Friday, November 25, 2005

The Evil Empire

I was busying myself with assorted tasks this afternoon. I came across something from back in my days as a high school graphic artist. This amuses the hell out of me. I’m probably the only one. But it’s cool. I found this in my local sports page when I was in 11th or 12th grade. I made a negative of it. I enlarged it. Burnt it to a screen. And screened a few stickers of it. I probably did it in an afternoon, as we were largely unsupervised in the arts building. Anyway, enjoy the fruits of my labor, circa 1988 or so.

Post Turkey stress disorder

I love Thanksgiving. By far my most favorite holiday. Only because I love the heaping piles of food. Turkey, taties, sweet taties, corn, stuffing, a greenbean slurry, gravy, mmmm gravy, carrots, pickles, cakes, pies, where does it end. Then you go back for seconds.

Wow! I just knocked out my things to do list already. Before noon even. Took me two hours. The garage looks presentable again. That was the big one I wanted to get done. I also cleared the rain gutters of leaves. Cleaned the little animal’s shitbox. Moved a hunk of furniture around. Now I can kick back and watch the Flyers underachieve again. Noontime drop of the puck seems weird but who am I to argue with a 55” television that beckons me with a HD broadcast of quality hockey action?

The Legend(Hebe) has made the jump into blogdom. He does an occasional entry among others at . Now, however, Mike has procured his own little slice of bloggerness. Check him out at Maybe he’ll even answer the question of Why do we gloss him “The Legend”. Amy, aka Mrs. Legend, now needs to give us a fresh counter perspective to the couple who are pretty much my closest and finest friends ever. Step up to the plate Amy. is available for the taking.

Yesterday’s Thanksgiving feast was somewhat uneventful. As I moved in and out of my post-turkey slumber on one of the many fine recliners, I believe one of the dogs pissed all over the floor. Nothing compared to the humping event I spoke of in my prior post.

Now begins the gallop leading up the Xmas. Joy. I entertained the idea of getting out of bed at 4:30AM to hit Best Buy for one of their $379 laptop computers. I would love to get a lapper but purely for lazy reasons. I watch TV in the basement but my PC is upstairs. Being that I am a TOTAL fantasy sports geek I need to periodically check scores and whatnot. You know, to see how my team is fairing 5 minutes into a hockey, basketball, baseball, football, golf, or Nascar event. A lapper would eliminate the need to do all those stair intervals all night long. Needless to say, The Wifey is not impressed with my idea. Maybe Santa can hook me up. Late.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


We’re headed up to Thompsontown to Erin’s Grandparent’s for a Thanksgiving feast today. It’s in Junita County, one county above Perry so anyone who knows anything about redneckery knows I’m knee deep in it today. And I say that with the warmest and most heartfelt intentions because Erin’s family from this area are the nicest kindest and funniest people you’ll meet. Hell, I was raised in Adams County. My neck is just a different shade of red.

Anyway, quick story. Back when I was wooooing the future Mrs. Kessel I was invited to my first Thanksgiving feast up Juniata way. It’s a big deal up there. Probably 20 people give or take. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, several dogs. I just try to blend in. No problems. Get through the meal. Awesome foodage. What does any man do after the meal? Of course, watch football. Convene in front of the TV in the living room…..where the dogs are chillin. Dog #1 named Milo is trained to assist Erin’s 2nd cousin, Jan, who has CP. Milo is a large but gentle dude. Nice fella. Must have cost a fortune. Dog #2 named ???? is Karla’s, Erin’s aunt. Dog2 is big, female, a mutt, and, pardon my French, a sped. As we’re watching football, the dogs are following each other around the room in circles sniffing and nudging, doing general dog type stuff. Until, without warning Dog2(THE FEMALE) mounts and begins humping Milo(THE MALE). For obvious reasons there are a few seconds of bedlam and mayhem. Looks of horror on many faces in the room. Now, how would you handle this? I’m in my first visit with these fine folks but I think this scenario is funny as hell. I’m trying to restrain from even a smirk until I notice Erin’s Grandfather, Stanley, laughing his ASS off, slapping his knee, and telling anyone that will listen “That’s the funniest damn thing I’ve ever seen!!!.” Which, pretty much, thanks to Stanley, was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Who knows what today will bring.
It snowed last night. Maybe an inch. Anyone who knows me knows I despise the white stuff. I hate it with all my being. I hate being cold. I hate snow. I hate ice. To me, nothing useful comes from snow and ice, and 30 degrees for that matter. Isn’t it just a little troubling that your body has a built-in reflex, called shivering, so you don’t DIE when get too cold? And we live our lives in this shit for 4 months a year!!!?? Thanks to Amy(The Real Legend) for calling to remind me this morning that, indeed, it did snow last night. Thanks. Enclosed you will find where my thoughts will be for the next 4 months. Happy Thanksgiving all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

PA States were this weekend. Saturday I raced The B’s. Sunday was the Unofficial Official World, National, PA State Relay Race.

