America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

America's #1 Balance Bike Destination
America's #1 Balance Bike Destination

29 September 2006

Seasonal Affective Disorder: It's HERE

I've fallen into a rut and can't shake it friends. Depression has hit me hard this week. Today was a bitch.. At work, I accomplished little, and counted the minutes until 5:00 pm, and went home mentally exhausted. Physically I feel great, aside from a general tiredness and lack of sleep. Tonight I will be treating myself to some catch-up sleep, and don't plan on getting up until I've had my fill. Tomorrow's race is with a small but stacked field, and I'm so glad my start time isn't until 3:15..
I'm unhappy at work, more than anything else. So many missed deadlines, dropped balls, failures to communicate lately that I am hating not only my job but also my performance. It's hard to be your best when it's so fucking thankless and uninspiring to exceed expectations. Besides, it's almost two years that I'm working for even money and in the next couple of weeks I may just draw my line in the sand and say "enough". If a large salary increase doesn't happen soon, then I will consider taking my career path elsewhere.
Man, I hate the winter. Curse it to hell.

25 September 2006

Paul Martin: One Man's Leg

This will be cross-posted at the Union Velo Blog...
Craving some humble pie?? Then meet someone who suffers only when he's not riding, training or racing on his bike. Little did I know that our racing team included a person with a carbon fiber leg. The first time I saw Paul was at Wells Ave this past spring, making the A racers all look like B's, considering everyone else's obvious advantage. (This is probably exactly how Paul doesn't want to be described, but he'll forgive me I hope) We met again at the Attleboro Crit, where he competed in the 35+ event... Without even knowing much about you Paul, saluting you for what you do comes very easily. Enough said. Here's Paul's recent report from the Disabled Cycling World Championships:

The Disabled Cycling World Championships wrapped up in Switzerland last week, sending several of humbled riders home with a renewed motivation for training. This is often the response when performances fail to meet expectations and personal standards.
Other than the women's tandem team that has been dominating for several years, the US squad did not claim the medal count we've become somewhat accustomed to in the past. My performances were among those left off the podium.
The racing got underway September 11, on the track. The guys in my category got things rolling with the four-kilometer pursuit. The top four finishers moved on to the finals later that day. I was fifth. I've been in the finals, the bronze medal round, each of my last three international events, so as you might surmise, I wasn't too happy about that. I did, however, ride about as fast as I'd expected: a 5:14 and change. Fourth place, a Chinese rider, rode a 5:13. That particular Chinese rider has no hands, nor did his teammate. You might think a guy with two legs and no hands my have the upper on us apparatus-wearing leg amputees. Not so much the case - guys like me still win the races. Unfortunately for me I told the Chinaman I'd wipe his backside for him if he beat me... The race
was won by Spaniard Roberto Alcaide. As I may have mentioned in the past, he's built for this business. At age 20 he lost his foot descending a hill on race day, crashing into a guardrail that claimed a pod. He was racing for the Spanish development team; his father was an Olympic cyclist. He broke his own world-record posting a 4:43. Next was Jiri Jezek, the great Czech rider, then a
new guy from Belgium, Jan Boyen.

The next day's event, the kilo - a 1000 meter time trial - gave me what it always gives me: a 1:14 something. 1:14.689 to be specific. I rode a half second slower than my best, again, about what I'd
expected. But several of the other vets have gotten faster and the new guy from Britain, Jody Cundy, set a new world record of 1:10:57. I finished up 6th - my worst kilo place to date.

Next up was the road time trial, the event in which I've held World Champion status for the last four years. I told myself I felt good, and I almost meant it. But once I left the ramp and started down
the 24k course, the go-sticks provided not the power necessary to repeat and I felt like a Chevy in Mexico: NoVa. I finished 11th, six minutes (10%) off the day's best racer. I was down and out in the Swiss Alps. And humbled. The need to train to win was crystal clear - at this level no one wins without paying their dues.

