Sunday, December 30, 2012

Desperation or Inspiration?

I had some decisions last week that got me thinking about the difference between desperation and inspiration.  These weren't immense decisions but important enough that they effect things in the near future so they weren't trivial either.  In other words I wasn't just choosing tooth paste or a cable package.. know what I'm saying?  So I really thought about my 'intent' behind the choices in front of me.  I've learned that understanding 'intent' is the quickest way to understanding everything.  However, understanding this in principle is far easier than recognizing 'Intent' in the essence of things as they occur because outcomes are always effected by motivation going in.

 

There are many complexities around why all of this can be difficult but I think one of the reasons is that an inspiration to do something vs a desperation to do that very same thing can, at first glance, appear very similar to one another but they are not the same thing and will yield very different results.

The reason they appear the same is because desperation wants to embody the courage, honesty and  personal actualization of authentic inspiration but it can't.  I suppose the reasons for this would fill the almanac but regardless of this desperation is often presented as if it were genuine inspiration but it's not.

The challenge is recognizing the difference between inspiration and desperation within ourselves and in others but this doesn't just happen.  It takes reflection and focus to tell the difference because desperation can be a pretty good mocking bird.  Like an actor with great skill it can fool even the greatest of minds.  But at it's core desperation is a screenplay of emulation and imitation.  It is void of personal authenticity and confidence which are rare but are also the posts and beams of inspiration and why H.D.Thoreau said "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." 

Dec. 2012, on tracks toward Walden Pond, by DSL
Sooner or later even great actors are caught with their wigs off and makeup cases open.  It's an awkward and vulnerable moment where the gap between inspiration and desperation is revealed.  Come to think of it... it's bigger than a gap really, more like an ocean.  I know because I've felt it, more than I care to admit.  Everyone has.  But to those of us that actually care it's at these times when we decide to either work on being a better actor and give up another piece of our soul or we decide to find our own ocean of inspiration and then sail responsibly into it, to journey it, take on learning it, to improve, to share, to contribute and to give back.  Only inspiration yields such things.  It is "a melody softly soaring through my atmosphere...where soul meets body."

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Arise from the haze

 Don't worry child, Swedish House Mafia

Arise from the haze.   This is my general feeling this morning as I sit here.  The holidays are hectic and crazy for everyone and I guess everyone is effected a little differently. This year they've been fun for me but have also felt like a massive training block of intensity work, less the fitness benefit.

And similarly to interval training I look forward to the holidays but for an athlete this isn't all that easy.  To be so un-regimented with food and frolic is to feel as though you are squandering all the hard work you've put into everything leading into them.   And the holidays are  a pretty long block of time too, to be so unstructured and such, you know?  I know for me that I lose a lot of fitness and focus during them and feel off kilter without the structure of knowing exactly what I'll be doing each day.

But, there's a time for everything I guess.  Relaxing and letting things slide for a little bit is okay, especially this time of year.  Maybe it's even good for you too, to an extent.  Like the video above 'don't worry child' ...there's a plan right around the corner.   So you just kinda have to get into a suck it up and buckle down mindset (like intervals) and know that you'll come out on the other side mentally ready...for the new year.

I have one more training session to get through on New Years Eve but I can see the light, after that its all about into 2013.

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If you can't measure it, don't make it

Inman News is one of a couple different industry RE groups I check in with once in a while.  Yesterday I was watching a clip from a summit they held in NYC.  The speaker was CEO of a company selling new technology around lead generation.. blah.. blah.. blah...Their stuff wasn't all that great actually but in her talk she said something that really got my attention.  She said "Our motto is; If you can't measure it, don't build it'. 


The connotations for business are obvious.  You can't waste time, talent and resources on things where you can't see/measure improvement.  But this also has relevance in other areas of life outside of occupational stuff and I got to thinking about them.

I've said this in the past but one of my core appreciations is the function of  'improvement in a process'.  As much as I am a free thinking, outside the box kind of person I am also pretty structured and like to schedule a progression toward goals.  In this, I think the Inman speaker's motto (if you can't measure it, don't build it) is super relevant.

Another way of thinking about this would be a pattern of frequent evaluation.  In bike racing for instance, where dialed in training is everything,  having a consistent measure of index is critical.  In personal areas this would be equivalent to a consistent and honest assessment of fulfillment and happiness.  I think without these things we get off track and can get lost pretty fast.

The flip side of this is a process of squander, just throwing your energy about.  It's un-chanelled and will yield little....like fireworks that get attention but serve no purpose and achieve nothing meaningful.  It's light but it's not real light so don't bother chasing it because when you get there it'll be gone.....know what I mean?

Having said this, I have to admit I have seen un-channeled energy succeed really big before but it's rare.  When it happens it's usually due to ungodly talent, sick timing or blind luck.  I've never had any of these things, sadly.

Peace and roll strong.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2013 Goals & Focus

Is it really mid December?  The days, weeks and months are just flying by way too fast.  This time of year I'm always shocked that another whole calendar has passed!  It's humbling and makes me appreciate the ride...life just keeps rolling on!  I think the perception of time is linear with our activity level and maintaining an appreciative mindset during all of it can be a moving target.   But hey, it's just one life here with ups and downs, with some victories and many mistakes.  Hopefully each new year is better than the last  but this doesn't just happen.  You have to plan for it, then dig really deep and go for it.

