18 April 2006

Good news...

I have an announcement to make. Some of you out there may have heard this earlier today, or yesterday, or whenever. I decided to ask the SO to marry me last night, and she, fortunately for me, accepted. So now, I am engaged to be married. I would get into all the details and things like that, but I think I'm going to keep that myself. We have been talking about getting married for quite some time now, and I am betting that she was wondering when she might get asked. I had purchased her engagement ring about 2 months ago, and was holding onto it for a short while, and last night, we were just sitting in bed, talking, getting ready to go to sleep, and we started talking about it again, so I decided that then and there was the right place to do it. Sure it wasn't romantic or pre-planned, or anything like that, but it just came out. We had talked about getting engaged many times before, that I do believe she thought I was kidding when I asked her. And then I pulled out the ring, which is of course when she knew I was serious. It's so hard to tell when I'm being serious sometimes I think.

So far, no date has been set, but we'll work that out probably this evening and see where we stand, and what form it is going to take. Keep in tune for the details later on.

With that, it's actually time to go and see the fiance this evening.

15 April 2006

Starting. Stopping. And starting again...

So far this year, I've started and stopped my cycling season, oh, I don't know, about 10 times. I train for a week, then have 2 weeks off, train for a few days, have a few weeks off, that has been the cycle really. Work has been problematic at best, and then there are the health reasons for not riding. Not that I'm not healthy, in general, but I've had this cyst in my sit bone area for about a month now, and everytime I would ride, it would hurt and feel like a rock sitting in my crotch while I was on the bike. This made me sit weird on my bike, which caused further problems, such as not being balanced really on the bike, not sitting straight, which is a big issue, and it impacted my pedaling a lot, and after a few days of riding like that, it would get really sore, and allow me to not ride again. Being a typical male, I thought it would go away, and that I could ride through it, well, wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Had to go to the doctor last week, which was good. She and I decided that it would be best to do an overall check for anything wrong with the old testicles, and also do a hernia check, which both came out negative, and then we "investigated" the cyst. She decided that a course of anti-biotics might make it go away. A few days into my regimen, the cyst is still there, but much smaller and less pronounced before. I think that this thing grew out of an old saddle sore that was not properly taken care of last year, and it got encapsulated, and for some reason, just showed back up to pain me in the most severe way. I'm hoping that this takes care of it, it appears to be working, and that I can actually resume riding, more or less pain free, in a few more days, and start getting fit again, just in time to probably not race this year. Hell, maybe I might be in the mix again by August, if I'm lucky, but there will be some serious training to be done between now and then, many miles to ride, and much weight to lose. We'll see what shakes loose, but for now, just have to get some fitness back into me before I worry about racing, which is going to mean about a month or so of base mileage type of stuff, and then start working my way back into race type shape. For now, I'd be happy to just be able to ride for 2 hours in a row without almost dying, but hey, that's what happens when you get fat and out of shape. There are some out there who will know what I'm talking about. I've already missed some of my most favorite races of the season thus far, but there are always more to come, and there is always next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and so on and so forth. There are still guys riding and racing that are 20+ years older than me, and can still throw down at the pro 1-2 races with the best in the Southeast, so that is encouraging, although I might have to start marking trips to Old Mexico to be that competitive when I'm their age, if you know what I mean.

