Thursday, June 5, 2008

Breaking records and a nice little Thursday, really.

That’s right, after weeks of racing characterized by sickness, forgotten shoes, and underwhelming results, I am finally breaking, no, obliterating world (cycling center) records. A couple of days ago, I was working on my bike with two unusually idle and chatty Swiss mechanics. After marveling at the size of my bike, they declared that I was probably the tallest cyclist to ever come through the center. I was promptly measured and now my name, height, and legacy are forever etched in pencil at the Centre Mondial du Cyclisme, not far from the Indurain, Armstrong, and Merckx shrines. They used the really dark kind of pencil, so even if it’s erased, you’ll probably still be able see the letters a little bit. Yeah, you could say I’m kind of a big deal.

By the mid-point of my ride today I was so hungry that I could’ve eaten at Arby’s, but this little meal felt like the foodie thing to do.
Michael Pollen says we should all be eating more little oily fish, and since I’d never tried sardines before, I didn’t know any better. Actually they weren’t bad, but the bird population of Montreux thought so too and this picnic didn’t last long.

I’ve reached the point in my blogging career where the initial excitement of posting has worn off, and Racechild is beginning to feel like a bad high school English assignment (I know, you would never guess from a post like this). I’ll try and do a proper bike-racer style report after this Sunday’s cross-country marathon.

Probably the biggest slug to ever pass through CMC, albeit slowly.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

“It’s easy to compare the initial thrill of evoking an immediate response to a blog post to the rush of getting high, and the diminishing thrills to the process of becoming inured to a drug’s effects. The metaphor is so exact, in fact, that maybe it isn’t a metaphor at all.”
-Emily Gould “Exposed: What I gained—and lost—by Writing About My Intimate Line Online” from the NYTimes Magazine May 25.

I couldn’t agree more, and after the overwhelmingly positive flood of comments I received after posting that winking cow, I’m looking for my next fix:
I swear I’ve only taken two, maybe three cow pictures since I’ve been here. But what can I say? The cows, they like me.

I ran into that little flirt while riding to a nearby rally car race today. For those of you unfamiliar with Rally, it’s pretty much the mountain biking of auto racing; that is to say, it’s cool, or so I thought from watching Rally highlight videos on Youtube. Sure, the cars today were going fast and making lots of noise, but to be honest, I’ve seen fast cars from a much MUCH closer vantage point while road biking (share the road!). Then, just as my pod shuffled from Kanye to David T’s morning mix, I had an epiphany. If rally can be so cool on TV yet so unimpressive in person, maybe mountain bike racing just needs a little TV coverage to make it cool too--give the action some context and let Dave Toll take viewers on a personal tour of downtown Pain City. Wishful thinking.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Biking

Last weekend’s Swisspower Cup was a bad race. The organization, weather, competition, and course were all ideal, but for me, things didn’t go as I had planned.

I’ve become good at shrugging off such bad days (of which there have been many), but this one's bummerness was compounded by a few factors. Firstly, distractions from racing are hard to come by in Aigle for various reasons that I briefly whined about in my last post. Though single-mindedness seems ideal for improvement, I’m finding that it tends to make me a bit of a head-case. Secondly, when racing poorly at an NMBS race, you can usually find a crew of similarly disappointed but friendly guys to finish with and take solace in the fact that you’re still in front of a big name like Ryan Trebon, who’s likely cursing his equipment somewhere in the woods. You can then pout a bit, drum up some excuses, and call it a day. At the Swisspower Cup though, the short course and thus spectator-friendly style makes agro-euros race till the bitter end, and there’s hardly an English speaker, let alone friend or family member, there to console you when you finally get pulled from the race. Long story short, slow riding met distraction-less atmosphere and caused one of those rare moments when I questioned, though only momentarily and not at all seriously, why I race bikes. Aside from the obvious—chicks and money—I suspect it has a lot to do with rides like the one I did today.


A place where the beer flows like wine and beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano…I’m talking about a little place called…Gstaad. Notoriously wealthy, Gstaad initially seemed modest and quaint compared to many other resort towns. Only when I got close to one particularly dilapidated garage did I realize that it was renovated on the inside to house an Ashton Martin, Ferrari, and Land Rover. It’s as if Gstaad is so wealthy that it hides its ostentatiousness, which is so much more ostentatious than just being obviously ostentatious to begin with.

Did that cow just wink at me?

Maybe it’s just the endorphins talking (according to Science, they’re actually quite potent), but there’s nothing like a long sunny bike ride in the mountains to erase any doubts about why I bike race.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

mmmm, that sounds good...I'll have that.

