Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chad & Jenny's Awkward Ghost Date

So, a girl on my internet dating site read my profile and sent me the following note:
Ok, so what would be a good awkward first date.. ( i.e. like the milk date..) hmmm, shoe shopping? Though I don't need any shoes at the moment. Helping me stake some ghost decor into my lawn on Tuesday? It's supposed to be easy but I never know with stakes and LED lights. 👍😊- I'm Jenny. Nice profile by the way too- you actually wrote real words and stuff.(!)
I noticed she was a writer from Iowa City, and I was in a writing mood, so without reading her profile I wrote her this response.  She really liked it and suggested I share it, so maybe you will find it entertaining as well.

Opening Title Sequence:  A man and a women typing on their computers, seemingly miles apart, arranging a first date… for the movie version, these parts are played by Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.
Act 1:  We meet at the Coralville mall, in the food court, in front of whatever random Chinese food option they have these days (NOTE: never order milk at a Chinese restaurant, I will explain later).  We will each aspire to get their casually late, so the other one is there waiting first…. That way the approaching person can make a slow motion entrance as the elevator music version of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” compliments the emotional energy of our first meeting.  One of us puts out a hand to shake at the exact moment the other goes in for a hug… depending on who does what, this could result in an inadvertent groping/personal space violation.   So, since I don’t need any shoes either, we decide to go to the gap, and partake in one of those 80’s movie montages where you come out in different dresses, and I display varying non-verbal responses of disapproval until we find just the perfect fit for the rest of our awkward date.
Act 2:  We find the nearest Appleby’s, and then drive right by it to a coffee shop… probably the Java House.   I attempt to order milk, and you attempt to order an Irished up coffee... both of our orders are declined, and we settle for their house blend.  I direct us to a pub height table, and oddly refuse to sit down, as nervous energy and caffeine have triggered a manic episode.  We decide to do a walk and talk through the ped mall, which becomes awkward as I am walking several steps ahead of you, not  on purpose, it just happens.  I turn around and bump into a little kid, at just the same time you trip over a paver brick, as the three of us collide.  The three of us begin giggling at the absurdity of this quagmire, until we notice the child’s mom is not finding it as funny.  Unfortunately, you have blood running down your leg, so not only is your ego bruised a bit, so is your knee.  I pull out some surgical gloves (having just watched a blood born pathogens PowerPoint as part of the college’s HR requirements, now knowing the risks of contamination) and a Band-Aid from my fanny pouch and dress your wound.
Act 3:  Having earned your trust, based on my medical competency, you decide to invite me to “stake some ghost décor into your lawn”.  After I realize this isn’t some sort of sexual euphemism,   we proceed to drive to your house.  Because we are in separate cars, we lose track of each other, and have to pull over several times to text each other our whereabouts.  At some point you realize you have invited a complete stranger to your house on a first date.  Of note, I am more nervous about it than you, as your main concern was why you bought a nice dress for a date that included yard work.  We begin staking in the ghost décor, and the awkwardness finally regresses and we begin to legitimately enjoy each other’s company.  You find out that I have a passion for staking things into yards… which impresses you.  Our eyes meet in a moment of emotional connection, and a kiss seems inevitable.  Unfortunately, at just that moment, one of your neighbors starts blasting Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and a flash mob dance erupts betwixt your yard ghosts.  I begin moon walking, which sort of kills the romance vibe. 
Epilogue:  We each thank each other, and go in for the obligatory end of date hug.  We part ways, and after a strategic amount of time, so as not to seem too eager, one of us texts the other.  In the event that the text recipient isn’t ‘feeling it’, they execute the infamous “Ghosting” technique… internet dating’s non-verbal equivalent of saying “not interested”.  Ironic, considering all of the ghost staking that was going on the day before.  Optionally, both parties are in mutual agreement that a second date is in order, and we live happily ever after (or at least for 3 months, which is an average dating life expectancy for this scenario, all things considered).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

TITS - My answer to Global Warming

I'm in early development of a MIWADS (Man-made In-climate Weather Aversion Defense System). Essentially it is a nuclear based climactic propulsion system that creates a temporary, directional weather system that can counter, re-direct and ultimately diffuse hurricanes. I will be offering the plans to the U.S. Government.

Yes, similar to Norman Baker's invention (clip from the Muscatine Journal, circa 1930), a man for which I am making a short film and documentary.

If the U.S. government is not interested, I will approach the Iowa Legislature, as I also have developed a weather defense system called TITS (Tornado Interference Tactical Scheme). Essentially, it is a series of wind generators that will be placed along our border to redirect the tornado back to the state from which it came from. Not sure how the other state's will feel about this, but building WALLS seems to be a contemporary option.

But seriously, like Reagan's STAR WARS defense system, why not create a bank of wind generators.. I am sure we can produce a 'wall' of wind that is 150mph or so (cat 4), that spans our southern borders... cheaper than cleaning up the mess, not to mention lives lost, of natural disasters. I suppose, to get TRUMP on board, we can also mix in a little pepper spray (and/or barbed wire) to keep out those pesky Mexicans (too much?).

So, wind walls actually exist, but these are a bit unsightly for permanent application.. however, possibly submerged in the ground/water, with large mobile wind generators betwixt (nice word).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The NEXT Chapter...

