Monday, September 29, 2008

Steve made a request…

So after a two year tour on the submarine I went to Corpschool to learn how to be a medic. I was one of the few “fleet returnees” stuck in a class full of teenagers who just got out of boot camp and could legally drink on base. On top of all that, I had not seen the Warden for more than 3 days in a row for about 6 months. I just didn’t have the patience for much those days and could be quite the grouch. It was there that I met Roden The Bastard Pilot of the Juggernaut. His real name was Arron Fuller, his middle name was Roden. He was from the next town over from my Grandmother in Texas. He liked to drink, was quick to smile, and the grouchier I got the more he laughed, so we got a long great. He also had a truck on base, and we would get bored, grab a designated driver, and make pilgrimages to L.A., at least they were pilgrimages when it was my idea. If it was Fuller’s idea we just went to L.A. to yell at the hookers. A lot of times it started out as a pilgrimage, but then later digressed into going to yell at the hookers. Anyway you look at it though, we usually ended up in L.A. yelling at hookers.

So one night, after making a wrong turn somewhere near the tar pits we found ourselves in a part of L.A. you never saw in episodes of Beverley Hills 90210. We eventually found our way back to Holywood cruising up and down Santa Monica yelling things at hookers. Now when this actually went down, I was in shock, of all the places I had imagined my life taking me it never involved me hanging out of a pick up next to a 6’5” half breed Apache with a cowboy hat and a southern accent, yelling at some poor girl in a pair of combat boots, some sort of mesh tube top thing, and a fluorescent green bikini with a matching purse…with something in it…she is pulling something out of her purse…is that a..HOLY SHIT IT’S A GUN!!!! CHAD GET US OUT OF HERE SHE’S GOT A GUN!!!

Fuller swears up and down she actually fired it at us, and spent the next three days looking for bullet holes in the Juggernaut, but I never heard the shots, but then again I was busy trying to pull Fuller back in the cab, he was a bit drunker and considerably larger than me.

The Navy, it is not just a job, it is an adventure.

Sorry, how much can you blog about riding the trainer down in the basement? Weight is 195-198ish something, back and neck are still jacked up, and I still got my cold.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Sick and injured I limped into the shop lot this afternoon praying Brian and Mike were going to be no shows, but my cries and pleas fell on deaf ears. Not only were they both there, but Drew was too, of course he always shows up. And not only was Drew there, but none of the other “buffer” riders were there, the guys who can keep up, but kind of hang back and make sure I don’t get lost. Don’t get me wrong, I like riding with Brian and Mike, besides the fact that they can both ride me into the ground, and never hesitate to help me out when I need it, they are funny as hell to watch together. Mike won’t shut up, and he answers every question he throws at Brian before Brian can get his water bottle out of his mouth, then starts arguing with his own answer.

Now Drew is in the equation. He is fast, and only wants to go faster, every other word out his mouth is “race.” I think him and Mike are going to start a team or club. The way they were talking today it looks like I might get to drive the sag wagon for them in the next tour. Today Drew told me I gotta push myself if I want to get faster. Thanks for the juicy tidbit there Drew! He was sitting bolt upright, riding no handed, sucking on a water bottle. I smiled and nodded, I didn’t have the oxygen to explain that my heart rate was 186, about 97% of my max, and had been, for about 8 minutes. I hope I can keep up with him a little longer next season, his enthusiasm is contagious, and he’s just a fun guy to ride with.

Brian had some sort of surgery recently, something to do with “scopic” and ulcers. It’s been a few years since I had to turn around when a Marine said “Doc” but I remember enough to know that is a cringe inducing vocabulary combo. Anyway, he started feeling it at the turn around and making all kinds of not so pleasing gastric noises and had to back off. He has pulled me all over the county this summer trying to teach me how to go faster, so I hung back, although I tried to maintain a safe distance, somewhere inside the green zone of conversation but outside of the red zone of projectile vomiting. Between the cold I caught, my inability to turn to the left (It is an old CX injury, see previous post) I was glad for the rest, the company, and for someone to yell “Clear left” for me at the intersections. I hope he was actually checking.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Game On!

Apparently my cross skilz are a little rusty, and by a little rusty, I mean completely nonexistent. Saturday I met with Tobie, Aaron, and some other people new to me for a cross practice at the park. Son#1 had team pictures and a soccer game, so I was operating under a time constraint. I basically had time for a lap around the park, a quick rundown on how to get over the barriers by Aaron, and a few hops over them by myself, and then I had to scoot. In retrospect, maybe I should have gotten my lessons from somebody who didn’t break his collar bone on the first lap of his first cross race.

