Monday, September 21, 2009

The Mexican

I knew a man, once, who walked almost joyously along the line that separates a blissful, grateful, childlike goof from an unqualified asshole.

He often wore jeans and a pressed white shirt with broad blue pinstripes. He smiled -- a lot. Typically to himself and for no good reason. A sort of sly, satisfied grin. Casey was plainly happy to be alive. Everyday.

Not terribly sentimental, he usually found a way to lighten the bleakest mood -- cracking jokes at his own expense, or at someone else's, in his crisp, gruff voice. When I met Casey nearly two years ago, I was struck by his cheerful-kinetic attitude and his ability to seamlessly weave expletives into ANY sentence.

His self-deprecating, often biting humor led him to posit that as a sober Mexican in Boulder, he must have been a tiny-tiny minority: practically one-of-a-kind. Thirty-three years of sobriety, and survival of a vicious pancreatic cancer, actually did put him in rare company.

Casey was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in Boulder this Sunday; he died shortly after. I imagine that he was grinning his sly grin as he rode, grateful in that moment to be alive and doing something he enjoyed.

I woke early today, to spend an hour with my friends and Casey's friends at an early morning meeting. It's clearly fall in Colorado now, the steel-grey clouds and icy drizzle echoing my mood. I'll go for a ride later, and Casey, whether you FUCKING like it or not, I'll be thinking about you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Apology

An open apology to the spectators at VeloCross (wherein I relate myself to a fat sea-mammal)

I must apologize to any spectators unlucky enough to witness my grim, spittle-ridden visage as I tore about the Velocross course at roughly half the speed of a small child on a tricycle.

On the road, during moments of intense physical output, I like to imagine that my face breaks into something of a half smile, half grimace. The sort of look Death would wear (if Death had a face), or perhaps the way Ozzy Osborn looks at a bat shortly before he eats it. I'm sure, however, that I look a bit more like this:

Anyway, off-road, where I'm typically struggling to find my balance, my balls, and my fitness -- while attempting to avoid/bunnyhop/accidentally smack my chainring into that drainpipe someone left in the middle of the course -- I seem to loose control of my facial features altogether. So I'm sorry cheering lady at the corner of the U-turn in the parking lot, I didn't mean to look at you like a crazed escapee from Arkham Asylum. I was trying to smile.

Watching me race a bike -- I imagine -- is a lot like watching walruses attempt coitus. (If you're into that sort of thing). Sure, they're fat, and ungainly, and akward as hell, but eventually, and without any style, verve or fanfair whatsoever, they'll get it done.

And thus I crossed the finish line of my very first cyclocross race last Sunday: Feeling overweight, akward, exhausted, and a little like I got fucked by a walrus.

I have never had so much fun on a bike.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Table

Everyone knows that if you want to sit at the cool kids table at a cyclocross race, you need a few things:

A working knowledge of embrocation including -- And this is important -- A full understanding of the order of application. (Put on bike shorts first. THEN apply embrocation.  Trust me, if it keeps your bare knees warm in 30 degree weather, it will keep your junk roughly: the surface temperature of the sun.)  You won't be sitting at ANY table if your nether-regions are burning with unquenchable hellfire. -- Sidenote: "Balls Aflame" ... Good band name?

A healthy love of WAFFLES.  Oh jesus, I can't even type that word without salivating a little bit.

A borderline psychotic-man-crush on either Lars Boom or Sven Nys, and not both. Thats like siding with god AND the devil, I'm a Sven Nys guy, by the way. That dude's pretty badass.

...And tubular tires...

Enter the Fango. OK, I'm pretty excited about this. Not just a new bike for me this year, but a new wheelset, and some of the more porn-tastic tubies you can get. I finished building the wheels today, first coat of glue is curing. Can't wait to ride them.

I've never gotten to sit at the cool kids table... I wonder if I'll be the only "Journey" fan there?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Nightmare

You ever had a bad dream?  A dream so photo-realistic that when you woke, you truly believed (for a few minutes at least) that the dream had been reality?

Some people, I'm sure, dream of steamy supermodel sex, or flying, or winning the high school football game or some shit. I usually dream hard, weird dreams. And sometimes, I dream about drinking.

I woke up this morning, convinced that the night prior, I had gone out with some friends, and in a smoky, yellow-lit bar with over-stuffed burgundy leather booths, casually tossed my sobriety aside for a glass of scotch.  I woke dizzy, sweating, panicked and sad.

My friends are all either sober, or are the kind of friend that would, coldly, and without hesitation, punch me straight in the face if I ordered a scotch at a bar (these are the kind of friends we should all be lucky enough to have). Additionally, I almost never go anywhere near bars, ever. But still, this dream scared me: The causal easy way in which I let go of everything I've worked so hard for -- worked almost two years for.

Some dreams stick with me for a while, my brain working for a few hours to distinguish reality from dreamscape. This nightmare stuck with me through my afternoon ride, an hour hard on the 'cross bike. Pushing, pulling, sweating, tear-assing over ruts and sand, and mud, and dark haunting thoughts.

I rode into and out of my LT, rode until my legs burned, and I could only hear my heartbeat and my labored breathing over the whine of new-ish tires on hard-pack. I rode until I smiled, then I rode more, then I rode home.

I am thankful for reminders, and for dirt roads, and for my bike.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Hipster Problem

It used to be that the cycling cap was the sole domain of cyclists, and was worn with the same rakish dorky charm as our absurd tan lines.

Then Wesley Snipes happened.

After the eighties, peace returned to our humble valley and we resumed life-as-normal, with CYCLING caps being worn mostly by CYCLISTS.

Now it seems as though la casquette is in dire peril again:

Since when can a bike messenger afford a $90 hat?

The cycling cap, along with nearly everything else I hold dear, has been claimed as sacred manna by hipsters. Want a fixie? You'll need to shoulder past a horde of college kids in skinny jeans on their way to get one. (At Urban Outfitters no less).

Love the eighties? So do they. Just because most of them weren't born yet doesn't mean they can't buy a six foot tall velour cutout poster of Cindy Lauper.  Apparently its cool because its ironic... I don't get it.

Still have a record player? Well, if you've gone through the trouble of thrift-shopping a turntable, and are rocking to dusty LPs of the Beatles and the Flying Burrito Brothers, you probably are a hipster -- Or are horribly, horribly out of touch -- Just give in, buy some gender-neutral clothes and embrace it.

It has been mentioned that perhaps I myself am merely an over-aged hipster filled with self loathing and unable to cope.  This is, of course, hurtful and untrue.  I'm hardly over-aged.  Sure I love my fixed-gear bike, and who doesn’t like looking moody all the time?  But I fervently maintain that I had an affection for Swatch watches, sarcasm and crappy punk music long before it was "hip".

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The New Ride

Got out on my new cross bike for the first time today! You couldn't wipe the smile off my face with a hammer.

And now, the requisite "my bike is a supermodel photo".

Saturday, September 5, 2009


All put together. Its gonna be a great fall/winter.