Friday, July 25, 2008

What's Up, Doc?

Cycling begets rabbits.

Once again, I have proof.

I lived for more than 40 years before I got "serious" about biking. Throughout all of those years, I never owned a rabbit.

Now that I am into biking and racing, I own a bunny.


Penny (center): With integrated shit levers.



It isn't mere happenstance, like when you're driving down the street at night and a street light goes black just as you pass it, or when Dave S. wins a prime at Westlake. No, in this case, there is a direct cause-effect relationship between biking and bunnying. So consider this a warning.

Here's the story:

I knocked a rim out of true in a wreckful race last spring, and it sat around for three months. Each time I went to Bike Authority, I'd forget it, and with no plans (no money) to go there anytime soon, I decided to have a friend true it for me. So on Saturday, I loaded my kids in the car and headed out to finally cross off that chore.

Little did I know how that alignment would cause things to align.

My girls had been pestering us for a hamster, guinea pig, rabbit -- some kind of rodent -- for months. But we've managed to put them off and stall, despite whining and begging that rivaled fund-drive week on PBS. We didn't have the money to drop $20 on a bunny and another $60 or $80 on cage and accessories.

Maybe God will send us one someday, I think I told them, lamely.

Alas, just after leaving the wheel guy's place, while the girls chattered at each other like squirrels, I saw a sign.

It was a piece of cardboard tied to a phone pole in front of a house, with the words "Bunny -- Free to a Good Home" inscripted. "Comes with cage, food and more."

The car stopped. I told the squirrels to sit tight. I walked up to the house.

Five minutes later, I hopped out carrying a cage, some Timothy hay and some rabbit chow. And a rabbit the size of a cat.

Now my side porch is covered with rabbit pellets. Our arms -- mine and my kids' -- look like Amy Winehouse's, but it's only rabbit clawings. My dog, who is an ace with two (wild) rabbit kills and four squirrels to her credit, is completely apoplectic, not knowing whether to kill the thing for fun or out of jealous hatred.

If I had no bikes, I wouldn't have had a wheel that needed truing. If I had no wheel in need of truing, I wouldn't have been in Willoughby. If I hadn't been in Willoughby, I wouldn't have seen the sign.

And I wouldn't have a rabbit.

I hope biking doesn't lead to anything else, like lemurs, saigas or star-nosed moles.

We're running out of room.

- JN

Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't Change for Me

Just before bedtime last night, I left my wallet on one of the un-hooked-up stereo speakers that have been "temporarily" sitting in my bedroom since we needed some extra space in the living room to put up the Christmas tree.

I almost always leave my wallet in the kitchen. But I didn't feel like going all the way downstairs and clear across the estate home to put it there, and the butler was sleeping.

To my mother, this morning would have been all too predictable. In grade school, I would fail to put my shoes where they belong and then work myself into a stomping, crying frenzy in the morning, screaming, "Who moved my shoes?!?" Naturally, when it was time to leave today and I was already 20 minutes late, I could not find the wallet. I wasted another 10 minutes looking for it and was about to ride eight miles out of my way to my wife's car in South Euclid because I was sure it was there. Then I took one last look, which is when I found it where it shouldn't have been.

Which leads to this conclusion, applicable to all areas of life: Do not ever do anything new or out of the dull routine because it will just raise your blood pressure and lead to fright. New and different is bad. Static, predictable and monotonous is good.

***

I still have yet to decide whether to do Pedal to the Point (the MS-150 ride) for the sixth straight year, but I got some practice miles for it on Saturday.

Practice miles for P2P mean miles spent riding in a deluge. We've gotten drilled on the way to or from Sandusky for the last three years running.

Last year I awoke to find my tent and its contents pretty damp from the overnight gullywasher, then rode in the rain for five hours and flatted twice. (Thank God I had arm warmers and a (clean) garbage bag to wear between my jersey and my UnderArmor.)

The year before, we rode through a steady drizzle for a couple hours.

In 2005, we got caught in a torrent just outside of Berlin Heights; it came and went in half an hour.

Those experiences taught me that there's not much point in ranting at the rain. Whether you're in it for two minutes or 20 or 200 doesn't matter all that much; you don't get any wetter than soaked, and you're soaked after about a minute. So it doesn't get worse. As long as it doesn't get cold.

