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 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


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

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


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 ( 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


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 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.