change of terrain, no wind to cool you off. I've got the basement set up with a tv, fan and music to make the time more tolerable but still it isn't the most fun riding conditions.


Here is my view for any time I put on the rollers, the tv, and fan and junk in the basement.



This is me sweating my ass off after about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Problem Solved

So I just hoped off the rollers for today’s ride and now need to decompress. Even if I wanted to go to sleep soon it just won’t be possible, any time I ride at night it takes a few hours to slow the body down and fall asleep. My normal routine is to go to sleep at a reasonable and get up and riding by 5 at the latest, especially this time of the year when a lot of riding is done on the rollers. If I’m riding by 4:30 to 5:00 I can get in 1.5 to 2 hours, take a shower and ride in the car to work with Ade. This lets me help get everyone out the door, get my big ride in and then lets me sneak in a shorter ride by riding the bike home after work (Ade gets off early for school pick-up).

This week the routine got messed up though with a rough Monday night and no energy to get up and ride Tuesday morning. So Tuesday’s ride was at night, causing today’s ride to be at night, which indicates tomorrow will end up being a night ride. Oh well, fit it in when I can.

I did try something new today with the rollers that worked pretty well, a towel under the rear rollers to create extra resistance. I stole the idea from Jeff K who was even nice enough to post a picture of his set-up for me. Rollers are great because they make you work on balance and think a little while riding. This is as opposed to a trainer where you are bolted in and there is no skill or balance required. The problem with rollers has always been getting enough resistance for hard efforts, but the towel did the trick. I was scheduled for 6x6 minutes of tempo riding and usually to get near or into my heart rate for this zone I’m in the biggest gear and spinning about 100-110 rpm. I haven’t been able to do any zone 4 or higher work on the rollers. Tonight zone 3 work was in the 53x16/17 which means I’ll have gears for zone 4 (not to mention more towels if needed). This little trick makes rollers work for nearly all indoor workouts (out of saddle sprinting is tough, I can do a few pedal strokes out of the saddle but it needs to be steady).

If nothing else checking out blogs gives a few ideas to solve problems like this. Thanks Jeff.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Week 5

Another week of base down, and one more until a week off for Christmas. I’m starting to feel pretty good from a conditioning perspective. Long rides are tough but not draining and all the work I’ve been doing with my core and yoga are keeping the body from having any pains.

In past years any ride over 2.5 hours or so would result in a stiff and sore neck/upper shoulder region. This year I haven’t had any of those issues and have to attribute it to the yoga. Each week I can tell I’m getting a little more flexible and even if it doesn’t help the cycling I’m feeling better overall.

The weather has made training easy thus far with only a bad day here or there; however, today we got hit by some snow (not more than 2 inches or so) and extreme cold. When I went out to the mall (Christmas shopping can’t wait you know) it was 4 degrees according to the car. At least the weather men called this storm right and I listened. I switched today’s scheduled long ride to Saturday and the ride scheduled for Saturday, which was suppose to be an off-road time trail with 20 hard minutes and only 1:15 total, got moved inside to the rollers. I still did the 20 minute effort, but on the road bike, no technical stuff to worry about and only rode an hour. So the good news is I roughly did the training I was suppose to, the bad news is the weather is suppose to be cold and snow on and off all week. I just hope it breaks enough by the end of the week to allow me to get in another long ride next weekend.

The major race series in Colorado (and nationally) have put out schedules in the past week or so. I’m starting to plot out the season, but it may be hard until I know what endurance race(s) I’m going to do. I’m planning on trying to register for the Leadville 100, but only 1,000 people get in so who knows if I’ll get a slot. If not I think I’ll do the Laramie Enduro which is a few weeks early and 40 miles shorter. Either way the training plan I’m on now should help as Lynda W is the endurance coach guru so she has a plans available for any type of race distance. I’ll know far enough in advance the race I’m going to do (mid February) that not know now won’t effect anything. Later the big race I’m doing may (will) affect the normal distance cross country races I do, but for now it is all about building aerobic fitness.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Training Time

Recently on a mountain bike forum (MTBR.com) there have been a lot of questions about how to fit in training and work and life and family etc. I also get this type of question a lot from friends. Well it gets down to motivation and figuring it out. A typical week for me of training looks like this:

Monday – easy day commute home from work
Tuesday – riding by 5 for at least 1 hour before work, ride home, yoga at home
Wednesday – same as Tuesday less the yoga
Thursday – up at 5 again; try to sneak in an extra 30 minutes (for a full hour) on the commute home, yoga at home
Friday – see Monday
Saturday – gone by 7 for a hard two hours
Sunday – gone by 7 for about 4 hours


Here I am on my way home from, you can see the staps of the backpack in black if you look close.



Towards the end of my ride home today, starting to get dark and the camera phone doesn't do me justice.

This schedule gives me plenty of time at home with the family, time for work and time to relax some. The one thing I don’t do that I should for training is sleep 8 hours a night, 7 is great, 6 realistic.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Week 4

Four hours of riding today, first climb up Lookout in a long time. Not fast (26:35) but steady and all Zone 3. Home by 11:30 if that gives you an idea how early I ride. Weekend rides can either be at a “reasonable hour” or long. I needed the hours so got out early. The weather was exceptionally nice so the early start was not a big deal. It was kind of a bummer though; I bought new polypropylene gloves yesterday for cold weather riding. I was thinking I’d at least get a little test time early today but no need for the cold weather gear.

Week 4 of training is now in the bag (not really yet, still need to do some yoga today). For the week I had a total of 10 hours of riding, and 2 hours of yoga. It being a recovery week on the schedule I’m happy with what I put in. I'm still working on aerobic fitness so no real hard work on the ride, which is actually harder than riding hard sometimes. Climbing at a pace slow enough to keep me in zone 3 takes some effort. Surprisingly though my time wasn’t much slower than an all out effort from previous years in December (only a handful of seconds slower than a December ride last year at a higher pace) so hopefully the work to build a good aerobic engine is paying off and I’ll get faster in the summer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sixty Degrees and Shorts in December

We’ve had some strange weather here in Denver the last few days. Wednesday night I was riding home from work in 18 degree temperatures, snow and wind. Thursday night the low was -5, yet the high on Friday was mid 40’s and all the 3-5 inches of snow seemed to melt. Today (Saturday) I went out for a ride in the afternoon, southeast of town and there wasn’t a drop of snow to be seen. I started out with leg warmers on and a long sleeve jersey and vest. Hidden in my pockets I had winter gloves, ear covers and a windstopper thermal jacket. I spent most of the two hour ride in shorts and a long sleeve jersey and it was perfect.



Here I am out on the ride, notice no snow on the ground.



A shadow in December?

Global warming in not about an overall warming of global temperatures exclusively (though that is a component) it is as much about extremes in weather. Going from -5 to 60+ degrees in 36 hours is an extreme change in the weather. Going from snow on the ground in December to not a trace in 24 hours is an extreme. Yes it was down right cold on Thursday and Thursday night, but the extremes that were shown are what global warming really is, not just the heat of today.

Did I enjoy the warm weather today, of course; two hours in the sun wearing shorts in December is something to enjoy. But the long term implications and concerns should remind all of us that snow and 40’s are pretty nice too.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hot Flat and Tough

I was at a doctor appointment with Ade yesterday and Thomas Friedman’s book Hot, Flat and Crowded got brought up. This is a book I read in late September and at the time thought it was an extremely difficult book to read, not because of content or language or the complexity of information it was trying to discuss, but because of how forlorn and depressed I felt after, as if it is already too late to make improvements to the current global environmental and economic crisis’s.

The doctor we met with brought up the book and seemed to have the same take I did on the book. The book is very important to discuss the importance of creating a truly alternative energy related power system the options are not readily available and nobody in a true position of power has done anything about the crisis. Does America need to lead on the renewable energy forefront, and if so what can or will we do? I think yes we should lead, and hopefully inspire others. My fear is we will not and by the time we react, when the crisis is beyond repair (think the banking bailout or the auto industry situation) it will be too late to save the world.

