Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cat Toys & Bike Rags

On New Years Eve, like every other American, I frantically rip through my closet, garage and crannies to pull out the weird hats, funky party-boy shirts, bedazzled shoes and donate the fashionable lot Goodwill.  Today’s the last day to donate to charity in order to get the deduction on your taxes for this calendar year.  Then, like every other American on New Years Eve, we take our pink receipts home, cheer that we made the deadline at midnight and party till we puke.

I got a head start yesterday.  As the pile of fashion cast off’s overtook my bed, I realized that I had at least eight t-shirts in the pile.  While I had found enough flaws with them to remove them from my ’09 wardrobe, I realized I still had use for them…as bike rags and cat toys.  With my patented Best Bike Rags and Pet Toys Ever technique, I could get eight bike rags out of every shirt and make one giant super-fun cat or dog toy with the scraps.  Here’s how to turn your ugly closet fodder freebee bike race t-shirts into something green like bike rags and pet toys.

Start with the tool of the trade: a Fiskars fabric scissors.  These are like the Campy Record of the scissors world.  Even the most man-handed of us all can nearly cut a straight line in one of these.  Nearly.  Granted you won’t win any bonus points for your technique from Grandma, you’re guaranteed to get relatively uniform sized straight edged bike rags with one of these babies.

Step 1: Starting at the shoulder, cut off both of the collar bone seams and neck in one piece.  (see photo at left for reference)  You’ll need this neck/shoulder part later to make your supa-fun cat/dog toy.

Step 2: Cut off the sleeves.  Then make a cut so each sleeve is no longer an arm-tube, but instead a nice little rag perfect for those hard to reach places on your bike.

Step 3: Cut the shirt horizontally about 3 inches south of the armpits. 

Step 4: On the top half, cut the little piece of 3 inch fabric between the armpit and the horizontal cut.

Step 5: Cut the top and bottom halves vertically.          

Congratulations!  You now have eight bike rags: two small from the arms, 4 medium from the upper torso, 2 large from the tummy.

Make your pet toy now.

For cats, tie all the shoulder-neck parts together in a big long multi colored “cat dancer.”  Drag it on the floor and your cat will follow you around forever.  Whip it up in the air and see kitty do bitchin’ Olympic style aerial moves.  Or, tie it to the banister of the stairs and watch kitty fruitlessly try to grab and run away with it only for the toy to win the tug-of-war every time. 

For dogs, make a tug-of-war toy.  Use the strongest t-shirt neck as the center and then tie the other pieces into big ball knots at either end.  However, like with most dogs, your toy will likely become the eventual looser.  And, like most dog-toys, it’ll be fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Carbon Fiber Chopsticks

The weathered looking woman next to me worried about the incoming snow storm.  As I sat waiting for my tires to be rotated and oil changed at Tire Discounters, a conversation struck among strangers.  Her husband is a school teacher.  If school was delayed, he’d have to be in early.  Consequently, with one car in the shop, she’d have to drive him in.  The man to my right, I’m guessing was a bus driver.  He offered up a bit of knowledge that the woman-next-to-me’s husband could get a discount bus pass since he was involved with the school system.  As any Wisconsin native would do, I kept my trap mostly shut and offered few personal details.  Since only bike shops offer bike magazines in the waiting room, I picked up a glossy car magazine with a photo of a racy BMW M1 prototype on the cover.

As they gabbed and fretted about the storm while my four wheel drive Toyota 4 Runner was up on the stand, I relaxed, nodded now and then and flipped through the pages.  Then I saw this:  

A carbon fiber suitcase?  What the?!  The woman next to me glanced over my shoulder to see what brought the slight gasp out of my mouth.  Why would anyone need a carbon suitcase?  I thought.  I texted myself a blog reminder and read on.  As it turns out, you need a carbon fiber suitcase for all the same reasons you need a carbon bicycle frame: it’s light, durable, it looks better than the other suitcases at the airport and you’ll be faster in the race from the gate to the car.  While I haven’t checked, I bet 

you can get ceramic bearings for those wheels and have the “pro” version of the suitcase.  What’s it cost?  What do ya think?  This little gem from Zero Halliburton is about the same price as a carbon fiber bike frame, $2250.  Probably the same amount of cash you have in your carbon fiber money clip.  Which begs the question, what else might make sense to make out of carbon fiber?

