30 November 2006

Clearing house of crap...

I think I maybe got myself into a little trouble a week or so ago. In NC we have a great cyclocross series that is run mostly by this guy named Tim Hopkins, who does an outstanding job of it. He has been THE driving force behind cross in North Carolina since I moved down here, or basically as far back as I can remember in NC. Last year, he was able to wrangle a couple of UCI rated cross races, and he held them in his hometown of Hendersonville. This year, the same series is going on, and again, Mr. Hopkins was able to wrangle a couple of more UCI races out into Hendersonville. The day before the races were to go off I made some comments on the NC cyclocross listserve that we have operating, mostly to the effect of some ideas I had rolling around in my head about how they might be able to make the UCI races bigger. Looking at the results sheets from last year, and this year, I see that for the UCI races themselves (the elite men and elite women) there were a total of 38 men and 21 women racers who lined up for the main event on Saturday and 32 men and 19 women racers who lined up for race #2 on Sunday. As a comparison, at the national level grand prix race that was held the same weekend, they had 80 men line up and 41 women. The number of racers we had in NC is a mere pittance in the world that is cyclocross racing these days in the US. Looking at a race that they had in Portland Oregon at the start of this season, they had over 1000 entrants. 1000 people who turned out to slosh through the mud and the crap to race their bicycles. Why did they get 1000 people? Well, first of all cyclocross is immensely popular in Oregon. Second of all, they had it in a central location, in the middle of a large city in Oregon, where there were tons of people to draw from. Ditto for the races that are generally held in the mid-Atlantic region of the US where they have them in Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, and other large cities in the region. Turnout is immense, and huge, and those are just for the regional races. You throw down a UCI race in those same regions, and the registration rates climb. Anyway, so that was the point I tried to make in my posting. Maybe they should look at having the UCI races in and or near Raleigh. Why? Major airport, closer to the mid-Atlantic region where there are a large amount of cyclocross racers, closer to I-40/I-95 (ie major corridor of travel on the East coast and all), and just all around easier to get to than say, Hendersonville, which is out in the far Western parts of the state, and takes an additional 3 hours to get to from the major population areas of NC, and the travel required from other areas where we might draw racers from is extensive as well. You could fly into Asheville, but if you have ever looked at flying into Asheville, you know that the cost is prohibitive that’s for sure. It’s probably about 2 times the amount it would cost to fly into Raleigh Durham airport. And on a bike racer’s budget, that dissuades some folks from coming for sure. And for a UCI race that was in the region, we should have drawn a lot more heavily from the mid-Atlantic and Virginia and South Carolina even. My point is, I made these points on our listserve, and as I thought, I got skewered from people who mistook the ideas I had for criticism of the UCI races going on in Hendersonville that weekend.

I of course got the usual slate of comments from folks talking about the whole, “Put your money where your mouth is.” And of course the usual, “Why don’t you promote a race if you think it’s so easy.” And so on and so forth. Well folks, I have promoted and run races. I have been there for set up, take down, registration, and everything in between. I’ve done the ground work in trying to get together an NRC race in NC, and have seen the good and bad end of things. I’ve done the hard work it takes to pull off a $10,000 race, and it’s hard, and I know this. People seem to think when you bring them ideas, and or suggestions, that you’re attacking them. Not true people, not true. I’d just like to see the sport grow large and proud in NC, and was offering up some suggestions as to how we might be able to do it. This was taken extremely the incorrect way, but oh well, what are you going to do? I have sent an e-mail over to Mr. Hopkins asking to be involved in the promoter’s meeting when planning the next cross season (2007 and 2008), and have asked that I be involved, as I’d like to get a race back in Greensboro. So far, I sent the e-mail 3 days ago, and haven’t heard boo from him. Am I getting shunned? Maybe, if so, then folks can’t say that I didn’t try to get involved, but if the promoter of the series as a whole doesn’t get back to me; what is my recourse then? Ah well, I can say that I tried to do something at least. So Tim, if you’re out there, write me back. I want to get involved so that the yells and screams from people saying, “You don’t do anything” can once again be silenced. People are so fickle sometimes.

