Monday, March 31, 2014

This is interesting to me, part 2

I’ve been watching a lot of cinematic explosions lately. This confirms a fear of mine: that I am not a “cool guy”. Simply put, cool guys don’t look at explosions. They turn their backs and they walk away. And walk away in slow motion. With diamond covered boots. Or something like that. TM

Again, I was misleading with the text that I am creating on my backpack robot. I made it sound like I was watching explosions within the cinema, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. I also was writing from memory some of the lines from the song “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions” by Josh Groban.

I know what you’re thinking, and I want to ease your mind. I can be trusted because I HAVE been watching movies and television. They were symbolic explosions for two reasons. Ok, three reasons: 1) The movies I was watching were terrible 2) They were mind-blowingly good 3) There were actual explosions in them.

The benefit to flying on airplanes again is that it gives me time to do my best thinking. So far this post has been far from my best thinking and instead is about 200 words of mindless rambling. Actually, that kind of reminds me of how I survived some classes in College. I did this by continuing to demonstrate my point while evaluating the responses of the studies that portrayed no significance, relevance, importance, implications, meaning, weight, consequence, value, or magnitude to the thesis at hand. As you can see, this is still not my best thinking- but I already have 260 words written- who’s the real winner now? You are.

OK, back to movies and TV. Craneimal faithfuls may remember a certain post I did where my mind exploded when I saw Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation be one of the heroes in the film Zero Dark Thirty. The contrast was hilarious to me and I quickly thought of several more examples of actors or actresses that stepped out of a known role and into something completely different.

Let’s look at some more!

Andy Samberg- Known for SNL and The Lonely Island music group, Andy Samberg is a comedic and often times sophomoric actor. Never fear with Andy, for a fart joke is near. In fact, the song mentioned at the beginning is an Andy Samberg special! Then I was watching a heartbreaking movie with excellent acting and lots of drama, and Andy Samberg played one of the main characters. In Celeste and Jesse Forever, Andy plays Jesse, a victim of heartbreak. It’s actually super depressing and dark at times. There are few fart jokes. I was confused. He’s actually a very good actor, so you should watch it.

Steve Carell- Oh, The Office! That’s funny, right? Or the one where he’s suicidal and runs behind a VW bus a lot? (you know the movie, I can’t remember the title and I’m on a plane and the internet is $8.99 and they won’t accept Jelly Beans that Steve gave me as payment) Well that movie is still a comedy. Once a goofy actor, always a goofy actor, right? WRONG. If you want to see Steve Carell as a verbally abusive and cheating “father figure” you should watch The Way Way Back. This film was actually delightful and despite Steve being a bit of a meany, I highly recommend it.

Ron Swanson- OK, that’s not his actor’s name, but if I say Ron Swanson you know whom I am talking about. Nick Offerman has portrayed the mustachio’ed manly man who runs the office on Parks and Recreation and eats all the bacon and eggs.  Let’s flip away from TV and into a starring role as the father who isn’t really there for the main character in The Kings of Summer. Watch it. There aren’t any anti-government or breakfast food jokes, but Ron Swa, sorry, Nick Offerman plays a very convincing mean guy.

Every once in awhile I like to step out of my normal movie interests and immerse myself in a different type of cinema-culture. To translate, sometimes we watch movies that Marissa chooses as well. I am proud to admit it that I have seen Love Actually several times and find it quite enjoyable. You may think that I am going in the direction of Liam Neeson playing the wonderful father in that film and the violent hero in the Taken movies, but I’m not going to focus on that. There is another contrast that is MARVELOUS. Maybe it’s because I don’t normally watch Romance Dramas. When I see actors in those films I instantly think of their other portrayals. That’s my curse, I guess. The best character in Love Actually is Mark, a love-struck dude stuck in the friendzone with his best friends wife. Classic. He is so hopelessly in love with her and there is nothing he can do about it! It’s a true Beauty and the Beast story. Andrew Lincoln builds up his courage and confesses his love in the moment shown below, and everyone smiles.

Then, because she’s already married, he’s punished by getting sent into an almost apocalyptic world overtaken by zombies in The Walking Dead.