Look people, a week after Paris Roubaix and you're still talking about the disqualifications? Take a look at the letters in Cyclingnews.com and Velonews.com, and it is the dominating topic. Stop. Just stop talking about it. The UCI, being who they are (supreme overlords of the professional cycling world) are sort of like the Bush administration. Even when they're wrong, they are not going to admit it, nor are they going to change their ruling on this matter, so for the sake of my sanity, can we all move along? Thank you. Oh, also, stop talking about Hincapie's broken fork. It's freakin' Paris Roubaix, this stuff happens all the time. Equipment failure is part of the good luck that you need to actually win the race, or well, in this case, lack of equipment failure is part of the good luck that you need, and Georgie "I need a sandwich" Hincapie just hasn't been a lucky guy in this race. Don't get me wrong, I love Hincapie, I think he is a class act on and off the bike for the most part, but it drives me to insanity when people keep talking about how he's going to win it "next year". Hell folks, you've been talking about how he's going to win it next year since about 1999, and he's yet to win it. Sure, he has come close a few times, but I would be surprised if at this point in time, he never wins this race. Of course, I think he would win this race if he would jump ship to a Classics team, but maybe he has something else in mind, like finishing high in the GC of le Tour this coming July. Which wouldn't surprise me. His climbing is strong, his TT has improved, and we know he can roll on the flats with the best of them. I say don't be surprised if you see a good result from Hincapie in the Tour this year. I wouldn't be surprised at all. I still think and believe that Basso is going to make everyone look the fool this year though in The Tour. I had high hopes for Jan, but he appears to be "getting injured" again, and has yet to line up at a race this season, which is disappointing. I'm hoping Jan just hangs it up after this season, he's played out, and it's time to make room for others to come along, although I'm not sure what this would do to T-Mobile, as they are highly dependent on Jan for, well, everything. I still have some hopes for Jan, and hope that his injuries are just that, injuries, that he is working through, and hope that he lines up at le Tour in July looking lean and ready to kill. Like in 2003 when he almost pulled it off.

Upcoming this weekend, Amstel Gold race. Boonen, not racing, we'll see who can take it. I'm going to go with the safe bet, and say that someone, probably Bettini, from Quick Step is going to be very near to winning at the end, if not winning the race outright. The Dutchmen in the race will try to win it, and will fail I think. I suspect we'll see our usual assortment of characters though for the race win, and I hope that unlike last year, there isn't a thick fog enshrouding the entire race so that at least I can see part of it. Last year we got to see about the last 300 meters as they were coming into the finish, because there was so much fog during the race the helicopters couldn't fly, and the race couldn't be filmed. Oh well, damn Dutch weather. What are you going to do in a case like that?

10 April 2006

End of an era...

Today, was indeed, the end of an era. For 17 years (count 'em, 17) I have been wearing a retainer on the lower front section of my grill. I had it placed into my mouth at age 15, and now, I'm 32. Some of you noticed it in an earlier post I put up here about busting my teeth out and having a snaggle tooth. Today, I had it removed, finally. It's gone. And let me tell you, it's weird to feel my actual teeth once again, because as mentioned, for years, there was a bar across the back of the bottom row of front teeth. Me being me, I had them let me keep the retainer for a little keepsake (pictures included here of course). It's a whole new experience for me. Having something inside of your head for over half of your life, it's weird that it's gone now. I might have withdrawal symptoms from not having it there. OK, I won't have that, but, it is still funky. That retainer was the last vestige of a prior dental saga that started from the time I was in 6th grade, and busted out my 2 front teeth, to recently, when I started going back to the dentist again this year. It also represents the torture devices known as braces that a lot of kids had when they were younger. I'm glad that thing is gone. Don't know why I waited this long for them to remove it. Oh well. Good riddance lower retainer. I won't miss you. And now, I just have one more thing to do, get some fillings in another couple of weeks, and the dental work will be done, at least for another 6 months. I'll keep a good schedule this time. I promise. 2 cleanings per year, whether I need it or not.

Also this weekend, there was this bike race we like to call Paris-Roubaix, also known as, The Hell of the North, and also known as, The Queen of the Classics. This one had all of the drama that happens with a good Paris-Roubaix. There were many flat tires, and of course severe mechanical difficulties (George Hincapie's broken steerer tube of course), and a stoppage of the race at a level crossing (also known as a railroad crossing for us Americans), and of course, at the end, a deserving winner in Fabian Cancellara. I don't want to re-hash the entire race, but let's just say it was a knock down drag down fight. The main selection coming in the Forest of Arenberg of course, and the selection made by none other than Tommy Boonen showing his strength once again, and the World Championship stripes in good fashion. He's done the World Champion's jersey proud so far this year. Now if we can see him take the Green jersey in le Tour, that would be sweet. Anyway, he drew out the selection with his attacking in Arenberg, and from there, it was just a beat down. Boonen lost his legs somewhere along the way, and Cancellara was able to attack and ride away solo to the finish in the velodrome in Roubaix. It was a hell of a race to watch that's for sure. Good to the last drop. Of course, controversy about the stopping of some of the riders at the railroad crossing, when some were let through before the train came through, and some folks (PVP, Hoste, Gusev) were disqualified for going across the tracks. I'm not sure how long it is going to take to sort that all out after all of the appeals are done and so on and so forth. We'll see how that all shakes loose in the next couple of days. Knowing the UCI, they aren't going to back down on the DSQs, and the finish will stay as it is. Also this year though, I did have my first Paris-Roubaix frites and beer party. Smashing success I might add. Good Belgian style frites, and good Belgian style beer was had by all. More of that next year of course. Oh, and yes, I did serve mayo with my frites. I don't think anyone complained. Next weekend I think it is the Amstel Gold race. Maybe the Dutch can win something this weekend. Finally.