Going back into the arena politic again though, I have found something that utterly amazes me, or I should say I’ve been reading somethings that utterly amaze me. Seems as though, there are a bunch of what I would call nutbag conservative pundits, and or journalists who are so upset about the movie Happy Feet that they are essentially crawling out of their skins. What, might you say, is their problem with a movie about dancing animated penguins? Well, it appears as though there is some talk about global warming in the movie, and the conservatives amongst us cannot abide by that. Because for some reason, they think that we can keep raping the Earth of its resources, and nothing is going to happen. Or I should say, nothing has happened over the years. The impact of man on Earth is negligible in their opinion. And of course, if you happen to mention global warming, well, that’s just a liberal agenda, and it doesn’t really exist (contrary to a lot of scientific fact that says otherwise, and not to mention the large percentage of scientists who study this issue who agree that indeed global warming is real and is a danger to our life and existence). Oh, and also, there are some who think that this movie (you know, the one with the dancing penguins) has “homosexual overtones”, and that this movie is trying to recruit their children into the ranks of the homosexuals. Are these people for real? Unfortunately, they are. And the more they talk, the nuttier they sound. It’s almost getting to be really funny, sort of like a sad little parody of what they’re really supposed to be. Actually, thinking back on this little passage, it’s not even a political thing. It’s a blowhard conservative windbag thing. These are most likely the same folks who were praising The Passion of the Christ, and secretly cheered Mel Gibson for his anti-Semitic rant when he was arrested for driving drunk. And also the same people who no doubt took their children to see The Passion of the Christ with its violence and gore, and yet, here they are, upset about some dancing penguins. Seriously people, you cannot be serious, but alas, I think that they are.

Talking about pretentious overblown talking windbags, our good old friend Bill O’Reilly is back at it again, or I should say, still. The ruddy faced “culture warrior” himself just the other day was talking about how “secular progressives” (his new term that he overuses and it never seems to be very far away from his mouth when he’s talking) WANT the number of out of wedlock births to be as high as possible. Never mind that he backs this with no facts, or not statistics other than out of wedlock births are at an all time high (this stat is of course not broken down as to who is Christian, Jewish, or affiliated with some other religion, and who is secular progressive as he calls it, and actually, going by the percentage of folks in the US who consider themselves tied to some religion or another, chances are good most of the out of wedlock births happened to people who affiliate themselves with a religion). This of course totally flies in the face of his continuing arguments that the so called evil secular progressives want abortions on every street corner, and abortion on demand. Maybe it’s because less people are getting married, but still starting families. You know, it is possible for a couple of people to get together, have a very loving relationship, live together, have children and raise them together, and yet, never get married. It’s completely possible, and I’m sure happens a lot more than it did “back in the day”. I mean, when I get married my future wife isn’t even going to take my name. Shocker! OH NO! Anything but that! And actually, I know people I work with you have heard me talk about this (the fiancé not taking my name), and they are flabbergasted. How could she even think to NOT take my name? Jeez, give me a break. It’s just a name. And really, it’s so much easier to not have to change everything that she has in terms of documentation (social security card, driver’s license, and so on and so forth). I just don’t see the big deal in it myself. Anyway, back to Bill O. More and more, this guy is starting to sound like Michael Weiner (his real last name) Savage (NOT his real last name). Maybe they can start a hate mongering show together and really get their “base” fired up. I am happy to report though, that Bill O’Reilly’s ratings have been dipping lately, and this is a good thing. Maybe people are finally starting to figure out that this guy is a complete asshole? Or maybe they are just figuring out that what he’s saying actually is ALL SPIN, and really little or no fact behind it. Hey, I’m all for editorial types of shows, but let’s label them correctly, let’s not label them as “news” programs like Bill O’Lielly does his.

It’s a few weeks now since the democrats won the mid term elections in a dashing fashion, meaning that they took back Congress. Still, we have our alleged “liberal” news media stating again and again that the incoming freshman class is highly conservative. Funny, just a week or so before the election, the republicans fighting for their seats were saying that the democrats were so liberal that they wanted the terrorists to win, and that a win for the democrats was a win for the terrorists. Guess what Karl Rove? Well, it took 6 years for people to see through your bullshit, but they’ve got your strategery figured out now. You’re screwed. Fear tactics didn’t seem to work this time. And hey, guess what? It is 3 weeks after the dems swept back into control of Congress, and the terrorists have still not “gotten” us yet. I do find it funny though that even before they have been sworn into office, the new Congress is already getting chastised by the media and others for not doing a good job. Hey, asshats! Let’s do this first shall we? Let’s get the new Congress sworn in, let’s let them get their feet wet, and give them a month or so to start shaking things out. After say, a few months, they’re not getting some things done that they said that they would, then let’s start shaking a finger or 2, but at least let’s wait until they actually get INTO office before saying they’re doing a bad job. Then if they’re doing a bad job, let’s hear about it then. OK? Please? Give them a freakin’ chance to get started before dragging them through the mud.