Nice architecture and mosaic in this video

Speaking of one life and going for it...I stumbled across Jake Keough's new web site this morning.  I've known Jake and the Keough family for many years.  We are all good friends and I've actually written about them a couple of times here on Jughead51 before.  They invited me to their house for Thanksgiving this year, which was an awesome gesture that I really appreciated so it was pretty cool this morning to see that Jake started his own site.  The thing I liked most about it is it's authenticity to Jake, the guy, the brother...and the racer.   Its totally his style and he's really transparent about his background, motivation and his goals.  I also really like the quote at the bottom of his 'about me' page...“Why tip toe through life, only to arrive safely at death?”
Walking a few weeks ago.
I set some goals recently....for my work, my personal life, my relationship with my kids and bike racing.  But I think I need to write them down so they are 'front of mind' at all times.  This is because one of the things that was important to me is lost already because I wasn't paying attention.

It happened the other night when a guy I barely know got into my cell phone and randomly sent messages to friends of mine which was totally and understandingly unappreciated and uncomfortable...not to mention totally creepy.  Having said that, my disappointment doesn't matter because ultimately we are all responsible for what happens to us (aside from health issues & stuff like that) and the fact is I could have avoided this situation if I had been more focused.   What seemed innocuous at the time (grabbing a bit to eat and a drink with a guy I've known a short time) wasn't!   It was a mistake and I am thoroughly disappointed with myself for letting it happen.  Lesson learned.

Back to goals...I'm going to write them down and keep them in my wallet.  I think we should never be too old to set new goals.  Goals are like mortar.  They set the construction stones for life. Without goals, life would crumble.

Peace and roll strong.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Smells like candy

I'm going to start this post with a quote that I posted on FB yesterday.  I think it sums me up in a lot of ways so I kinda want to save it in jughead51 before I somehow lose it and then I'll round out the rest of this post with some way cool equipment stuff.   Here's the quote.

"People think it's an obsession. A compulsion. As if there were an irresistible impulse to act. It's never been like that. I chose this life. I know what I'm doing. And on any given day, I could stop doing it. Today, however, isn't that day. And tomorrow won't be either".  –The Batman



...So on Saturday Gilles called to tell me he had my 'winter' TIME bike built and ready to go.  'Huh?'  Yep, that's what I thought.  I mean yeah, I wasn't completely surprised by this because Gilles had mentioned that TIME would be sending me a bike to ride this winter but I was still jolted for a second.  I've never had a 'winter' bike before and it just seems sort of opulent.  But hey if there's a winter bike to be ridden, sign me up!  I'm pretty sure I can get used to it.

In actuality though, it makes a lot of sense to have an off season bike.  Winter is really hard on equipment so having a winter sled to train on during the sloppy conditions, especially in New England, is a good idea.  But it isn't cheap, so I'm feeling really fortunate to have such great support from Doug Knox at Time-Sport.com in Santa Barbara, CA working with Gilles here locally along with Husam at ATA Cycles in Concord and Tom Norton (and co.) to make all this happen.  There are a lot of moving parts coming together here so I'm just really amazed that these guys are able weave all of it together and they are great guys too; not just to be around but also because they are great at what what they do.  I learn something new every time I'm around them and that is so rare, you can't really even place a value on it.  So I'm beyond lucky.   In the meantime the Team 2013 ZXRS bike will be delivered in February....so I'm looking forward to that too.   Pretty incredible.




Pictured above, the winter set up;

Bike; (TIME NXR Instinct)  w/ DuraAce shifting,  FSA cranks
Wheels; Corima Areo carbon clinchers (bomb proof and fast)
Pedal System; the new Time, expresso Pro.  Gilles said I'm the first rider in NE these.
Shoes: LAKE Custom Fit

So all in all, this doesn't suck.  It's actually pretty damn fantastic and  I feel super fortunate, appreciative and totally amplified for a great winter of riding and training with friends all over these here parts... and warmer spots too (perhaps AZ or SoCa) before racing in mid-March out west.  In the meantime, it smells like candy around here...Slurp!

Peace and roll strong.




Monday, December 3, 2012

NFL should follow Cycling

I'd bet that up until this weekend I was the only one of my friends who knew who Jovan Belcher was.  Now a lot of people know him because he's all over the news.  Jovan was the starting linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs that shot and killed the mother of their 3 month old daughter this weekend and then shot himself in front of his coaches at Arrowhead Stadium.  It's a horrible story and I was deeply dishearten to hear it.


I never met Jovan but he played for the University of Maine which is where I played as well.  And while my NFL experience was very brief (and many years ago) Jovan was the real deal. I think he was drafted late in the 10th round but still made the team and became a starter in his forth year.  Its a great story and to us UMaine guys he was a source of genuine pride that another one of our own was making a mark in the NFL.  So it was such a fucking bummer to hear about what happened.

It seemed off the mark too because from all reports Jovan was one of the good guys.  He was well liked, kept his nose clean, a team guy that worked hard and all that kind of stuff.  So on this level it was a real jolt.

But looking deeper into this I think there is way more to it.  Lets start with science and talk about something the fat cats at the helm of the NFL would much rather sweep under the carpet "concussions".   Playing linebacker is like running into a garage door 100 times a day.   Sometimes you lead with a shoulder but normally you have to lead with your head because your head is the scope through which a straight tackle is lined up & best delivered.  It works the best but the trade off is a high risk of concussion.   Ahh, forget I said 'high risk'.  If you play linebacker there is a 99% probability that you'll have a concussion or probably multiple concussions before you even get out of college.

