Thursday, April 12, 2012

Radiohead Dreams

Three days in Santa Monica followed by three days in New York before Radiohead in Kansas City. It was a wonderful 7 days on the road. Last time I saw Radiohead was on the in rainbows tour. Atoms For Peace doesn’t count even if it was Thom playing Radiohead songs.  Full on Radiohead was last seen in Montreal, standing in the middle of Parc Jean Drapeau . It was a great gig and I didn’t think it would be 4 years till I got to see them again. I wasn’t too concerned that no East Coast dates, north of Atlanta, were announced. Obviously they would play in the North East but I still couldn’t deal with the waiting and when Mike Rockingguy Richardson told me he had a ticket for me to see the show in Kansas I booked a flight and let the excitement take over.

As I get older the small intimate settings trump the massive  arena shows. A gig at The Paradise Rock Club is far more appealing than going out to Great Woods in Mansfield. Radiohead, as is the case is with all big bands, rarely perform in small venues. They will do some theater stuff – like Atoms For Peace – but in order to meet demand they have to play the arena or the large outdoor park/amphitheater shows. However, if one band can make a 17,000 seater stadium seem like a tiny rock club its Radiohead. The quality of the production from the sound to the lightshow is so crisp that one feels like they are watching a HD recording of a show in the front room. I really didn’t notice people around me, I was completely fixed on the stage and all the magic that was unfolding right in front of me.

The boys were in a jovial mood. It was certainly the most animated Thom Yorke I’ve ever seen. Thom is not one for too much crowd interaction so it was very surprising to see him joke around with other band members while talking to the crowd about everything from annoying dogs to the random and strange day he was having. The mood of the band was as infectious as the music. Its easy to tell a band that is going through the motions and a band that is truly enjoying their music. This was the happiest Thom Yorke I’ve ever seen. 

The set lists have been pretty consistent with 5 or 6 songs of 23-24 changing. We were lucky to get 2 tour debut songs Super Collider from the record store day release and the amazing How To Disappear Completely, which left everyone feeling numb. Magic stuff. The actual setlist is below,
01 Bloom
02 15 Step
03 Morning Mr Magpie
04 Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
05 All I Need
06 Pyramid Song
07 The Daily Mail
08 Supercollider (tour debut)
09 Nude
10 Identikit (with false start)
11 Lotus Flower
12 There There
13 Feral
14 How To Disappear Completely (tour debut)
15 Reckoner

16 Separator
17 Myxomatosis
18 Idioteque
19 Lucky
20 Everything In Its Right Place

21 Give Up The Ghost
22 Paranoid Android

The highlights for me were the entire encore, Identikit false start and all, and All I Need which I thought sounded even more haunting and beautiful than I remembered.  During Myxomatosis the crowd started losing it, when Idioteque kicked off before we could get a breath I knew the night would go down as one of the best Radiohead shows I've seen. For the final track it was between Street Spirit and Paranoid Android - I believe SS was on the set list. Given the energetic response from the crowd Paranoid Android was the right choice. It closed out an amazing night. Mike, Jen, and I left the gig speechless and given about 25+ Radiohead shows between the two of us that says a lot. 

The Boston, Montreal, and Toronto shows can't come soon enough. The boys are really on right now, and nothing seems to phase them. To see Thom laugh and poke fun at Clive for his mistake during Identikit was so uplifting. It made me really happy and sharing these experiences with good friends and fellow Radiohead fanatics leaves a lasting impression. Everything in its right place.

Peace and Love,


Never seen or hear Thom act so playfully before.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Twitching & Salivating

Hanging on during the last five miles of my last bike ride was a bit of a gut punch. But the weekend and everything before that was entirely optimistic. Dereck "D-Rock" Tredwell came down for some training camp - or as much training as 2 days and some socializing allows. I got up early on Saturday to watch Liverpool lose to a far weaker Arsenal side. As a friend on twitter wrote, hitting posts and cross bars is not bad luck, its poor finishing........