Don’t wait for the government to act, don’t wait for the difficulty of reading Friedman’s book to change to the difficulty of making change. This site originally started as a way to help people lessen their environmental impact, please do your part. Ride your bike to work, use cloth shopping bags, drive less, and eat local.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Week 3

With Thanksgiving hitting in the middle of week 3, family visiting from out of town and weather finally hitting Denver I figure any miles I put in last week were a bonus. Not to mention I’ve learned a little for the upcoming Christmas holiday. I did mange to get in 11 hours of training total, including a good mix of riding, yoga and running (yes I competed in a running race). With all the food and drink I enjoyed I probably didn’t lose any fitness, but probably didn’t gain any either.

Since Sunday was suppose to be nice and Seamus had a play date all afternoon I had planned on putting in my long ride that day, unfortunately the weather turned into a snow day and my motivation to spend 3-4 hours riding in the snow (after spending 2+ on Saturday in the snow and cold) just wasn’t there. I ended up hoping on the rollers for about 90 minutes and did an unscheduled tempo workout that felt pretty good. Three days of tempo work in a week should help to build some fitness in the future, at least I hope it does. The real big training effort of the week was on Thursday when I ran the Turkey Trot in Denver. Me, my sister-in-law and 10,000 of our closest friends made for a fun event. Trying to pick my way through the crowd was tough, the first mile to mile and half were crazy. Having started towards the back of 10,000 people I was trying to catch up to the SIL to run with her. By the time I caught her we were at mile 3 of a 4 mile race so I didn’t spend a lot of time running with her, but we both had good races. I finished in 32 minutes and she finished in 36 (crossing the line at the same time but different finishing times because of chip timing). Considering I’ve run about 5 times all year I was pretty happy.

The main thing I took out of this week though will be used in December: take off when around family. So I won’t be taking the bike to Salt Lake for Christmas and will try to run a little if I can, if not no big deal. December is a long way from any races and the recovery will allow me to dig into training starting in January.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Get Ready for Cyber Monday

I’ll probably get in trouble for putting up a post on this site, but hey you leave a bike sounding url in the history I’m going to take a look. First a little history, Ade is addicted to a web site called Etsy. It is kind of like Ebay for the arts and crafts set. Hand made stuff by small artisans. If you are on the McCune family shopping list this year you should plan on a gift from Etsy.

Anyway I see this url in our browser http://rattrappress.blogspot.com/ and go check it out. Yet another Etsy store and their blog (hence the mention of Ade's addiction)but this one isn't baby blankets or soap, no it is for bike freaks. Now the reason I’ll get in trouble... I’m hunching I’ll be getting a gift from them (which I really hope I am cause the shirts are cool) and soon Ade will read this post and know I have a hunch what I’m getting. Oh well, like I said I just stumbled upon it in the browser.

For the cycling freaks out there take a few minutes to check them out, if you’re looking for any cool t-shirts or try to find the posters (I haven’t been able to yet). I’m hoping for the green crank t-shirt from Santa.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stories

After 15 years can you resume the life you had at 20? Can you see an old friend on the street, share a beer and not worry about why or how you stopped talking? No ill will, just time and distance creating the chasm.

The other night, while in Chicago, I had dinner with the most technically beautiful poet I’ve ever known. Both of us now missing hair and knowledge we had as youth, but from 40 feet, through windows and a cold winter night, I knew Rick sitting inside his car as if it were still 1990.

Perhaps it takes two people who know what they did wasn’t that bad, two people who are comfortable enough with themselves (and their choices later in life) and their friends to know any story told will only invoke fondness amongst the antagonists and listeners. Two people who know that telling stories is what inexplicably links us to others and makes us want to share, even if time and distance hasn’t allowed.

In my life, as I look back through the years and think about the people I remember, the people I am fond of, the people I consider allies, the people I consider friends all share one common trait. All these people would tell a story, ask a question or engage in a debate that taught me something. These are the people who when I look back on situations I don’t remember details of what we ate, was the food good, or why we were together; however, I do remember the stories, the conversation and how those people and their stories shaped my life.

Stories are what sew together the many fabrics, pieces, of our lives. The chance to bring together fabric from different eras of my life, to share those pieces with friends and family is worth the effort of crossing any burned bridges. I went to dinner with Rick, my (anonymous) sidekick, and Rick’s wife Joanna to share. We talked for hours, reliving our younger days, learning about our lives through the years that have past. Can you remember all the details you knew about a person 15 years ago? Should you remember these details? If you can does that make you a friend? Or on the other hand can you forget many of the details, not interact with a person yet remain their friend because of what you were, what you gave them, what they gave you. Do you remain friends with someone not only because of the physical closeness but because of the constant guidance they provide, the influence they have on making you a better person? If so how do people provide this guidance, if there is a lack of physical connection?

There are many people I see on a daily basis, yet I don’t consider them friends. I may talk with them, enjoy their company and spend time with them, yet they have not provided the more involved interaction and connections required to be a true friend. After dinner with Rick I thought about how awkward the evening could have been. Instead there was no uncomfortable silence, no wishing time was over and I realized why because of this story.

Rick’s dad at one point in his life frequented a bar with a black and white TV. The patrons of the bar would watch Chicago Cubs games on the TV and I assume share a drink or two. At one point (I admit some details of the story are fuzzy) a guy not originally from America also started frequenting the bar. He of course began to watch the belabored Cubs on TV with the rest of the patrons. As the story goes the guy didn’t fully understand or appreciate the complexity and difficulty of baseball from watching and learning about the game at a bar. The guy didn’t fully understand just how difficult it was to hit a baseball until one day Rick’s dad took the guy to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. It was there for the first time ever he realized the pitcher was not on the same team as the batter, but on the opposite team. This little (yet critical) bit of knowledge completely changed the game of baseball for the guy.

I’ve used this story many times in my job when working with people outside the U.S. I’ve worked to not take for granted the details of work that seem inherent to me as to someone with a different history the inherent are acquired. I haven’t seen, spoken or heard from Rick in nearly 15 years. I never met Rick’s dad as he passed away between freshman and sophomore years in college and I during the one year Rick and I knew each other when his father was alive I never was in the same place at the same time. Yet over the years I learned from Rick’s father, I learned from Rick and used this story to hopefully teach others.

Friendship can come in many forms and from many places, but it isn’t about what has happened in the last week, it is about the long term benefits friends bestow on friends. For me friendship is based on learning from and challenging another and taking those experiences out in life no matter who you are with. This year, if never before, friendship is worth being thankful for, thankful for those friends who are close, thankful for those who have taught us something today and also thankful for those who taught us something 20 years ago that we still use today.

For another essay on stories and friendship visit sasee.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Week 2

Week 2 of training and more of the same, trying to fit in the hours while not having the time to do it. I did get a three + hour ride in on Sunday and felt pretty good, though it was windy coming back into town and slowed me down. Early in the week, prior to heading out of town I managed to get in three one-hour rides. Wednesday, before flying out I rode and the legs were tired after five straight days of training. Usually I wouldn’t go five days straight this time of the year (and for that matter I rarely ride that much without a rest day), but given my schedule it was the only option.

If there is one thing travel is good for it is killing any level of fitness. Try to train around it and you start to verge on too much training, then on the road little to any training coupled with eating out, lack of sleep etc. and fitness plummets. The day after flying is killer too. This time I went for a ride Saturday morning (after getting home Friday night) and spent the entire time feeling like hell. I kept checking to see if the brakes were rubbing, looking for some excuse for how I felt, but in the end I guess it was just bad legs from flying. At least I’m (currently) free of travel for the rest of the year and after this week should really be able to focus on some riding. Even this week, with Thanksgiving, I should be able to get into a routine and ride a good amount assuming no snow. I can handle the short rides on the trainer, but longer rides (2-3+) hours just don’t get done on the trainer. On the weekend coming up I’ve got a 2 hour and 3.5 hour ride scheduled (pretty similar for the rest of this block on weekends) and if the weather is good I’ll be set. If weather is bad on weekends I’ll have to try to shuffle days and try to sneak out of work some to get in the long rides. Gotta love the winter training.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Traveling

I was on a plane again when I wrote this the first time, in hand, in a notebook; heading to Chicago. It seems like there has been too much travel of late. There are far too many downsides to travel to mention (long hours, getting sick, missing rides, and most importantly missing family) in this post, plus that is not the point of the post. Clearly these issues are a drag with business travel and make time gone from home tough, I’ve always made it an important part of my trips to embrace the travel in any way I can.

