Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hijinx From the Midwest

Well hello to you from the beautiful Midwest.  I am here with some friends to race bikes in Iowa City.  That's yours truly on the bike and our accommodations for the next few nights in the background.  just an awesome B&B with great innkeepers.  If your travel plans ever include Iowa City, I highly recommend staying at the Brown Street Inn.  Everything in  the house is perfect, the food is awesome, and the rooms are spacious and comfortable.

So I got here with my buddy Ducky on Thursday afternoon.  We got our bikes built up and then went for a cruise through town and along a river and through some really nice parks.  It was nice to spin the legs after the flights.

Me with Ducky post ride day 1.

Yesterday we didn't race until 4pm so it was kind of nerve wracking waiting around all day to hear the whistle.  But after a great breakfast, we kind of chilled out for a while reading and hanging out.  We hit the store to get a little lunch and to buy some stuff to eat post ride.  Any by "eat" I really mean "drink" if you know what I mean.  Cyclocross is more of a drinking game with some racing thrown in to keep you honest.

We got to the venue a little early to do some practice laps on the course and to warm up.  The last two years have been really really mucky.  This year it's been dry for weeks and the temps are in the low 90's.  So quite the change from what we've had in the past.  It certainly is less problematic when the conditions are dry, but the heat adds an element of insanity.  Really it's like racing in an oven.  But everyone is in the same oven, so let fly.  I had an incredible start and rocketed into the top five.  I kind of got blown out the back on a long steep run up they have here and probably went back to 10th or so.  But I was really feeling strong on the rest of the course and was able to slowly claw my way forward.  I'm bummed that I'm not running better as I've been doing running hill repeats in anticipation of this race.  But being able to get the power on with the other sections makes up for it, I suppose.  I was able to nab 5th place which I'm pretty stoked about.  Lots of fast guys here from all over the country so a top 10 is fairly respectable.  More racing this afternoon.  Should be just as hot and we have to go up that hill again.  Should be painful, but the beer post race will be cold and that you can be sure.

My Cousin Tommy with his son Mathew (first Cousin once removed?)

My cousin Tommy is a professor at Western Illinois University.  That's in Macomb and I finally got around to looking into how far that is from Iowa City.  Turns out it is pretty close.  So I reached out to see if I could come down there for breakfast on Sunday.  He said yes and then asked when I was racing.  As it turns out, he is taking his son to a soccer tournament in the Quad Cities which is an hour from here and if you squint, puts Iowa City kind of in the same direction from Macomb.  The both of them decided to come and watched the hilarity that is Cyclocross.  Mathew said he got tired watching it.  Which I didn't know if he meant that it was boring or if he meant it looked painful and by contact, he got tired too.  I'm thinking more bored but he seemed to be a good sport about being there.  He's a pretty talented athlete and is a great cross country runner and I  told him he has seen his future then.  The fastest racers have some running in their background.  Was great to have family standing there rooting for you.  Makes a big difference when you are in the lactic acid fog of hell and trying to find just a little more power and energy to catch that next rider just in front of you.  We stuck around to watch the pros race.  It was a beautiful evening and the racing was amazing.  And the innkeeper was super cool about them staying with me last night and fed them breakfast this morning before they had to get to the soccer games.

Cooling down with Tobin Ortenblad

That's me in the parking lot after the race "cooling down" with Tobin.  He was cooling down and I was more or less bugging him.  He is the nicest guy and it is great watching him get stronger and stronger against the best in the country and the world now.  Last night he was the second fastest American and was 11th overall.  Nine of the top 10 spots were taking by European's who are here for the World Cup race that is going off tomorrow.  Needless to say (but I'm going to say it anyway), it is a phenomenal result.  His parents are here and I saw them on the sidelines and told them that all of us from NorCal are pulling hard for him to have nothing but success.  When you are a pro, you get a following.  Unfortunately for Tobin, we're it.  Like gum on the bottom of your shoe I suppose.

Anyway, more to follow so stay tuned...and, you should be here.

