Monday, June 30, 2008

It's July again...

As I type this, it's still June, but in a few hours it will be July.

On the 3rd I see a new orthopedic specialist and hopefully get the pin out of my thumb and get some news about my knee and elbow. I'm obviously hoping to get some good news about my recovery and when I can start trying to get back on a bike again. On the 9th, I go back to the neurologist and will likely get the ok to stop wearing the neck brace/ collar. My neck feels pretty good now with only some minor pain in my current range of motion. Hopefully I can begin to start working on getting the strength in the muscles back too- 6 weeks in a collar robbed my neck of strength.

The month of July certainly holds other happenings (like our National Sales Meeting), but as a dedicated bike nerd, it's obviously important because of a certain bike race in a certain country that yearly attracts our total attention... yes... le Tour de France.

Last year's Tour, with all of the drug scandals and the crowning of a winner who was gifted the jersey with less than a week to go when the yellow jersey at the time was pulled from the race by his own team, was a different race. Numerous riders were caught or implicated in doping scandals and the very rich and brutally beautiful image of the race we love was kicked into the dirt and trampled.

With a few stages remaining in last year's race, I found myself no longer able to watch the race I have loved for well over half my life. I turned my back on the 3 week spectacle that has held my rapt attention since I was a 12 year old boy first falling in love with a sport that happened on the other side of the world. My heart had been bruised. My faith had been taunted. My love had been abused. Last July hurt the heart of my cycling passion.

Obviously, that's a lot of melodramatic feeling for a bike race. I agree with that assessment, but having made a living off this wonderful sport and industry since I first entered the workplace, the Tour is important to how I pay my bills as well as my cycling passion. Over time, I got over my disgust and my disappointment. I don't place too much importance on athletes because they are just people, like me, and though they can be inspiring and entertaining, they also make mistakes and bad choices. Athletes are not role models or heroes- they are good at a sport/ game. They can be admired, but they should never be idolized and I lost sight of that.

This year's Tour looks to be a really great race. It's too bad that ASO and UCI are in an ego pissing match. It's also too bad that Contador won't be there to defend his title from last year- and earn it outright. If this year's Giro is an indication, the racing in July should be pretty great to watch. After the Tour last year, I wasn't so sure I'd be looking forward to the race this year, but I find that I am. I haven't paid much attention to the pre-race hype this year and don't really know that status or condition of all the contenders and the teams... but my curiosity is coming back around.

This weekend, when the Tour kicks off, I'll be really excited to watch it and read about it. I'll be drawn to the faces of agony on the long climbs, the tongues wagging in the breeze during those epic breakaway attempts and the gritted teeth of sprinters dashing for the line. My heart rate will climb as I watch leadout trains getting their designated sprinters set up. I'll get anxious watching time splits during crucial time trials. All the love I have had for the sport for 26 years will somehow blossom again and show itself.

And that's the thing; this is MY favorite sport and the Tour is one of the most incredible spectacles in all of sport- that is truly impossible to deny. 3 weeks of amazing racing is something that I love. The sport belongs to the fans and I am still a fan. I guess I always will be too. I hope I will anyway.

So long live the Tour. Long live cycling. Long live the love of a sport that has been beaten and bruised but has refused to go away.

I love this short ad by VS for the Tour- it sums things up pretty well;

(PS- Notice the poll on the left of the blog page. I am undecided on whether or not I am going to attempt to do my yearly daily coverage of the Tour this year. Part of me wants to and part of me doesn't. So place your vote and help me make up my mind.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Too pretty...

Track Omnium World Champion Hayden Godfrey; a little pre-Olympic tune-up;

Friday, June 27, 2008

In the bag!

This week is done and in the bag... finally! Just a couple little things away from being done with catalog copy 100%- just need to finish the last of the individual bullet specs. Almost done.

Now it's time to make a total change of gears and start new product development again. Got LOTS of projects on the plate for my Product Manager and I. Lots and lots of work ahead. Fwew... no rest for the wicked- ever.

Got through the week without losing my mind- which is good. Presentations went well and things looked good. I'm very excited to be getting ready to begin some video projects soon. Speaking of video...

Help me with content for videos you'd like to see. I have a bunch of my own ideas, like educational pieces on different models of bikes, or videos on why we do things the way we do- the basics. But I also want to do things like little interviews with people in the company or team riders/ sponsored athletes. I also want to do my own version of a mini tradeshow from Las Vegas- discussions about the various bikes, impromptu conversations with industry folks abd athletes. Looking forward to some fun bits too- like videos riding on the track, or out on training rides. Maybe going through some product reviews as well.

Thing is, I really want to tailor these videos to what YOU want to watch. So send me some ideas and I'll put them all together and start building a library of ideas. After all, there for your entertainment/ education... not mine. It's all about you... no really... it is. So gimme thoughts/ ideas.

Ok. It's been a long week folks. Masidaughter is now sleeping and I will be doing the same shortly. Enjoy your weekend... please.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Coming up for air...

Today was another busy day- of course.

Finished the editing of the catalog copy. Worked with the Graphic Department on setting up the pagination layout and photo needs. Nearly finished the short "bullet spec" that goes with each model.