To have these racing rampant and reinforcing thoughts without a reciprocating reception… is not only alliteration, it is the motivation to announce my new blog…  CHASING LIFE… for perspective… I used to write a blog that chronicled my journey as an up and coming bike racer…  I no longer race my bike… I switched that journey… and week after week I am overwhelmed by the diverse way that I can fill the void created when you are no longer aspiring to the be fastest cyclist in the midwest…. For reasons that will later become apparent… I don’t stop until I reach the apex of the aspiration that I aspired towards…  and now.. well, my goal is finally again something that I think people will find of note… the journey of a man to come to terms with …  ah.. yeah, the rest of the sentence will be revealed at the end of this series… just like ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘ The Walking Dead’…  each installment will lead into the next… in a way that doesn’t facilitate your desire not to push play on the next episode, even though you are experiencing a dissonance based on the departure from your alleged attitude and your apparent behavior… for now.. the goal… the direction… that the gun is pointed.. is towards making the world a better place.. yes.. MY world.. but, unlike in earlier editions.. I hope that making my world a better place will make YOUR world a better place…  if you are reading this.. then you qualify for this opportunity… the  3 most specific ways you will enjoy this journey involve my quest to 1)make a feature length film utilizing Iowa talent… the film festival I direct, the students and peers that I inspire (and inspire me) and the people that challenge me to work my way up the ladder, with respect to making money in the entertainment industry.. 2) My latest quest that involves acquisition of the ‘clam shell diner’… in Muscatine.. yes it is a restaurant but if my ideas become a reality.. this will involve bon fires.. a new public boating dock across from brown’s island.. bike delivery service to downtown businesses, fresh seafood.. and leveraging the influx of revenue that will be transpiring in 2017.. with our newest downtown development.. and 3) the challenge to be a good Dad, even though day by day, I see myself in him… in ways that shock me.. but also motivate me… as I become the ‘child’… even though my son is only 11.. he is quickly developing/maturing at a rate that will make him ‘older’ then me… soon… parenting me…  despite all of the challenges that he will face as a hyper intelligent middle schooler… may be a bit ‘off-putting’ to his peers in ways that I understand, but others his age will NOT.. that was not my intention.. and is not the way  this blog ends.. CHASING LIFE is a story that does have a happy ending… a journey that will motivate you to realize your fullest potential…. To take the gift that you have been given… open up the package.. set the bow aside.. open the box… and be brave enough NOT to look inside… you deserve the gift... but not the luxury of knowing what it is...   I can only promise that this blog will include the highs and the lows… the insight that I gained as I acquired a master’s degree in Psychology …  which helps me understand my own scenarios.. but be more empathetic with respect to the cognitive stimuli that I encounter on a daily basis.. I am either  a severe narcissist, or my life is indeed intense in ways that would make most people collapse in sheer exhaustion… the need for stimulation.. is an addiction.. a compulsion.. and/or the reason that I will reach a height that you never would have thought YOU could have achieved… starting from my lens.. but ending with your image…   whether or not you read this…  I can rest… having exchanged physical pacing with composition… I have the ability to communicate through writing.. and now.. CHASING LIFE continues… bike racing photos and such will be replaced with film shoots, entrepreneurial ambitions… random artistry… most importantly.. words that will change your life for the better… you just have to commit to checking in from time to time.. I am at the peak… climb up with me.. join me on the journey.. . you will enjoy the view… and even though we will find the top of the mountain.. trust me.. Maslow is the wind beneath our wings.. self-trancendence isn’t on this mountain.. it is the next horizon… we will get there.. not today.. definitely tomorrow.. this post is me holding back.. so buckle up.. and commit to checking in weekly.. as we aspire to be WELL...

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Season Existential Angst

I'm pretty fired up after reading about Existential philosphies.  I am invigorated to take responsibility for the fact that I am free to re-invent myself, and do not need to settle for a stale identity.  I can live an authentic life that engages me in activities that I feel are worthwhile, rather than merely reflecting a lifestyle that I feel is expected.  I am driven to connect with others, make committments, and become that which I am capable of becoming.

I am not going to blame others, be a victim, or wait for my environment to change.  It is my responsibility to experience life to its fullest.  No longer will I live life in a clumsy fashion.   Pedalling along aimlessly, mile after mile, alone on the rolling hills of Illinois.   Rather, my cycling lifestyle is shifting to a less competitive, more 'big picture' oriented perspective.  Beating other people is 'nice', but 'winning' is the goal.  Everyone who enters a race can 'win' depending on their attitude.

Ok, it has begun.  I didn't enter the race, and had already arranged a weekend getaway that day to make sure I didn't succumb to my past bike-related obsessions.  Mission accomplished, as the race registration is closed.  So, no Kent Park for me this year... that is going to be 'different'.

I am a recovering cycling addict... I want to find more balance...  My training was so often isolating, which made sense at certain times in my life, but those times have past.  I am now strong enough to a lead a life in which I don't hide from my existential anxieties by burying myself in an obsessive training/racing calendar.   Once I stopped pedalling and took a good look around, I had to ask myself "where am I"?...

Well, I have arrived at a new vantage point, that will allow me to race my bike in an more healthy manner.  To that end, I am hoping to start my racing season a couple months later than in years past.  I can see why everyone is so hell-bent on getting out on the open roads, but there are 8 solid months to ride a bike comfortably... Nov 15th-Mar15th are NOT those times.  Actually, this has more to do with my occupational interests.  I simply have more free time in the summer, so that is when I will most appreciate having an active cycling agenda as part of my lifestyle.

