Friday, October 27, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Life is so hard. Really, it’s a struggle every day. A defense against the invasion of life. Take a look away and it’s gone, one choice and everything else is gone. Have you ever considered the loss you sustain by choosing to say walk on the beach verse go to the café on the corner? The possibilities of either are endless. The amount of loss involved with each are also endless. Just considering the outcome of the two is enough to warrant loss of time. Wow.
Think twice about making your choice. Or don’t think at all. Either way, you’ve probably wasted half your life just thinking about what you want to do, or procrastinating about what you need to get done to get what you really want.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Bichot to Agritubel
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
So the rain stops for 2 days, just in time for my predawn commute. This morning it was an absolute downpour. I don’t get it. But I was riding along and I began to think how nice it was to be riding in the rain in the morning. Honestly, what could you be doing that is better than riding amongst little drops of swiftly moving rain? I couldn’t think of anything off hand, so I went into a little yoga like trance while riding my bike in a downpour. It was like riding on an endless boat launch while waves completely immersed you in freezing cold water. The trick is to focus on the soothing sound of the waves rather than the bone wrenching combination of wind and water.
On another note…
I read in the news that my idle, Freddy Bichot, signed with Agritubel for 2007. He was previously racing for Cofidis. Freddy’s a great cyclist and an all around good guy. If there were just more people like him about, the world would be a better place… Actually I’ve never met him; he’s just got a cool name. I think Bichot is pronounced bishoh, but I’m not entirely certain. Anyway, Bichot’s just a groovy guy who lives a life that should be an example to all…
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Net'n & fight'n
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The rain continues to fall. It’s rather incessant really. What to do? Of course there are broader uses to the training I’ve received than just as it applies to cycling. Specifically in regard to the rain, it is useful to have a general background in yoga. For those unfamiliar with various practices of yoga, a common teaching is the importance of centering yourself amongst your surroundings. In doing so you become oblivious to what’s going on around you, and given the circumstance that most find themselves in while in Washington’s stunning arctic rainforest (stuck in the rain and cold), the ability to transport your mind to the glee of the warm ‘n sunny days of old is convenient… Much to my regret, yoga is yet to work for me…
So I figure that if you can’t get out of the rain, you might as well get in it. The best way to do this is to go fishing. Yesterday a friend of mine and I went over the mountains to a saltwater lake in eastern Washington. In fly fishing you get a tube ‘n fins and jump into the lake to cast and paddle around (I find that it’s easiest to catch fish when you also act like them). It rained pretty good, not as bad as west of the mountains, but more than not. It wasn’t so cold either, I mean, you didn’t have to wear 6 layers or anything, 4 worked just fine for me. It turned out that the fish were rather elusive, but not elusive enough for the wily fisherman who is I… we ended up catching 4 fish altogether. For competitive reasons and lack of sportsmanship I’ve chosen not to disclose the allocation of fish caught between the two of us… but I can assure you that it was not even… Of course that’s beside the point. One fish however, was significantly more important than the rest:
Before catching this fish, I had tied two hooks to my line, a practice that even the most traditional fisherman use on a daily basis (of course my friend only used one, he’s a bit more modern. I like to respect the fish; it’s too easy to catch fish when you’ve got just one). I managed to get the hooks tangled fairly well, so I casted near my buddy so that he could grab the line and pull the hooks up to fix ‘em. While he was pulling the line up he said “wouldn’t it be funny if you hooked a fish right now (while he’s got the line in his hand)?” I said “yeah, it’d be just like the old days (referring to Ernest Hemingway’s book the old man and the sea, where the old dude catches a swordfish with a fishing line in his bare hands).” As luck would have it, the line hooks a fish right then. To make a long story short, I finally reel the fish in and he wants a picture with it (yes, it is the fish). So he hands me his camera and I take a picture. I place the camera in my net on the tube. The fish is rather aggressive in his net so he wants to put the fish in my net. At the moment I was more concerned that my fish was going to be freed than his camera was going to go for a swim and I stick my net out to receive the fish forgetting that the camera was in it. In my lapse of recollection the camera goes for a swim and the fish goes into my net… The camera will last for 30 minutes underwater, so hopefully it got a couple good pictures from 100 feet below before it died…end of story.
