Saturday, May 22, 2010


I did 2 races today. I finished both of them, but the results were less than I expected. I just could not put myself in the hurt locker and thrive. Instead, I exercised my one true strength which is survival. I'm very good at it. Look for the guy in any race hanging on for dear life lap after lap - that is me. Tongue hanging out, look of desperation on the face, verging on panic, that is me.

Sometimes, it is necessary to put things in perspective. I've been beating myself up all evening about missing the breaks in the masters race, tailgunning all day in the Pro 1,2 race. I'm irritated, frustrated and generally in a bad mood.

However, it took exactly 30 second of perusing the DCM forum on to remind me there are a lot of worse things than hanging on for dear life in a race. It is truly a blessing to be able to race again, and sometimes one (me) tends to forget that it is a blessing. I'm feeling alot better now, and next time I'm in the hurt locker, in survival mode, I am going to remember that I'm lucky to be there at all.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why Do I Race?

One of my teammates posed this question today. I had to think about it for a while, and here is the answer I gave him:

My reasons for racing vary. When I was young, it was because I was phasing out of speedskating and into cycling. Breaking Away had piqued my interest, and considering I was 5'7" and 115 lbs soaking wet, cycling seemed to be a natural fit. I also knew a few guys that raced, and that further fueled the desire.

As time progressed, it was the cool factor. There weren't that many cyclists. The sensations and competition kept it interesting. It was a moving chess game. I had periods where I was winning races, and periods where I could not finish a race to save my life. The wins kept me going, because I knew I could do it again.

Cycling was also one of the few sports where you could compete against the pros. Imagine playing tennis with Andre Agassi. The chances of that were very rare. But I have raced with a lot of famous pros. I've had my ass kicked by some of the best cyclists in the world. Just being in a race with a couple of these guys, watching them turn the pedals just like you do, suffer just like you do is priceless.

Later in life it was the search for the perfect race, one in which I did everything I could regardless of outcome. It's a great analog to the perfect hole in golf where you were par or below par. It's hard to achieve. Sometimes it takes more than one year to get there. When you finally do, it is a wonderful feeling.

Sometimes it's because nothing else in life is going right. Work sucks, you're boss is kicking your ass, your girlfriend broke up with you, your dog died. Sometimes the small act of finishing a race is all you need to feel worthy.

Sometimes it's because your doctor has told you "You're to asthmatic to ever run with the pack." Well, doc, I have to say I did. Other times it's because the doctor says your racing days are over. Doc, I'm not so sure about that.

Other times it's simply because you can. Others can't or won't. You're racing for them, to show them that if you can race, they can get off the couch and walk to the kitchen, despite being so weak every step is an effort.

Sometimes you race because you don't know what else to do. Sometimes it's because you enjoy it, other times it's because you need to prove it to yourself you can do it.

Sometimes, you rationalize this stuff before every race, every lap, every minute. It's a minute by minute thing. Sometimes the angel on your shoulder gets you through, and sometimes the devil on the other shoulder convinces you to drop out, to be a loser.

Sometimes it just sucks, but once you get that little glimpse, that par hole, that good race, or even that good lap, it's a wonderful moment!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Return to Ceraland

Ceraland has always been one of my favorite spring races. I’ve done this race several times before and I always look forward to it. Today marked my return to Ceraland after a 4 year absence. This return also marked a 4 year anniversary of one of the defining moments of my life.

I can remember it like it happened one minute ago. The cardiologist walked into the recovery room and said “No more racing. You have non ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy. I’m prescribing beta blockers and an ace inhibitor”.

Oh my God! Wtf?!?!? What the hell does that mean? First I mourned the loss of racing. Internet research quickly proved this should be the least of my concerns. The Framingham study said I would be dead in 5 years! Why, why, why, why me? Don’t I have enough health issues with the never ending allergies and sinus infections? How can it be possible that my heart is failing? Much angst ensued.

I researched and researched. Despair ensued. Then I stumbled on a link to an athlete that had DCM but had been cured. The method of healing was controversial, unconventional. It required faith and forgiveness. I felt I had the former. I was not sure about the latter. I pursued it. I forgave the 6th grade bully that picked on me. I went through my life, discovered I had a lot to forgive. In forgiving and in faith in God and Jesus, I found healing. Some may say it was time that gave me this healing, some may say it was the meds, but I know, this was not the case. I have no doubt as to the method of healing.

