Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What We're Paying For

This from The Competititve Cyclist, brought to my attention by the one and only Richard Sachs, and on the eve of my license renewal, no less.

So let's all take a minute when we're paying our annual dues to fire off an email to the powers that be at USAC and cast an unsolicited vote for cyclocross support. It can't hurt.


And yes, I do intend to follow through on all of those posts I threatened to write last week. I'm just getting warmed up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Grinding into gear

I can't ride the trainer today. Nope, can't. Usually it takes awhile for my trainer hatred to manifest itself, but with the cold and all, I seem to have fallen right into it. So far my first week back in "training" has looked like this:

1/15/08 - 25 min run
1/16/08 - 15 min treadmill run, good ab workout, good upper body, 2 sets squats, 1 set leg press, etc. 15 minute sweat in the sauna.
1/17/08 - 22 minutes on the computrainer, solid tempo, followed by light sprinting through freezing water in socks. Solid (for me) bouldering session--actually completed 4 boulder problems at the super cool El Dojo in Northampton in varying numbers of tries over the course of an hour and a half.
1/18/08 - 90 minutes of cx skiing, light effort. Went up to the lighted trails in Glens Falls' Crandall park and it was beautiful! Between my (abysmal) technique, a blister and the fact that the trails aren't groomed for skate skiing, I didn't exactly max out the HR, but I burned some calories and had a great night with my lady.
1/19/08 - 60 minutes riding rollers, endurance/tempo pace.

If I were just a human trying to exercise for fun and better living, I would be doing pretty well, but instead I'm a bike racer and, thusly, have an ingrained self loathing and tendency to believe whatever I am doing isn't good enough. I was going to ride today, but a couple of hours in the books, combined with an early afternoon blood sugar drop conspired to rob me of all motivation.

Tomorrow it's the trainer or bust, and Thursday and Friday it's 4 hours outside, hell or be damned. That ought to remind my body what it's supposed to be doing after a month of slackin'.
That and handfuls of vitamin D, I may even be reduced to tanning again. Oh the northeast Winter...


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Apres Moi, Le Deluge

So I'm back from vacation, re-convinced that sailing is magical, happy of family and girlfriend, and ready to start training again.

Today I went to Joe's Garage for a computrainer session and the water main broke, dousing us all with freezing cold H2o and causing a mad scramble to get all of the equipment out of the way. Amazingly little harm was done, all's well that ends well, and Joe expects to have the computrainers set up and going again in a couple of days. But, as a zany Russian dude once said about flooding his Mom's antique filled, Victorian mansion in a posh Boston neighborhood: dude, it was like fucking submarine movie.

I have three or four blogworthy things on my mind this week, expect to see entries and pictures soon:

1) The British Virgin Islands in words and pictures. Arrr it be a prime season for spinnin' yarns of swashbuckling on the high seas an' foul weather and shipwrecks and all.

2) Bike stuff. Resting, riding, racing, and getting geared up for '09.

3) Blogging, community, and the new technological/humanistic epistemology of the oonterweb.

4) Obama, political change, social transformation, and the tendency (a hot topic in English and Cultural Studies a the moment) for base skepticism to be trotted out as an intellectual virtue or signifier of meaningful and complex thought. It is easier to reject face value, outright, as a matter of course than to engage subject matter intimately and with allowance for enough complexity and ambiguity to truly understand it. So we, the American people say: can't fool me, I wasn't born yesterday and raised in an oven--I know smart, smart means watchful, watchful means I ain't buying your bill of goods. Hence the death of credulity, which seems to have begotten, in turn, the death of any belief that things are worth knowing about. Hmm.

For nighty-night, I'll sign off with sunset off of Anegada. Right after I snapped this picture, the sailboat moored next to us set off a canon (or sunset gun.) Arr, but I'll be gettin' to that later by way of the piracy and yarns of the high seas and all. Until then, stay warm and keep a weather eye out for a seafarin' man with one leg, and for a white whale.


Saturday, January 3, 2009


This is just a lot of fun. Leigh Kotsilidis is a poet and musician from Montreal, and a friend of Charmaine's. She has way with the stop animation films. Enjoy.