OK, enough for now. I’m done. Over and out.

09 November 2006

Can you say???

MAJORITY? I can...

House of Representative = Democrats

Senate = Democrats

Ooh, good times right now. Bush is going to have to work with the Democrats to get things done now, and no more rubber stamping going on by Congress.

1 to nothing. We win!!!

Yeah, I'm happy about this.

06 November 2006

Cross smackdown and political smackdowns...

2 of my favorite things, converging at once. Yes, bike racing and politics. OK, maybe they didn't converge in the same place, but nearly at the same time. I'm of course talking about the looming elections coming up tomorrow, or, well, in 20 minutes (seeing as how midnight is tomorrow, and that is 20 minutes away and all), and the cyclocross races this weekend in Boulder Colorado. First, the racing, because hey, that's fun.

I've got to say, back a bunch of years ago when I raced those things called bicycles, and when I especially raced those things called mountain bikes, I ran into this woman in the mid Atlantic region named Katie Compton. Now, she was a strong mountain biker and all, she rode for the regional Trek team up there, and she won some decent races, and then she disappeared. Off of the map. I saw her picture again a few years down the line after she won a few gold medals being the sighted pilot of a blind stoker on the track in the paralympics. Still some pretty impressive cycling chops right there. Now, that would have been a pretty sweet story, but a few years after that, she turned up at the national championships for cyclocross. Ready to rock. She had not competed in a single women's UCI race in the US, or other locations, that entire year, mostly because if she did, she would be ineligible for the paralympics, and she didn't want to disappoint her stoker. She lined up at the back of the pack, the gun went off, and immediately, she drilled it to the front, rode away from the rest of the women in the race, and took the stars and stripes. Now, if you've been around the cycling world, you know that bike racing in general (even for the men) is catty as all get out. Such as, "Who does she think she is winning the national championship when she hasn't raced against us all year long anyway??" Now, I don't know if those words were spoken, but I bet they were thought by more than a few of the women that Ms. Compton smacked down that weekend. Fast forward one more time, to national championships last year. Same verse, same as the first. Katie had to line up at the back of the pack again (since she had gained no points throughout the year, even though she was the defending champ even), again the gun went off, again she sliced her way completely through the field, and schooled them all again. I was duly impressed. She is a machine.

Cross season 2006, rules change, Compton can now race in UCI races. What has she been doing? Winning every single race the woman enters. She is utterly amazing in the world of cross in the US. The only woman that can even come close to holding her wheel is Lynne Bessette from Canada, and even then, she gets ridden of her wheel almost every weekend. Sometimes she holds on for a little while, other times, not so much. As Patrick O'Grady said, she is a Cylon warrior for sure. The woman is really just unbelievable. I am excited to see if she goes to world championships this year, and if so, I think she has a pretty good chance of winning that race. I haven't seen a woman this dominant in cross since Allison Dunlap, and even then, she lost a couple of times here and there. Compton? Not so much.

Also riding this weekend, another cross master. Mr. Ryan Trebon, also known as The Tree Farm. The kid is 6'5", and if it had not been for a mechanical problem this past weekend, he would have won both races as well. Even with many mechanical issues, and stopping for a full minute or more, he climbed back on his bike, and rocketed back through the field, and managed to still finish 4th on Sunday I think it was. A stunning performance from the kid who used to live in North Carolina. Yes, we can say we knew him when. I'm sure he would remember me, because we were in a race once, and I was wearing a pair of bibs that were a little "worn" shall we say? And he kept remarking about how much ass hair I had (well, still have), and that it was making all sorts of weird swirling patterns. Hey, I don't know what he was doing looking at my ass, but those who know me, know that indeed, I have a hairy ass. Nothing I can do about that. Genetics after all (thanks Dad!!). But back to Trebon and away from my hairy ass. This guy is rocking it as well. I would love to see him go back across the pond again, and duke it out with the big Belgian boys of cyclocross. Now, let's be serious, he might not win over there, but I think he could finish as well, if not better than Jon Page was doing before he knocked himself out for this season. Trebon, in my opinion, is stronger than Page, and it might be time for him (Trebon) to ride a full Euro cross schedule, and see what shakes loose. I mean, it couldn't hurt right? He can stomp everyone here in the US, so maybe he should give the others in the US a chance to win a race or 2, and head overseas. Trebon, if you happen to read this, go race against Nijs and Vervecken. Not because I don't want you around, but because it would be sweet if you could improve your skills even more, and maybe, just maybe, we could have a world champ in cyclocross? That might be reaching, because those Belgians are awfully good at what they do, and let's face it, their "program" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) is probably A LOT better than yours as well, but you can compete. You can ride hard against those Euro boys. Give it a try. I think it'll suit you. Oh, one last piece of advice. Get rid of the white kit. That's just bad form. Really bad form...