Saturday was a wash so Tread and I hit the trainers for a couple of hours while watching some pro guys show us how its really done at Strade Bianche. We hit some tempo efforts mimicking the attacks of the riders on the computer screen. When they climbed, so did we. Off the bikes we went for a run, triathlon style. We only did 2 miles but it was enough to make me tired and wonder how guys race marathons off the bike.

Next up was a visit to ATA Cycles where I was scheduled a fit session from Husam Sahin. Husam is a bit of a genius. He makes his own contraptions the analyze position and measure power output using real simulations rather than video alone. We kicked off the session with all the usual measurements and some more thorough information using lazers (I'm not sure really but everything sounded awesome so I rolled with it). We then used Retul for the first position. Usually this is as far as a fit goes however Husam took the measurements from Retul and applied it to his hydraulic bike. Once I moved bikes I was set up in a new position. I rode here for a while holding a certain watt range - about 330 watts - until I was comfortable. Then he started to adjust the bike as I was in motion. The movements were so small that I didn't notice however I did notice the watts jumping up to 335, then 340, then 350 even though I was holding the same effort. When he returned me to my initial position my watts dropped and I had to pedal harder to get back to 350. Once I did he adjusted again, back to my new position and with the same effort I was pushing 365. I know there is a mental component to it but the increase at some level was real. We stopped playing around and I kept riding with my hands resting in the 3 typical positions.  Husam then adjusted my bike to the new position. He raised my saddle, shortened my stem, took out a spacer from my headtube, rotated my handlebars down slightly, and moved my saddle position. The overall affect was pretty amazing when we captured the new position on Retul and contrasted it to my original position. Everything looked more aero, smoother, and more powerful. Now I need to put it to use in the real world.
 The Kyphosis is always going to be a problem but hopefully the new position will allow me more comfort in the drops. I tested it next morning on the long ride and everything was smooth. No pain whatsoever, until the last 5 miles of course. For some reason I went from feeling amazing to rocked very quickly. Just holding Dean Phillips and Skip Foley's wheels was a test of mental strength. I suffered and it was joyful. With a week of work travel ahead of me and a Radiohead concert on the horizon I had every reason to feel happy. Group riding is awesome. Most people prefer to train alone but to me biking is a social outlet and lifestyle. I like to share it, albeit with stronger riders, most of the time.

Peace and Love,

New Orbital video is bizarre but the song is beautiful  and with Zola Jesus on the chanting duty it makes for magic sounds.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hold On

I need to explain myself. I wasn't clear in my post yesterday about Suffering. A few emails came in asking me if I was suggesting Running was easier than the bike! Absolutely not! Any opinion I share on here is taken from my own experience. I could never race marathons as much as I desperately wanted to. And when I say desperately I really mean it. I was depressed when my body wouldn't let me run, and I will NEVER get over it. Marathon running and the training associated with it is similar to bike racing. A good marathon runner can train close to their threshold for long periods of time. We do tempo runs of 8 - 12 miles or longer depending on the philosophy and these are run at marathon pace or a little quicker. The length of time means that only small drinks from the bottle are needed and the work should be very tolerable. Once you cross the line, the pace slows and the race or training is over. You can't sit in and coast in a draft for a while eating a clif bar and drinking 22oz of thick carbo fuel. Once your done its over (save the few bizarre comebacks). This is the fundamental difference I am talking about. After 3  hours of riding, especially if its hilly and hard, the body is starving for food and cyclists can eat, replenish, and recover all the while maintaining a hard pace and elevated HR. In a 5 hour race a rider can be dropped only to be paced back up in a draft and have enough in the tank to attack.  Throughout the whole experiencee its never comfortable, hence the suffer part. My experience of hard running was like getting hit with a baseball bat really hard for a short period of time while cycling is like being hit really hard and then tapped incessantly for a while with an occasional hard whack again. A different system and one that requires a lot of concentration for a much longer period of time. There is no doubt that when you cross the line in a running race you suffer. My initial point is that this pain is awful and there is no coming back, no drafting, no food, no push of the back up a hill. Its just get to the finish line without injury.

