Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween essay just freewriting.

103118 Halloween

El Conchristador walks alone in the forest.  Moss is everywhere.  It covers the rocks and the tree trunks and it is very wet, dripping sometimes when it condenses just enough to gain some heft.  It hangs loosely from the saturated bark that is peeling off of the redwood tree just in front of this mess of a man who just wants to quiet the awful noise in his head; which is why he came to this part of the woods just east of the city of Seattle.  
I’ve never had much of an appetite for this world…let me clarify.  This world which we created.  Which humans created, after we gained enough cranial capacity to house an enormous enough bundle of nerves to process the calculations we needed to do in order to build the things we built.  Which is to say, civilization.  It had to happen.  Brains got bigger and we became more aware of ourselves and our needs and we needed to get organized so that we could provide for those needs.  Small groups bundled together and interacted, sometimes nicely, and sometimes not so nicely.  But they touched each other and there was a transfer of energy and information and cooperation began to happen.  
We built things out of sticks and mud at first…probably.  Then rocks and stone and later on steel and concrete.  Small things like houses and little storage places for food and animals.  Inside the little groups of people the energy transfer became stronger and more pronounced and information storage became a problem because at first we did not write; and so we took that first step toward our eventuality by simply looking at what was happening around us and making a picture of it…probably with a stick in the mud.  
And that was the turning point…BOOM…inspiration.  How does it happen?  Why does it happen?  Something inspired that person to pick up a stick and draw in the mud a picture of what he or she was seeing just then.  Maybe a tree or a horse or one of those fantastic sunsets we get here in Indiana when it is Fall and a cold front just rushed through and scooped up a bunch of thunderstorms that had been hammering us for days and days.  Those are the best sunsets.  When the air has just been very warm and humid and suddenly that cold front just magically vacuums it all up and bowls it south toward the lower coast of Georgia.  What you are left with is just indescribably beautiful.  The air is so clear, and you had just been outside in that overwhelming succulence of a heat wave; but suddenly you stand up and look westward and see that gorgeous amber and violet sun.  It just hovers there, all huge and powerful and just radiating light and heat and energy and JOY.  And is that what sparks inspiration?  
I think that is a possibility.  I am having great difficulty reconciling what goes on in our world with what I think should be going on in this world.  Yes I know that is a very self-centered thing to say but I am myself and you are yourself and we are ourselves and we all have a sort of personal paradigm for how we think this world should operate.  We all are born with certain notions.  Natural notions.  We are naturally cooperative things.  We could not have made it this far otherwise.  We all are born with certain talents and abilities and none of us has exactly the same mixture.  Which is why we cooperate.  The tall man picks apples while the short man picks blueberries.  That way we can all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle and form a coherent picture.  It’s a valid analogy, I think.  When we are sad, a person who is happy transfers some of that happiness to us via a card or a hug or simply a genuine conversation.  
We all seek equilibrium, naturally.  We are born that way.  We want to be with one another and cooperate.  That is what I meant when I wrote “should be going on in this world.  But what we are actually doing, as a whole, is heading toward entropy.  And that is a very, Very disconcerting concept.  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Important News Regarding Your Local Bike Shop!!! (Also some snarky prose)


Listen up folks, for I have astounding news to share with you and you will not want to miss this one!!  ……First of all, a question:  Have you seen those little snippet videos, around a minute and a half in length, of those little baby goats just jumping around their pens, or around a back yard, or even a chicken coop?  You know, the ones where the little buggers just wiggle and shake around on their tiny little struts like they just ate a bag of Mexican jumping beans and downed three shots of Strictly Forbidden and decided to try and broad jump over a bowl of alligators?  Welp…that’s just about how I feel right now because I have some really interesting news to share with y’all.  

I know that most of the people who read the pages that fly out of my head are probably cyclists, or, at the very least, in and around the cycling community at large, and I know that most of them know about the closing of Nebo Ridge Bicycles in Carmel/Zionsville.  We’ve all been in there from time to time for one thing or another…yes, even me, the guy who owned that other store in that other city over by Deer Creek Music Center.  I had a great relationship with the owner of Nebo Ridge, Tim Casady, and we often traded product with one another, when in need, in a sort of friendly little fraternity of just the sort of people we are…bike industry people.  

A bike industry person is a member of a peculiar species.  He or she is, shall we say, outside of the bell curve on most valid and reliable measures of psychological steadiness.  The evidence, you ask?  Well, let’s look at what we really do at a bike shop, as an owner, or even a person with a, say, interest in the business:  We generate this idea in our heads that we can open a business that sells the very objects of our most childhood-dream, adolescent-daredevil, hero-worshiping desire and we think we can turn a decent profit doing it!  It seems simple in the beginning.  You lease or buy a chunk of commercial real estate and deck it out with a shit ton of industry-supplied fixtures, thick, durable paint, and gleaming, polished concrete floors.  You sniff around town until you can find some reasonably-priced counters and computers and tools and an air compressor and you just start building bikes and, well, People Will Come, won’t they?  …..well, sure they will.  And they do.  And they did, in my case as well as Tim’s.  

And there you have it, in a nutshell.  There is, of course, a lot more to it, but that is all that is really required to get started.  That and a bunch of money to pay for all that stuff that you just used to make your store so purty, and that you otherwise wouldn’t mind if it suddenly all started rocketing off into the heavens and exploding into fiery smitherines.  Because that’s what you absolutely have to be prepared to do to make it in this business.  You have to be prepared to lose it all.  You have to go for broke and not look back.  You have to do your best to carry the best, most current, most inclusive, and most relevant product you can at all times, no matter your business or personal financial situation…and you have to have that product in stock in all sizes, RIGHT NOW.  And that’s not to mention the service side of the business, which we all desperately hope will be our “profit center” where we make all the "big bucks".  If you liken a bike shop to a human body, the service department is the spine and brain…the central nervous system, if you will.  It is absolutely critical to have a capable and timely service department.  Even if that service department is just one person.  Those shiny 10K dream machines are what brings ‘em in the front door, but that greasy guy in the back who sometimes throws very heavy steel tools into the walls while shouting gibberish at the new Grom, but who also bleeds your hydro disc brakes at 9PM on a Friday night because you have a race the next day and you slammed into a stump two hours ago...that guy?  He's the one who keeps ‘em coming back.  