Life Off The Bike: A return to books, late nights, and....relaxation? Maybe?

I haven't exercised in three solid weeks. I'm not even all that fat, really, just a couple of pounds heavier than I was all 'cross season. Hopefully, as I start some running and gym work this week, I'll start leaning out and feeling ready for bike riding again.

So far the off-season has been fun, but I feel almost more tired than when I'm racing. I tend to be a bit of a night-owl when left to my own devices and between holiday preparation, near constant travel, and a renewed enthusiasm for my academic life, I am on a terrible sleep schedule. I slept until 11:00am today...for the third day in a row! I haven't done that since I was a teenager.

I have a cold, and that hasn't been helping. The debacle with US Airways resulted in a near all-nighter, which resulted in a sore throat. It is nice not to have to worry about being rested to train, it's kind of relaxing. But it isn't actually recovery time, so I am going to be a good kid and take another week off of coffee and start getting to bed at a reasonable hour. This is/will be my longest stretch off the bike ever. I think it will lead to good things: increased motivation, better recovery from training, and perhaps a later onset of fitness for road season.

On Monday we--brother Pete, father George, daughter Silas, partner Charmaine, and I--are off to the British Virgin Islands for a week of bare boat charter sailing. My dad is a lifelong on-and-off sailor and we did this trip last year. It's an interesting experience to be at once in the middle of what feels like nowhere, and at the same time having a very stable, relatively safe, and entirely demographically marketed and highly socio-economically privileged experience. Nevertheless, the Ocean, she is fickle, and the objective dangers are real. Cruising, or pleasure sailing, is one of those rare experiences in modern life where through a voluntary and essentially contrived activity, you get to have an immediate relationship to your basic needs and experience actual dangers. In that respect, I suppose it isn't unlike bike racing or running or mountaineering--these are all things we get up to in order to experience a grounding of some sort, a relationship to the moment we are in that is unmediated by a graphical user interface or other technology.

Island life is such a mind warp, too, particularly for those of us who spend our time engaged in the practice critical literacy and cultural studies. On the one hand it's idyllic, and incredibly relaxing. On the other hand, it's almost an embarrassingly over-privileged sort of circumstance to find one's self in. Never will the reality of several hundred years of Euro-American colonial rule be so apparent to you as when stepping off a boat or plane on these magical little Caribbean islands and noticing, immediately, that all of the tourists are white, and all of the service personnel are brown.

And so what? Well, so awareness is all. Life is good when it is, and it's to be grateful for.
I turn to Jamaica Kincaid and she tells me,

Of course the whole thing is, once you cease to be a master, once you throw off your master's yoke, you are no longer human rubbish, you are just a human being, and all the things that adds up to. So, too, with the slaves. Once they are no longer slaves, once they are free, they are no longer noble and exalted; they are just human beings. (A Small Place,80)

But any good neo-Marxist would tell you that the neo-liberal juggernaut of global, imperialist capitalism makes somewhat quaint any stable notions of the terms "Master" and "Slave". Yes, slavery is gone in its formal sense, and direct colonial rule is, for the most part, no more. But what once was of these resourceful, unique nations of indigenous people is, in large part, no more either. And the opportunities of contemporary, techno-centric capitalism have not yet arrived. What there is, then, is a service economy.

I don't feel bad about participating in my privileged role as a consumer in a service economy, but I do think it's worth thinking about, and considering how the circumstance I will find myself in has come to be. And, to borrow a pedagogical panacea from my favorite scholar, Richard E. Miller, I think it is also worth considering how it, or I, could be different--to imagine a different set of assumptions, which could result in a different set of relations of production, and therefore, in a different sort of economy.

Ahh, thinking out loud in true blogosphere fashion. I read an article this morning by my friend and neighbor (also snazzy, young Rhet-Comp scholar) Janice Wendi Fernheimer, that says a lot of neat things about the role of blogs in public discourse and classroom life. In that spirit, I offer these thoughts and hope people will feel free to contribute.

I leave you with the aforementioned Richard E. Miller's inspiring thoughts on the New Humanities.