Actually, Aaron didn’t bust my chops nears as much as Joel or Steve would have had they been there, and barely laughed at all when I nutted myself on the nose of my saddle. I missed my cleat hopping back on the bike. They eventually took off for another lap after we broke out the barriers, and I did a few more rounds solo. I almost biffed once when my toe came over on the cranks and kicked my front tire. I managed to pull some muscles in my neck and upper back shoulder area staying upright on that maneuver, so I’ve been walking around like Batman since Saturday morning. Things loosened up a bit after a ride Sunday, and I’m doing better today, so I don’t think I did any permanent damage, but it still hurts to look to the left. This off season I am definitely going to work on my flexibility and do some core strength training, some of that probably would have gone a long way to prevent this sort of injury. Not falling off your bike should not hurt this much.

Although brief, it was fun. It will probably be more fun once I swap out my semi slick tires and get a lower ratio going on the drive train. I bought an 18 tooth freewheel and have my original 42 tooth chain ring and the stock cross tires that came on the bike. That’s about all I can manage to upgrade/change for now, so my first cross race will be on a single speed cross bike spec’d out with some of the heaviest components known to man. That along with the 40 pounds of extra weight I am carrying in the form of ass should make for an epic first race. Good times will be had by all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

60 Grit Wet/Dry

…And it rained for forty days and for forty nights. OK, so maybe it only rained for 3 days, but the result was much the same. I haven’t seen this many Chicago land reporters in galoshes since they accidentally punched a hole in the bottom of the Chicago River and the salmon were swimming in the lingerie department at Marshal Fields. It all kind of made for a crappy weekend. I had high hopes for the trainer this year, but even with a movie, an hour, maybe an hour and a half at the most, is about all I can manage. Oh well, I have other plans for off season training too.

The Warden was cool and did some fast talking that got me out of the house and out on the road. I love getting Son#1 out on the bike and all, but I haven’t been on and actual outdoor ride in over a week. I’ll make sure tomorrow's ride with him is a good one.

It was actually kind of chilly tonight, and the flooded cornfield and pastures are already starting to reek. Last year the pumpkin field I pass on my way to work flooded, and in the 90 degree temps that fall, it was nauseating. I will never ever eat pumpkin pie again; I could barely managed to carve the Jack ’o’ Lantern last fall. Anyway, I only did 20 miles, and my 16 mph average is very misleading. It was a rough 20, I went out to Keslinger and rode up and down a hill about half a dozen times till I felt the vomit start trying to escape, then headed back home into the wind, all on my single speed.

Fall is definitely coming, and there is lots of stuff on the horizon. We got trips to the Pumpkin Farm for my annual camel ride with Son#1, the Pumpkin train down in Waterman, the Bonfire Chas and I throw every year, we even made some beer for it this year, it should be a good time. I am contemplating kicking it all off with this:

I am hesitant to commit to this. I find it hard to get all excited about riding a race I know I can’t win. Not only can I not win, I am fairly certain I would place last, unless somebody falls and breaks an arm or something. And I don’t mean I’ll probably place last in the I am trying to be humble kind of sense. I mean it in the cold hard facts of the real world and laws of physics sense. I am still pretty hefty. Compared to other bikers, especially ones who have been training for this sort of thing, I am a frick’n hippopotamus. Second there is hardware. I technically do have a cross bike, but it is a single speed, and it ain’t exactly high end. Then there is the whole jumping over barrier thingies with your bike over your shoulder. I sure will look silly when I case it and face plant, thus embedding my so/so cross bike into my back. Notice I said when, not if. The real scare factor comes from the fact that Joel says cross racing is just absolute brutal torture, and he’s probably forgotten more about brutal torture than I ever hope to learn. Aaron broke his collar bone on his first race. I do have my delicate liver to consider.

We’ll see. (You can ask Steve what that means)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lateral Drift.

Weight: 198.2
Delta M: -2.2
Mileage: Up for debate
September Mileage: 109

Despite a lack of real miles, I have been working pretty hard, to the point where I am somewhat surprised I haven’t lost more weight than I have. The weight was flying off me right up until Saturday, when I crossed the 200 threshold, and then it kind of stalled out. Probably just a minor plateau, a nice hard ride should bust me through it. The problem is finding that ride, whenever the weather is cooperating something comes up, like soccer practice or a ride promised to 6 year old. Oh well, I’ve still found ways to get some work outs in, like running around the park while he plays with his friends, or doing laps around the soccer fields while he was at practice. I’ve also been hitting the trainer in the mornings and doing my lunch time walks. It’s not the group ride, but my legs are still sore when I’m done, so it’s got to be doing something for me.

