Friday, May 31, 2013

A call for help

I've been dealing with something all alone, and I've decided it's time for me to see if I have any experts that choose to read this blog.

You see, I've been occupied by something, distracted by its struggle-causing demeanor and poor attitude. I've been led astray by its behavior and how it always needs to be the center of attention. That's why I have not gotten around to posting anything here. I'm not one to put blame on others, but really, my failures to press the submit button in the past couple of weeks are entirely at fault of this devilish Monsanto-evil type creature that invades our world and pulls at the core of our development as a society. We MUST do something about this, and recently I've taken it upon myself to do something heroic: to save the world all on my lonesome like Jack Bauer (side note, 24 is returning to Fox, and that's exciting news). All this world saving led to lack of blogging and a, if I have to admit, massive failure to defend our world against takeover. That's why I'm asking you - blog universe- to help me in my defense. Gone is the Jack Bauer way of life, traded in for teamwork and strategy. I'm putting together a team: Italian Job, Ocean's 11, and Fast and the Furious style.

Here's where you come in.

I need to build my team. Our enemy? COTTONWOOD TREES. All of them. Our mission? Remove every single cottonwood tree from Washington. Fine, Western Washington.  We move quickly, we attack furiously, and we execute our plan. There will be no hellish topiaries prowling around, ready to urinate their fluffy attack missiles all over the ground, cars, and into unsuspecting cyclist's nasal cavities leading to approximately one month of allergies.

You know how they're such cool trees because they make it look like it's snowing? OMG fun! Well I'll counter that with a description of an animal. I'm sure you're familiar with the movie Monsters Inc. This movie is excellent, and I would like to see Monsters University this summer. In Monsters Inc, the heroes get banned to a snowy, desolate, barren environment. I think it was Ohio. When they are there, they meet a snow monster.

It pretends to be all cute and nice and fluffy:

But what you DON'T see in the movie is hidden in the deleted scenes. This dratsab (spell it backwards) is being nice to Wazowski and Sullivan because he is starving and wants to eat them. Let me ruin the movie for you:

Yeah, I dare you to call Cottonwood trees nice and cute and fluffy now.

Here's how we're going to do it. We work as a team and eliminate the threat. Since I can't be Jack Bauer any more, I'll be Brad Pitt from Ocean's 11. I'll be Jason Statham in The Italian Job. And I'll be a mixture of Ludacris, Paul Walker, Tyrese, and the Rock in Fast and the Furious.

That leaves several positions available for application.

I need:

One "climb the tree person"- You climb the tree and whisper rude, hurtful thoughts into its newest and youngest buds. Everyone knows that the best way to take down a 40ft tree is to start causing some internal conflict. You will be the puppet master. You also will attach the rope that is attached to....

The "Muscle"- You mostly kick the tree, letting it know how you feel about it. Also, the rope is tied around your waist like a belt. You run in one direction (the band) (kidding) (I don't know any of their songs) (I think one of them dated Taylor Swift) and pull the tree from its roots. 

This is a fascinating analysis of life
The "Brains"- Someone needs to plan things. I mean, I've already planned it. But you plan with Google Maps, locate the big trees, hack into schematics and mainframes, change the traffic lights around, disable gate alarms on fancy Cottonwood sanctuaries, make jokes that you laugh hysterically at but no one else does except for the girl who secretly is into you but you'll probably never make an attempt at because you think she is into The Muscle. You are also very stylish and maybe have a rap career outside of this adventure:

The "Getaway"- Have you ever driven down Main street with a 48 ft tree attached to your Muscle who is holding onto your bumper wearing roller skates? You maybe have the coolest/most important job on the team. You get to dispose of the Cottonwood wherever you so choose. As long as the Brain approves.

The "new, vouched for arrival"- You're that member of the team that shows up as a last minute replacement for the person who decided they weren't interested in committing mass allergen tree-removal type "crimes". Are you actually a good person? Or are you a member of the C.T.S.A? (The Cottonwood Tree Survival Allegiance). One way or another, I'll be watching you, because I really don't trust you.

And me? I already described my fused characters. I'm the brains, muscle, looks, comedic relief, and backbone of the team. Duh.

Let's do this. It's time for us to save the world.

Let me know which position you would like to apply for.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tour of the Gila in its entirety

Well, I raced at the Tour of Gila.

First, an important distinction. A gila monster is not the crazy huge thing that you see at the zoo. Those are called Komodo dragons.