By God’s grace and healing, I returned to racing in 2009 and raced at Ceraland today. I struggled to finish, suffered like a dog, but managed to finish. It’s been a long, strange, fantastic and life changing journey to get to back to Ceraland.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cycling Therapy

It has been a rough week at work. I'm struggling to get one of my projects in order before I go on vacation. At the same time, I've got other projects, special requests, and normal "run the business" type of work. Every one of these seems to be somebodies number one priority.

I left work today stressed. It was the first 75+ degree day we have had this year. This added to the stress level; needed to get everything finished up to get out of the office with enough daylight to ride. I managed to do so, and after a few miles on the road, the stress and worries faded into the rhythm of the pedals turning over and over.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


After dealing with two offshore projects, I’m frustrated to no end. The expectation is the developer, whether onshore, offshore, or employees should know the basics of how to develop software that:
  • Disposes all database connections, even when there is an error

  • Minimizes network hops as it is a known performance hit to make a remote call more than once

  • Isn’t optimized until optimization is needed (yes, I know you can throw all of business logic in a stored procedure, but is that the right thing to do?)

  • Demonstrates basic OO design and coding skills – objects are nouns, methods are verbs

  • Has objects, methods named meaningfully – wtf does ExternalVariable do? What are its responsibilities?

  • Demonstrates knowledge of simple things like transactions – Yes, that update needs a transaction, no, the select statement doesn’t (ever, and don’t argue with me about it, you’re proving your ignorance).

I know that every one of these developers is hardworking, conscientious and willing to learn. My frustration is being forced to teach each contractor that walks though the door. It’s a waste of time and money.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Catching Up

I’m aggravated, irritated and just a little bit pissed off because I have another sinus infection. Don’t you get an exemption from illnesses after near death experiences? It doesn’t seem to be the case, and on reflection, it occurs to me that I have a sinus infection every March. On the bright side, it gives me a chance to catch up on a few things, this blog being one of them.

I did the Lexington Circuit race week before last. It is a very easy course, good for the big guys that can push into the wind. The first race of the day was the Masters 40+ race. My team was a little bit undermanned, and we picked the wrong strategy for the race. As a result, we, meaning my teammate Marty and I, ended up chasing a 5 man break all day. The break was well defended by a strong Schellers team. I managed to get 2nd in the field sprint and 7th overall, so I felt somewhat redeemed.

The 2nd race of the day was the Pro 1,2,3 race. I was a bit worried about this race, considering I have not done 2 races in a day for a while, and the fact the legs were pretty wasted from the Masters race. The race started off hard and fast, with attacks lap after lap. I kept managing to make the splits, except for the last one, which left a group of 10 going up the road and bodies flying off the back.

I regrouped with 3 other guys. We settled into a good pace and soon we were picking up people shelled from the front group. Next thing you know we are 10 seconds off the lead and closing fast. We managed to close within 5 seconds of the lead group 500 meters from the finish, but just could not close it. I was cramped up, locked up, so I drifted in for 13th. I was very happy with this! This race was the hardest race I have ever done on this course, and one of the hardest in 8 months or so. Considering how my training has been way behind due to early season illness, the race was a resounding success.

The plan was to follow this up with 2 hard weeks of training followed by a nice vacation over spring break. Unfortunately, the annual spring sinus infection is disrupting the plan. C’est la vie.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

First Race and Old Urges

Last weekend was my first race of the season. I was quite surprised to be there, and even more surprised to be competitive! While I did not finish as well as I would have liked in the past, the race was a success. I have to thank God for even being on the starting line.

After watching copious amounts of short track speed skating during the 2010 Olympics, I find myself wanting to speedskate again. I haven't done any serious skating since a few practices in 1992, and have not competed since 1983. Yet for some reason it compels, and a few short dry runs sans skates feel natural, even practiced.

Regardless of speedskating urges, there are a lot of bike racing urges to be met in the next 5 months. Lexington is on tap for this coming weekend. Lexington was the first race I did after a 3 year absence from racing. It was also one of the last races I did before my 3 year absence began. I remember watching a break go up the road during that race in 2006. I thought at ther time, "It's just training, no big deal." Well. you never know if a race is going to be your last race, so it's best just to treat it as your last race.