Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Scheduled outrage at 12pm"

Well, that's what I thought it said. Way to keep those emotions in check.

We're famous in Italy!
In other news, the new remix is done! "Karate" by Kennedy has been given the Whole Sick Crew treatment. Head to myspace.com/wholesickcrew to give it a listen. Actually, wait. That's a load of shit. I haven't heard back on whether it's okay to post it (who's suing me?) but I will probably do so regardless in the next week.

Because they can't take...what I don't have.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Green For the 4/20 Win? Well I never...

Big ups to Tone and the crew.

1. Angry
2. Grandma
3. J.T.
4. Pavel
5. Hiromi

Shotgunned a Colt 45 in the Squarebuilt workshop. Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire with Victor at 1285. Pullups with Crazy Nick. Windsprints and photos with Crihs at W.31. Hungry buses, lots of horns. Fritz with the finish line photos...

Oh, and the Squarebuilt is back in the fray with that ill green and a liberal coat of fairy dust. I ain't skeared. Best. Bike. Ever. Get one today!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No More Racing

Not for now. I've been writing, but there isn't a hell of a lot to say so I've kept it to myself. I'm back in the world of loud sounds and late nights and staying numb and dumb. My friends think I'm dead. I'm just at home. It's all this awful wrenching pain, this unspeakably heavy weight that stays with me always. It won't let go, won't let me sleep or enjoy a weekend or a cup of tea, or anything but a brace of warm sextuple bourbons and whatever follows. The bitch of it is that the pain is just manageable enough that I can grit my teeth and power through the workday, but not a whole hell of a lot else. And for what? To come home and wash some dishes, collapse flat on my back and try to pass out counting sheep? Signatures? Vertebrae? To be contorting myself every free minute of the day into some stupid new position that will let me take a deep breath without feeling like my spine is shooting tracer bullets through my lungs? My body is eating itself. Is that possible? They say that people with chronic pain die early. Here's hoping. I start my snuff habit tomorrow. Sleep won't come, I'm grinding my teeth down to stumps, nightmares every time I close my eyes. Riding is torture.

So fuck it. Signing off. No more racing, til further notice. I'll write sonnets or theater reviews or something.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Cursed-Ass Bike

Well the day of my new Squarebuilt had arrived. I managed to miss the boat for the NACCC in Chicago so instead I bought a rare (for me) case of high-quality beer and headed over to the Myrtle Avenue basement that my boy Lance uses to build strongbuilt Squarebuilt bikes (which are triangles). He's had this tubeset that I gave him sometime around April and after months of serious doubt that the project would ever be finished, I received the message that the beast was back from the powder coater and was waiting nervously in the stand to get reamed, screwed and ridden. I'd been noticing a some prematurely-old-man tendencies in myself, toward early bedtimes and decreasingly rude behavior, and this sounded hot enough to short out the pacemaker.

I got over there and ran down the stairs like a kid on Christmas morning and Sweet Jesus, this thing was nice. Classic half-sloping fork crown, smooth fillets, funny wishbone seatstay assembly and some monster Columbus Life chainstays, all the color of a melting mint ice cream shake. Plus, Lance had taken it upon himself to order up some custom decals for the top tube, and each side in "aggro" white script said "Angry Drew", which was a hell of a classy touch. We dove in. I'd scrounged the best parts from my bin and ripped some of the best stuff off my other bikes. This was gonna be the showpiece, the race-winner, the daily beater and a buzz-piece for Lance's upstart framebuilding business.

We built the thing, and pronounced it good.

I've never met someone with a custom frame who hated it. Since our perceptions of good fit and style tend to be so subjective, I wonder whether it's just a case of "since it's made for me, and I paid for it, and I'd look like a doofus complaining, it must be right." I've never heard "those bastards at Serotta cut this top tube an inch too short and I feel like a goddamn circus bear on this overrated piece of shit." (I also don't know anyone who owns a Serotta.) But people will swear to some very strange things, in defiance of all logic. Is your carbon stem really any stiffer than the $10 Taiwan-forged lump you replaced with it? Are a few extra grams on your rims going to cost you the race, or is it the fact that you've spent all winter in a depressed, alcoholic funk, smoking cigarettes and eating Hostess? I know when I lose, it's always something closer to the latter. Equipment has to be pretty run down for it to take any blame at this (extremely low) level of competition. "Run what you brung" and have faith in your preparation. People love looking at pretty things, they love owning and fawning over and taking pictures of pretty things. I'm not exempt from this temptation, but I think it's a filthy habit. I try to keep it in check, and I keep a vice grip on my cash. I wind up with nice stuff because I'm patient, I trade, I buy used, and I have good friends.

