Monday, November 29, 2010

Do you have what it takes?

No... literally... do you actually have all the stuff necessary to ride your bike in New England in late November?

When I got back from my last trip, which by the way was Jakarta, Indonesia, my first stop was to meet with Coach Martha.  Together we crafted a workout plan that works around my travel plans and still has me improving my fitness.  One issue with traveling the way I do is that I don't have access to a road bike when I'm away.  This means I need to ride when I'm home... even when it's cold and nasty.

Getting ready for a bike ride in 30 - 40 degree weather requires some preparation and lots of "stuff".  So here are the things that I use to get me through a 2 hour ride and not freeze my butt off.

First you need a bike, for obvious reasons.  This one is nothing spectacular, just an aluminum framed road bike, but it gets the job done.  The bag on the back has as spare tube, CO2 to inflate after a flat, a multitool, tire levers, and tire patches
 Next we have the clothing for the lower half of the body.  Bike shorts, windproof leg warmers, cycling shoes, wool socks, and neoprene shoe covers.
 Now for the clothing on the top half.  I wear a long sleeve polypropylene jersey, a fleece designed for cycling, and a bright yellow windbreaker with reflective strips.  Hopefully this means I don't get run over by any cars.
 Next comes the helmet, windstopper gloves, ear muffs, and Ipod.  Yes, I do ride with an Ipod sometimes.  I ride the same if I hear cars coming or not, so screw it, at least I will get hit while enjoying some tunes.
 This is for when I do get hit... it's a Road ID and it has all the necessary emergency contact info.  The string around my wrist was tied on by a buddhist monk and is supposed to keep me safe.
Last we have a Garmin 310XT GPS that tracks my performance and allows me to work using heart rate zones.  The finishing touch is a sweet set of Oakleys that makes me waaaaaaayyyy faster (in my mind).

Monday, November 22, 2010

United Airlines - That's gonna cost extra....

Every airline is different.  Some are very proper and wear fancy uniforms, some just wear a polo shirt and call it good.  Some allow you to pick your own seat as you board, some strictly regulate and charge different prices for different seats.  Some consider a bag of pretzels a suitable meal for an 8 hour flight while others serve two full meals in the same time span. 

I'm pretty sure that United has found every possible way to charge for "options" as you travel with them.  It all starts as you check in.

First, would you like to check a bag?  Ok that will be $25 for the first one and $35 for the second.  Oh, wait you have a third bag.... $100 sounds good.  Now, please wait as we measure and weigh your bags.... oops that will be another $100 because it is too heavy.

Do you want to bring your pet?  Well, we have a strict policy that no short nosed dogs are allowed.  (not kidding)  So please leave your Boston Terrier home.

You don't want to even bring your baggage to the airport?  Well, United will ship it for you at the very reasonable price of $99!  They may not even smash it all to hell like usual.

For $349 you can avoid baggage fees for an entire year!

Did you notice that there was a little red carpet when you checked in?  Did you want to stand on it?  Well, that actually costs $9.  It is called "Premier Line" and it is rumored to make other people envy you, so it's a small price to pay.

For $47 you can make people envy you even longer as you get to use a little red carpet as you board the plane before everyone else.  Then you can sit as all the poor people board after you and fight over carry on bag space in the overhead bins.  You can enter the "Red Carpet Club" an enjoy their lounge for only $39 more.

Have you ever noticed that some seats have a couple extra inches of leg room?  You can buy your way into those seats if you want and it will only cost you $9.  They call it "Economy Plus".

Would you like to have some food?  Well, that will cost you more.... actually anywhere from $3 up to use the "Choice Menu".  Thirsty? $7 will get you a nice cold beer.

The folks at United are obviously really smart, but they have overlooked one very important option.  This one would be a gold mine actually.  You know when you are sitting at the gate before the plane is boarded... you look over and you see someone who is obviously way too big for any airplane seat and clearly hasn't showered recently.  You immediately think, "damn I hope I don't get stuck next to that person". 

Well, I propose that for a reasonable fee you can guarantee that you won't get stuck next to fat smelly people. 

No flight would be complete without a Safety Briefing so please see the card below for details.

Monday, November 15, 2010

McRib Sandwich and how to hate yourself in under 5 minutes

The McRib Sandwich has been rumored to cause riots in the South and is guaranteed to cause a riot in your mouth.
I will confess that just last week, I ate a McRib sandwich.  I did it.  I admit.

It all started with fond rememberance of my college years and my willingness to eat anything highly processed and tasty/nasty.  Well, let's just say I should have left this one in my memories.

The McRib in case you don't know, is a sandwich at McDonalds.  It's comparison to "ribs" I think, has more to do with its stamped shape than it's contents, flavor, or cooking technique.
It is a bit of a Frankenstein creation which is MOLDED, yes Molded, pork meat (assumption), in the form of a miniature rack of ribs.  Covered in very strong BBQ sauce and put on a bun with some pickles and onion type fixin’s on top.

Many down South would call this Feaux Q and I won't disagree.  If hot dogs are bad for you and questionable in content then this sandwich is hot dogs X 100.

There is a moment right before you bite into the sandwich when you consider turning back and putting it back inside the box.  You know that it could possibly cause an immediate heart attack, but, it may also make you feel full and sleepy. In reality it just makes you feel Gross and Guilty.

In the end, I am glad that I did it.  I will never do it again.  I promise.

Cheeseburgers on the other hand.......