The final competition, the road race, did provide some redemption. It was a not-soon-to-be-forgotten rain soaked day where the wheel in front of you provided both shelter and a hosing of rooster tail road water. A rainy road race typically calls for at least one crash. In this case it was the guys we warned rookie teammate Sam Kavanaugh to look out for: the two Chinese guys with not a single hand between the two of them took each other out! (Sam lost his leg 18 months ago in a Montana avalanche, spending 48 hours in the mountains with a compound fractured tib-fib. Amazing

I rode well and did some honest work in an effort to put my good friend Ron Williams in position to medal. We were confident as a team, being the only country fielding three riders, and we expected some good work out of Sam who had done well in the TT and on the track. Unfortunately, he was out after a couple laps due to a lost contact lens by way of the rooster tail.
On the fourth of six laps of a seven-mile course, with ten of 25 starters left in the peloton, I flew off the front and took a couple guys with me. Unfortunately, Ron got worked shortly thereafter by
the #1 and #2 riders in the world, the Czech and the Spaniard, and was left for dead. I had just completed a big pull and was presently falling back, seeking assistance from those formerly on my wheel, the Belgian and Romanian, Eduard Novak. As the request for cohesion left my lips, I saw them glance over my shoulder and get off their saddles. In that moment Jiri and Roberto and a couple
others then zipped past me as Jan and Eduard got on those fast wheels and held on. I did my damndest, but got dropped; I then held up a tad to hook up with a couple other stragglers, neither of which was a teammate of mine. The three of us then made solid attempt to get back up to the leaders without luck.

We then rolled the final lap at a decent pace, picked up another guy previously dropped by faster riders and headed to the finish line. I took second in that pack sprint for a respectable, soaking
wet, eight place finish.

I strolled home that day not feeling like the loser I felt like after the time trial. I felt like I wanted to be in the shape I was four years ago. Heck, the shape I was in a year ago.
To get there the answer is obvious: I’ll not-so-humbly return to training. I’m thinking, on top of caring for Jack many hours per week, I’ll run Boston. I’m thinking Ironman Austria. I’m thinking I’ll
keep up the bike racing, too.
I’ll be busy, so busy that this weekend we excavated large holes to start building the two-car garage, finished space above it and the extension off the back of the house for a nice big living room.
I’ll be hiring help.
And I’ll be back.
-Paul(Jack's Dad)
Good things will happen.

24 September 2006

Meet Demond, Jinela and Ivan

What's worse America? That these three innocent, beautiful children are dead? or that this freak named Tiffany Hall most likely did it? We already know she killed their mother and her 7 month fetus by cutting her belly using scissors... What the FUCK?! We're desensitized to the carnage in Iraq, the daily suicide bombs ripping people to shreds... Are we also blind to the fact that THIS KIND of SICKNESS only happens in the USA??? I pray that this low-life piece of shit never sees daylight again. I was hoping that these kids would be found alive and well, so I am pretty much devastated... Fuck. Put her on death row please, and when the time comes, use scissors.

23 September 2006

Page Rank must be broken or something

When will my gosh-darn "Page Rank" ever get up over 3? My traffic is higher than ever, so what gives? It's been at 3 forever...
Discovered that my friend Dr. Ugur Akinci has been blogging away after all! His Turkish Torque site was inactive from May thru August (it's updated regularly now), then I discover his new work over at a new blog called Turkish Business. I'll be a regular reader over there and I recommend that you visit too.
Please- NO RAIN TOMORROW!! I want to race Wells Ave at the season finale.

EBAY: Buy my stuff

I just listed a shit-load of antique wrenches from my collection. See them here
We cut a hole in the floor of our house to get a king sized mattress up to the 2nd floor. It was the easiest way, trust me. I'll add a picture tomorrow.
Also took the new cyclocross bike for a quick spin, just before dark. Found some kick-ass trails just a walking distance from our house. You know where I'll be riding all winter!

22 September 2006

Right Wingers Protest Outside Trial of Elif Shafak

Right wing protesters hold Turkish flags and place EU flags with the words "EU fascism" and swastikas on the ground as riot police stand outside a court house during the trial of Turkish novelist Elif Shafak in Istanbul September 21, 2006. A Turkish judge acquitted the prominent novelist on Thursday for insulting the Turkish identity in a case seen as a fresh test of freedom of expression in the European Union candidate nation.
(TURKEY) 21 Sep 2006 REUTERS/Fatih Saribas

Too Tired To Blog...