I got off on a tangent there…as I often do.  But I felt like I had to describe a little of what it is like to own or work in a bike shop.  It is tough.  It is a very tough business.  The margins are very tight these days on those beautiful carbon works of art you see hanging all over our well-trodden concrete floors.  You have to have a lot of heart to make it in this business.  You absolutely have to care a shitload about your customers and your community.  You must always allow the Cub Scouts in and show them how to signal in traffic and teach them about lights and helmets and noisemakers and GET THEM THEIR WEBELOS BADGE!!!  Volunteer for every bike rodeo you can within a five mile radius and sit out in the rain at a Fall Festival providing free service just because you care about making sure some kids’ bikes are safe.  Sponsor a local club and volunteer your floor space for them all to come in and sweat all over everything and elevate the humidity to dangerous levels because they are raising tons of money to fund a cancer research program.  Organize the largest, regularly-scheduled enthusiast group ride in the city and shout directions and announcements out of a bullhorn because all the best cyclists in the city NEED YOU TO DO IT.  Do all of this stuff because you love doing it and it makes your heart full.  

I know what the primary goal of any business should be.  It should be to maximize profits.  I did my best when I had my store and I know Tim did his best at Nebo Ridge and I know, very personally, what Tim did for the cycling community in Indianapolis and the maximization of profits had very little to do with those things.  He is a good man and he ran a great business and many people are sad to see him call it quits.  For my part, I know that I have many more friends now than I did before I started doing the Nebo group rides on Tuesday nights.  I have met so many people on that ride and cultivated so many great relationships because of it that it astonishes me.  And it also made me a much stronger bike racer!  If you ride the A group at the Nebo Tuesday night ride, you are strong.  So keep coming……. ;)

And now it’s time for the news I promised six paragraphs ago…Gray Goat Bicycle Company will be taking over the space formerly occupied by Nebo Ridge Bicycles and I will be the general manager there.  We will be the northern outreach of the Gray Goat organization and we will strive to do our best to serve the already well-obliged cycling community in and around Carmel, Zionsville, and Westfield, Indiana.  I expect that we will have a well-trained and ready and willing staff to help out in any way we can.  Exciting times, buddy-roo!  Stay tuned and keep your tires pumped up because I will be waiting at the back door at six o’clock next Tuesday….

-El Conchristador

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Mid-July Thing—Railroad Tracks of Doom—Roglich is in this group—and a Beatdown of Days of Thunder….


The Mid-July Thing—Railroad Tracks of Doom—Roglich is in this group—and a Beatdown of Days of Thunder….


It is indeed mid-July and I am in that state again wherein my legs are either awesomely filled with power or completely made of dead, soft wood.  That’s what she said.  But seriously I get bewildered this time of year in regards to training because most of the base I built up in the winter and spring is withering away and all I do is hard group rides during the week for training coupled with a few of my own secret recipe vo2 intervals and sprints and that is a good way to get very fast while paradoxically losing most of your fitness.  It’s true.  Go read any number of REAL scholarly journal articles on the subject of periodization and you will soon arrive at the same dead-end road that I am on and we will meet and have a beer and talk about it.  

It is difficult to actually do real training in the middle of summer.  (by the way, I just used TWO spaces at the end of that last sentence, right up ——here^ because that is the way you should write)  During my typical week, I race on Saturday and Sunday (hopefully)—then do either a recovery ride on Monday or, if my legs are good, a very hard ride.  Tuesday is a hard group ride, usually Nebo, Wednesday could be either good or bad, depending on whether or not I remembered to pay the wizard over on that bridge at Little Eagle Creek and 146th.  Thursday and Friday I just try and eat as many M&Ms as possible while I am at work and ride usually an hour and a half each day in order to get as much recovery as possible before the weekend.  I have forsaken openers for the time being.  They are too difficult and I cannot and will not be bothered by them.  Walking around trying to find registration will serve as my openers this time of year.  Josh, Brooke, Jeff, Dave, Dom…do as I SAY and not as I DO…or, in this case, do as I write in Training Peaks and not as I write in this essay.  I am a lost soul on the road to burnout and the jimmy-legs and you should NOT attempt to do what I do this time of year.  It is a cruel and desperate time and it is about to hit its peak.  And when it does that I usually start………………………………………………………………………………running.

Now that we have that out of the way (the Mid-July Thing), we can get down to business.  First order of the night is the sad little band of misfits that gathered together to do the Village of West Clay ride, or as it is more commonly known, the Zipp Ride.  I have been doing this ride more often this year when I am not racing or working and I kind of like it.  The Zipp Ride, the VWC Ride, the Long Loop, whatever you want to call it…it is a good ride.  A ride for people who really like long stretches of very painful and sometimes worrisome pedaling.  This is not crit training.  It is straight up, just ride and rotate and go as hard as you can and make the paceline go as fast as possible up this road which is colloquially known as the Road to Hell until you get to Lebanon.  It is usually very windy and the group normally contains many strong-like-bull riders who are all too happy to drop your miserable ass and leave you in the gutter on their way up to Hell/Lebanon.  The roads are long and straight and made of chip-seal and in the spring and fall when the corn is down it is a very miserable place to ride…period.  But not today.

