29 June 2008

Yok

Anladım ki derdimin cihanda çaresi yok.
Benden başka kimsenin boyle bir yaresi yok.
Nerde o sevdiklerim, hani bir tanesi yok.
Şu perişan gönlümden daha viranesi yok.

Bu alemde sevdanın aşkın biganesi yok.
Sevgisiz gönül olmaz, bunun bahanesi yok.
Sevmekten sevilmekten daha sahanesi yok.
Sevda nedir bilmeyen kuldan divanesi yok.

Hayat sevgiyle güzel, başka ifadesi yok.
Sevgi alıp satılmaz, hiç bir sermayesi yok.
Gönüldür onun yeri, başka bir adresi yok.
Sevgi yalnız verilir, onun iadesi yok.

Orhan Altınbaşak
2 Nisan 2002 Köln

Keith Berger Criterium 30+

Good news today!
I went right from the gun. Never saw the field again. Took the first prime. Got in the early break of 9 with 22 left to go. Whittled down to 5 of us with 15 to go. I got a little tired and had to let the other 4 roll away from me, but I kept my head down for about 6 laps solo. I couldn't risk blowing up so I kept it steady. Two chasers caught up to me (Patrick Ruane and another) and we drilled it nice and easy to the end. I had the final sprint for 5th in the bag but I pulled out of my right pedal with about 100m to go. Clipped back in and buried myself, threw the bike and took 2nd in the sprint, 6th overall, out of 41 finishers. Patrick was 7th by a hair (after leading it out for the last lap)
Finally a decent result! I'm happy. This feels good for a change. Thanks for reading.

28 June 2008

You never truly realize..

How losing a parent knocks you on your ass, how fucking heart breaking and isolating it feels, and how much you will miss those departed, until it happens to you. Nothing can prepare you for that hollow empty feeling of loss, the unpredictable and spontaneous fits of crying, the opposite of happiness that overcomes you in crushing waves..
Such loss also reveals things you could not see before.. Stuff you don't want to acknowledge, truths which you refuse to accept.
Ask yourself why you love to do "x" activity so much. The obvious answers eclipse the real answer..and when the real answer is no more, the obvious ones are suddenly not so compelling. Enough said?

The late irfan Altinbasak is on the far left.

26 June 2008

Zindan oldu hayat bana

Zindan oldu hayat bana, inan gideli,
Hasretınle yana yana, oldum divane deli.
Kaç yıl oldu beni yalnızlığa mahkum edeli.
Hala mı ödenmedi o, bir günahın bedeli.

Orhan Altınbaşak
31 Mart 1998 Köln

25 June 2008

Sanadır

Sanadır yazdığım bütün şiirler
Bazan güfte olur şarkılarıma
Sazımın telınden akan nağmeler
Karışır dökülen gözyaşlarıma

Sanadır yaptığım bütün besteler
Sensin ilham veren duygularıma
Hasretin ruhumu saran geceler
Süzülüp girersin rüyalarıma

Sanadır gönlümde olan sevgiler
Yaslan şu hasretle yanan bağrıma
Kalbim yalnız senın aşkını diler
Ne olur bir ses ver çağrılarıma

Orhan Altınbaşak
24 Ocak 2001 Köln

A New Feature at Amerikan Turk: Poetry by Orhan Altinbasak

Yes lately this blog is about as popular as visiting your oral surgeaon or proctologist, and for this I'm regretful. The past 30 days have sucked balls.. all of my regular readers will tell you. But I'm turning over a new leaf. While in Turkey last month, I met with my Father's eldest brother Orhan, who is an accomplished poet, singer and song writer. He has self-published two books of poetry and until now, I was hesitant to share his work with you, my readers. Well, as luck would have it, he is thrilled with the idea of having a regular contribution here which includes one of his poems. The frequency is up in the air, but let's begin with one and then I'll play it by ear. Before I begin though- I need to figure out how to post these poems using the Turkish Alphabet. It might require me to type them out in Word, then copy/paste them into blogger. I'll try it out shortly. Many thanks.

I would love to have such a plate: WTF!

This pales in comparison to the 'PKK' plate which were being given out in Rhode Island a few years back. I was given one at the DMV and asked for a different plate for my car on the spot.

20 June 2008

The worst of times, the best..