Johnny GoFast

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

If  You Talk to People, People Talk

Hey all, hope you are well.  So a strange thing happens when you actually open your mouth and engage with the guy next to you.  Seriously, that person, right next to you as you read this is a real person with real life experiences. Put down your iPhone or iTablet or iPopsicleStick and ask him his name.  You might be surprised.

So it turns out that the guy next to me on my Southwest flight to San Diego is from Richmond.  I asked if he played football and he said, "yes".  I asked him if ever played against Pops Mitchell out of El Cerrito and he lit up.  Pops was kind of a big deal about the Bay Area and the stories started to fly.  We both chuckled when I said I'm pretty sure Pops had me wearing my own ass for a hat.  Anyway, we moved on and when I asked my new found buddy if he played in college he said he played at Utah State. As it turns out, I rowed with a guy whose brother was an offensive lineman for Utah St. And so I threw the name and he said, "Greg is my kind of people" and I chuckled and thought it's a small world.
This came on the heels of a bike race I did earlier that day.  Didn't go well but I had a fantastic workout none the less..
As you can see, I'm racing the A bike and yet it was not performing all that well.  I kept dropping the chain or getting chain suck (which is never fast) and it got pretty frustrating to say the least.  But I kept at it despite every Cross Racer imaginable stoving my head in.  It's how it is no matter how it goes.  You bobble even one iota and there is someone there ready to kick the ever living shit out of you.
But it's all to the good.  Hope you are well and happy and living the dream.  Headed to Iowa soon to race in a big league race.  Pre-season is just about over.  It's getting real.  Hope you are smiling as always. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Captaining the Carpool

Hey all hope you are well and having a fantastic day.  On Monday I mentioned that the best 30 minutes of my week is spent with my guitar teacher as I fumble my stiff little fingers across the guitar neck.  But coming up like lightning on the heels of learning to play the guitar is having the privilege to drive the Wednesday morning carpool.  You might recognize my daughter's eye and brow (love how you can tell that she is smiling even though her mouth didn't make the pic).  My boy is back there with the shirt that looks more appropriate for Burning Man than it does for high school.  The other two boys are JP and Brendan.  We discuss all manner of things on the way to school.  The good teachers, the bad ones, all the times I got suspended, favorite classes, who is going to the football game on Friday night, lunch time rituals, hottest chick (dude for Maile) in the school, etc.  You know...the essentials (this is not your Mama's carpool mind you).  There are giggles and a lot of "dad...that's probably inappropriate" and then nuggets of hilarity as they impart all sorts of nonsense.  It really is enjoyable and I highly highly recommend doing it as often as you can. 
Me Between Intervals on Mt. Diablo


So after dropping the kids off at school.  I headed back home and kitted up and headed up Mt. Diablo.  Today I did some climbing repeats.  I went fairly hard on all four and each interval was seven minutes long and I took five minutes off between each one.  At the end, I wanted to puke so I probably pushed it pretty hard.  I averaged about 360 watts for all four.  The first interval showed the HR at 162 beats per minute and by the last one, it had creeped up to about 168bpm.  Not bad I suppose.  I then headed back down and soft pedaled my way back home. Just a beautiful day out there and it started out great. Hope you are well and thanks for being you.
Johnny GoFast

Monday, September 04, 2017

Hodge Podge Ben Dodge Monday

Hey all, looks like two days in a row.  Wow is right.  Now don't get all excited over there and think I'll be doing this daily because that's a lot of juice.  Let's just say that it'll be more often than what I've been doing for the past few years and leave it at that.  Anyway....

So today I set out on my bike ride with no particular place to go and no particular workout to accomplish.  I just wanted to ride and didn't care where I went or what I did.  So I'm kind of noodling down the boulevard trying to figure out a route and coming at me on the other side of the road was none other than Carl the Ranger.

I asked him where he was going and he said to Walnut Creek to pick up Dave.  Concord cop...retired.  Always good to have the law with you when you are muling all sorts of unknown narcotics especially when you are planning to run every stop light and stop sign encountered with an unknown quantity of warrants.  Okay, I don't run drugs or stop signs or lights and I don't think I have any warrants but it is good to have the law on your side. 

