Saturday, August 26, 2006


One of my trumpet idols passed away this week, Maynard Ferguson. Like most young trumpet players, I discovered his musicwhen I was in high school. My parents had an old record with Maynard's biggest hit, "Gonna Fly Now", the theme from Rocky. I made a tape from it and listened to it a lot for a while. His music wasn't exactly refined (OK, not refined at all), but it was always a lot of fun. As I got older, I found out that most trumpet players went through a Maynard phase at about the same age. I think what was appealing to most of us was that Maynard's playing evoked the kind of feelings that got most of us interested in the trumpet in the first place. He sounded like you felt when you were having a good day with the horn.

There's an excellent article about him on the Washington Post website that describes what I'm talking about much better that I can. "Triumph" is an appropriate word. I remember that's what I felt when listening to "Conquistador" (the title track on my parents' album) for the first time.

I had the opportunity to watch him in concert a few years ago; it was in a local high school auditorium. The place was filled mostly with high school-aged boys. Maynard's band was full of a bunch of younger guys too, probably just out of college; it must have been quite an experience for them to tour with someone like Maynard. The concert was pretty much as I expected; Maynard delivered even though he was obviously getting over a cold. My friend remarked that he'd hate to be a high school band director on the next Monday; I'm sure Maynard inspired a lot of kids that night.

I think I'll go dig out some of my Maynard CD's and listen for a while...

Friday, August 25, 2006


Wow, it's been a busy week at work. Between that and being back in a Build phase, it's been a tiring week.

I went to the Flying Rhino's track night on Tuesday. This week I took my cyclocross bike and rode with the 'cross group. They set up a little cyclocross course on the infield of the Waterford track. We mixed it up quite a bit, doing different sections, different directions, etc. I felt pretty quick, but I was inconsistent on some of the corners and over the barriers. That should improve with a little more practice though. We ended up riding for about 2 hours, and I was pretty wiped out by the end.

This was also the first time I have done any serious riding with my 'cross bike. I was very happy with the way it handled. My only complaint was that it really beat up my hands, even with gloves on. I think I spent too much time with my hands on the brake hoods. I need to mix up my hand positions a little bit more when I get the chance.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pump Track

Destroying your back yard for a good cause...

Article on how to build your own pump track. I don't think Sarah would go for it...

Riding with the Rhinos

Wow, it's been a busy week. I rode with the Flying Rhinos on Tuesday night, was on a business trip to Indianopolis Wednesday and Thursday nights, and have been generally busy at work all week. Not much time for blogging!

Anyway, as I mentioned, I did my first ride with the Flying Rhino cycling club on Tuesday night. Every Tuesday, they rent out the Waterford Hills racetrack. This time of year, the group splits up, some do cyclocross and some ride on the track. Most of the group did 'cross. Since I brought only my road bike, I stayed on the track. It was a bit of an adjustment for me to get used to riding in a paceline, but by the end, I felt reasonably comfortable with it.

We started up doing some "positioning" drills in a double paceline to get warmed up. Mainly just weaving around, spliting apart and coming back together, etc. After that, we got into some sprinting. We started with short, standing sprints. I had no issues with these, but we spit 4 or 5 people (about half the group) off the back. Then we went into some sitting accelerations. I did OK for a while with these, and even rode at the front a little, but we just did too many. I eventually couldn't hang on any more.

So, I was pretty tired by the end, but I had a good time. I think next week I'll bring my 'cross bike and see how that goes.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hines Park TT

Well, I did my first road time trial. I figured since I am still in my "race phase", I might as well race, even if it's on the road. I signed up as a Cat 5, not really knowing what to expect. It turned out that this was a good call. Most of the guys there were pretty fast. Almost all had nicer equipment than I did (my 8 year old road bike isn't exactly state of the art); I was surprised by the number of aero bars and aero helmets I saw in Cat 5.

Anyway, it was a 20km TT. The course was basically flat and in an out-and-back setup. This is not the sort of effort I'm used to from mountain biking! Anyway, I figured if I could do the TT at 20mph (36 minutes), I would be happy for a first attempt. I ended up finishing almost right at 35 minutes, so about 20.5mph.

The full results aren't posted yet, but I got beat by a lot of guys; I beat quite a few too, so I guess that's OK. I only passed one guy on course, and got passed by two. So I felt reasonably competitive.

Photos of me in the race can be found here. (I'm the one in the middle set!) Note the relative age advantage I seemed to have compared to the guys on either side of me. I was happy that the guy behind me (in orange) didn't get close to me at all, but I never did catch the guy ahead of me (in blue). I don't think he finished that far ahead, since I saw him immediately afterward, but I don't think I made up any time on him either.

For all the crap roadies take in mountain biking circles, I found everybody to be pretty friendly today. In fact, I chatted with more people at this race than I do at a typical mountain bike race. Of course, maybe things change as you get to the higher levels.

EDIT: The link above doesn't seem to be working. Here are some links directly to the pictures, hopefully they'll work better.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Bunch o' Dogs

We have all of my mother-in-law's dogs at our house for the next week. So, including our dog, we now have four. Four is a lot... especially when one of them is a puppy.

In case anyone is contemplating teaching their dog to use a pad rather than going outside, I'd recommend against it. With three dogs using pads, it really makes the house smell.

Suzie in the laundry bucket; she likes to climb in there for some reason.