I've heard some people say that the Tour De France is like running a marathon everyday. Complete nonsense, but a good example of what I am trying to say. You suffer for hours in the hills but next day the fatigue is tolerable and the rider can go out and do it again, maybe even faster. Have you ever seen an elite marathon runner the day after Boston or New York? Their bodies are shattered. Its such a deplorable effort for a little over two hours that it can take 2 -3 weeks or longer to recover and start again. Elites run 2 marathons a year, a pro cyclist can ride 3 grand tours and 50 other races. Thats the difference. If runners didn't have the limiting factor of pounding and intense muscle and joint breakdown they would race every week. I know I would have, for sure. Even the Ironman triathlete can do more long course races because its that slower burn. The breakdown is nutritional, physiological, muscular, mental etc. But they can come back and do another one 2 months later. This frequency of hard marathons happens in running but is rare and careers are very short lived. 

At the other end of the spectrum is track work. This is similar to track bike racing. Extremely hard and intense. When I think suffering I think long periods. Suffering in a jail cell for years or suffering from an illness. The mental  and physical toll of track racing is completely different. My good friend and amazing runner Mark Carroll used to have sleepless nights before hard track workouts because they were so hard. It may be a session such as 5 x 1km, meaning the intervals would last 2.5 minutes each and be repeated 5 times for a total hard running workout of 12.5 minutes. But those reps require everything from the body. Very difficult and a completely different system then what we use on the bike.

So in a nutshell, I love the term suffering on the bike. You can just deplete yourself to bonking and do it again the next day with the same vigor. Its a new realm for me and I can approach my free weekends knowing I'll bury myself but feel no real pain in my body afterwards. Unlike after those wonderful track sessions and hard cross country reps I'll wake up and bounce around my apartment. Sure I'll be tired but not sore. And I'll be ready to do it all again.

Great tune by The Chain Gang Of 1974 - Hold On. Listened to it on my trainer tonight and it made me happy.

Peace and love

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Waiting for the weekend so I can suffer. Maybe my favorite thing about cycling is this word - Suffer. Its not used in the running game so much. Most likely because for me running was relatively short and intense. The pain feels worse than suffering, its comfort then a feeling like either something is going to break or I'm going to pass out. Cycling is a slow burn. You can keep up, but be on the rivet for a LONG time. The pounding is such a limiting factor, or at least over the last few years it was for me. Invariably my legs would hurt before my heart and lungs. On the old bike, much like in XC Skiing, the pain is drawn out over a long period of time. Simply eating some food can take you from the depths of despair to the front hammering and all the time a feeling of suffering. And bike racers embrace this. They love to talk about suffering on a ride. Now I find myself using the term all the time. Since I've done no exercise all week I can't wait to suffer. We'll be hitting the hills and putting in time on the saddle. Perfect.

I heard a new remix by HEALTH of the wonderful Suffocation by Crystal Castles The tune is short which is a shame because its great. Loving the electronic music this week.

Peace and Love


Monday, February 20, 2012


The void in my updates is not laziness but rather the result of a week on the road with work, and an unfortunate gut punch courtesy of the flu (or something close to that). It might just be a bad cold but last time I had a cold there were no aches involved. Myself and assorted members of team new balance hit the road this week to see some of our favorite customers and to get out of the office. Frontline tells us everything we need to know and as marketers and sales people its important to carry the bag rather than read the report. It hit me on Tuesday night, the usual onset symptoms. Scratch in the throat, coffee not tasting good, pain in the neck. From there it only deteriorated, ache down the back, lethargic, very sore throat. Heres the thing, I was on the road for work and in order to do my job I need to put the gameface on which I did and it worked out well. I got to Friday feeling much better! I was out every night for beers, on 4 different planes, and little kip but alas I was coming through it. Saturday arrives and all thats left is a stuffy nose. With sunny skies there was never any doubt that I'd meet up with Tread, Skip, and the Concord crew for a ride out to Wachusett Mountain. Despite feeling like complete crap the entire way I was still comfortable with the jaunt. The hills felt fine and I was riding within myself. Once I was done however it all went pear shaped. I got home and the symptoms returned only this time in a shitty mood. I went to bed at 8 and slept until 10 on Sunday morning. Completely wiped. The thing that really irked me was that the weather was so good. Sunday and today would have been epic riding days. I sat in my Brookline apartment and saw so many cyclists pass the window. All I could do was drink fluids and some coffee (the headaches are not worth fighting) and listen to tunes. The good thing was finding some new gems linked below.