Had a late day meeting with our important visitors. Originally, the plan was to give my presentation, along with my other Brand Management cohorts, tomorrow. Plans got changed, so we each presented our brands and had our brand discussions. I went last at 3:30- I was lucky to get my sister to pick up the Masidaughter from Y-camp, so I didn't have to worry about the time. The presentation seemed to go well enough and I am looking forward to a likely increase in some budgets. One thing you can definitely expect to see coming from the Masiguy Global Domination HQ- more video. I'm going to get a Flip video camera in the coming days and begin a very informal, but informative, video program. Look to see product highlights, product spotlights, sneak peeks and other cool features in the near future.

That said, I'm whooped and ready for bed... so I'm heading off to sleep.

But first things first; I want to congratulate my good friend Tim Grahl and his wife Candace on the birth of their second son- Max. Max' older brother Conner will be keeping him company and showing him the tricks of the trail in no time. Congratulations Grahls!

Ok... now sleep.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why isn't it Friday yet?

This is one of "those weeks". Been super busy all week; catalog pressures are still high- working on final edit of the copy I finished writing Sunday night, have important meetings tomorrow and Friday with our most important VIP's, been dealing with doctors and insurance and I have Masidaughter this week (though that's a highlight).

The catalog copy needs a final edit and then is done. After this hectic week, I'll also write the short bullets of spec highlights that accompany the photos of each bike model. I also have to work with my Product Manager and the creative folks to lay out the way I want the spec pages to read. All of the bikes have been photographed though and that is a big deal.

Our VIP's are here this week, for meetings that start Thursday. It's always a stressful time because it;s just always stressful when you go over all those budget things and talk about financial performance over the past fiscal year, etc. I am NOT a number person- anybody who knows me can vouch for that- so this stuff is painful for me. However, after the number part of things, I get to cut loose and talk about my goals and vision for the brand and what I hope we can attempt to accomplish in the coming fiscal year. It's a stressful presentation, but I love what I do and the product that will either keep me employed or get me fired, so I get pretty worked up in the meetings.

Got my blood drawn yesterday and my INR values are finally where they want them to be, so I actually don't need to see them for another blood test for 4 weeks! Woohoo! I'm happy about that. But I also find out that my referral information and other things have been getting mailed to an address I haven't lived in for 14 years. Also found out my neck x-rays didn't get ordered. Had to cancel my follow-up appointment with my neurologist because of the x-rays. But now I'm getting the x-rays next week. My crutches are bruising the hell out of me and are making me very cranky. Plus tonight, cleaning and re-dressing the Bionic Thumb, I moved the pin again... and nearly barfed and then passed out. I managed not to... but it was close, especially after watching it bubble like crazy when I poured hydrogen peroxide on it. Ugh...

The doodlebug is with me this week, which certainly improves my outlook on life, but it does add an extra layer of stress in my current condition. She's on summer vacation, so this week she is going to camp at the YMCA. It's swimming camp, so she's in heaven because she loves to be in the water. It just means very busy mornings getting her and I both ready for work and then that mad dash out the door. But... at night she is like a tranquilizer and I can feel a lot of stress just falling away.

Ok, tomorrow is another big day so I'm off to bed. Wish you all well.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Inferno Pro Cycling at Tour of Ohio

For the second year running, Inferno Pro Cycling has dominated the Tour of Ohio. Matt Winstead was 2nd the first and second stages, won the third stage and took the lead and then maintained the lead in stage 4 as his teammate and newly crowned Track Omnium World Champion, Hayden Godfrey, took the stage win. Winstead rode safely to finish 3rd in the fifth and final stage, netting the overall. On top of that, the week's efforts by the team netted them the Sprint jersey for Marco Aledia (4th consecutive, 6th total), the KOM jersey for Joe Cooper and Best young Rider jersey for "The Dutch Boy"- Bennet Van Der Genugten. All in all, not a bad showing for the Ohio-based team... it's always good to win in your backyard.

Hayden Godfrey- Stage 4
Photo- Greg Sailor

From all of us at Masi (that's basically me and Insane Wayne Doran), we say congratulations on a well earned victory. You gotta wonder what they'll do for an encore...


Sunday, June 22, 2008


After weeks of beating my head against my computer... I have finally finished writing the copy for our Fall catalog. The copy is nowhere near as pretty as the bikes, but I can live with that.



Saturday, June 21, 2008

What a week... ugh...

This first week back in the office was great, but also very taxing/ tiring. I don't really fear that I did too much too soon, but 6 weeks of doing nothing really weakens you to doing anything. Yesterday, with the frequent trips up and down the stairs really took a lot out of me. I slept really well and didn't wake up until around 10:00 today... and it was only because of the crazy heat we're having here now.

The week was good for me though- it was great to be back in the office among my other family. But at the same time, after 6 weeks of being out of the office, I felt a lot more like a stranger in my own home. Being unable to "be me" still, things just feel incredibly foreign and different. I know it has a lot to do with just being physically out of the office for so long and I know it'll get better soon enough... but it still felt weird. That said, I'm still happy to be back.

My main goal for the week was to finish writing all of my catalog copy... and I didn't... and I'm still struggling with it now. It has to be finished before Monday though, so I've got some writing still to do. The bike photo shoot yesterday was a great though- it felt great to get to see all the work we have done come together. A bike lives in your head for a long time before you get to see it as an actual bike. That day that all the parts go together correctly and the bike is built is a really great day. Seeing the paint shine and the graphics sparkling under the clearcoat... really hard to describe how great that feels.