But back to the lecture at hand. (Perfection is perfected, so I'ma let em understand.)

So I approached this beast with some trepidation. What if I hated the frame? What if it handled like shit, or didn't fit right? Not a lot to do then; it was made, gratis, by a friend who's looking for some feedback, some exposure and some kids winning races on his bikes. It wasn't like I could just not ride it. But as it happened, I never got to find out what I'd do. The fates smiled upon us and our enterprise, Lance did his job like a true professional, and the bike was sweet. He made exactly the bike I wanted, despite his protests that he'd do so many things differently if he'd had his way. It fit perfectly, it rode straight and smooth and handled exactly how I'd wanted it to. Of course, figuring that out took some time. Invariably, even with a stellar fit, there's the hard reality that once the bike's been built, it is what it is and the rider's got to get used to it. The angles won't change, the tubes will stay the same length, unless you crash it into a wall. It's not a Tempur-Pedic. Nothing's ever going to replace the comfort that comes with familiarity, so the first ride will always feel a bit like going to a party where you don't know anyone. I don't trust the "I jumped on and it was magic" claims, but I'll trust "I rode it for a year and I don't hate it yet." It's really weird, like someone writing you a song or a poem or making you a really complicated origami flower or planning an extravagant surprise party, where so much thought, work and skill goes into creating a thing that's just for you. I've never commissioned a work of art before and it's been hard to beat up this bike the way I've done with my others. I'm rude with my equipment; I have a rule that you don't really own a bike until you've fallen off it. Or done a hard race, or a tour, or earned a paycheck in the snow. If you want to keep it pristine, hang it on the wall but it will never really be yours. This bike looked too NICE to be mine, like the red Prada raincoat I got from Crazy Nick. (I owned that one pretty quickly, getting body-checked by a testy pedestrian into the grill of an SUV, ripping the sleeve on the stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid brush-guard. For trekking through the jungle. Or whatever Manhattan soccer moms do with their stupid stupid stupid trucks.)

As it happened, the relationship got off to a tempestuous beginning when, two days later, this happened:

Head-on collision with a speeding van the night before the Labor Day track races. It sucked, it was a night in the hospital and a dislocated, tore-up and stitched-up arm, among other injuries which began to surface once the drugs wore off, and I didn't get to take the new bike out again for another couple of weeks. One of the first things I did when I could walk was take the bent fork back over to Lance, who straightened it out posthaste. It's best not to watch when someone's fixing your steel frame. If it's someone else's, it's fascinating. If it's yours, it'll make you queasy. Lance was furious. I'd fucked up his baby in less than a weekend. The bike took a hell of a beating but weatherd the assault a bit better than I did. Not quite the same bike it was, but hell, I don't have quite the arm I did before the accident either and I'm not headed for the scrap heap anytime soon. As a post-wreck text message from Lance so eloquently put it, "Damn right it's gonna ride straight, and you're gonna ride it again. I put my blood into it and you poured yours all over it and now your souls are intertwined for all time." A little heavier than I would have put it, but it suits me fine.