It was plenty warm on my 45-mile solo ride on Saturday, which started under a blindingly sunny sky that left me unprepared for rain. I never even looked at the forecast before I left, and didn't really notice it was clouding up until I got halfway between Chesterland and Chagrin Falls. That's when I saw the skies didn't look good, and I got hit by some sprinkles on Russell Road.

But nothing looked ominous -- until I climbed to the top of Shaker Blvd. and looked west toward SOM Center Rd. and saw a curtain of gray spanning the road ahead of me. I hit it, or it hit me, in about 30 seconds. And it rained, hard, for a good 15-20 minutes.

Then, suddenly, it was dry again when I hit Shaker. My house in CleveHts hadn't seen a drop. Yet.

I hosed off the bike and went downstairs to wipe it down. That's when the rain hit again. By then I was in my SpongeBob SquarePants boxers, lubing the chain.

There was a time when getting caught in a storm would've had me cursing. But last year's P2P was a turning point.

Cyclists like to find joy in suffering, I guess. It allows us to elevate and congratulate ourselves, in large part because it inherently means we can think less of everyone else who doesn't suffer with such quiet dignity and nobility as we do. You know -- like those lazy-asses with muscular dystrophy or spinal-cord damage who never even get on a bike, let alone face up to the physical and moral challenge of riding up Sherman Road or riding in a rainstorm.

Riding from Sandusky to Berea in a steady downpour did suck. But as I passed hundreds upon hundreds of other riders who had abandoned, who were huddling together in rest-stop barns and shelters like Siberian dwarf hamsters at Petland -- it gave me energy and resolve and strength. I was drenched. I couldn't get drenched-er. And I was beating something that made those others quit.

That's what we do, right? That's why we climb, or race, or ride 100 or 200 miles: So that, inside our heads at least, we can embiggen ourselves by calling other people pussies.

Not that riding home on Saturday made me less of a wuss, because I wasn't suffering stoically. Actually, it was pleasant. Sure, there are more pleasant ways to ride a bike. But I'd rather be riding a bike unpleasantly than doing something like watching TV. And if you're reading this, you probably would, too. Or else you're a pussy.

***

If you're a fan of pro cycling on the other side of the pond, you definitely need to read this blog. But don't do it while drinking coffee at your computer, because there's a great chance that you'll bust out laughing with a mouthful and blow it all over your keyboard. I haven't laughed so hard since I first discovered BSNYC when he was in his prime. The link above is to Schmalz's tour preview, which is a must-read to get grounded in his slant before you delve into the daily posts. But there's a new, inspired and hysterical post with each tour stage.

- JN

Friday, July 11, 2008

Caught on the Fence

Well ... the game of tag kind of broke up.
It ended like a game of hock-sock (half-hockey, half-soccer) at recess back in sixth grade, when Mark Nienhaus got checked, face first, into the chain-link fence and didn't really bounce back because his lip got caught in it. Ripped it right open -- almost off. Everyone just kind of stood there, stunned, waiting to see if he was going to detach. When he did, we were all horrified at all the blood, and Sr. Rosalie was wafting over with a look of terror on her face. Nienhaus got stitches. Again. Still has a big scar 33 years on, and never could grow a moustache to cover it, either.
That was the end of hock-sock at recess.
The e-tag game produced some real ugliness, too. I'd rather not go into it now, and hope I never will.
But no one was really playing anyway.
Cleveland is much too sophisticated for such childishness.
Good luck from a flatlander to all the billy goats who will get ground into pulp at Shreve tomorrow.

- JN

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Let's Play Hide 'n' Seek 2.0!