..Of times. Today marks a new low in Murat's morale. For the first time in my career, I am told by a customer that they do not want me managing their project. Said customer is a project manager for a general contractor, and he is Lebanese just like his employer. You might think that a Turk a Lebanese would hit off swimmingly.. But it's not to be. This guy has gone out of his way to let me know he doesn't like me, and he hasn't hesitated to throw me under the bus at every possible opportunity.
Needless to say, I cut out of work an hour early for the Croatia match, which obviously lifted my spirits immensely, by the end. As I watched the game, almost a full bottle of wine disappeared, I was so down.. By the end of the penalty kicks I was drinking for joy, not sorrow. Then I suited up and went out for a 90 minute easy spin. Yes I was RWI.. Riding while intoxicated. Felt pretty good too. I was all over the place emotionally, at times laughing about the soccer game and other times tearing and choking up thinking about my dad and my situation at work..
Now I'm at my favorite sushi place treating myself to whatever I like to eat.. Just polished off a Spicy Tuna Salad. Next up, Macho Roll (salmon and mackeral with scallions) And I've switched to drinking Coke. Thanks for reading.
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FUuuuuuuuuck Yeeeeeeaahhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Suck it, Croatia!!!!!!!!!
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18 June 2008

Nobody cares..

The world doesn't stop for a death in the family. I'm falling apart yet I'm expected to perform 100 percent at work. I can't do it. I can't stop thinking about him. This is harder than I ever imagined.
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15 June 2008

Harlem Crit Race Report

70 starters on a narrow bumpy soaking wet course.. 37 finishers.
Murat is a lucky 18th. How I made it through that carnage without laying it down- a miracle. Murat loses his nerve when people are kissing the asphalt all around him. That I let myself get swarmed with 1/2 lap to go sucks balls, but I have all my skin so I live to race another day.
In the Cat 3 race which followed- 79 starters and 73 finishers- the road dried out nicely. More later.

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Happy Father's Day!

Take that, Hallmark! Blackberry wins. No trip to the drugstore, no overpriced greeting card, no messy ink, no postage cost, and never delivered late. Just point, click, send.
I love you guys too!

13 June 2008

German Graffiti?

Found in a men's room of the Frankfurt Airport:
And this pearl of wisdom was found in the Turkish airport bathroom:

Explain that one to me please.

10 June 2008

No Service up here

7:50 pm: I feel like Forest gump must have felt when he suddenly decided to stop running. Now what?..
8:15 pm: Looks like dinner is being served. People belly ache about airline food. I like it. Each meal is a challenge: to try and finish everything without wasting any of it- hard to do. There's always something on the tray which sucks.. Why don't they ever serve soup on airplanes? Just curious. More than six hours until we land. For me, it will be the same as 2:30 am. By the time I drive home and get to bed it will be 4:30 my time.. (9:30 Eastern) I'm expected at work tomorrow. Chicken Curry has arrived.
8:44 pm: there's so much to look forward to.. After these six hours are through that is.. After making my inflight meal disappear I felt a wave of happiness poured down on my head- only for a few seconds.. The feeling lingers.. But it might be from the wine I'm sipping. Took a picture of my Lufthansa food for you (I'll add it here later) This Airbus is not full so people have picked their own seats. The guy who was originally next to me has relocated. I have the window and aisle seat to myself. Alone. Soon, my sister will join my wife, son, mother and brother in Turkey. I will truly be by myself in terms of immediate family all being 8000 miles away.. And with Father gone it's going to feel extra weird. I'm a person who loves to be independent, to answer to no one, a solitary Lone Ranger/Assassin type.. But this next few weeks might be tough. Then again, it might be an opportunity to really focus on work and on racing with a minimum of distraction. I'd better make the very best of it.
11:26 pm: I'm going into and out of light sleep while my mp3 player blasts my brains out. Current selection: Green Day's Jesus of Suburbia. Just before that Papa Roach. Foo Fighters' Best of You follows. Three hours left. More wine? More sleep? This journey takes forever when you're by yourself.
12:28 am: just returned from a walk to the back of the plane to do some stretching and a visit to the lav. I did 20 miles of climbing Saturday, in the rain. It didn't really hit me until yesterday, but it feels like I've really hurt my lower back- like there's a knife in there being twisted against bone. Of course it didn't help that I did another tough climbing ride Sunday with the locals. Smaller group this time, but a more interesting route. We climbed up to Gundogdu, plunged down into Kursunlu and followed the coast to Guzelyali/Burgaz. Past my uncle's summer house and onto the four mile climb up Old Mudanya Road. Then a nice flat ride into the city and home. My friends Zafer and Murat were both Kings of the long climbs- I summited third on both of them, solo. But on the rollers on the coast, they weren't as fast as me. The fatigue from the previous day's mountain climb and the lower back pain really made it impossible to match pace with these guys on the big hills. I don't mind. On the run-in to the city of Bursa I put the hammer down and had it wound up to 35 mph on the flats. Only one could follow me and pull through: Murat. So he's good on the climbs and on the flats.. He's the latest addition to Millwork One Racing. I gave him a kit and our little team has just become international! Two Murats are better than one. One caveat (which I happen to love) is that Murat is a spitting image of Steve Buscemi. Good man.. I look forward to mailing him some more team schwag when I get home.
2:08 am: about 1/2 hour until we land at Logan. I am craving sushi enough that I may stop at Haruki on the way home, if it isn't too late. Will I be too tired to race at Ninigret on Wednesday? What am I pre-registered for this weekend? I don't even remember. The plane is finally beginning to descend from 40,000 feet. The coloe scheme of this airline seems to remind me of something.. Like the gold and silver uniforms of a certain New England racing team.. Now to decide whether these Lufthansa blankets are nice enough that I want to swipe one.. Might come in handy for using as a race day kilt.
All the above was during yesterday's flight to Boston. I'm now back at work.. And so tired.
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08 June 2008