Balance is the goal this year... I don't want to miss out on LIVING because I have my head buried far down into an AeroTT position, watching the pavement...  I want to look up and see where I am going, enjoy where I have been, and authentically appreciate where I AM.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sequestered - The upside of isolation

Well, that last post was ridiculous, but suggests that I am not really that serious about racing my bike as of yet.  I am staying in shape, but currently pre-occupied with developing my group fitness instruction expertise and finishing up my master's degree.

Yes, I took a stab at losing weight, but after three weeks of 'trying' I realized that I would have to cannibalize some muscle to get the scale to budge, and I am not quite willing to compromise my physique so that I can climb a hill a few seconds faster.  Alas, I am just not that stoked about racing my bike yet.

Part of it has to do with being isolated.  In the past, I had a team to connect with.  Well, a lot as changed as everyone on Velosport (can't really call it American Equity anymore because they aren't sponsoring us, so I guess we are back to being a club team) is doing their own thing.  I used to also be able to stay connected with the sport by attending the Friday night roller races down at the local bike shop.  However, I haven't found the motivation to go down there this year, and sort of burnt out on doing the exact same workout year after year. 

So, I stay in shape with a pretty effective cycling and strength routine that I created using knowledge and experience I have acquired over the years.  I have tried 'connecting' by reading some articles on VeloNews, but there is always an article on Lance Armstrong that ends up discouraging my cycling even more.   Cycling is literally the laughing stock of the country right now (quips were made on "Modern Family" and "Parks and Recreation" for example), which isn't helping my morale.  I really wish I could have continued to live in denial, as the world was a much better place for everyone prior to exposing the 'truth'.  Oh well.

So, I am sequestering myself to my house for the next several weekends, as I would really like to finish up my last two courses.  I can knock off 3 or 4 chapters a weekend if I knuckle down.  The coursework is one of the reasons I don't blog as much, nor get as desperate to race my bike... I have other things going on that are equally fulfilling.  And, with so many papers to write, it is hard to justify using that energy to blog.

All it will take is a little 'boredom' to get me back on track for racing my bike.  I am staying in good shape so I am ready for whatever way my momentum shifts.  Currently, I think I may partake in a little 'protest' of sorts, as I really do like riding indoors compared to outside in the cold.  To this end, it is frustrating that so many races happen in the spring, then everything seems to fizzle out in the summer (June 22nd to Sept. 21st).  Summer is my favorite time to be on a bike... so maybe I will boycott the spring season.  Anyway, let me finish up my school work, so I can focus on whatever my next big goal becomes.  Maybe it will be bike related... if so, then I will continue chasing life on the bike...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Backed Up on the Porcelain Podium

As I am wrapping up my psych degree, I find myself even more curious about human nature.  I sometimes hear that people think psychologists/therapists are always analyzing people.  The gal counselors at WIU claimed that they weren't, and they probably weren't... Cognitive types like myself... we are.   Pop in my brain, and enter a frightening world where I am trying to 'figure you out'.   I am tempted to drop my FB account for example, but I love diagnosing the different personality mal-adaptations that surface, so I am an avid online voyeur.  Along, those lines, I wondered if people would read a blog post about constipation, a behavioral experiment of sorts.

Are you still reading?  It is fine, if you stop, but that would be odd, because you have made it this far, and I might have something useful to say about bowel movements. 

A 'podium trophy' of a different sort.
Anyway, the aging process is another phenomenon that I enjoy analyzing.  For example, I never used to pay attention to Ex-Lax or Dulcolax commercials when I was younger.  But, alas, I have started my annual winter body metrics adaptations and have been very sensitive to how much I weigh each morning. 

Yes, I know "weight is just a number"... well, a lot of things are 'just numbers' and they are very useful data within the world of science and technological advancement.  So, should my fecal matter count as my 'weight'?  Someone told me (an aspiring nutritionist) that you can amass 30 extra pounds of extra digestive material in your intestines.  Yikes... that would be 'dead weight' cycling up a hill.  If you know anything about me, from reading this blog, then you will know that I took this suggestion to heart and immediately began researching colon cleansing.  I want to get everything out of my 'guts' and see where I am at.  Maybe if I can master the art of laxative scheduling I can increase my power to weight ratio by 'eliminating' prior to every race.  A nice 5 pound pre-race evacuation could be the difference between getting on the podium, and suffering on the porcelain podium later that night... lamenting about what 'could have been' had you only found the internal fortitude to force out the excessive feces that was weighing you down. 

Speaking of forcing out fecal matter... during my research I learned that if you push too hard during your bowel movements you can actually expel portions of your intestines.  So, I have mixed feelings about my new performance enhancing training agendas. How hard to push the issue, seems to be the relevant question.

Speaking of pathology, athletes are susceptible to bulimia...  and yes, if I do start consuming laxatives to get my pre-race weight down, I will fit the diagnosis. 

And, speaking of talking shit...  Is Lance Armstrong a narcissist?  Of course.  Are you?  Chances are if you are a 'successful' competitive athlete you may have a touch of it... Narcissists are so self-involved and sensitive to defeat/criticism that they find that extra motivation to train and conquer.  This doesn't mean it is healthy, per se, just that it is why we know his name in the first place.  Personality disorders are not 'all bad'.  Staring at yourself in the mirror, and not liking what you see, could be what motivates you to start eating right and join a health club, for example. 