Best of luck for the rest of the season for Ryan and Katie. Keep ripping the legs of the competition.

Now, onto politics. I don't actually have much to rant about, this being, again, the eve of this year's elections and all. I'm just hoping, and crossing the old fingers that the democrats will take back the House, and God willing, the Senate. I'm so sick of the republicans talking shit about things that they can't talk shit about, and then the democrats not coming back at them. In spite of ourselves, we look to be in a good position going into tomorrow's election. Bush's Iraq policy has utterly failed, and he refuses, like an insolent child, to change course, and change tactics. Just more of the same, "We aren't leaving until we win." sort of rhetoric which really isn't saying, well, much of anything. Then we have the republicans, almost all of them, using Karl Rove's talking points. Saying, dems will raise taxes (not true), saying dems will rollback Bush's tax cuts (they don't run out until 2010, and even if the dems created legislation to get rid of the, Bushie could use the good old VETO to say no), dems are weak on national security (who was at the helm when we got attacked on 9/11? Yes, the republicans, even though they want to make you think Clinton was), republican corruption, sex scandals, and just about everything else all rolled into one, and realistically, the republicans shouldn't even be close to winning. And really, they're not. Unless you listen to our friends the alleged liberal media, who keeps reporting that the polling is close (it's not), and that the republicans are closing ground (they're not). You want to see media misinformation, or at least conservative media misinformation debunked, check out Media Matters for America. Now, I'm not even going to try and say that these guys are balanced, they're not. They're about exposing the conservative misinformation within the alleged liberal media, and they have plenty to say, and plenty to debunk actually. And the best thing about is, they use the actual words of the people spewing forth bad information against them. It's hard to argue against someone when they're using your words, in context, to debunk your entire arguments when you're using bad information. They do a pretty good job of it really. Check them out.

The republicans keep throwing out that the dems "have no plans". Which, again, is tha farthest thing from the truth. Now, when you control the House, the Senate, and the White House, and have appointed a lot of federal judges, well, you get to control the pace, and the distribution of information, let alone Congress, and the Executive branch. The dems have ideas, but the republicans in charge, don't let them see the light of day. Democratically devised legislation gets shut down in committee, and hasn't come out onto the floor for a vote since 1994. They have ruled the House and Senate with a ruthles iron will. Breaking and changing rules, avoiding ethics inquiries, and basically letting the inmates run the prison. I hope like me, that the rest of you are sick of it, and will vote the bums out. The common complaint that I now hear from people who were so pro-Bush, and pro-Republican just a couple of years ago in 2004 is that they are now "sick of it all". And how bad things are going. And that they don't want to vote for anyone. Now, hold on a minute there super chief. You voted your guys into office, and they've mucked things up pretty badly, and somehow, this is now the democrats fault? This is what they're telling me. It is the democrats fault because they are so "partisan", and so angry, and block everything that the republicans want to do. Jesus!!! I can't believe the people I'm talking to, who are actually educated, think this way. They are thinking because the Congress hasn't given W everything that he has wanted, that somehow, they're being obstructionists, and that the democrats are the reason why the country is going to Hell in a handbasket. Look, we're not driving the car right now. After tomorrow, we might be, and then if we can't get some things done, then point the finger, but until then, it's all on the dunderheads you guys put into office. Namely, Bush, and his cabal of sketchy individuals. Karl Rove being at the top of the list. For an administration who was supposed to bring honor and integrity back to the White House, they've done a bang up job... In case you didn't catch that, sarcasm people, pure sarcasm.

I'm hoping come Wednesday morning, the sun will be shining. The dems will have won maybe one, maybe both houses of Congress, and then we can move on with impeachment trials. No, just kidding, not impeachment, but at least some checks of the executive branch which seems to have forgotten that they indeed need to follow the rule of law as well.

Vote democrat. We're cool. Aside from that (see picture below)...