24 January 2008

Rock Racing and VDB???

Everyone else has written something about these guys, why not me? And no, it's not what you think, that Rock Racing has hired VDB, read onward...

How is it possible that that VDB is still riding a bike as a professional bike racer? This is something that I just don't get. The man not only has 9 lives, he has about 20 lives as it pertains to being a pro bike racer. He has found yet another team that will carry his sorry ass for this season. Granted, they are a smaller team, with a smaller budget, but he's still riding professionally. I think between the suicide attempts, his craziness, drug sanctions, health issues, and everything else he's been through he's raced about 3 times in the last 4 years, mostly dropping out before hitting the hard parts of the races he was riding in. It's insane really, totally, and completely and utterly insane (sort of like VDB himself). This is a man that when investigators found EPO in his fridge at his house, he said it was for his dog. Yeah, a new level of doping proclamation, it was for my dog. Just when you thought that pro bike racers had made up all of the excuses you thought entirely possible, we get the "dog" defense. VDB should not be allowed to race bikes just for bringing the dog excuse into the cycling vernacular.

For instance, we have a solid pro rider like Allan Davis. He's won some races, has a great work ethic, and works hard for the teams that he has ridden for. The problem is, his name got brought in Operacion Puerto, which he was then completely and fully cleared of, and yet he has a hard time finding someone to ride for. VDB who has taken more drugs than Timothy Leary has a team to ride for. Again, a smaller team, but a team nonetheless. Allan Davis is left sitting on the outside looking in and wondering if he'll ever be a bike racer again. That's not a good place to be in. I'm hoping that Allan Davis has a ripping Tour Down Under in Australia, and then a team realizes, hey, we've got room for this bloke, let's hire him. I don't know why I've fixated on Allan Davis, it's just some recent things that I've read about him is all. I'm sure that there are plenty of others out there as well.

Look, for those European teams out there thinking about hiring VDB in the future, just knock that shit off. Let the man go completely loco crazy, and lock him away for the good of the cycling community in general. I don't hate him, I enjoyed watching him race when he was doped to the gills (Paris-Nice, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the like), but his time has passed him by. He's 33 years old, and ready to be put out to pasture. Maybe he'll do something this year, but I doubt it. He doesn't have a team to support him, so if he does do anything at all on the bike, he's going to have to do it alone. Having a bunch of kermesse riders supporting you in the Spring Classics is not ideal for anyone. Good luck VDB, you're going to need it you psycho bastard.

Moving on now.

Rock Racing. Yes, the favorite subject of most in the cycling realm of the US these days. Rock Racing, being run by Michael Ball of Rock and Republic Jeans (most famously) is catching a lot of flack these days. Reading an interview with Floyd Landis (where he was portraying the ANGRY Mennonite) on Velosnooze the other day, he did bring up some good points about Rock Racing. People are giving him a hard time for hiring Botero. For hiring Hamilton. For hiring Sevilla. They say that he can't seriously be anti doping if he has hired these guys. Bear in mind, the only one of the 3 who was ever sanctioned for doping was Hamilton, who "served his time" and can now race again professionally, if someone is hardy enough to give him a job, and Ball is that man. Sevilla, never sanctioned. Botero, never sanctioned. I find it ironic that the same people who are yelling and screaming about Ball hiring these guys to ride for him are the most ardent supporters of David Millar, a known and sanctioned doper. But they say, it's different for Millar. He came clean. Look people, the only reason Millar came clean is because he pooped in his khakis when the Gendarme busted into his flat in France and started searching the place for evidence of doping. Also bear in mind that it was what? 7 or 8 months AFTER he had doped to the win the World Championships in the TT that he finally "came clean". I guarantee you that if those French cops hadn't busted into his place, and they hadn't found his empty EPO vial, he never would have said a word, and would still be wearing his world champion rainbow stripes on the sleeves of his jerseys. Don't fool yourselves kids, the only reason Millar came clean is because he got caught. As with the others, he served his time, and now has a nice new life as a pro bike racer, so good for him. Why can't Hamilton, Botero, Sevilla, and others like them get the same shot? They should, and they will with Ball. Why are people so concerned that Rock Racing will get blackballed because they have Hamilton on their team? Millar still gets to ride the big races, and nobody says a word. There is no difference between the 2 folks, no difference at all. And I also ask you to consider this. When Hamilton got busted, I found myself in the distinct MINORITY of people who were chastising him for being a doper, and for calling him out for being a doper. I got beat down in cycling forums that I frequent as being a "hater" and all. Now though, these folks who were yelling at me for calling Hamilton a doper are now the same people, more or less, who are saying he should be burned at the stake. My how times turn around. Again, the man served his time, let's let him race again if someone is willing to give him a spot.

