Monday, May 29, 2006

I tell ya, Ray, Best Ride Ever

What a day. Erin’s grandparents were hosting a picnic this afternoon up in Thompsontown so as planned I wanted to ride up to enjoy the festivities. Get a ride in, work up an appetite, eat my ass off. Simple plan. Simple formula. The essential basis to why I ride a bike.

So I begin my journey into somewhat unknown territory. I had a choice right off the bat. Looking at a map, I knew I could cruise up thru Enola and hug the river north into Marysville (Home of Kuhn ‘Cross) and take Rt. 850 west out into the valley and then north again OR I could chop at least 6-8 miles off and instead go over Lamb’s Gap and catch 850 much further west. So, ride longer or climb a wall just 13 miles in. I’ve never climbed Lamb’s but knew from the years of mtb’ing up there what kind of climb it is. That’s the way I went. It went well. I’m not a big dude. I should be able to climb at least decently. I can’t. Nevertheless, I made it over the top and picked up 850. Not even two minutes later I find young Hammaker rolling east towards me. He turned around and joined me. Sweet! Company.

Good thing about having Kyle along at this point is his local knowledge of the roads in those parts. I’ve never ridden up Perry-way. He steered me clear of a road I was planning to take which would have been a steeper harder climb than the one we did instead. KHam stayed with me until we reached Newport. That was 40 miles in. Up until that point I have to say those back roads we rode were the smoothest most scenic roads I’ve ever ridden on. A good bit of up and down stuff but not near as much as I had expected.

Once in Newport I stopped for fresh agua fria and a Snickers Almond bar and hit the homestretch. Or so I thought. A quick 6 miles into Millerstown and the final climb I knew I’d be faced with. I knew it may be a dirt road in which case I might have to navigate around it and add 5-6 miles to the ride. At this point I’m at 46 and feeling the effects of 96 degree sunshine. 46 ain’t much really but add in the alpine nature of this ride and the heat and, yeah, I was feeling spent. And sure enough, it was a dirt road. I didn’t want to backtrack and add miles so I forged ahead. Dirt road. One mile. Straight up the mountain. Very little shade. The PowerTap info for this particular one mile stretch is rather comical. Not at the time, mind you, but much after the fact. 11 minutes. Avg power - 227. Avg HR - 176. Avg cadence - 46! Avg speed - 5.1 mph!!

After that little bastard it was cake the rest of the way in. In the end it was 56 miles. Three and a half hours total. For the next week or so I will be avoiding any road that has Gap, Hill, or Mountain in it's name. I've seen enough for the time being.

I won’t get into the ridiculous amount of food I ate. Too much to list.

On to the unveiling of The Wifey’s anniversary gift. I bought her one of these. She loves it. I think this covers her birthday and Xmas for this year and next. I’ll be accepting applications to work out at KAC (Kessel Athletic Center).

I’m sleepy. Goodnight.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sunshine Daydream

As I sit here pecking away at the keyboard it couldn’t be a more beautiful day outside. I tidied up the garage this morning. I need to get some junk together for an inventory reduction sale on ebay. Then I got out for a couple hours on the road sled. I haven’t ridden all week beyond commuting so I was prepared to feel like poo. I did. And I just got done walking circles in my yard mowing the grass. Quite a day so far.

And yet I can’t seem to feel a little bummed. I get this way occasionally. Why? I’m homesick. Or maybe a better way to say is I'm awaysick. A couple nights ago I caught a show on TV that featured SD. I’ve visited there many many times. I have a good friend, Glen, who lives there with his fantastic wife Lupe. I think the first time I visited was back in ’98. Probably half a dozen times since then. I never get sick of it. I ALWAYS miss it. I was a fingernail from moving there in late ’00. Why not, you ask? I had met The Future Mrs. Kessel just months prior to my trip out just before Xmas that year and hit it off real well with her so I became hesitant to make the move. In retrospect it was the right thing to do because fast-forward to present and you’ll find me celebrating 3yrs of wedded bliss in a few short days.

That doesn’t make the tug I feel from the land of perpetual 70 degree sunshine go away. Henceforth, my melancholy. I’ll get over it. I always do.
Speaking of The Wifey, she loved her anniversary gift. As I said before I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to gift giving to Erin. She hooted slightly. I think she showed more emotion yesterday receiving her gift than she did the day we tied the knot.

We watched King Kong last night. Crap. Not even worth the $3 rental fee. It’s so cliché, and I love clichés, but the original was never made better. Not the 70’s version. I’m talking the version from ’33. Watch that one if you can and you’ll see what I mean.

