Monday, April 28, 2008

While we're talking coffee...

I've done some recent posting about coffee and it is no secret to anybody who knows me that I am a "Coffee Snob"... big time. I am a total coffee junky and bow down before its power over me. I am weak to resist its strength... so I don't even try.

I spent many years hanging around in coffee shops- living the starving artist, beatnick poet life- before I began working in them. I worked in one of San Diego's first gourmet independent cafes. It was a coffee shop and art gallery and was my home for several years. After that, I helped another friend open her own coffee shop and helped to set up the espresso machine and select her coffees and menu. Opening night of the cafe, I sweated solo behind the espresso bar after I finished my shift at the other coffee shop. Years later I worked at Starbucks- after years of bemoaning them I finally went "inside" and developed a huge amount of respect for the company and the products. Then, after that stint, I was offered a job running another boutique independent, but had to turn it down... and it hurt to do so.

Why all this background on my caffeinated life? To set the stage that I know a thing or two about what makes a good coffee and that's because I have to say that I have seriously fallen in love with the coffees made by my friend and fellow cyclist Mark Ritz of Kinetic Koffee. Mark sent me a care package of coffees that I have been sharing with the office and also drinking at home. I have been happily sipping Morning Mayhem, Breakfast Buzz, French Konnexion and Espresso Kinetico. I can honestly say that these beans all get a rousing Masiguy endorsement- two very happy (and caffeinated) thumbs up!

Out of all of them, so far I love the Morning Mayhem for my regular coffee and the Espresso Kinetico is delicious for my homebrewed espresso drinks- as pictured the other day. If you like organic coffees and would like to get coffee lovingly roasted by a fellow cyclist, then you really must give the Kinetic Koffees a try.

And, just so you know... I am giving some consideration (serious consideration) to working with Mark to develop a custom blend or two for Masi-branded coffees. So if you are already a Kinetic Koffee fan, you might just get a new roast or two to try soon.

Now I can't wait for morning so I can grind up some fresh beans!

Tim

More Taliah Lempert dates...

Got an email from my fantastic artist friend Taliah Lempert with more information on her shows-

May is Bike Month in NYC

So I’ve got some events coming up.

On Monday night, the 28th, at 7pm

I’ll be talking about my work and showing slides

(power point, actually) for the 5 Borough Bike Club

at 104 Washington Street, in Manhattan.

I’ve been going through images putting together my favorites.

It’s free and open to the public and they say there’ll be snacks!

Then on May 2nd it’s up to Albany where my work is featured

in a show called Dream Wheels at the Upstate Artist’s Guild.

http://upstateartistsguild.org/DreamWheels

I’m psyched to go up there, if you’re in the area, please come on out.

On Tuesday, May 27, from 6:30-9:30pm

I’m teaching a drawing class in my studio.

http://www.bicyclepaintings.com/info/drawingclass/form.html

It’s the 5th year I’ve done this, it’s always a lot of fun,

Basic materials are provided and all levels welcome,

space is limited and the class is full,

If you want to come, sign the waiting list,

One or two spots may open up.

Then there’s the markets…

I’ve been doing more of these and having a good time at it.

I’ve got a mobile set up with small paintings, prints, drawings,

cards, t shirts and coloring books.

The Brooklyn Flea has been a big success,

http://www.brooklynflea.com

I’ll be there Sunday’s in May, weather permitting.

I’ll also be doing the out door market thing at a couple other events.

The first is on Saturday, May 10th, when my favorite local museum, The City Reliquary,

Is hosting the 4rd Annual Bicycle Fetish Day Street Fair

And also at the Bicycle Film Festival Street Fair

http://www.bicyclefilmfestival.com/

Saturday, May 31
2nd street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, NYC
12-7PM

There’s more info, links and details

Here…

http://www.bicyclepaintings.com/info/upcomingshows.html

Thanks &

Happy Springtime,

Taliah

Like I've said before, I love her work and highly encourage you to go check her out if you are anywhere near her shows.

Tim


Happy Monday!

Having a bit of a rough start to the week this week, when this popped into my inbox a little while ago;

There is a new comment on the post "Exclusive First Look: Masi SoulVille SS".

http://commutebybike.com/2008/03/27/exclusive-first-look-masi-soulville-ss/


Author: Craig

Comment:

I live a long way from any Masi dealers and despite numerous entreaties, was unable to get my LBS to stock them, so my year long search for a new commuter went a different way last month.

However, last week, I was on a rare road trip and saw a bike shop and pulled over (as I sometimes do) and there right in front of me when I walked in the front door, was a gorgeous cream colored Soulville. Holy crap it is indeed sweeter in the flesh than in pictures. Then around the corner stood a black one, and a Speciale Commuter. I can unequivocally tell you right now that my next bike will be a Masi.

Maybe the SS Soulville...