Training has been only ok up to this point. 2 weeks ago I got out for some miles with Skip and the dudes from Embrocation. It was a good ride although I felt really good and needed to squeeze out some hard efforts at the end. Fortunately Skip was in a similar mood and he hammered along with me, destroying me in a few of our Sprints. Cycling really is a funny game, here Skip tells me he is hanging on going up hill and then ten minutes later I can't hold his wheel in a sprint. I'll be long done before I figure it all out. Meeting at Cafe Fixe is a good buzz. Not since my days in Boulder, CO have I seen a collection of Bike Porn outside a coffee shop. In Boulder I didn't really care but now I am part of it. David Andersen is giving the peace sign. Lots of good vibes before some suffering
It was a lot of trainer riding in the week that followed and then it was up north to Jay Peak for a weekend with Frankie and some of the PC crew. All sorts of skiing activities, some waterpark action (Jay Peak has a massive indoor water park which is so random), and a few IPA's. The laughs were non stop but the training was minimal. I tried my hand at X-C skiing and didn't really achieve the outcome I was hoping for. I blame the conditions. There was ice everywhere and I literally wasn't skilled enough to manage the corners. Frankie fell a few times and while she is no pro she has gotten out quite a bit up in Ottawa and said that the conditions were deplorable. We decided to pack it in after maybe 6km and resort to beer drinking by the fire.
We might look the part but only one of us could actually ski. I wore a rapha cycling jacket to make myself feel better about everything. I wonder if rolling around in ice, drinking beer, playing in a waterpark and then sitting in an outdoor hot tub with -10 airtemps freezing my hair contributed to my getting sick? Anyway, its onward and upward. I needed to catch up on music. So I did.

Back in the saddle tomorrow and until then here's two new tunes I've been listening to non-stop. I don't know much about the artists but one is a French electro pop gem and the other a post-new wave slice of happy.

Peace and Love,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Working And Cycling

Working at NB has been fantastic. The team creates an atmosphere that (for better or worse) encourages an early start and a late check out. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to maximize my ability to get in the training around work and travel. Writing this email I find myself on a flight back from Colorado. A few jogs hit the spot but I haven’t been on the bike since Monday. Based on most of the conversations I’ve had, the guys I’ll be racing this year are putting in 15 – 20 hours a week on the bike. I’m doing well if I get in 12 on a normal week and maybe 8 on a travel week. In this regard, running is much more convenient so I try to do as much as I can while keeping my knees somewhat healthy. But its not enough and its not really going to build fitness. Once the Spring kicks in the early morning rides outside will be much more tolerable. To this end I should point out that I am not a morning person – given the fact that I have issues falling asleep – and struggle to get up at 5:30 to do 2+ hours before work. Some people can, and I may come across as soft, but its not that important to me and I’d rather get the sleep and do less. The trainer as much as I hate it has been my friend around the long hours and I’ve decided the best way to train is to go hard for an hour to 1.5 hours with no real structure and on the weekends get out for 2 days of volume. It should work but I imagine I’ll struggle early season in the longer races. Either that or I’ll surprise myself and feel fresh. I spoke with Jason Donald, former Garmin-Chipotle rider, while on my market trip around Denver. Great bloke. He gave me a ton of advice and I’m going to keep in touch. He reckons getting in some running and keeping fresh is fine. Sometimes we absorb what we want to hear. Often I search for the advice I want to hear! Many riders have told me to get up and do long sessions on the trainer, or do double days on the trainer. But Jason told me exactly what I want to hear, emphasize recovery and sleep, do some running and get out on the bike when ever I can. He also told me to use power to get the most out of short training sessions so this is what I’ll do.