Without getting too deep into it, one of the biggest effects of a concussion or multiple concussions, is depression and not just a case of the blues, we talking deep dark stuff and I have to think that this is what (at least in part, if not whole) led up to this tragedy with Jevon.

But like all things that might effect ticket sales and network contracts, the NFL will undoubtedly do its best to avoid talking about this or delay addressing it for as long as possible.....but I'd bet my right leg right now that depression, as a result concussions, will surface as the major contributing factor in Jevons horrible actions.

In the meantime I appreciate all that cycling is doing to clean up it's skeletons.  I think cycling is the only professional sport in the world that is moving forward in this way with transparency and in earnest.  I'm truly and authentically proud of this.  Our sport is leading the way and we should all be proud of it. 

Peace and roll strong!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Snow birds

The week after Thanksgiving used to mark the beginning ski season for me and my family.  This was before divorce in 2004 but this time of year still reminds me of these things and I get that familiar feeling now.  Preparing for a season of alpine competition is a fairly big undertaking, ski/board fitting is every bit as complex as bike fitting and with three growing kids in three different disciplines, downhill, freestyle &boarder X it extrapolates. Even though I still think about what the kids will need I'm no longer involved on that level with them in this way, regrettably...its complicated.  But anyway, I still think about what they'll be using and stuff like that.

The weeks leading up to Ski season were similar in a lot of ways to this time of year for riding. Competitive alpiner's and bike riders need to be totally dialed in and in full flow by December.  In ski racing for instance most of the really serious kids (11-16yrs) have been on snow all summer in Chile or Mt Snow or in dry land training camps regionally or both so that by December they're rippin it.

I think/opinion that sixteen is about the cut off age for most of the uber serious kids for training at this level.  Most of them have been on boards since 2-3 years old and if they haven't shown they have what it takes by 15 yr to get a shot at development national team (D-Team) they sort of realign their goals and back off training a bunch.  Most of them still have a shot at Div 2 or maybe Div 1 college so that's still pretty good.  I always liked to say that until 16 years old, success for kids in skiing/boarding was all bout access to training and equipment ($$ thanks mom & dad) but after that the true athletes 'show themselves' and the sport thins out like no other.  It's kind of sad to watch the parents get all unglued over this.  I always thought the kids handled it way better than the parents.  Vicarious living through your kids can kick you in the teeth and alpine parents are the by far the worst in my opinion.  The bottom line is that by 15 yrs old the drop out rate in ski racing and boarding is a cliff dive.  Anyway I've been thinking about these things because of this time of year and this picture taken last week in Waterville Valley, NH.


These are my kids; Anna (15), Luke (18 tomorrow) and Stephen (21) with their Grandpa Hawes the opening week of the season which marks the beginning of the next five and a half months of downhill snow sports.  Anna is a ripper alpine racer, solid at everything but especially GS and super G.  She tracks at the top of NE & Nat'l level.  Luke is a freestyle skier & works with a budding freestyle production company based in Waterville Valley.  Stephen still competes regionally and nationally in boarder X and coaches.

So as the snow birds gear up for their season, so do we... the bike roadies.  I wouldn't say either of us are putting war paint on yet but I reckon it's fair to say that we're out there picking the berry's for it. Should be fun.       Peace and roll strong. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No holding back.

What an awesome weekend.  Two solid weeks of training parenthesized by two great training weekends with Keith and Brad.  Such good stuff it is indeed..to be unencumbered by the energy of new surroundings and outlooks.  I feel like the last couple of years have been such a grind, a bloody test of survival I wasn't sure I could continue fighting.  I don't mean to minimize the tragedy in other people's lives that exceed my own but that having been said this doesn't mean my experience wasn't devastating and trans formative because it was.

 

There were times when I knew I was fighting for my life.  I hope I never lose that feeling because it's taught me to appreciate my true friends and also appreciate the fortitude within myself even more because it literally carried me through the mayhem when there was nothing else to rely on.  It's not the way I'd recommend building authentic levels of self confidence but I reckon there are just a few things that build it any better.  Much growth happens in a battlefield if you make it through..so anyway that chapter is in the past but I have all the lessons, which is how it should be.

So now going forward there are many moving parts; a new home and community to get to know better and a new ride with the TIME Team and a continued push at work..all of these are keeping things in high gear; and to be fair, have also forced me to realign stuff a bit.  My focus is one thing.  It's been streamlined and accelerated and I've also reset my expectations.  The timing is right for all these changes in my life so these are meaningful opportunities I don't want to squander.  But in their mist there has also been a process of getting use to my new surroundings and a new mind set wrapped around everything that has been and still is interesting to me.

With V-Neck in Boston Garden last weekend

My new place for instance is a significant downsize and simplification.  My life is mobile and nimble now so it makes no sense for me to acquire and build into a space when things are in forward flow.   It goes against my instincts to do it like this but I'm looking for a different result and doing things within my comfort zone may have been the cause for the mine field of the last few years.  In any event I know for sure that I am looking to build different things.

In planning my move my objectives were pretty clear, .....location, lifestyle and access.  Whats that saying?  'Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail'.   I planned and designed this move just as I wanted it.  So while it's smaller and simpler, it's incredible centric and efficient for my very active lifestyle and requires zero maintenance and is super comfortable if not even a tad snooty.   Eh, there's a little bit of the princess thing in all of us, no?