I have peers who have never seen Central Park, never been to the Art Institute in Chicago, never walked the Upper West Side, and never strolled to the top of Coit Tower. I have seen all these areas and make sure every time I enjoy the cities I go to.

I look at business travel as a chance to learn and enjoy opportunities I’d never have on my own budget. This morning when I was taking Seamus to school before leaving he asked if I “was going on a business trip”? I told him it was, and that all my trips are really business trips. I wondered why and asked. He said I never talk about work from the trips. He said I talk about what I saw and did. It seems in his mind that I don’t take business trips like other parents I take trips to enjoy other cities. When I was in New York a few weeks ago I sent Seamus a picture of 42nd and Broadway, as we had just read a book that took place there. I guess he thought that was why I went to New York.

On this trip to Chicago I am traveling with a peer; the other day we were looking at a map of Chicago and I was telling him where places were in respect to our hotel. He wondered how I knew so much about the city. I didn’t really have an answer, but I guess given the choice I’ll spend any down time walking around a city and enjoying it.

For me it is about priorities. I have to prioritize my work, my family, cycling and any other interests I have. I know this weekend I’ll spend Saturday with Seamus at the zoo. I know I’ll get up at dawn and ride in the coldest part of the day to get in a ride. I know I’ll enjoy a nice dinner with Ade and Seamus.

When I landed today I walked around Chicago. I showed my peer Grant Park, the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Building (both of which are architectural gems), the Water Tower and the Hancock building. We walked for about two hours enjoying the city before our commitments became pressing. We all only have so many chances to embraces our opportunities, be they travel, bike riding or family. Work is a means to the end so I’ll make sure to enjoy the time I’m gone from higher priorities by learning about new places. I’ll live with the confusion I’ve caused Seamus; making him think I travel to send him pictures instead of business travel.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Starting to Train

The first week of training is in the bag. Not a huge week, at 9:30, but all things considered I’m happy to get that amount of time in. Coming off being sick last week I was tempted to push the start of the training back a week, but since the week was pretty mellow until Saturday I went for it. Most of the training scheduled was low intensity and short time. Yesterday was a field test to benchmark my fitness for the rest of the block. Twenty minutes all out and man did I feel it.

I managed a pretty solid ride though, heart rate average of 180bpm and an average speed of 22mph. I rolled out miles 0-3 and 3-6 at 8:07 and 16:14, so even splits. The last mile + was painful and slow but not terrible. Today I did a 3:00 ride; I don’t think I’ve spent that much time on the bike since the last race at Winter Park. All in all I’d consider it a good starting point for working with a new coach (kind of). I bought a pre-built plan from Lynda W (http://www.lwcoaching.com/) so there is someone besides me behind the plan/work. I’ll see how it goes but the overall plan seems well put together so I’m excited for it.

Another tough week ahead for training (and really the week after) with a trip to Chicago this week and Thanksgiving next after that I should be able to really settle in for training up until Christmas. At some point the miles this early should pay-off and I’m not going to force these first few weeks. I’ve got enough freedom and flexibility that I can finish 80-90% of the work no problem just by shifting things a day or two. This week I’m going to ride Monday through Wednesday, shifting the plans rides that were scheduled Tuesday through Thursday. Wednesday is a travel day and Thursday is packed in meetings from 8-7:30 so it will be a recovery day. Friday I should be able to sneak in the planned ride and next weekend will be big miles again. Already looked at the forecast and it is suppose to be nice which will make the miles easy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Winter?

The middle of November is usually well past the end of the typical bike commuting season. During the summer the bike racks at my office are full, 40-50 bikes per day. In November we are usually down to 3-4 riders. This year though something strange has happened, at least so far, and that is a significant number of bikes are still on the racks everyday.

My theory on this is that there are two primary factors; first is the increased cost of gas we’ve seen over the past year. Though prices have recently retracted $2.00 a gallon gas is still pricey and once people are use to riding (after $3.00+ gas) continuing isn’t a big stretch. The second factor, which is probably a bigger issue, is the near tropical weather we’ve been having in Denver. November 13th and the high temperature is expected to be in the mid 60’s, we haven’t had any snow or any cold stretches. Sooner or later we’ll get snow and then I’ll be able to tell if the new riders are going to be year round commuters or just seasonal commuters.

Usually by this time of the year I am relishing my commutes home in the dark with the first flakes of a winter storm hitting. My ride home takes my through City Park, right next to the Denver Zoo. Riding in a wide open space next to the zoo animals as the weather shifts, the cold starts to settle in, the snow starts to fly is an experience I cherish every time it happens. I look forward to the commute in the snow, mostly because of the solitude, the chance to be alone in miles of a park, only wild animals to share the changes with me. I hope it snows soon. I hope more people learn to appreciate and love the bike commute in the winter.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time to start 2009

Within days of making the commitment to be a bike racer your life changes, former priorities and interests slip and your time is quickly consumed by the bike. However, to be successful as a cyclist you do need to find some balance in life. This past week shifted the balance from family and riding to work and towards the end, survival. What started out as a normal business trip by the end turned into hopes of getting home on Thursday as planned no matter how late. By the time I got home, after being awake for 22 hours straight any desire to ride and begin training again for 2009 had been replaced by the desire to sleep. But now it is time to refocus and begin my assault on the 2009 season.

When you get to sleep at 2:00am, after being awake for 22 hours, the last thing that sounds like fun is being awaken at 6:00am; however, nothing could have made my day better than to have Seamus climb in bed next to me (as I had slept in the guest room since Seamus decided to join Adrienne in our bed since I was gone) and wake me up. Balance. Before I had left I promised him a Starbucks run on Friday before school and he wanted to make sure I’d get up and go. While sleep should have been my priority getting up and having coffee and a donut was even more important. Balance. Sleep, or the lack of it can be made up. Training for racing, it can wait. Time with Seamus, guess I’d better get up and take a shower and head out to the coffee shop.

I was gone for a week on the trip and when I got home had gained three pounds. As a cyclist this is a slap in the face, a realization that you’ve not only lost fitness, but that even a few days of training won’t bring you back to the level you were at just a week earlier. Every pound of body weight you carry that is extra is that much more work that is needed to carry you up a hill. Every acceleration takes a little longer because of the extra weight, every deceleration a little longer, nothing on the bike is as fast an easy as it was before the extra weight was there. I get home at 2:00am and the first thing I do is step on the scale in the dark (don’t want to wake anybody up) and see what I’ve done to myself during the week. Damn those three pounds. Training for the season is scheduled to start on Monday, now I’m carrying extra weight (and I already wanted to lose weight for the season), I’m lacking in sleep, can feel sickness coming on and I’m not quite ready to resume the monk like lifestyle needed to be a cyclist. But I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than start to build for races that are six months away at the earliest. I can’t imagine taking more time off and watching a football game on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Going to Church? Not likely unless it is the Church of the Big Ring. This Sunday I’ll skip the Big Ring service, but I’ve already looked at the training plan for week 1 of Base. Sunday morning is almost 3:00 hours of pain and worship in the big ring.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The President Elect

Well I’m slow with my post election post due to far too many hours traveling this week but the good news is I’m not having to complain. I was in New York on Election Night and spent some time at the CNN and ABC street locations in Times Square. There were thousands of people watching the coverage on the streets. Any time a new state was shown with Obama in the lead a huge cheer was unleashed. To say the least it was exciting and incredible to watch.

Given that I had a full day of work the next day I left before the race was called, but from my hotel room 32 floors above street level I could hear the cheering when Obama was proclaimed the President Elect. Obama’s election is so much more than the election of an intelligent person who is willing to listen and educate themselves on an issue before taking a stand; it is a shift in how America views itself. We can now say that we are (attempting) to judge a person “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). The first time I truly understood that quote was in the early 90’s in college after hearing Shelby Steele speak at my school. He had just published a book The Content of Our Character and after hearing him and reading the book I realized that I had a somewhat “strange” world view. Having grown up in a school with court mandated desegregation I had always considered amongst my best friends blacks, whites and Hispanics. There were people of all races I liked and didn’t like and I made those judgments based on how well a person treated me.