Last weekend was the annual Arc-En-Ciel LBL ride and about 30 blokes and 1 female showed up. The weather was fantastic and I felt great. After a bad start, 2 punctures in the first 5 miles, I got rolling and never felt tired, not at least until the end when myself, Amos Brumble, and Mark McCormack broke away and hammered along in a rotating paceline for the last 8-10 miles. The cross winds made it tough but I was never really in trouble and it seems Amos and Mark were on equal levels of fatigue as I was. We maintained a hard pace for 20 minutes and then cruised in the last 2 miles. Good training and a nice confidence booster. 

This weekend is the NB Indoor Games in Boston so I have some work on but I’ll try to get out early on Saturday and Sunday with Skip Foley and his crew. Sacrificing my weekend nights out on the sauce is actually quite easy these days. It might mean I am getting old and mature, but I doubt that to be the case. I think I’m just getting more caught up in the biking game.

Peace and Love

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Dawn

Last Wednesday I started a new Job with New Balance and immediately jumped on a train to head to NYC for a Marketing Campaign launch that was happening. It didn't really feel like I was starting a new job because it was all so familiar except I was really happy. Not that I hated Reebok or anything, I just lost all passion for the brand and working there. The friends will last forever but going into work and feeling like I was completely different from almost everyone was a real struggle. Reebok has hedged the core of its positioning on the current fitness craze - CrossFit. It makes sense for the brand to carve out a new direction, it certainly wasn't working in the running space and seeing how passionate the company is for this "sport of fitness"it makes sense they get after it in a big way. The issue is that I don't like CrossFit. People working out is great and I've seen friends transform themselves by getting involved. But I've see a lot more people transformed by going for a jog or riding a bike. CrossFit preaches a philosophy that is based on short intense exercise routines that change everyday. They believe Routine and Aerobic exercise a major problem. They also preach a Paelo Diet is the way we should eat. Basically lots of lofty claims. I once asked a CrossFit instructor if he considered Lance Armstrong or Paula Radcliffe to be Fit people. He never heard of Paula and he said that Lance is not generally fit, he is good at riding a bike. It was after this conversation that I concluded the program is like a cult. You may be fit but your nothing if your not CrossFit. Going to work became painful because I'd feel like an outsider going for a Jog at lunch time. I was asked every day why I didn't do CrossFit and if you didn't do it there was definitely a feeling of being left out. I loved the people I worked with but thats not enough. You have to believe in what you do when you get up. I have always applied this philosophy to my sport and I used to apply it to work until it was sucked out of me. I love that friends of mine have bought into CrossFit and now they feel really healthy and years younger. But I don't love that CrossFit tells me I'm not Fit. I believe I was the fittest person in Reebok. I imagine my V02 max is higher than everyone in the building and on a stress test of endurance I imagine no one would come close - but I can't do 10 pull ups nor can I do a standing handstand push up. Why in the world would I want to? I race a bike, I need to train for racing a bike, not for dealing with an unfortunate situation I may find myself in that requires me to do a handstand.

I decided I needed to leave and let someone who was passionate about Reebok and CrossFit to take over. I still meet my buddies Thommo, Bryan, and Ben for pints once a week - along with some assorted Reebok crew that come along. My mates know and respect my position. Without blowing my own horn I felt I did the admirable thing. I could still be at Reebok, faking it, taking home a paycheck and laughing but thats not me. I want to live and breath my Job in a healthy way. I believe that at New Balance I'll be able to do that.

When I graduated I signed a small but very meaningful contract with NB. They stood by me through all the injuries - believing that I'd come good. In the end like I did with Reebok I told John Evans that I couldn't be on contract anymore. I needed to move on with my life and the few dollars I was getting would be better off with a new up and comer who needed support. I wanted a Job and in 2006 I started with Reebok. Leaving the world of professional running wasn't hard but leaving NB was. I missed the brand and always wished it well on my travels with Reebok. Now to be back in the NB is really uplifting. I don't believe in fate but this comes close to whatever that word means.