But even with all its ease and stuff, it's still taken me some time to get grooved into things.  It's kinda weird to say but at first it was like things were too easy and too convenient.  Literally 'everything' I need and much of what I like is within 150 yards of my place and everything else can be accessed by the commuter rail 50 yards away.  The airport and downtown Boston are just 30 minutes from my couch on a wifi-train.  It's pretty sick so I've been dashing about doing this and that just checking stuff out.  But I'm use to it now, have the rhythm and I feel super solid like it's my own space.  Location location, location, 3 rules of real estate.   Ah and the best part of all,  I have more time and get to ride more.

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Team 2013

I woke up this morning thinking about the really good positional changes in my life recently.  None of them happened by accident but I'm still kind of amazed at how closely they are to what I envisioned and had hoped for.


A couple of days ago I mentioned moving from Harvard to Concord.  I've been here for 10 days and its been great so far.  I guess the biggest affect is being in the reality of new energy and metaphysical changes that I was looking for versus just having the idea of them in my head.  I feel better here.  

Adding to all that good, came even more yesterday when the roster for the TIME - Velo Pasadena Team (formally TIME -Factory Team) came out and my name was on it.  I've known about this for a month or so but didn't say too much because, you know....sometimes it just means more when you see it in black and white.

So yeah, I'm beyond stoked.  The team is based in So.Cal (Santa Barbara) with most of the riders based there but it also includes Todd Littlehales in Portland Oregon and myself here in Boston.  I'm one of the 'older' guys and may also be the weakest but on this team that doesn't mean I suck.  Pretty much everyone is either a current National Champion or has been one at some point, and or a former 'legit' Pro...so it's like that.  I'm quite fortunate and motivated.

This winter will be loaded with epic Valhalla winter training rides with my incredible amazing friends Kelrock -Keith Kelly, V-neck -Brad Warren and Luch.

...and other rider buds like;  Uknowulovett -Matt Lovett, Tread -Derek Tredwell, Dean Phillips, Tim Mitchell, Justin Spinelli and others I am sure I have missed here but not forgotten.  That sounded like roll call.  Must be time to harden the fuck up.

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New home, new season

About a month ago I mentioned moving to Concord, MA.  Well that all happened last week.  I'm into my new place now and totally relieved.  Moving is a lot of work and stress.  Glad its over and I feel fortunate to be where I am.  It's really nice to be living in town (so to speak) again.  I'm only a few miles from work and just a short walk from everything else including Ata Cycles, Main Street and Monument Sq. which is a major meeting spot for most, if not all, the better rides in these parts.


Riding from Concord isn't all that much different from living in Harvard.  The roads are all pretty much the same.  You start everything 17 miles further east but they're mostly the same.  There are a few more ride options here though because Concord has better access to roads down south in Dover and also to great roads up in the North Shore as well.

I was going to wait until December to start training harder again but the weather has been great and I'm excited about the season ahead....so I started early, and as chance would have it The Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington has partnered with the Harvard General Store to where 'The General' now carries bike stuff; mostly patch kits, water bottles and winter extras like arm and leg warmers, all branded with Ride Studio.  It's a good partnering and to kick things off the Ride Studio and General organized and sponsored a large group ride from "The General' on Saturday.  I'd say there were around one hundred riders, all totaled.

In The General with new friends, Patria, Neil and etc,
The event was well organized.  They put together three separate group rides (harder, semi and easier) each having its own route.  Each group also had a designated leader and Que sheet.  After the ride 'The General' catered chili and coffee for everyone and it was nice getting to know new people from all over the place.  My group did about 30-35 miles in and around Harvard.  I know all the roads out there really well and I'm pretty sure this route went up every steep climb, which is to say maybe ten or so hard efforts.

On Sunday I rode with Brad (V-neck) Warren from my place up to Gulu Gulu cafe in Salem.  The ride from Concord to there normally takes about two and a quarter hours but it took us over three this time because I was day dreaming or something and got us off track.  I've ridden up there at least a dozen times and know the route well but for some reason I just lost my bearings.  Funny?  I think it was probably because I'm so use to heading that way from much further west.

Lunch break at Gulu
Anyway, once we arrived at Gulu Gulu it was it's normal awesome place.  We had sandwiches, desert, and coffee. Gulu has a great selection of IPA so I tried one just to say I'd had one but I don't recommend it for training or plan on doing it again.  By the time we headed home it was after 3:00pm and daylight was already beginning to wane.  It gets dark around here at 4:45pm these days so we rode pretty hard for about an hour and a half to make sure we were close to home before dark.  My legs really hurt on the way home too, especially the last hour.  It makes sense though because it's been about two months since I rode more than two hours and we rode five hours straight out of the gate.  That's probably too much too soon but what the heck it was 60 degrees and sometimes you just have to roll to roll.

We had a lunch break in there too so that made it easier.  Having said that, five hours is still a lot more time in the saddle than my body is used to right now, especially after riding hard on Saturday.  All in all it was a solid weekend of riding, for me anyway, and basically the start of season 2013.  Here we go again.

Peace and roll strong.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Use it or Lose it


I like simplicity and am drawn to things that present their essence quickly, without a lot of difficulty or pageantry. Nature is generally like this. There isn't a lot of mystery in the circle of life, things are what they are, or they aren't.