Rock Racing is also bringing some serious "noise" to the US peloton. Cycling in general, is so catty. I'm sorry, I don't know how else to explain it really. I say that it's "catty" in the sense of, when something new comes along, the people who have been there for awhile, or the established teams always poo-poo the new guy on the block. It happens EVERY SINGLE TIME. The US peloton doesn't like change. They don't like something disturbing their nice little world of US pro cycling. Something like Rock Racing comes along, with a team owner like Ball who is brash, egotistical, and a little maniacal, and the end of cycling as we know it is pronounced, and immediately people dismiss Ball and his team as some sort of flash in the pan, and everyone buries their noses and talk about how we don't need a team like Rock Racing. I think we do. Why? We need some press about our sport. Look, just because you, and 20 of your friends are racing a crit in some un-completed cul de sac in the middle of tobacco fields somewhere downeast in North Carolina doesn't mean that people understand, or even want to think about cycling as a sport. Most people in the US considering cycling a nuisance, and something to be done by kids who don't have a driver's license. Ball can bring the noise, and the promotion that nobody else in the cycling world in the US can do. Why? See the list of reasons above (brash, egotistical, and so on). The man runs a multi million dollar business, and is from what I've seen, not prone to failure at any point in his life. Sure, he's a little crazy, but don't you worry. He's going to be just fine, and his team, is going to win some pretty big races around the US I think. He's going to be out front, promoting his team, promoting cycling, and get over it. He's here to stay I think. Why? Mostly because of you assholes discounting him, and dismissing him. He's going to stay in your face so that in every race you line up at, you're going to have to deal with him, and his team. And let's look at his team. A bunch of great guys. Who else is going to let David Clinger race for them in the US? Seems to be, someone already fired him because he tattooed his face. Clinger has talent, Clinger has the drive to be a great rider. Just because he got ink on his face, he got blackballed. If for no reason other than to give David Clinger a place and a team to race for, I will support Rock Racing. What about Bahati? Possibly one of the best crit riders in the US, and a great track rider as well, but alas, he's not "mainstream" enough to apparently ride for a pro team, and now he's got a place to ride as well. Again, I'll support Rock Racing just because they gave Bahati a place to race.

Buckle up people, and buckle down. I think Ball and his merry band of strong racers, and misfits are here to stay, and they're going to be in your face, winning your bike races, and you're going to be crying about it. Me? I'm going to be laughing mostly because I told you so.

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20 January 2008


I went riding yesterday and today.

Yesterday, I left the house, it was gray outside, and threatening to snow. I figured, eh, what the hell. If it starts to snow, I'll just turn around and come home. 2 hours later, I came in the house, covered head to toe in the white stuff, and with cold water. Turns out, the thing that happens in North Carolina is that the road crews go out, and brine the roads before it snows, so when it hits, it melts. Which makes for, yes, some wet roads. Add snow, you get me, riding out in it, and almost as cold as I've ever been on a bike. There was only one other time when I was colder.