04 April 2006

Boogers on the wall...

Where I work, there is of course a bathroom, which if any of you know me, I tend to frequent such places a lot. Yes, I drink a lot of water during the day, so have to make many bathroom breaks to release pent up fluid in my bladder. Anyway, in the bathroom that I use the most, there is only one urinal. For the past 2 years, there has been a big green booger on the wall left and above the urinal itself. Why? Why is this thing there? I don't understand it. Especially when this bathroom allegedly gets cleaned about 3 times per day during the first shift, and yet, there it is. Staring at me. Every single day of the week that I'm at work. The green nose goblin someone so graciously removed from their nose, and wiped on the wall for lack of a better place to put it I guess (why they didn't flick it into the urinal, I don't know). What is wrong with people?

Would you pick your nose standing in front of your toilet at home and then wipe it on the wall? No you say. Well then, hey asshole, don't do it at work either. What the hell is the matter with people that they treat their workplace like a trash bin. I just don't get it. Now, if you've been reading along here for awhile, you will know that I have no love for my workplace, and that they have their thumb on the back of my neck just like "the man" is supposed to be doing. But at least I respect my workplace enough to clean up after myself, and to not wipe my boogers on the wall while I'm relieving myself in the men's room. Jeez people, it's just freakin' common sense. Isn't it? Well, you'd of course think so, but alas, like I said, there it resides, cemented to the wall, for the last 2 years, and something tells me that it will most likely be there 2 years from now. I should get a picture of it just to prove it to you guys. Nah, on second thought, I think you believe me. This of course does rank way lower than the feces smearer we had for awhile. Yes, in the bathroom in the back of the plant that didn't get used all that much, someone would take it upon themselves to defecate, and then take the feces, and rub it all over the walls in the bathroom. This would happen on average, about twice per week, for months. You'd think they would have posted someone in the can back there to wait for this fecal maniac to start working his magic, and then bust him for it. Did they though? Hell no. They just let it continue, and let the poor cleaning people deal with it. I might clean that mess up once or twice, but more than that, they could go and piss off.

Yes, I work in North Carolina, and yes, most of the people I work with would consider themselves rednecks, and they're actually proud of it. Coast through the parking lot at work, and you'll see many a rebel flag stickered proudly on many a vehicle in the parking lot, along with a few license plates with smart sayings like, "American by Birth. Southern by the Grace of God", or "Heritage, not Hate." I'm not saying don't be proud about where you're from, but try not to use a symbol of oppression and racism to justify your proud-ness of where you're from. Now, history tells us that indeed, the Civil War was not completely about slavery, just like 95%, but the confederate flag has that tied directly to it. Slavery is tied to it. Racism is tied to it. The KKK is tied to it, as are neo-nazis, and many other white supremacist groups, and really, that's what a lot of people think about when they see it. So you've got to know that when you're flying the old "stars and bars", there are going to be a lot of people who are going to look at you strangely and wonder what kind of racist thoughts and intentions you're harboring. Anyway, with that diatribe, I'd say 95% of the people that I work with who do fly the rebel flag are decent human beings, as far as I can tell, and seem just like good honest hardworking people. I'm just saying, there is a certain connotation that comes along with that symbol.