Another long day has ended and my brain is turned to mush and my body is letting me know it needs rest. I've been feverish and achy all afternoon- like mild flu symptoms. Managed to shake it after we had dinner at "Pockets" on Thayer Street, but glands in my throat feel swollen and I can't taste anything. Seems I am due to have a bad cold, soon. I won't give in without a fight though! On the bright side, I bought a new cyclocross bike today. I thought Ebru would knock my head off when I told her (I was stressing about it all day), but she was actually very cool about it, which makes me very happy. Guilty conscience I guess. If it were me, I would have kicked me in the crotch for being such a selfish prick.

20 September 2006

A Shocking Discovery for Murat

I practically have a mullet and it's always a mess, like I just rolled out of bed or something. Kind of like Mario Cippolini (pictured), but less groomed.
Anyways, I had about enough of the lion's mane and wanted to clip it short, like no 2 clippers short, and went to my barber during my lunch break. I've been going to him for four years now. That's funny, the door's locked. But the barber pole is spinning, so he must be in the bathroom or out to lunch himself... I spy an old woman in the store and knock on the glass. She fumbles with the deadbolt and after much effort, opens the door. "Can I help you?"..."I'm here for a haircut."..."Mario passed away two months ago..." ....
I went home pretty depressed, just to tell my wife. My barber Mario was a hunch-backed 90 year old man who weighed about 90 pounds soaking wet. He never learned my name, partly because I let so much time pass between cuts, he had trouble recognizing me... His hands would literally shake when he wasn't working, but the second he picked up the scissors, or trimmer or razor, he was nerves of steel. Worked right up until his death. God bless him. Mario would fuss over my hair for 30 minutes on some occasions, trimming and shaping and shaving my He would charge only $8 and I'd always pay him $10. Wish I got to know you better Mario. Rest in peace. I will miss being your customer, miss introducing myself to you at every visit.

19 September 2006

A Day in the Life: No Rest for the Weary!

So how do you like my new profile picture? Calvin is the shit. Gotta love that kid... Why am I still up? If I described my day to you, it would seem that I run on nuclear power... This might be interesting...
- Our son awoke screaming at 4:00 am, didn't sleep again til 5:00
- I was up at 6:30, scrambled like mad to find my heart rate monitor chest strap, to no avail.
- Suited up and jumped on the bike at 7:30, resigning myself to arrive late (sans chest strap, grrrr- I HATE not knowing my heart rate and not having it recorded on a ride)
- Rode to work without incident (13.3 miles), changed clothes and packed the truck for a loooong trip to CT
- Made an unscheduled stop that was out of my way, to pick up some blue prints (took route 101 into CT for the 1st time- man is that road HILLY)
- Arrived at destination No 2 at 11:00 (a high school deep inside of Hartford), then discovered that I didn't have a hard hat with me. Had to walk 1/4 mile to the job trailer and back, to beg for a loaner, which was used, and which I cleaned before wearing... Then I measured for some future woodwork
- Arrived at destination no 3 at about 1:30 (another high school south of Hartford) FOUND the countertop that my customer swore wasn't onsite (yeah- eat humble pie,'s been there since last SUMMER)
- Also at dest no 3, customer reports that a white board I installed is ALL SCRATCHED UP and that the dry erase writing on it WON'T erase. (DUH- it helps if you remove the clear protective PEELCOAT dumb-ass, I had a classroom full of teenager laughing at their teacher's stupidity)
- Also at dest no 3, had to venture into the boy's locker room, where I swear something had to have crawled in there and died... I covered my mouth, the BO was soooo bad.
-Arrived at dest no 4 at 3:00... delivering glass shelves which go in my display cases. I resolved to install them myself (bad choice, even if it saved the company money) So one display case is downstairs, no problem. A teacher tells me the other one is upstairs (I manage many school jobs, and sometimes don't remember) So I hump 18 shelves up the stairs to discover-- you guessed it, the other one's downstairs too. I cursed that woman so badly in my mind, her ears might have been bleeding. Hit the road to go home at about 4:00
- Stopped to pee and get gas at a rest area. I am approached by someone who claims their car broke down, need $20 for a "serpentine belt" etc.... Whatever. I have no cash on me, and I'm not about to go use the ATM to give money to a grifter.. See ya. Sorry. Good luck...
- I finally get back to the office at about 6:00, run inside, change and get back on the bike to go home (the chest strap was in my TRUCK, grrrrr)
- After several near death incidents with cars on the road, I make it onto the bike path, home stretch. Thing is, I'm feeling great and posting new best times at all of my check points. So on the bike path I decide to drill it some more and make it to the very end of the path in under 40 minutes (from the time I left work)
- With one stretch of bike path to go, a Cadillac Escalade approaches from the side street. I wave him to cross, just as I get to the street. I stop, put my foot down (time is ticking! I am trying for apersonal best here) What does the imbecile do? He stops and waits for me to cross. I wave him across, frantically, yelling GOOOOO!. Folks, if I'm already stopped at the intersection, stopping for me is like a complete and total insult. Finally he proceeds, but the imecile behind him stops and waves me across... FUCK! I was hit by a car this year! I do not need to prance across a street, on my bike, when drivers feel like stopping. I cross, AFTER you get the fuck out of the way, after you LEAVE! Who's to say that another car from the opposite direction isn't going to t-bone me and kill me?
- So I lose about 20 seconds at this god-damned intersection, and post a time of 39:29. (should have been 39:09)
- By now it's dark, and I get home drenched with sweat. Reis and I shower together inour oversized made for two ADA compliant shower (he loves bathing with his daddy) and afterwards we watch a woman win $701,000 on the game show Deal Or No Deal, while I wolf down a plate of pasta.
- Reis and Ebru are now asleep, and I'm about to join them.
- I drove 200 miles today, was on my feet for about 6 hours, and rode my bike 30+ miles...
It was a long day for sure. Happy that I didn't drive straight home and that I had the resolve to ride the bike home, as planned, no matter what. Always keep promises to yourself- it's by far the best way to avoid depression. Say what you mean, and mean what you say... Sorry to ramble.. Thanks for reading.. -AT