March, 2002, Greenville, SC Spring Series race. It was the first race of the season, and as we arrived at the race site, it was cold, and gray. I paid my money, get my number, kitted up, and almost as soon as I did, it started raining. Since I was out "warming" up, and getting soaked anyway, I figured, might as well start the race. Holy Hell what a mistake that was. 14 miles into the race, I had to stop, and then pry my hands from the bars. Why? I was so cold my hands were locked onto the bars. I went to the car, changed in the downpour that was going on, got into my car, started it, turned the heat on high, and sat there for about 2 hours, and never warmed up. I had several people who had raced get into my car with me, and they all had to leave in about 2 minutes or less, because it was too hot in there. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't get that cold, ever. 2 hours, and I still wasn't warm. I didn't properly warm up until I got into the shower that night, for about an hour, in the hotel room. The upside, is that I slept like a rock that night.

When I got home from the ride yesterday, I had to do the pry the hands of the bars thing. Got undressed on the mat in front of our side door because I was soaking wet, put on my flannel PJs and hoodie, and then sat on the couch arms wrapped around myself for about 20 minutes. Why did I wait? Well, my feet were so cold that I had to wait for them to thaw a little bit before I got into the shower, or else, immense pain would have ensued. The wife came home, saw me on the couch, and wondered if I was OK. The shower yesterday, took about 30 minutes, and even though we're in a drought, I ran out the hot water. Sorry about that. I had to do it, and when I got out, I was more or less warmed back up. Good times when it's cold AND wet. 

I did ride today again, and it was around 25 degrees or so this afternoon when I left, but it was dry, so, it wasn't that bad. The feet got kind of cold, but that's par for the course for me, even with booties, and shoe covers on there. Not a problem. I'm used to it. It was nice out there though for the most part. Sunny, and a little icy in spots, but overall not bad. Compared to the day before, it was downright plush out there.

Tomorrow, don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow. It'll probably be on the trainer tomorrow night. I hates the trainer.

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18 January 2008

The line up...

Yes, there is a queue at work on most days, and the lines start at the desks of the women that work in my office who are, shall we say, more attractive than your normal everyday manufacturing employee?

We have 2 women that work in the office area who are relatively attractive women. I can't deny that. The thing is, there is a line around them constantly while they are here. And by line, I mean a circle of men hanging around their cubicles, shooting the shit with them, throwing a little flirting action their way, and basically chewing the fat. It's kind of funny. You can tell in this place when a new woman comes to work in the office. How can you tell? The floor traffic going by the cubicle where said woman is sitting increases exponentially, and the guys who stop and talk also increases exponentially. For instance, this morning, I was heading off to a meeting. To get to said meeting, I have to walk by Kara's cubicle on my way over there. Bear in mind she shares this cubicle with another woman and a couple of guys. She had just breezed into work a few minutes prior to my walking down the aisle, and yet as I approached, I could hear the laughing, and the giggling, and tee hee-ing going on in the cubicle. As I came upon the scene, I almost had to laugh out loud. Why you might ask? Well, there was one guy talking to Kara, and there were 3 more circling waiting to talk to her. Bear in mind that the work that Kara does in no way, shape, or form relates to anything that these guys who were in her cubicle do on a daily basis. Kara works for the planning department. The guys doing the circling were 2 maintenance guys, and a quality assurance technician. It's laughable. It's almost like these guys haven't seen a real live woman in years. You'd almost think that they'd either been away at an all boy's school (which manufacturing is for the most part), didn't have wives (they all do), or had just never seen a halfway attractive woman and don't really know how to act. It's actually quite funny to see them fall all over themselves trying to be coy, and charming, and trying to distract Kara with their wily male ways. I'm almost certain that she's picking up on this, because if she isn't, she's got to be the most oblivious person in the history of the world. Being that she's a fairly intelligent woman, I know she's picking up what they're laying down, and she has them all eating out of her hand. Good for her I say. It's fun to watch 40 something's falling all over themselves, and yet, it's kind of sad in a way as well.