I’ve learned that this view was lucky to have as a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve realized this view is still lucky to have as an adult in 2008. After the election it seems more Americas are starting to judge by the content of character; though I’m sure we still have a long way to go. The most moving part of the evening for me was to see Roland Martin on CNN describing what the election was to him. He described and was moved to tears describing how important the election of a black man was to him and how lucky he was, as well; to be able to report on the election as another black man.

For me the good news is we are moving forward and have elected in Obama a man who can motivate and engage people in the process of democracy. The bad news is there is so much work to be done and our expectations are so high that no matter what Obama does he may not be as successful as we all hope. If you were engaged in this election at all, from any candidate’s standpoint give Obama help and support as he has a big challenge ahead of himself now and if he doesn’t succeed in making changes we will all fail.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

It is election night, less than 33 minutes until the first polls closed as I write this. We are nearing the end of a very interesting and active election. CNN is talking about record voter turnout, everyone I talked with today (traveling in New York) talked about the election (though most held their votes close as most were business contacts) and were eager to find out who our next President will be.

I’m bummed in some ways to be in New York, over this election cycle family bonding has been watching CNN pick apart the race. Tonight Adrienne will have to watch CNN at home, nobody to voice her joy or frustration to. I’ll watch CNN, partially live from an outdoor studio in Times Square, partially from my hotel room. It will be a long night, entertaining, stressful and hopefully a night with resolution. No hanging chads, no major poll tampering, just clean results.

I hope you’ve gotten out and voted. If not go out and vote, there are still over 4 hours to vote in Colorado.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Choices

Choices over the last few days have me sitting at home blogging seven minutes before start time for today’s cyclo-cross race. This weekend the biggest cycling events of the year in Colorado are taking place up in Boulder, the annual Boulder Cup Races. Theses events, put on by Chris G at Denver Boulder Couriers are crazy, drawing the top talent in U.S. cyclo-cross and huge numbers of spectators. So why am I missing today’s racing all together and why would I only be planning on watching tomorrow? Well as I said, it comes down to choices.

First I’m taking a couple weeks off “training” so racing while still ok, would be difficult given my limited training and lose of fitness the past two weeks. With one more easy week scheduled a race wouldn’t kill the intent but getting beat to hell isn’t any fun either. Add to the lack of fitness the fact I spent three and a half hours yesterday up in Boulder helping to set-up the course for today and I’m pretty tired. Hours of lifting and moving fences, sandbags and other equipment is tough work. While I spend most of the year racing and taking from promoters it is always nice to give back to racing and help out promoters by lending a hand. Without getting out there and working it is hard to know how much work and effort goes into planning a race. The few hours I put in makes, at best, a minimal difference, but it does help the event actually happens. Helping with a race also puts various situations that arise in other races in perspective. I’ve raced enough to have seen races start late, bad course directions, confusion (utter confusion) with results etc. but after helping put a race site together I tend to look at these issues as a little less important knowing how much time effort and energy goes into a race. Sure it is ideal to have everything happen as planned, but it can’t and doesn’t always happen at a race, just like perfection isn’t possible at home or work. Helping just reminds me of this.

The second choice keeping me from racing is time. I’m out of town all week for work, so this means Adrienne is “on” all week with Seamus and I won’t see either of them. As much as I love racing, knowing I’ll be gone all week means the time spent getting to a race, warming up; racing etc. is time away from them. So instead of racing I’m hanging out with the family, doing fun things together like going to the library, the Museum of Nature and Science and just chilling at home. We’re all going to go up and watch the races tomorrow, but it will be relaxed without the pressure of racing. So in making choices I’ll skip some cool races this weekend, but the choices I’ve made are better for me.

Speaking of choices, make sure you get out and exercise your choice at the voting booth. Tuesday is Election Day, make your voice heard.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

No Cyclo-cross today - Instead a little bit of Obama

Today’s post was originally going to be a post on the cyclo-cross race in Boulder. Up until late Thursday I had every intention of racing, but then I found out Obama was coming to Denver Sunday morning and plans changed. Obama was scheduled to speak around 11:30, so hoping for a good viewing point Seamus and I left home at 9:15. By the time we got downtown at 10ish it was clear a good viewing point was out of the question, hell we would have been lucky to even see Obama.

Estimates say 100,000+ people showed up. All I know is it was an incredible site. The mix of cultures, families, young, old, gay, straight, white, black and even Republican were there to see and support Obama. After seeing the crowd and listening to him speak I now have a different (perhaps better) perspective on his appeal. Obama is a man who wants to lead, but knows he cannot create a better world on his own. He needs the help of everyone. All 100,000 today in Denver need to help in their own way. Far more than voting though, Obama wants people to help every day. His priorities are clearly different than McCain, but what is really different is how he wants to go about accomplishing priorities. Obama can allocate money to educate, green energy and health care, but without each of us acting individually to change our lifestyles the money will do no good. John McCain can allocate money to the same causes based on his world view, but what it seems to me John McCain can’t do is inspire people. Obama inspired 100,000 people to come out on a cool fall morning in Denver. He called on each of us to do our part to lessen our energy consumption, to turn off the TV and do homework with our children, to take care of our health to reduce healthcare costs.

My lame crowd shot, there is no way to do justice to the number of people.

After seeing Obama in person his inspiration really comes through. He can clearly lead, now we just need to let him.



Seamus and his sign cheering for Obama.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chicago


Like so many pro cyclists who visit far off doctors, I started the off season with a visit to a doctor in Chicago. After an initial meeting of over an hour the first part of a plan was hatched and between Adrienne and I 19 vials of blood were “donated” to science. Lucky for me only three of the vials were mine. A trip to meet a doctor in Chicago may seem extreme, but when you are searching for answers on why you can’t get/stay pregnant you may as well see the best. After getting test results back we’ll see the next move.

Given that we were in Chicago, we made a little vacation out of it and tried to enjoy the town. Going there gave me a good start on a few weeks away from the bike, by putting me in a city where I didn’t have a bike and therefore couldn’t ride. We did however walk. We walked through many areas of Chicago, up to Lincoln Park, along Lake Michigan, up and down Michigan Avenue and to the Art Institute. Adrienne had never before been to a “big city” and seeing the size and magnitude of buildings in Chicago puts the relative smallness of Denver into perspective.



We went to the top of the Hancock building (2nd tallest in America right behind another Chicago building the Sears Tower). From up 93 floors the view is amazing. The realization that you are essentially in a building two times the height of any in Denver is incredible. On the second day, a little sore in the feet from the many miles of walking the first day, we went to the Art Institute. It is pretty incredible to see paintings in person that are (somewhat) remembered from Art History in freshman year of college.


The good news was we were there for two days, saw a lot, had some fun and were gone for a short period of time. As much as I enjoy Chicago, New York, Houston (ok I don’t really enjoy Houston) big cities are only fun for 2-3 days. After that the crowds and energy are just too much.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Google Ads

So I've got the Google ads up and I'm checking the site for changes I've been making and I see this No of 58 ad. Amendment 58 is a tax issue on oil and gas taxes in Colorado, no big deal that it is on the site right? I've been writing a lot on politics so it shows me Google knows what is up when placing the ads.

Except for one thing. I support Amendment 58. Voted Yes on it on Monday.

So this is really just a way of saying I don't have any control over the ads, except Google looks at my text and places ads. You'll probably see ads on politics (Go Obama), cycling and other things. Some products I may support. Some I may not.

More Edits

I'm still working on the site, trying to bring it into the realm of current technology. The book list now has links, blogs are now coming in with feeds and even though nobody visits the site ads to help make google some money (and if anybody clicks on them me someday).

It is still a work in progress, but it is getting better. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vote Obama and a few weeks rest

I went out today and voted. The first day of early voting here in Denver. There was a fairly long line at the Denver municpal building for voting, at least a couple hundred people at 11:30. Notable figures included me and Govenor Ritter who was behind me in line. I think we both voted for Obama. It was great to see so many people out voting early. Two more weeks and we'll see what everyone thinks.