18 September 2006

Music Videos Are Back: Good Idea? Bad Idea?

You can click the "STOP" button anytime you like. Most selections are soft rock, so it's easy on the ears. I will change it up occasionally, but most of my current favorites aren't available, so selections are limited. -AT

15 September 2006

Post Number 500: this isn't it

This is apparently 502! Yeah I was planning to commemorate the 500th post milestone and forgot about it. It's the eve of the Bob Beal Masters Weekend race. I should be asleep, but I'm wide awake. Tomorrow morning at 10:30 I am doing a 42 mile road race with about 50 other masters aged 30-39, then a 3 mile time trial at 1:30, and finally a 24 lap criterium on Sunday. Being at what I believe is a peak in my form has me feeling confident and under pressure, both at once. If I don't get a podium finish in one of these three events, I won't forgive myself. It's time to take things seriously, to believe that I can win, and just claim it. If only it were that simple... Even if I have the best legs in the field, it's possible to hold back mentally, self-sabotage, feel self-doubt, and fuck it all up. It's best to think back to the old days when I was 17-18, and so cocky and sure of myself, I wouldn't even train. Back then, the belief that I could win was enough to cross the finish line first. Today I'm more realistic. For tomorrow, I'm cautiously optimistic. Last weekend's results were a boost in morale, even if I didn't win. I was a contender. Hopefully tomorrow the gray matter cooperates. The legs feel pretty good, I have avoided getting sick, no tendonitis or other joint issues, and I have a long season of base fitness and high intensity training behind me... Wish me luck. For all intents and purposes, my road race season ends on Sunday...
In other news, Michelle Malkin was here! The word effigies directs her readers to my series of Danish cartoon protest photos of this past February. Go figure. She's now pledging her allegiance to the Pope, who is to visit Istanbul in November. A book in Turkey predicts that he will be assassinated in Istanbul. The recent remarks Pope Benedict made about Islam have been met with outrage in the Muslim world. Turks are pissed off too, and the Pope's visit to Turkey may be cancelled.