So this weekend we'll hit the dirt with some fat tires for my first cyclocross race ever. I have a funny premonition that something is going to break...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Climbing hills sucks. Being an adult is cool though, because I get to choose to do things that don't suck as much as all the things that USED to suck, like crippling acne, algebra homework and having to buy car insurance to drive across town and slap crusts and deliver pies for Gus the Perpetually Furious Pizza Guy. Signing up for the Hillier Than Thou century was a no-brainer, partly because Dan had been bugging me for an entire year to do it, partly because it has been a while since I had my ass thoroughly kicked by something other than a hangover. And something was said about a monster free barbecue lunch afterwards. The ride promised just under 10k of climbing in just under 100 miles and since I'm more of a clydesdale than a butterfly, I figured it would wreck me and rebuild me as a little bit more of a badass. So me and Dan and Eva pile ourselves and our bikes into a car we borrowed from Dan's mom and immediately get lost in Jersey. It was like Stargate, we turned an ordinary corner in residential Jersey City and passed through this invisible bubble-thin retard membrane to a zone where no one knew what the hell was going on. After a cursory investigation established that there was no map in the glove box, I parlayed my status as the only occupant of the car who was NOT a native of New Jersey into a total pass on any responsibility for improving the situation. I took over the radio instead and dug the ride. If Dan's a scary guy to follow at Monster Track, try riding shotgun when he's on home turf. A few hours of white-knuckle terror later, we screeched into Eva's parents' driveway in a cloud of burning rubber and the stink of just-ripe roadkill. We'd stopped to buy some thick steaks and potatoes and we put these on the grill. Die Hard was on TV and a clean-scrubbed Maggie Gyllenhaal (I've had a grapefruit-sized soft spot for her ever since Secretary) was on the cover of the ladies' magazine and after collecting a small tax from the stash of the old man's dedicated Miller High Life refrigerator, all was sweet dreams and deep snores til six in the morning, at which point foot-and-a-half Eva throws open the door and screams "GET UP, YOU BITCHASS", then slams the door and disappears downstairs. Coffee's on, sausage is on, eggs are sizzling and we chew 'n' screw.

The parking lot at the start is a large grass field, neatly divided into rows where riders have parked their Infinitis and BMWs and they are already gingerly toeing the distance to the pavement, daintily dimpling the turf with their cleat covers, hoisting their Serottas and Madones high above their heads to keep the morning dew off their Zipp wheels. I'm not fucking joking at all about this. Dan swings the whip diagonally to the farthest-flung stretch of grass, where we do our best to distance ourselves from the proceedings by yelling inanities back and forth and blasting Machine Gun Funk loud enough for everyone to hear as we throw on our wheels, stuff our jerseys with snacks and roll the hell out, Eva back to bed and our two sorry asses to the start line. The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp, and the pack was full of the type of snotty, self-important douchelords who feel that every development, no matter how trivial or obvious ("ROADKILL!!" "CHAAASM!!" "SURFACE IMPERFECTIONS!!" "RED LIIIIIGHT!!" and my favorite, "SLOOOWING!!") needs to be communicated at maximum volume, to everyone, repeatedly and with a sense of killing urgency. It's like a great warm circular kissing of asses, in which everyone tries to be the most helpful guy ever to all the rest of the guys. It's recess at backseat-driver's ed. In theory this should allow at least some of the numbskulls in the middle of the pack to disconnect most of their senses and tune out the physical world, enjoying the race in a pure, protected vortex, becoming a nonthinking, nonfeeling part of the Great Godly Thrumming Race Machine. In practice, guys who do this just get chastised for not being part of the yelling, so everyone winds up yelling and the pack plods along, sounding like a terrified herd of feral, paranoid adult babies. Maximum Bitchassness is the name of the game and there are no style points for miles. So I had some motivation to turn on the gas over the first couple of climbs. I had to ditch the punks.

This thing was sort of a farmlands alleycat. There were six rest stops, where all the racers had to get their numbers signed in order to prove they had completed the whole course. I almost missed the fourth checkpoint but one eagle-eye killer in my group brought it to my attention and about seven of us hit it together. When we got there, the guy told us we were the first group through. I knew that there was a lead group (containing Dan) that had at least two minutes on us, so we all started congratulating ourselves on our new position as official race leaders. Fantastic! Dumb technicality for the win! And since I was the only sub-30 year old in my group, and the worst hills of the day were behind us (I thought) I figured that all I had to do was not flat or fuck up and I'd scoot away with the 1st place for my category. I brightened up and the riding got a lot easier after that. There was a lot of talk about not wanting to win due someone else's mistake or misfortune, but I had a hard time swallowing it. It was gracious-loser talk, politician talk. It was the type of thing everyone wanted to be heard saying. I got worked up, pushed the pace at the front and reminded the group about the tent full of terrified virgins tethered at the finish, the pick of which had been promised the top ten finishers. I think it was around this point that the group knew for sure they didn't like me. It may have been due to the fact that most of them were of the age to have fathered teenage daughters, but I'd prefer to chalk it up to their Inability to Handle My Shit. And there was a good amount of cash at stake (well, maybe not for the dentist-lawyer crowd I'd landed in, judging by the bikes they were riding) which could have offset the cost of the whole weekend for me, and although we were all pretty strong, none of us were in shape to win the thing UNLESS someone up ahead had seriously fucked up. I figured the raging testosterone, the blistering pace and the snarling competition in the lead group had completely besotted their judgement and they'd furiously hammered past the checkpoint, hare-style. I felt so good about this turn of luck that I got out of the saddle and took off from the group. I was already rehearsing the crowing I'd do when I collected my envelope of cash and Dan, the brazen, cocky Prince of the Alleycats, would be crushed and humbled by the painful reality that a simple failure to keep his head up had cost him his placing. I'd condescend to buy the whole company a victory round and strut around with a totally undeserved sense of superiority for a couple of weeks.