The hammock beckons. Good day.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


For one reason or another I’ve just put in 3 straight ten hour days at work. I’m pooped. Yesterday I delivered a gym to a detention center over in Harrisburg. Hburg is not that sketchy of a place with the exception of a neighborhood here and there. I was borderline sketchy yesterday. All was good, however. This place was a half-way house for cons. It was explained to me that most of them are mandatory drug sentence convicts but they do get their share of more violent cases.

As soon as I walked in one of the old-timers pulled me aside to make sure I was very aware of where I was and the potentially explosive situation I was in. I think he was more keen on impressing me with how “brave” he was to work in such a dangerous environment for over 20 years. Truth of the matter is every “resident” I came in contact with, as they are not locked down, was polite and respectful and mannerly. Maybe it was because I was installing a new toy for them, I don’t know. I did manage to smash the shit out of my right middle finger like a dumb ass.

I picked up Erin’s anniversary gift. Now I just have to figure out when and how to unveil it. As usual, I’m pretty sure she has no idea what I’ve gotten her.

The Phillies suck.

I’m planning on riding up to Erin’s grandparents on Monday for their Memorial Day picnic. They live in Thompsontown which is roughly 40 miles by car up 322 towards Happy Valley. Of course I won’t be taking the highway so I’m thinking I might be looking at more like 55-60 miles or so. A few hills to mix it up. It should be a real nice ride. Especially when I’m done and more tastey picnic morsels await me. Temps in the mid-80’s should make it a little interesting considering it really hasn’t been that warm in a long while.

Otherwise, I’m looking at a lot of R&R this weekend. A little work around the house. A few rides. I’m sure we’ll be doing our own grillin’. Fun.

I caught this brief little news story on cyclingnews a couple days ago and found it funny. I'm sure most have seen it but I know some who read this are not junkies so I'll just copy and paste it and here it is. Enjoy.

Water-carriers battle in the Giro

Cycling is traditionally divided into stars and water-carriers and while battle rages at the top of the Giro d'Italia rankings between stars such as Ivan Basso, José Gutierrez and Paolo Savoldelli, a literal contest among water-carriers has been going on further back.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport Quick-Step's José Antonio Garrido recently set a new record by carrying 16 water bottles simultaneously from the team car to his team-mates. With one bottle in his mouth, two in the cages on the bike, two in his pockets, six under the front of his jersey, and five under the back, Garrido lugged over five litres of water to his team-mates.
In yesterday's stage, Fabio Sacchi (Milram) beat Garrido's record by carrying 18 water bottles simultaneously, but Garrido thinks he can beat the Italian. "I've already done a test, and think I can manage 20 bottles," he said.

There's more than just bragging rights at stake too. At the end of the Giro on Sunday, Italian cycling legend Francesco Moser will present a prize to the man who manages to carry the most bottles: a bottle of wine for each of the bottles carried. "It will be a kind of miracle: water will be turned into wine!" said Moser.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Clean Underwear

Wow! It’s windy outside today. I ventured down to the armpit of PA today to catch a little bicycle racing. It’s only 25 minutes from my house so why not? I can throw some support for The Legend. Too bad this race has to be one of the most boring unspectacular business park races a person could ever attend. If not for the raging headwind blowing into the riders faces as they made their way up the finishing frontstretch I’m pretty sure I would have slipped right into a nap after two laps. With all the wind it at least held my attention for approx 6-8 laps before I packed it in. I don’t know how these guys don’t fall asleep racing this course. I have zero experience at road racing so maybe it’s a tactics/strategy rush that keeps them interested. Beats me. Regardless, I have huge respect for these dudes. The wind was gusting up to 30-35mph and they were still fast as shit up this grinder of a hill through the start/finish. When I left there were at least 3, maybe 4 groups splintered all over the road. Whatever.

I did hang with Kenny down at the race today. He just got back from a trip to Cali with his fiancé. That’s right. You heard me. Fiancé. Way to go Kenny. Congrats.

I wonder if KHam spanked VisitPA Ray today as planned. He claimed he was going to give Ray a rip-down at the Guy’s MTB race in Philly. Of course Ray had other plans.

Last night our friends Deb & Chuck had their annual picnic/barbecue fest. I wanted to get a ride in yesterday so I rode down to their place from work so I could lather up a good appetite. I was blasted by a healthy headwind until I got to Whiskey Springs at which time I made a real go at making some good time up the climb. It’s almost 3 miles from bottom to top but it’s broken up in spots with some rollers so it’s never a total grind. In fact it’s only steep in one section somewhere in the middle but, nevertheless, you’re ascending a majority of the time. I felt pretty good. Far from anyone’s record but still faster than I’ve ever gotten over the top. The beauty of my PowerTap software is I’m able to download the total ride and single out any part of the ride I want and gather vital info from it. The most encouraging hunk of info was not the time nor the watts but the fact that I was able to average 92rpms from bottom to top. I never bogged down. I just found a tempo and kept on going. I stayed on top of whatever gear I was in. To me, that’s always a sign I’m headed in the right direction. Oh yeah, I ate 2 hamburgers, two hot dogs, two helpings of pasta salad, two deviled eggs, two peanut butter fudge brownie bricks, a handful of bbq chips, and my first non-diet soda beverage in years. Seve was working a mean grill.