Saturday I got to make beer with a friend from work. That was pretty cool. I suppose it would be cooler if I actually drank beer. Actually, I’m probably lucky I don’t like it, because it was fun to make, and I could see me getting way to into it. Other than that, there is not a whole lot going on here. Craig and Julie are in Hawaii right now, and I get to feed their fish. Yeah, you’re all jealous, I know.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Look out Joel, sentiment below!!!!

This is a submission for Scribbit’s September’s Write Away Contest. Chas checks her blog often and suggested I submit something this time around. Sorry about all the touchy feely emotional stuff Joel, I know you’ll probably get the hives from reading this. If it is any consolation I promptly went over to a friend’s house and made some beer after writing this, does that help?

Blue. My son’s helmet is blue. There are other colors, other sensations vying for my attention, the sloppy clop of my running shoes as my feet slap the pavement, the ash gray asphalt, flecked and pitted, long over due for a reseal, the grass, sandy green, crunchy and long over due for a slow rain. Pollen and dust cling to my shoes almost as if they were rusted. I am bent over, leaning, running, and clutching at my son’s shoulder and bike seat as we struggle against gravity and seek balance, but from this limited vantage, all I really see is his blue helmet, overwhelming by proxy. He is struggling with his handle bars, and I am bent and running, trying to get enough air, straining not to fall over, and arguing with myself about whether not I should just let go.

This is our third day at this. If I was a better father, we would have been doing this months ago, maybe even last summer, but that is my fault and not his, for now he is struggling with all the effort a 6 year old boy can muster. His cheeks are red and his knuckles are white, I gave up on convincing him to relax on lap three around the park, yesterday. His knees are grass stained and his hair is wet and plastered to his forehead under that blue helmet. I can sense him exploring with the handle bars and trying to figure out the lean. We are on the cusp, and both of us know it. I am using less and less pressure, I can straighten up a little to catch my breath every 20 yards or so.

“Take a break Dad?”

“Nah, I’m Ok Son, besides I think we are close. Too close to take a break.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Another twenty yards and sweat rolls down my forehead and into my eyes, I have to straighten up or fall and take us both out. I let go and he is gone…10 yards…20 yards…30 yards. He is on his own and he knows it. I jump up and down and pump both my fists in the air. I want to yell before I burst, but I hold it because I don’t want to scare him.

He doesn’t see it happen, but his world just shrunk a little while his horizon expanded exponentially. His legs are pumping fast and furious for just one little lap, that is his goal, that is all he wants, then he can have that candy bar I promised him. Next it will be two laps, then four. Tomorrow he won’t even care about laps, he’ll just worry about keeping up with his friend Jacob. The park is no longer a 10 minute walk for him, it will be 1 minute ride. He won’t be asking my wife and I to slow down for him, we’ll be telling him how far he can go before he has to wait for us to catch up.

That simple little act of balance, that trick with the inner ear, just complicated things a little for him too. Next summer pennies and nickels and dimes won’t be tools for learning to count, or toys to put in the box. They will be hoarded for comic books and candy on our Saturday rides into town. The year after that there will be dollars and allowances and chores in exchange for new grips or a BMX helmet, or maybe even a skateboard.

For now though, his little body is shrinking even more as he accelerates away from me. I can’t see it, but I know he is wearing a face splitting smile that only a six year old who just figured out he can do one more thing can wear. He is sitting Marine Corps straight, eyes fixed ahead like I taught him, and I can hear him giggle when he over corrects and goes off the path, all knees and elbows and flickering shiny bike parts, wobbling and weaving with maniacal purpose, all hanging from under his tiny little blue helmet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Does this look like malaria to you..yellow fever maybe?

Weight: 200.4
Delta M: -2.6
Mileage: Up for debate*
September Mileage: 85

The weather was too good to let everybody sit at home this afternoon, so after I got home from work we packed up the kids and headed to a forest preserve a few towns over. It’s small, and hardly used, and has a nice path for small family hikes. We got about 50 yards into the woods before the swarms of mosquitoes massed and advanced. We told Son#1 to save himself and did our best to keep them from flying off with Son#2. When we got home it was getting close to dark so I did some intervals on the trainer.

As I mentioned before, I was in the Navy and did a stint on a submarine. It’s not near as glamorous as one might think, in fact, it was kind of boring. After seventy days into a 100 day patrol you get a little cranky. Everybody is tired of each other and desperate for entertainment and that’s where the calendar comes into play. It’s kind of like those construction paper chains you use to make in grade school counting down the days to Christmas, except a little more ritualized.

I was on a Trident class submarine. We had 24 missile tubes, so 24 days out, we entered Tube Days*. We had a picture of a hot chick in a bikini and a cold bottle of beer we taped to tube 24, the next day we moved it to tube 23 and so on.