Two weeks is one week shy of my goal, three weeks without "training". Every year cyclists need to take some time off. I was going to try to train through the UCI cross races in Boulder, but I just don't have it. On Saturday I went out for 2 hours and it felt like a lifetime. I'd rather take my time off now and be excited for long rides in the winter. I may ride some, hell even rode home from work today, but the main plan for the next three weeks is to not worry about riding, try to fit in some yoga and running, not gain much weight and relax. It shouldn't be hard to accomplish given that I'll be in Chicago a few days this week and in New York all of the third week. After that I'll get a plan going and start to train for 2009.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Amendment 48

In the upcoming election there are some critical decisions to be made that can and will affect reproductive rights here in Colorado as well as nationally. In Colorado we have the proposed Amendment 48 (http://www.prochoicecolorado.org/ballotwatch.shtml) that will define what a person is and nationally we have two presidential candidates with different views on abortion. Given one of these two men will most likely appoint one (if not more) members to the Supreme Court their view on abortion is critical

For a little background let me tell you (as many of you may know) I have one son, seven years old. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “when are you having another?” or “about time for number two”. Well the fact is the absence of a second child isn’t from lack of effort. We’ve been trying for five years to have a second child with (obviously) no luck. I’d say we are a stable, loving family that has done a good (and at times great) job raising our son and would likely be no different if we had a second child.

Given our struggles to get pregnant V2 there may be a thought from some that I (and my wife) would have a perspective of being strongly pro-life; however, when you’ve struggled trying to get pregnant there is some underlying fear that if you do conceive your “tricking” of mother nature may end up causing serious issues for the mother or child. Spending time and money on attempting to get pregnant you have to understand and accept certain risks. Some of those risks very well could mean a decision between life and death for the mother. They could mean the choice of terminating a pregnancy that realistically (without extensive medical assistance) would have been unviable, or would potentially have a child born with severe medical issues.

My wife and I accept these risks with every doctor’s appointment, prescription and (unfortunately) miscarriage. We both cherish life and would never choose an abortion given our struggles in most circumstances. I do feel however, that by defining a person in the way it is defined for Amendment 48 or by at all restricting a woman’s (and man’s as it should be a two person decision in many cases) right to choose we put many lives (both literally and figuratively) at risk.

Amendment 48 will effect reproductive efforts in the medical field, may limit (prohibit) popular forms of birth control, and may severally jeopardize the life of a pregnant mother. It is an effort to enforce another persons moral views on medical events.

As Obama has said, we as a nation may not agree on a woman’s right to choose but we can all agree to educate and limit unwanted pregnancies. Let’s focus our attention on education and allow families and doctors (and religion if that is your choice) guide each of us on the medical decisions we need to make. If I were in a situation where I had to decide between saving my wife or an unborn child we’ve struggled for years to have I don’t know how I would come to a choice, but a choice is what I would want. Please vote No on 48 and Yes for Obama.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bike Racing

I think I’ve mentioned before that fall is when cyclists tend to sit back and contemplate racing. Every year I hear a few people mention they are going to up their training and racing schedule for the next year. Every year I hear a few people ponder why they race and if they will continue to race. From this group, every year, about half race again and half don’t.

I’ve never fallen into the second group, never will. I like racing too much. I know I’m never going to win a lot of bike races (hell I’d be happy to win another since the first and last win was in 2004) but I know I’ll race every year. For a long time the question I’d ponder was between the MSC (or CORPS back in the day) or Winter Park. Sometimes I’d concentrate on one or the other, a couple years no series concentration just racing some of both. For 2009 though, I’m thinking there will be some big changes.

I’m still going to race and I’m still going to race on the dirt, I’m just going to take a new focus. This year instead of spending time on regular cross country races I’m going long. Reduced schedule of races, but probably about the same number of miles raced. Right now the plan I’m hatching involves two 50 mile races and (hopefully) the Leadville 100 (assuming I get a start spot). These new races will give me a change of pace from the racing, more family time on the weekends and I think suit my riding style better (assuming I can get a handle on the race nutrition for the long events). I’m still developing the entire plan; including pondering an endurance racing coach, but I don’t really need to start training until December so I’ve got a few weeks to get everything figured out.

For this weekend though a few short rides are on the schedule.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Presidential Economic Plans - A Fighter or Actual Ideas

I keep reading stories on the upcoming election and one of the big things undecided voters keep asking for is specifics on how each candidate is going to help them. Today both campaigns promised new plans and ideas on the economy. From CNN the McCain campaign had this to say:

Earlier Monday, McCain delivered a speech that a senior aide predicted would "begin a turnaround for the campaign."
On the new tone, the aide said the campaign decided to go "back to basics" with McCain on what he can offer.
McCain told voters Monday that they should elect him because "what America needs in this hour is a fighter."
"I will fight to take America in a new direction from my first day in office until my last. I'm not afraid of the fight, I'm ready for it," McCain said at a rally in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Word from the McCain campaign over the weekend had been that he would announce several economic proposals beginning today in the effort to turn around the campaign. Instead it appears Senator McCain has told America nothing more than the fact that we need a fighter.

Obama on the other hand delivered a speech on economic policy and outlined multiple points including:

Tax credits for companies creating jobs in the US
Eliminating penalties for 2008/2009 on withdrawals from 401k plans
A freeze on foreclosures for people acting in “good faith”

Obama’s plan is designed (according to his campaign) “to immediately to stabilize our financial system, provide relief to families and communities, and help struggling homeowners”.

Clearly the economy is on everybody’s mind and an 11% increase in the stock market today is not “stabilizing” by any stretch of the imagination. I would use the term volatile. At least one candidate is actually providing details on what they want to do (though I will say McCain did outline his mortgage plan).

Can either of these guys really help the economic situation? Not single-handed, but without a comprehensive plan, besides being a fighter we won’t see any improvement.
Check out more details at the links below:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/13/campaign.wrap/index.html

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Blog

I’ve been pondering the blog a lot recently (hence the new look), what it is for, why I do it etc. It started as a way to discuss cycling and I’m pretty sure it will always do that since cycling is such an integral part of my life. Recently it has taken on more of a political focus, which I like. It might piss some people off, but really I’ve been political since I started the goal of increasing awareness on global warming. I’m a liberal and I admit it. Hell I think Obama is a conservative to be honest, but I’ll still vote for him. Maybe I could write some on my views of politics versus religion; in a lot of ways people I feel the government should address many issues a lot of church going folks feel church/religion should address. Education is another issue I keep thinking of writing about, it gets more important as Seamus gets older, which brings me to another topic I should write more about; family.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell people I’m going to start writing about all these things cause the reality is I may not. I will say I’m planning on branching out on the writing. Less cycling, more on other topics.

So let me tell you the biggest joy of my week, in some ways it ties all the “new” subjects together. I bought Seamus “Where the Sidewalk Ends” this week, he’d mentioned it a couple of times over last weekend. I ran into Adrienne walking back from the bookstore at lunch, her thought was it would be a great Christmas present (true) but I decided to give it to him that day anyway. When I got home from work I gave him the book as he sat watching tv. He immediately stopped watching whatever was on and started reading us poems as I cooked. He must have read for 30 minutes straight, talking about the poems, laughing at the pictures (and learning) it was fun.

Cyclo-Cross #4

Raced cross again today and this time in true cross weather. It was wet, cold, some rain/drizzle and mud in a few sections of the course. As to the course, well let us just say I’ve seen better. The finish was a run through sand, who has ever heard of a running finish in cyclo-cross? Also there was a ton of twisty single track. It was fun but didn’t make for great racing. Maybe I should have brought the mountain bike instead.

I ended up starting in the back row of a 60+ field and my result shows that great start position. Ended up in 36th, which all things considered wasn’t bad but clearly not very good. Given the weather I was surprised with the number of racers but I guess that is the show now. It is strange to see the different approaches to cross too. I’m using it to stay motivated and in shape until a winter break (probably starting after the first weekend in November) others are just now getting their cross game on and are getting fast. For me this is the only “effort” of the week and all other rides are short and slow, with the results beginning to show that. I may ramp up the training until the races on November 1/2 since they are part of the DBC Boulder Cup races. Big crowds, great courses make it fun to try and go fast.