Well... I really just wanted to check in and say hello before throwing myself back into trying to finish the catalog copy. So... hello... and now, good bye.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Studio Time...

Today was studio day. "Gee, Tim, what's Studio Day?" Well, that's a great question; studio day is when we set up all the bikes in our little mini photo studio and shoot the pictures of the bikes for the catalog. It tends to be a rather tedious project, for the most part.

It's a (never ending) series of little tasks; wiping off finger prints and dust, getting seat in right position, seatposts at right height, bars at right angle, brake levers in right position, no gaps in bar tape, no kinks in chains, chain in right gear, pedals in right position, tires in right position, valve stems in right position, crank arms in the right position, all components are correct (or can at least be Photoshop'd if they aren't)... and then repeating countless times for all the bikes. And then when you get the catalog done, you always find mistakes. Bikes fall over, you notice issues after you've already shot a few pics and then have to start over, you find a footprint on the paper background, etc... it's just a bit tedious and tiring.

For me though, this year is fun, even if terribly stressful; catalog copy still isn't done and I have to finish it this weekend because I have to work on my fiscal year-end report/ presentation next week. On top of it, my desk is UPstairs and the studio is DOWNstairs... and I made the trip about 10 times today, on crutches with bruised underarms/ torso... so that part wasn't fun. BUT... I really love what I get to do for a living and getting to see the bikes that we have worked SO hard to create is just an immense thrill for me. This is as pretty as they'll ever look- good lighting, great positioning, great photography... so it's a kinda special time for this bike nerd.

Getting ready to stage a bike- the white paper is used for the catalog sideviews- makes for easier clipping.

Getting all the details handled... and yes, that IS one sexy freakin' bike!

I tried to see if our photographer extraordinaire, Pete Demos, could even make me look good... but I think I broke the lens.

On the right is Photo-Gawd, Pete Demos, and his new intern Billy.

This is my Product Manager, Wayne- Waynbow, Bearded Lady, Taiwayne- Doran. When it is really busy during catalog season, we sometimes let him out of his cage and give him little snacks; he's partial to Monster and Doritos.

Searching for inspiration. Sometimes Pete needs direction and he loves it when you try to tell him how to take pictures- really, he does.

In the end though, it's worth each second! Check out the great family portrait! You KNOW you want a sexy new steel bike- especially after seeing this!

It's enough to make a broken Brand Manager happy... the Bionic Thumb is happy too.

Yes, there will be more to come...


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

News and Pics

News for today;

I received confirmation from Ben Delaney, the editor of VeloNews, that they will be running an essay I wrote for them. The July 2nd issue, #13 (how poetically ironic is that), will feature a guest-written At the Back. If you're familiar at all with this segment of the magazine, it tends to be a fun section and most guest writers are professional riders, mechanics or other interesting personalities. For years, it was the domain of former staff writer Maynard Hershon (who I have always really admired). This privilege comes about largely due to the fact that I somehow befriended the amazing Patrick O'Grady. Patrick writes for VeloNews, is a cartoonist as well and does double duty over at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Pat apparently has some very incrominating photos and/or receipts that were compelling enough for Delaney to offer the spot to me for one issue.

For me, as a bike nerd and race geek, VeloNews has always been a very sacred publication. I have been reading VeloNews for as long as I can remember being in the sport of cycling. I always dreamed of being in the pages of the magazine- though I always thought it would be as a professinal rider. Now, as the Brand Manager at Masi, I run the occasional ad in VeloNews, the bikes show up in the magazine, the fantastic guys of Inferno Pro Cycling get talked about in the mag' and now I will have a brief guest appearance. Without waxing on for too long about this- it's pretty damned huge to me. All that's missing is a technical Q&A with Lennard Zinn!

And... nearly best of all; the column nearly always is accompanied by a cartoon illustration by the unbelievable David- Brintoni- Brinton... and so will "my" visit. I saw the illustration today, thanks to Ben Delaney sending me a sneak peek. Needless to say... WOO-HOO!

So run out and get yourself a copy of the mag when it lands in a few weeks, or keep an eye on your mailbox for your subscription copy to arrive. Bring it with you to Vegas, for Interbike, and I'll even autograph it for ya... HA, HA, HA... couldn't resist.

And now for some pics... as promised...

Here are a few sneak peek images of the new Fall bikes coming. They are BEYOND pretty... so start saving your milk money.

The frameset in front is the new Speciale Sprint (same as what I was testing when I crashed... but in better shape). Same geometry as the Coltello aluminum race frameset, but in sweet-riding Reynolds 631 tubing.

The green frame is the new color of the Coltello (available late summer... I hope). I named the color Metallic Swamp Green. It is sparkly and gorgeous! Looks WAY good in the sunlight- this photo does it no justice at all.

In the bacground is the 3VC Team Issue carbon frameset- full carbon frame, full carbon fork, Ritchey headset and Ritchey WCS carbon seatpost- an awesome package deal.

Not telling you what bike this is, but I LOVE the new artwork. And the new paint it SWEET... this is one fine machine.

Not telling you which model this is in the carbon line, but this new color is simply breathtaking; the metallic Ruby Red paint on top of the UD finish carbon is insane. It looks completely 3D.