If you've never been to Commute by Bike, you should go check it out... and not just because people sometimes say nice things about Masi. It's a great site and it is under the umbrella of my good friend Tim Grahl- the Rupert Murdoch of cycling websites.

Thanks Craig... you just made the Masiguy's day!

Tim

Sunday, April 27, 2008

That's a wrap!

So the weekend is done now. Came and went without much sound or fury, but it was a good one just the same.

Went for a nice ride both Saturday and Sunday with Masibestfriend. Both days the pace was nice and painless. Since neither of us have had the chance to ride a whole lot the past couple weeks, it was nice to get out and just log some miles and talk. Due to my schedule and my geography, relative to my teammates, I spend the bulk of my training time alone... so riding with my "brother from another mother" is always something of a special occasion.

Both days were ridden at a nice, mellow pace but we did hit a few hills along the way and also rode a little "tempo" in a few spots... just because. As is always the case too, when we get together to ride, we do poke each other a little... but just a little. I have to say that it is nice to see him getting stronger all the time. He's getting closer to being officially ready to be my leadout man. The next phase is going to be working on the 2-man team time trial. Then he'll be a Flying Squirrel!

The Masidaughter had a great weekend with her mother and played all day at the beach today... which is her favorite place on earth. She LOVES the beach and the water and is a true child of the sun. I picked her up today and she was glowing from her day at the beach. She got a little pink from the sun, so a little Aloe lotion should do the trick. She's sleeping now... snoring loudly from her exhaustion. Her brother, Masison, is looking like a shaggy almost-sixteen-year-old... which totally freaks me out. I mean... 16? 16! I'm just not ready... NOT READY. But he's a great young man and I know I have little to worry about... but I do anyway. Ugh...

If all goes well and I can get organized enough to manage my time and prepare in advance (which is always a bit suspect), I'm going to try to get to the track and race again this week. Masidaughter loves going to the track and has been asking when we can go again (another reason why I love her so much). Squirrel is my Team Director and dropped off a new long sleeve skinsuit this weekend, so I have a little added motivation to get out and race.

I'm not sure if it is a good or bad thing that we have a new weight bench at work now. My boss, Joe Hawk, has allowed us to create a little fitness center in the warehouse- "Average Joe's"... straight out of Dodge Ball. It currently consists of just a very nice weight bench, a bunch of weights and several dumbbells and curl bars. But... the bench also includes a very simple leg extension apparatus... which spells trouble for me. Given the chance, if I could, I'd move my desk down to the fitness area now. I am totally addicted to leg extensions. I am powerless to resist the allure of sitting down and popping off a couple quick sets of extensions any time I am down in the warehouse... or have a free moment. A guy I used to have some serious sprint races against, and who once rode for the National team, told me that "old sprinters never die, they just lift more weights". I thought it was kinda stupid at the time, but now I identify with it far more than I'd like to. I'm either going to have some massive quads soon, or I'm going to shoot my knee caps across the warehouse and have to use a walker. Not sure which is in my future yet. Thank God we don't have an incline leg press!

Tomorrow morning is the beginning of yet another week of much business. I hope you all enjoyed your weekends as much as I tried to. Here's to Monday delivering a mercifully easy week!

Tim

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Athens Twilight Criterium 2008

Tonight is the Athens Twilight Criterium- arguably one of the most important crits of the year in the US. Outside of the national championships, Athens is pretty much the jewel in the crown of US crit racing.

Last year, the race was won by A&F/ Inferno rider Mark Hekman abourd his Masi 3VC. Mark is now riding for the Toshiba team, but Inferno is coming to the race packing some serious talent and is ready to retain ownership of the Athens title;
- Marco Aledia (USA)
- Jim Baldesare (USA)
- Josh England (NZL)
- Jaime Gandara (MEX)
- Bennet van der Genugten (USA)
- Rich Harper (USA)
- Jeff Hopkins (AUS)
- Matt Winstead (USA)

The team is ULTRA motivated and is ready to show the field that last year's wins were all well-earned.

The field is going to be stacked with talent from all the best crit racing teams in the US... but Inferno is among the very best- anywhere! Besides... riding on the 3VC Team Issue, how can they not repeat?

In just a few hours time, we'll know who this year's Athens winner is. Keep your eyes on the guys in the pinstripes... they're gonna be providing the pain!

Tim

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Peaceful

There is something perfect about a nighttime training ride; something about the darkness mutes the sound and fury of life.

I got out for a short ride, just about an hour, on the bike tonight. I tossed a blinky onto the back of the bike and headed out for a good ride. My old front light is dead, so I relied on streetlights and passing cars to see the road. And in a few places I didn't see the road at all... which is never good. Still, it was great to get out and ride.