Today was terrific and wondrous and interesting and I liked it.  Bri met me at my house and we rode over to VWC thinking the normal group would be there and we would do the normal ride.  Justin had also committed.  I was looking forward to pedaling quickly with the Zippies and Neal and the Ortho Indy guys as per usual but that was not to happen today, no sir…not today.  Today, with the threat of potential gentle rain showers, only four brave souls came out to play.  Bri, Justin, Kyle Perry, and myself.  What were we to do?  Well, we just went and had ourselves a nice little adventure out in the wide open world where anything is possible and freedom reigns and people piss outside and the railroad crossings are evil bastards.  
We decided just to sort of cruise over to the general area of the Road to Hell and make our own route.  It was fun.  Yes, it rained on us a little bit but it wasn’t cold and the drops were more misty-like and it was actually sort of pleasant.  We just rode low tempo pace in a more or less southwesterly direction until we hit Brownsburg and then we turned north and started our way up to Lebanon/Hell.  Then I think Zeus was up in his cloud city playing with our little bike-rider statues like he did in the first Clash of the Titans movie where he could make things happen on earth just by moving pieces around on his giant magic globe thingy.  I loved that movie.  Perseus and his little gold stop-motion owl.  Speaking of Perseus, that rat bastard still owes me a lot of rent money and his goddam shield is still in the basement.  If he doesn’t pay me pretty soon I am going to sell that thing to a pawn shop.  I assume it is made of real gold as he is Zeus’ favorite.  Anyway, I have to assume that Zeus jerked the railroad tracks up just as we were crossing them because my rear wheel bounced about a foot up in the air and a foot sideways and Bri crashed.  I turned around and she was on the ground with a bloody elbow and a wonky rear brake.  No real damage or carnage so that was good but what shit luck (or was it? ;)  So we fixed up Bri and her bike and were about to start riding again and then I flatted!  I assume it was the bounce over the tracks that caused it…Kyle found a little piece of road grit in my tire.  Changed the tube and wiped all the grease off my hands with some Indiana roadside fescue and on we rode.  And then???  Kyle’s crank disintegrates while he is pedaling and he is left with two crank arms stuck to two pedals stuck to two shoes stuck to two feet…but none of them connected in the middle.  Just an empty bottom bracket shell and some dude coasting down the Road to Hell FULL SPREAD EAGLE with his thousand-dollar power cranks dangling from his feet like two little impotent clock-chimes.  It was maybe the funniest thing I have ever seen on a ride.  We all scrambled to get our phones out to film this circus act but he coasted to a stop too fast.  We snapped a few good pics though and much laughter was enjoyed by all.  Bri had an 8mm hex so Kyle put his suspect crank back together and……..on we rode.   

The rest of the ride was great.  Nothing noteworthy, just a nice, pleasant pace and no rain and we got to enjoy a decent little tailwind on the way back from Sheridan.  So… there you have it.  The Railroad Tracks of Doom tried to do us in but we persevered and turned lemons into martinis (with a twist of course) and had a genuinely fun and interesting ride which was not too difficult but long enough to call it training.  

Now on to Roglich.  All I have to say is that the group containing Roglich is bridging up to the group containing Roglich and Roglich is in that group.  This is a dangerous group; Roglich is in there.  Chris Froome better keep an eye on that group containing Roglich.  This group has twelve seconds on the group containing Primoz Roglich.  It looks like Roglich might be in this group!  Roglich.  Roglich. 

Primoz Roglich.  ‘nuff said.

I was going to do a savage beatdown of Days of Thunder, which I have been playing on repeat at the store for the last week, but I have run out of time.  Suffice to say that this movie is so damned bad that it is great.  I mean that in the likeness of such wondrous films as Roadhouse, Rocky 4, and Point Break.  All three of which are guilty pleasures of ALL OF YOU and two of which contain the late, great Swayze and his flowing, golden locks of pure ecstasy.  

I’m off now.  Hitting the hay.  Eyes getting heavy.  I bet we wouldn’t have had such bad luck today if Roglich were in our group…

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

National Terrify Animals Day


Welp, the fireworks are about to start and my dogs are about to enter the loony zone and I don’t have time for this right now.  It is Wednesday and Independence Day all in one and that means that most of us have to go to work tomorrow.  I cannot sleep when goddamn rockets are thumping all night and the neighbors are having a patio party with screaming children and some kind of bird.  They have a Myna bird or a Macaw or something.  The thing screeches all day because they leave it outside all the time in its cage covered with a blanket or table cloth.  I imagine that must be a great life.  I’d be swearing like George Carlin if I was that bird.  

Anyway it’s noisy as hell outside and I just don’t like fireworks.  Never have.  Ohhh well maybe when I was a teenager and I was setting shit on fire all the time and blowing up mailboxes with Worx bombs and generally doing hooligan stuff with gunpowder and potato guns and ether and, yes, fireworks.  But that was a long time ago and I am clearly a different person now, the evidence being that I have a wife and she has stayed with me for seven years so far.  So I must have went Crazy Ivan somewhere back there in the 2000s and cleaned my act up.  And I am so sorry that I have run off topic as usual.  I hate fireworks now.  I don’t shoot them off anymore and I don’t like listening to them.  I don’t mind seeing them…but I cannot find it in me to appreciate the loud banging.  I get it…bombs bursting in air and mortars sending shells over those ancient walls standing heavy with hope so long ago but the problem is that my dogs think it is the apocalypse.  So they get to shivering and quivering and smashing themselves as close to Beth and I as possible and if we get up to pee or get something to eat they walk in between our legs as we walk along.  Anyway it’s not fair to them because dogs are people too and Walter even talks…in his own strange maowaowow way.  

All I ask is that you simply stop shooting off fireworks and go inside and read a nice book in a quiet room and if you need to see fire, just light some scented candles.  Cool?  Great…..

Now that that’s settled we can get down to brass tacks:  What is the best way to cook a Myna bird?  I heard somewhere that they can sense predators and have as a defense mechanism the ability to sing Kid Rock songs until said predator runs away in agony or at least extreme annoyance.  We have coyotes around here and I think I heard that bird doing Only God Knows Why the other day and I found a dead coyote on 141st Street when I started my ride.  It had blood streaming from its ears and nose and it had obviously shit itself due to the fact that Kid Rock is capable of reproducing the Brown Note.  And all that nonsense doesn’t even matter but it is true and I thought it worthy of a mention.  So I think I’ll cook the bird in a cast iron skillet with brown butter and some peppers, carmelized onions, leeks, and dress the thing with a bed of risotto.  

On to bikes… I did the annual Parade Ride today with Bri and Company.  This ride leaves the Smokey Row school on 136th Street and travels north to Sheridan, at which time we join the Sheridan parade route and toss candy to all the kiddos lining the streets of the downtown area.  The ride is pretty chill and tons of people show up.  Bri is the queen of the ride and Harry is her begrudging servant.  The story is that they were on a ride about five years ago and just happened to be riding through Sheridan when they stumbled into the parade going through the main drag down town.  Apparently the town folk really liked the group of patriotic cyclists and thusly the group agreed to make the happy event an annual tradition.  And so it goes and so it went today and the group has swelled to around 100 people give or take 30 or 40…I am bad at estimation.  Anyway it is truly a fun, leisurely, social ride and I enjoy doing it.  Plus I got in 65 miles in Zone 2 which is just what I need right now because I am tired from standing all day at the shop and racing crits on the weekends.  