A letter opener perhaps?  Why not?  Like all things carbon, it’s light, so you can open up letters for hours and win the letter opening Olympics without getting a bunion on your palm.  Plus, it matches the carbon fiber briefcase in your office and looks sharp with your letter opening team kit. 

 Wonder what else can be made out of carbon fiber?  I thought to myself.  Chopsticks?  I googled but no dice.  So, I searched the phrase “ridiculous carbon fiber.”  The following two items were returned in the search results.

The Carbon Fiber X-Box Controller

While just a pet project of a die-hard gamer.  I have to admit, it would be sweet to play a little Tokyo drift with a controller like this. 

Lastly, this Carbon Fiber Snare Drum turned up.  While it puzzled me at first, it did start to make sense.  It’s lightweight for traveling or musicians that perform while moving.  It’s durable, so I’m sure it 

can be tuned to be able to bang out anything from a death metal beat to something tight and funky.  No doubt it’ll probably stay in tune longer than materials that might flex with temperature and humidity.  And, like all things carbon, it would match any University of Whatever marching band team kit.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I wish I was there to see Morgan Webb’s face when his daughter Eden stood on the podium with a Silver Medal. (Photo: The little medalist herself with daddy pictured left from Velonews-how sweet is that!) What happened to Anna Jean from Louisville? Seems like a tough break for one of the fastest women in the OVCX. I hope Karen got the “look I’m in front of Ned” photo when her husband BioWheel’s Doug Hamilton was lapped by cycling hero Ned Overend. So many stories. But I have to admit, sleeping in on Sunday morning might have been worth missing Nat's.

I guarantee this list of OVCX racers at CX Nationals is not complete, mainly because I swear I saw Ryan Lindsey from Zepher/Cycledots yesterday but even upon a double check he remains buried in a list of bib numbers. Sorry bud. I was pretty CX-eyed by the time I got to the day 4 results. It was especially tough to figure out who is actually from the Ohio Valley area in the Collegiate Results. If you don’t see somebody you know, send an email or view full results from the 2008 Cyclocross Nationals in Kansas City on the USA Cycling Website here or at the KC Cross Nationals website.

PHOTO: a familiar mullet-#2237 and a familiar Texas Roadhouse jersey #355 in the U23 race from VeloNews.

B Women
1 2276 BOREM, Nicole Warsaw, IN DRT Racing 00:44:40.00
DNS 2265 LEWIS SROKA, Julie N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling

B Men 30-39
2 2088 MESSER, Andy Columbus, IN DRT Racing 00:42:54.00
17 2015 MYERS, Ryan fort Wayne, IN NA 00:45:51.00

B Men 40+
14 1749 SROKA, Rudy N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team + ST
26 1741 HEPPNER, Blaine Louisville, KY Bike Clicks/Team Louisville

35 1745 COLLINS, Joe Louisville, KY Team Louisville + ST
38 1723 CRAFT, Jeffrey Madison, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team + ST

Junior Girls 10-12
2 1637 WEBB, Eden Louisville, KY Red Zone Cycling 00:38:53.00
8 1638 HALEY, Frances-Jane Louisville, KY Red Zone Cycling 00:48:02.00

Junior Girls 13-14
4 1290 MOSSMAN, Hannah Cincinnati, OH One Call Now 00:31:58.00

Junior Girls 15-16
7 934 MORRIS, Colleen Cincinnati, OH One Call Now 00:32:11.00

Junior Girls 17-18
5 940 MORRIS, Michelle Cincinnati, OH One Call Now 00:30:28.00

Masters Women 45-49
12 1602 LEWIS SROKA, Julie N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team 00:46:27.00

Masters Women 30-34
DNF 1577 DALLAIRE, AnnaJean Louisvile, KY SoBe-Cannondale

Masters Men 35-39
29 1140 MESSER, Andy Columbus, IN DRT Racing 00:48:51.00
44 1039 MYERS, Ryan fort Wayne, IN NA 00:50:28.00

Masters Men 40-44
26 1257 WEBB, Morgan Louisville, KY Barbisol 00:48:36.00
35 1235 HEPPNER, Blaine Louisville, KY Bike Clicks/Team Louisville 00:49:52.00

Masters Men 45-49
7 1302 SHOGREN, gunnar Morgantown, WV SoBe Cannondale 00:47:43.00
25 1411 FAGERBERG, Erik LOUISVILLE, KY Calistoga Racing Team 00:51:07.00
45 1332 MANDROLA, john louisville, KY Calistoga Racing Team 00:53:51.00
59 1377 COLLINS, Joe Louisville, KY Team Louisville + 1 Lap Down
70 1388 OTTING, mike cincinnati, OH Mercyhealthplex/7hills Racing + 1 Lap Down