I rode through the neighborhood, down a good hill, along a freeway frontage road, around a major mall, down by the bay, back by the mall, up a nasty leg-busting hill, back through the neighborhood, into downtown, back up the hill into the neighborhood and then back to the homestead. It was only a tad over an hour and was likely only about 15 or so miles, but it was a great ride just the same. I powered up hills, I drove up and over the false flats, I sprinted through traffic and let the sweat pour down my face and neck. All I heard was the sound of tires on asphalt and the chain running smoothly over cogs and rings. In essence- it was heaven.

After a few days of feeling worn down and beaten up, it felt great to feel like "a rider" again.

Sometimes it is the little things that make a difference.

Best of all, I came home to find this in my email;

There is a new comment on the post "Exclusive First Look: Masi SoulVille SS".

http://commutebybike.com/2008/03/27/exclusive-first-look-masi-soulville-ss/

Author: Bob from Santa Fe

Comment:

Picked up my new Soulville 8-speed yesterday in antique Beige. Everything you guys said about this bike was completely true. It's gorgeous, fun to ride and the quality of the build is unbelievable. I had a front brake added to mine which is really handy in traffic. Added a Topeak Explorer rack and their nifty slide-in slide-out bag and it looks great outfitted that way. Nice mount for my rear light on the Topeak rack as well. It all looks very "OEM'ish".

So add me to the inumerable MASI fans out there. I just turned 58 and this is my first bike in years, but it's like they say, you don't ever forget how to ride. Of course, never had a bike this good before. I remember coaster brakes of course, but the one on this bike really has great stopping power.

Thanks Masi !

I'm telling you, if that doesn't just fill you full of peacefulness... then you must be dead.

Tim

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Track Night- 4/22/08

So, after returning from Texas last week, my legs have just been blown and I've been fighting to kick the remnants of this cold. Maybe I rode too hard on the ride- Lord knows it was the most 2 day mileage I've gotten in a long, long time. Whatever the cause, I've been pretty darned fatigued and have only ridden a few days in the past week and the riding I have done has been low intensity- as if I have a choice.

Anyway... that's my excuse for going to the track last night to spectate rather than race. I hopped on one my several trusty steeds and rode the few miles to the track to watch a little racing go down.


The stands were, for us, quite full. It was really cool to see so many folks in the stands- and almost as many outside the fence a few feet away. There was a cool mix of young hipsters and the regular racing crowd (friends, family, loved ones). The fence and the stands were lined with many bikes- largely fixed gear bikes and conversions. As a dedicated bike nerd, I was really digging the variety of bikes and all the creativity that was on display.

It's a pretty fun crowd that we get at our little race series. Lots of loud folks drinking beer, eating pizza, offering up beer primes to the racers (I gave socks and bar tape... because I had both) and generally having a good time screaming for the racers in all of the classes- A, B, C... it didn't matter.

One of the personal highlights of the evening for me was watching Iggy Silva racing. I've known this young man since he was a little, little guy. Watching him develop into one of the strongest young riders in the US has been an amazing treat. He's still racing as a junior as a high schooler, but he's also racing in Pro/1/2/ races and doing very, very well. Check out his blog and see the pictures of him riding strong in the break with riders from Toyota United. He's always been the most humble and gracious kid, in spite of his amazing talent and all the race wins. I can tell you that getting my ass handed to me by him is a mixed bag of being bummed out and being totally proud of him. His father is well-known in the area and the racing scene because it's hard to find a father anywhere in the world who is more proud or who has worked so hard to help his son chase a dream- it's nothing short of inspirational.

The other highlight for me was seeing this...


... it's a crappy picture, but it's an old BMX race bike converted to a track bike for one of the junior racers. I mean... a track bike so small it uses 20" wheels! This is one of the most beautiful sights in the world to me. I keep toying with the idea of developing a couple of bikes aimed at junior riders/ racers. Every time I see something like this, I get that much closer...

After the races were done, I rode with my friend Ernesto (guy with black knit cap in center of first picture) over to Lefty's Pizza for a slice and a beer with a bunch of folks from the track. (For what it's worth, I've never had a bad slice at Lefty's and it's a cool little spot, so check it out if you're in the area.) Afterwards, I rode with Ernesto and Erv for a few blocks as we headed home.

In the end, it was a pleasant night of bike love. Next week though... it's back to business!

Tim

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Day 2008

Today was the local celebration of Earth Day- though it is officially on 4/22 (Tuesday).

Masidaughter and I rode the bike to the park today to participate in the Earth Day parade at Balboa Park with her school again this year. Needless to say, the levels of cuteness were off the charts and could not possibly be measured.

The Princess traded in her crown for some face paint- which she did herself- so she could be a tiger today... even though the school's "official" agenda was saving the oceans (it was hilarious hearing her scream "save the oceans" from behind me, all the while dressed like a tiger).


Tim

Friday, April 18, 2008

Saying "see you later" to a good friend...