I’ve been working on updating the blog too. Seemed to be getting a little stale so here it is. Adrienne said it looks generic, I prefer simple, but it is a change. Maybe if I get more motivation I’ll do some more changes.

Next up though is figuring out racing for next year. I don’t think I’m going to run a team again as I have a little too much going on and to be honest parts were a pain in the ass. I was thinking about joining another team, but have to admit racing for somebody besides Pedal Pushers doesn’t seem right. Jason and company have always treated me right so maybe I’ll go solo again and wear his shop kit (it is looking pimp these days, all black and orange). I’ll figure that out in a week or two. I also need to figure out what races to concentrate on, Winter Park, the road or endurance races, the idea of Leadville 100 is interesting, just need a lot of prep work to make finishing it realistic.

For now though it’s time to relax and help Seamus with homework.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On Friday morning I watched George Bush tell the American people to not act in fear with the stock market to quote directly from his speech,

“Good morning. Over the past few days, we have witnessed a startling drop in the stock market -- much of it driven by uncertainty and fear. This has been a deeply unsettling period for the American people. Many of our citizens have serious concerns about their retirement accounts, their investments, and their economic well-being” http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/10/20081010.html

And while I agree that much of the recent downturn of the global stock market is a result of fear I must ask how that fear was perpetuated? Could it be George Bush himself? Let’s not forget his statements urging America to support the economic package his team created to help with the liquidity crisis? Again his own words speak volumes.
U.S. President George W. Bush, saying "our entire economy is in danger," urged Congress to approve his administration's $700 billion bailout proposal.
"We're in the midst of a serious financial crisis, and the federal government is responding with decisive actions," Bush said in a televised address Wednesday night from the White House.
Bush pointed out that the collapse of several major lenders was rooted in the subprime mortgage market that thrived over the past decade.
He said passage of the $700 billion bailout proposal was needed to restore confidence in the market.
"I'm a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention," he said. But "these are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence. From CNN www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/24/bush.bailout/index.html
The heart of Bush’s speech on the 25th, it seems was to scare people into supporting his plan. Ultimately people supported it, but the fear Bush pushed has continued to prevail and the economy is paying the price. I’m sorry but you can’t have it both ways Mr. President. You can’t scare people to support your policy and then 15 days later tell them fear is the reason for the stock market problems.
Had Bush described with logic and intelligence why the economic bailout was beneficial to every American (not just as many perceived Wall Street investment banks) perhaps the stock market would have been more stable. Instead of scaring people into supporting policy, educate people on policy and get the same result. In the end Bush has reaped exactly what he sowed on September 25th, a large set of investors scared about the economy. Had he acted as a leader he would have had a bailout package and people who felt confident that the economy would turn around.
To be honest I fully supported the package put together. Was it/is it perfect? No, but it addressed the critical issues allowing banks to have confidence to loan money. This is a good thing as it gets houses built, loans for buying houses, improvements to business done in a timely fashion. The plan was not the problem, how it was marketed was the problem and we now are dealing with that poor marketing with the stock market everyday.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Presidential Election

The presidential election continues to heat up, Palin making claims about Obama hanging out with terrorists, ads on how many times Obama voted for tax increases and a general negative view from the Republicans.

The good news is that Obama is sitting around and letting McCain dictate the campaign. Today he released a web site that deals with McCain’s actions in the savings and loan crisis of the 80’s. There are some scary parallels between that economic crisis and the current liquidity crisis. Please take a few minutes to read, view and consider at http://www.keatingeconomics.com/

Over the weekend, John McCain's top adviser announced their plan to stop engaging in a debate over the economy and "turn the page" to more direct, personal attacks on Barack Obama.

In the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, they want to change the subject from the central question of this election. Perhaps because the policies McCain supported these past eight years and wants to continue are pretty hard to defend.

But it's not just McCain's role in the current crisis that they're avoiding. The backward economic philosophy and culture of corruption that helped create the current crisis are looking more and more like the other major financial crisis of our time.

During the savings and loan crisis of the late '80s and early '90s, McCain's political favors and aggressive support for deregulation put him at the center of the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan, one of the largest in the country. More than 23,000 investors lost their savings. Overall, the savings and loan crisis required the federal government to bail out the savings of hundreds of thousands of families and ultimately cost American taxpayers $124 billion.

Sound familiar?

In that crisis, John McCain and his political patron, Charles Keating, played central roles that ultimately landed Keating in jail for fraud and McCain in front of the Senate Ethics Committee. The McCain campaign has tried to avoid talking about the scandal, but with so many parallels to the current crisis, McCain's Keating history is relevant and voters deserve to know the facts -- and see for themselves the pattern of poor judgment by John McCain.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cross part 3

Well the cross race yesterday hurt. Didn’t finish near as well as I had wanted and still not sure what happened. The whole family went up to the race in Frisco to watch and then go check out the fall colors. Before enjoying the family time 45 minutes of pain in cross.
Got in a good warm-up as I expected the race to be fast from the start and have learned that getting a good start is key to having a good cross race. We started on a climb and when the gun went I didn’t.

The whole race was a cruel duality, when I rode as hard as the legs wanted to go I couldn’t breath, when I went at a comfortable (for a race) pace breathing wise the legs didn’t feel like they were under any pressure. Finally I had to settle in to a pace where I could breathe and rode a steady pace from there. I finished up in 21st, one place out of points for the cyclo-cross series. This seriously sucks as those points are key to getting a good call-up at races and therefore a good starting place.

After the race we went to Breckenridge for lunch and to check out trees changing colors. We drove up part of the Firecracker 50 course to the Sallie Barber mine. Seamus thought the abandon mine was pretty cool. We found some rocks and ore to take to school as he is studying rocks and minerals (I never did anything that in-depth in 2nd grade). The view from the mine is pretty incredible. I’ve never really stopped and looked when I’ve ridden or raced up there so it was fun to have time to enjoy the scenery.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Credit Crisis

The current liquidity crisis in America (otherwise, and poorly named, the Wall Street bailout) is an issue that should concern everyone. By not passing legislation to lessen the impact of our dried up credit market every American faces day to day impact. The biggest problem, in my view with the bill in front of Congress is not what is included/excluded but the fact that our elected officials have neglected to properly explain the impact to voters.

With no money to lend from large investment banks the smaller local banks are less able to loan money. These smaller banks are the mainstay of local businesses, loaning money to the new small business, loaning money for a home equity loan, loaning money to purchase a car. With the current limited liquidity in America credit is harder to come by. People can’t buy a new washer and drier, people can’t get a new (or used) car to get to work, and we are being impacted.

Ok, so you say I don’t need to buy anything this still doesn’t impact me. This is again a misunderstanding of how the financial markets impact each of us. With less money to loan credit card companies will start to reduce credit limit, this lessened credit has a direct impact on everybody’s credit score. A lower credit score impacts insurance rates. Even a small increase in your personal car and homeowners/renters insurance will be a noticeable impact. If we do not act to address the credit issues now very soon all of us will be impacted.

Congress, specifically the House, acted poorly on Monday. The purpose of elected officials is to put the good of the many above the good of a few. On Monday the House showed it was more concerned with the perception of local voters, not the impact not passing legislation would have on the entire country. While the current legislation may not be perfect it is better than not acting at all. On Monday the stock market lost $1 trillion far more than the budgeted $700 billion to help the credit crisis. Before assuming the only people who will benefit from this package are wealthy CEOs take the time to read and investigate how less credit (money to borrow/loan) will affect you. Then take the time to demand that your elected officials in Washington educate themselves on the issues as well and act on behalf of the country, not on behalf of their needing to be re-elected.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crossing x 2

Second cross race of the year and I moved up one spot from the first to finish 9th. Not bad, but a little bummed out cause I think I could have done better on the course. After a recovery week, then fighting a cold this week training has been minimal so I lacked race speed but was running in 5-7 until something happened to the bike.