After we picked up Dave (and I say "we" because at this point they hadn't realized that I was basically stalking anyone I encountered so I didn't have to be alone with my thoughts.  If you've ever been alone with me and heard my thoughts, you know it can get a bit creepy or absurd or both). Carl likes to ride the mountain so I knew where the ride was headed even before I asked and I was good with that.  Carl had some time constraints and Dave only wanted to go to the junction so I pushed on and made it to the top. 
A bit smoky so the view was a bit lacking but still nice to get to the top of the mountain.  I peeled down the Walnut Creek side and back to the house and then hit the book store.  That's where you come in and your just in time.  "In time for what", you ask?  Audience participation time, that's what.
So I hit up Barnes and Noble in Dublin.  I know, shocking that they still have an actual store you can go to and browse and talk to sales people and pick up something and read a few pages, etc.  So this is where you come in.  Obvi, I got three books.  The one on the left is a book my son will be reading in his English class and since I've never read it, I thought I might give it a whirl.  I got the middle one because I just finished another one by the author and liked it.  The one on the right is one that won a Pulitzer and I'm kind of thinking I'd like to read all the Pulitzer winners.  Which one do I read first?  Let me know and I'll get started.
After all of that, I got to go to the best 30 minutes of my week.  That's my guitar teacher Bruce Hock.  I've been learning from him for about five years.  I can play parts of a lot of songs.  But I can only play one in its entirety.  So if you have a request and it's The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends by Robert Earl Keen then let fly with the requests.
Like I said at the onset, kind of a Hodge Podge Ben Dodge kind of Monday.  From creepy stalking to the top of Mt. Diablo to a real life and still functioning Barnes & Noble to my guitar lesson.  Not a bad day at all, I suppose.
I'll leave you with a couple of shots from yesterdays action.  In one, you will see Gannon Myall breathing down my neck.  That was a flowy fast section of the course and having a fast man push you to the limit can be a bit daunting early in the season.  The other is a shot of me running up the long dusty hill.  Running is also daunting.

Anyhoo, thanks for checking in and be nice to each other.
Johnny GoFast

Sunday, September 03, 2017

As a great man once said, "Alright, alright, alright."  Okay, maybe not a great man and maybe just an occasionally pretty decent actor, but what the heck, how about a new blog post?  Feeling good and hope you are too.  Thought, on my drive back from my first cross race today, that maybe I'll do a little posting this year.  So hopefully my escapades out west and as I travel east across the country, I can  find some things to write about.  Or not.  But I know at least one of you has missed me, so why the heck not.

So I used to play a fairly regular game of poker in high school.  My buddies parents had to go to LA for work every Tuesday and as soon as their car pulled out of the driveway, ours would pull in and we'd start shuffling and dealing and betting into the wee hours of the late evening.  We are not talking about big stakes, but when my paper route money accounted for about $30 a month, any losses kind of hurt.  Anyway, my buddy Jon Thoman like to say, as he was raising the pot mid round, "it's poop check time."  Which I took to mean, if you had something decent it was time to get serious.  If not, fold and grab another beer.  Sometimes he was bluffing.  Sometimes he wasn't.  You know the deal.

So the first cross race is kind of a poop check.  If you've done your homework, the first race will give you some reinforcement that your training is going well and it will give you some motivation to keep the continue (as Sammy Sosa once eloquently articulated).  If you get slaughtered, you need to get your crap together and that right quick.  The only problem with being behind, is that everyone else is motivated and fast and training.  So you either get better than them at training, or you keep getting slaughtered.

"Good fucking Lord, GoFast, get to the goshdarn point!!," the crowd roars. 