I've remained in, and struggled to remain in, the bike industry for about 26 years now. I love bikes, I love racing bikes, I love talking about bikes, I love the sport of cycling and I even love the business of bikes. But the main thing that has kept me in the business all these years has overwhelmingly been the people.

As a Brand Manager for a bike manufacturer I work with my product manager together with a lot of different vendors. With a line the size Masi has become and will grow to be, we work with a lot of different suppliers. Some big and some small. Over the past nearly 4 years, I've had the chance to work with and get to know a lot of different people. Some of these people I have been lucky enough to develop really great relationships with outside of our respective companies.

One of these people is Daniel Limburg. I've known Daniel pretty much since joining Masi (Haro) and it didn't take long for our goofy senses of humor to mesh. It's safe to say that we get along pretty well. It never hurt the relationship that Daniel has been my "sales guy" at Shimano. That means that he is morally and professionally obligated to buy the sushi. And buy sushi he has!

Daniel has been a huge help and benefit to us at Masi and Haro. He has always been honest with us about all Shimano-related issues and has always been very easy to work with. If things will be delayed or a cost increase is coming- Daniel has always been very forthright in providing that information. Basically, Daniel rocks. Sure, Shimano will find a person to fulfill Daniel's responsibilities... but he'll never be replaced.

The thing with the bike industry is that sometimes people within the industry get noticed by those outside the industry and then move on to new challenges professionally. Daniel is one of those people. It is with great sadness that I will be forced to say goodbye to Daniel as a colleague in the industry. He'll be moving on to a new industry and new challenges. The plus is that he will have much less travel, a much shorter commute and far more time to be with his wife and 3 children.

Daniel is a man of faith and great family values. One of our very first conversations we ever had we talked about family, kids and life... in great depth and sincerity. I know him as a man of great character and impeccable principles. He's just a darned good guy... and I'm gonna miss working with him (and the free sushi).

I'll be keeping in touch with him though... calling him, emailing him, reading his blog.... so he isn't getting away completely. Still, the bike industry is going to feel a little different without him. I just know it.

So, Daniel, I wish you, Jenny, Megan, Connor and Mallory the very best. May this new phase of your life prove to be enriching on all levels.


And always remember your brother from another mother. Sushi will be on me next time.

Tim

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2008 MS150 Report- Day Two

Ok, so I left off with the poor night's sleep that was had by all three of us. Neither of us brought any kind of a pad for the ground and we all paid for that choice by getting very little sleep. Two years ago, I had the same experience... but nobody ever said I was very smart.


Morning did come early, as predicted. We all scrambled to get our gear packed for the transfer to Austin and to get ourselves chamoised-up for the day. It was still pretty darned cool when the sun came up so I opted for the full compliment of thermal arm warmers and knee warmers. It turned out to be a good choice...

The day offered two routes to Austin- one was roughly 70+ miles and the other was roughly 60+ miles. The longer route, the Bechtel Challenge Route, took a gorgeous detour through a park (the name of which I can not remember at the moment) with tree lined rolling hills. It was beautiful! But also painful for the legs with a series of short, punchy climbs. I managed to stay in my big ring for all but the one steepest/ longest one... but it was a challenging loop for my tired legs.

Early in the first few miles, I ended up rolling off from Brian and James again- totally by accident- and settled into a pace that I hoped would keep my legs from exploding like the day before. However, it didn't take me long to realize I'd started a little harder than I really should have. Not long after getting separated from my fellas, I got into a nice rhythm and briefly thought to myself, "my legs don't feel too bad today". Shortly after that, on a short downhill, I was joined (passed) by a small group of pretty quick riders who were obviously club riders/ racers. Three different teams/ clubs were present and they all seemed hellbent for speed. Oddly, after chasing me down for a couple miles, they didn't seem interested in working with me and would not let me rotate through to take a pull. Granted, they were moving quickly enough that the pace was more than I had a right to be going so soon, but I held on and enjoyed the free ride. Not too long later, on a longer and steeper downhill section, I pulled to the front after one of the guys began sprinting the downhill... being a race dork, like I am, I chased him down and passed him... only to drop the entire group of riders and end up all alone again.

Shortly after that episode was the beautiful park section. The rolling hills through the park, though punchy, were brief and produced a beautiful ride. I stopped at the last rest stop in the park for my first stop of the day. I topped off both bottles, grabbed a couple slices of orange and headed out to the road again.

Because we'd started in a later group during the morning roll out, there was a never ending line of riders to roll through again on the second day. That morning, the announcer at the roll out said that the forecast called for much lighter winds for the day... but he was wrong! Very, very wrong. Admittedly, the winds were a touch lighter, but they were still quite significant for nearly the entire day. Like the day before, I spent the bulk of the day rolling along on my own, in my own paceline of one rider. From time to time I would be joined by a rider or a few riders, but mostly I rode alone to take in the scenery in by myself. At one point, after my second stop for water and more fruit and energy bars, I was riding along with a song in my head (though I can not not remember the song). I looked over my shoulder because I thought I heard one of the ride marshal motos pulling up and saw a line of about 20 riders behind me on my wheel. The poor, panting guy behind me said "thanks for the pull" between gasps for air. I let him know it was ok and simply kept pulling the group for a few more miles before losing them on a series of rolling hills. I'd hoped to keep them a bit longer just to be nice and provide them with a good draft, but the miles must have caught up with them.