Nine days out, we hit Single Digit Midget days. This usually coincided with the end of hate week, which usually started around tube day 20, but that could vary depending on training schedules and tests and all that stuff. You would ask somebody to pass the salt, and being so sick of your nagging ass, they would simply stick a fork in your eye and twist. You just had to try your best not to take it personally, because chances are you’d be doing the same to somebody else at breakfast tomorrow. It can be tricky though, monocular vision can mess with your depth perception.

Anyway, after Single Digit Midget Days, 6 days out, came the Holiest of Holies, No Mores. There will be no more Tuesdays…no more Mondays…you get the idea. This can be pursued and drilled down almost infinitely, no more boat hot dogs, no more powdered eggs made with powdered milk, no more navy showers but hopefully that wasn’t set more than 3 days out at the most.

BOCOD was usually set somewhere in No Mores, but that’s about as detailed as I’m gonna get on that one. If you know somebody in the Navy ask them, I don’t think most of you are set for that level of depravity yet, and some may even like me still, and I don’t want to kill that. I’m a family man now, those days are behind me.

The only reason I bring all this up, is that tomorrow, or Sunday at the latest, I hope to enter No Mores. No more 200’s for me. It has taken me longer to lose the weight this time than it did last time, but I am more concerned about keeping it off over the winter than I am about how fast I am losing it. Unless it involves steroids, a lot of weight lifting, a personal trainer, and a lucrative contract with WWF, I never want to see 200 again. I don’t care if I have to chop off a limb.

*I did walk today, and then rode the trainer, but I have a hard time calling that "miles".

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Son#1 better turn out really smart!

Weight: 203.0
Delta M: -3
Mileage: Zilch
September Mileage: 85

No ride tonight, stupid open house, stupid school, stupid new age parenting crap! My dad didn’t even know what grade I was in half the time. One morning he had to drive me to school. I fell asleep in the car and when he woke me up and told me we were there, we were at the wrong school. He never had to go to an open house and I turned out just fine, although he did have to go to more than one parent/teacher/principal/student conference. That was never good. Anyway, who the hell plans an open house on the night of the NFL season opener? That’s just wrong.

I did do an easy spin on the trainer this morning, and walked during lunch, but I was hoping to squeeze in another ride of some sort tonight.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Do not try this at home kids...

Weight: 206.2
Delta M: -1.2
Mileage: 27
September Mileage: 85

According to various online logs and calculators, between my food intake, my easy spin this morning, and my walk during lunch, I rolled out of the house for the Wednesday group ride with about a 180 calorie deficit for the day. That deficit just covered intake and output, it did not consider basic metabolic functions, or things like breathing.

At first I thought it was pretty bad ass, a stoic example of my renewed dedication to purpose. I grabbed my bike, turned towards the door and even felt skinny. Being all cool and cavalier I flippantly mentioned to Chas it was either really cool, or really stupid, that we would see.

Well, I saw. I saw the other riders disappear over a couple of rollers right around mile 13.

I got dropped, quick, hard and painful like. Even down hills felt like up hills, and it will take some pretty hardcore intense therapy before I can talk about the up hills. It was just me, Brian, Mike and Drew, so I would have been dropped eventually anyway, but did it have to hurt that much, or happen so soon?

Luckily Mike had to turn around early so he could get his daughter to band practice, so I had company on the ride home. Brian and Drew kept going, I think the plan was to head to Burlington, a little too rich for my taste tonight.

Mike took a quick shot of me with his cell phone before we parted ways on Tenth St.

Yeah, I realize that is a caboose, I use to be a conductor. This where the witty part of my blog title comes into play. Of course that caboose is looking about how I feel at this point.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm Back

Weight: 207.4
Delta M: 3.2
Mileage: 13.4 (Single Speed)
September Mileage: 58

Chas and I have formally boycotted any future gatherings having anything to do with, or even in the proximity of food, or at least the good kind of food anyway, you know, the stuff dripping with fat and oozing over with flavor. If everybody wants to gather around a plate of freshly steamed tree bark or something, I suppose we could make an appearance. I’m going to have Eric draft up some formal legal documents for us, and use lots of big lawyer words like habius potroastas and carpe bratwurst. I’ll make sure he uses lots of comas and italics and stuff too.

Son#1 guilted me in to taking him to the park so I had to cut the ride short this afternoon, but it was ungodly hot out so it didn’t take all that much guilting on his part. Truth be told I was half tempted to hit the trainer with a nice fan and some AC action down in the basement, but then I had a vision of me throwing up in mid January because I had already watched every DVD we own 6 times on the trainer while the temperature creeps up to 3 degrees above zero in January, and kicking myself because one day in September I thought it was too hot to ride outside. Besides, the Warden loves it when I glisten, MEEEEEEEEEEOWW!!!!!