George Harrison said 'We get born and we die and that which is left is the essence of that of which we are, our souls.' I can wrap my mind around this. Aging is part of that circle. Handled with perspective, grace and a measure of courage, it can be a the best chapter of our lives. 

Having said this, there are unique challenges for athletes in this process and I've been thinking about these things. Yesterday I was talking with my friend (JG) who is 62 years old. We were discussing training and aging, and general riding stuff like that. JG is has been an athlete his whole life. He was football standout and alpine ski racer for Dartmouth College and has remained highly active today.

On TV JG could play the role of a high powered executive lawyer, cut right out of 'Boston Legal', because he is one; or play the parts of a national level masters alpine racer and bike rider because he does these very well also. He trains Super G w/ my daughter Anna, a ranked FIS skier, and the real deal in alpine racing, so that is really saying something.

The thing that everyone will tell you about JG, if they know him, or ride with him, is that he is the strongest guy out there relative to his peer group. And it's not even close. At an age where most guys have packed themselves away to activities 'suited to the elderly', JG rides with the hard guys around here that are 25 years younger.  In fact he even crashed twice last week, both very heavily.  He told me they were his first crashes in over 12 years but that didn't dissuade him at all. JG is about 6ft 2" -200+ lbs and must have put holes in the assault but he looks no worse for wear...tough dude.

So anyway as we were talking about training and such, he said to me that he never stopped competitive sports and being active with intensity.  He went on to mention that today he worries that if he stops he won't be able to pick it up again, or do it at the same level, so he never stops, and he won't stop until he can no longer do it.  I wholeheartedly agree with this approach!

I didn't coin the phase Use it or Lose it but it's something I talk about all the time and the first thing I share to people when they ask me how I have maintained much of the same capacities I've always had.   Like JG, I tell them that I never stopped doing all the same stuff I always liked doing as a kid.  If I liked doing them when I was young, why shouldn't I like doing them now?  I don't have a degree is physiology behind this , but I understand much of it, and trust me  use-it-or-lose-it  worksIts natural law and germane to all aspects of  life not just athletics.

Condensed into even simpler terms use it or lose it says that if you do the same activities at the *same intensities  you did when you were young(er) you'll maintain your youth and strength better than anything else you could possibly do.  *Note 'same intensity'

Here's an interesting read around this stuff. Vo2 capacity in veteran athlete.  It mentions several trial studies and there's a bunch of science and such, but it pretty much just says Use it or Lose it.

I don't worry about aging in the same way I used to, or dying for that matter.  But that isn't to say I'm in a hurry for either.  I'd like to have as much exuberance and juice for life as possible.  Life is much more fun that way.   Hopefully I'll be rolling out miles of good road 50 years from now. 

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Extreme ways

I was watching Bourne Supremacy the other day.  This song ('Extreme' by Moby) is the theme song and hearing it got me thinking about what the word extreme means today in the context of lifestyle and sports?  I hear it so often nowadays that it's lost some meaning for me and I was thinking about why?  Here's what I came around to.


'Extreme' use to be cool and it use to be rare but it's not really that way anymore.  It use to have an edge to it that just isn't there.   I think the reason for these things is that 'extreme' went mainstream on us a long time ago and once anything goes mainstream it loses it's mystique and becomes just normal.

Not that this is a bad thing though, so don't get me wrong.  Personally I think people being super active and stretching themselves is awesome, regardless.  I've always been healthier, happier and have learned a lot more in the process of doing something truly challenging, taking the journey so to speak, than just observing from the outside and I think this is true for most people....so I think this is a good thing for the well being of people and society.

That having been said, I do appreciate the authentic 'extremes' when I see them.  Today I find them mostly in subtly of someone trying something new for the first time.  This is the essence of the extreme. The envelop of new horizen.

I remember the first time I chose to do something extreme.  Growing up in Virginia we had a rope swing that hung about 25 feet from a thick limb of a giant oak tree in our backyard.  Carlin Brundage was this neighborhood kid that used to beat the crap out of me.  He was a couple years older and a lot bigger that I was.  He liked my sister so he was over all the time.  One day he was on the swing and I noticed his fear when it got too high.

I didn't like Carlin so much and I wanted to make a point to him so I climbed the vines growing on the outside of our house onto our roof.  Our roof had a southern style hand rail on it and I climbed up onto that as well.  All total it was about 15 feet straight off the ground.  Once up there I asked Carlin to use the ladder and a garden rake to hand me the rope.  His eye's popped out of his head when I asked him.  When I jumped and dove by him like a Mustang into Tokyo Harbor he nearly wet his pants...and never bothered me again.  I was six years old. 

Peace and roll strong

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Riding

I went into Davis Sq. on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  It's in the town of Somerville, MA right next to Cambridge.  Initially I was heading into Cambridge to watch The Head of the Charles Regatta but on the way down there I got sorta frustrated with all the traffic and decided to detour over to the Diesel Cafe for their Vietnamese coffee.

Davis square is to Boston what Haight Ashbury is to San Fransisco (less the Summer of love), it's an Avant-Garde section, fringie, diverse, inclusive and in some ways ahead of it's time.  Political opinion and commentary aside, I'm guessing that the things you see in Davis Sq will move toward mainstream expression on the face of America at some point.  So it's cool & interesting to hang out there especially when the weather is perfect.