Probably about 20 miles out from Austin, I began to fade a bit. Not bad, just a drop in power and a bit of frustration with the wind. Not long after, a "Race Dork" caught and passed me. His riding was erratic. He didn't say a word to me- like I wasn't on the road- but he was wanting me to work with him to get him to the "finish" line. We traded pulls for a bit and he was plenty strong, so I fought to stay with him a few times. But in the end I let him go as he was riding through traffic across the yellow line and riding through the pack a bit too aggressively for my comfort on a charity ride. During this time, I was joined by a young college student racer. He's a local Cat 2 and college student, so he's racing and training as much as he can between his busy class schedule. He wasn't feeling his strongest either, so we ended up riding together all the way in to Austin. We rolled through all the closing hills leading to the city, trading pulls and talking about racing and riding. I sure wish I could remember his name or the team he races for... but he's a good kid and it was a pleasure to ride with him.

In the final mile or two of the event, he and I caught and re-passed the Race Dork... much to his chagrin. Together, we "raced" to the finish line... culminating in a three man "sprint" to the line. Since it was a charity event, I didn't want to get out of the saddle for a proper sprint... so I stayed seated and let the other 2 fight it out. Still, it was an awesome experience to pour into downtown Austin with thousands of people lining the streets.

I really can not say enough good things about this event and the people behind it. It is by far one of the most professionally run events I've ever participated in. And the people participating in the event become like family. Sun & Ski has done a great job selling the bikes and I got to spend a lot of time thanking all the Masi-owners out there riding in the event.

I'll have more comments and photographs to wrap this all up tomorrow.

Tim

Monday, April 14, 2008

2008 MS150 Report- Arrival, Prep and Day One

As promised, here is the ride report for the 2008 BP-MS150 Houston to Austin ride...

I got into Houston around 5:00PM with my bags and bike all at the same time! Considering the
hectic nature of the day, I was very pleased. The fiasco with American Airlines really impacted a lot of travelers and the other airlines. San Diego was a mess, as was San Francisco. Houston was less of a mess, but the ripples were still there as well. In San Francisco, I saw several American planes sitting on the far end of the runway, looking like they were being serviced. One has to assume it really hurt them. Anyway, I got the airport in one piece and with all my pieces, but Brian and Nathan were stuck in the slow-moving Houston traffic and I settled in to a beer and some chicken wings and gumbo while I waited for them to arrive and pick me up. We got the hotel and Brian and Nathan took off to get some dinner, since they hadn't eaten all day, and while they were gone I built my bike. By the time it was all said and done, it was nearly 9:30 by the time I was done and ready to ride. Yes... I rode! I brought a taillight with me, though I didn't have a headlight, so I took off down the main drag near the hotel and went for a 45 minute ride to get my legs loosened up. After a long day of flying and airports, a ride was exactly what I needed.

Friday came early for some reason... or at least it felt like it with the two hour earlier time difference. Still, Brian and I got up and got our selves organized enough to get some breakfast in us before Nathan showed up with James and then the four of us headed out for a nice little ride out of the area of Houston we were staying in and headed out towards some slightly more "country" roads. It was cool- I saw a number of snakes (including a pretty good sized Copperhead- the mostly venomous snake in the Southeast US) and a bunch of turtles... but the wind was beginning to blow... which becomes important to this story later.

After the ride, we got cleaned up, ate some lunch and then headed over to the ride expo to get our rider packets and help the folks at Sun & Ski with the sale event there. The expo was packed with the thousands of riders doing the ride and numerous event sponsors and retailers. It was organized chaos. Later, it was a tasty dinner and bedtime since Saturday was to begin very early for us- shuttling bikes and gear to the event start at Tully Stadium (one of three different start points for the nearly 14,000 riders).


Just as we feared, Saturday morning DID come early... but we still managed to get up and get ourselves to the event start with several thousand of what were to become our very close friends. The morning was cool and clear with no signs of the winds that would meet us later in the day.


As you can see from the boys and the other folks, it was a nice start to a day that would ultimately end in La Grange- about 101 miles later.