My new boss Josh is fantastic and my co-workers Patrick and Ali have youthful exuberance and energy that makes me feel old! And they are dialed in. Patrick has a big future ahead of him given the breath of ideas and boundless desire to make them come to life. Being in NYC was inspiring. We hosted the launch of our British Milers program, a 12 week TV show in the UK that will follow 7 of our athletes as they chase one of the 3 spots on the Olympic team for London. I used to think I was inspired by the big Marketing presentations at Reebok - and some of them were really inspiring - but by Monday morning reality would kick in. Running is not a priority. At NB the talk of trying to be the best running brand on the planet is real. Full teams dedicated to this goal with a relentless passion to achieve it. Walking in to meet retailers was such an eye opener. They love what we are doing and the product is cranking. Tom Carleo must be the best footwear guy in the business and he is the captain of our ship. Thats what gets me fired up in the morning to go to work. It will be a big year ahead. Very busy and challenging for sure but all in the ways that challenging is great. I am diving in and not looking back. My two previous bosses are at NB too along with a former co-worker and now we are all peers committed to this team and committed to being number one. Exactly the way work should be.

Another highlight of the weekend was some good music talk with Harry Norton. I was pretty down about not riding my bike but now I get to look forward to trainer sessions with new bands to listen to. Harry is into similar music to me so he gave me some suggestions of older bands I might like - Built To Spill and The Microphones. I have heard of them but never gave them a shake so I'll delve into their work this week and report back.

OK thats the buzz. Peace and Love,


PS - I really miss this guy and need to hear something from him soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Learning How To Walk....again

Its almost one year since I purchased my USAC License. This time last year I was under the knife, getting my final knee surgery. Dr. Brian McKeon telling me, "look, there is really not much left to do other than manage the pain. This means not running so much. If you treat your knees well you'll be fine but if you keep pounding there's few options. Microfracture, O.A.T.S, but you really don't want to deal with those surgeries at this stage". He was right, at 33 why would I choose an evasive surgery to help one of my knees when the other knee was also bad, not to mention the many other problems I have in my hips and back. That was the day I became a jogger and a cyclist.

A guy like me never stops dreaming and deep down I still fantasized about a miraculous cure. One day I'd go for a run and everything would be normal. I wouldn't have to sit on a one inch wide, carbon fiber saddle anymore. I'd get on my shoes and run, thats what I love, thats what I'm good at. And I thought about it all the time - still do. Standing at a show watching one of my beloved bands I would drift into dreaming about running the Boston Marathon. Like an addiction, I had to come to terms that I needed to let go and move on to something that was better for me. And that "better" is cycling.

This morning I renewed my membership and I face a season of racing at the highest level in New England. Not where I was running but who wants to go back to that, living race to race, stressing about everything because the sport is the job. That ship has sailed. Cat. 1 racing at the Amateur level is perfect. On Monday, after a hard race, I want to go to work. With that said it is still bizarre to face this season. After nearly a year of racing I still feel like a blow in. I know everything about running. I can debate with any coach/athlete and be completely dialed in. But with cycling every ride I learn something new. While the rest of my life is still going through a process - visas/job issues - cycling is the only thing I have control over so I'm reading, and learning as much as I can. Do I get a coach, buy a powermeter, get a professional fit etc. All questions I've been researching. My own team mates talk in Watts, the way we would talk about pace in running. You run your 8 mile threshold runs at about 5 min mile pace is now you ride 40 minutes at 300 Watts. I have NO IDEA what watts are about because I don't own a power meter and I really don't know if I want one.

My coach Ray Treacy is old skool. If he was a cycling coach he would have the attitude of Sean Kelly. Its about getting the work done without any bells and whistles. When I lived with Steve Jones it was the same. He firmly believed that too many athletes spend their energy thinking about the micro details rather than just getting out, putting in hard work, and resting. And now I find myself at a cross roads. Do I continue to ride like I did last year, 4 hours one week, 10 hours the next week, intervals because I feel like it or 3 days off because I have a pain in my arse from sitting on the saddle. OR do I develop a training program, get the power meter, get tested, and work on hard data. Its a tough one because cycling is very different to running. Not nearly as black and white. Its in between running and formula 1 racing. Like running it requires fitness, ability to suffer, sacrifice, bravery. But then there is the machine, the wheels, the position, and the power. I fear that if I don't learn these basics I'll lose races. Talent can get you through the early categories but now its the real deal. Guys that have been racing for years with legs carved out of stone. My feeble ass won't be able to match their power unless I train. I need to learn how to ride with stabilizers again.