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Open Letter to the Belchertown Police Department

Everyone driving in Belchertown is drunk!


It can't be true! you say. 

Well, I say it is true, and I can prove it!

I often run the same 6.2 mile loop in Belchertown, I like it because it has some nice rolling hills that are a good challenge. Along the way I always notice booze bottles and beer cans on the side of the road. 

Today, I brought along my camera and I figured I would do a post about how there is obviously no respect for law enforcement in Btown.

At first I started out and I was going to take a picture of EVERY container.  That lasted about 100 feet. 

This is how it went... I run 3 paces, skid to a halt and take a picture... run 3 paces, skid to a halt and take a picture.  Clearly that plan was screwed.

I settled on taking a couple pictures and just counting the rest to see how many there were total.  Well, the counting was great because I was so focused on looking for bottles that the run flew right by.  I should try that in races from now on.

So I end up in front of the Belchertown Police Station and I need to cross the street so I can take a picture of their sign.  There is a conveniently located crosswalk, a police officer parked 50 feet away looking right at me, and a crossing guard sitting on her ass in her car. 

Keep in mind I am wearing the most obnoxious Day Glo shirt you can imagine.

I step into the crosswalk and stand there as a dozen cars drive past me in each direction, the crossing guard sits in her car, the police officer stares at me.  I feel really great about my tax dollars at work. 

Eventually, one driver goes into full pucker mode and slams on his brakes nearly causing a massive pile-up as all the other cell phone users.... ummm..... I mean "drivers", snap out of their coma.

I cross the street, the crossing guard appologizes to me because she was basically useless.  I walk over, take a picture of the sign, and jog past the police officer who just stares at me as I give him a polite little wave.

I wonder... Just what is it that he is looking for???  Osama Bin Laden??? 

So, when I was only 3 miles in and had already counted 100 bottles, I quit counting.  I mean really.... what's the point?

I looked at the Belchertown Police Department web site where they describe themselves:

"The Belchertown Police Department is a full service, 24 hours per day, public safety operation. The department is responsive to citizens needs and has adopted a community policing philosophy of working in partnership with the community.
In addition to traditional police services such as investigative and reactive patrols, the Department pro-actively works with residents to collectively solve problems via neighborhood planning and strategy meetings."

Responsive to citizens needs???
Well I have some needs... 
First, I want you to look like you are doing something. 
Second, I want you to give me a police escort when I ride and run. 
Third, shoot anyone who almost hits me (note: bring lots of bullets) 
Fourth, pull someone over and arrest them for being drunk.

Ok, I don't really care if they actually ARE drunk.  Just do it so the word gets around about how you guys are a bunch of BAD ASSES and are hard on crime!  The ONE arrest this week was for a "failure to appear", come on guys, step it up!

Thanks guys!  Just one more question...

Who is responsible for putting your police station next door to a Dunkin Donuts?  Good Planning!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Inspiration is what everyone needs to get the job done.  It doesn't matter what the job is or what it accomplishes. We all need inspiration.

Personally, my inspiration is always changing.  Some days it's something big that gets me to accomplish the goal and some days it is something very small.

What got me thinking about the topic was that I did my first indoor bike trainer ride of the season. 
I don't care who you are, these indoor rides are torture and a true mental test.  You have to use every tool available to keep yourself pedaling and hold the cadence and pace.  My tools consist of a TV with cycling movies, medals from prior races, race numbers, swim caps, pictures, and a stereo.

One thing that usually gets the job done is the stereo, Ipod attached, with an endless songlist of jams.  Here comes the embarrasing bit....

The song that always makes me move faster.....

On race day it's easy.  You know you are there to compete.  You know who the competition is.  You know you want to win.

In November, in your basement, it's not so easy.  You have to envision your competition in your head.  You ask yourself... Are they working out right now?  Are they working harder than you?  Did they have an extra serving of desert? 

Beyond the music and the pictures, you need strong people around you.  People who believe in you, who support you, who cheer you on even when you are the last one to finish.

It's a fact that when I run by someone cheering my name, my legs feel stronger, my doubts fade, I'm more confident.  These people are my inspiration.

Maybe for you the inspiration comes from someone you lost.  Someone who showed you true strength and courage.  There are so many strong people in my past who showed true courage and strength, sometimes I think about them when the going gets tough.

I once read a quote that said:
"The only person who can tell you YOU CAN'T - is you - and you don't have to listen"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fat and Slow

Everyone has had one of those training days when things just didn't click. 

My first outdoor run in quite a while was supposed to show how much fitness I had retained as I had diversified my training.  I've been working hard damnit!  I just haven't been running outside.  By the end of the run I was wiped out, my form got all sloppy and I was just basically dragging myself home.

As it turns out the best way to improve or retain your running ability is to actually run.  Yes I know it is an odd concept.  Apparently practice does make perfect, go figure.

I once read a book on running that gave the advice of "you need to go slow to go fast" then later in the same book "you need to go fast to go fast".  I'm confused, I think people are just making this $h!t up.  Even some of the better books say things that are just stupid.  They use words like "effortless" to describe their running technique.  I have to call BS on that one.  I've had good runs that felt like I had springs in my legs but I would never describe them as effortless. 

So needless to say I won't be entering any races anytime soon, my ego just can't take it.  Although this is supposed to be the time of year that training isn't serious and you work on your weaknesses. Well I have a lot to work on, that is for sure. 

Maybe there will be a cheeseburger eating competition, I might have a shot.