The ride began without a single problem for us, though there were the inevitable flats and other minor mishaps for other riders. As the sun rose, the temperature got a little warmer, but it was ultimately a pretty cool day and I finished the entire ride with my arm warmers still on. We rolled along with the pack for the first little more than an hour and then at about 25 miles +/-, a small group of riders on TT/ Tri bikes rolled past me and I simply couldn't restrain my itchy legs and I took off with them... leaving Brian and James for the day (unknown to me at the time). A few miles later, I was on my own and riding through the countryside from Houston out West to La Grange (the overnight camping spot). Once out on the open roads though, the winds began to pick up until they became incredibly strong- strong enough to send some riders seeking shelter in the sag wagons early in the day. There were a few gusts that were strong enough to blow my 205 pounds across the road. Still, the ride through country was truly beautiful with all the wild flowers in bloom.


I am admittedly too competitive for my own good sometimes, especially on my bike, so once I realized I was riding reasonably well, I decided to roll on with a nice brisk pace. Since the ride starts in 3 locations and there are about 14,000 riders, no matter how fast I rode, I was going to be passing riders all day long all the way to the finish. But with the crazy winds, it was even worse- I just rode the ride as if it were a time trial and plowed away into the headwinds at near maximum effort. I stopped at two of the several food/ water/ rest stops along the way and really should have stopped at least one more time.

The last rest stop was 11 miles from the finish and since I had one half bottle of water left, I figured I'd just roll the last few miles and get in to the camp area as quick as I could. Well... about one mile later, that proved to be nearly my undoing. I rolled past that stop point and then went back into the crazy winds... and that was when I saw the Care Bears and Elmo, with Papa Smurf sitting on my handlebars trying to tell me that every thing was going to be ok once I had some Smurfberry pie. I crawled along at what seemed a snail's pace into the wind, but I managed to continue to pass other riders who looked as equally glazed and confused as me. With about 5 miles remaining, I had a partial recovery after downing another gel packet and eating half a food bar. This mini rally was enough to get me over the last couple of rollers and into the finishing shoot at the fairgrounds. It was like finishing a big time race, with people lining the finish area clapping, yelling, whistling and ringing cowbells as if I'd just won a Belgian Spring Classic. It was nothing short of spectacular. After crossing the finish line, I rolled to the Sun & Ski team tent in a total confused haze (but Papa Smurf said it would be ok).

I met the Sun& Ski folks and sat on the top tube of my bike chatting with them for a few minutes filling them in on the day's ride details... and because I was too beat to go any further. After regaining my composure, sorta, I headed to the sleeping tent and found my bags so I could shower before the huge crowds arrived. After my shower, I had a phenomenal massage (compliments of Sun & Ski- which they provided for all of their team riders) from a young woman named Alexis. It was heavenly! After arriving at the tent 5 hours after the ride start, it felt great to get my poor muscles worked on before hitting the roads again the next day.


About two hours later, Brian came rolling in- but I didn't have my camera out in time to get a picture of his arrival... though I did get him hunting for his bags... and having a recovery beverage. About an hour later, James rolled up... looking pretty good for a guy who'd never ridden a full century before. Brian, come to think of it, had never ridden a full century before either. Honestly, I was quite proud of them both. Both of them were also smart enough to partake in the massage as well... and both agreed it was heavenly!


Throughout the day, riders continued to pour in to the camping area and the lines for the showers got longer and longer... and longer. Sun & Ski kept things hopping with repair services and plenty of items for sale. Since it was quite cool in the morning, and predictions were that would be cooler the next day, arm warmers, lightweight jackets and base layers were quite popular.

The day went on with delicious, ice cold Shiner Bock beer and some of the finest tri-tip BBQ in Texas. After eating WAY more than we needed to, we went back to the main sleeping tent with a few hundred of our closest friends and tried to get some sleep. Sadly, it was a very cold night and the ground was hard and rocky... so I didn't actually get much sleep- and neither did either Brian or James...

... and morning came very early again...

More to come,

Tim

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's over and I'm cooked!

The BPMS150 is done! I rode over 175 miles in 2 days and it sure feels like it. I'm not a big mileage guy anymore, so it wore me out... on top of not being able to train for such distance, etc... and on top of riding through some insanely strong Texas winds for much of both days.

It was a great ride and I saw lots of Masi bikes on the road, which always makes my heart skip a beat. Had a great time with Brian and James on the ride as well. A full report will follow soon, but I am just too tired to write anything right now.

The 3 Stooges at the start of Day One...


The 3 Stooges at the start of Day Two...

One, solo Stooge somewhere in the middle of beautiful Texas farmland!

Full details coming soon... I promise. Tomorrow I fly back to San Diego with Brian. James is staying a few days more to visit dealers with our local sales rep Nathan Frazier.

For now... bed!

Tim

Friday, April 11, 2008

Here now...

Sitting in the hotel room with my first roomie- Brian Hayman (our Western Regional Sales Manager)- getting bikes built and ready for a short ride this morning. 2nd roomie- James Ayres (our Eastern Regional Sales Manager) shows up a bit later today.