Sherriff Rick has a tough go at it and he is constantly reminded that he shouldn’t have gone for Keira Knightley- because much like Orlando Bloom in The Pirates of the Caribbean, she already had plans. Tease. This comparison allows us to analyze Johnny Depp, a pirate in that film. Johnny captains ships, which is a similar role to being a driver. Jason Statham was a getaway driver in the Transporter movies. Jason Statham and cars connect with the new Fast and the Furious movie (that I’m sure will be amazing) and that film stars Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne also acted in Snitch, where he worked in an office like Steve Carell. Working under Steve at Dundler Mifflin was John Krasinski: a man who battled Matt Damon for a City Government position in the movie Promised Land. City Government brings us back to Ron Swanson, who acts along side Amy Poehler, an important part of SNL. With that irrefutable sequence of connections, you can now assume that Andy Samberg will be the next hero in this season of the Walking Dead.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jamis Hagens Berman Team Camp

Despite cultural differences and language barriers, bike racers are all the same. The last several seasons, well actually my whole racing life, I've been on a team composed of people my own age and background. One of the things that excited me the most about Jamis Hagens Berman is the range of cultures and backgrounds that the team is made up of. For the first day and a half of camp, I was here with three teammates and a mechanic- from Argentina, Cuba, and Spain. There was some english spoken, but the group speaks spanish.

Before coming to camp, I was quietly confident in my spanish speaking skills. "I have a Minor in Spanish!", "I practiced a couple times on Dualingo" and "I meant to watch some Pixar movies in spanish" were all some thoughts that I had leading into camp. In fact, I even acquired Buscando a Nemo, Los Increibles, and my favorite, Ratatouille, to watch prior to the season.

It turns out that my Spanish education experience was far from enough to prepare me for real-world speaking experiences. However, I think that my base level of understanding was huge in making me a bit more comfortable in this new world. As the week went on, I was already understanding more, having full conversations in spanish, and feeling more confident with the language as a whole.

I always knew that I'd have to throw myself out of my comfort zone and into the deep end in order to fully grasp the language, and here I am. In the middle of the ocean, and I didn't drown. I look forward to being able to swim in the future. Voy a practicar mas!

My trip to Arizona was broken into three parts: The early part of the trip, which involved the Old Pueblo GP and some training ; shooting photos and videos with the entire team when they got back from Vuelta Mexico ; and the unfortunately timed illness that swooped through our hotel.

First, I got to start my season off with a twilight crit. I did the Old Pueblo GP in 2012 and it was a far from memorable experience, so I was excited to have another crack at it. Guido, Ruben, Tyler and myself lined up for the 75 minutes of darkness ready to officially break in our new bikes, equipment, and clothing. Hopefully without actually breaking any of it.

Photo from Cycling Illustrated, Rebecca Reza
Although the end result from the race wasn't what we were hoping for, I was happy to get some snappy efforts in the legs and have a pretty decent race. The first crit of the season is always a bit of a shock, and having it be a twilight race adds to the experience. I only chopped my shadow once, which is a victory in its own sense.

Sunday and Monday were some big training days. Monday took us to Mt. Lemmon, where the general consensus was that although we didn't reallllllyy NEED to climb for 25 miles, we did NEED a large cookie. The cookie cabin at the top of Mt. Lemmon is something I've heard legend of, so naturally since some of my favorite things involve bikes and cookies, I was more than interested in a long climb with a mission.

Great success!

Click this picture to see it bigger. This is about the halfway point.
It's about a 25 mile climb, but never very steep. That's nice because then when you descend for 45 minutes, you can actually pedal most of the way down.

Tuesday and Wednesday were photo and video days. We had a photographer as well as a videographer from Jamis following us in the van for our rides. Wednesday was the fun day, as it was the first time that I've ever gone training in a skinsuit and an aero helmet. We were riding the time trial bikes, so naturally I was excited, and I think the footage that we got will look very cool.

We were doing a TTT behind the van, and our "gentle photoshoot day" turned into a bit more real of an effort. You see, the draft is huge behind the van, which means that the speeds are high. In order for the guys behind not to be coasting or on the brakes, the speed has to be HIGHER. Our TTT turned into a fairly brisk 15 minutes- one where no one wanted to say that they were hurting, but everyone was. Hopefully. Maybe. This was my type of fun.

We took some more photos on Wednesday, including head shots and team photos.