Today was a new day though. Not new in the sense that the rain lingers, but new in the sense that the clouds were a lighter shade of grey- which is saying a lot. I rode over to the gym for another session of yoga and misguided UFC (ultimate fighting champion) personal trainer. Yoga went swell, but then I did round two with the guy who’s supposed to be aiding me in the intricacies of weight lifting. He had better ideas though; evidently I am destined to become a prize fighter instead. We did a couple “full body drills” followed by a couple rounds of boxing. The stuff isn’t so bad though. I guess it’ll be good for core strength, coordination and balance. I’ve just gotta convince him that perhaps we ought to take a little time out so he can show me how to do the leg exercises. It’ll be hard ‘cause he’s convinced that weights are the root of all evil. The funny thing about these workouts is that with the combination of time in the gym and on the bike the total workout time is 4 and a half hours. I might be a prize fighter when we get done with this. I’ll enter in the 140 pound class. The opponent will be like 4 foot 2.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Under the umbrella again
Monday, October 16, 2006
It’s crazy to think how similar US and Europe life is & yet how the smallest differences become such an upset to daily life. The most obvious of these small differences I found was that of privacy. There is literally a microscopic difference, yet it is so common everywhere you go that it unconsciously begins to build on you. It’s always in the back of your head, so little that you never notice it, yet so much that it drives you crazy. I’m sure that makes no sense, but in Europe sense isn’t that which first comes to mind…
In the meantime I’m back in the US… to make up for lost privacy in Europe I’ve decided to spend most of my time locked in my house… in the basement… in the bomb shelter… on the trainer…
I think the best thing about being back in the US is that I can drive around in my SUV making my little contribution to the US dependence on foreign oil. Besides, what good does it do to commute when you can drive? Bikes are for trainers.
Saturday was my first ride since Franco-Belge, so that’s about the first in 2 weeks. I had originally planned to do a short 45 minute commute to the gym for a 2.5 hour “gym” workout. Unfortunately the gym was doing this expo thing that they hadn’t informed me about the day before when I signed up and it was closed. Since I was all ready to ride my bike I rode the rest of the way to Seattle for a group ride. When all was said and done the ride was somewhere in the range of 100 miles. Let’s just say that that's an interesting way to ease back into it after 2 weeks of relatively low physical activity. I guess that marks the end of nothing my nothing phase though. Now I’ll be starting on the easy-riding/yoga/gym/flakey-personal-trainer/off-season/last-dose-of-antibiotics phase of the year.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Elated with life
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
It’s never felt so good to be back in the rain drenched confines of the Pacific Northwest. & the fact that they speak English makes it that much sweeter… Of course it’s not really rain drenched and it’s not actually suicide season at the moment- those pranksters from Cali are just try’n to bring the moral up north down a few notches. I don’t know why they do that, maybe they just get sick of waiting in traffic or something…
Anyway, after waiting a bit for my ticket I finally got it two nights ago. I think that’s what it was, maybe it was three. Nevertheless I flew yesterday on what turned out to be what felt like the longest flight I’ve ever been on. Everything was good on the flights, only one transfer, a whole row to myself from Europe, yet it felt like I left half my life on that flight. I don’t mind though ‘cause now I’m back in the US, everyone speaks English, and I’m looking forward to just chilling in this happy rainy place for a while… It’s never felt so good to be home…
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Out of my bubble
Sunday, October, 08, 2006
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s key in euro living. It’s kind of ironic that everyone always refers to the European lifestyle as “laid back,” because if you’ve ever done anything that involves waiting here, you’d know that laid back is about the last thing that comes to mind. If people acted like this in the US, bad things would happen, I guess rude would be the first though that comes to mind.
Say you’re waiting in line here in Europe and you let a few feet separate you and the dude in front of you. There is a 50% chance that a guy’ll step in front of you like you’re not waiting in line. Even if you tell him you’re in line he really won’t budge until you ruffle him up a bit. Then… “Oh, you’re in line…” In Europe the phrase “guard your grill” is quite important.
In crowded areas like getting on and off a plane, the rudeness is comical, despite the fact that it is so true. To begin with, if the reader board says that the plane is boarding in an hour, you’ll find that all the passengers line up an hour early just to stand there and wait for an hour… makes perfect sense right? That’s not rude, but…
The crowded areas are the big deal. Here it’s like salmon swimming up stream. They’ll give everything to get into that one little space you leave in front of you. Occasionally you get a really bad one that’s absolutely on a rampage to get through the crowd first. He pushes, shoves and generally does whatever it takes to “win.” Once he wins, he just stands there like nothings happened. So he wasn’t actually about to miss his flight or anything, he just had to get through the crowds first I guess. A classic, rude euro dude.