Gila Monster

Komodo Dragon
Thanks to whatever deity you believe in that the final stage is not called the Komodo Dragon stage.

Gila is a five-day monsoon of bike racing in the middle of the dessert. We even race on Sundae! There were no blizzards, but certainly a few cones thrown in there. It’s funny because dessert is not a desert. But Silver City is.

The Hagens Berman Cycling team ate 10 dozen eggs in six days. 

Alan Schmitz rode as hard as he could three days in a row.

Doug Sumi got us hooked on dominoes.

In El Paso I had four burritos for dinner. I watched the lady make the tortillas so I had to get another. Three times.

Chile peppers are good.

Stage one is 80 miles of flat followed by 15 miles of climbing. Something like that. To me, it seemed like 80 miles of climbing at the end of the stage. I lost around seven minutes in ten k. Luckily I had no dreams of fame on the Mogollon so I made sure I used all of my energy helping Hornyfest, Sticky Stuey and Utah-Chris start the climb in proper positioning.

Stage two is short, only 75 miles. There are three climbs that in theory should thin the field out, but an early break made sure that we did not gas the climbs too hard. The last 10k of the race is highway-wide descending leading into a corner onto narrow roads in the last 1k. So, in general strategic brilliance, we decided that getting me to that corner as far forward as possible would be the best option. Every other team also had this plan, so it was mildly hectic. Luckily I have a Czech teammate (Staz) who seems to enjoy the positioning game. Staz went into the corner third wheel, and I was preparing to go into it fourth. Falling into the category of things ALMOST going perfectly, one of the Kenda lead out guys was ran into and crashed, careening into my wheels. I chose to brake instead of maybe pushing through his body with my wheel, and with that lost too many spots to contest the sprint. Continuing with the tragedy, I put TOO MUCH salsa on my rice bowl and got a small heartburn.

Stage three involves pedaling time trial bikes, which as of lately I’ve become a big fan of. What I’ve never done is a 37minute time trial at 7,000 feet of elevation. I’ve had lots of practice this year with twenty-minute time trials (Icebreaker, Redlands, Walla Walla) so when I had to continue longer than twenty minutes I was quite confused in the body region. I had a decent enough ride, but I for sure know that I can do more on the time trial bike and will work on making my mind crazier for the next one. Also I found out at the finish line that I had ridden on the wrong side of the cones for the majority of the final 5k. As I went into the finish line where the cars were supposed to go, I did an awesome in the bars SHARP swerve to get into the fenced finish corridor. That was the highlight of my time trial. Also the taco truck burrito that I consumed was quite nice as well.

General bad-assery
Stage four was the criterium. Normally I get quite excited for these criterium contests and Saturday was no difference. We all lined up to race, they did the call-ups, and then announced over the PA that there was an “immediate safety threat and we needed to roll a lap immediately”. So everyone got on their bikes, confused, and rode a lap slowly. We got back to the line and were told that our race was delayed “at least twenty minutes” and to “go away”. So we went back to our van and waited. Turns out that there was a bomb threat in the form of a suitcase left outside of a Goodwill donation bin. We then raced, because it was a suitcase left outside of a Goodwill donation bin. It is truly a bummer that situations like those exist. It’s obviously at a heightened awareness now in the States, but bomb threats happen all the time in other parts of the world. Our world has changed because of Boston, but that doesn’t mean that THE world has changed. I think a lot of people’s perspectives were probably transformed when there was even that possibility in our “perfect” world at a bike race. We then raced and I was ON IT for about one hour. The dreadful news is that this race was an hour and a half. I finished the crit unbelievably busted up: way more tired than any other stage, way hungrier than any stage, and way more uncomfortable than any stage. Odd. It was not

I think I touched the swords in this trinket shop and was cursed by the gypsy working there the day of the crit
 Stage five is the Gila Monster. This is 1000 miles with 100000 feet of elevation gain. Subtract a zero from each of those and you have the actual statistics. I knew going into it that races with “monster” in their names are not equivalent to races with “Mason Lake” in their names, so my hopes weren’t high for personal glory. However, we have this skinny dude on our team whose legs are the size of my index finger. He was all giddy for this stage. I’m not sure what’s wrong with Bro Cal. I hoped to be able to help Jon as much as possible then benefit from a century at altitude. Flatting in the first 10 miles when the field was guttered in the crosswind was not part of the plan. By the time I got a wheel change I was out of the caravan, and I knew I was in for a tough chase. I hit 62 mph going through the caravan and was losing ground on the field! I found myself in a dropped group and spent the next 60 miles debating the benefits of Cattle Guards. I got in the van in the final feed zone. Then got very hungry.