So I've been "tagged."
If you can scroll down to the bottom of my last post without getting carpal tunnel syndrome or narcolepsy, you'll see that my techie friend Cyclonecross -- a.k.a. Gary -- summoned an uncharacteristic bit of cleverness in his comments and then told me I've been tagged. I'm it, as it were. I must not have been on base.
Now, the more I get to know Gary, the more I like him. (I would not like him at all if he drove a fire truck, because my house would burn to smoldering cinders before he arrived ... verrrrry slowwwwwly, but getting pretty goddamn good mileage! The trick to saving my house would be to get another fire engine to pass him on the way, in which case Gary would probably get scary; he once lit into a 500-yard sprint to humiliate some dork in a Nashbar jersey because dude had the nerve to pass us with a little too much vigor -- on a freaking charity ride).
But Gary has his quirks. He actually likes math, HTML and algorithms, whatever they are. He speaks Web 2.0. He apparently does not share my belief that so-called "social media" are for people who would rather sit at a keyboard and pretend to socialize than to actually meet people.
In other words, Gary lives in the 21st century and I'm in the past, circa 1986. He is Crocs covered in Jibbitz; I am Earth Shoes sandals with brown over-the-calf socks. He has digital cable with Versus; I have rabbit ears and know there's a difference between UHF and VHF. He downloads his porn; I drive to the "adult bookstore" wearing a fake Dave Zabriskie moustache and sunglasses.
The gap between our eras is great enough that we probably need a Ouiji board to communicate -- but he would want a digital interactive Ouiji 2.0 app. That would, of course, mean we would need an IT consultant on standby in order to play, because Ouiji 2.0 doesn't run well with Vista. Which is why Gary always has job security and my job may soon involve the phrase, "Do you want fries with that?"
Fortunately, Gary gave me explicit instructions about how to respond to being "tagged." I have to post six random things about myself, then tag six other bloggers, then post something on his Cyclonecross blog.
Before recess ends, apparently.
Then we all have to line up for Bathroom 2.0. I pity the kid who has to use the stall after me.
So ...
I might not know six bloggers (see above). But here are six things:
1) I am sort of looking for a job. Unfortunately for me, the industry sectors I'm exploring are completely obsessed with social media and the ways that opportunistic exploiters will be able to use Facebook and LinkedIn and WhatNot to drain our pocketbooks. I find those to be about as useless as American Idol (and by now, they're probably sooo last year). Therefore, this "tagging" indulgence in that Web 2.0 playpen is kind of an education for me -- case study. And it may be tax-deductible.
2) I keep this blog semi-anonymous, largely because of #1 above. I'd rather it didn't pop up on the Google search done by a prudish job-candidate-screening HR person who takes umbrage to musings that celebrate shooting pigeons; include cruel, underhanded attacks on other people's appearance; and reveal my Rainman tendancies. The Senior VP for Really Cool Jobs at MyPerfectCompany would be uber-hip, and thus would be a cyclist, and she may stumble across my churlishness during a backgrounder and yank the $250K/yr. job offer off the table because she doesn't appreciate me openly deriding things other cyclists consider sacred (examples 1, 2 and 3, to cite but a few).
Those are the traits that actually define me as a person and prospective employee, but I'd rather dupe people into thinking I'm a dynamic, team-oriented self-starter who's proficient in Web 2.0 and social media, busily working on the next killer app. For those things, I'll create another blog and steal all the great content from other people's sites -- just like Google, MSN and Yahoo do!
3) I thought my dog, Molly, was close to being a goner until I started giving her glucosamine and chondroitin. It was as if I'd begun injecting her with HGH (or would that be DGH?). Maybe it was the glucosamine. Or maybe was happily rolling in some deer shit recently and accidentally tumbled into the canine fountain of youth.
4) I have the best kids in the world -- two beautiful little girls -- along with an attractive and wonderful wife. I keep them out of all of this, though. In part it's so I don't reflect on them in the same embarrassing ways I do in real life. But mainly it's because my years of closely observing the criminal-justice system gave me a sickening insight that the rest of you with little kids ought to understand: Far, far more perverts than you actually realize troll the Internet looking for pictures of little kids and ways to "meet" them. What you've read isn't paranoid hype; it is understatement. Another reason for semi-anonymity in the blogosphere.
5) I'm obsessive. Every few years, I find or rediscover something I love and I throw myself into it with stunning, sometimes almost self-destructive passion. Then I try to learn everything there is about it and spend absolutely obscene sums of money pursuing my new hobby. Those obsessions in the last 15 years have included home brewing, cooking, wine and softball (up to 6 games a week, six months a year, plus 3 hours per week in the batting cages during winter). I still cook -- pretty well -- but I no longer brew. I don't even drink. I gave up softball the week my older girl was born -- involuntarily at first, but I don't miss it.
6) I wish I'd begun bike racing sooner instead of waiting until I was 43. But then, I may have burned out on it by now. Or I'd be crippled.