In another great thing that happened this week, Tom Delay announced that he will NOT be seeking re-election in Texas. This guy is a class A scumbag if you ask me, and, just about anyone else would agree. He has strongarmed opponents and allies alike throughout his Congressional tenure, and has been censured several times over the years for ethics violations. He has also been indicted in Texas, and it's starting to look more and more that he's going to get nailed in the Abramoff scandal that has been floating through DC the last few months. A few of his aides got convicted, and they're probably telling some good stories about their old boss to reduce their prison team. He's going down. Well, he's already gone down. He had to give up his House leadership position earlier this year, and said he would look to be getting it back sometime soon. And now, he's not even going to be running again, because he has said that he won't be able to take the mudslinging that he will be coming up against if he did run again. This guy is priceless. He's concerned about people slinging mud against him? Umm, hey, ass-wipe, if they're telling the truth; is it mudslinging? This guy has so much bad karma coming his way, he gets everything he deserves. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the orange prison jump suit making friends with Billy Joe down there in Texas if and when he gets tossed into the clink. Ah, there is justice in the world I think.

Here are some quotes from him:

"After many weeks of personal prayerful thinking and analysis, I have come to the conclusion that it is time to close this public service chapter of my life. It’s time to begin opening new chapters and pursuing new opportunities to engage in the important cultural and political battles of our day from outside the arena of the U. House of Representatives...I refuse to allow liberal Democrats an opportunity to steal this seat with a negative, personal campaign....I just realized that my constituents don't deserve this, they deserve a Republican. I think I could have won this seat but it would have been nasty, it would have cost a fortune to do it. The challenge has always been in the interest of the constituents' cause and the Republican majority. I'm more interested in growing the Republican majority than my own future."

What a joke this guy is. He's talking about how liberal democrats are out to get him and make his re-election a nasty battle... He is the master of nasty campaigns. Remember, he was the guy leading the charge to impeach Clinton back in the late 90's. He is right about one thing, his constituents deserve a republican. They haven't had one with him in office. And let's be straight about something, this man has only been, and will only be concerned about himself and his future. He doesn't care about the common person, he cares about money, and what people can do for him. More quotes...

"My friends, there is no Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is only the global war on terrorism."

You can see from the above quote, he's really not too sure about what's going on in the world.

"Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour [the minimum wage in 1996] are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist."

Of course, when lobbyists are paying your way through life, being poor is not an issue for you is it Mr. Delay. You are a moron.

"Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes."

Now this is a great one. Cutting taxes in the face of war is the most important thing. Why? So we can be further in debt that we already are? Just another moronic statement from a simple simple man who came from being an exterminator to one of the most powerful and corrupt politicians we'll see in our lifetime. Kind of reminds me of when we went to "war" with Iraq, and President Bush told us the most important thing we could do was to go shopping. Huh? These guys. Out. To. Lunch.

"We have a small faction, and they are a minority, who believe they are there to govern. Then there is the majority of us who believe that indeed we are there to govern but more importantly we are there to be an opposition to the Democratic philosophy and the only way to do that is through confrontation."

On bipartisanship ~ From the Houston Chronicle [1991 April 14]


"It's never been proven that air toxics [sic] are hazardous to people."

This one befuddles him to no end. Air toxins (I presume he meant) are not hazardous. What the hell?

Last one...

"So many minority youths had volunteered...that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like myself."

This is what he said as to why he and Dan Quayle didn't fight in Vietnam. Ah, bullshit. I'm sure if you had volunteered you chickenshit chickenhawk, they would have taken you gladly. Tom Delay, a fine American... Yeah, right. Piece o' shit if you ask me.

02 April 2006

Found this picture...

I found this picture this morning, and thought that it spoke volumes. For those of you reading that know about cycling, you'll know what I mean. Enjoy.

01 April 2006

It's like frikin' Christmas in April...