Beth and I spent the rest of the day doing Our Thing, which is going to Cafe Patachou, Lowes to look at paint colors because we are painting the inside of the house soon, and preparing to drug our dogs in advance of the coming armageddon.  Racing is going well…Justin and I got decent results at Madeira last weekend and twisted ourselves inside out trying to create breakaways at Hyde Park but no one was having any of it and we were chased down every time until eventually two other guys took advantage of the shells of ourselves we had become and got away for the win.  Felipe won the field sprint for second in the 40+.  Brooke won the women’s 3/4 and then went on to help Bri get onto the podium in the women’s Pro 1/2/3 race.  Jake Richards rode well in the men’s 4/5 race and I expect big things from him in the coming months and years.  His brother Josh is nearly mended from the broken scaphoid bone in his hand and will be strong later in the year.  So Zone-6 Endurance is coming along nicely and I am very satisfied with this team and their attitude and work ethic.  We have whittled it down quite a lot, as I expected, but there are two hungry beasts about to be unleashed on the INKY region and they are called Dave Holtkamp and Dom Fiore.  I coach them both and all I can say is that when I think about them, I hear Blackened by Metallica playing very loudly in my head.  And sometimes Seek and Destroy.  

The goddamn fireworks are at full throttle right now and Walter is running up and down the stairs and down the hall and looking through all the windows and pacing and whining and I’m about to start my ritual of walking around barefoot to the homes that are shooting mortars and telling them that I have a newborn that is frightened and crying.  It has worked in the past.  I am a very convincing fabricator…a skill I honed long ago creating marvelous stories to tell my parents about where I had been when really I had been blowing things up with fireworks and homemade explosives.  And ohhhh hey ho weren’t those the days?  …I mean, nights.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Weldin's Racin' and a few thoughts on Wankers who shoot fireworks at 1 AM


So it’s the time of year when I start to break down, mentally and physically, due to the demands of working and the wild world of bike racing.  Yesterday I raced at Madeira and today I raced at Hyde Park.  Last year I won at Lawrenceburg on the same weekend and got second at Hyde.  This year the results were not so good.  Justin Wonder Boy and I tried to make our little two person team do the work of a five person team, knowing that we had to contend with the Texas Roadhouse Cowboys, led by the recently crowned masters nation champion Marco Aledia.  

So Madeira started hot and fast, as expected, and by the time we hit the first turn we were doing 30.  Marco led the first lap to show off the jersey and we all sort of just fell into line…I guess we all just felt like letting him have a glory lap or something…which was warranted, for sure.  Then the attacks started.  I was sorta hoping that the Riverpoint guys would be very active in this race, and they were, to an extent.  We’ve raced them many times now and I know they are a good team with some fast and fit riders.  I mean, hell, they have Jon Card, OB Forbes, Jason Karew, etc… so they should be attacking and trying to get away…and if they did, one of us would join them and be happy to work and I am sure that a Roadhouse would do the same.  Buuutt, nnoooooOOOOOOOoooooo………  This was going to be one of those races where one person attacks, gets a gap, is joined by one or two others, and then is chased down almost immediately by Riverpoint or one of the smaller teams or privateers that always show up ready to race, but not quite ready to work hard in a break.  And thusly it has been in the masters for the past few years.  Very negative racing.  Very boring.  Guys just wanting to sit in and sprint…strong enough to weld the field back to the break but not strong enough to actually engage in a break and work.  It’s been very frustrating lately.  I realize that not everyone has time to train enough to be fit enough to be a player but shit, man…if you would just take your turn at the front and roll through you might surprise yourself with…..what?  A breakaway that actually sticks because it has a good percentage of the teams represented and everyone is willing to at least roll through, even if they don’t put too much effort into their pull.  And by “you”, I mean every single masters racer who pulls that negative shit (described above) and then gets his wish and sprints it out for 13th place or something and THEN goes to the beer garden to get drunk and watch the P,1,2 race later in the day.  Well maybe not all of them go and get drunk but it’s hard not to at Hyde Park what with all that party atmosphere and the beer stands and the Bon Jovi cover band (or whatever that was…it was so fekkin loud I nearly put in earplugs).  Wait…was it Whitesnake?  White Lion?  Great White?  Betty White?  I’m sure it had the word “white” in it. 

Anyway Justin actually got in a break that stuck and so all I had to do was sit and wait for the field sprint.  Justin rode well, as he always does, with Ben Weaver, Bo Sherman, and a few other guys evidently rotating pretty well.  Marco, Matt Bole, Kroll, and I tried bridging across many times but the field kept welding it back together due to their congenital need to not be picked last on the kickball team.  We rode pretty hard and it was super hot and humid and my ice sock melted in three seconds and shame on me for not being rich enough to buy one of those pro cooling vests to wear during my warmup.  The middle part of the race was, like I said, attack after attack until we realized that nothing was going to stick and we were not going to bridge to that break.  And I definitely did not want to pull the entire field up because I had Justin up there and he can lay down a pretty solid sprint.  So after we realized it was NOT coming back, Roadhouse started sending Bole off the front solo to bridge.  I could not go with him because if I did, the field would chase us down.  But if he went solo, the field would let him go…for reasons that I do not fully understand (reminder: find out why some people find joy in racing for fourth place).  So I stayed back with the group and watched placidly as Matt rolled off uncontested to claim the last place on the podium.  I did get to edge Marco in the field sprint and that is sort of cool I guess…sniff…  but really not because it was for fourth and fourth place in a bike race is kind of like eating egg whites.  Not very fekkin satisfying.

All good though, got in some very hard efforts all weekend and I should be coming full force heading into Indy Crit and then Intelligentsia.  And Please don’t forget about the Heroes Crit and Fit on July 28.  It’s in Pendleton this year and should be a very well organized and top notch event with a sweet course on mostly newly paved roads.  So watch out for me in the corners because I will not slow down for you.  You will need to pedal hard to catch back on.  I mean it.  

— El Conchristador

PS — I just realized that this was sort of a rant.  It was mostly all true stuff though and I just felt like writing it.  But I’m actually in a pretty good mood lately despite the fact that I need to catch up on about a zillion hours of sleep.  

PPS — Hyde Park was even hotter and we rode around and tried many many times to create a move but see above for description of the Welding Wankers and their marvelous tactics.  