In a few hours we'll be at the rider expo to pick up our rider packets and help the fine folks at Sun & Ski with their efforts for the day. The community of riders for the MS150 is pretty amazing- people riding for fun and for a cure to the disease that hits so many people. As I've said, I have an aunt who I am very close to with the disease- Joan- and I'm riding for her again this year. Her strength will be all I need for two days of riding. And my story is only one of more than 13,000 that will be told in the coming days. I've heard from one man who is riding in memory of his son- he rode the event for years and loved it, but was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. It is the stories like these that make this event so special for me. I look forward to seeing everybody out on the roads over the next few days.

I got my bike built up and then went for a short ride last night to loosen up the legs. It felt great to ride- even if around 10:00PM on a busy Houston street with very little shoulder- but I'd forgotten just how humid it is here. A short 45 minute ride had me drenched!

Ok, time to get ready to ride again and then get cleaned up for the expo.

Tim

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flying...

Sitting at the gate... finally... waiting to board my flight to San Francisco to get to Houston. What a mess...

... all the canceled American Airlines flights have this airport backed up like crazy. The line to the check out counter went all the way outside and took more than 30 minutes- it is normally only about 10 at the most. But I'm here and soon I'll be there.

Tim
UPDATE- Finally in Houston after sitting on the runway in San Francisco for an extra hour due to "maintenance" issues...

.. so I'm having a beer and some dinner. Waiting for my ride to show up and get me from the airport, but they are stuck in traffic coming from east Texas. As soon as I get to the hotel, I'm building the bike and going for a ride! I gotta get my legs stretched out after sitting in airports and on planes all day.

Oh yeah... and I got upgraded to 1st Class on my flight from SD to SF... but 1st Class on a 1.5 hour flight is kind of a let down... but I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Back to the Track!

Last night was my first night of Tuesday Night Track Racing at the San Diego Velodrome. Last year, I managed only two races at the track... which was twice as many as the year before. The work schedule, the travel and the sheer volume of work make it difficult to get out of the office in time to make it to the races on time. That said, I'm still committed to trying again this year. Thing is, I simply love track racing and every year it kills me to not be there in the action each week.

So anyway... on to the racing! (Blue Squirrel has a good recap too- so I'm pilfering some of his photos.)

It was another chilly early season night of racing with temps in the upper 40's to low 50's and clouds that threatened rain and kept us all a little cautious... as rain turns the track into a death pit.


The evening's festivities began with the usual motorpaced burnout. Since I decided to race the B's, my race was only 30 laps. And as is customary for this time of year, the long paceline inch wormed along and kept getting bunched up and then strung out as people tried to find the rhythm of the track again. The C's sprinted at 15 laps and then it was the B's turn to sprint at 30 laps. So when the motor pulled off, with 3 laps to go I began moving forward and got to the front with a lap+ to go and gunned it. I had a great gap, but got cocky and thought I had the race won and ended up getting swarmed to net 4th place instead.

Lining up at the rail- the full field for the racing was probably around 50 riders.

Hanging on to the rail waiting for the start of the race... and trying not to freeze!


The next race up was a 10 lap Win & Out; that means you race for 10 laps and the winner of that lap is 1st place, the winner of the next lap is 2nd and so on until 5th place. I rode a bit smarter this time, but timed my movement to the front wrong and got kind of boxed in when the winner rolled to the front and took 2nd with him with a sizable gap. I managed to get away from the field with a good gap myself and grabbed 3rd... which felt a lot better.

Next was a 10 lap Scratch race and I was just a victim of poor timing. I blew my energy trying to get off the front with the two guys who'd beaten me in the previous race when they rolled off the front again. I launched a good attack from the field to catch them, but then they sat up- maybe not wanting to bring a sprinter to the line with them. I dunno... but when the field caught us, I faded pretty good and sat about mid pack and finished maybe 10th with dead legs.

My last race of the night was a 25 lap Points race. Everybody knows I hate Points races. I'm a sprinter... and one with poor fitness at that... so 25 laps is like an eternity with sprints every 5 laps. So what do I do? I launch a solo attack on a huge gear with 22 laps to go... The attack looked good, but I quickly faded and was caught by the winning break of 3- 4 riders. I then sat in the middle between the break and the chase for what seemed like 100 laps... but it wasn't. I sat up and joined the chase group, but then slid off the back of that and decided to call it a night.

All in all, I was super happy with how my legs responded to the racing. Far better than I expected they would, since it was my first race in a long time and my first time on the track since December. My legs had great power/ acceleration and my leg speed was better than I thought it'd be- must be from all the roller workouts on the Fixed with the smallish gear (46x16). The first races were all run on a 49x15 (88") gear and then I hopped up to the 49x14 (94") for the Points and I think I was just bogged down. Racing on 170 cranks still feels a little different too, since I'm used to running 167.5 or 168 (depending on the crank). I do have to say that the TruVativ (SRAM) Omnium cranks do feel very stiff. I was also testing a new chainring from a small supplier in Taiwan and I was very happy with how it rode. So now it might find a home on a Masi bike in the full line. Hmmm... Also, the Cane Creek wheels combined with the Vittoria Pista tubulars was an insanely fast feeling set up. I can honestly say that they felt much faster than my tri-spoke wheels... which I've always said were very stiff and fast. If you are considering high-end racing wheels... you HAVE to check out the Cane Creek wheels because these babies are practically an unfair advantage.