15-1/2 hours..

Until my flight to Frankfurt.
The past two weeks seem like a bad dream. I still can't believe my Father is gone. I haven't had any emotional breakdowns since the funeral- the day that I more or less cried all day. I leave for home tomorrow by myself while dear wife and son stay behind for five extra weeks. I'm pre-registered for 16 criteriums in four weekends, so I have my work cut out for me.. Not to mention all the unsolvable knots I need to untangle when I return to work- two weeks away from a construction position is an eternity.
It's gonna be an interesting summer.. But.. I feel lost, as though my North Star has been extinguished.
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07 June 2008

Be Home Soon

It's a shame that I was too naïve to realize until now that "Most people are Dicks", applies no matter what country you're in. Our car is extra filthy, in spite of the rains which have fallen recently. You can buy a cup of boiled corn-off-the-cob at the mall for 6 YTL.. What does that cost them? Ten cents? Armani t-shirts for $219.. Lacoste polo shirts for $239.. Crappy Chinese made Nine West stuff for about 10x what we pay in the US.. A walk through Turkey's malls is an exercise in gratitude for the cheap prices we pay for premium stuff at our outlet centers, TJ Maxx and Marshalls.. My wife's DKNY t-shirt which she paid $15 for: found at the mall here for 120 YTL (about 100$) who can afford this stuff? And even so, who is retarded enough to pay this much? Show me who and I will show you an insecure and hollow shell of a person who deserves to be slapped hard.
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Long climb up Uludag

Distance to top: 20 miles
Vertical Rise: 5400 feet
Duration to top: 2:09
Rained almost the whole way up!
Only a 5 percent average grade, but after 10 miles of climbing, 5 percent starts to feel like 10.. I recorded the elevation profile with the Polar. Brother followed me up in the car. We have pictures which I'll post next week.
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03 June 2008

Steep Climbing

Went out at 8 am this morning.. No real plan except to go for 3-4 hours and include some 30 second intervals at CP6 with 30 sec spin recoveries.. The wind took me in the direction of Mudanya, which makes no sense because the wind was blowing hard off the water.. Went up the 3 mile climb of "Old Mudanya Road", with views that never fail to make my jaw drop. The descent into Mudanya sucks balls- the road is rough as hell- making it impossible to gain any speed. Need full suspension for that. Where the old road meets the main highway, we go straight and head into Guzelyali/Burgaz.. Which takes me past my Uncle Orhan's house as the road winds it's way along the coast towards the town of Kursunlu. As luck would have it, my uncle's wife was out on the front porch. She's 70 and didn't recognize me until I took my Rudys off and said "It's me, Murat". They heard the news of my father's passing from my aunt in Istanbul.. Anyway.. Uncle Orhan and his wife had arrived a couple of days ago from Germany. They worked their entire lives in the upholstery division of the Opel factory in the Frankfurt/Koln area. He's the oldest of seven siblings- my dad being the middle child. He's 73 and very healthy. He's also self published two books of poetry. She's 70 and had four daughters with my uncle- Canan, Seyda, Lelya and Semra. The youngest of these cousins being 39 years old. All are in Germany. All have divorced at least once. Uncle had gone out to buy supplies- the summer house was ina state of being unpacked from the winter.. A water view from the balcony that makes me quite jealous.. They bought that condo 38 years ago- I love that place. The water used to lap the base of the building, but that was before thwe entire beach was infilled and cement poured to create a giant ferryboat landing.. The view is still excellent though. After a hot cup of Nescafe and some small talk about my dad and uncle's sibling rivalry, I excused myself and continued along the coastal road towards Kursunlu. Not only steep and winding, rising 150 feet then plunging back down to sea level every so often.. But with a view to die for. Once into the coastal town of Kursunlu, I asked how to get to the village of Gundogdu, which is where I climbed from the other direction last week. A sharp right hander and I'm on a brick paved road rising before me like a wall.. Unlike the four mile climb we did that day, this time the pitch was a lot steeper, reaching the same peak in only three miles, and starting from sea level. The first 1/2 mile was the hardest- it rose 400 feet. The next 1/2 mile was less brutal, but the end of the first mile marked about 600 feet. Three mile point at the top was 1200 feet total rise, but this included a few short dips downward which had to be re-ascended. Toughest big climb around! I can't say enough about the view at the top. You just have to see it to believe it. Makes all the pain worth it. After the four mile descent and after I got on the flats leading into the city, I did my 30 second CP6 intervals.. Most of them anyway. Thanks for reading.