Here's the CXR and the Speciale. Both are in the current Spring/ Summer line as well... but they sure are sexy bikes. I really love them both.

That's all for tonight. I have to drag this out and torture you as long as I can... it's called Marketing. I have more and I will give you more snippets soon. Tomorrow the bikes are getting their studio shots, so I'll have full-blown glamour shots for you then.

More good stuff to come- promise.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So... whatcha think?

Thanks to my very lovable buddy, Chris Crashball, I now have a new look and feel to the MASIGuy blog.

Let us know what you think. Improvements/ changes can still be made... so let us know.

Thanks again to Chris for helping me out and changing an award winning site again.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Ramblin, ramblin man...

Yesterday was Father's Day and I only realized that Saturday at my nephew's birthday, as I still though this was May... because I've been trapped in a timewarp for the past 7 weeks.

Masidaughter and I spent the afternoon together at my mom's place, where she splashed in the pool and was generally very happy. It made for a very mellow and relaxing day. Nothing big, nothing stressful... just time in the water for her and a little time in the shade outside for me.

Back at my desk- finally!

Today was my first day back in the office since the crash. Tomorrow (6/17) will mark 7 weeks since the crash. Wow. WOW! I got up and tried to get out the door matching my normal schedule, but it was hard... but I managed to get to the office only about 5 minutes late (which is early for me). I hate driving, but I admit that it felt good to get my mobility and freedom back.

I managed to make it through an entire day too- I only had to go lie down on the couch in the art department twice and elevate my leg to get the swelling to go down. I only got one headache that required ibuprofen and I didn't have the sudden critical need to nap. In other words... I MADE IT!

Aside from the joy of making it back to work, I also had the great pleasure of looking at those new sample bikes finally. Oh man... these are some really gorgeous bikes. I almost pity the other bike companies out there... almost... (wink). I gotta say, the new Dura Ace 7900 group is growing on me more and more all the time. I wasn't crazy about the cranks at first, but...

And yes, as always, I'll leak a few spy shots to you later... promise.

I got a all from Brad Pitt's people... they wanna talk...

On the way home, I stopped in the neighborhood and got my first haircut in 3 months... and now feel a little less grotesque. Between all the leg and facial hair AND a truly unkempt head, I've been losing my mind. So today marks a nice milestone; first day back in the office and a new haircut! It was a good day...

(I'll talk about the cool goodies that were waiting for me next post...)

PS- I wore the SockGuy Dummy socks today too... thanks to my great friends there.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More news and whatnot...

Let me see- where did I leave off? Hmmm...

Friday was my big day with my GP Doc to discuss moving forward with my injuries and treatment, etc. 1st topic was my blood test results from Thursday; my "INR" (a test to see how long it takes your blood to form a clot) readings are targeted to be between 2 and 3. My test results came back as a little over a 4... meaning that my blood is currently too thin to form a clot in a reasonable amount of time. It also means that I get bruises by even thinking about bumping something- I now have a slight black eye again on the left because I was rubbing my eye after getting something in it. Great! So with that news, we lowered my medication amount a lot (like I didn't take any for two days) and I'll be getting tested again soon. Oh yeah- and I'm supposed to keep an eye on any unusual bleeding... um... yeah.

2nd order of business was the whole orthopedic doctor nightmare. Once again, I was being told I should just go back to the original surgeon, but that would end up taking me longer to get treatment (ie removal of the pin in my thumb), so my Doc got me a referral that day to another ortho (who, as I later found out when I got home and tried to get an appointment, is leaving on vacation for 2 weeks). BUT... the ball is at least finally rolling. FINALLY. But it does sound like the other possible ortho option might work and I should be able to get the pin removed soon... hopefully.

Best news of all though; my Doc told me to just go buy a soft collar, rather than waiting for the approval to show up in the mail. So I did! Mom went out and got me a new soft neck collar and I am now no longer suffering with the hard plastic cervical collar that was giving me such terrible headaches from the the plastic in the back rubbing my head all day long. This also means that I can now legally drive again! And... I DID! Today, after my family get-together, I drove my sister's car home with her. I now have a slight headache from wearing the new collar all day today, but this is from the fact I haven't been using the muscles in my neck to support my head for the past 6 weeks. The muscles are sore, but they'll get better. And in another 2-3 weeks, I won't need a collar at all. YAY!

So now, I am hopefully just one appointment away from getting the pin in my thumb removed and having some more x-rays/ MRI's done on my knee and elbow. This might finally represent a great step towards moving forward with my life. Monday, when I return to the office, I'll actually be able to drive my own car. It's not like riding one of my many wonderful bikes, but it is one really huge step towards recovery... and I'm very excited.

Today was another fun day for me because it was the birthday for two of my nephews; my two sisters had their sons on the same day, just one year apart. Today Jack is 2 and Gianluca is 1. Masidaughter and I went off to my sister Sara's house for a great day by the pool- filled with sun, food and fun. With the past few weeks I've had- today was a welcome event.

Masidaughter in her birthday party dress...

Gianluca- 1yr old today.

Jackson- 2yrs old today.

Masidaughter- out of the pool just long enough to experience a birthday cake sugar high.

Happiness is a pool full of happy children!

