Wednesday, December 21, 2005

No Whining

Just when you think your life is sucky or annoying, you see this:

Cliff shot this last Sunday. Four families were made homeless by the fire, and no one knows yet what started it.

I followed up with the family whose apartment contained the fire a few nights ago:

Anjie Bull, right, checks out the boarded-up entrance to her family's apartment Monday night at 11th Street and Portland Place, which caught fire on Sunday afternoon. Left to right are Isaiah Danaher, 14, Matt Roper, and Oaklie Bull, 10. Danaher was seeing the damage for the first time, since he had been out of town when the fire happened.

They're holding up surprisingly well, but still, that is a huge drag. Luckily tons of people from the community are stepping up, offering them a place to stay, replacing their Christmas presents, etc.

This of course gave me memories back to my own house fire, in 2001. Thank god for renter's insurance! Too bad this family didn't have any.

On a happier note, the weather here is getting fabulous and warm! I'm hoping to have a fun weekend of riding around Boulder, seeing the family in Denver, and then perhaps taking off for Moab on Monday. Yahoo! Then I'll finally have some fun pix for the blog. ;-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Yo, Word.

Dig this white-boy 'fro:

I know, I know. You all want my job.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Random Oddities

I know I've been slacking on my blog, but there just hasn't been much of interest going on. I'm on a later shift at work, which usually results in mind-numbing assignments like meetings and high school sports. Nobody wants to see that stuff.

There IS one picture from tonight's girls basketball game that's amusing, however:

For my friends that don't know about this, my brother nicknamed me "Biz" when we were really little. No one knows what it means. But dammit, I'm one of the team!!

In other corny but entertaining news, I have another wonderful commemorative item to add to my collection. This beauty came to me from our race team party after the State Championships, where I was awarded the "Best Teammate/Best Supporter" award (you know, the "jock strap" award). I probably got this award for all my hollering, hooting, cat-calling, and other annoying vocalizations at the summer short-track races. I also received a pound of coffee and a "growler" of beer from two of our team sponsors (nice sponsors, huh?). I gave the coffee to my roommate, who actually chokes down Folgers every morning, and the beer went to my friend, teammate, and coworker at the Daily Camera, Jeremy. But of course I kept this nugget for myself:

My teammate Cindy won a gorgeous engraved-Lucite golfer for "Most Improved Rider." It's pretty safe to guess that one of the team directors scored these things that morning at a thrift shop. The best part is that we have to hang onto them, to pass on to next year's winners.

Lastly, I've been reading the blog written by my friend Nick Martin, who runs the Trek Rocky Mountain racing team, and quite frankly, it's depressing. I want to be 24 years old, a sponsored mountain bike pro who has no other job but to ride all day, dammit!! (If you have time, check out his blog; naturally it's a lot more interesting than mine.)

So in a desperate attempt to imitate his fun-filled winter training rides, I cast around for someone to ride with this morning. Luckily I found "someone" -- Andy Hampsten. (The fat slacker who was the only American to win the Giro d'Italia... no big deal.) We did the coffee-shop meeting and then headed out on our 'cross bikes. While Andy's custom "Mud Pig" (so called because his bike-touring company is named after Italy's famed wild boar, the Cinghiale) has water bottle bosses, he doesn't have any cages on the bike. So he asked me to be his domestique and carry his water. As you might know, domestiques are the "helpers" in road racing, the underappreciated, ass-busting no-names who ferry water and food to the important guys as well as block the wind for them, wipe their butts, do their taxes, change their kids' diapers, etc. etc. But I digress. So I put Andy's bottle in my second cage and we set off, heading toward the dirt roads north of town. (I'm allergic to asphalt, as many of you know.)

The wind turned out to be HELL-acious, due to a cold front heading in. (Or is it just that Boulder is windy every god-forsaken day in the wintertime??) We had to literally yell at each other to be heard. We still managed to talk about movies, flying in small aircraft, Andy's plans to remake wool cycling jerseys as well as retro 40's and 50's clothing, and any number of other things. Of course, I talked in strategically small sentences to hide the fact that I was getting totally gasping from fighting into the wind.