Twenty of us lined up for the start on Saturday. I started in the back row, which was also the second row so it was no big deal. The start was good. Within a couple minutes there was a group of eight who rode the first lap together. I was slotted six or seventh but I knew I wasn’t going to hang with the pace being thrown down or I would have exploded catastrophically. I eased off.

I’m realizing that I’ve got a good minute, maybe two after the gun to go hard but I’m not actually a fast starter. I don’t know if it would help me to not go so hard off the line or go hard and ease into a comfortable pace until things come together, like I have been doing.
Fun Run-up

Anyway, the group of eight turned into a group of five after a few laps. Totaro, Ferrari, Mealy, Szczepanski, Alcorn, and Morgan. I was sorta in no mans land with Fouche(LSV/Kelly) a few seconds behind me. Alcorn had a melt down and Morgan popped out of the front. Fouche caught me.

Brian Fouche and me

Half of Brian and me

We caught Morgan. We had our own race in the final laps, trading pulls. In the last few turns before the finishing straight I rolled third in our group hoping to lay down a nice sprint for 5th overall but Fouche went down in the last corner and Morgan was already full gas by the time I got around Brian. So I ended up 6th. Two minutes off the leaders, which came down to a three-up sprint for the win. I missed all that excitement unfortunately. I felt good about the race. I went 53 minutes. A far cry from winning C’s last year in 26 minutes and change. ‘Cross is so much fun that prolonging the pain for another 20 minutes is actually quite enjoyable. Especially when I’m trading paint, so to speak.

MC Legend

In other news, Dieter ran away with the A crown. Solid work from the Fort/GPOA armada behind made sure no one else had a chance. Poetry on wheels. Nice ride.


Sunday was a different ball of wax. The relay. I had a feeling this would be a blast. I wasn’t disappointed. VisitPARay and I talked about putting a team together at least a month ago. We grabbed Taylor quick knowing that having a fast Jr such as him would be a huge advantage. Rules stipulated no more than one A and at least one Jr, C, or woman racer. Fill in the rest as you see fit. Ray is our A. I was our B. Taylor our Jr. We tried to get Hebe as our 4th which would have worked perfectly but he held out. Ray’s buddy from NY, Jeremy, ended up our 4th and he did a hell of a job. He raced and finished 11th in the B race Saturday, so there was no doubt he was fast. Nice dude too. Hebe and Leech put something together last minute after sweating about it for the past week needing a 4th. They snagged Taylor’s step mom, Sally AND Chad Totaro, who, oh by the way, is your PA State B Champ. Nice, Your A Champ, B Champ, a wicked fast Master, and a fast B Woman, all in one team. So they were in the game. I knew SSWes had put a team together via FatMarc’s blog. Szczepanski and Fort James filled out their team. They would be strong. Hebe told me Lux, Root, and Kuhn had a team. All fast dudes. I figured the EVO(Go Nate) team would be in the mix as well. I also had good vibes about our team.

Nine teams lined up. Quick math. Top three teams get paid. Our order; Ray, me, Jeremy, Taylor. Btw, Adam S wore a dress.

cross dressing 'crosser

On my first two laps I was chasing a ‘cross dresser and being chased by a ‘cross dresser. Interesting stuff. Hebe’s team got buried early, 4th or 5th until at least halfway. We rode a strong, steady race in the lead. SSWes’s team rolled second. Eventually, Dieter and Hebe started taking their turns, after Chad and Sally rode most of the early laps. Did the strategy backfire?.....allowing too much of a lead? They chipped away at us as the laps dwindled. With 3 to go, Totaro knocked it down to under 10 seconds.

a handoff

I took the handoff for my final lap and wouldn’t you know my fantasy race and my worst nightmare all at once. Hebe was hot on my trail. Fantasy because, afterall, he is The Legend. Nightmare because, he didn’t earn that nickname by being slow.