I was reading the latest copy of Bicycle Retailer the other day at work. It’s a good read for industry insiders with a wealth of info on who’s doing what and what’s coming down the pike and general BS like that. Two things caught my eye. A little paragraph on Luxxy’s new bike shop. Good luck. A real quick bike shop joke. Q: What’s the quickest way to make a million in the bike industry? A: Start with two million. I’m sure he’ll do well. The other thing that caught my eye was an article on an employee of FSA, named Brad Lewis, who’s worked in the bike business for years. 37yrs old. Races road, ‘cross, and mtb’s. Very well it sounds. He was doing a crit a little while back and a few laps in fell over dead. Freakin dead. The article mentioned the autopsy showed he had heart disease. Still, 37, and bang! You’re gone. Mortality sucks.

Later in the week a nasty auto accident nearby killed an innocent woman who’s only issue was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A dickweed trucker who was “distracted” rammed into a line of stopped highway traffic. 8 demolished vehicles, big fire, and one instantly killed motorist. Just like that. You want more? One of The Legend and The Mrs Legend’s good friends father unexpectedly dies of a heart attack a couple days ago. Here today, gone tomorrow. I hate coming off so dreary here but there is a point to all this. As much as I love to loaf on the coach and watch TV, why not treat every day as if it’s your last. I forget who gets credit for that quote. Churchill? Fields? Benny Hill? Not sure. And believe me, I’m not preaching here, because I’m as guilty as anyone at putting things off.

On a lighter note, The Wifey made some fine grub for dinner. Salmon, rice, and spinach. Yum.

Looks like the mid-80’s by the end of the week. Just in time for a three-day weekend. That works. Sayonara.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


The new floors look great

I have writers block today. I feel like I should blog about something. Topic? Dunno. I got soakinfreakinwet today on my ride. For roughly five minutes it rained so hard if I were in a car I might have considered pulling over and waiting for a bit. Heavy rain drops too. Stung. Felt like it could have been hail (which was in the forecast) but I think it was just big ass rain drops. It was fun though.

For those of you who don’t know I’m a Bike Shop Tool(emphasis on Tool) at Holmes Cyclery. I am honored to work with two of the fastest mountainbikers in the mid-Atlantic not named Chris Eatough. VisitPA Ray and Kyle Hammaker(KHam). They both are well aware of the joy they provide us insiders at Holmes with their friendly rivalry. Especially myself and The Legend. I’m a world class button pusher. Some might call me a dick. I just love pushing buttons. I strategically throw out a comment and watch with glee as Ray tells Kyle what’s up and who The Champ is. Kyle, roughly ten years younger than Ray, is a true sport and dishes the shit right back Ray’s direction. It’s real fun. Then Hebe walks in and it all starts over again. Beautiful. So, The Legend and I have devised a season long “stage race” scenario for Ray and Kyle. Any mtb race in which both line up for the same race with the same start time will be fair game. Win or lose the time gap between the two will accumulate throughout the season. We have one dilemma. How should a DNF be factored in? I know most who read this blog are cyclists. Hebe and I need your input. How can we best come up with a solution for this friendly competition? Email me at Our entertainment is at stake here. At the end of the season there will be a winner and a loser. Special recognition will be given to both.

Latest illegal downloads via Limewire. Killing Joke and X.

Yours truly, Grumpy.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Assault on a Friendly Weapon

Sorry for the delay. A week ago we moved every shred of our lives from the first floor of our house into the garage or the basement to prepare for our hardwood floors to be refinished. That included the pc and all the wires, cables, modems, routers, and crap attached to it. I have the lapper but I just had no desire to hook shit up in the basement just so I could surf. It was sorta nice to be unplugged for a week. I had to rely on SportsCenter to keep up on current events. Like the old days(Kenny Mayne was F-ing great!). Now that we’re plugged back in, well, that’s sorta nice too.

The floor guy did a helluva job. Monday he came in and sanded and applied the first coat of finish. Tuesday and Wednesday he applied the second and third coats. Because we only have one bathroom and it was uninhabitable for most of the week Erin decided to stay with her parents a few miles away in New Cumberland. What do I care, I just pissed behind the garage and took showers in NC at night and slept here in the basement all week. No big deal. So, in the end I was a little uptight about spending a wad of money getting the floors redone but now that I see the end result I couldn’t be more happy. It’s like a new floor was put in.