PPPs — Gray Goat - Bullseye is still kicking ass and taking names and so is Zone-6 Endurance.  I’m proud of the teams and look forward to their continued development.  Shout out to Brooke Hannon who needs to have weights and shackles added to her bike and ankles to make it fair in her races.  Congrats on the success and welcome to GGB!

Oh one more thing:  to anyone shooting fireworks off long after the designated times set out by the city of Carmel, I will find you and take away your lighters and matches and cigarettes and cigars and whatever else you use to scare the piss out of my pups and annoy the hell out of me and break them loudly in front of you.  

That is all

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Life update on El Conchristador and company


Just an update on life....

I just finished watching Jarret win Glencoe.  Damn what a sprint!  I watched most of the races up there today from the shop TV via live stream.  I had to switch back and forth between that and the OKC races, which is where the GGB team is this weekend.  The race season is in full swing and so is the busy season at the store so I am in a sort of twisted and mechanically complex part of the year in which I try to play the part of manager of a bike shop, an elite women’s bike race team, an up and coming (and surprisingly strong) developmental race team, and my family at home, which naturally should come first, but often times suffers the effects of the sort of neglect that a cowboy from the late 19th century would lay on his homestead when he’s off doing very important and eminently necessary outdoorsy type stuff.  And I guess that is sort of what I am doing, although my stuff is really not that important in light of this big mess of a civilization in which we live.  But, anyway, bike racing is in full effect and it makes me happy and I wish I had my boombox from 1985 so I could play Van Halen’s “Jump” on 99 and a Half, The Apple and shoot hoops and go to the pool and be all tan and stuff and this sentence just split off into another dimension.  Suffice to say that All Is Well and I feel like I’m doing productive things in life and just maybe I am stretched a little too thin. 

I am happy about the devo team.  I don’t really even want to call it a devo team because most of my riders are already fairly accomplished on the LIttle 500 track and some of them have found success already on the road and crit scenes.  I just did a short out and back trip to the Snake Alley race in Iowa and we had a weirdo time with that thing.  First, Brooke, Josh, and I were out warming up and Brooke’s non-drive-side crank fell off so I had to book it back to the truck and get her sorted out so she could just barely make it to her race start with all the nervous jitters and anxious shite that you carry with you when your team director just manhandled your bike back together by sheer force of will and probably the actual Force, because I honestly don’t remember how I did it…but it worked.  And she raced.  And then there was Josh, who was poised to do well in his field and we were doing a well-organized warmup on the waterfront road and I was looking forward to watching him race.  Then I asked him to stand up and do a 20 second effort out of the saddle to get the sprint legs going and as soon as he stood up his drivetrain just basically went monkey nuts and he fell hard, in slow motion as my brain recalls it, and cracked a bone in his wrist.  So now I have Brooke and Josh on the side of the road eight miles out of town in the blazing heat and I have to do a solo TT effort to get back to the truck so I can come pick them up.  

By the way, in my head, this entire weekend looks like an octopus smoked meth and started shaking a bunch of babies so they would cry very loudly and demand that the heat be turned up to whatever is the hottest and then a swarm of bees came and brought mosquitoes with them and a shitload of teenagers were walking around obliviously playing on their goddam devices and constantly walking in front of me while I was trying to get somewhere.  Also the hotel was basically a giant steam room with what amounted to a courtyard surrounded by little rooms with filthy wet carpeted patios and mucky iron spiral staircases if you wanted to go to another floor to get a bucket of chlorine ice.  In the center of the huge open courtyard was an elaborately planned and shaped swimming pool which I imagine was the bees’ knees back in 1979 but now is just a nuisance which no wants to touch for fear of catching some medieval disease or at least someone else’s hair making its way into their mouth or eye or nose or something…gross.

Faith…the Little Monster.  She WON SNAKE ALLEY!!  I could not believe my eyes.  I honestly had a hunch about halfway through because I had been watching her as she was riding up the snake and she was so relaxed and it almost looked like she was playing or something.  Her bike handling skills are top notch and she was railing the technical downhill sections.  I really, truly, honestly thought to myself that this little nuclear particle was going to win.  As a matter of fact, with about three laps to go, I was certain of it.  I remember telling Josh and Brooke, just casually, that Faith “has this.”  And then it happened.  And I was not surprised at all.  I did have to check my state of mind to make sure that I was not one of my other personalities or otherwise out of touch with reality but my executive function, my little homunculus, if you will, said that everything was A-OK and that she really did win and that dang, Chris, you gots yourself some good riders!  Then we watched Rachel and Bri ripping it up over in NC in the land of that cool Carolina smoke that only comes from a soft-pack of Winstons—in the Winston-Salem Grand Prix.  

So Rachel is currently sitting in third in the points standings in the USA Crits series and also holds the Lap Leader Jersey, which is basically a “most aggressive” sort of category.  I am super proud of what she and the girls have accomplished this season.  It’s a damn shame that Jenette cannot ride right now due to the concussion and I know she really wants to be with her teammates.  But the girls are  holding it together and everyone is doing their part to make this team (Gray Goat - Bullseye) something special.  And with Brooke winning races for Zone-6 and about to upgrade categories and Faith literally finding her Big Girl legs, I see some magic in the making for that team.  Bri is, of course, the force that holds everything together.  She is team manager, team cook, team direction finder, team hotel finder, team social media empress, team human google machine, team 11-tooth attack weapon and all around great rider, and also finds time to do Breakfast of Chicampions with me on Tuesdays.  Betsy is very steadily improving after being thrown to the sharks this year.  Her back seems to be holding up and I believe that she is planning to start a podcast about her six-hour warmups on a trainer in the sun on a hot asphalt road while her fiancee, Gene does what Gene does, which is just about everything that a team soineur, fuck I’m not even going to try to look up the spelling on that one…DOES plus also doing research on our social media imprints and hits and how popular we are and our ranking and he is basically just a genius and I wish I was as smart as him.  Also I imagine he has to wash a shitload of clothes due to Betsy’s torrid warmups, what with all the sweat and all…

I’m gonna wrap this up now before I go on some rant about how my goddam grass is growing two inches a day and I have to mow three times a week and the dogs won’t stop pooping in the yard, which is where they are supposed to poop, I guess, and I need to kill weeds…no…DESTROY weeds with very violent methods and trim the ivy and try not to upset the hornets that always seem to want to build a neighborhood on the front porch just high enough that I can’t get to it to smash it to smitherines.  And they seem to be able to pick up tremendous speed when they attack me.  I have been stung so many times that I no longer swell up at the sting site but shit does it hurt!!  