Coach Hebe going fast

He caught me half a lap in. He passed me in a good spot for me to hang onto his wheel. Through the technical stuff and back around I stayed glued to his wheel. Final lap was VisitPARay and Leech. Those two are buds and Ray is one fast mf’er but Ray’s season ended a couple months ago after winning the MASS Mtb series title. Leech’s season is in full swing. Ray rode an awesome final lap. So did Dieter. Final results will show we lost by only 15 seconds or so. But make no mistake, the Hebe, Leech, Totaro, McLain team left nothing in the tank by the end of the race to make up at least 2 minutes. Helluva job. We won 200 bucks for our efforts so we had no reason to hang our heads. Cash eases the pain.

3rd place Adam-Wes-James-Marc

2nd place Taylor-Ray-Me-Jeremy

1st place Sally-Hebe-Dieter-Chad

group hug

The moral of the story: DO NOT miss this race next year. You will love it. Period. I’m tired. I’m sore. And I feel like I’ve ignored The Wifey so it’s time to spend many hours doing what she wants to do.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hello, Old Friend

Hebe and I went for a MTB ride this afternoon. What a blast. We went over and poached Pinchot Park. Officially you’re not allowed to ride there except for a small section but we did a loop around the whole joint with a side out-n-back trail thrown in the middle of our ride. Pinchot is perfect for Hebe and I because it’s smack in between our homes. 10 minute drive for both. Not a lot of elevation change. A few rollers. Several tough rock gardens. We ended up riding almost 1hr45min. It was a great workout for ‘cross. Lots of accelerations. I forgot how much power you need to clean rock gardens and accelerating through various technical stuff. I definitely lacked skill in picking good lines in the rocks but the power was there to muscle my way through it. Almost as an afterthought, I realized that I spent 50min in zone 5 today. That’s essentially the same as a ‘cross race. Nice. Before we started I asked Mike if he could remember the last time we rode MTB’s together. Answer. Last century. I can remember Hebe dragging me through the woods at Camp Tuckaho years and years ago when he raced MTB’s. Had to be late 90’s. I raced 24hrs Canaan ’98 & ’99, which was the last time I did any “serious” mountain stuff. But even at that point most of the training I did for that race was all road. Aaahh, memories. It’s nice to reflect back to fun times in the past but it also reminds me that I’m getting old.
My old friend, The Mountain Sled

Some of the blogs I read from ‘crossers near and far have talked recently about hopping on the scales of justice this time of year and not liking what they see. It’s inevitable that some lbs are going to find you unless you cut down on your caloric intake. A lot of guys are racing once or twice every weekend and because of shorter days just aren’t getting the time to ride during the week as much. So far I’ve managed to maintain my summer weight. This morning pre-eat-post#2 my Tanita scale read 145.4 and 8.9 bodyfat. I certainly haven’t been doing anything close to the riding I did this summer so I feel somewhat fortunate to not be fighting extra poundage. I still commute to work daily and do ‘cross workouts on the way so that’s helped, for sure.

I have such a love/hate feeling about this time of year. Autumn is my favorite season. And this year, so far, it’s been fantastic. Awesome weather. Hell, I was sweating my nuts off at Lower Allen. The bad news is after November comes December. And we all know what comes after that…..January(yuck)….February(nasty)…..March(a glimmer of hope)…..Finally April rolls around and if the winter blues hasn’t forced you to off yourself you get the biggest tease month of all. You get 70 degrees one day and 35 and snow the next.

I just ate a large bowl of sauerkraut. Mmmmmm. Love that stuff. All that was missing was sandwich. Maybe two pieces of bread and a hunk of cheese and you could call that a meal. Errrr.....uummmmm, almost.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I need to catch up some stuff. I’ve been lazy about posting. The Hinkle wedding was pretty fun and every bit as top shelf as I thought it would be. Everything happened at the Hotel Hershey. The ceremony was outside in some extravagant gardens behind the place. It was a little breezy and a bit chilly but for end of October it was actually a pretty nice day. Back inside for cocktail hour. I started with a Sam Adams but went to red wine for the rest of the evening. I love beer but if I stuck with it all night I’d have been in trouble. Wine tastes great and forces me to sip instead of chug. I guess old age has made me realize that hangovers suck. The reception was cool. We had a choice of fish or cow. Erin and I took divied up our plates so we had a piece of both to eat. Good stuff.