On top of it all, I had the distinct pleasure of having both Masibestfriend and Masidaughter there to watch and cheer me on. Masidaughter spent the night running with me around the cool down/ warm up track and standing at the edge of the track screaming "GO DADDY, GO!" By the end of the night, the other guys were teasing me, saying "yeah... go daddy... GO". But I just kept saying, "it's good to have a fan". And it sure is!

Sitting on the rail, waiting for action! Dig the red chainring!


Masidaughter getting her exercise chasing me around during my cool down/ warm up rides. She really enjoys going to the track to watch the races and was already asking if we were coming back next week as we were leaving last night... makes a Masiguy happy.


Squirrel getting all artsy on us with some cool camera angles... but dig the sweet wheels! Damn they are fast! (Even with ME on them.)

Hopefully there will be many more race reports coming this year. This should just be the first of many... as I hope to really race this year. We'll see what the travel schedule yields this time. Off to Texas for the Houston-Austin MS150 over the weekend... more on that tomorrow from Houston!

Time for bed now...

Tim

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sorry...

Due to receiving something like 200+ spam comments in the past 24 hours, I am forced to turn on comment moderation for a short while. I am hoping that the spam attackers will give up and go away soon and I can then turn off the comment moderation... but until that time, comment moderation is in place.

Sorry...

Tim
(PS- I will have a race report post soon too; first track race of the year!)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday, April 06, 2008

More Kool-Aid...

There's another new post over at the Kool-Aid site... if you're into that kind of thing...

Tim

More Brand Camp 2008

As promised, here are more pics and a bit of commentary from brand Camp 2008...

The view of Big Bear Lake from the second floor balcony of the cabin we stayed in and had our meetings in. And yes, that's a melting snow bank in the left corner. The weather was pretty good and we never received the snow storm that was supposed to materialize.

Looking out the window of the meeting room (large living room) of the cabin... not too shabby.

There was still a good bit of snow around in the hills. This is looking into the valley down stream from the lake's dam.

This is the view of Boulder Bay, along the south end of the lake, on the last morning there. The clouds were covering the tops of the surrounding peaks and created this really wonderful silence. Not a bad way to wake up in the morning- a nice ride around the lake.

This the view of the slopes from the parking lot of the Vons, where we stopped to stock up on food for the meetings.

And since we ARE a bike company... I brought my bike of course! This is the same scandium/ carbon frame I've been testing for a few months now. Special thanks to my friend Chris McClaren at Spinergy for getting me the sexy wheels to ride! The PBO composite spokes do make for a very plush feeling ride. The Red group, the Spinergy wheels and the scandium/ carbon frame create one helluva ride. I am seriously addicted to this rig at the moment.

The Decider pontificating during our meetings. Discussions were run a little looser this year, but the end result was the same- great, open dialog that will lead to a better house of brands going forward. It'd make for great reading to claim that we sit around strategizing on how we're going to dethrone Trek or Specialized, but we really focus on how to make our company better and not on how to attack anybody else. Sincerely, if you look at the evolution of all our bikes over the past 3 years you'll see the fruit of these meetings. Our bikes and our brands keep getting stronger because we are committed to improvements and growth and not on how to take anything away from anybody else. If that happens, it's because the products and/ or the company has improved. Personally, I prefer that way of doing business.

A table full of laptop computers- working while working. It's a 24hr global world that we live and work in now. Communications never stop.


The elusive Bike Biz Babe herself- Jill Hamilton- and our Purchasing Manager, Jim Maher in the midst of listening and checking emails, etc. Again, doing double duty... as always.

Even though I look like the spitting image of Minnesota Fats... I still lost.

The area around the pool table was "cramped" to say the least. And, yes, John made the shot.

James Ayres, the Eastern Regional Sales Manager- he's talking to the ball, but I don't think it was listening.

Pete Demos, our Creative Director, getting creative with a pool cue.

So even though we did have some fun, we did also get a lot of very critical thinking and planning accomplished as well. As has been the case for the past 3 years, Brand Camp proved to be worth the 3 days of being out of the office. I am also proud to report that the meetings also yielded some outcomes of a greater good; I will be working with James and Jill to spearhead new Green Initiatives within the company. Haro/ Masi will be looking for ways to minimize our collective impact on the environment. I'm very proud of this particular move by our company and I am certainly open to ideas on ways we can work to leave the planet in a better condition than it is currently in.

I've got a few more random images for later... so this ain't over yet!

Tim