We had an excellent day today. The nephews were quite happy and the pool was always full of laughter... exactly the kind of day I needed.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

I haven't given up yet.

It's been a few days since my last post- all for the same reasons I listed for the previous delays; not much to report as I sit here on my arse trying my best to heal.

Yesterday was a pretty decent day though- I saw the neuro surgeon who saw me in the hospital the night of the crash. His greeting when he stepped into the examining room- "How's it going Crash?" I love a sense of humor. After filling out 213 pages of information in the lobby with my less-than-perfect right hand, it was a relief to get into the examining room and see him. Thing is, he first had his partner speak with me and ask me some questions... and I wasn't sure if HE was my doctor or not- since I have NO memory of the doctor. The first 2-3 days in the hospital are almost completely a fuzzy blur because I was on really heavy doses of morphine for the pain. But after getting things more or less figured out, we determined that my neck appears to be doing pretty darned good. So good in fact that I get to remove this danged cervical collar and replace it with a much shorter and more comfortable soft brace in a week or less. This means I will soon be able to legally drive again! This is great news towards regaining my freedom. In another couple weeks, I'll find out when I get to take the brace off completely.

After 3+ weeks of fighting with the medical groups, trying to get the authorization to see the fantastic orthopedic surgeon who put my thumb back together, I was told on Monday of this week that my request had been denied and that I had to start all over with a new ortho who knows nothing about me and my injuries... but after going to MY regular doctor and getting a referral again. So... I was given an appointment for this Friday. Ok... now today I get a call from the doctor's office saying that I had an approved referral. But for what? I'd just seen the neuro and didn't have any other referral requests in the system to my knowledge- other than possibly for the x-rays requested by the neuro yesterday. Out of curiosity, I gave the doc' a call to see "what's up, doc?" Turns out... I got the ok to see the ortho I'd been turned down to see. HUH? So now I have to wait for them to MAIL me the authorization so I can try to schedule an appointment with the miracle man and get the pin removed and the knee and elbow further evaluated. UGH... but it's a step in the right direction. Finally...

Today was also my last visit with my homecare nurses; I'm going back to work next Monday... one way or another. So today I got just a blood draw to check my blood levels for the Coumadin I'm taking. Earlier in the week I met with my physical therapist, Sandy. Sandy has been great... at bringing me nearly to tears... but still great. Little by little, things are moving towards something that resembles recovery. YEAH!

The big event of the day though was this;

One with mood lighting so you can read the note...

... and one where you can better see the actual contents.

The guys of Inferno Pro Cycling, our wonderful race team, sent a little goody basket of Belgian Feel Better Juice. Another reason why I love Belgium, aside from slippery wet cobblestones in the months of February, March and April- Belgian beer! Who needs painkillers when you've got beer! Thanks guys (and Ryan for tracking it down to my doorstep)- I'll think of you with each sip... until I can no longer remember your names.

Ok, that's I got for today. Masidaughter has been a HUGE blessing this week. Keeping up with her all week has been running my batteries down pretty fast, but it's been worth each second.

I'm gonna try and post again this week as well as record another podcast (even though I have been saying that since the last post).

Be safe. Have fun. Give thanks.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

I'm still here.

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, but there just hasn't been much to report and I'm doing my best to NOT spend all my time posting about my frustrations with trying to deal with the healthcare system- it just gets tedious.

The past few days have been like the days before them- sitting around doing very little other than trying to do a bit of work and answering the hundreds of still unanswered emails I have. If you've been trying to email me and have not gotten a timely response- you're in good company. I'm chipping away at them as quickly as I can with the somewhat diminished (but improving) energy levels I have. I also have a new catalog to finish writing... again. The Spring catalog is barely even dry off the printing presses it seems and Fall is now in full development. It's killing me to not be in the office too because the new sample bikes for the catalog are being built. I've gotten a few spy photos from embeds in the building and I can tell you that the new bikes look so amazing. I know I've said it before, but I LOVE MY JOB. How on earth can you be a bike nerd and not love this kind of job?

This week I am fighting to see my doctors so I can get the go ahead to resume my life; hoping to get the pin out of my thumb and get the ok to remove the cervical collar. Once the collar is off, I'll be able to drive again and get that much closer to "normal" life again. The thumb feels like it is healing and my movement of it seems good- it bends at the first knuckle as it should and just feels a little stiff and sore (like much of my body). The knee and elbow have me a bit more concerned, as range of motion has not really returned to either. The knee is progressing, but like all dumb jocks, I want it to be faster... d'uh. The day the blood clots were found, the x-rays on the knee looked very good. So it is likely a matter of soft tissue healing. At this point, I still can not fully straighten my right arm as well. In the hospital, the first stay, the x-rays and scans showed no fractures to the elbow... so it is more soft tissue stuff again. With both the knee and elbow, I'm trying to listen to the instructions of the physical therapist- Sandy- who comes to visit me at home. She's been great and I really have to thank her for her efforts working with me... even when it hurts. I've also had two different homecare nurses visiting for blood draws and check ups and both have been great.

