Monday, March 30, 2009

Wou Hou Devou - Devou Park Mountain Bike Trail Building

His chat turned to complaint.  Finally, the poor kid who wore sneakers to the Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA) trail building day Saturday at Devou Park said he had to rest.  In a pair of big hikers I plodded on, initially to deliver empty buckets to the U-Give Cincinnati volunteers picking up garbage.  I soon realized I had passed the last trail group around section nine.  “Well, might as well see where this trail tops out,” I thought.  I put my bucket down to pick up on the way back and kept up a stiff pace.  A half hour and sections 10 through 19 passed quickly. 

From the trail head at the ball fields at the bottom of Sleepy Hollow Road, It was an hour round trip to the vista.  My hike of what will become the first mountain bike trails in Covington, KY’s Devou Park made me think more of Bent Creek in Asheville, NC or Brown County in Nashville, IN than local trails like Tower Park, Harbin Park or Mitchell Memorial. The trail is located on the west side of Sleepy Hollow Road.  While the amount of available land in Devou won’t match that of Bent Creek or Brown County, the topography certainly does.  I lost count of the switchbacks that crisscross the beginning of the climb.  Unlike most area trails, the switchbacks at Devou don’t end at the top.  That made me smile.  About 2/3’s up the first hill, the trail wraps around the south side and into a pretty valley with flowering

 trees.  Eventually there will be some Bent Creek-esque deep bench cuts in this steep valley.  After crossing a bridge-worthy creek which dropped nearly 6-7 feet from the trail markers above, a handful of switchbacks take you to the first real vista of the west side Cincinnati skyline.  Looking at my watch, then at the green trail flags wrapping around the bend, I shook my head in disbelief.  Just like the kid in sneakers, I had to turn back. 

This is going to be big.  Cincinnati is about to have its first trail system with a sustained mountain bike climb that will top out at what?  Nearly a mile and a half I guess.  I’m a strong hiker.  It took me a half hour to reach the top on foot.  On a bike, I’d hedge a guess that expert riders will be looking at a 12-15 minute climb and novices may be knocking on that half hour door.  There’s nothing within 20 miles of Cincinnati with a climb of more than a few minutes.  This is just to get to the top.  The trail keeps going around the 2nd hill and on and on.  This is just the warm-up.  There’s enough land here for 15-18 miles of trail.  There are plenty of trail days ahead, plenty of time to learn that a Pulaski is a tool and Pulaski is a historic Chicago figure.  We’ll see you at the next Devou Park trail day. 


While picking up trash, debris and relics along the path of the new trail at Devou Park, I came across this unusual apparatus.  At first I thought it might be a spur of sorts for horseback riding, but upon further inspection it appears to be some sort of tool that would hang from a chain or maybe some sort of candle sconce.  Any ideas?  Leave a comment below.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mean Cuisine, Zingers and Combos

290 Calories

36g Carbs

20g Protein

7g Fat

Are you kidding me?  For chicken with angel hair in basil cream sauce?  Load up the cart honey!  They’re ten for ten!  “Ooh you always eat so healthy,” my coworkers gush as I heat up my Lean Cuisine with a yogurt, and diet soda visible in my lunch box.  It smells so good.  What a sensible meal, they think.  They and I are horribly wrong.  The box may say 290 calories.  The yogurt, raisins, granola bar, and fruity snack bites might bring the total of my lunch closer to 700 calories.  Still a reasonable number. What my coworkers don’t see and what are not listed on the Lean Cuisine Nutrition Facts are the calories and fat content of the Zingers and Combos that I’ll no doubt eat at 2:30pm to compensate for the caloric deficit I’ll be running mid-afternoon. 

Damn I love Zingers and Combos.  I think I hooked up with Dolly Madison in a previous life.

I did some research.  I studied the Lean Cuisine box even more closely.  Guess who’s listed as the distributer of Lean Cuisine on the box?  Nestle.  Uh huh.  Now I’m not saying there is a conspiracy here, but I would hedge a bet that right next to Dolly Madison’s Zingers and M&M/Mars’ Combos in our vending machine is a product from Nestle full of chocolaty goodness.  No doubt if we ran out of Zingers and Combos, a Nestle snack would be next on my afternoon feeding frenzy radar.