Not much is new here in Aigle. Not much at all. Still living without TV, internet (at the house), car, cell phone, English speaking friends other than Sam or Ethan, young locals in general, establishments open past 6 pm, and, and, and... That pretty much leaves bike riding, which, when one is sick as I have recently been, isn’t much of an option. We all deal with the overabundance of free time in different ways. Vitamin G has been using his newly acquired French to translate trashy American rap. Here’s his take on “money in da bank, shorty what’s your drank?” with his own personal flourish at the end.
video

I’ve been reading a lot and putting my passion for cooking to good use. Actually, “passion” and “cooking” might not be the right words to describe my fondness for ogling cooking magazines and napping while watching The Food Network, but nevertheless, I have a few recipes that the world deserves to know. Here are two new chocolaty spreads for when your Nutella runs out:
-Stir a bunch of cocao powder into jam. Simple enough. Saturate the jam with cocao powder (like the straight-up sugar-free kind or else it’ll be too sweet).
- And secondly, stir a bunch of cocao powder into mashed up bananas. The key here is lots and lots and lots of cocao powder. Cocao powder mixed in plain yoghurt on waffles or pancakes isn’t bad either. Or oatmeal with cocao powder. Cocao powder in pretty much anything actually. But I’ll emphasize that the key is a lot of cocao powder.

Another winner is coffee oatmeal. It’s a little tough to cook the oatmeal in coffee without giving the coffee a burnt flavor, but it’s nothing a little milk and sugar (even if you don’t usually take it in your coffee) can’t fix. I know what you’re thinking: “why didn’t I think of that!?” You too could probably be a culinary innovator; you just need to clear your cabinets of all but a few key ingredients (a few starches, coffee, and cocao powder in my case). A little open-mindedness helps too.


I wonder if by periodically highlighting recipes on Racechild I can tap into the growing celebrity chef phenomenon and expand my readership…

We’re not the only ones with free time.
Drinking beer at 11:00 AM? Mandatory military service might not be so bad after all.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Obligatory cycling blog coffee shot and other miscellaneoses

Once caffeine-free Ethan can't resist the Euro cafe lifestyle. Pretty soon he'll be sporting a faux-hawk, puma's, and man-capris.



The Tour of Romandy coming through Aigle:

I've just discovered that making your color pictures black and white instantly makes them artsier.
Look out Ansel Adams.


Swan popo:


Pretty self explanitory--don't pick up bombs




Mature Content: Way too graphic stick figures. Apparently those who wear their hats backwards are of the same demographic as the scofflaws who dare to pee standing up.


Look closely and there's a rainbow.


View from my old room:

And if you zoom in on the building in the upper left, there's this:
A sign? Defininitely. I just don't know what of, and I've since moved out. creepy kind of...



Friday, May 16, 2008

A brief rest day recap turned ramble:

A couple of days ago Ethan and I took the train to Geneva for the day. The trip was fast and stress-free given Switzerland’s amazing train system, and once there, getting around without car or cab would have been super easy too. For simplicity’s sake, we opted to walk, but we could have easily joined the rest of the city and got around by riding trains, busses, bikes, or scooters.
Unlike New York or Paris or something, Geneva isn’t nearly a big enough city to mandate such awesome public transportation (I think it’s way smaller than Colorado Springs). For whatever reason though (higher population density? Better foresight? Excess money?), Geneva has built such a seamless public transportation system that owning a car just wouldn’t be practical, and this seems to be the case in most of the European cities that I’ve visited.

Not owning a car strikes me as so novel and cool because it's such a necessity for most Americans, both socially and practically. A guy without a car is pretty much the stereotypical doomed bachelor (think 40-Year-Old Virgin). Can you imagine a hotshot American attorney stepping out of his high-rise office, tucking his suit legs into his socks and pedaling his bicycle home? No way in the US, but it’s common here. Even in supposed conscientious Boulder, where public transportation is relatively great compared to most other US cities, the bus system is mostly reserved for pimply high-school freshmen.

It’s like the question of the chicken and the egg; I don’t know whether Americans first became addicted to cars and then cities were built around them, or whether cities were so catered to cars that an addiction was inevitable. Probably neither, or both, but whatever. For some reason, aside from the devout environmentalists and those fortunate enough to have the luxury/health/infrastructure to get to work without a car, Americans just don’t have many alternatives. I face it myself—there is no practical way for me to get from Colorado Springs to Boulder without a car (excluding a cab, which is not the point).

This leads to all kinds of questions regarding energy independence, global warming, etc. etc. etc., to which neither I, nor anyone else for that matter, has any real answers. Undoubtedly though, oil will run out, and therefore the US will eventually run without it. It has to. After visiting Geneva, I think Europe was lucky not have the rise of the automobile coincide with the building of their cities--their adaptation to an oil-free world will likely be less apocalyptic than America’s. On second thought though, maybe the world is small enough that we’ll all be hit pretty hard. This placard at the Geneva Museum of Modern Art thinks so. I’m not sure how I feel about it and will reserve comment, but thought it might be a cheerful note on which to end this odd post.