02 June 2008

Pay 10 times more in Turkey

We just saw a hard side Samsonite suitcase in a classy mall store- same as we bought at TJ Maxx for $80..
Price in Turkey: 795 YTL (about $700)
I told the sales girl and she rambled on about how this one was the lightest in the world blah blah.. Whoever buys that thing for 795 YTL should be skinned alove for their idiocy.
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01 June 2008

Training Day

Going to skip forward a few days and just tell you about my club ride this morning with 30 other Bursa cyclists. Only about 7 or 8 road bikes and the rest were all mountain bikes. We took a main highway- six lanes wide- broad shoulder- completely open to the wind- you can see for miles and miles in all directions- long 2-3 mile big ring climbs that rise gently enough, but which grind you to dust and have you wanting so badlly to drop it into the little ring and ride like a weenie. This road hurts. We were on this highway for quite a while, strung out at times in groups of 2 and 3 and 4.. Per my resolution of a few days earlier, I had my game face on and pounded everyone into submission on every climb, stringing them out single file until 300m before the top, and then accelerating over the peak, solo. The fire in the belly was burning brightly today.. This motley group of bikers was populated with three strong juniors, elite mountain bike racers, road masters who used to race, road masters who still race, a guy who can ride a wheelie for miles, people I raced with as a junior back in 1989, a couple of 50 somethings and even a 60 something. My LOOK 486 attracted lots of attention, as did my rear hub and Powertap.. A couple of the guys looked really - how should I say - poor. Riding really tattered and poor fitting clothing and riding hand me down federation bikes with 7 speeds and down tube shifters. One of these guys was strong as a bull..
So we rode to the end of the highway and after regrouping we went onto a country road for about 5 miles- into a little village where we raided a tea garden and took over the place. Someone bought a huge warm loaf of country bread and two kilos of soft country feta cheese. Everyone ordered hot Turkish tea. Bikes sprawled out everywhere. Good food, good company, good weather.. It all adds up to a very memorable and enjoyable ride. On the way back I hit a pothole large enough to swallow a small child. I swear I hit it so hard that I saw the fork flex enough for the tire to hit the frame.. Both bottles went flying. One of the cages is kaput. Changed the flat in 5-6 minutes and we headed back out of the country village and back onto the highway. I stopped to pee and everyone got a 2 minute gap on me. They had said they would take it easy and wait for me, but judging from the fragments of the group which I began to catch up to, they were working hard to make it harder for me. A few grabbed my wheel along the way, so by the time I caught onto the tail of the roadies who were pressing the pace, I had a tail of 4-5 guys with me. Feeling good, I rode up to the front and uncorked a hot 2 minutes to the top of the hill. Only three others could follow, but none could pull through. We were doing 34 mph on the flats between the hills. Up the final climb, I pulled for the first half way up, let the others pull through, and then hit it hard again over the top. Only one could follow, but I rode him off my wheel in the last 100m of the climb. I'm not beating my chest over being faster on the road than a bunch of mountain bikers. I just had a good time that's all. This ride was great for my morale. Overall we did 60 miles in about 3:10, but this doesn't include about 20 minutes between flatting and peeing. Thanks for reading.


Almost turned to scrambled eggs when my front tire blew!
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