The best news recently has been the stopping of the twice-daily shots to my stomach of the heavy duty anticoagulant. I am SO happy to be done with the needles, but now have a nice little solar system of needle marks and bruises on my abdomen- thanks to the thinners and anticoagulants, I bruise very easily. I'm still taking the Coumadin (blood thinner) for another 5 months and we're still trying to determine my personalized drug level, as each person needs to have a very specifically tailored drug dose. I started with a tiny 4mg dose and am now up to 10mg, with 15mg doses on Monday and Wednesday. Coumadin's effectiveness is compromised by heavy amounts of Vitamin K- which is found in dark green vegetables... like spinach. I LOVE SPINACH! I usually eat lots of spinach salads and now I have to really watch the amount of spinach I eat. Ugh.

One of the big fears/ concerns for me now is air travel, which is typically a huge part of my job- between traveling frequently to Taiwan and all the other trips to places like Japan, etc... it's a big part of what I do. Now that I'm in the Clot Club, I have to be very careful; long international flights (especially) drive up the risk of clotting, due to the long stretches of time with reduced blood flow. I might have to start wearing compression socks and frequently get up and walk around the plane. That bums me out... big time. I was scheduled to be in Montreal in August for the Canadian version of Interbike- BTAC. Now, I might not get doctor's approval to go and I'm really upset about that. I missed the show last year and I really enjoy visiting my cycling brothers and sisters in Canada. Montreal, as I've said, is one of my favorite cities to visit and ride in. So, needles to say, I'm hoping for some good news soon on the blood clots and what the doctors think I can get away with. I'm also hoping I can get the approval to shave my face again too... the "beard" is driving me nuts! With the neck collar on, it's an itchy nightmare!

As you can see from all the above, not much has been going on that I haven't already mentioned before. Hence the lack of posting. However, I will be getting Masidaughter this week! THAT is the very best news I have. Not being able to have a regular schedule with her has been very difficult for me. My fear and paranoia of "what if" has kept me from feeling safe trying to care for her, but I am feeling much more mobile now and it is quite simply time for me to regain a normal existence and get back to being Daddy- I miss that even more than I miss riding.

On a bike-related note, sitting in the office is a brand new frame for me to test. It's made of the same Scandium tubeset I am already riding being developed by a vendor of ours, but this one is completely made of the tubing with no carbon stays... just pure, sweet Scandium alloy. It's made with the same geometry as our Gran Criterium bike (which is my all-time favorite geometry) and is painted in the same Pea Soup Green as our SoulVille/SS... it's gorgeous! I can not wait to be able to bolt some parts to it and ride it. The tubing has so many sexy shapes to it- I'll post pictures as soon as I can. I am very optimistic about this tubing because the frame I've been riding (with the carbon stays) has been an incredible bike. I am hoping that the full Scandium frame will produce an even better ride with the added stiffness of the Scandium stays. If it rides as well as I think it will, it might replace the current 7005SLX aluminum/ carbon Gran Criterium frame. This would mean a little bit of an increase in price for the bike- not huge- but would make the ride that much sweeter. Don't get me wrong at all- the current version of the frame rides incredibly well, but the Scandium is just a bit nicer riding and lighter. I promise I'll give a full report once I'm able to put some parts on the frame and throw a leg over the top tube... even if its just to ride my trainer in the driveway as I rehab. Damn I can't wait to ride!

One quick sidenote; all of the Masiguy Podcast episodes are now FINALLY available for download on iTunes. Thanks to David Bernstein, my fellow Spokesmen and the man behind the Fredcast, I am now finally on iTunes. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to get it figured out- what can I say, I'm a bike guy... not a tech guy. So if you've been wanting to have me ramble in your ears as you ride or pick up dog poop in your backyard... now you can.

Sorry for the lack of posting, but hopefully you're now up to speed. Many thanks, again, to all who have been emailing and leaving comments of support and encouragement. Your support has been incredible and means more to me than mere words can ever express. I am still constantly shocked by all the support and well-wishes; I sincerely don't know what I ever did to deserve you all. I hope you're all enjoying your weekend and that if you're riding, you're wearing your helmet... please.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008


A lot has been said about the tragedy in Mexico that claimed the life of one cyclist and injured at least 10 others. I can't even begin to find all the links and discussions about this terribly senseless tragedy.

The best commentary I've seen on this though belongs to Dave Moulton. It's no secret that I have immense respect for the Dave as a framebuilder, but I also have great respect for him as a writer. His post is eloquent and fitting. I won't even bother to try and say anything more because he does it far, far better than I could ever hope to.

My good friend Stevil at How to Avoid the Bummer Life had a post up yesterday about the incident. Then he pulled it down and replaced with another post- trying to bring back a little less of the Bummer. But ultimately that post came down too- after all, the blog is a marketing extension of the Swobo brand. As a marketer myself, I can see the reasoning... but as a cyclist I can also see the need to share the tragedy as a way to remind all to be careful and thankful and to pray for those touched by this incident. Solidarity and community are really important- I know this now more than ever.

My friends from the Spokesmen and I have been talking about this incident via email this morning as well. Is it good or bad to show the terrible image and is it good or bad to really even discuss it. There are concerns over the friends and families of the injured and killed, as well as sheer decency over continually spreading the image of somebody losing their life in such a terrible way. Like CyclingNews did with their mention of the incident, I've chosen not to show the picture. I have chosen not to because it simply hurts to much to see. I was the victim of a hit and run crash nearly four years ago and I am now recovering from injuries in a racing crash. Knowing a little too intimately how the survivors feel makes it hard to look at or show the picture. Also, I must admit that if pictures existed of my accident, I would feel a little sick seeing them on the Internet- because it was traumatic and was something that emotionally impacted my daughter as well as me (since she was there).