Mark and Phyllis had a DJ spin some tunes. It took a while for our crowd to get on the dance floor but once we did there was no apologies offered. I’m sure the more refined guests in attendance, someone told me at least two were actual rocket scientists, have never seen a bigger collection of well dressed retards. If only I remembered my camera. Probably best I didn’t. Late in the evening we made our way to the Milton S. Hershey Suite where Mark & Phyllis and Brian & Jenn were staying for the night. Pretty sweet little room. It had a long balcony outside that looks out over Hershey. You can see the Park below. I’ve been down there looking up and wondering how nice it would look from up top and now I had my answer.

Eric and Julie were staying over at our place. We made it home in time to see Lance on SNL. Don’t quit your day job Lance.

Fast forward to November 5th. My second ‘cross race of the season. My first MAC race this year. My first Mac B race ever. I was a little tense especially after 55 pre-reged and another 20 or so were expected day of. Ended up being 76 at the start line. Wow! Let me back up a bit. I had been practicing on the course for weeks if not months so I was pretty comfortable with that. Myself, Mike and Nate were there last week doing laps working on the layout some and I helped tape the course Friday night before I got a couple real laps in before dark. I knew it was going to FUN. I was most uptight about the start more than anything. Somehow I managed to slot in around 50th or so.

There was a short prologue lap before we started the big laps. I took a good look at the masters race and noticed on their prologue that it strung out pretty quick but the long line wasn’t moving very fast because of the few twists and turns. Hell, from about 30th on back most of the guys were just coasting, content to be on the wheel of the rider in front of him. Note to myself……I will NOT have a great starting spot, therefore, if I want to even get a sniff of the front I need to bust my balls and go hard in that prologue lap. Whistle and we’re off. Very dry dusty start but I was in the right gear. Once we hit the grass I sprinted, sat down, sprinted, sat down and sprinted again. The first lap through the sand and mulch I believe my father-in-law shouted 31st. I was good with that.

With that many racers it was real strung out for another lap and a half but I just tried to settle into a rhythm and race my race and not worry about anything else. About halfway I really settled in. The course was fast and not as congested by that point. I was picking off people here and there. One by one. A couple crashes took out one or two(or six). I got by some of the guys I really wanted to beat, which was important for my morale.with about two to go Erin’s dad yells 21st. Whoa, I’m really good with that. I was hoping for a top 25 placing. Now I was in the points. I followed Hebe’s teammate Chris for a while thinking if I just stay put I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. Chris is a roadie and has some nice results in ‘cross this season so I guess I was more or less content to ride his wheel in and maybe try to sprint for 20th. Last lap he bobbled in the sand so I got ahead of him. I didn’t attack him I just set a good comfy pace thinking he’d ride my wheel a bit.
Coming back up through the pine trees, which I thought would be the hardest part of the course, I big-ringed it and looked back, hey, a little gap, cool. Again, I didn’t put in a huge effort when I saw I had a gap, just stayed steady. Suddenly I was catching another Fort guy. Colin. In the last 180 before the long straight on the back of the course, about 85% through the lap, he lost his grip and went down. I wanted to say, yo?… alright?…but I put in a strong effort there and held it to the line thinking I just pulled off a top twenty, probably 19th. I couldn’t have been happier.

Holy shit! I checked out the results posted on the Verge trailer. 14th!!!! I guess Erin’s dad counted a couple lappers when he yelled 21st with 2 to go. What a great race. Hebe did a hell of a job. I loved last years course. He made this years even better. I loved the high-speed barriers. It was definitely a bike handlers course. I don’t have near the race fitness a lot of these guys have but I can stay upright in some tricky stuff and that’s where I make hay, I suppose. Now I actually feel guilty not racing more than I am. Probably won’t go again until PA States in two weeks.

Taylor borrowed my other ‘cross bike which happens to be the bike Erin rode all season on the road. He was the only UCI Junior to race but he fared pretty well riding with the masters field. It was his first ‘cross race. VisitPA Ray finished 4th in the same race I did. Nice effort from him. His first ‘cross race this season. I ran into FortJames. We raced last year in the C's at Lower Allen. He was friendly enough to say hello last year and recognized my orange handlebar tape and said hello before my race this year. Nice guy. The Fort guys have a good teammate in FortJames. I also said hello to Leech(Dieter). First time I met him. He asked if I owned Holmes Cycling. I said no but I do get to boss his teammate(Ray) around. All in good fun. We all know that Kenny actually runs the place.