Type A personalities are more prone to heart disease due to their hostile/aggressive reactions... They are also very competitive compared to the Type B personalities.  If you have been in a race, you have crossed paths with a Type A personality.  If you enjoy racing for the competition, then you are a Type A personality...   Getting 'mad' because you got second place motivates future efforts, though it may shorten your lifespan a bit.   Being content with your improved health and current happiness regardless of the result is great, but doesn't win races.  So, do you want to 'win' or 'live'?  Can't you have both?  I think so, at least it is fun to try.  And speaking of trying, I am going to try to eat nothing but juice today... ridiculous.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Rolling at Harper's Cycling for the 2 Mile Indoor TT Race.
Ok, I like 'blogging' but it isn't completely devoid of sacrifices.  For example, I was perfectly fine enjoying my afternoon without a cheesy Aerosmith song in my head.  But, alas, "I am back"... and as promised, I will begin blogging again, now that I have officially decided to race my bike again in 2013.  It felt good to put on the AE/Velosport kit and renew my license.  The jersey fit a bit tighter than I remember, however, but my result at today's indoor time trial (roller race) was reinforcing.

I totally lost focus, and actually began to resent cycling for a bit.  You may think I am kidding you, but I am still upset about this Lance Armstrong situation...  Don't mess with my role model... nothing good will come of it...  on the other hand, why make a bad situation worse by disowning the sport.  I could go off on a 10 page rant, but it is hurting my brain thinking about it, and I still have that crappy Aerosmith song in my head, so I will digress.

Here I am racing, alongside Dewey Dickey at the 2010 Bikes, Blues, BBQ event in Clear Lake, Iowa. 
(Seems releveant, for reasons I will elect not to disclose).
Here I am racing, alongside Lance Armstrong at a racing event in 2010 when he was on the Astana squad.
(Seems releveant, for reasons I will elect not to disclose).
I respect both of those guys... alot.... maybe I will process my opinions in a later post, as this is probably confusing.

In other news...The American Equity/Velosport team is in a major transition... It isn't going to be anything like it was in 2011/12.  I remember how proud I was when Lou asked me to be on the team and told me the details of the sponsorship and the caliber of rider's on the team...  Racing on this team in 2011 was one of the highlights of my amateur cycling career.   2012 was a bit of a struggle for me, but there were plenty of highlights, and I learned a lot about the concept of 'team', and feel inspired to find a better balance between personal and group interests.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, we lost most of the Cat 1,2 team this year (Luke Guyton, Matt Zimmer, JJ Bailey, Louis DeWild, and most likely Kevin Severs, etc. ).   Luke and Matt, for example, decided to accept a great offer from Grand Performance.

However, the core group is still very much intact.  Lou Waugaman, Jeff Bradley, Paul Deninger, for instance.  We will be much more laid back this year, as we don't have the same situation as in 2011/12.  This could actually set the stage for a very enjoyable year.

My results at Saturday's race were very rewarding.  Local event newsman Brad Hesford took some video footage and posted it on his site, the Vision of Muscatine.  I am encouraged that I am able to use my sports performance knowledge, education,  and experience to my advantage, even despite the fact that I really have had trouble finding motivation to race my bike, as of late.  I trained less, but achieved the same result.

Bike racing isn't about results for me... it is about affiliating my self with the 'right tribe' of people, and enjoying the social, physical, and mental health aspects of the culture. (suspicious... if it isn't about 'results' then why were my results 'rewarding'. )

Having said that...  I got a bit carried away with my upper body strength work, and will need to shed at least 10 pounds if I hope to have a shot in hell of being competitive once gravity becomes a factor.  I have 10 weeks until my first outdoor test, and I think I am right where I need to be.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Life without bike racing....

... isn't so bad.  I wondered how I would fill my time if I wasn't involved in competitive athletics, and now I am happy to report that I have found plenty of new ways to occupy my time.

Sometimes I think about guys I used to race with that seem to just 'disappear'.  At some point, people decide not to race their bikes, and they move on to something else, it really isn't a sad turn of events, just a natural developmental progression.

I guess the 'story' of this blog will be whether or not I race again (or at least 'when' I start back up).   I am making sure not to close off any racing avenues... for example, I am trying to keep my VO2 Max within striking distance (of course my power to weight ratio is f'd up because of my upper body strength training focus), and I haven't formally 'quit'.

So, if I opt to renew my USAC license and sign up for a race, I will pick things up on this blog where I left off.  Essentially, this blog is a way for me to document my experiences while supporting Midwest cycling, so I will be happy to continue if I am still involved.   But I won't prolong my misery by posting every passing notion I have.   I will either be "in" or "out", and right now I am "in between".  A 'leave of absence' seems to be happening right now... which correctly implies that I will get back to the sport once I fulfill my current aspirations. 

In the meantime, my obsessions include reading psychology text books and writing papers (en route to a grad degree), red wine, group wellness, and strength training.  I am a pretty good dad, but there is some room for improvement, so I may dig up some ways to get more into 'parenting'.

I guess I am still recovering from the way last season shook out for me.  Being on a team isn't easy for someone like me.  I put everything into it, which makes me vulnerable to burn-out and being disappointed. 