My point is that I do feel it is necessary to talk about this and to be upset about it. But I think we all make our own judgment calls on how we choose to do it and what we choose to say, or show. I'm lucky to be alive today, as are the 10 other crash victims. I give thanks every day that I get to see my kids and deal with the healthcare headaches I have. Life is a blessing and is never a guarantee. I share in the pain of this tragedy and I hope that everybody who reads this will pray for the victims and the people who love them. I also hope that everybody will take a moment to love themselves and their families and friends. I've said it before, but life is far too short and we never know when our understanding of it will change dramatically and without warning.

Ok, enough with the heavy thoughts for today.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Shimano Dura Ace 7900

I wasn't going to do a post about the new Shimano Dura Ace group. The press embargo was lifted, so everybody and their brother has been talking about the group today. It's worthy of the hype- believe me- but I just didn't feel "up to it" with all the battles I've been having with our lovely healthcare system (it's the "system" I have the problem with). Today being a particularly annoying day, I just wasn't "in the mood"...

... but in the end, I am still a total bike nerd and new widgets excite me and I have numerous good friends at Shimano on top of it all. So here I am.

This is the same picture everybody has been using of the group- the plastic parts molded just for the picture and for the sample cases to show manufacturers (like me). For wax and plastic, they are pretty.

I'm not going to go into too much detail because both VeloNews and CyclingNews do a much better job than I could hope to.

That said, I do have to lend my comments, especially since there is a little confusion among folks;

Shifters- this new shifter does have much better ergonomics to me and my big hands. The new body shape is better. I still think the SRAM hoods might feel slightly better, but that is because of the flatter section that transitions from the bar to the hood. BUT... these new hoods are much better than the older ones- in my opinion. The new levers also add carbon lever blades and reach adjustment- two great features. Reach adjustment just makes so much sense and is long overdue. SRAM already has it, so it's not a first... but it's a welcome addition. Much has also been made about the new cable routing all being under the tape. THIS is the best feature to me. Sincerely, I always hated the exposed cables, so this is the best thing about the entire group to me. Almost.

Front Derailleur- Yep it works and it's lighter. What else? Not much... except that the shift plates were redesigned so that there is no longer a "trim" position in the front shifter. The pre-production samples I played with shifted flawlessly... as well-maintained show samples almost always do. The jury is out on this one. SRAM was getting slammed for not having trim adjustment until Red came out. With Shimano going backwards... it makes you wonder.

Rear Derailleur- Carbon fiber pulley cage and a wider gear range are the big bits. The carbon cage is now ubiquitous with other brands... so why not Shimano. Like the front, the rear gets new cable pull ratios for even quicker feeling shifts. SRAM's 1:1 ratio is hard to beat- even for Shimano- but if anybody can, it's the folks in Japan.

Chain- My biggest gripe with Shimano has always been the frailty of the chains- for me. Some folks never have problems with the Shimano chains, but I have been plagued. Whether it's been a chain I installed (which raises concerns) or one installed by somebody else, I have never gotten good wear from the chains and have had numerous chains break. The new chain should help with that problem. Best feature of the chain (and possibly even the best feature of the group) is the reusable master link! Gone are the days of wondering if you got the Hyperglide pin installed correctly. Like the master link used by SRAM, this one works great and is tool free... but this one can be used multiple times... unlike the SRAM link (though, I admit that I have used mine numerous times without a single problem or degraded shifting performance... but you're not supposed to and you didn't hear it from me...). More importantly though, the new chain is directional- meaning it must be installed a certain direction. This is supposed to enhance the shifting and improve chain wear. If all of it works as marketed (and Shimano almost always does) then this chain should make me a happy man.

Crankset- This is a tough one for me... I hated the 7800 series (for looks) when it debuted, but I ended up really digging it as time went on. You simply can not argue with the stiffness of the cranks. They are stiff... S-T-I-F-F. The new crankset is lighter and supposedly like 20% stiffer. WHOA! I don't think that all comes from the new hollow big ring, but that must help. I'm not sold yet on the looks- yet. I have to confess that I really love the looks of both the Red and Record cranks. Both are just very sexy to me. Sorry. But neither has proven to be as stiff as current Dura Ace and new Dura Ace is supposed to be stiffer. As a heavy sprinter, crankset stiffness has been a big deal to me. I'm happy to trade a few grams and the carbon "oooh" factor for a bit more stiffness. A new compact crank is now officially available with the Dura Ace badge now too. For some folks that won't mean a thing, but for the ever-growing population of compact devotees, this is huge news. So, I'm still trying to like the new looks, but I know I'll like the new stiffness and Shimano's best of breed shifting (sorry, nobody has ever beaten Shimano's chainring shifting performance).

Brakes- Shimano brake calipers have always served as the industry benchmark and Dura Ace has been the mantel carrier for the brand. The new brakes are lighter and stiffer and stop even better. The new pad compound is much better in the wet and is soil-your-skinsuit good in the dry. The new arch shape increases power and the new pads add more stopping power than you're likely ever going to be able to control. SRAM has some great brakes, truly gorgeous, but the braking power is still just a step behind Shimano. The new Red brakes are way close to the current Dura Ace, but the gap might just be opening a little with these new brakes. No denying, again, that I prefer the look of the SRAM calipers... but I have to tip my hat to Shimano for overall braking performance... they haven't been beaten yet, in my mind.