Why is it like Christmas in April you might ask? Well, I'll frigin tell you why. It is now April 1, and it's Saturday. This means only one thing. The REAL bike racing season starts tomorrow over in Belgium. The REAL deal Holyfield starts tomorrow. This is the Spring bike racing season I love to watch. Yes, tomorrow is my most favorite professional bike race of the year to watch. I introduce you to those not in the know of things to the Tour of Flanders. It's the race that every Belgian boy grows up dreaming of winning, and only a few ever do, and if you do, there is a good chance that after you retire, you won't ever have to buy yourself a beer in that tiny bike crazed nation ever again. Hell, you could kill someone over there, but if you won Flanders, they'd let you off. Last year's winner, one Mr. Tom Boonen (the SO's favorite) is looking in fine form right now, essentially eliminating that whole "curse" of the rainbow jersey so far this year. Now it's time to throw down, and time to prove himself again, the thing is, if he falters, his entire Quick Step is pretty much right there to take over and deliver someone to the line in first place. It's just going to be a knock down drag down fight tomorrow out on the cobbles and shit strewn roads of Belgium. Damn, I wish I was there to see that. This of course kicks off what I would call the golden week of bike racing for the Spring over there. Flanders this weekend, Ghent Wvelghem in the middle of the week, and then the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix. All races fought over the bergs and cobbled roads of Northern France and Belgium. These are the races that hard men win. The guys who race the classics, they're my favorite riders. They are the guys that line in Belgium and ride and train outside all winter long in the wind, rain, and snow, and cold. They don't care. They're impervious to it I think. This weekend, they get to take it out on each other. All of the big names are going to be there, and there is going to be some kicking in the teeth, especially to be in the front when they hit the ye olde Koppenberg climb. Not long, but steep in some spots, and almost impossible to ride in good conditions, if it's raining, expect to see some walking, and or crashing. Or maybe someone getting run over, it's not like it hasn't happened before. Ask Jesper Skibby about such things.

A little background about Flanders. It was started in 1913 by Karel Van Wijnendaele. It of course had to stop for WWI, but was continued from there on out. It also missed a few years during WWII again, but it has become the most popular race in the Flanders region of Belgium, where we might consider the locals a little more than crazed when it comes to bicycle racing. As mentioned before, you win here, you win eternal fame in Flanders. The old timers on the corners of the course could probably name the last 40 winners of the race without breaking a sweat. And could probably name them all if you gave a few minutes. On tap for this year, you've got about 250+ KMs of pure pain and agony out there. I think, once again, it's going to come down to a few guys who are going to be in the final selection, and from that elite group, there will be one person who will be able to attack and ride away from his compatriots in this race. Last year Tom Boonen completed that task and soloed his way to victory, and then followed it up a week later with another dominating performance in Paris Roubaix. There are lots of people who think that it is going to be hard to repeat this year. Of course it's going to be hard, it's damn hard to just win the race, let alone win it again the following year of his previous win. That and he's carrying the rainbow jersey on his back of the World Champion, so he will be easily marked. Last week showed me something about Boonen though. He got into a breakaway in a different race with I think it was Alessandro Ballan. During the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen he and Ballan started to ride away from everyone else, and Ballan had a slight problem with his saddle slipping. Boonen said to him, "Ballan was also very strong but suddenly, after a cobbled section, he had problems with his saddle. He spoke to me about it. I said that he shouldn't bother about it and keep riding hard, because I would beat him in the sprint anyway." Now some may go out of their way to call that cocksuredness, but in my book, he can back that shit up. And of course what happened later on towards the end of the stage? Boonen beat his ass in a sprint. Killed him actually. Ballan finished 2 seconds down on Boonen, which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but in a sprint, it's a ton of time. I'm going to have to say that along with just about everybody else in the world, Boonen has got to be the favorite for this weekend. Barring anything unforseen happening to him, he will win again. But, strange things happen during bike races. So let's not close the chapter yet. Anything can happen, and we might get someone into the winner's circle who we didn't even think would be there to start with.

Disco is bringing a strong team, and had a strong show of force last week at the 3 days of de Panne, where they kicked it into high gear. Granted, de Panne is not a big of a race as Flanders, but they still showed a pretty quality field what the deal was, and how to race bicycles. Hoste is riding strong. George "I need a sandwich" Hincapie is looking good as well, and the support they can muster on their team is strong. Ekimov, Max, Devolder, Joachim, and a few others. They have a good group of guys that can ride hard, and like to ride hard.

One thing is for certain, this weekend is going to produce some interesting racing out there on the battlefields of the cobbled roads of Flanders. Next weekend, PR on tap. It's like being in bike racing heaven.