I can't wait to read my next headline... your guess is as good as mine what it will read...  in the meantime, competitive cycling is an awesome way to appreciate a healthy lifestyle, so please continue to involve yourself and thanks for your past support.

Chad Bishop

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The weight of the situation...

The cycling world is in a bit of turmoil these days... there is even suggestion from "the only U.S. pro to win the Tour De France" Greg LeMond that everyone give up racing for a year by not buying a USA Cycling License. He is hoping this will help clean up the sport by "starting from scratch"... causing the UCI and USA Cycling to go out of business.  Greg has accused them of being corrupt.  Pretty extreme, however some of the folks in Iowa are actually contemplating whether or not this is a viable option.  I could use a year off, so this would suit me just fine.

I was on the ropes, regarding my energy to race prior to this drama, so my cycling world is also in a bit of turmoil.  The weight of the situation was revealed as I reluctantly stepped on the scale.  I looked down and saw that it read 174.  Hmm, not so bad... then it sunk in, I haven't weighed that much in about 4 years... a good 14 pounds over my race weight... Ok, I have been lifting weights regularly while limiting my cardio to about 3 times per week.  Maybe this extra weight is muscle, as my pants seem to fit about the same.

Anyway, recently the first talks of the 2013 season have begun for the American Equity Racing team.  That is what inspired me to weigh myself.  Of note, a couple of the guys that apparently quit midway through the season have officially declared that they won't be joining us next year.  I kind of wish they would have announced their change of heart during the actual season, however, as I kept letting myself feel 'let down' when they wouldn't show up to races and/or respond to our communications. This was my issue, not theirs, however, so no ill feelings... life happens, and cycling is only one small part of the big picture.

That will mean a solid foundation of AE/Velosport Elite racers, and maybe room for a couple of new recruits. Basically, this is great news, especially the fact that there will indeed be an American Equity Racing team... which was in jeopardy due to a significant loss to our team. Interested in being considered for a sponsorship?  Now would be the time to inquire with the team leadership. I am not sure exactly who is returning, but my guess would be:  Jeff Bradley, Lou Waugaman, Paul Deninger, Chad Bishop, Matt Zimmer, Lucas Guyton, Joshua Wandrey.

Currently,  I have set an odd goal (well it is odd to me) to bench press 300 pounds  (My current 1 rep max is 246lbs).  My dad suggested that I would be able to do this, because he did it at one point in his lifting days.  I want to find out before age becomes too limiting of a factor. Plus, I kind of like the idea of looking like an athlete for awhile.  I have started to get comments.  People are confusing me with a fitness professional...  this is great (and someday hopefully true), though I know it means trouble when I start battling gravity out on the open road. I will be a complete turd, if I try to race at 174 pounds, at least up hills.

What to do?  Probably resort to what I always do... delusion.   Perhaps I can bulk up to a solid 180 pound powerhouse, then strip the 'fat' next spring, and race at 165?  Hmm.  Well that is what I need to tell myself, otherwise I won't have motivation to lift weights and be forced to start training for the 2013 cycling season... It is weigh too early for that... Actually not, but I am still pouting about how anti-climactic my 2012 racing season went, so let me live in denial for a few more weeks...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Lance Effect - Is this the end, or a new start?

I seriously got into cycling in 2005.   I was definitely one of the people who were inspired by the attention that Lance Armstrong brought to the sport.  My reasons for competing were personal, but I have to credit 'The Lance Effect' for helping solidify my ambitions by providing a reinforcing culture.  Being apart of something that was beyond my own selfish aspirations helped justify all the long miles and intense training.  I felt like I had joined a new culture... a brand new world of positive choices and group harmony.

How ironic is it that I am seriously contemplating a long-term break from competitive cycling, as the world seems to be turning against one of my heros.  Just as with my beginnings, I am not thinking about quitting solely because of Lance's demise, but I am definitely not inspired by this hostile climate of hatred.  The cycling lifestyle no longer seems quite as rosy.  What I thought was a world of empathy and understanding, of competitive fellowship and healthy lifestyle choices seems more like one of jealousy and judgement.

I suppose what stings, is the hatred that my fellow racing acquaintances are spewing.   I really want to feel like I belong to something... but not sure I can fit in, when my perspective is in such stark contrast with the people I ride with.

Maybe my loyalty to Lance is partially my dad's fault.    He wore a Livestrong bracelet. He found hope and support within the Livestrong foundation.  I can't seem to shake that image.

I liked the idea of the U.S. winning the Tour De France 7 times in a row.  I liked the fact that George Hincapie won a stage in 2005 (turns out he was doping... oops).  America prides itself on success... it is one of our values... Lance (and Floyd Landis for that matter) represented the U.S.  When they won, we cheered and felt proud.  Maybe that is why there is now hatred... a defense mechanism,  what other response can we have? 

Well, how about feeling SAD?  I suppose a man, however, would sooner raise his fist, then shed a tear.  And yet, thinking about the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, deppression,  acceptance), I can suggest that we have been in denial for so long, that anger has finally progressed.   Perhaps, then, I am just further along on my journey, as I am saddened by the state of affairs... hopefully acceptance is just around the corner.

But you simply can't take back all that has been given. So, feeling sad isn't really necessary, for me personally...  rather, I feel inspired by the past and motivated by the potential of my future... with or without cycling.