This has happened to me at least 3, if not four times in the past few weeks.  I pack a lunch for work with a Lean Cuisine.  “Ooh I’m so healthy,” I think as I try to cram the box in my lunchbox along with a yogurt, soda, granola bar, a box of raisins and a tiny 80 calorie bag of Welch’s fruity bites.  It’s seemingly so much food, I can barely zip the top closed.

Then at 2:33pm when I’m biting into the icing on my third devil food Zinger, reality sets in.  That lunchbox, although stuffed so full the zipper is tearing, only contains roughly 700 calories, barely enough to keep Eva Herzigova alive.   The typical man my size needs about 2000 calories a day to function, not including the 1600+ I’ll burn on a two hour ride after work. 

I have found a man-sized lunch that doesn’t leave me wandering toward Satan’s vending machine.  It's two open face veggie burger sandwiches with cheese on a big ass bagel.  I’m not sure on the exact calories, but I’d bet that big fat everything bagel packs over 400 calories.  Combined with two slices of cheese and veggie burger patties, is more like an 800 calories.  Add the yogurt, raisins, granola bar and fruity snacks and I’m packing a 1200 calorie relatively healthy lunch. 

You know what the difference is between a 1200 calorie lunch and a 700 calorie lunch?  About three Zingers and a bag of Combos.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Amstrong Gets Carbon Collarbone

(Nose Hit News Service 25 March 2009)  Call it bionic.  In a five and a half hour surgery March 25th, seven time Tour Champion Lance Amstrong received what experts believe is the first carbon fiber collar bone replacement from Technosteo Inc.  Lighty patting Lance’s new shoulder at Amstrong’s Austin home, Astara Team Director, Johan Bruyneal hinted that this breakthrough should allow Lance to recover more quickly and possibly be competitive in the Giro. 

“Heat molded on-site according to specifications from an earlier MRI, Lance’s new collarbone will perform just like Lance’s old bone, but will be lighter, more impact resistant and have the vibration damping qualities of carbon fiber,” according to Dr. Van Nostrand, Chief of Surgery at the Costanza Institute for Sports Medicine in Houston.  Previously the carbon fiber bone replacement had only been performed on hip replacements.  “Carbon is the building block of life.  The possibilities of carbon fiber are endless,” said Doctor Van Nostrand.  He added, “The human body is less likely to reject something made from carbon as opposed to alloys.  In addition it can be more precisely tuned to better mimic the functionality of human bone.”  According to Technosteo Inc.’s website, the manufacturer of the high tech carbon fiber bone replacement, Lance’s new carbon collarbone weigh’s a scant 121 grams, roughly the same as a Ritchey WCS stem.  A typical human male collarbone weighs 256 grams.

Early April Fools.  Typos intended.  This is a fake news story.  Get well soon Lance!  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lance & Lauer, O'Grady & Farrar Welcome To The Freak Shoulder Fraternity - PT Discount ID Cards Below

It’s a memory I repress.  I can’t quite remember when I got indoctrinated to the Freak Shoulder Fraternity.  I’m thinking in ’06, nearly three years to this day in fact.  That’s the photo of my freak shoulder there.  The photo was taken yesterday.  Still ugly, I know.  The diagnosis, a 3rd or 4th degree separation.  Surgery would’ve been for cosmetic reasons only.  So now I walk around with one arm slightly longer than the other.  No biggie.  Lance and Matt (Tyler Farrar and Stuart O'Grady too) should know it still works okay, but smarts now and then.  Although the chick appeal is gone.  My wife now gets a heebie jeebie shiver when she runs her hands across my shoulders and hits the freak bump.  It happened while pre-riding the Ohio Valley Spring Road Race Series course at Hueston Woods.  My left foot pulled out of my cheapo Ritchey pedal.  Knee hit handlebars.  Bars crossed up.  I drilled myself into the pave’ at probably close to 30mph.  It had to be the most painful injury ever.  I back that up with a torn ACL, a broken wrist, a meniscus tear and a childhood gash to the forearm from a metal file. 

Yesterday we heard the news of Lance Armstrong breaking his collarbone in Spain and TV's Matt Lauer injuring his shoulder doing a dodge the deer dive.  Today Lance and Lauer, O'Grady and Farrar, we welcome you with our open freak arms to The Freak Shoulder Fraternity.  Enjoy the Percocet while it lasts.  Print, clip and use your ID card (below) for great discounts at physical therapy clinics across the world.  We’ll see you in six to eight weeks.