Masters Men 50-54
14 829 CRAFT, Jeffrey Madison, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team 00:50:10.00
28 851 SROKA, Rudy N. Royalton, OH Lake Effect Cycling Team 00:52:44.00
44 835 TOLER, Richard Dayton, OH Team Kreitler Rollers + 1 Lap Down
56 861 HAMILTON, Doug Fairborn, OH BioWheels Racing/Reese-Campbel + 2 Laps

Under 23 Women
8 408 BENSON, Emily Medina, OH DRT Racing + 1 Lap Down

Under 23 Men (may be some discrpency between KC results & USA Cycling)
19 Clayton Omer 53:28.0 344 Calistoga Racing Team
26 322 LLEWELLYN, Andrew Louisville, KY Calistoga Racing Team 00:55:02.00

DI Collegiate Men
5 Mike Sherer IU
7 Kip Spaude Lindsey Wilson
8 Issac Neff IU
12 Clayton Omer Lindsey Wilson

Elite Men
51 Ryan Knapp

Elite Women
35 Betsy Shogren Sobe Cannondale

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Four Christmases and Four Bikes

As I see it, at the heart of the movie Four Christmases, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon weren’t evil to want to do their own thang instead of dealing, uh, I mean spending loving time with family over the holidays. See below for the Four Christmases holiday survival guide. One year I brought both the mountain bike, the road bike and, what the “f” was I thinking, a trainer…for both of us. Add luggage for a 4-5 day trip and a bunch of wrapped gifts and I start to think about telling relatives that I’m spending the holiday inoculating babies in Namibia. Since then, I’ve narrowed it to just a cross bike. This year I might just plan on a snowy hike or trail run. Then again, how much is that flight to Tahiti?

The real issue is eeking in the ride or run while running between her Dad’s on the west side, my Mom’s on the north side, her Aunt’s out in the boonies, our friends on the south side and my brothers back on the west side again. It’s $2226.80pp round trip to Tahiti on Delta. This of course all gets complicated with sharing the shower with your step Dad’s kids, running last minute gift errands, finding time to wrap presents without anyone catching a glimpse early and picking up muffins at the bakery for your mom. Hmm Cancun is only $535.80pp nonstop. This year is the 8th time I go home for my Four Christmases and I’ve learned a few tricks on how to get in some outdoor fun amidst a full house of relatively unfit relatives:

1 Don’t make plans for the morning; even brunch is cutting it too close. This is your time to get up and get out the door before anyone creeps downstairs and throws you a curveball like Mom asking you to go pick up creepy Uncle Harold who lives out in the sticks and see’s his golden years as his opportunity to fill your car with farts. If you do run into mom prepping food in the kitchen at 6:30am, you’re not totally screwed. Just get dressed for your run or ride before you walk into the kitchen, chat over a quick breakfast and then make a break for it.

2 Think of where all your relatives and friends live in relation to the best places in town to ride and pick the best one to stay at for the holiday. You’ll make brownie points for visiting. My mom’s is perfect: a few blocks from the bike trail and close to some bushwackable neighborhood trails.

3 KISS Keep It Short Silly. Bang out a quick hour, especially if you’re headed someplace cold. When you add up the time getting dressed and undressed you’re looking at least an hour and a half anyway. Plan it right and the last of your in-laws will be tweezing the last of their monobrow in the bathroom when you roll in the door.

4 Don’t bring a trainer. This is your chance to have fun in your old haunts. If it’s really too cold to ride, go for a run, walk or hike. Besides, do you really want creepy Uncle Harold to see you in your bike shorts or your in-laws to think your wife couldn’t have picked a bigger doof to marry.

5 Bring the cyclocross or mountain bike. Unless you’re traveling to So Cal, Phoenix, or Florida, it’s pretty dang chilly out on the roads. Secondly, bring the cheapest one you own. Your relatives won’t cry when they accidently knock it over getting a Miller High Life out of the garage refrigerator, but you might. If you don’t have trails near where you’re staying, ride the knobbies on the road or go rip up a neighborhood park.

6 Check the map for good places to ride before you get to your destination or on you’re way back. Play it right and it’s almost like going on a cycling vacation and just running into your relatives…almost.