With 3 1/2 laps to go the chain kept jumping and shifting around in all gears but the 25. Went from having 18 gears to pick from down to 2 the 38x25 or the 46x25. Given the course the 38x25 was key on the big climb, but man I wanted a bigger gear on the flats and power sections. I dropped a few spots but hung in to race well and finish 9th. After the race I found a huge sagebrush weed wrapped in the cogs, pulled it out and the gears worked fine. Now I wonder if I should have gotten off the bike and looked during the race. I might have been able to get the gearing going, but may have lost more places then I did with a two-speed.

Oh well, there is always next weekend which promises to be more cross like, or at least cool since it is in Frisco instead of down in Denver. A little rain or snow would be fun, but doesn't look like that is going to happen yet.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate

Trying to look at last night’s presidential debate from an objective perspective I think both McCain and Obama showed intelligence, perspective and concern. Neither looked bad, no mistakes and both proved themselves capable of defending their thoughts. I’m sure partisans on both sides will say one of the two clearly won/lost the debate but I didn’t see that. I saw two men who both very ably could handle the job of president.

So how or why make a choice? Well here is what I saw:

• McCain does clearly have more experience especially with foreign policy
• McCain has a world view that is very strict/rigid, things such as it is wrong of Obama to say he (or senior members of his administration) would meet without pre-conditions leaders of rogue nations
• McCain clearly feels our military strength and safety are critical at this time

• Obama was clearer in his plans, multiple times he laid at 3 and 4 point plans of what he would do. Did he give full details? No, but given the limited time to speak that is to be expected
• Obama was willing to admit when he was wrong (the outcome of the surge) and when McCain was right
• Obama talked about the future and how we need to change internally as a nation as well as externally (how others perceive the U.S.) in order to be successful

The most noticeable difference to me was how McCain addressed Obama, especially on Iraq and Georgia. McCain very much talked down to Obama, calling him naive and inexperienced. When Obama disagreed with McCain he attempted to do so in a more cordial manner, for example saying that 10 days ago McCain had said the economy was fundamentally sound, which was clearly wrong. Obama didn’t call McCain naive or inexperienced or lacking in knowledge because of this he just stated the facts.

This difference in how McCain and Obama handled themselves speaks very clearly to their styles of leadership and how they will proceed. We have had eight years of leadership with very clear black and white views on issues (Iraq is a rogue nation we must attack), “Mission Accomplished”, a lack of willingness to talk to Iran, North Korea etc. without first meeting our demands. Where has this style of leadership gotten us? A war in Iraq that was based on misinformation (outright lies about weapons of mass destruction), a standing in the international community that has fallen dramatically and internally a nation that is very split, everything is either blue or red (there is no middle ground).

After watching McCain last nigh it was very clear to me this is the same style of leadership he utilizes and will employ as president. Obama on the other hand was very open to looking at options and trying to resolve issues through digging into them. For example, McCain said he would consider a spending freeze due to the economic crisis. Obama said while he might consider one, a better method would be to look at programs and cut what can be cut in some, add to others, but really look at the budget and make changes where needed. When it comes to spending there are no clear cut answers (we can’t spend any more anywhere) there needs to be an understanding and issues addressed on a basis of what is critical.

McCain through out the campaign has said he has and will reach across party lines to improve the country, yet last night he at no times showed where or how he would do that. Obama through the course of the evening gave examples where he would work with many others (across party lines or international borders) to resolve problems. Seems to me I’d rather have a person willing to admit they need to work with others to make a better life then a person who is condescending and acts superior. A good leader knows how to motivate, negotiate, work with others and communicate to succeed. Obama displayed his abilities on those skills are more refined and natural.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vote

Well as much as I hate to not vote on election day it isn't going to happen. I love the process of voting on election day, long lines, and cold November weather. I love making a pot of chili for dinner and watching results come in. This year though I have to vote early and eat dinner alone (or without anyone who I can bitch to about the election).

A trip to New York is always a few days of craziness and long hours. A trip the week of the election, given the current financial crisis could be entertaining at least.

Vote early is the option this year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It’s hard to compile my thoughts on the last seven days (or seven years) in the financial industry, trying to figure out what (if anything) these events mean to most people day to day. I’ve just started reading a book Hot, Flat and Crowded which deals with global warming, an economic environment that allows easy entry/exit to business no matter your location or background and the growing population on Earth.

To say that these three components have had an effect on the financial market recently might be a grasp, but in some ways not. More of us make a living the brings us to the middle class (or perceived middle class); we all want more (more Ipods, blackberry’s, access at our finger tips etc.). This has created a mass consumerism, not just in the US but globally and therefore has created a greed that has allowed for sub prime loans, business decisions based on keeping the customer happy (versus taking care of the customer). How many home loans shouldn’t have been made? How many were made to make someone a little richer, to make Bear/Lehman/AIG/Merrill/Countrywide/Who is next more money? Would we (the human race) been better off making a few less people homeowners, saying no to a few loans, doing a little less shopping after 9/11? Remember George W. Bush recommending to the American public to (this is a paraphrase) spend to show we weren’t afraid in the aftermath of 9/11.

So onwards, policy was set that created a consumer society both in the US and global that has increased demand on energy resources and resources in general. Are we now seeing the effects? A global economic crisis, a situation where global energy demand increase 10% a year and there is no firm renewable energy source to meet these needs.

Is the world in crisis? Will our plague be that of energy and overcrowding? Can we do anything about the energy crisis? Does the next President care? I don’t know, but make sure you ask and press the issue.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And now for cycling news

Just when everyone thought all I was going to do is bitch about politics, bike racing resumes. The first cyclo-cross race of the year was last Saturday. After debating between cross and the final mountain bike race of the year I opted for cross, a shorter drive, and racing an untested bike.

After getting a new road bike earlier this year I had the chance to put some much nicer parts on my cross bike that use to adorn the old road bike. Switching out 12 year old mid range mountain bike parts for 8 year old high end (ultegra) road parts made a huge difference in bike weight. The only concern was, I finished putting the bike together Thursday, didn't ride Friday (great prep for a race) and race the bike Saturday. Surprise, surprise the bike rode pretty well. I wish the brakes would have had a little better action (cost me a little time in the corners) but overall was happy.

The race started fast but I settled into the top 10 and was feeling good. Moved between 5th and 13th through the race, but mostly 8-10. I had a lot of problems with getting back on and in the clips and that cost me a few seconds each lap and probably a few spots overall. The course was fast with a super steep and slick downhill section and some good climbs that you could run or ride. On the last run-up I made up about 10 seconds I passed a guy right at the top, but once again couldn't clip in and lost ground to him quickly. Ended up about 5 seconds down on him in 10th place. Not bad and felt good through the race. Considering I rode a new(ish) bike, hadn't practiced any cross skills, nor run at all I'm happy.

Today I did some cross practice after work. Amazing how 15-20 attempts to clip in quickly helps improve the skills. Couple more weeks and I may even feel comfortable on the cross course.

Monday, September 08, 2008

books

I will slightly retract my comments on Palin wanting to ban books as upon further research I can't confirm she requested specific books to be banned. There does seem to be agreement that she "asked librarian Mary Ellen Baker if she would be all right with censoring library books should she be asked to do so. Baker's reply was that she would definitely not be all right with it. When questioned about this Palin called her inquiries rhetorical and simply part of a policy discussion with a department head "about understanding and following administration agendas." for the entire article go to this no-partisian site http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/p/palin-banned-books.htm.

The heart of the question is does a politician (any elected official) have the right to censor what I think, read, write etc.? I think most of us agree they don't (with the possible exception of national security). Should an elected official even ask this rhetorically, I would venture they shouldn't for the perception might be one of unintended influence over the matter (which we have seen in other Palin cases). I am not saying Palin has used her position in either case to influence the situation; however, I am saying there is a clear perception by many people that she has and that is not acceptable (for her or any other elected official or person in power, dare we bring up Enron). Will she continue this type of action from a higher office? I don't know, but it is worth considering before voting.

