Monday, June 22, 2009

Feel the Heat

“Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they cant go on
Some like it hot, but you cant tell how hot til you try
Some like it hot, so lets turn up the heat til we fry”

The above lyrics are from the song ‘Some Like it Hot” by the 80’s group, The Power Station. I’ve had this song in my head since this weekends WORS Subaru Cup mountain bike race, so much so the Kelly had been getting really annoyed with me singing it around the house. In my version I decided to add the following lyric to the chorus “Some like it hot, I do not”. Probably not long enough to be added to the chorus, but it is straight to the point on how I feel about racing the heat. I have never been one that performs well in the heat, and this race was no different. My race went off at 2:00 and the temps were in the mid to upper 80’s and high humidity. Before the event I tried to stay as hydrated as possible and out of the sun, while watching teammate Andrew Truemper suffer in the heat during the Expert race. By the look on his face I knew my race would be tough.

I was racing the Comp category and we were scheduled for 4 laps. The gun went off and I had an OK start, but was quickly feeling the conditions, and within a half mile I was doing my best imitation of Frank Schleck with my jersey completely unzipped to deal with the heat. As the first of four laps progressed I found myself making stupid mistakes, one that was really embaressing. Coming out of a wooded section I thought it was going to be a flat doubletrack trail for awhile. I reached for my bottle with my right hand, and started to drink and quickly realized there was a short downhill section, so I grabbed the front brake and completely lost control, almost flipping over the bars. I ran off the trail into the grass, almost going over the bars a couple more times as I let on and off the front brake. Under normal conditions I would probably have let go of the bottle to get two hands on the bar, however the heat had me doing really stupid things. After that near miss there was a tough secion of tight uphill switchbacks. With the crowd of riders on the first lap I ran the last couple of switchbacks and once out of the woods pulled off to the side of the trail and sat down. I was hurting and thought if I continued I was going to end up hurting myself. So I sat there for a couple of minutes and decided to finish up the lap. As I got near the start/finish I told myself to give it one more lap, considering I had drove 4 hours and spent money to race I owed it to myself to give it another shot.

Lap 2 went OK, and I decided to finish the race after a stop at the neutral water area where I drenched my head in cold water and filled up the water bottles. As I started lap 3 I came up with the goal of passing 5 riders in the next two laps. I was feeling much better, not sure why, and I slowly picked off a few struggling competitors. In the end I passed 11 guys and finished up hard to hold off a couple of them. So not a great race, but I was happy the way I finished, and really happy that I decided not to pull the plug after lap 1. The course the WORS crew had set up was awesome with lots of climbing, some tough rock gardens and tones of great singletrack. I can’t say enough about how well these events are organized. The WORS crew does an amazing job !!

Friday, June 19, 2009


I don't remember much of my high school french classes, but I do remember that "Je me sens comme le poulet ce soir" translates to " I feel like chicken tonight". I also remember that Avec means with in French. After years of failed attempts of making it to the restaurant Avec in Chicago Kelly and I finally made it there a month ago. In the past we had shown up at 6:30 or 7 and would be greeted with a two hour wait. Well we finally figured it out and after a trip to the Art Institute we arrived really early, 3:30 in the afternoon early, and had no problem getting a seat. As you can see by the photo the restaurant is small and because of the size and communal seating they don't take reservations. So our first visit was amazing, probably one of the best dining experiences for the both of us. Everything we had was top notch and wanted to go back to see if we got lucky picking out dishes or if everything was just as good.

Last night for our anniversary we decided to venture back to Avec. This time we showed up around 5:00 and had no problem getting a seat. According to our waiter it seems 6:00 is the cutoff for having no problem getting a table. This trip we were not disappointed. We had a special made up of pork liver sausage pickled onions and horseradish sauce, a flank steak rolled up stuffed with sausage and egg, a boudin sausage made with braised pork and rice served with fava beans, and a focaccia made with taleggio cheese and truffle oil. We did go whole hog for pork with our meal, however everything was amazing. The best part about Avec is that the price seems reasonable for the quality of food and the serving sizes. If you can get over having to go early or having a wait the place is well worth it. After two visits I can say this may be my favorite restaurant in Chicago, or anywhere for that matter.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Yearly Reminder

Each year I do the same thing, I race one or two crits, and each year I tell myself I am done with crit racing. I think it comes down to me feeling that when racing mtb. or cross and I do something stupid causing myself to crash I have no one to blame but me, but if another racing does a risky move in a crit and takes me out it really makes me feel like it is not worth the chance of getting hurt. As like past years I was hearing from teammates about all the tough racing and good results they were having this spring and I get psyched up to race around in circles for 45 minutes. Well this year I made it all the way to mid June before giving in. My team was hosting our annual criterium at Sherman Park in Chicago, so I decided to suit up for some Nascar style fun, as well as many hours of volunteering. The weather was looking iffy and up to the start of my race things were dry, unfortunately on the warm up lap the rain started, and by the time the gun went off it was a constant downpour. Luckily Sherman Park is a one mile oval (ie not technical) and the rain really only meant asphalt in the teeth and a dirty bike and uniform to clean. So the race progressed and attacks went and came. I covered some breaks and put in a couple of attacks that lasted about a half lap each, one with 3 or 4 laps to go that might have gone somewhere, but I missed calling out to my teammate that I was bridging and ended up dropping him. By the time he was back on and we got organized we both were hurting and the attempt fizzled. At that point there we 2 laps to go, and I settled back in the pack. I really wasn't planning to contest the sprint so with lap and a half to go I dropped off the pace and my race was done. Not exactly an exciting race report, but what happened next reconfirmed my thoughts on crits. Fifty yards ahead of me I see a couple of guys go down on the left and then the carnage went across the field like a tidal wave. I rolled up to the accident and there were people screaming, riders laying in the street, and bikes tangled together. In the end there was plenty of roadrash, a broken collarbone and several busted up bikes. Pure carnage.

This guys Cannondale ended up in three pieces. His wife rushed over and crying and after she realized that he was more or less OK, she handed me his business card, half joking saying that if I buy a painting he could afford a new bike. The paintings really are pretty cool, so take a look, and help him buy a new bike.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

clown torture, 1987

This is an installation in the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute. Not sure if I consider this art, but it is definitely creepy.