Most likely I will start training again this winter... but for now, allow me a period of mourning... a pity-party, as I feel sort of alone within the sport right now.  The American Equity team seemed to disband in July, so that adds a bit to my isolation... it was nice to be able to share the lifestyle with a group of guys that 'got it'...  I got used to deriving energy from the team's enthusiasm and reinforcement... which made it disappointing as we slowly started engaging in our individual pursuits.  Perhaps once I get a chance to re-affiliate I will find some inspiration.

If and when I start training again, I will resume posting... until then, enjoy the cycling lifestyle, and please don't discredit all of the great people who have helped make it what it is.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 State Gravel Championships

I enjoyed a rewarding experience as I defended my title at the 2012 State Gravel Championships.  I have no particular skill set or appreciation for gravel racing, but I really can't resist entering in races that are close to home and will feature smaller (personal) battles.  I thoroughly enjoy races that test my personal capabilities and use them to motivate and/or guide my workouts, while extending my enjoyment of maintaining my fitness.

This race was 4 laps around a 7 mile circuit.  The Cat 1,2 and Cat 3 divisions were supposed to be 5 laps, however, me and teammate Paul Deninger were the only two entries.  So, congrats, another Gold Medal for me, as Paul was claiming that he had been eating too much cheese lately and was just going to try and hang on to my wheel.  I can never tell if he is serious or not, but in this case he wasn't kidding.  The real task, then was to help teammate Jason Rettler win the Cat 4 division, while also trying to be the first one to cross the line, as every category was racing together.
Early in the race with Paul Deninger using his 'cheese weight' to help propel the group down the hill.

I was feeling great, and pedalled to the front at the get go.  What seemed like soft pedalling ended up launching me off the front.  I didn't want to ride across bumpy/sketchy gravel alone the entire event so I tried to slow down... not happening.  I couldn't seem to ride at a pace that would keep everyone together.  I got frustrated quickly and decided just to pedal at an engaging tempo and see what happened.  

After the first lap, I turned around to see that there were really just about 6 people still with me.   Paul and Jason were amongst the group, so it was looking good.  An unfortunate soul from Mercy Specialized made the selection.  His name was Ben, and he was a Cat 4, so Jason still had some competition.
Paul, Jason, Ben, and myself, after the field dwindled down about half way through the event.

Paul suggested to slow down and ride tempo so we could 'practice team tactics'.  I tried to slow down, but I was having trouble finding the motivation, so I eventually just kept pedalling at the cadence I felt I could maintain the entire race.  There were quite a few rollers and a strong wind which added a bit to the intensity.  A section of the course had 'fresh gravel' which meant we were getting tossed around as we traversed it.

Paul eventually fell off the pace and it was down to me, Jason, and Ben.  Jason understood his goal was to stay on my wheel, as I felt quite sure that Ben was going to fall off the pace, which would present Jason as the Cat 4 Gold medal winner.  That plan worked perfectly, as Ben fell off the back with about 10 miles still left in the race.

I was sort of getting anxious with Jason on my wheel, and suggested that I was going to up the tempo toward the last half of the lap, so I didn't have to think about him being behind me anymore. 

After the race, he mentioned that his heart rate went up to 195 bpm at times.  Paul thought his heart rate monitor might be malfunctioning as well, as it was up in the 180's. He also re-iterated the amount of cheese he has been eating lately.    I guess I was feeling good.

"Thumbs Up"... as I concluded the 2012 Iowa State Gravel Champs and enjoyed another great day in the saddle.
Well, that was a nice way to cap off the 2012 racing season.  I am not planning on racing cyclo-cross as I want to focus on my psychology degree this fall/winter.   I am also working on trying to achieve 'full-body' physical fitness, so don't be surprised if I start to look a bit 'bulky'... it will hopefully be from body-building, not from cheese eating.  Thanks for reading... I hope that my efforts to document the Midwest Bike Racing scene are inspirational and/or informational.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

AE State Team Trial Squad - Update

IOWA STATE TEAM TRIAL - Looks like we are NOT going to field a squad and attempt to take home the gold medal. We have three riders, but can't talk anybody into being the 4th... I am sure other teams are having trouble fielding squads as well...   the thought of rotating through with TJ Tollakson (pro-triathlete) and Paul Deninger (multiple time State TT champ) did inspire a couple of super-intense workouts this week, so it wasn't all that bad for me to think this was going to happen, and then have it not pan out... Dang, I really do want to enter a team time trial someday... maybe next year...

Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Iowa State Championships Road Race

The 2012 Cat 1,2 Road Race during the early stages.
The 2012 Iowa State Cat 1,2 Road Race was held in Riverside, Iowa this year.  The race involved racing  97 miles using 32 mile loops.  The event had a great feel this year, as Riverside was very accommodating and happy to have us.  I had a great feel as well, having gotten in some good training  mileage over the last few weeks.  Having the State Time Trial the week before this event does put me in pretty good form, as I have plenty of motivation to stay in shape.

Staging just before the start.  The race combined the Cat 1,2 with the Cat 3's, for a field of just over 40.