Environmental Voting

So on to the facts, at least as I see them. If you don’t vote for the environment in this election you are more foolish then when you cast your first (or if really stupid second) vote for George W Bush. How can a single issue so define the election, well consider these facts: carbon output is at an all time high causing major changes to our environment; we are at war with a country that had no weapons, no terrorists only oil, our economy is tanking again and the VP candidate for one part has the oil industry wrapped around her finger as governor of Alaska.

If you take the time to vote to improve the environment (and not just at the presidential level but local and state as well) you may well help solve all these concerns. The easy view is voting for pro-environment candidates and the positive impact on global warming (human impact on the environment), I’ll save this topic until later. How will pro-environment candidates help national defense? How will pro-environment candidates help the economy? Well take a look.

How will pro-environment candidates help national defense? The less our need for oil, foreign or domestic, the less pressure we have to protect those interests. For the sake of argument assume for now we can’t live without our cars; however, if we demand (and quickly) higher fuel efficiency, and alternative fuel sources that are here today (hybrid, biodiesel, corn/plant based) we lessen our need for oil. We this reduced usage of oil for autos will allow a more self-sufficient production of heating oil as well. Other sources of power which are even more beneficial as they are renewable include wind, solar and hydro-electric. Currently all these sources of power are utilized in the US; however, the relatively minimal amount of use keeps costs high. With a pro-environmental government is place subsidies can be put in place to create more “alternative” power generation systems; thus reducing our need for foreign and domestic oil for heating. This creates the multiple benefits of a cleaner/healthier environment, a production system for energy that is more domestically focused (which creates sticky/non-transferable jobs) and deals with the cold hard fact that oil will be depleted at some point. Maybe not in our lifetime, or even our children’s lifetime but at some point.

I’ve purposely not touched on natural gas here, the primary reason being a knowledge level so low I can’t speak on it; however, any option that is clean burning energy and lessens our dependence on other nations to power us seems like an option worth looking into.

How will pro-environment candidates help national defense? As mentioned above the more energy we create on our own domestically the less the impact of unstable governments, coups, and other international events will have on our energy costs and needs to protect our “sources”. The US imports 70% of its oil, that means we have a substantial stake any time one (or multiple) of our suppliers is feuding, mad at us or dealing with a man-made or natural disaster. Do I feel the US has a duty to help protect the world from injustice? Yes, of course we do and should. We should protect those being invaded or forced into another way of life without choice; however, we should do this not because of our personal interests (oil) but because it is the right thing to do. This is no different than providing health care to all Americans; we should do it because it is the right thing to do. With less reliance on foreign oil through a sound environmental policy and creation of alternative and renewable energy sources we can truly act on behalf of the oppressed, not on behalf of our oil suppliers.

Finally an environmentally friendly president will help what is clearly a weak economy. Jobs created to find alternative and renewable energy sources will need the brains of American works to find the sources and develop the best way to harness the power. Then we will need to build facilities that harness that power (wind turbines for example) and perform on-going maintenance. All of these new “Green” jobs will be created in America and will stick in America because the natural sources are abundant and available for use here. The person that builds and maintains a wind turbine in Wyoming will spend the money in Wyoming creating a more stable domestic economy.

A sound environmental policy will protect our global environment, protect our national defense and create a sound economy. Visit sites such as T Boone Pickens to find out more and vote for a candidate who will look at alternative solutions (http://www.pickensplan.com/index.php)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Keep em coming

Well after a period of no posts, the election may get me rolling, I just read this:

Obama also took on McCain’s inner circle Saturday, saying the presence of former lobbyists at the highest tier of his campaign makes him incapable of meeting his pledge to shut down special interest influence.

“Suddenly, he’s the change agent,” Obama said of McCain. “He says, ‘I’m going to tell those lobbyists that their days in Washington are over.’ Who’s he going to tell? Is he going to tell his campaign chairman who’s one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell all the folks who are running his campaign who are the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington?

“Who is it that he’s going to tell that change is coming?” Obama asked. “I mean, come on, they must think you’re stupid!”

Read the full article at http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080906/pl_politico/13205

I've got to say I guy who has been in congress 20+ years, voted with the president 90% + of the time and selects a VP who loves congressional funds doesn't really seem to be as independent as he makes himself out to be.

It's Time

Alright it is time. I’ve been away from blogging for longer than I wanted, but so be it. I’ve been planning and thinking about what to say here, watching both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. While it would be false to say I was an undecided voter, I felt it important to listen to both parties before discussing the election. After watching way too many hours of TV it is time to express some thoughts here.

First, why the hell would McCain select Palin? This is a woman who has tried to ban books, force the termination of a former brother in law, hired consultants to bring more money per capita into her hometown and now Alaska then any other state, supports an abstinence policy for teens (that one really worked for her personally) and worked to reduce special education funding in Alaska (prior to the birth of her newest child). Well I’ve got to say if McCain is a man of change how can he rightly select a person who works as well with the lobbyists as Palin, I really don’t know. Anyway read more about her at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080904/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_fact_check and http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/09/01/1320417.aspx

Now on to the reality of the election, people vote for the President not the Vice-President, so the strange choice of Palin aside what is going on in this process. McCain has wanted to and will keep us in a war until there is “victory”. My first question is what is victory, I haven’t heard this defined. At my job when we have a project we clearly define how that will be measured, i.e. software will be developed and deployed by x date, save x amount of time and improve quality by x. If we meet these goals we have victory. How exactly do we define victory in Iraq? One of his goals is to get Al Qaeda out of Iraq; however, many reports indicate that Al Qaeda was not in Iraq until the US invasion, which brings us to the real question I have: Is this a war we should have ever started? My stance is since there were no weapons of mass destruction, no threat from Iraq on America and nothing but manufactured reasons to go into Iraq in the first place we probably should not be there in the first place. So let’s get out as quick as possible and focus on real issues.

It is the economy stupid as Bill Clinton was found of saying. Obama wants to raise taxes; McCain believes the economy is sound. Well looking at the credit crisis, unemployment (now over 6% and at a 5 year high) seems to me the economy isn’t sound (I won’t mention the budget deficit the current administration has created to help make the economy sound). Do I want my taxes increased? Hell no, and it seems like under Obama’s plans my direct taxes wouldn’t (yea I’ll see increased costs in goods because of corporate taxes) but that may not be true. In either case, government isn’t about the good of an individual (me) it is about the good of the nation, so if some tax increases help the nation balance the budget, improve job prospects, improve education etc. I’m all for it.

After watching the conventions it seems that the primary choices are a self-centric no taxes view versus a common good for all tax increases aren’t all bad and a choice on is the nation in need of military protection from (insert the nation here) or not? I believe Obama can clearly address the economic needs better than McCain (for he mentioned the economy which was barely a blip in the RNC) and as for protecting the nation, isn’t communication our first line of defense? Talk to our enemies and figure out the common ground. As Obama said in his acceptance speech:

"We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise – the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common efforts."

Barack Obama

We may not agree on everything, but we can and should try to find where we agree and move forward from there. Please think about these issues when voting, please vote, and please encourage your friends to vote.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SLACKER

Well, it has been awhile. Maybe I’ll write more often. Maybe I’ll write about Wall-E and Politics still. Maybe I’ll write about races.

I did get some new tires, Conti Vertical Pros (or something like that). They seem pretty sweet, especially on tight corners, hook up and give some much needed confidence. Rode them twice and will race them on Saturday. Maybe a full report on the tires later.

OK, Wall-e; it’s a movie about mega corporation and lazy ass Americans. Everyone communicates through video screens, lives in space, doesn’t walk/exercise or even look at each other. Strange, but since seeing the movie I got a blackberry and now it is even more striking. It is really nice to actually talk to people. Today, through various electronic forms of communication I was talking to three people at work not getting anything solved. Picked up the phone (it was a day off so I couldn’t just walk over and talk to them face to face) and figured out the problems. The moral (and not very hidden) of Wall-e is that our culture is becoming very unaware of its own actions/inactions and doesn’t know how to communicate without electronic intervention (this blog for example).

Lay down the drugs kids. Try picking up the phone and talking to someone. Comments on todays blog will only be taken in person or via phone. Give me a call 303 357 0872.