All I want to do is go eat at Patachou with my wife in peace and then maybe go for a motorcycle ride.  Oh yeah…what the HELL is up with cryotherapy?  You go into a booth and become frozen for six minutes and then…what?  This is a fad.  I stamp my certified guarantee on that.  It will be gone in a year.  Beth said she liked it and I will probably try it but I know exactly what will happen when I get out:  I will thank the attendant and say something nice, like “Yeah, that really felt great!”  And then I will evaluate it in my head and decide that it really just felt cold in a very odd sort of way and I feel exactly the same as before.  Use your wits, ye little boat rockers…

I’m off to bed now.

Sunday, May 20, 2018



I just walked across the street from my house to speak with a police officer who was in the process of releasing a man child from within his shiny white Carmel PD-issued SUV.  I am currently wearing shorts and I do not have shoes on and the grass in the front yard was cold and so was the street.  The officer asked me if he could help me.  I declined help and asked him what the hell was going on in my neighborhood that necessitated two cop cars and a half-hour tongue-lashing of a moppy-headed tweener.  He said it was nothing serious.  I then said something that astounded me and probably startled the young blue-blood standing in the middle of the street with his slightly baggy shirt and pants and a loaded nine or 45 or whatever in his holster:  “Why didn’t you just shoot him?”  The kid had a shitload of hair on his head.  Like, it was sprouting out like an enormous sea-anemone or something.  Oh shit!  I just thought of it!  The kid had stolen Gallagher’s Hair!  It was figuratively Gallagher’s Hair!!  Way too much hair for one person to deal with.  Kid’s parents are probably going broke buying enough shampoo to wash that stuff.  Anyway the kid was disappearing around the corner while I was walking across the street to meet the young officer and my feet were cold and still are.  

The officer was in shock…I think…he couldn’t have been more than twenty-five, fresh out of the academy…and I could feel a tension between us that was building up at tremendous speed because he didn’t know what to say next and I didn’t know what to say next and so I just sort of laughed nervously and I think I maybe tried to physically push down the invisible tension force-field between us with my hands.  That obviously looked stupid and awkward and neither of us knew what the next play was so I just said “Just some dumbass kid up to some mischief or something?”  And all of a sudden everything just relaxed.  He said that the kid had been growing weed in the woods across the street from MY HOUSE.  Well why in the hell hadn’t I thought of that?…I thought.  Never mind.  I could never grow weed.  NEVER.  Perish the thought immediately.  Back to reality.  But really?  The kid was growing a crop of marijuana in a small parcel of wooded land in a suburban housing development in Carmel, Indiana?  What an enterprising son of a bitch. 

 All of this is just a preamble to what I was really thinking of writing about tonight, which is the story of the night that I almost died at the bottom of the dam (is that really how you spell dam?  seems like a really wimpy word…dam.  it has nothing to prop itself up against.  and it literally is a thing that props something up…namely, water.  it needs another letter I think.  alas I am not the dictionary and so I can do nothing to help this poor word) at Geist reservoir.  This is a Wirtz story and for those of you who do not know Wirtz…well, you should.  Because he is a great man and has been my friend and loyal companion on many dark, twisted, death-defying adventures (literally five times that I can think of…and that means that I have a lot more to write about after this piece of whatever comes out of my head at 9:27 PM on Sunday the 15th of April, 2018)  

Wirtz/Richter stories from the era of which I will be writing tonight are almost always cursed to  end in either complete manly and glorious triumph over some preposterous made-up Quixotic challenge-OR…riding home in shame to our parents’ houses in one of our vehicles which most certainly acquired some significant damage, which we were very keen to keep hidden from the deadly view of the parents who would certainly do the unthinkable act of grounding us from those very vehicles!  Now…the thing about dam sliding is this:

You need to have a plan of action.  You need supplies.  You need the right people.  Personalities matter very much in these circumstances.  You need the right temperature and humidity and you absolutely MUST pay attention to any and all recent rainfall from the reservoir to wherever the water starts up north.  No fatties and no weaklings either…you have to be able to take care of yourself out there and that means knowing how to swim and how to climb up a muddy hill really fast, I mean REALLY fast if you see the red and blue lights a comin’.  Also…It helps to have a good mixture of boys and girls because the boys want to show off and the girls…well…the girls, they just really can make a night extraordinary, can’t they?  Yes they can.  Right, the next thing you need is a getaway driver and a vehicle, preferably a pickup truck so you can fit a lot of wet people in the back of the thing and speed away into the night.  You also need to have it stashed in a convenient, yet darkened section of one of those nearby communities along Fall Creek Road. You should be wearing whatever the hell you want to wear because you are about to do one of the most dangerous, yet strangely fun things that God himself just had to have invented and that is Dam sliding.  Yes, dam sliding.  You literally just jump off of a piece of concrete into the water just about five or ten feet from the top of the spillway, swim up to the spillway, and sit there.  You can sit there as long as you want to.  You could sit there for an hour if it suited you but I bet you wouldn’t because it would be boring and you would have to deal with all manner of whatever muck and crud ends up in the water that goes over the spillway.  Also there are huge carp there.  They swim around in circles just eating garbage all day long and growing.  I shit you not I have seen carp there that probably weighed a couple hundred pounds.  And those damned fish have enormous mouths.  They open up to the size of a goddam volleyball!  Certainly large enough to eat a baby. So it’s a good thing that most babies don’t go dam sliding.  

That was like a primer on dam sliding.  I hope you get the gist of it.  I did it loads of times and I am still alive and yes, I must say that I would recommend it if it were legal and if it had not rained too much in the week prior to the event.  So now on to the Wirtz/Richter story of the night.  I selected this one out of my memory-mansion because it is the simplest one with which to start.  Mark and I were bored one evening and being that we were 19 year old boys with no need for sleep and plenty of cheap beer which we had stolen, very very slowly over the course of three months from our parents’ garage refrigerators, we were ripe for some feggin action!  