Paul Deninger ended up being the only other member from my team to enter the event, but we still created a 'plan of attack' as we were both feeling capable of achieving a successful result.   With only two guys, you don't have a lot of cards to play, but it seemed like we could get into a break if we traded turns covering attacks.  The other teams represented included Bikes2You, Iowa City, Zealous, Thrive, and Rasmussen's... not to mention quite a few out of state riders.
Me and Paul led the neutral start through Riverside... aka, the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.
 Everyone kept their cool for a few miles, but then the attacks began.  Eventually Brian Eppen (ICCC) and Andrew Ulvestad (Rhythm Racing-Chicago) formed a two-man break.  This move dangled out in front all throughout the first lap as riders took turns trying to bridge up. The field wasn't working together to bring this back, so it wasn't until almost half way through the second lap until it was caught.

Mike Sencenbaugh(Thrive Racing) was a guy I had marked prior to the event, as he has been winning all sorts of events this year.  He was very aggressive trying to make it up the road. 
The first time through the 'feed zone' ended up being the 'attack zone' as I was red-lined all throughout the town
of Riverside trying to get back up after the field split.  The race never got that intense again.
I was still feeling great, and anticipating Iowa City's counter-attack.  Sure enough, Jeff Barnes countered and I stuck onto his wheel.  We both dug deep to establish a nice gap.  A rider from Bikes2You initially tried to join us, so the break was looking good.  Unfortunately, he only rotated through once and then disappeared.  This wasn't our intention, but we were going 'all-in' at this point, so it was a struggle to hang on. 

It ended up being another two-man break with about 47 miles to go in the race.  I really liked the idea of being in a break with Jeff, because he had just won the State Time Trial, and we have similar riding styles.  However, we really did need another guy or two from the other teams, as there was still a lot of motivation back in the field.

We kept on fighting, as the ref was giving us time splits.  It went back and forth from well over a minute to as little at 25 seconds.  Yet they didn't pull us in as the miles elapsed. I started to entertain notions of being the 2012 Iowa State Road Race champ.  However, it really didn't seem likely that the field wouldn't pull us in.  Our only hope was that someone would bridge up, or they would eventually lose interest in the chase.

So, after being in the break for over 40 miles, they finally caught us.  I was expecting to get spit out the back as the field paraded by my peripheral vision.  But, much to my surprise, I was still feeling pretty good.  I didn't have anymore snap in my legs, but if the field was reserved, I felt that I could take a stab at a good finish.  There was only about 7 miles left to race, so I tucked in near the back of the much reduced field of about 18 remaining riders.  Apparently, the efforts to reel us in had exhausted some of the other competitors.  I heard reports that Mike Sencenbaugh and Andrew Buntz (Bikes2You) were especially determined, as evidenced by their decision to cut the race short.  Andrew's efforts set the stage, however, for a great result for his team.

There was one point when I almost got dropped, but the field was definitely timid at this point.  It was obvious that we were going to sprint it out, and I believe some guys were experiencing a bit of cramping and/or hunger knock.

The finish was a very long straight-away just on the city limits of Riverside.  We could see it about a mile out.  They opened the road for us at the 1k mark, which was great.  I dodged around trying not to get pinned in. When the dust settled I came across the line as the 10th cat 1,2.  I was satisfied, as my initial goal was to get into the top 10.  I haven't got a lot of envelopes this year, so it was just nice to have gotten one, regardless of the amount of cash inside.  Paul finished just ahead of me in the 8th spot.

Lee Venteicher (far left) of Bikes2You/WorldOfBikes went on to win the State Title.

After the race, there was a great party/results ceremony with pizza and beer.  The mayor of Riverside even got involved in the festivitites, as they seemed excited to have us back again next year. 

Results - Cat 1,2 - Iowa State Road Race Championships - August 11th, 2012

1 Lee Venteicher Waukon, IA - Bikes To You / World of Bikes
2 Steven Robinson (1 - Cat2) - Des Moines, IA  Zealous Racing
3 David Carpenter (2 - Cat2) - Norwalk, IA Rasmussen Bike Shop
4 Jay Thomas (3 - Cat2) - Lincoln, NE Midwest Cycling Community NE
5 Andrew Ulvestad (4 - Cat2) Chicago, IL Rhythm Racing
6 Matias Perret (5 - Cat2) Iowa City, IA -Iowa City Cycling Club
7 Garrett McAllister (6 - Cat2)  Bend, OR - Canyon Bicycles-Draper
8 Paul Deninger Iowa City, IA Velosport Iowa /American Equity
9 Jerome Rewerts (7 - Cat2) -Nevada, IA- Zealous Racing
10 Chad Bishop (8 - Cat2) Muscatine, IA - American Equity Racing Team
11 Austin Turner (9 - Cat2) Iowa City, IA - Bikes To You / World of Bikes
12 Jeff Barnes Iowa City, IA - Iowa City Cycling Club
13 Adam Price (10 - Cat2) Iowa City, IA -Iowa City Cycling Club
14 William Greenwood (11 - Cat2) Davenport, IA -Bikes To You / World of Bikes
15 Joe Hetrick (12 - Cat2) Iowa City, IA -Mercy-Specialized
16 David Lippold (13 - Cat2) West Des Moines, IA -Thrive Cycling Team
17 Finn Kolsrud (14 - Cat2) Iowa City, IA - Thrive Cycling Team
DNP David Paquette (Cat2) Decorah, IA -KS Energy Services / Team Wisconsin
DNF Derek Cassaday (Cat2) Des Moines, IA 220786 25 Bikes To You / World of Bikes
DNF Michael Sencenbaugh Carroll, IA -Thrive Cycling Team
DNF Ryan Nenninger Iowa City, IA - Iowa City Cycling Club
DNF Andrew Buntz Iowa City, IA -Bikes To You / World of Bikes
DNF Brian Eppen Iowa City, IA - Iowa City Cycling Club
DNF Ryan French (Cat2) Des Moines, IA - Zealous Racing