Unrest Follows Deadly Bomb Blast in Diyarbakir

A riot police vehicle drives past a burning barricade set up by protesters as a police special forces officer patrols in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir September 14, 2006. About 1,500 people marched through Diyarbakir in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast on Thursday to appeal for peace in the troubled region and voice anger at a bomb blast which killed 10 people. (TURKEY)14 Sep 2006 REUTERS/Stringer

14 September 2006

Past 6 months: Bike Riding Statistics

Total hours on the bike- 187:50
Average hours per week- 7:30
Total miles ridden- 3486 (that's 5610 km)
Average miles per week- 139.4 (223 km)
Is it any wonder that I'm tired all the time?
Of course I am referring to off-the-bike.
ON-the-bike I am like the Energizer bunny, but much cuter.

12 September 2006

"WTF" Picture of the Week: Children Sniffing Glue

Children sniff glue at Indrachowk, a busy market place in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, September 11, 2006. Children as young as six years old are also seen in several parts of Kathmandu sniffing glue.
(NEPAL) 11 Sep 2006 REUTERS/Gopal Chitrakar

Ask yourself: Do you pity these kids or do you condemn them? Would a life on the streets, maybe as an orphan, drive you to find relief from reality with some inexpensive vapors? Who the fuck is supplying these kids with glue to sniff? and where the fuck are their parents? If you've ever sniffed White-Out when no one is looking, you know that the feeling these kids are getting is equivalent to snorting Percosets. -AT

10 September 2006

Wayne Elliot Result:

It was a last second decision to go to this race today.. Originally I believed it wsa going to rain, and this morning I was so tired I couldn't find the inspiration to get my ass to Wells. Made it to Wayne Elliot up in Haverhill MA though, and in the knick of time. Special thanks to the organizers for letting me register even though I was $5 short... This was a 30 lap crit for masters 30+ on a short and not-very-fast course.. Smooth pavement? Sure- the pavement in between the cracks, fissures, potholes and manhole covers... was smooth. I resolved to be very active today, to press my luck and limits and try to make something happen. Four riders escaped early and were out of site, untouchable. With about 5 to go I followed an attack and for a very short period, four of us had a good gap. One of us had other plans and after my fellow followers peeled back to recover, I was chasing to catch the one guy strong enough to stay away. I sat up and gathered my strength with the field, watching him turn it over about 50 meters ahead of us. Then with two to go the field was basically coasting thru the start/finish, and I decided to make a go of it, attacking and opening a small gap. For one full lap I buried myself, and I was swallowed up with exactly one lap to go. Surprisingly, my spent legs had just enough to tack myself onto the back of the field whizzing by. I held on as they pulled me to the finish, just about dead last. I second-guessed my tactic the whole way home, that is, I debated whether I should regret trying what I did. I don't, but I can't help but wonder how I would have faired in the field sprint- maybe top ten, maybe not. No guts no glory. Dear wife was thinking on her feet and captured me attacking, and then a few minutes later, getting caught.

Above: Suicide note is in the mail! Below: Return to sender! They didn't have to chase hard to catch me, but for a fleeting moment it felt like I was going to make it.

I'm So Proud Of Me! Topsfield Road Race

I raced in Topsfield Massachusetts today in a Pro-1-2-3 category event and finished honourably. Read all about it here at Union Velo Blog.

07 September 2006

Angels & Airwaves

I was never a die hard Blink 182 fan (I do own their last disc), but a song I heard on the radio really caught my attention and next thing you know I own a copy of the new Angels & Airwaves disc, featuring the former Blink front man Tom DeLonge. Here's the video clip for their next hit called The Adventure. You'll see more of it here than you ever will on MTV (where hip-hop and rap prevails 24/7- UGH) So far, I am hooked on this disc completely. So many influences: The Cure, U2, New Order, Depeche Mode, I can sense it all in there. Very cosmic theme. The artwork and the song titles remind me of a classic Kansas album- Point of Know Return. Here's the song which originally piqued my curiosity: Do It For Me Now. According to Tom (from last December):
"In January the single and video will drop and you'll see a whole new generation of Mods appearing everywhere, based on the kids in the '60s on their Vespas that were interested in modern living and modern fashion," he laughed. "I'm going to usher in this entire new culture of the youth, obsessed with the future. Because we're not going to be one of those rock bands that take photos sitting on dirty curbs, pretending to be like every other rock band of the past 10 years. Angels & Airwaves will be all about the future."

05 September 2006

Late Season Peak: Will I Win a Race?