Wait, wait, wait.  Maybe I should hold off on the story until I explain how most damsliding trips are run.  There are two decidedly different atmospheres for the two types of dam sliding groups that usually make these portentous expeditions.  On the one hand, you have the group which contains a mix of three or four boys and an equal amount of girls, and on the other hand, you have just Wirtz and I.  One of these groups will try and be as safe as possible going over that slimy concrete beast and ONE of them will not.  The mixy group will usually start off the night by doing the Dance of Joy from Masthead to the Dam while doing their best to be invisible to any motorist who might happen to be driving along that section of road at three o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday.  The Dance of Joy is performed as such:  strip all of your clothing off.  Shoes are optional.  I would recommend them for the climb back up the muddy bank.  Sing whatever song comes into your head at that moment and just start kicking up your legs one at a time in a sort of makeshift dance-walk thing as fast as possible to the dam road.  You NEED to be fast.  The cops around there used to be called Shorewood Patrol and those fuckers were known to hide in bushes with nightvision due to all of the capers we had perpetrated around those parts which to this day are still unsolved and still legendary.  So you need to be fast and you need to pick the exact, correct moment of when to start.  It may take a few trips before you get the hang of it but keep coming back and you’ll be a pro in no time.  

So back to Wirtz and Richter and the terrible calamity that befell them.  A quick primer on Wirtz:  He is absolutely and literally the most enigmatic man I have ever met and I can confidently say that I probably know him, the real him, better than anyone else aside from his mother, his brother Neil, and his wife and two daughters.  He’s the best of the best and he’s given me courage at times when I felt like death was a real honestly good option and I’ve probably punched some sense into him (sometimes literally) during times when he was manic and maybe was chasing windmills again.  This is a man who hitch-hiked to Alaska by goddam THUMB and satchel and tried to get on a crab boat.  He does not know boundaries.  And if he senses something like one that is anywhere near, you will know it because he will become very, very agitated and will probably want to “smoke a fag” ………as they say in Ireland and he will beeline away from that boundary or just smash right through it.  This is a little aside.  There is a question of legality in all of this and I am well aware of it.  I believe that the statutes of limitations on prosecution of any of the misdemeanor crimes that Mr. Wirtz and I have committed are well and duly expired by now and so I feel at ease with the continuance of my tale.  And as such…I shall continue:

We were not so much outlaw thug criminals as much as just mischievous little leprechauns having our way with the water companies’ happenstance occurring water park which just happened to be five minutes away from our homes.  But  you know what is better than five minutes away from our homes?  Three minutes away from a friend’s home.  And that is why we now bring in Chad.  Wirtz and I could probably have pulled off many of our stunts without the assistance of Chad, plus it just would not have been as much fun at all.  Chad is a little bit like me, a little bit like Wirtz, and, sorry, Chad, but a little bit like 1980s Pauly Shore.  Minus the gross short shorts.  But the personality?  Yup. Plus Chad’s mother stayed up all night doing crafts and shit for Chad’s sister’s cheerleading camps and whatnot.  And she didn’t mind it when we filed past the kitchen table buck naked with huge grins and huge ooother ssstuff just hanging out getting line-dried.  Chad’s mom is seriously one of the sweetest people I have ever met and she was extremely accommodating to maybe around four of us who would do the naked stroll through the kitchen.  Why were we naked?  Because it was 1993 and summer and 90 degrees and humid.  Naked is best under those conditions.  Period.  And we treated Joan as a second mother and what mother has not seen her babies naked?  Huh?  That’s what I thought.  

Chad’s house had a walkout basement which conveniently faced Fall Creek Road just a little way down from the dam.  Chad had recently moved his belongings into the basement and claimed it as his room, which his parents allowed…I think.  To this day I really just don’t know if that was true.  Why else would Joan always be screaming down the stairs at us at three o’clock in the morning to get out and that we have school tomorrow or work tomorrow or be quiet because Suzy’s cheerleading competition is tomorrow and Suzy needs to get her eight hours.  Chad would listen to all of this barrage of orders and ultimatums and ultimately decide to say something like this:  “Fuck off, MOM, close the fucking door we are almost done!!”  

Now…if you are thinking what I am thinking right now, you are probably thinking correctly. My mother would have stormed my hastily-locked door with a battering ram and whacked me across the face with the open, bare hand!  And I sure as shit would have deserved it too!  But to everyone’s astonishment (initially), Joan just simply shrugged it off and chuckled and went back to her crafts.  The thing is, and I knew this, Joan and Chad each knew the other was simply playing a part in a long-running Butler Family Production and each was a co-executive producer.  Thus they were able to make a good show of it while still maintaining a healthy mother/son relationship.  As a matter of fact, I know that Chad loves his parents very much and that they love him.  i actually lived with Chad for a very brief period of time back in the nineties.  And I got to know a bit about the family.  Good peoples.  

Back to damsliding, or rather the Legend of the Night When Two Local Muttonheaded Ninnies Made a Terrible Decision and Nearly Killed Themselves Inside a Spillway at the Geist Dam.  The story starts with our heroes drinking a fair amount of Busch Light beer in cans.  Much laughter and conversation ensued as the boys became light-hearted and bold due to the 5% alcohol in the nasty swill.  Busch Light really is not a tasty beer.  The boys, or rather we (I will now switch to first person point of view) probably had a few too many.  That was usually inevitable.  The summer of 1992 was a very special time in the lives of a very special group of people.  We basically lived in a commune that we created in a large piece of land which included two houses, a large section of Fall Creek Road, and the entrance to the neighborhood of Windjammer, in which the Butler house was nestled.  We were, for some reason, very fond of fucking up the entrance to Windjammer.  It was well-lit with a couple of large floodlights which illuminated a couple of landscape mounds with some evergreen trees and, of course, the neighborhood sign.  We liked to periodically steal the neighborhood sign and see how long it took for them to replace it.  We also liked to take the lightbulbs from the two floodlights…just for the hell of it.  I don’t know why we thought that was so funny, but we did.  The Butler house has already been discussed so you know that we were always welcome there and Joan loved us.  The other house we used in our commune belonged to Matt Confer, or rather his parents.  Fuck, I keep getting off-track of the Wirtz/Richter Tale of Danger and Intrigue and Stupidity.  We can come back to the commune and Confer’s house and emptying the change jar to get enough money to buy a fifth of Crowne Russe, which is the cheapest, shittiest vodka, possibly in the world.  I think we paid around $7.00 a fifth and it made many a member of our group very ill.  Dammit here is the story:

We drank a bunch of beer then, if I remember correctly, drove my little red Nissan truck over to the neighborhood directly adjacent to the dam.  That was close enough that we could make a quick, clandestine getaway in case of a raid by Shorewood.  And believe me, we fucked with them so many times that we knew their patrol schedule to a T and could usually predict when they would be passing by the dam road (I just love saying that).  So we parked the truck and quickly made the forty or so yards from the entrance to the neighborhood to the dam road.  Once there we ran down the road to the gate and then to the utility shed and the edge of the actual dam.  And that is where the meat of the story begins.