Fortunately I am surrounded by great people willing to share advice. The great riders at Arc-En-Ciel like Dave Kellogg, all my new teammates at Upton Bass Racing, or the guys I will ride with up here in Boston. Ciaran Mangan, and lately Skip Foley. Guys that have been around the block.  This past Sunday I went for a ride with Skip, Peter Sullivan, and a former European Pro Justin Spinelli. Lots of information to be gathered. These rides are like going back to school, at 34! And like a sponge I absorb all the tidbits of wisdom.
We rode some hills up in New Hampshire. At a regrouping after a climb we found ourselves stopped in front of this church. Literally in the middle of nowhere this white chapel and a small house next door. Who goes here? Its part of the charm of New England, something much of us don't appreciate. What we did appreciate was at break after a 3km climb. Skip and Peter looking very "tranquilo" while we regroup. Justin is an interesting bloke. He rode for Farm Frites and Seaco when he was 20. With a lot of bravado around the cycling scene it was refreshing to hear that a former Giro D'Italia rider lives a few miles away and doesn't carry any arrogance. I enjoyed hearing stories about Mario Chipollini.

Yesterday was another 3 hours. Trying to take advantage of the free time and the great weather. I felt amazing. Missing a few days due to a head cold seems to have given me extra energy stores. My only concern now is that I am getting too fit too soon......

Radiohead are headlining the Saturday night at Coachella. I welcomed a text from a buddy last night suggesting we go. There is no doubt that I want to attend this festival but it seems like a hassle. If I go any year though, this is the one. The line up is excellent and the first weekend would work really well. Lots of bands I want to see in addition to Radiohead. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Buzzcocks, Pulp, Feist, Modeselektor....... Might have to make this one happen.

Meanwhile I just downloaded Memory Tapes - Piano Player. The record is not a patch on Seek Magic but still decent. I was moved to get the album when Stereogum posted the video to Trance Sisters. Lovely tune and on heavy rotation in Brookline this morning.

Peace and Love,

Memory Tapes 'Trance Sisters' from Ooh Brilliant on Vimeo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Trainer Rides and Head Colds

No one likes being sick, especially not me. I've been known to revert to child like behavior with the first itchy throat or stuffy head. It really annoys me because I did 2 trainer sessions this week thus avoiding the freezing temps. Yesterday I rode 3 hours but it was mid 30's, tropical when compared to the previous days. Last night I decided to reward a good week on the eve of an easy day with some scoops down in Providence. I met Joe at Julians for a Blackbean Veggie burger and some IPA.
I knew the cold was in the post but hopefully I can be a baby today, drink lots of fluid (after I get through my customary 2 mugs of black gold this morning) and nip it before tomorrow so I can ride in what is looking like a beautiful day. The trainer rides are going to be very effective for me. Last year I just hammered on the trainer when I felt like it but at the advice of one of my teammates this year I'll do structured heart rate trainer sessions. Without a powermeter, HR is the next best thing. The sessions at this time of year are structured around longer reps and sub threshold HR. On tuesday I did 4 x 10 minutes at 175-80 HR or about 85% of Max. On Wednesday I did big gear work with 3 x 15 minutes at 75-80 RPM, holding a HR at 80% or a little higher of Max. The HR graph can be seen on Strava
3 X 15 minutes big gear work
4X 10 minutes sub threshold

Strava is basically an online training diary with a bunch of add-on features such as maps and average speed/cadence/power etc. You can also compare sections of your ride with all those who have previously ridden those sections and who use Strava. In fact there are guys and gals who seem to want KOM strava status to the point that they seek out popular Strava routes and hammer the sections! I think its a great program and I'll continue to post my training on there.