7 Check the web for local club rides. Every city has a local club ride during the week, even in winter. Tell your mom you’re staying through Sunday because you love her so much, and then go rip it up with the locals.

8 Make sure you have your own key for wherever you’re staying or at least the code for the automatic garage door. Again, make sure you have your own key for wherever you’re staying or at least the code for the automatic garage door. As much as the holidays may pain you, you still want to make it to Grammy’s on time to unwrap those new mukluks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best Bike Tool Photo Ever Contest

It’s time to celebrate. I owe ya…big time. Half a CX season has gone by since I moved to Blogger from the former Joe Biker Blog on AOL. A month ago I was literally taken aback with the readership statistics. That’s you. I was floored when I checked the numbers yesterday. It’s doubled. Even more impressive is that half of the people who have visited once have come back to read again. This past Monday, December 8th, was the 2nd biggest readership day ever next to the Monday after the Cincinnati UCI 3-day CX weekend. Thank you. I’m glad I’ve been able to give you a little bike soup when you can’t get out and ride. While I don’t have 1199 pieces of swag for all the first time visitors or 612 trinkets for the die hard returning visitors over the past two months, I do have one little thing that I’m willing to part with. Since it’s officially the “off season” for most of us, it’s time to have fun on the bike.

Don’t get any ideas about those Zipp wheels I wrote about Monday. I paid in mud and blood for those. However, I wrote a piece a while back about Bottle Cap Helmet Mirrors. Completely unsolicited, the creator sent me one as thanks for writing about ‘em. I know. I know. Helmet Mirrors are the cycling world equivalent of taped nosepiece black rimmed geek glasses. But, when you hand craft them from a genuine black spoke complete with nipple and add a “Fat Tire Ale” bottle cap as the mirror’s frame (on right in photo), suddenly the geek is cool. Pure genius. That’s half the battle of being a cyclist anyway. The non-cycling world thinks we’re all a bunch of tools anyway. The Bottle Cap Helmet mirror makes you a little less toolish in the eyes of Joe Sixpack.

So, here’s the contest: The Best Bike Tool Photo Ever. Email a photo of you being a complete tool on your bike to The Best Bike Blog Ever*
with the subject line: “The Best Bike Tool Photo Ever.” Throughout the contest, I’ll post the better photos on the blog. To avoid being judgmental, the winner of the Fat Tire Ale Helmet Mirror will be drawn randomly from all entries. Deadline will be the three month anniversary of The Best Bike Blog Ever*, January 8th at 11:59pm Eastern Time. Winner will be contacted via return email.

Good luck and thanks for reading The Best Bike Blog Ever*.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Know Someone Who's Lucky

I passed up entering the holiday Mercedes raffle at Kenwood Mall the other day. Besides smelling like a sulfurous telemarketing junk mail scam, I’m not a very lucky man. While I may disagree when I feel the leather driver’s seat hug my buns, nature knows that I’d be a tool in a convertible Mercedes. My wife, on the other cleat, has been blessed with beauty, a knack for numbers and the ability to attract unexpected fortunes to herself…nearly a luck savant.

While she has yet to be on TV accepting an oversized check with an overabundance of zeros or answering the Publishers Clearing House knock on the door with her hair in curlers while wearing fuzzy slippers, she matched 4 of 6 numbers in the lottery once and scratched her way to numerous tiny fortunes. She always brings home the bacon at race raffles. She’s cleaned house at the Six Hours of Power and Dirty Divas women’s mountain biking clinic raffles by purchasing 25 dollars worth of tickets and winning on nearly every single one. I think the only thing I’ve won in the past ten years has been an IF water bottle and a fat measuring scale that I have yet to figure out how to operate, which I blame for having 2 pack abs. The only luck I’ve had was her saying “yes” when I asked her to marry me.

This is precisely why I asked her to send me good karma for yesterday’s end of season raffle for the OVCX. If you don’t have good luck yourself, it’s completely okay in the world of luck to know someone who’s lucky. If it’s your spouse, that brings even more luck. That’s why James Bond has his babe du jour kiss the dice at the craps table. It works.