In the midst of our struggles as Americans we noticed how interesting it could be if we took there rudeness to a new level. Danny invented this game where if you see a blatantly rude euro you do the same thing he does. So you come barging through the crowd like him and cut him off at the entrance. Just stand there in front of him so he can’t get through like you have nowhere to go. Let all the people he pushed through go by. It’s hilarious to watch as he struggles to get by you. It’s comical just how crazy they are, you come barging through the line and block him and yet he acts like it’s perfectly normal. Once he get’s by you, you use the turn ‘n burn technique- right as he goes by you, abruptly turn around and nail him in the back with you backpack. He’ll skip a few steps, but he’ll take it like it’s perfectly normal. If you did that in the US… let’s just say that people’d be angry… In Europe they’re so used to the rudeness that they don’t even bat an eye. It’s crazy.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Lost and hopeless, okay maybe not
Saturday, October 07, 2006
It’s like the world has stopped and everything moves in slow motion. You’re stuck in your own time as the world moves to a different beat. What can you do?
It’s not so bad, I’d just like a little heads up on when the flight might come so I can do something other that sit in the apartment waiting for that call or e-mail with the time of my flight. Gerona’s really not that bad, it’s the being stuck in an apartment all day that I’m not extraordinarily wild about… It’s like house arrest or something; it sucks no matter what house you’re in. Now I know what it feels like to be Yasser Arafat.
Anyway, I woke up this morning with a new sense of hope. And after the 3rd cup of espresso I was up and ready to reside in the house all day with a rejuvenated feeling of, well, desperation… I called Johnny up to get the latest on the ticket front and he explained once more that his calls continued to go unanswered. Evidently the primary reason for this is the conflicting schedule of track nationals and my flight home. How this can be a problem is somewhat ambiguous to me do to the late invention of computers and cell phones… and now even the BlackBerry wireless handheld… Anyway, Johnny said to go ahead and frolic freely outside of the apartment & he’d take the heat if I miss my flight. So, I did a little exploring outside of my normal locale. The place is actually full of interesting stuff. There’s this ancient city wall surrounding one side of the town that I discovered. You can walk along the top of it, so I followed it to its end and then hiked up this road to the top of this hill I didn’t know existed. Turns out there are the remains of this castle like thing up there. I fumbled around in the rubbish awhile trying to make out whether or not there was more to it than a bunch of walls. I couldn’t tell and I was a bit tired so I went back to town and over to the store in case I don’t leave tomorrow… in which case I’d need sustenance for the state of town on Sundays.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Life's so harsh sometimes. I sit here with my hat in my hand, hoping to suddenly see an e-mail from Sta Travel giving me my departure dates, yet to my dismay I'm stranded here in Gerona for days to come. Well maybe not, but the length of each day becomes much longer when you're waiting for each one to be over.
Today was definitely the most wasted day of all, throughout the entire day I wasn't sure if I was leaving in the afternoon or not, so I had to stay home by my computer to make sure the "mysterious plane" didn't leave without me. I guess it didn't since I haven't got so much as a reply to my pleads for a swift departure now that I've been held up here for the last week waiting for what turned out to be the "phantom operation."
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Barcelona 'n back
Thursday, October 04, 2006
I took the train over to Barcelona this morning and a taxi up to the embassy. It was a bit busier than before but before I could sit down they called me to the front.?! I guess they had it ready from yesterday; nevertheless I was pleased to receive quick US service in Europe...
Since I was only in there for 5 minutes (the security is harsh... there are three checkpoints on the way in and every door has a guard house beside it with a dude inside who decides whether or not to unlock the door upon your arrival), I chose to check the town out. I got another taxi and told him to go to the "ramblas-" the walker only roads where all the shops 'n stuff are. It was pretty lame until I got to the harbor where the beaches are. They're perfect beaches, except the waves are kinda pathetic. I wandered around some more and noticed this castle on top of this mountain/rock thing off to the side of the city, so I decided to go ahead and hike up it. On top it was pretty cool, you could see the whole city, the harbor and the shore as it stretched down the coast. I'd seen enough though so I hiked down and caught a taxi back to the train station and caught the "Catalonia express" back to Gerona... with the new passport in hand.