 If you’re a member of the Freak Shoulder Club and would like to share your freakiness with the world and get your very own nifty ID card, email freaky photo proof here and we'll add you to the honor roll.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How To: Take An Austin Powers Style Natural Correcto

The light at Camargo & Miami in Madiera turned red.  I zipped across anyway.  I had to take a natural.  Sorry, but the laws of nature supersede traffic law.  Right officer?  I knew this ride wasn’t going to let up for the next hour and the morning coffee was percolating.  Between here and the halfway sprint, I could foresee no other points where a pause in the action and a good pee place would intersect.  Figuring I had somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds of red light before the group would get back to business, I thought I’d be able to duck behind BioWheels bike shop, take care of business and either jump right back with the group as it passed or, if this were to be a grande natural, at the very least I’d catch ‘em on the descent.  I chased the group in full-on flat-backed heart grabbing donkey wheezing mode for the next 10 miles dangling between 50 and 300 meters.  I finally caught on in Loveland, only to get popped seconds later as the group punched a big climb at 23mph. Then I spent the next 5-7 miles chasing with a teammate who also got dropped on the climb all because I had to take a pee.  Have you seen my critical mistake?

I didn’t tell anyone I was going to take a natural.  What a doof I am.  Essentially I limited my potential bridge back on posse to the handful of people who saw me head up to the shop.  I had four teammates in the bunch, a few good friends, one of the Two John’s, and a bunch of others that know me well enough to give me the courtesy of holding up a bit for me to catch on.  Here’s what my antic’s looked like to the five people who saw me.  F*&%!  Joe just ran the red light.  He’s headed up to the bike shop.  Look like he’s probably ditching his knee warmers or something.  Oop, light’s green, let’s go.  At this point there are no thoughts of Joe, because the group of 25 or so is bombing down a hill at 30+mph, navigating a notoriously slippery set of angled railroad tracks followed by a 90 degree corner at the bottom.

Here’s what it was like from my perspective.
  Oop, can’t pee here, looks like that’s wood for the shop renovation.  How ‘bout here?  Nope that’s Mitch’s car.  Can the neighbors see?  Who cares?  Get the front of your bibs down.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.   Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Did the light turn yet?   Ahhhhh. Ahhhhhhh. Ah.  Ah.  Ah.  Fhew!  Tuck in under jersey.  Pick up bike.  Clip in.  Where’d they go?  Oh F%^*!  They’re halfway down the hill.  Tuck and hammer.  Oh Sh&* the tracks.  Jam on brakes.  Cross.  Back up to speed.  Crap they’re around the corner.  Hammer.  Just 50 more meters.  Ugh, little bastard hill.  Dammit 100 meters. 

Like the directions on a shampoo bottle, so it went for the next 10-15 miles.  Close gap, stuck at light, hammer, repeat.  I finally caught the group in the next town, unfortunately 10 seconds before the major climb of the ride.  Still trying to choke back my heart & lungs, I was waxed and off the back in 20 seconds flat.  Here I went again, but this time I had the company of another dropped rider.  We tried in vain to catch on for the next 5-7 miles, but eventually the group got out of sight, we figured we missed a turn, and gave up the gootch. 

So to save you from making the same mistake, here’s how to take a Natural Correcto:

Step 1: Tell group you’re going to go, making this point right in front of the leader or veteran riders.  Maybe say something like, “Hey I’m gonna zip up here and take a pee.” 

Step 2: Ask a teammate to hold up to help you bridge back on. Maybe say something like, “Can you Andy, Brian and Matt hold up a bit to help me bridge back on, thanks man.”

Step 3: Take natural as quick as possible as waiting friends or teammates dangle off the back of the group.