After the last race yesterday, the racers gathered in the park building for season awards and the raffle. This is no ordinary sock and water bottle raffle. There was big stuff up for grabs: a custom Shamrock CX frame, a Jamis Supernova frameset, two Redline frames, Chris King goodies and a set of drool worthy all-carbon cyclocross specific Zipp 404 wheels. Only the people who entered at least ten of the 13 races qualified. While I didn’t see the list of the names, I estimate there was only 50-60 people vying for the goods, pretty good odds to win something sweet. However, I totally expected to go home cold, smelly, dirty, sore and lighter in the wallet and parts department than I arrived.

On race day mornings, my wife usually sends me off with a kiss, the phrase “kick some ass,” and a wink. I told you I was lucky to have married her. Yesterday, we skipped the “kick some ass” and she said "good luck winning the wheels." I had been talking about them all season. While I had some success on the bike this season, the raffle stewed in the back of my head and made the missteps of bad days on the bike seem worth while. At the race yesterday I had a wheel/tire issue, ended up grabbing the pit bike on lap 2 and did not kick any ass. Oh well, there was still the raffle. I smiled. It was just fun to race on snow in 15 degree weather. Besides, at a party the night before, I had jokingly told people who thought I was a buffoon for racing in cold snowy weather that I was just going for the raffle.

With the Elite races over and the car packed, I grabbed a snack, my cell phone and went inside for the raffle. When I sat down with my teammates, I saw I had a text message waiting. Here’s what it said:

From: My Wife
“Here’s a good luck wish for the raffle! How was your race”

My reply:
Thanks for the vibes finished 12 had an issue with rear wheel on lap 1 had 2 switch 2 pit bike phil took 2nd raffle is starting now xoxo

And here’s the message I sent just minutes later with the photo above:
“I won the zipps omg!”

PS: Welcome new follower Joel. Thanks for reading. If you'd like to become a follower, see link on top right of page below the cycling news.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dear St. Nick

Just a few of the items on my Christmas list:

A Dog in a Hat: An American Bike Racer's Story of Mud, Drugs, Blood, Betrayal, and Beauty in Belgium

Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest

Bell Volt Helmet

Giro Semi Glasses

Mont-Bell U.L.Down Inner Jacket

Monday, December 1, 2008

Can't Even Beat L-Ville in Fantasy CX

Fantasy CX standings are out, and while it's tough to figure out who's the local competition in the 238 deep world-wide field based on the mostly goofy and sometimes hillarious usernames, Bike Clicks/Team Louisville not only smokes me on the regular CX Course, but in make believe CX-land as well. They're ranked 62nd with 1723 points. The Best Bike Blog Ever* is ranked 84th with 1644. The leader has 2258. Like usual I'll have to be happy with the top 3rd of the field! Dammit! If you're participating in Fantasy CX, leave a comment below and let the rest of us know who you are and what your user name is in the standings. Be fun for a little "Best Smack Talk Ever." However, I can barely remember which riders are on my fantasy team anymore.

Standings as of 12/1/08 here.

So This Is What It's Like

Hoogerheide Cyclo Cross World Cup 2008

You ever wonder what it’s like to be in the chase group when you watch those cyclocross World Cup videos, maybe from a race in the Netherlands, where the riders eyes are bugging out through the mud painted on their face, mouths are wide open breathing fog as the riders freight train through the course trying to catch one or two leaders off the front?

On the second lap of the Masters 1/2/3 race yesterday at Storm the Greens in Louisville I distinctly remember thinking, “So this is what it’s like.” I can’t believe I had time for a thought like that. In a chase group gunning for 2nd with 3 guys in front of me and two behind coursing through muddy corners, misty rain, over surprise tree roots and through bottom bracket deep sand, there wasn’t room in my brain for errant thoughts. Apparently, elation takes up less brain space than errant thoughts.

Aside from a Dutch or Flemish speaking announcer, everything that’s great about cyclocross was there at that moment: slippery mud, speed, fierce competition, rain, cowbells, cold, spectators waiting for carnage, puddles, pre-shifting before obstacles, being from Ohio and every guy I was with was from Kentucky and gunning for a State Championship podium spot, someone mistaking me for a teammate and shouting “Go Mitch” instead of “Go Joe,” snot, ankle deep mud between railroad tie stairs, grass and goo hanging from the brake cables, getting in the drops in the headwind, the guy in front doing a header in the sand, split second decisions, wondering if I’d have to make a bike change for a clean rig, cutting the inside line as the guy in front of me fishtails through a corner…on and on. Somewhere in all of that the phrase, “so this is what it’s like” crept into my head.

A race you wish would never end, that’s what it’s like.

Details & Results at