Then, there's Stacey. Our attractive HR woman. While Kara draws a crowd from the maintenance guys and other folks from the production floor, Stacey draws in the salaried personnel. I swear, if our plant manager spent half as much time you know, plant managing, as he does standing around cracking jokes around Stacey, our company would be a WHOLE lot better off. Every single time I walk by the HR office, and Stacey is currently here working, either the plant manager is in there talking to her, or the production manager is in there talking to her, or the plant supervisors are in there talking to her. It's an endless stream of men lining up to try and crack wise, and make her laugh, and try to get their "swerve" on, which again is funny, and yet tragic. Once again, all of the men involved in this little charade are all married. And unlike Kara though, Stacey is not. I'm thinking that somewhere in the minds of these grubby men, they're thinking, "Hey, she's single. I'm in a position of power here at this plant. I have a good income. I've definitely got a shot!" This is what they tell themselves. It's more than likely not true, or even remotely true, but still, they line up outside of her door, outside of her office, and circle like vultures looking for carrion on a road somewhere. It's actually gotten to be a standing joke with myself and a few other guys I work with. Seriously though, if these guys circling Stacey's cubicle would put as much effort as they do into flirting with her as they would their jobs, damn, we'd be a first rate operation here. But alas, they don't. They're living out their fantasies of being the big men on campus, when in reality, they're choads. Yeah, I said it, choads (sorry if you don't know what a choad is, look it up somewhere).

Look guys, these women are not going to sleep with you. They don't think you're funny, they actually think that you're kind of creepy. Stop leering, and cracking stupid jokes that are supposed to be funny, they're not. Stop trying to act all charming, you're not. They smile, and fake laugh at your jokes because they're nice women, and don't want to make you look like a total fool. Get over it, and go back to work, again, you're not going to get into their pants. They're not interested in you. Sorry, that's the reality of the situation.

I like to bring realism crashing into their world once in awhile. It keeps them, you know, possibly more grounded. Now if only I told this to them for real. A man can dream can't he?

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07 January 2008

I got more...

More updates. It's January, and the weather yesterday on the 6th of January was beautiful. By the time I got done riding yesterday, it was a full on 65 degrees or possibly warmer. I was riding with just some arm warmers on, and that was it. For January, even in North Carolina, that's pretty sweet. Even though I missed a couple of days of riding during the mid-week this past week, I still managed to get in some good days of base riding. All told, about 13 hours of riding for the week, which isn't too bad coming off of the injury and all. I'm starting to feel better on the bike, and have been able to do several 3+ hour rides in a row. I am thinking about pushing it up to over 4 hours on Saturday next weekend just to see how spent I feel afterwards. We'll see how I feel come Saturday, and what the weather says of course. Many variables to judge in there for certain.

On the bike front, things got even better this weekend. I got my property damage check from the insurance company, so now that is all taken care of finally. I wasn't too mad at the insurance guys, since I was kind of dragging my feet along in the process, and got into contact with the insurance company a little late anyway. After the adjuster came over, reviewed my bike and stuff, it went pretty quick from there. I'm happy with how that all turned out as far as property damages. I think I got a pretty fair deal with everything, and the things that were broken, or suspect, did get covered, so no problems at all for me. Now we move on to the "human" damage, meaning my shoulder with the insurance company. Luckily, I don't have to work this angle of things at all. This is why I've got a lawyer to take care of the more complicated tasks. I think what they've told me is that they'll basically wait until all of my treatments are done, so that they can get a "grand total" of expenditures, and then they'll go out, and get that money back for bills paid, and other items. This could be a much longer process just because of the amount of treatment and physical therapy that I am getting for this surgery. As I've said before, I'll just let the lawyers take care of all of that, and will sit by, and just get updates from them as they come across.