As for those I've tagged, here's the list: Jodi, Matt, Ray, Russ, Dave and a blogger I don't know but whom I admire, Aki.
- JN

Friday, July 4, 2008

Twin Sizzler, Twin Trends

The two trends of my season -- inexplicable gains in form (from wretched to mediocre) and inexplicable crappy luck -- collided today at the wonderful Twin Sizzler race in Medina.
The long story short: I hung with the Cat 2s and 3s in the elite masters field (35+), ran down some early breaks, made the selection when we hit the hills and was in pretty good shape 16 miles into a 26-mile race. Then I hit some glass and flatted out.
That's the gist.
If you hate reading other people's long, self-indulgent race reports as much as I do, go ahead and boot up your Grand Theft Auto II.

***

The July 4 Twin Sizzler is a much-derided race among racers, because the road conditions are Fallujah-esque and the intersections poorly marshaled. There's no prize money or upgrade points.
Worst of all, perhaps, to my many overly serious, self-important peers, the Twin Sizzler is non-sanctioned, and its age-group-based citizen races draw a million non-racers for their first race ever or their only race of the year. God forbid anyone who holds a license and has matching top and bottom be confused for one of them. ("Oh, dear, Thurston -- Who admitted those ghastly people wearing sneakers and toe clips?")
Its 8:15 a.m. start is quite early start for me, a non-morning-person who lives almost an hour from Medina. Then my day started off with the kind of exasperation that's familiar to just about everyone who races:
1) Couldn't get to sleep last night, thanks in large part to the party girls next door, who thought it was really fun to sing along with Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All" at the top of their lungs well past midnight. When the alarm went off at 6 a.m., I'd been asleep for maybe 4-1/2 hours.
2) Finally get in the car at 6:40 and discover the tank is empty -- like, real empty. Emptier than it ever gets in the Honda, because the Fuel light actually went on. That car's gotta be on vapors for the fuel light to come on.
I get to what I thought was a 24-hour gas station at the corner, desperately needing both gas and coffee, and discover that it is, at most, a 23-hour and 58-minute gas station, because it was closed up tight. Maybe, just maybe, I've got enough gas to get to Ghetto Joe's -- it's mostly downhill.
3) I do make it, only to discover that gangbanging dope boys also sometimes get stuck with the early shift, and four of them begin to take issue with the straps of my bib overalls hanging out the back of my baggy shorts. But like a cat that gets bored with a mouse, they decide to drop it.
4) By now it's an hour and 15 minutes until the start of the race, which is about an hour away, and the question of whether I should even bother becomes more pronounced.
5) My bowels ask for a respite at Brunswick. I hope there is indoor plumbing there. And I'm delighted to see a Burger King. Surprisingly, there are no corn squeezin's or hominy on the menu. But there is coffee!
Fast forward to Medina.
I arrived without making up my mind which race to do, and was totally confounded.
The citizens' race, 45-49 age group, had almost 30 guys signed up, which at first struck me as good.
I knew that a good number of those would look like Dom Deluise or John McCain. Mirrored helmets. Tri-bars, maybe. Flat-bar bikes. Cotton T-shirts and/or Wheaties jerseys that stretch over enlarged bellies. Black Nashbar tops that look like a cut-in-half inner tube with Rosie O'Donnell stuffed inside. F--in' panniers, for chrissakes. But with 30 or more, maybe I'd get lucky and get a good race from half of them.
But last year was not that long ago, and even at my age, I can remember one year back. I did the 40-44 race last year. There were only a handful of quasi-racers like me -- some fellow Cat 5s and out-of-shape Cat 4s. The race blew to bits, with five or six of us together and the rest spread out over many miles like a camel train. I won -- with an average HR of 144.
My teammates were unimpressed. They called me a sandbagger. Said I shouldn't have done the citizens race in the first place.
Now, I'm 20 pounds too close to rotund, and haven't won jack this year. I've barely even finished any races. So sandbagging didn't sound so bad.
But I kept thinking that a re-run of last year's race seemed kind of un-sporting, like hunting chinchillas in an empty swimming pool, with a 12-gauge.
So I aimed to do the elite masters -- a race that promised to include real racers, but supposedly wouldn't be as tough as a typical masters race.
Lots of the studs don't bother with this little race (and don't want to risk injury for no money, no points, not even merchandise -- just a faux-bronze medal with a sticker on it). And, according to my buddy/teammate Dave S., the big guns who do race -- the Cat 1-2-3s who race A's at Westlake -- would all probably race with the under-35 elites, regardless of age. The Sizzler being what it is, it seems rules are optional, and those guys want to be where the action is, Dave said. He went so far as to say Dick B. called the elite masters race boringly slow.
Yet when I was six miles out of town and running pretty damn late, Dave called to warn me that the elite masters field was looking awful strong -- some of the guns were not racing down (in age) after all.