And thennnnn I got sick. Not much more to talk about, other than I had a very rough Wednesday night. I woke up on Thursday and found out that three others had a similar night. I was scheduled to race the Tucson Bicycle Classic, but with San Dimas right around the corner it didn't make sense to push it on a weak system. I went home a couple days early, and slept until this morning.

Although not entirely the best ending, my first camp at the Professional level was a great experience. I'm glad to get to know my new teammates and staff, and am really excited to get to race with them soon. Seeing Gregory in the leader's jersey at Tucson Bicycle Classic was a bit of a stinger, because I would love to be riding the front for him this weekend. However, with San Dimas starting off with an uphill time trial, I think my chances of a long day of tempo aren't too far away.....

Hasta luego.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Ok, wow. This will probably be a long post. I'm not going to apologize for my absence because I hope that it made your heart grow fonder.

I just spent too long searching YouTube for a clip that I thought appropriate for that strange introduction to this post, but I could not find it. Since things are ALWAYS funnier when you try and remember them and then explain them with words and commas instead of video and audio, here's the clip:

Film- Coffee Town
Actor- Ben Schwartz

The trick to helping your friend get a date is to lower the target's self-esteem before your friend goes in. Like this. Hey, what happened to your face? Is that chair going to be strong enough for you? Didn't you mean to order Diet?

I didn't use quotes because I have absolutely no idea if that's how it goes and I'm not trying to get arrested, you savages.

Let's fill in the gaps of the last month:

First, I've been well. Thanks for asking. Second, I've recently decided that in order to make my mornings unbelievably exciting, I stare at my morning coffee until I see an image. Then I drink it. This morning routine is based off of the whole tea leaf reading lifestyle made famous by Harry Potter and Miss Cleo. I've been noticing something strange- all of my accidental creations are forming into marvelous animal creature shapes! Check it out:

This is a bearded giraffe:

This is an adorable Koala bear:

A brave Sea turtle:

A jelly fish with HUGE eyes:

A duck:

This one I couldn't really make out the animal shape I made so I just poured coffee all over the place.

I'm not sure what this accidental-drawing skill means for the season to come, but I can only be excited that wild creatures are starting to show themselves in my daily routines. I do hope that I can latte-draw a rhino or jaguar here in the next couple of weeks so that my mentality can stay fierce.

Continuing with coffees and animals, I saw this van while leaving my go-to coffee establishment in Seattle.

We've worked our way to about mid-February. Next, Marissa and I went to Valentine's dinner at Brimmer and Heeltap in Ballard. It was awesome and I had a good time. However, I couldn't help myself from being distracted by the shirt that was staring at me all meal:

It's nice that our Valentine's Day dinner had a lazer show too!

Then this happened:

We got our typical nice week in February where everyone wears shorts and thinks Winter is over, followed by our typical biggest snowfall yet. Yes East Coast, that is about two inches of snow and I'm calling it our "biggest snowfall yet". My bad. This weather scared me and my road bike, so I got on an airplane and flew down to Southern California to hang out with Steve Fisher and do some bike practicing.

I got to LA and I found Steve in a bit of a slump:

You see, his multiple case shipment of Jelly Beans maybe was taking over his living situation. He was trying to save some for the Apocalypse, but I showed up and started making lots of political decisions:

This made Steve a HAPPY chappy!

I forgot to take more than one photo while I was there. So enjoy this photo A LOT because it's all we get to reminisce upon:

I returned from California and started plotting for my first race of the year. The Ice Breaker TT is my usual season kick-off, and this year was no different. I squeezed into Carson Miller's skinsuit (I get my clothes at team camp next week) and pedaled hard. I was able to get the win, which breaks my streak of... not winning... at the Ice Breaker TT.

photo credit: Woodinville Bicycle
We're caught up to present day! Speaking of "Present Day", I got my training bike in the mail yesterday. The new Jamis Xenith is way better than last year's bike, and last year's bike was the best bike I had ever ridden. I'm very excited to get racing on it. Marissa says that it's "a million times more beautiful" than my bike last year, so feast your eyes:

Go ahead and make fun of me for taking a photo in the little ring. Whatever!
Let's talk about more racing! The season officially starts for me this Saturday at the Old Pueblo GP in Tucson. I fly down on Friday, meet my teammates, get my kit and other bike, race, then have a week of team camp in the sun. Following team camp, I do another race: The Tucson Bicycle Classic.

It's been a long winter, and we're four days from take-off.