Step 4: Time trial to your waiting teammates or friends and work together to bridge the rest of the way

Step 5: Return the favor later by keeping a teammate out of the wind or offering up half a Clif bar.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Best Blog Ever Mentioned on Two John's Podcast

I got dropped wearing Two John's Podcast socks on a group ride, sent a letter to complain (voice my frustration and sentiments) and yada yada yada, click play on audio player button below to hear what happened.  This is the edit version, please visit  The Two John's and download the entire podcast, subscribe on I-Tunes and check out thier cool cycling universe.  To say the least, not much sympathy coming from the Two John's.  That's cycling.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Being Yaroslav Popovich

Ride my wheel like a Tandem.  Don’t take a pull.  Let me know when you’re hurtin’.  When I pull through, I’ll make room and just move over with me.  Those were the loose rules when I convinced my wife, Mrs. Biker, to skip our planned noodle and instead ride with the regular Tuesday Night Rampage racer type ride out of the Lunken Airport terminal parking lot.  She’ll be the first to confess, work has infringed a bit on her race training.  She doesn’t consider herself race fit yet, and I was asking her to come out on with a group of mostly Cat 3/4 men.  She was hesitant in the least.  I quietly feared that I totally blown the opportunity for a good sunny warm chatty evening ride with my wife and now faced an argument looming somewhere on the Ohio River horizon between Cincinnati and New Richmond.  In the backs of our heads, I think we both knew she needed a good beatdown.  Success would bring confidence, a rare commodity when you’re off the back or last up the climb.  When she saw some people she knew in the parking lot, I could see her self doubt subside.  She clipped in, rolled out, like a champ.  I was Popo.  She my team leader.  She did it, crushed it with the testosterone fueled double paceline all the way out to New Richmond, a good 25 minute section at 26mph.  Proud doesn’t quite say it.  It was sweet A+ riding on her part.  I’ll take that over a podium step any day. 

It was testimony to riding smart, riding as a team, how someone obviously outmatched can equal the playing field, how one rider can protect another.  Sure we didn’t participate in the paceline the whole way out and back, but, this is road racing training.  We skipped pulls and sat on.  That’s the name of the game.  If you’re at a disadvantage, gain some advantage.  Make the other guy work harder.  She felt bad that the person behind us in the paceline had to come past an extra rider and the guy before us had to sit out in the wind long enough for two riders in tandem to come over.  Ah, they’re big boys, they can deal with it, I thought.  It’s good for them.  We’re doing our share.  We held the pace steady.  All they had to do was ride steady for an extra couple of seconds and all would be smooth.  Judging that we probably dropped 6-8 people on the way out, most stronger than Mrs. Biker, I think more new or less fit riders should learn how to sit on and ride smart. 

There’s an art to sitting on the back of the double paceline without disrupting the pace at the back or making the last rider have to overcome a gap.  When we sat-on, I positioned us just to the left of the last rider in the left-hand fall back line.  That way, when the last fall-back lane rider looked right to see when it was his turn to come over, he didn’t see us and confuse us for the last in line.  When that rider moved over to the pull line, we’d smoothly move up to hang left and back of the next rider in the fall back lane.  When our heart rates came down after 8 riders or so, we’d jump back in the paceline for another round.  Steady.  Strong.  Beautiful.

When we hit New Richmond and the pace slowed for the turn-around through the Ohio River views of its downtown, we looked back.  Whad’ya know (NPR), there was a handful of riders that could no doubt out ride her head to head, dropped from the group.  Mission accomplished.  Race confidence up.  Trust in hubby restored.  I’m so proud to be her Popo.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Caveman And The Zipp Carbon Wheels

Zipp wheels free.  Caveman won at season end OVCX raffle.  Me love.  See happy cave drawing below.  Wheels still in box in garage.  Every two or three moons, when in cave, me open, pull out, marvel at like a monolith and tuck back in box.  Garage locked, alarmed, filled with ferocious dogs and army of Lycra cavemen with clubs.  Caveman protect carbon wheels to death.  However, caveman bummed.  Me can’t ride wheels without tubular tires, brake pads for carbon rims, a glue job and air.  Me grunt and pound on dirt floor.  Caveman has taxes to pay and cave to insure.

Me got air.  Air free, but bike shop say parts and labor cost near $300 with tax.  Caveman taxes due in twenty some sunrises.  Cave insurance due in nine.  Cavewoman reason taxes and insurance come before bike stuff.  Me grunt and pound floor. 

Caveman industrious and inventive.  

Me see solution like spark lead to fire.  Caveman skip weekend races.  Save money.  Work on taxes.  Me thinks there might be more floor pounding before me ride wheels.  Caveman get quote on home & car insurance this week.  Caveman figure how much money left under rock after taxes and cave insurance.  Me spend left over money to finish wheels.  Me want Continental GP 4000 S tubies.  Caveman sees light.