And the weather this weekend was amazing.   Fall has entirely canvassed this place.  The sultry elements of Summer have waned into Autumn and riding the roads this time of year is pure pleasure.  The chilled air, the colors, the amber sun.   I noticed my moving silhouette on the road yesterday.  It was long and thin, framed by golden red leaves encroaching many sections road.   In a week to two the weather will bend toward harsher riding conditions but right now it's super sweet.

After Diesel I went Harvard Square to meet friends at Grendels Den to check out the Head of the Charles Regatta, which is a pretty big event.  As Regatta's go it's the worlds biggest.  I read somewhere that there were 9,000 rowers competing there this weekend.  I never rowed but I like this sport.  Talk about pain cave? The athletes at the top of this sport wrote the book on it and I respect that.  It's motivating.

I'm looking forward to bike racing next year.  Things in 2012 have panned out to build all the makings for a great season next year.

After some discussion it's official now that I'll be riding for the TIME Factory Team next year.  Their Masters squad won both the Crit and Road Race in Bend this year.  They're based in Santa Barbara, CA and they're a team of uber strong guys.  I guess I'll be racing out there a couple of times and some of them will roll out here a time or two.  Can't wait to ride with them  Should be awesome and I'm totally stoked!

Peace and roll strong. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Best & Worst Races 2012

It's almost mid October and my Race Season has been over for a week now.  It's Saturday morning and this is the first weekend in while without any plan to train or race in the near future.  I was thinking about this as I left work yesterday and as I did the thought occurred to me around what was the best experience racing in 2012 and what was the worst.


Leaving work, yesterday
Formulating these didn't take any time at all because both are crystal clear to me. The 'Best' experience was by far and away the best.  And the 'Worst', well, it too stood out, an ocean apart, from everything else.

I'll start with the 'Best':  This has to go to the North East Continental  Gentlemens Race hosted by the Rapha boys. The Gentlemans is a six man time trial for 124 miles.  It's on road bikes but 65% of the course is off road over horrific terrain. It started in Hanover, NH by Dartmouth College and did a big loop through Vermont with 14,000 feet of climbing.  The route is unmarked and unsupported. The only thing they give you is a Garmin and a Que sheet.  

The Gentlemen's was the Best for a couple of reasons.  First was for its toughness.  Here's the video http://vimeo.com/45929937Personally,  I don't think Rapha shows how really hard the race was, but it's well produced esthetically and shows the experiential side really well.  Great marketing.


The top teams were really hard men, though; and ready to roc, from places like Quebec, NYC, DC, Boston & Philly but the video doesn't really show too much of this.  It has a lot of footage of teams that a mass market can identify with, but doesn't really show that they finished nearly four hours behind the top guys.  Over three hours?...that's a pretty is long time!  The results show 15 teams with finishing times but there were a bunch of teams (a few good ones) that simply couldn't finish for various reasons, bikes breaking and people bonking.  So to win the Gentlemen's took a lot.  

I was talking with Kel about this last Monday in Providence.  We both agree that to win it again will be much tougher.  These style of events are exploding and more good guys want to win them...and we just had a fucking unbelievable ride...all six guys on our team were good & strong for the whole 8:15 hours.  All six stayed on the rivet the whole way, which is rare in a race and terrain like that.  We also only got lost once (good navigating) and had just two punctures.  So we had a bit of good luck and the right six guys... all on form at the right time.  That won't be easy to repeat.  So winning the The Gentleman's is on the wall now (which is awesome) whether we repeat and win it ever again is a completely different story.

Now for the 'Worst'.  I don't want to focus on this too much but I can say that there were many times this year where I was racing only halfheartedly.  And that's a bad thing.   There were reasons...mostly around personal 'heavy lifting' going on off the bike but the fact remains that in these moments, I raced/rode like a donkey and had my worst experiences.

 

The award for 'Worst' has to go to the Pro/1,2 crit in Naugatauk, CT.  This is a tough 50 mile race with a bump in it that you have to go up 75 times (or something like that).   It's in July, so it's always super hot and the course is New England jankie too...goes around this tired old factory and you have to dodge ugly raised manholes and crater sized pot holes.  It's authentically hard and people drop out or crash out like flies.  I've always liked it though The NYC guys come for it and I like their racing style for a change, and usually I do okay there but this year I had no fire or juice for it at all.  The whole drive down there I thought about bailing and I should have.  Early in the race I missed a huge break with everyone fast in it...and I missed it only because of my ...sh***y... attitude.  At one point I got a little motivated and tried to bridge across but ended up just pulling people around...lap after lap like a cat 5.  It was stupid and was the worst. 

Naugatauck CT.  P12, (missed the break/marked trying to bridge)
Here's a picture of it.  I really should have just stayed home.  In racing, like in all things, if it's worth doing then its worth your best effort.  If you're not prepared to give it your best stuff, then don't even bother.  

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Collect, Post season

Collect, deep breath,...Okay, so the season ended for me on Monday morning at the Jamestown Classic RR in Rhode Island.  Bitter sweet.  Sometime ago I wrote about 'Post race let down.'  I'm a little prone to that kind of thing.  I've been an athlete for my entire life and I like the idea of waking up on any given morning with the option to do something challenging; challenging in personal extension sort of way that is, not in life trial challenges, which come on their own. 