I got to registration and the start was about 25 minutes away. I hemmed. Then I hawed. Then I think I hawed a second time, but it could've been a hem.
Oh well, I thought: Better to get a hard workout and get dropped than to do a 25-mile tempo ride with one sprint at the end. (I would quickly begin to doubt the wisdom of that.) I'd do the masters rather than age group, I decided. So I paid and pinned on number 730-something -- the 35+ elites were wearing the 700s. No going back now.
I rolled up to see a bunch of 2s and 3s -- teammate Tom K., plus Zak D. and Chris R. from Lake Effect, Polo from RGF and bunches from Spin and Orrville -- in the same bunch with this overweight Cat 4 prime-hunter. Good thing I got my 5-minute warmup. Looked like I'd need it. And some EPO and a testosterone patch, and a tow rope.
We rolled out easily, sitting at 20-22 mph for the first couple-few miles, before a couple Orrvilles and a couple Spins decided to stomp on it. I was 4th wheel, so I chased on. I took my turn on the front and then pulled off. No one came through. Break over.
Then Bang! -- a replay. Again, I ran it down (pulling a couple other guys up) and it died. I almost died, too. We were four miles in and I was gasping, wondering if I should just quit.
But I found a nice draft near the back and recovered for awhile. I rode Riccardi's wheel until he went with another attack that wasn't really going anywhere. Then I latched on behind some other guys.
By the time we got to Ballash Road, the "much faster" U-35 elites were within sight, merely a few hundred yards up the road despite their 3- or 4-minute head start. We turned onto Kennard, about 10 miles into the race, and were eating up their cast-offs.
Then came the Hills of Kennard. They're short. They're not very steep. They're not all that noticeable at sub-race pace, if no one is attacking. But they're back to back -- up, brief false flat and up again. Dave S. insisted this would split the field.
It did. Not terribly selective, but most of the other 4s and a couple 3s got spit off. I got caught trying to ride the wheel of the wrong rider, a seemingly nice chap in a Brecksville Velo kit, to the top. I just about got dropped before I came around him on the 2nd rise.
He blew, and my teammate JV blew. I found myself dangling 25 yards off the back of the main group, with no one close enough behind to work with. As hard as I tried, I couldn't close the gap, and I was killing myself for what seemed like half an hour but was probably only 3-4 minutes. I knew I was only halfway through the race and the riding would be easier up there in a pack than here in No Man's Land. So when the road took a small dip, I hammered downhill right as the group ahead caught a couple breakaway riders and everyone kinda sat up.
Here I was with the hammers. I'd made the split. (So did a couple other suspect riders, I must admit -- guys who do, or should, be racing in the B field at Westlake. But there were some strong guys there, too -- guys who win Cat 3 races and masters races with very strong fields.)
Now the riding was pretty flat -- just some rollers -- and the attacks were pretty unconvincing. With only 10-11 miles left, I felt comfortable sitting on, chatting with Chris S., a beast from the East. I figured even if I didn't make the sprint at the end, I'd probably finish with or very near the main bunch. That alone would be a moral victory. And I had two SBR mates -- Rick A. and Tom -- in the front with me; who knows? Maybe I could actually help.
Then came what I should've known was inevitable: Psst-psst-psst-psst-psst!
"Flat," said an Orrville guy next to me said.
"ME?" I replied in horror
"Yup," he said.
Now, I've heard so many flats in races this year that you'd think I'd know that sound intimately. But this flat was a ventriloquist: It didn't sound like it was coming from my bike. And it wasn't that steady hiss of deflation. Sounded more like a leaf or something was stuck on someone's wheel and rubbing a seat stay.
We were bunched tightly together, so I could manage only a quick glance down. Didn't look flat -- not al the way. But then we rode into bright sunlight for a second and I could see it was halfway gone.
I glanced back. No Mavic neutral support. No SRAM wagon. No Snake Bite team car. No helicopters or network TV guys or Gummi Bears trucks.
My race was over. My computer showed an average speed of 25.3 -- one of the fastest races I've ever been in.
I bowed out with just enough air to make it to the marshal at the next intersection. He called a SAG for me and then explained the difference between amateur radio and CBs while I waited. It was very exciting.
About 10 minutes later, I heard, my "slow, old masters" field caught the "young elite" field near town -- ran down the big Cat 1s from RGF and Lake Effect etc. They had themselves a convoy. They crashed the gate doing 38 and said let them bikers roll. 10-4.
I woulda/coulda been there, in which case I would have never let Dave S. and Gary hear the end of it.
I heard it turned into a cluster-foof ending -- chaos and pandemonium and guys panicking and dropping out before the sprint and other such fun. Our Gary took 3rd.
Or so I heard. I was in a pickup truck at the time. Sucks a little.
But I hung on with the hammers. And I flatted. One surprise, offset by something that should surprise no one.