I listened to PJ Harvey - Let England Shake on my ride yesterday. It is certainly one of the best albums of 2011. Easily in my top 5. I haven't played it in a while but yesterday I went through it twice. I haven't read too many year end lists but I assume this record ranked pretty high on most. There are no bad songs on it. Its certainly a political album. The Guardian described it like so, "an opaque exploration of Englishness delivered in a high, keening voice, that contains not one, not two, but three harrowing songs that explicitly reference the 1915 Gallipoli campaign and a further handful that seem more generally informed by the carnage of the first world war – represents one of the more approachable albums in her oeuvre."
All that aside, the record is full of great songs and melody. Like all great artists PJ Harvey didn't make another PJ Harvey record. She explored a new sound and took on a new challenge with this record. No big fanfair, no promotion, just a fluid and very infectious album. Essential listening. I remember the first time I saw PJ Harvey in concert and I was amazed by the power of her voice given her petit size against the back drop of a massive main stage at the Oxegen festival in Ireland. I was with my friends Grogee and Julie. We danced and sang along even though we didn't know the words. Great times.

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year

Happy new year everybody. We are still the same muppit show as we were yesterday. It doesn't take January 1st to make a change. It takes waking up every morning and smashing the day. The Rapha500 got me on my bike so my Redemption, thus Resolution, started on Dec 23. I woke up and decided to get on the saddle again. The week was great. I finished off with a nice 145KM ride on the 31st. It gave me 680 or so k's in 8 rides. The most I've ever done. My goal of 500 miles (800KM) was very attainable but a scratchy throat and not wanting to get sick forced me to take a day off and a day on the trainer. I completely agree that trainer rides shouldn't count so I didn't even think about it.

On New Years eve we rode from Natick, a group ride in the cold and rain. One gnarly day that was awesome. Myself, Ernie T, Aidan Charles, Skip Foley, Tyler Monroe joined Ciaran Mangan for his annual year end ride. We took it steady until the last 30km when Ernie, Skip, and I started a paceline that for me was close to race effort. Hard pulls followed by short recovery into a mild but very cold headwind was enough to leave the three of us feeling pretty wiped. Getting back to my car was a lovely feeling as was the chocolate milk (recovery drink of the year) and americano that waited for me at the corner coffee shop in Natick center.

Right after the ride I jumped in my car and headed north to Burlington to meet Frankie for the New Year. We had food and drink with friends at Flatbread in downtown and I lashed back some excellent IPA. Great conversation, music, and laughs made us forget it was actually New Years eve and when some random people started shouting we decided to join in for about 30 seconds before going back to good chats. Like I said, new years day is just another day but good times are embraced when ever they happen. It was good times that I was celebrating.

Back to Boston yesterday and back at it today. Last couple of days were running, not much, just a few miles and today was my first ride since the epic Saturday morning hammer fest. The bitter cold of this morning made my trainer look ever so special and since I had a workout to do I decided to jump on it and executed the reps. The trainer is actually better in many ways when it comes time to do specific work. I live in the city and dealing with traffic and lights, stop signs and merging lanes makes long reps difficult at the best of times. Add in ice and 18 degree temps and the workout suddenly becomes a torrid affair. I did 4 x 10 minutes at LT (or what I think is LT since I don't use power nor have I been tested on the bike) My running values must be the same so I used those. It was a great session and a few days off the bike has left me fresh.

After watching Liverpool getting thumped at Man City I needed to go for a run, so this afternoon I hit the pavement for 4 miles, stopping at Chipotle at the end. My burrito felt like a 10lb bar bell, which is why I love that place.

I am still working on some tunes of the year for 2011. There won't be a top 10 album list because like I said many times, it wasn't a great year for me as far as music goes. And now that I have a laid back week I can get through my iTunes library and start to pick my highlights.

Mojo magazine released a compilation of New Order covers from the seminal 1993 album Power, Corruption, & Lies. I listened to Destroyer take on 'Leave Me Alone', one of my favorite tracks on the album. I can't wait to hear the rest of it. Some people hate these kinds of cover albums but I love them. Listening to different artists takes on some of my favorite songs is always joyful.

Peace and Love