Monday, September 28, 2009

All the lonely people...

Tronica and I were at our new local stomp, The Backstretch tonight, talking about days past and those to come. The girl next to us asked if we wanted to hear anything on the juke as she had some extra credits. Seeing as this place reminded me so much of Les's Lounge I started racking my brain to recall a song from back in the day. It was pretty broad list: You never call me by my name by David Allan Coe, Policy of Truth by Depeche Mode, Slip Away by Clarence Carter, but I finally settled on something I hadn't heard in years: Eleanor Rigby performed by Ray Charles. I'm not sure if I like it better than the Beatles version (one of my Fav Beatles tunes), but it is still pretty good. See (hear) for yourself.

If you are fortunate to find a place that you can surround yourself with friends on a regular basis, cherish every moment; as it may soon be a parking lot.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cycling geek tidbits...

As many of you know I'm a bit of a bike geek. Not in the sense that I need to have the newest equipment, but in the way that I get excited in advances in technology. Since getting my powertap a few years ago, I've been pretty interested in the advances in power measuring technology. While traveling down that road I came across a neat open source software project called Golden Cheetah. It grew out of the need for a better analysis program for the mac and linux.

I got involved with the project by helping with testing and debugging as my coding skills are not really up to snuff, and it has been a pretty fun journey. In any case the project has grown a lot over the past few years, and it in now running on mac, linux, and windows (as well as a few other *nix type systems). This cross platform compatibility is the key to an exciting new project/device that is being developed by Quarq: The Qollector. It is a data logger that will record data from any ANT+ device (speed, power, heartrate). It is essentially a USB stick on steroids, and you can plug it into your computer to download the data. The coolest things is that it has a lot of storage (4 GB) and you can actually run golden Cheetah directly from the usb stick. away at a race and don't have you computer but want to looks at some data, no problem, find a computer, plug your collector in and you are good to go.

Here is a short video showing a little more info on it.

Congrats to all of the developers and the folks at Quarq for having the vision to put this all together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This is my Autumn. This is my introduction to winter.

"I just wanted to feel normal, important, warm, I wanted to feel cozy when it rains, instead of depressed by a storm. I wanted a hand to hold when my heart skips, maybe worth a tear in your eye, I just wanted one person to love me so I wouldn't be so afraid to die. So I when I'd sleep I'd rest, not a psyche to fuck, but a comfort to kill anxiety, so I could swallow without it getting stuck. I just wanted to breathe so I decided to pretend to be another reason you'll learn to never trust...lord forgive me."

Ink by Cubbiebear

It's 2 AM and I'm a bit restless. I've got a lot on my mind as of late. Some of the things running through my mind have probably been piling up over the past few months and possibly the events of the past few days have brought them front and center. In any case I was feeling a bit introspective and dug out my Journal from 2001. While it started in the dead of Winter the journal was about my Spring, a time for rebirth. I'm not sure if that was the case as I often find myself in the same trappings of old.

I began reading with he hope that I'd find some wisdom buried deep within the quad-ruled pages of the marble notebook (yes, only an engineer would use a quad-ruled notebook for a journal). 2001 was a pretty tumultuous year in my life, I was single after breaking up with my girlfriend of several years, starting a research project for my masters degree, and trying to figure out If I was cut out for a Ph.D. I was also not racing (running or cycling) for the first time in my adult/adolescent life. The combination of all of these factors lead to a period of soul-searching that provided no real answers, however the journey was still worthwhile.

The actions that were chronicled during that year were mostly fueled by alcohol and lead me down some roads I never should have traveled, but at the same time some very good memories were captured in the pages of my journal. Looking back through the pages of booze addled ramblings sometimes I am shocked by what I had written, as the clarity that I peered into my soul was a bit too much. I'm also a bit taken back at how dark and depressed I was at times. Here is an entry from 5/27/01:

I'm kinda fed up with the way things are. I'm pretty unhappy with the way life is unfolding. I feel shallow. There is so much to life & i just don't think I appreciate it . I'm just frustrated. I just realized that I don't like people that sit around a question everything. They lead me to question myself, and I don't like what I see.

While a bit spooky I think it was a very honest entry. The short sentences were blurted out via pen as quickly as possible. in some respects this is a really uplifting entry. I shows a willingness to let my guard down to myself. That may sound silly, but ask yourself when was the last time you really took a deep look at yourself.

I'm also a bit surprised to find entries expressing rage, lust, jealousy, and genuine love. While these are common human emotions, they are not ones that I express on a regular basis. People describe me as laid back, and I often wonder if that is a polite way to say "dead inside".

A recurring theme is my willingness to put others needs before mine. I think this is a virtue, but only to an extent. Eventually you have to be selfish, or else you end up at the back of the line, alone. That said, you have to pick your selfish moments wisely as they can have devastating repercussions. I hope that 8 years on I have the wisdom to pick my battles more wisely than back then; for actions cannot be undone, and regret is a bitter pill.