I guess 70 miles into a hilly century was too soon to blast off. I was caught, not easily, but decisively. I sat up and sat in. But these clowns were on to me and they didn't want me around. I can't blame them, I was fucking up their whole program. I got dropped somewhere on the flats, they got together and I just couldn't hang in the paceline. Surprisingly, I was at the front over all the hills (this having more to do with obnoxious tenacity and some inappropriately high gearing than any real physical prowess; I probably could have jogged the hills as fast as I rode them) but I'd fired just about all of my bullets and I watched them go on without me. I settled in for another hard 20 miles or so, knowing that as long as I didn't get passed I'd be fine. I couldn't see anyone behind me so I started checking out the scenery. There are a lot of nice colored cows in Jersey. Lots of greenery, fragrant rows of crops I couldn't quite identify, chirping birds and huge caterpillars. Lots of motorcycles too. I heard "FEEL THE BURN, MOTHERFUCKER" and one of them spit in my direction as I clawed my way up what wound up being the last big climb. It was one of these that kept spiraling up, flattening out, promising a summit, and, just as I was certain I could safely blow the last of my reserves on a strong finish, unleashing another killing grade. It was on one of these that the fatal, killing cramps got me. I got out of the saddle and BOTH hamstrings quit, walked off the job simultaneously. No scabbing here, just a concerted, immediate demand for NO MORE BICYCLE RIDING. I was going about 1/2mph at the time and just collapsed sideways into the bushes. God, I wanted to stay there. Of course, this was the moment a brace of smug, smartly kitted euro-jerks picked to sail past me with their perfect white teeth flashing in the sun that had just poked over the real summit, one of them asking, I assumed rhetorically, "hey dere buddy, how you feeeeling?"

I felt great. I felt even better when I arrived at the finish in around 5 hours 30 minutes (somewhere in the top 20, based on what I saw of the organizer's sheet) and they told me they'd passed out the cash to the winners as they had crossed the line. Once riders started showing up with six signatures instead of five, I saw the "oh shit" expression and the little beads of sweat popping out of the organizer's forehead. He buried himself in his clipboard, trying to keep the panic at bay, and braced himself for the onslaught. I stuck around the finish for a while just to watch ol' Eagle Eyes cry and pound his fist and wail to anyone stupid enough to listen about how he was the martyred, jilted champion of the day. Highway robbery! He cracked me up. He sounded like Milton from Office Space, but his stapler was the "cycling jersey" of the day's champion. The guy was a terror, and he refused to shut up. He was waving his wad of cash around (since I guess he'd placed well enough at least to merit that), yelling that he'd happily trade it for the "cycling jersey" and to have his name on top of the standings, but the "cycling jersey" was the real issue. Dude, we finished fifteen minutes behind the winners. We fought valiantly and were crushed. Come back and fight another day. Hast thou no sense of propriety? Hast thou no pride? The adult-baby syndrome had followed us out of the pack and continued to dog us throughout the otherwise fantastic post-race meal. Strains of his whining followed us to the car and out the parking lot...

So I left Jersey in a near-coma, with a renewed faith in my ability to endure pain and a seriously bitter roadie horse-pill stuck in my craw. Finally! Something to be sick of that isn't rich kids on track bikes.