In a quick note about politics. I'm excited about tomorrow's primary in NH. I was just reading, a few minutes ago, how Obama has opened up a double digit lead in the polls on Clinton, which after this weekend (that had them almost even) is pretty amazing. I'm hopeful that the democratic party will finally get around to nominating someone who can be elected, and I think Obama is the cream of the crop in this case. Well, as I've said before, I think Kucinich is THE MAN, but alas, he's never going to get the nomination. I do like that guy a lot though. He is my kind of kook. But since my man Kucinich has basically said that if you can't go for him, go for Obama, I'm sure I'll be taking up my second choice here in a little while. I can't wait to see the returns tomorrow in the primary, and to see Obama beat the crap out of Clinton. Don't get me wrong, I like her, but I think she's wrong for the job at this point in time. And she's not nearly liberal enough for me. Not even close actually. She's a little too pro business, and pro-Israel. I do think that if she gets beat down tomorrow, Obama is going to have tons of momentum going into Super Tuesday, regardless of what happens before that day. This could get interesting tomorrow for sure.

That's about it from here. Except that I'm back at work. This whole vacation thing was NOT overrated that's for sure. I thoroughly enjoyed the almost month that I had off of work. You can believe that. I had forgotten about work I had been gone for so long. It was nice. Now if only I could win the lottery I could do that on a permanent basis, or at least work a fun job. Meaning, go work at a bike shop for about 15 hours per week, and get good deals on sweet bike gear. First though, I have to win the lottery, and then we'll make some moves beyond that. Ah, we can all dream can't we?

04 January 2008

It has begun...

The silly season has officially started now after the Iowa Caucuses that took place last night. On the democratic side, Obama took the night over Edwards and Clinton. Clinton and Edwards were pretty much ties, with Edwards taking a few extra delegates than Hillary. Of course, this was heralded around the country as Hillary being defeated big time in Iowa, which is really laughable, mostly because even though Obama received slightly more delegates, Clinton and Edwards were essentially tied, and Obama wasn't that far ahead at the end of the night. The top 3 candidates each took about a 3rd of the vote.

Now over on the republican side we had Huckabee romping all over Romney, which I liked to see happen actually. Why? Well, even though every single Mormon I have ever met has been a super nice person, Romney seems to be the exception to this rule. And I just found it ironic that he dumped a ton of money into Iowa, and was beat down by someone who spent a mere fraction of what he spent in the same State, and has only really been campaigning for a short while now. There is something in me that just wants to see Mitt get the beat down and not win a single primary in any State. Well, he might take Massachusetts, but by that point in time, it might be a moot point anyway.

The thing that makes me laugh, being originally from Maine, and sort of knowing how our neighbors to the West in New Hampshire think, is that all of these pundits are talking about how Mitt is going to probably take New Hampshire because he's from Massachusetts, which as we know, borders New Hampshire. Apparently, these people spouting this misinformation don't know anyone from the State of New Hampshire (Live Free or Die), or have even really talked to anyone from New Hampshire. Because aside from the Red Sox, and the New England Patriots, people from New Hampshire HATE people and things from Massachusetts (except for the aforementioned 2 things, oh and maybe the Celtics, and the Bruins, but that's about it). Mitt is going to get beat down again in New Hampshire, and will probably fall to McCain, and then Mitt will come in far behind McCain, but not that far ahead of Huckabee. Am I discounting Rudy G? Of course. I think people in New Hampshire are far too smart, and classy, to vote for that snake. Rudy is banking everything on Super Tuesday, and I can't wait for that to blow up in his face. It's going to be astonishing to watch really.

For the Democrats, I think that it's going to be tight again in New Hampshire. Clinton, or Obama will take the State, and Edwards will roll in second place no matter who wins. There's a good chance that Edwards might just finish second right on down the line, which will place him in a good position to once again run in the VP slot in the general election. I wouldn't be surprised if Edwards TOOK New Hampshire though. Wouldn't surprise me at all. His talk about "the working man" and the middle class should resonate around New Hampshire, being that they are a fairly middle class State, and there are still a good number of unions up in the Northeastern part of the country, and I think his rhetoric will resound with a lot of voters in New Hampshire. We'll see what shakes loose come next Tuesday for sure.

All I can say is that I'm glad this process has started, and that maybe we can get down to the real issues, the real things to talk about, and we can get a President who can start cleaning up the mess left by the current occupant of the White House.