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

State Championships - Time Trial Gold

State Time Trial

I was happy to get another Gold Medal to add to my 2012 Iowa State Championship collection, as I won the Category 2 division.  Unfortunately, I didn't pull of any sort of special result, as I had an outside chance of winning the event overall and getting the coveted championship jersey. The cat 1's edged me out again, with Jeff Barnes winning overall with teammate Paul Deninger not far behind. RESULTS

The conditions weren't favorable for what I think I need to pull of a PR. I prefer a headwind out and tailwind back.  Instead it was kind of like screaming down a roller coaster on the way out, only to turn around and have to grind up the climb on the way back.  This course is basically flat, so the wind was providing the 'climbing/decending'.  I was also hoping for it to be on the warm side, as that seems to slow the others down a bit... rather it was an absolutely perfect day, oh well.
A bit of a different situation at the start of a 40k TT, then at the finish.

I have been watching the Olympics, and appreciated how participating in this time trial put me in a similar circumstance as the Olympians.  I could relate to the pressures of hoping to perform, and the desire to have all of your training pay-off with some sort of accomplishment.  I can say that I set myself up to win regardless of the result, as I am really in this bike racing thing for the ultimate pay-off... a healthy, active, wellness-based lifestyle.  I am planning on trying again next year...  though I will admit that training for time trials is almost more fun then entering them.

State Road Race

I have been maintaining my form in hopes of being competitive at this years 97 mile State Road Race in Riverside Iowa.  The new course is challenging, and the distance will create for a grueling endeavor.  I smell blood, though, and am going in for the kill.  July was an ass-kicker, and I am not sure how many Cat 1,2 cyclists made it through without burning out.  Check back to see how it panned out.

State Team Time Trial
Speaking of burn-out, it is not looking good for my ambitions to enter the 2012 State Team Time Trial, as I don't think I will be able to convince anyone else besides Paul Deninger to enter.  Putting together a composite team wouldn't make sense, as you only get awarded the designation of State Champions if all four members are from the same squad.  The concept of a team trial seems intriguing... this would be an event where we would literally be relying on each other as a team.  I started to think about how we would organize the intervals and rotations, etc... probably need to stop thinking about it, and just call it a road season after the RR... dang.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Racing... the drought is over.

Some of my favorite races of the year are approaching, as I successfully suffered through the RAGBRAI induced racing drought in Iowa... can't blame race directors for not wanting to have races that conflict, but I get the feeling that a lot of 'racer types' tend to burn-out about this time of the year, and not having local racing options might be a contributing factor.  Of course,the blazing hot temps may have been discouraging as well. 

So onward, as I look forward to the Iowa State Time Trial, Road Race, and Team Time Trial
Unfortunately, the East Village Critierium is the day before the State Time Trial, so probably will opt out of that one... too bad, because the East Village Crit is a great event, and would be much more fun than riding my bike in a straight line for 40k.  I really wish they were on seperage weekends, or that the TT was on Saturday.  Oh well, I can watch the Olympics, and spend some quality time with my son on Saturday.

Matias Perret has already won the Criterium jersey, but there are three more left to be awarded.

I am sort of interested to see if I can get my hands on one of the new State Championship jerseys.  Only one awarded in each discipline (crit/road/tt/cross) to the top Iowa Cat 1,2.  Teammate Paul Deninger and legendary powerhouse Jeff Barnes probably would have to be considered the 'favorites' for the time trial.  I came in third to them in 2011, after winning the event in 2010.  Your guess is as good as mine, as to what kind of ride I will have, I just hope American Equity can bring home the jersey and that I can get another gold medal in the Category 2 division.

After that is the 97 mile State Road Race.  I previewed the new route and was surprised by the challenging profile of the first half of the 32 mile loop.  It seemed like a never ending rolling climb.  Just as you crest one hill, another one looms off into the distance.  Should be 'epic'.   I feel pretty strong, having made some adjustments based on the situation at the Quad Cities Road Race.  Not sure who is going to show up from my team other than Paul, but I am prepared to leave it all out on the course. I will shoot for a top ten result (in the money).  If we have 3 or more guys, then my goal will be team-based, and aimed at getting one of us on the podium.  Again, the State RR jersey would be a nice acquisition for the American Equity Team.  I will have to wait to see who shows up before I decide on my ambitions...  Of course, just simply finishing a 97 mile race against Cat 1,2's is not something I should take for granted.  I will have to race smart if I hope to still be with the group until the end.

I have been wanting to race a Team Time Trial ever since I got into racing against the clock 5 years ago.  It has never panned out, as I can never seem to find 3 other guys to race with.   Last year was my best shot, as I was on a team that had plenty of guys with TT bikes, however the race was cancelled.

So, this could be the year, but only time will tell if the AE squad is able to put together a team.  I will be ready to go.  I have never ridden my TT bike over 30 miles, so this will be a new experience for me, if it pans out... one that I will definitely look forward to.  If American Equity fields a squad I will be very surprised if we don't win... (a little smack talk, deal with it).