Cassette- The new cassette is kinda like the old cassette. The cogs have a newly designed tooth profile and better aluminum cog carrier that is supposed to improve shifting while being lighter. Ok... I trust them. The best news is that more size options are available than ever before; 11-21, 11-23, 11-25, 11-27, 11-28, 12-23-12-25 and 12-27. That's a lot of options and combined with a compact, that 11-28 is gonna be WAY popular. SRAM is giving Shimano real competition on this item, with the Powerdome cassette, but it is a real splitting of hairs to pick a winner between the two. The SRAM Red cassette is lighter and really cool with it's hollow design (though noisy). Shimano and SRAM are close here, but the "old" Dura Ace might've lost a little to the Red cassette. The new Dura Ace cassette is gonna either close the gap or make things simply too close to call now.

Hubs- Yeah right. Outside of Paris-Roubaix custom team wheels and a few folks who still prefer custom wheels (like me), nobody buys hubs anymore. It's a complete wheel world now. Gone are the days of buying a group and having new wheels built to your spec- consumers have almost entirely forgotten that joy (if they ever knew it). I personally miss those days and would love these hubs laced to some nice rims with a nice spoke and nipple combo... but even I ride prebuilt wheels now. That said, these new hubs are sweet. The bearings are beyond smooth and are now adjustable with a simple allen wrench. The rear freehub mechanism is still titanium and still engages really quickly. What else do you wanna know? That's what I thought...

Here's the deal- I've only played with sample parts in a controlled environment and they worked with 100% perfection. I haven't actually ridden anything yet. Once I can get my hands on a group (which might never happen) and I am fit enough to ride again, I promise I'll give a more in-depth review. That said, like all things Shimano does, they do their homework. The company can be beaten up for being slow to respond at times and maybe being too conservative, but they don't make too many mistakes... ever (I still say their pedals are the best on the market and I have become addicted to their shoes as well). Some people are complaining that the group is still too heavy- 2052gm vs the 2181gm of the current group. Well, a little extra weight might be the difference between riding and walking for many of us. Seriously- how many of us are riding le Tour or the Giro? Yeah, that's what I thought. These parts are still light enough that Pro Tour teams have trouble keeping bikes heavy enough to pass the UCI weight limits. I don't know about you, but a 15lb bike under my heavy ass is guaranteed to break- I promise you. These parts are light enough for riders who are much more picky about weight because they make a living on a bike... so they're light enough for me.

The thing that most folks will complain about is the lack of backwards compatibility with older groups or other groups. Most of the new parts, due to the enhancements/ changes/ upgrades, will only work with the new group. But these changes are long overdue and I am happy to see them. For the most part, Dura Ace has been unchanged since 2004... which is too long.

Shimano's PR Manager is a guy named Devin Walton. I've known Devin for many years now and I can honestly say that he's a truly top-notch guy. Devin is paid to be the mouth of the company and to tow the company line... but knowing him gives me that little extra bit of security because I trust him. I've had beers with the guy and have talked to him for years... he's good people. He's pretty excited about the stuff- no doubt because he's more aware of the PR war with SRAM than most people. Frankly... that buys a little of my attention.

Like I said, IF I ever get some parts to bolt to a frame, I'll report my findings. But on the surface of things and based on the prototypes I've touched... Shimano is back in the fight after a couple years of fighting for attention. This is what I talked about a few years ago when SRAM entered the group market; competition breeds innovation. Something both Shimano and Campagnolo needed.

I'm excited. The future looks bright for high-end enthusiasts.

(PS- For the record... Campagnolo is barely mentioned because I haven't ridden anything from Campy newer than 2004 product. I happen to know changes are cooking there as well and I am anxious to see what they bring to the table.)

Spokesmen Podcast #31

Spokesmen Podcast #31 is up for your listening pleasure. It's a long-ish one, around 59 minutes, but it's a good one- pretty lighthearted with laughing, so it's a fun listen.



Sunday, June 01, 2008

She's 7 now.

It's hard for me to believe that Masidaughter turned 7 years old at 6:34Am yesterday. It seems like just yesterday that I was able to cradle her tiny head in my palm and her feet would barely reach my elbow.

They really do actually grow up much faster than you think. These 7 years have gone by so fast! She's gone from riding in her trailer to riding on her Trail-A-Bike behind me. The next step is the removal of training wheels and a whole new world of fear and excitement for me. First grade is wrapping up now and soon she'll be in second grade and then college.

Sometimes when I look at her, the world seems impossibly big and frightening and other times it seems full of hope and endless possibilities. Her brother will be 16 in October and he bounces through the world like most boys do- a few scrapes here and there, but he gets back up and jumps back in. My daughter is the same way, but I admit the cliched daddy fears of a father for a daughter. I'm not saying it's right, but it's still there.

For now, I'm content to simply watch her grow. Tomorrow I'll go back to being terrified. But for now... she's 7 now and fills her daddy's heart with great love and pride.

Happy birthday, baby girl.