And suddenly Andy's arm shoots into the air and he turns to look behind him while he's riding. It takes me a second, in this setting, to recognize the classic body language of a pro rider waiting for help from the team car -- needing water, a spare wheel, a pat on the ass, etc. I start cracking up, but let him hang there. Finally he bellows, "CAIVANO! Where's my water??"

This picture is after he was properly hydrated, of course. He went on to tell me a story about his days on the Motorola squad, when a cyclist named Raul Alcala was the big shot. Raul kept insisting that Andy and another domestique stay with him, even though they were at a good strategic point in the race (a flat spot) for one of them to go back to the team car for liquids. Of course, Raul waited until the road went steeply uphill to demand a Coke. (The riders drink them for the caffeine boost.) So Andy went back for the Coke and ferried it to Raul, without complaining about having to slog up the steep section of road twice. But Raul went postal, threw the Coke off the side of the road and screamed, "I wanted a COLD one!!!"

And you thought basketball players were prima donnas.

And dammit, that pesky Nick Martin doesn't have this story!

Monday, December 05, 2005

I'm a Champion!!

Sort of. Okay, not really. But kind of.

This past Saturday was the cyclocross State Championships, and even though I've been down with a cold for almost all of the past two weeks, I was feeling ready to race. Yeah baby! Last race of the year, last race of my season until late May 2006... gotta make the most of it. Even though it was a bit chilly and windy, it was a great day for racing in December.

I was feeling pretty decent and riding hard, but everyone pulls out all the stops at States, that's for sure. It was at Xilinx, the same joint as two weeks ago, with a slightly different course. This time it routed through the deep-sand volleyball pit, which is not very fun. But since Colorado 'cross is extremely dry compared to racing on the coasts, the promoters feel like they need to throw in whatever they can to worsen the conditions. It's a European sport, with a storied tradition of suffering in the cold and wet, so it's perceived as lame if the course is too dry or easy. Then they figure it's too similar to short-track mountain bike racing. Anyway, bike racers are masochists, there's no way around it. ;-)

Here's me not looking too wrecked:

(props to Beth Jordan for the sweet pix!)

So I busted ass as hard as I could, but could tell from the start that I was wasn't going as well as the last race. My fitness has definitely decreased due to illness and the onset of winter while I was working a very inconvenient shift at work. Damn jobs; why do we have them, anyway? But at least I didn't get passed by the women pros. They usually lap me right at the end of the race, but this time I managed to hold them off.

Is that a smile or a grimace?

I finished 5th in the 35+ category, which then brought me up to 3rd place for the series -- yahoo!! I was very happy. If I hadn't missed one of the races in late October, I might have done even better, but nonetheless I think that's a great finish for me. Cyclocross is very new to me; I only started doing it last year. Next year I'll actually DO the running workouts my coach prescribed for me, and I'll perfect my remount -- yeah! And then maybe I'll be able to haul the mail! ;-)

As I was hanging around with my teammate Cindy (who placed 4th in the series!) while we waited for our prizes, a friend of mine called out, "Hey Marty, you've got a medal over here." I went over to the official's table (these races are run by the American Cycling Association), and sure enough, there was a bronze medal in an envelope that had my name on it. Cool!... but I didn't get it. I came in 5th, not 3rd. The official had to explain to me that two of the women in the top 5 did not hold full ACA racing licenses, so for the State Championships their results are dropped, which moved me into third place. So basically, although I didn't literally earn my 3rd place medal, I got rewarded for kissing the ass of The Establishment, so to speak. ;-) Well, I've got very few tangible items to show off my racing results, so I guess I'll take it and try not to feel like an opportunist. Schwing!

Here's the medal, with Cyclocross Guy in full swing (and my still-dirty bike as the backdrop):

Cheesy, but still... it's a reward for many hours of blood, sweat and gears.