So anyway when I get to this point, with no races around or dragons to shoot arrows into I have learned to be mindful and to re-focus.  I guess that's why I become a active 'fan' of other sports this time of year.  After a while the singular focus of elite athletics is counter productive.  It's too insular and becomes a limiting component towards getting to that next level, or in my case to 'maintaining' a certain level.  So that's why I like to get out there and watch other stuff.  It gets me out of a singular sphere to appreciate and draw strength from the amazing accomplishments of driven and talented people outside of bike road racing.  And I like to see it live.  The texture of being there is different.  It's more visceral and real and I tap into that...or it taps into me. 

Bjarne Riis touches on this for cyclists in the Team CSC video Overcoming when he takes his team cliff jumping and sailing.  He took them away from the element of familiarity to expand their perceptions and to build confidence.  People have opinions about Bjarne, his doping admissions and the like, but to me what Bjarne did for his riders is pretty cool and shouldn't be ignored because of the other stuff.  And with all things like this, I think we need to be discerning not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So whats on the near horizon this fall.   Well, there's the Head of the Charles Regatta in ten days.  I go every year and look forward to it.  And then off to Grendal's Den in Harvard Sq. after... if anyone wants to join me?  Then, there are a few good Cyclo Cross races left around here to watch and I'll probably catch up on some UMaine stuff.  There will be a few football games within distance and probably a hockey game or two as well.

This weekend I'm hoping to re-connect with some high school alums from  Kents Hill School.  Kents Hill football is playing Dexter Academy in Brookline, MA on Saturday.  Here's a photo of young Beowulf at KH.


I don't remember which game this was, but from my expression I'm pretty sure it's one of the vast majority we lost my senior year.  I think loosing all the time back then taught me a lot.

Peace and roll strong.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Least resistance

I was tired and stiff from sitting almost the entire day yesterday.  Gilles and I did a short coffee ride to Bike Studio in Lexington around 11:00 but other than that I was planted at my desk tapping out occupational until way past what is a sensible time for Friday night.  By the time I wrapped it up, got home and actually started preparing dinner it was a almost 10:00pm.  This is my schedule these days and I'm oddly comfortable with it.  I've been really productive and things are tracking so I'm sticking with it until it stops working.
best line...'Trust your instincts, let go of regret'
 

It's funny too, to move about in all the same space(s) you've always been but at different time intervals.  In some ways its like you're in an entirely different place, which isn't a bad thing.  You walk around in a state of déjà vu recognizing the landscape you've been a thousand times before but it's different now.  The rhythm and the people are all different and life is about these things largely; people and rhythms, so strangely enough it's sort of like a new life in some ways.  Make sense?

By the time I finished dinner last night it was 11pm but I wasn't the least bit sleepy so I checked out fb and then remembered I have a race on Monday in Jamestown, RI.  It's a low key race but the master guys take it pretty seriously.  I won the 35+ race last year soloing off the front without team-mates for the last 15 miles.  It was a good effort for me.  The odds of winning like that again are extremely low but I don't want to just show up and ride like a tool either.

So anyway my hip was really tight and sore from sitting all day so I figured I'd try and release it with some stretching and my self prescribed hillbilly-yoga but neither of these worked.  All the movements just hurt so I gave up and decided to take a hot shower instead thinking maybe the heat would help.  At this point it was probably midnight but the hot water really helped.  Within five minutes my hip was feeling much better.  In fact, as often is the case with hot showers, everything felt better.

After my hip loosened up I stood silently in the billowing steam for another 20 minutes just thinking about stuff.  The piping hot water pelted the back of my head and neck beckoning stress to leave, then flowed over my cheeks to the corners of my eyes and mouth and to my nose and chin and then to soothingly stream off each of these and splash onto the ceramic between my feet.

A surreal vignette to paths of least resistance.  Lessons found in a midnight shower.

Peace and roll strong.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Business blog

Thanks everyone for your support and readership of jughead51.  It has been cool and meaningful to be able express my life over the last 9 months (122 entry posts) in such an honest, expressive and tactile way.

On Sept 12, 2012 I wrote about a shift of focus (Season's of mind) for me actualized in the time and energy of my career.  There are only so many hours in the day and while I will continue to train and race bikes as hard as ever, the peripheral written expression of it will taper off in order to focus energy on goals at Andrew Mitchell & Company.

I will still continue to write & post Riding/Racing lifestyle stuff here but less frequently so I hope you check back.  In the meantime catch up /me on my *new blog  Skip Foley, Insights on Real Estate & POV.

Another nice tune........

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gloucester/ UCI Cross

As I begin writing this it's pretty late on Tuesday night.  I've been jamming at work but I'm not all that tired.  This weekend was super low key and I've have been resting well for a change.  I also decided against going up to Orono for the Villanova game this weekend.  That trip would have busted me down for sure.  It's 8 hours of driving (all in) and two nights out with the guys..?...would have shelled me.

..another tune from days at UMO

Turns out it wasn't Home Coming as I thought, just more of a round-up for alum players and such so I was like, eh...take a pass this time. It would have been awesome to connect with my Black Bear brothers but I don't want to get run down and there were things going on around here...and Villi isn't a big rival... so.

On Saturday, Gilles Lalonde (NE RegionRep for TIME, Corima & Craft) called me to watch the UCI Cyclo Cross races going on in Gloucester, MA.  I had stuff to do at Andrew Mitchell on Saturday but we coordinated to go up together on Sunday and watch just the Women and Men's elite races in the afternoon.