Now I'm just sitting here drinking my 5th espresso of the day... it's still early, only 9 pm...
I'm still not sure when I fly, Johnny just called though and said I might fly out tomorrow evening.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Wednesday, October 4th, 2006
The Spanish doc doesn't think that the deviation is extreme enough to warrant surgery so I'm com'n back asap. Evidently he thinks I should use medication instead, but I've done that all year and we've already been over that so I'm gonna try getting the surgery in the US instead.
Today I went over to the embassy in Barcelona and "ordered" a replacement of my "mutilated" passport. So it was set to be done in 6 days... which would put it on schedule with my initial date of return. But when I got back here to Gerona, I learned that the surgery had been cancelled and I needed to have the passport rather quickly so I could return. So I called up the embassy to see if they had any options for "extenuating circumstances." They did, I got a temporary one that expires in three months so I can go back home and get a new one in the US. So tomorrow I go back over to the embassy to pick that up and hopefully I can get the flight back in the next couple days after that.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
In the meantime
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Now that the season is over I’m taking a month off. That’s all of October… So far I’ve made it two days, it’s kind of strange, it’s like a part of me has been severed. I want nothing more than to not ride my bike, yet I really want to ride it…?! I’ve got no idea what’s going on with that. Since this is supposed to be a month of rest I’m trying to stay off my feet ‘n stuff for at least a couple days. I guess it doesn’t help that everything in Europe is within walking distance, including the various doctors I’ve gone to consult about my surgery with. It’s just far enough that if you haven’t walked for a while then you’re sore the next day. In regard to the surgery… the nasal doctor seems to think that I should just take some medication for a few months… but this is what I’ve done all year long! I’ve built up a resistance to antibiotics I’ve been on them so many times… great. And just come on back over to Spain if it doesn’t work and we’ll go ahead and do the surgery. Quack…quack, quack, quack…
In the meantime, I can’t seem to decide what to do with my time. I kind of wanted to go to the coast or something and explore this place, I mean, it’s not like I’ve been here all year or anything… But I’ve got to make these appointments and when I get a chance go over to the US embassy in Barcelona to get my passport reissued for the second time this year. I lost the first one and I went to get it reissued. Unfortunately the reissued one was a piece of garbage that promptly fell apart. In Europe from country to country they let me use it, but apparently it’s not up to the task for getting back into the US. So I’ve gotta go get it reissued again. Swell.
Since the surgery isn’t scheduled, my date to return to the US isn’t scheduled either.
fun in the wind
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
The first day of Franco Belge was a long lesson in cross winds. A break of 29 guys went up the road and I figured the peloton would sit up and the break would get some 20 minutes. But no, that was quite foolish… 5 minutes later I was sitting ten guys from the back and Chocolade Jocques blew the race apart with me being perhaps one of the first 15 to get dropped from the back of the gutter line. From there it was a nice, solo, flat out time trial of 80km to the finish… where I fortunately managed to make the time cut.
After that I conversed with Johnny the director and some team mates about the importance of position in the classic Belgian cross wind race. The conclusion was that if you weren’t in the top 25 guys during the race then you weren’t racing. So over the next three days I spent the entire race furiously fighting for the top twenty, & wow, I could not believe the intensity of the battle. Belgian races are to date of the most nervous races I’ve ever done, but with the cross winds they’ve got a reason.
The last day was very unfortunate. It was 162 km finishing with 5 laps on an 18km circuit. It was great until the last lap when it started to rain and the roads got wet. On the first kind of sketchy turn a credit agricole guy fell right beside me and hit my back wheel with his head evidently causing a bit of a pile up behind me. Then we go over the hill on the circuit and at the bottom of the descent someone locked it up and 5 guys went down in front of me. I was just about stopped when someone slammed into me from behind and another 15 guys went down including me… face first. Anyway, I got up and finished. We crashed 5km from the finish on the last race of the season. That sucks. It wasn’t bad though, I was practically stopped, so except for a few bruises and patches of face, I’m fine. That’s two crashes in the first race of the season and one in the last race of the season. Obvious improvement… maybe not.