It is now almost 5 AM, and I'm pretty worn out. While writing the above I've been trying to take stock of where my life is right now and where I'm heading. I'm in a pretty good position, certainly better off then I was in 2001.

As an aside, while writing this I received an e-mail to join the "Les's Lounge Alumni" group on facebook. Apparently an old friend was suffering a bit of insomnia too and decided to create the group as a tribute the the local bar we called home several nights a week (Thursdays and Sundays to be specific). My journal is peppered with entries related to Les's, and I can say that many of the best and worst situations I found myself in that year involved the Lounge in some way. My nights at the lounge led me to broken bones and broken hearts, but my luck never really ran out.

And in case any of you are worried about my mental state here is a picture of cute little bunnies, This is what I feel like on most days. Just had some things running through my mind as of late.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's all over...

My bike racing season is over, that is.

Overall it was a really fun year, and I felt like I was racing at the level I am capable of. Since it has been a while since I've updated here is a quick rundown since July 15th:

Sterling turned 21, we drank lots, and I offended the new girl that works at STScI with Alex.

I turned 32 shortly thereafter. It was a gala affair and the girls at work made me some goodies. Sadly The festivities were cut short as I came down with the Swine Flu (yes, really... I was diagnosed). The university deemed that I would get a 7 day "vacation" as a present, and I went batshit crazy after a few days of solitary.

I nursed myself back to health, and started racing again just in time to see my teammate Nate really come into form. Fresh off the podium (2nd place) at Junior Natz, he nabbed 2nd at our regional championship road race.

From there it was on to Millersburg for a two day three stage race (ITT, Crit and RR). Nate was a rockstar and ended up winning the RR and was 2nd on GC. I felt pretty snappy, and managed to win the bunch sprint behind Nate and his breakaway companions for 4th on the stage. The team races so well at this race. We were in every move and animated the hell out of the race. This is becoming my new favorite event. The racing is great, and our host family (Duane and Juandeen) are the best. They took such good care of us the past two years, and I can't wait to go back.

With the season winding down our team numbers started to dwindle but I was able to hook up with a few teammates for a few races. My last weekend of racing would be a Twilight crit in Wiles-Barre, PA, then PA RR championship, and a crit in Basking Ridge, NJ.

Wilkes-Barre Twilight: C-Dubs and I were the only guys from the Amateur team, Shane and Clay were there representing the pro squad. We started in Twilight, ended in pitch black. Bryan Vaughan had his helmet cam on, so check it out. If you've never raced a crit this will give you an idea of what is going on. If you have raced a crit forward to the last 10-15 mins and you'll get an idea of how dark it was. I felt pretty crap, so I decided it was not the night do get in a break. I gambled on Hunting for primes and the hope that it would be a bunch sprint. I kinda pushed on that one as i nabbed a $50 crowd prime, but the winning move of 7 went away shortly thereafter. The sprint was hairy with a big stack that ate curtis on the last lap, but I kept it upright and finished 16th. Not a great result, but ending up in the $$ seems to make it seem like a successful race.

PA RR Championship: Todd, Blair and I lined up for 91 miles of rolling terrain on a pretty fun course. No huge hills, but enough up and down to thin it out. The boys were active early. A group of two got away, countering either Balir's or Todd's move. They got a gap quickly, Two more slipped away and then I jumped across. After a little solo effort, I grouped up with the two chasers and we caught the leaders in short order. From there it was a long day of paceline work. Our gap was sitting at 1-2 mins for most of the day. Apparently the big guns were happy to give us some leash, but we never ballooned out. We got caught with ~15 miles to go. I felt good at first, but the pace dropped and my legs shut down. With ~2 miles to go there was an attack up a small climb, and I just popped. Todd battled it out and was just inside the top 10.

Basking Ridge crit: Blair and I were the only representatives of our squad. Todd needed to spend some QT with the wife. This was my first time racing in my "home" state of NJ. The course was hard, with a few long false flat drags and a blazing downhill finish. Blair took an early exit when some dude stacked in front of him. I was active and had a good gap with one other guy in the middle of the race, but we needed another rider or two to make it stick. I was hoping for a bridge, and he seemed to be interested in not working too hard so we got caught. I countered as soon as we were caught, but no one else came along and it was a short lived move. A group of 4 got away and stuck it. I was 5th in the bunch for 9th on the day. Got some bills for my hard work, which was a bonus as the race was pretty fun.

I ran into an old friend, Jeff Lenosky, who is still killing it on the trials bike. He was doing Demos a the race and we shot the shit a bit after my race. The cycling community is so tiny, it is always a blast to show up to an event and see some people you've been out of touch with for a few years.
With that I've decided to hang up the wheels for another year. Next year is going to be interesting as I'm looking for a Job as a professor, and I might have to take a step back from racing for a little while.