Here are some other important things from New Mexico:

I never caught a Javelina. Lame.

The Buckhorn Saloon and Opera house was awesome. We walked into the door and the two most grizzled and gnarly looking guys at the bar instantly turned around and stared us tourists down. I felt like a tough guy instantly. Then remembered I have shaved legs.

Guarding the bathroom at the Buckhorn. Also scaring the shit out of anyone, making the bathroom unneeded

Our staff works unbelievably hard. I don’t think Alan, Doug, or Burke slept at all. Burke because of his interviews and celebrity status.

Now, after three weeks on the road, I am flying home to Seattle. It is currently 80 degrees and, more importantly, sea level so I am excited. I get to hang out in Seattle for the rest of the month. I’ll be scheming.

Also, I was catching up on Parks and Rec when I got home and I saw that the most stylish guy on the show was wearing a shirt that I own. So there.

 Anyways, I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I’m blogging without the internet, which means I’m basically an author. Of an extremely bestselling book called “Memoirs of Me”. An employee at Penguin books was able to read a copy of this book when I left an unfinished copy on a USB at a coffee shop by accident. I know, silly me. They were moved, and Barnes and Noble bought 20,000,000 copies. Soon they were sold out, but my publisher could not produce any more because there was a paper shortage due to a workers strike at the paper plant. Luckily, with my initial contract I had invested in making it Amazon Kindle friendly. Soon the internet crashed due to so many people trying to download “Memoirs of Me”, and that leads us to our current situation. Me without the internet.

Walmart Life
I’m here in Pinos Altos fighting wildlife. I am also racing the Tour of the Gila. This race has eluded my schedule for the last two years. What I mean by “eluded” is that I begged and pleaded to not be sent to Tour of Gila, where I would certainly perish in the thin air and mountainous terrain. I had heard tales of terror but there was also a small amount of grandeur that kept peeking out and calling to me. “Iannnnn. You must”. Hearing voices was almost enough of a reason to decide to want to come race at the Tour of Gila this year but there was also the tug of having an incredibly Gila-experienced Director. Burke is a celebrity here in New Mexico. I guess having won the Tour three different times and racing it a million times will do that to a guys reputation. I’m fairly sure that if he wanted, Burke would not have to buy dinner once while staying in Silver City.

So after a lot of rambling, you, the reader, have learned that I decided I wanted to race the Tour of Gila this year. I knew some background on the courses, but truly most of my knowledge of the Tour of Gila came from the movie Rat Race. There is nothing to do with bike racing in the film but they do finish their race in Silver City, New Mexico. Confusing name though, because Silver City was home of the Gold Rush and yet it is not called Gold City. If I had internet I would look a little more into the history of New Mexico and its bonkers name. Wikipedia is where I would go.

Back to wildlife. I’ve never been to this sort of desert terrain before so I’ve been looking into what sorts of creatures are running this town. The coolest, by far, is the Javelina. I know a wealth of information about this creature and I learned it in the way of the Stone Age. We’re talking pre-fire source of knowledge. I learned it in a BOOK!

Javelinas are pig-type creatures. Maybe more hog-like because they have a wire mane that flows in the wind about as poorly as a wire mane would. They are really majestic creatures that probably consume a fair amount of house cats, grizzly bears, and steaks. Their name comes from their four Javelin-like teeth of pure evil. They often are seen sharpening their teeth on various items around town: rock slabs, your mom’s Cadillac, and the bikes of anyone unfortunate enough to get dropped early on the stages of the race.
There was only one bathroom in the house. Paradise.
The Tour of the Gila is a five-day race. It marks the closing week of my April Grand Tour type activity of: The Tour of Walla Walla, Joe Martin Stage Race, and finally this bad boy. Stage one is a 92-mile race, basically flat with an evil finish climb at the end of the stage. Stage two is a shorter, 75-mile loop with 6000 feet of climbing. Stage three is the TT. Stage four is the crit, and stage five is a race called the “Gila Monster”. It is 100 something miles and uses if I’m correct, every single road in New Mexico.

Steve just doing Steve. Yolo.

This post is too long so I’ll click the fake submit button now.