- JN

P.S. To Death Ray: Is this one long enough to make up for the drought???

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Ubber dye broke?

I'm a little late to notice, but: It's good to see the return of one of the area's better bloggers -- a guy who writes as well as he rides (which is high praise): http://ueberdiebruecke.wordpress.com/.

- JN

I'm back. And almost back.

Sorry. I was sleeping.
It's been awhile since my last post. I'd say any blogger who has any semblance of balance in his/her life should write those words now and again, unless the blog pays the bills. There are some very good bloggers out there who write very bad blog entries, just to feed the beast that doesn't feed back.
I don't claim to be one of those very good bloggers, any more than I claim to be a good bike racer.
But I've had my moments in this forum. And I've been having my moments on the bike lately -- paradoxically.
I spent the first one-third of the 2008 racing season performing like an okapi at Churchill Downs.
The pattern: Too much fat, too many flats, a wreck and a lot of DNFs.
I undertrained all winter and maybe started to overtrain in the spring. It wasn't fun. And I finally gave up on the season about a month ago.
But if results from the last three weeks are any clue, it seems I've suddenly become stronger than I've been all year.
Not sure why. One obvious reason is that all my recent races have been at Westlake, which is flatter than flat. And it's somewhat obvious that the inconsistent level of competition there has been markedly lower than at RATL, Mid-Ohio etc. (although the 24- to 25-mph average speeds of the last few B races has been nothing to sneeze at).
But whatever the reasons, this is the upshot:
I have been able to do almost anything and everything I want to do in the last three races.
If there's a prime sprint and I choose to contest it, I win it. I've even won primes with attacks from 350 or even 1,000 meters out -- the kind of sprints that would typically blow me up and cause me to get swallowed and shit back out long before the finish line.
If a break goes up the road, I can run it down at will, if I need to. If I want to gap the field to wear down some chasers and spring a teammate for a counterattack, I can roll off the front so quickly that I surprise myself, and everyone else, it seems.
I think I've contested 11 primes in the last three weeks. As I recall, I won eight or nine of them (although I somehow didn't get credited for one of last Tuesday's three sprint wins). It could've been 10: I rode a teammate's wheel to 150 meters out on Tuesday and backed off to let him win, instead of coming around for the sprint, when we rode away from all the other sprinters.
Of course, all of this is relatively meaningless because I still haven't won -- or even placed or showed. That's because my sprinting, power and endurance have all come around, but my recovery hasn't. I wound up dropping out after 30 or so miles on Tues. because after the third prime win (and fourth sprint, counting my teammate's win), I couldn't rev it up fast enough to grab on to the peloton again.
I had plenty in the tank to contest the previous week's 40-mile race, but there wasn't really a race to contest: Two of my teammates rode away in a 3-man break, leaving me and a few other SBRs to control the front behind them. At least I finished: The week before that, I got dropped (again) after burning myself up chasing primes.
So I'm still out of shape -- way out of shape, perhaps. But these balls-out sprints have been giving me the workout I want. I maybe could sit on and wheelsuck and hope to sprint for a win or whatever at the end, but riding along at a below-threshold steady state isn't going to get me much stronger.
And the way my teammates have been racing, the races aren't going to come down to bunch sprints anyway; someone will break away more often than not, I'm betting.
If you're betting, don't put your money on me. But damn if I'm not enjoying myself a bit more lately.

- JN

P.S.: I still have given up the ghost on this season. But maybe I'll reconsider Troy and Tour d'Burg ...