Here is a step by step guide to damsliding:  

  1. Jump from the concrete wall into the water about 20 feet in front of the dam.
  1. Swim around joyfully, contemplating what position you will assume when you actually do the slide.
  1. Try not to get a disease from the gruesome cesspool into which you just willingly jumped.
  1. Swim to the spillway and straddle it while assessing the depth and speed of the water going over it.
  1. Hike your other leg over the spillway wall, put  your feet together with your arms crossed over your chest.
  1. Slide!  
  1. When you reach the bottom, allow the current to push you out.  Do not fight the undertow.
  1. Swim to the bank and climb up the muddy embankment to the flimsy little fence at the top and climb over it to the blessed asphalt pad adjacent to the dam where all your friends are waiting for you.
  1. Scream in triumph!…as you have just done a fucking daredevil thing that most of your buddies don’t have the stones to do.  
  1. Remove all of your clothes and proceed directly to Chad’s house where festivities are certain to be happening.

So that is how you damslide.  It usually goes smoothly, just like in the guide above.  But…sometimes it does not.  When Mark and I are in sync and are dead set on getting into some mischievous adventure, very bad things tend to happen.  We tend to take things too far.  I think there is a certain personality type that cannot be truly satisfied in life unless they quite regularly have a sort of very visceral, awe-inspiring, almost…shocking experience that very nearly nudges them over the edge.  Hunter Thompson described the edge better than anyone ever could in the Hell’s Angels book.  I will not quote it but suffice to say that Mark and I are of that personality type and we were never satisfied back then unless our “expeditions” included a chance of death.  I am quite serious about that.  I think we just needed to thread ourselves into the world in such a way that the experiences we created were so elevated…so sublime that we were left exhausted, both physically and mentally.  At least that’s what our over inflated egos were tossing around inside our big, bloated minds.  That’s not to say that one or two of our outings weren’t sublime, in some sense.  I think that on occasion we produced a pretty damned good adveture, worthy of an article in Outside magazine or some such rag.  

Anyway I really am going to tell the story of how we almost died at the bottom of the dam now.  Mark and I had been somewhere doing something and were probably bored so we decided to go damsliding.  So we did.  We probably did the “four-timers” club thing, which is where you slide down the dam four times in four different positions:  feet first, head up—head first, head up—feet first, head down with arms supporting you—head first facing down with arms in front supporting you.  That is the four-timers club.  We probably did that or maybe tried to slide down the damned thing on our feet.  That part of the story is not really important.  The important part comes now…when we get tired of sliding and start to explore at the bottom of the dam.  You see, if the water flow is not too fast, you can stand at the bottom and walk around.  The dam is made of concrete and the bottom is curved to aid the flow of water.  There is a lot of algae and slime but it is quite walkable.  So we walked around the length of the thing and came upon one of the concrete walls that supports the embankment leading to the road.  The thing you need to know is that dams have little doorways at the bottom that can open and close to control the flow of water in the dam.  And we found one.  And so, naturally, we went inside.  To get inside you needed to swim under water and through the gate and about five or six feet of concrete tunnel to get to the other side of whatever the thing is and the most terrifying thing was that you didn’t even know if there was room to stand up once you got to the other side and you didn’t know if there was even air.  Add to that the fact that it was night and once inside the submerged tunnel there was absolutely NO LIGHT.  I mean it was as if you were actually blind.  I could not see a thing and I was scared shitless.  We made it through the tunnel and into some sort of chamber underneath the dam that was obviously used to control water flow.  We stood up and thankfully the depth of the water was the same as outside the dam so we had air.  But, as I mentioned before, there was honestly no light and we could not see our hands in front of our faces.  Mark and I decided to hold on to each other so we wouldn’t get lost.  At first we just stood inside the entrance to the chamber and tried and tried to see something…nope.  I have never been scared of the dark but I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced true, actual dark like this.  I admit I was terrified and I know damn well that Mark was also.  

So what would you do in this situation?  Call it an experience and immediately swim back through the tunnel to the safety of the gently flowing spillway?  That’s what we should have done but nooooo no no.  We were very very close to the edge and when you get that close and you have a friend with you who is so like-minded that communication is instinctual and sthere is no need for words when you need to make life or death decisions, well…

I’ll try and explain the feeling.  It starts like a small electric current that originates in your chest and radiates throughout your body.  The current gets stronger as you approach the edge.  You feel electricity and energy coursing through your core and your arms and your legs and suddenly everything gets very icy feeling and also very hot at the same time.  Your heart begins to pound in a way that is very distinct from the way it may pound in, say, a track meet.  It almost beats in rhythm with your carefully timed movements…if you stop and stand very still to listen for something, your heart stops and waits with you just to give you that little extra stillness needed to really listen to your immediate environment.  Your muscles begin to tense and your senses are all magnified…it’s almost too much to process.  As you move dangerously close to that hideous yet magnetic place (and it is a place, it is both a physical place—where you currently exist, and a mental place—your current state of mind) your body and mind revert to an ancestral, even archetypal state wherein the mid-brain takes over and all semblance of ego and personality are locked safely away so they do not interfere with the business at hand, which is of course, survival.  And then comes a feeling of resignation  and peace as you realize that you WILL go forward with the task at hand and you DO accept the grave danger that comes along with it.  There is a sort of buzz and a sense of being locked in to something and nothing and no one could break this sort of preternatural concentration.  

And that is it.  It is the most satisfying feeling in the world to get to that point, survive whatever predicament you were in that caused you to get there, and wind up at a steak and shake somewhere, anywhere, drinking coffee and drying yourself off with napkins.  

We decided, very much like idiots, to use our remaining senses, blind as we were, to explore the inside of the chamber.