I have little doubt that my fitness is at it's highest level of the season. Yesterday's 100+ mile ride was the climax of a very strong build- one which I will spend the rest of the week recovering from. As I taper my effort going into this weekend, I wonder if I have the kahunas to achieve a podium finish in either the Topsfield Circuit Race on Saturday or the Wayne Elliot Memorial Criterium on Sunday. It has been many moons since I tried a road race, and I have this belief that I just might surprise myself on Saturday.. Then again, maybe I won't.. Truth is I am as hungry as ever for a good result, and I think I have enough form to back it up for a change. Of course doing two races in one weekend will make my dear wife have a melt-down, but my present level of power and speed must not go to waste! Why bother building up all summer long if I'm going to skip events? Besides I am dying to improve my USCF ranking in Rhode Island.. With a good enough result I can catapult myself into 4th I think. Failing to try would be criminal. I hear a lot of riders saying or blogging about how the road racing season is over. I heartily disagree:
Topsfield Circuit Race
Wayne Elliot Criterium
Bob Beal Masters Weekend
Jamestown Classic
I am most anxious about the Bob Beal event, because there's a time trial, (and ironically it's one which suits me)... It's only three miles, and if I don't do really well I'm going to be very hard on myself. It's been ages since I've done a real time trial- I'm talking 1989 or 1990- and it's never been my core competence. Been working on it LOTS for a few years though, as I tend to make every single training ride into a mission to improve time over my regular routes. I don't know- it's nerve racking for me, knowing that to place well, I'd better be able to peg my speed at about 27-28 mph for an excruciating 6-7 minutes... (presuming it's a flat point to point course) I guess I will have to find a nice three mile stretch to test myself on in the next ten days... I'll let you know what develops.

04 September 2006

5:21:25 = overall elapsed time riding the bike today

...for a total of 103.9 miles (167.21 km)
Average speed 19.7 mph (31.7 km/h)
Elapsed time at exactly 100 miles= 5:08:30

02 September 2006

Cool and Gray Outside

I had expected it to rain towards noon today, so I got up early and hit the road towards Attleboro to meet my team for some training. Trouble is, I am 25 miles away and I guess I left the house a little late. It took longer than expected to make it up there because of an unrelenting headwind. So when I arrived at the bike shop at 8:24 am, no one was around. (Funny, an e-mail yesterday said we'd be meeting up between 8:00 and 8:30- I thought I made it, but didn't) Oh well, I took some different roads to get home and logged just over 60 miles in 3:08:20 (Avg speed of 19.5 mph- no rest for the weary!) Along the way, I came upon a group of cyclists in a paceline- the kind who don't race but who probably ride a lot of centuries- and I whizzed past them like they were standing still. Acting out my frustrations I guess. If anyone passed me that quickly I'd be humiliated and demoralized. Sorry folks, it's how I juice my ego and boost my confidence- at your expense... Did someone call out to me from their car today: "Hey hemorrhoid Floyd!!!" ??? I could swear that was it, and I laughed to myself. Earlier some kids I passed called out to me "Hey Lance Armstrong!!!" and I got pissed and yelled back "Shut the fuck up!!!". I look nothing like Armstrong, and calling a stranger by that name seems absolutely fucking stupid. I suppose the intention is well meant, but I don't like it. Another cool event during the ride home: I spied some shiny objects in the gutter and stopped to inspect. Turns out someone lost some tools- scattered across the road was a large number of sockets for a ratchet wrench- brand new- and an expensive brand made in the US called KOBALT. Probably at least $60 worth of tools were stuffed in my jersey pocket... That put some spring in It started to rain just as I pulled into the driveway... -AT

Introducing my new blog: Union Velo Blog

It's been a slow start, but I stand firm in my resolve to make this thing a success. Union Velo is the name of our cycling club, and I am a member of the Masters Racing Team. Volunteering for this was easy, but drumming up interest from my club mates and team mates is a challenge so far! I can't even get any decent traffic in spite of my incessant e-mails to our club's Yahoo Group. If some co-contributors don't step up and help me with this, I'm going to change the name of the blog to something more personal, and to heck with everyone else on the team! You can't push a wet noodle uphill...but I will persist against all odds, for little while... Grrrrrr.
To my cherished regular visitors: Please pay a visit and leave a comment. I'd like that.