Gilles (red) & me in the beer garden/ Gilles comments on cross star Nicole Druse Duke's rad calf tattoo.




We had an awesome time.  It was perfect Cross weather, drizzling but not too cold and I really like the race course's coastal scenery in Gloucester.  I also really enjoy walking around and bumping into all the cool people I see during the road season but don't really have time to stop and chat with.  Since I don't race Cross and go just as a pure fan, I get to catch up with everyone and that is pretty cool.  The racing at the Elite & top Mstr levels are always pretty great too.

.......unlike the lower categories which can get sorta insane.  I guess it's cool (?) to watch people vault gainers over their handle bars into a sand pit at 25 mph (?) ...but as I've said in the past, that scene is more like a carnival to me.  Fun to watch once or twice but...?

I don't like celebrating crashes.  I've had too many of my own and prefer to watch true professionals rip it up with strength and incredible skill and they didn't disappoint.

Peace and roll strong.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

5 years

Nowhere, now here, nowhere.  LIVE in the parenthesis.  
Let go of lies.



This.... in 5 years







Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ride the Cowabunga.

I left work early yesterday in order to watch a Cyclocross race called 'Midnight cross' purported as the 'Ash Wednesday' for the 'Holy Grail' of USA Cyclocross racing happening over the next 10 days around here in Gloucester, MA and Providence, RI.

I've gone to watch Gloucester and Providence for the past 10 yrs.  I'm a casual but active fan and these races sort of help me welcome in the Fall.  They're a bit Carni overall but it's bike racing which is good and there's beer tent which on October Fest scale is maybe a 5 out of 10 but its better than nothing and I like watching the top racers do their thing much better if I'm tilting back with a Blonde Belgian...Ale :)

Cross racing isn't my thing though and frankly last nights race was kind of a let down.  As the 'Ash Wednesday' for the 'Holy Grail' it was another indication that the Church is in trouble.  No one was there....aside from racers, I mean.  I can honestly say that I was one of maybe 3 other people there just to watch (meaning without a relative or partner actually participating in the race).  It was lame, frankly.  Yeah it's a Wednesday night and all but compare this with any top level bike race/tour which always happen on a work days but still draw meaningful attention?  The Pro/elite race last night only had maybe 50 guys in it and maybe....maybe.... 2 or 3 'pure' spectators.

I left the race thinking I might skip going  up to watch Gloucester all together this weekend.  I go every year and it'll be about the same as previous years (good fun), but it's also homecoming weekend for UMaine and a bunch of my team-mates have reached out to try and lure me up to Orono.

Tune reminds me of UMaine days

We're playing arch rival UNew Hampshire, which is always special.  The tailgate is great and Alum parties after get crazy.  So I'm on the fence?....it's a long drive?  Regardless of whether I go to Orono or  Gloucester, I wish I had just stayed at work last night.  It's going well.  I'm really focused and totally enjoying it.  I literally struggled with the decision to leave last night at 5:30.  These days I stay until 7:30-8:00 and it still feels like there is lots to do.  We've had a great response lately and the surge of the last month or so is starting to reveal good things.


This marketing piece went out earlier this week and yielded 3 or possibly 4 new appointments to join our company, which is new ground for us....so things look good.  Attitude & fortitude are the separators.  And our small but talented team intend to build this wave higher, deeper and longer.... and ride the Cowabunga all the way into shore..... have a great day!    Peace and roll strong.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jamestown Road Race & microcosm ahead


I have one road race left in 2012 in Jamestown, RI.  Jamestown is an Island right across the Narragansett Bay from Newport, RI.  The race is Oct. 8th on Columbus Day, and it's one of my favorite races just because the course is so gorgeous.  You ride 2 loops around the entire island which is only 19 miles, so its a short race at 38 miles total, but still pretty awesome.  The coolest part is the sweeping bend around a picturesque lighthouse with spectacular views of converging Atlantic and Narragansett waters.  It's up high too, as lighthouses are, and its always windy, which provides an amazing view of autumns' white cap waves curtaining around other scenic small islands and harbors.  It's pretty special.    

 So...looking forward to that!   Here's a nice lit'l tune by Beach House, Myth. 

 

On other fronts, things at Andrew Mitchell &Co. continue to stay busy as we continue to grow and expand our platform.  We just enhanced all our agent sites with mobile conversions and set up direct accounting for disbursements.  Both are way ahead of what other companies in our industry are doing. (Believe it or not?)
 
I'm also moving in 4 weeks and dreading the logistics's.  While the move is just a few towns east of here it might as well be 1,000 miles.  You still have to pack up everything and unpack it as well.  All n all this move will be good for me.  A fresh change of scenery, much closer to work and in-town and out of the country&burbs.


I'm taking a Bonsai class soon too.  These little trees take a lot of care.  There are two ways to do Bonsai, I have decided.  But, I haven't decided which way I'm going.  The first is to do everything yourself which is plenty and risky.   The other way...I have determined, is what I am going to term "Bonsai Boarding School"...which is exactly what it sounds like.  Basically you send your tree off to the Nursery and let them take care of it, everything.  You pay them 'cheap' tuition ($20 per month) and you just bring your healthy and happy Bonsia home for holidays and special occassions.  Decisions, decisions.

Peace and roll strong.