Being around the other dogs so much tires Suzie out.

Germany Trip

So, here's a not-so-quick rundown on my trip to Germany last week.

I left on Sunday afternoon almost immediately after the bike race. I flew Business Class, so I got to stretch out a little bit on the place. Still, my hips and knees got a little sore while I was trying to sleep on the plane. Everything felt OK once I got up and moving on Monday though.

So, I arrived in Frankfurt on Monday morning, and picked up my rental car. It was an Opel Vectra station wagon. It turned out to be a decent car. It was a little big for my taste, but it handled well and the diesel engine provided good torque. The woman at the rental car desk was surprised that an American knew how to drive a manual transmission.

I got my first taste of Autobahn driving on Monday. I kept my top speed between about 75 and 85mph on the unrestricted sections. It was a bit of an adjustment to get used to closing on slower traffic so quickly, but by the time my 3 hour drive was over, I was pretty much used to it. I did manage to aggravate one German driver. I pulled out to pass a slower vehicle and didn't accelerate very hard in the left lane. He closed on me pretty quickly and wasn't happy that I was going so slow. It was definitely my fault. I didn't make the same mistake again.

I arrived at the company I was visiting in the Thuringer area that afternoon. We worked for a couple hours, and then we went to a different village for some barbeque. I had some good bratwurst and beer, and got a chance to see a village in some detail. Pretty neat.

The hotel I stayed at was typically German (at least, based on my limited experience in German hotels).

I had a nice view out the window of the valley and the new stretch of Autobahn they're building.

Tuesday we worked all day and went out for dinner at an old castle. Most of the dinner conversation was in German though, so it was a bit of a slow evening for me. I'm picking up a little German here and there though.

Wednesday we also worked all day and finished up a little late, so I didn't leave the company until about 7pm. From there it was a 3 hour drive back to Frankfurt. On the way back I was following one of my German colleagues, and so I drove a little faster, between 90 and 100mph in the unrestricted parts. I did much better on the drive back and didn't aggravate anyone (that I'm aware of). We stopped for dinner at a rest stop, where I had to pay 0.50 euro to use the bathroom. (Looking at it more closely now, I see that I could have had 0.50 euro taken off my restaraunt bill with this, so it's not a total scam.)

We took off again, and were almost to Frankfurt when traffic came to a stop. The tunnel we had come up to was completely closed. We sat, parked, on the Autobahn for about an hour and a half. Once they opened the road up, it was pretty clear that there had been a big accident in the tunnel. Anyway, I ended up arriving at the hotel at about 1am.

I got up the next day, drove to the airport and flew home. It was pretty uneventful. I watched "Walk the Line" on the plane; I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There's some possibility that I'll be heading back to Germany at the end of the month. We'll see how that plays out.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Trail Trimming

I took the singlespeed out for a ride at Bald Mountain this afternoon. I brought some clippers along with me and did a little trimming while I rode. (OK, I stopped to trim ;-) ) I'm still physically in a little funk after my trip to Germany so I thought it would be nice just to go out for a ride and not worry about "training".

It's been awhile since I've ridden a rigid fork on the trail. I'd forgotten how much it tires your arms out. On the other hand, my singlespeed is noticeably lighter and more efficient than my regular bike. In short, it's just a fun bike to ride.

This ride also got me thinking a little more about switching to a short-travel full suspension bike for next year. I don't want a lot of travel, just enough to take the edge off of some of the bumps in the back. I had trouble in a few sections at the Stony race with the back end of the bike bouncing around on me, mostly on flat, rough sections. I think that there may be a decent advantage to be had if I could keep the rear tire on the ground in those spots so I could keep pedaling. I'm also considering that there might have been an issue with where I had my weight on the bike in those sections; maybe it was too far forward?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Stony TT

Well, I'm back from Germany, so time for a little bloggin'.

Last Sunday was the Stony Creek Time Trial. I had designated this as one of my "A" races for this year. Because I had to get on the plane for Germany later in the day, I decided to go ahead and race Sport class to get an earlier starting time.

I got to Stony around 9:30am and registered. I was assigned a starting time just after 11am. So, I hung out for a little while, then got changed and did my warmup. I felt a little flat during the warmup ride around the lake, but I just tried to stick to my plan and not worry about it. It felt pretty hot outside at this point; the temperature was only in the mid-80's, but the humidity was pretty high. I ended up arriving at the start line with only about 2 minutes to go before my assigned time.

Since I registered on the day of, I ended up going about the same time as the Sport Clydesdales. That worked out OK for me, I could dump them on the climbs, and they kept me working hard on the flats and in the more technical sections.

Here's me at the first stream crossing. Here's a link to another stream crossing picture.

One of my main problems in this race last year was that I went out too fast at the start and blew up shortly thereafter. This time, I took it easier (although I probably actually went faster) and felt much better through the sections I struggled with last year. I was pretty cooked by the end of the race, but that's how it should be.

Here I am near the end (slightly off-line), trying to catch this dude who must have weighed about 100lbs more than me... I never did.

I maintained a good pace, for me, throughout and was rewarded by a time that was 12 minutes faster than last year! I ended up finishing 9th out of 13 in my class, but that was actually better than I expected. Particularly with the heat, I was extremely happy with how the race went for me.

I headed home almost immediately after the race, got cleaned up, and left for the airport...