Yikes, blogging in front of a live audience has its weak points apparently.  So today was my first race of the season.  The course was in Monterey at Ft. Ord which can be a bit mountain bikey.  And today's course certainly didn't disappoint on the mountain bikey front.  But you have to be able to ride your bike so it's all to the good.  There was only one dismount on a loose run up that was followed by a dry heaving single track climb.  Followed by a rickety descent which rated fairly high on the pucker factor.  The rest was power or turny or fairly routine.  I raced hard and stayed in the top five the whole race.  On the second to last lap, I moved into fourth but the guy I passed had crashed so I'm thinking he was suffering from that.  On the last lap, I was moving on the third place guy but then I flatted.  So the first race turned out to be a DNF.  But I was competitive and was able to jack the heart rate and felt confident and strong.  I would have preferred passing the guy in front of me for third, and fourth would have been okay too.  But I guess in the end, all I got was a dry hump for all the effort. 

Hope you are well and hope I can keep it continue this year. Those are bikes back there and they are happy to be racing again.  So am I.  Now don't be such a stranger.
Johnny GoFast

Monday, December 08, 2014

Before we look into the mail bag, quick note on the weekend shenanigan's.  Drove up to Truckee on Friday evening with the boy pictured above.  Alpine was kind enough to loop Kangaroo for the ski team this weekend and Jackson got to meet his coach and teammates.  The coach is awesome.  He is super nice and has been skiing and racing for a long time.  Jackson loves his team immediately and based on my interactions with them, they are a chatty bunch.  And that's coming from a guy who knows his way around a good chat.  As the mountain isn't open to the public yet (due to open this coming weekend with some models showing some potential serious storm activity mid week), I was able to get my stuff organized which really means I took my jackets and pants to a shop in town to have them cleaned and weatherproofed.  I did catch a little bit of Jackson skiing when I walked up the hill to see him come down. What a difference a year makes.  He has grown a bit and he has been doing cross fit and the added muscle has him skiing like a man.  I almost didn't recognize him coming down the hill because instead of riding the ski, he is really driving it now and his body position which is naturally neutral, is more aggressive.  My jaw dropped a little bit.  I'm going to have to step up my game or this could be the year that he officially leaves me behind.

Sunday I hung out in the lodge while the boy did his thing and I watched some football.  In addition, I followed my fantasy team live and was pleased with the result.  None other than Griff was this weeks opponent.  There is very little left in this world where I get to compete with Griff, so this'll have to do. 

Finally, yesterday was my oldest brother Tony's birthday.  Got a call from Michael on the way down the hill seeing if we could join for dinner and to toast our brother.  He was serving ribs with various sides, and beer, so how could I resist?  Good food and a wonderful time celebrating a brother gone way too young. 

Good weekend, to be sure.  I'm out of time so I'll reach into the mailbag tomorrow.  Hope you are well and smiling at your riches and spreading kindness to those near and far.  And if you can wish me luck as I try to stave off the boy for one more season, I'd be grateful. 


Johnny GoFast

Sunday, December 07, 2014

So I'm sitting here in the lodge at Alpine Meadows as my boy is skiing with his team.  As the two photos above might suggest, the mullet is gone.  Which can only mean my season is over.  My aspirations of coming back from my calf injury is all but a distant memory now.  I probably could have pulled off getting my leg back in order and developing a little fitness between now and January 9th, but the reality is that it would have taken a monumental effort that would have encroached on fatherly obligations regarding skiing and racing for the boy.  The boy has a race on the January 10th so flying to Texas and back and getting him to his race would have had me turning myself into a pretzel.  I was pretty depressed all week about having to give up the ghost, but it's been both an incredibly great year and ultimately my most frustrating. 

But the reality is, that I started racing cross as a bridge to get me through the fall and into the ski season and now that it's here, I have a lot of good skiing in my future and that makes the pain of calling it a cross season ebb just a bit.  And on a positive note, I learned a ton from my injury and I know what I need to do between now and my next race to prevent something like this from happening again.  Brightness in the future to be true.

Would have preferred to have let the mullet grow out a few more weeks but when people about town are starting to ask, "what's up with John's mullet?" (ahem...Courtney Dettlinger), it's probably time for it to hit the floor.

Hope you are well.  With this new found blogging habit, maybe we should reach in to the mailbag tomorrow and answer a bunch of letters I've gotten over the past week.

Hope you are well and be nice to one another.


Johnny GoneFast