Saturday my Mom, Sis, and little nephew DJ, along with Erin’s parents, and the best friend any guy could ever have joined me and The Wifey in moving all our crap back into the house. Then we grilled some cow and chicken. Yum.

Today was just a crap day. I put on the chamois at high noon anticipating a ride only to be followed a minute later by a house rumbling crack of thunder and a downpour. So I him-hawed for an hour on starting a ride…..or not. Erin’s bro was leaving for Taiwan around three and I wanted to stop by to wish him luck so I finally started a ride at 1:30 and made it to Erin’s parents by 3 to send him off. He’s going to be teaching English to Taiwanese folks. I think he’s commited to at least a year. That’s a long time in a place as far away as Taiwan. Gutsy thing to do in my mind. Should be a good experience.

The Sopranos tonight. As much of a fan as I am, I have to confess this seasons episodes have been an utter disappointment. I keep thinking to myself “I waited two years for this shit?”. Seriously, what a bunch of crap. Vito the fag on the lam, Christopher in Hollywood with Ben Kingsley, that whole Kevin Finnerty thing with Tony that drug on for three weeks, Artie serving a rabbit to customers. Honestly, a bunch of shit. The only mildly entertaining character has been Paulie. Three more weeks to right what has been a major wrong thus far. I won’t be holding my breath.

Erin is off on another teaching trip Monday and Tuesday nights so I suppose........well, I guess.........nevermind.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

No mas

The streak is over. I went back and checked the records and found that I last purchased gas January 21st which was a Saturday. It was posted to my checking account(debit card) on Jan 23rd. So, add it up from then ‘til today you get 103 days. As it’s always said when a streak ends; time to start a new one.

I had a busy morning. Well, busy by my standards. I’ll be the first to admit that I typically don’t do shit on my days off. Clean Elwood’s shit box. Maybe start some laundry. I usually mow the lawn on Sundays. I pretty much monkey around in my playroom (garage) and then go out for a ride. Then I wait for The Wifey to get home and figure out what’s going down for dinner. Today I went to the grocery store, bought gas, and stopped by Highland Gardens for a scoop of mulch for the homestead. All this before 10AM.

I could have used all that busyness as an excuse for a nap but instead I rolled out for a 3hr+ ride. Good ride. Mostly small ring spinner type stuff. I was really gripping hard the last 30 minutes. I’m still unhappy with my seat situation. About 4 miles from home I was unexpectedly doused from behind with water. My exact words were WTF?! Only to find a smiling Legend right behind me holding a now empty water bottle in his hand. It was warm today. Once I got over the initial WTF moment the water dousing felt really good. I was tempted to jump in the Yellow Breeches for a nice cool down. 56 miles total. Longest ride I’ve done in a long time.

This week has been a good one in terms of free goodies. Monday some lady dropped off a dozen donuts at Holmes. I think we gave her an empty bike box which to us is just trash but to her was worth at least $3 in donuts. Mmmmmm donuts. Monday I also received the latest in Mountainbike team fashionwear. A nice bright shiny new T-shirt. Thanks VisitPA Ray! It gets better. Tuesday my favorite little punk KHam throws me a awesome new pair of Trek/VW socks. Black and red, high cuffed and super comfy. Thanks Kyle! Not to be outdone. Tuesday afternoon The Legend blows everyones generosity out of the water by showing up with about a dozen sandwiches and a GINORMOUS chicken breast salad from Panera. He fed most of us at Holmes for two days with that nice little visit. Seems a Doctors office he visits down in Hangover double booked a lunch so he had to do something with all that fantastic grub. Thanks Mike!

I just got word that our floors are being sanded and refinished starting next Monday thru Wednesday. That’s cool. What sucks is that means I need to move all of our shit out of the house by Sunday night. I hate moving shit. Hate it. Next time I move I’m paying someone else to do it. These floors will look like a million bucks once they’re refinished.

I’ve been hearing a lot of The The on Fred the past couple weeks. Show of hands…..who can name me any two songs by The The? I couldn’t. I definitely have heard a few of them before but just another case of one of those bands that gets overlooked but really kicks ass.

Flyers are done for the season. They got Buffalo’d pretty bad. Should be interesting to see what comes of all the big hulking but very slow defense that got them into deep shit most of the season. At least the Sillies are playing a little better lately. Now that I’ve said that I won’t even turn the game on tonight. I just said something positive about them, which most assuredly means I just jinxed them to a week of losing.

I lounged on my hammock tonight for about 30 pleasant minutes while reading the most recent issue of Bike Culture (formerly The Ride). Decent little mag. I could have fallen asleep if not for my post ride stank I have working. I guess it’s time to clean myself up a bit. The Wifey is giving me that look.

Until next time.