Dopers Suck

•April 17, 2009 • 1 Comment

And I’ll repeat it again.  DOPERS SUCK!!!

It was announced today that Tyler Hamilton was busted.  Again.  At first I wasn’t surprised.  This is his fourth accusation of doping.  He got away with it at the Olympics because they messed up his B sample.  Then he got out-right caught at the Giro, then he was named in Operation Puerto (alongside some teammates that had the cajones to confess).  But then I saw Taylor Phinney say, “That’s too bad, he was a really nice guy;” and I got mad. 

I didn’t get mad at Taylor, but at what Taylor pointed out:  that Tyler Hamilton was looked up to, and he let us all down.  Again.  Who can forget Tyler’s climb up Alpe d’Huez with a broken collar bone? Who can forget all the talent this guy has had and thrown away?  He is the current U.S.A. National Champion.  He is supposed to represent all of us every time he gets on a bike. 

And his response to it all is to make excuses.  He said he was depressed and took DHEA in an OTC anti-depressant.  Bull Crap! DHEA is a steroid.  He wants us all to feel sorry for him and his hard life.  Listen up Tyler, you get to live our dream.  You get to do everyday what we all wish we could do.  And you do it better than all but a handful of us.  Your problems have only come from your own selfishness.  You have no excuses.  This affects all of us. We are all going to suffer because of you. 

But there is always redemption.  Tyler, you now have the opportunity to turn your life around on a public stage.  Help others learn from your mistakes.   Don’t make our future suffer because of your own selfish pride.  Don’t walk away and hide in a corner.  Stand up and do the right thing.  For once, do the right thing.  Fight to take your life back like you fought on those mountains in France.  Don’t let Taylor Phinney down again.

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Death and Taxes

•April 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I don’t really have any gripes about either beyond what you all have, nor do I have any profound insight to add to the discussion.  I just thought I should post today and the title seemed appropriate given the date.   Deep, Huh?

I honestly don’t have anything to talk about at all.  So, let me just spill some guts.  Here’s my daily thought process.

1.  I want a new bike.  I don’t need a new bike, my bike is awesome.  However, if I am going to maximum value for my bike to put toward my new bike, I need to do it soon.

2.  I don’t deserve a new bike.  I am not very fast, and not producing any results. 

3.  I really don’t deserve anything.  I ought to be very thankful for what I have.  I am so blessed to be riding a pro bike, though two years old. 

4.  I am extremely blessed in all aspects of my life.  I have absolutely everything I need and much more.

5.  I need to better utilize what I have been given.

6.  I’m being lazy and need to get on the ball.

7.  I wonder what they are talking about on this conference call I’m on?

8.  Why do the French hate everybody who wins?

9.  I bet its because they always lose.

On that note, I was watching Paris-Roubaix on a French web-cast on Sunday.  I was absolutely appalled at the comments being made once it was clear that Tom Boonen had the race sewn up. They started trashing him for doping and his positive out of competition cocaine test last year.  Now, I am not in any way condoning Tom’s recreational cocaine use at a party, but come on!  How self-righteous is that!  As if we all haven’t made mistakes.  Are we no longer allowed to succeed at something once we have made a mistake? 

And how about that race?  Talk about war of attrition!  I am fired up for the Ardennes Classics coming up after that. The season is definitely in full swing now.  And I am so far behind!  The French will never hate me for winning.

Egos & Mob Mentality

•April 8, 2009 • 1 Comment

So I got my arse handed to me last night.  I was able to attend our Tuesday Night Hammer-fest ride for the first time in a while.  The winds were howling and the turn out was small so I expected the group to be fast, but not as aggressive as usual.  That was my first mistake.  My second, was to expect the group to think logically.

As we were headed into the howling wind, the group was echelon-ed across the road. The guys at the back were either not cooperating or are not smart enough to form two lines to protect more people.  I’ll take it as they were not cooperating, as they were planning some attacks.  After a big pull, I tried to get some of the less experienced guys to group up to protect everybody before the group blew up.  Only one would come over, so I went back to to the back, and that’s when the first attack went. 

Of course I was in horrible position, but not really worried about it because what solo attack is going to be successful going into a 27mph wind?  The first attempt was what you would expect, the wind shut it down quickly.  Then the second came.  Why should it be any different?  Surely this group wouldn’t be foolish enough to jump on a rider who they could hang out to dry by letting him go.  But no.  They did.  Then the third attempt came, and blew everybody up. 

The guys in front of me were new and inexperienced, so they were quickly gapped, and I could not get around them.  My night was done.  The whole time I was sitting there expecting that no one would jump those attacks.  I mean, do you really think that one guy can maintain a pace fast enough to hold off a group going into a 27mph wind?  No way!!! 

Though each one was a pretty strong rider, the first proved that it could not be done, so why chase them at all?  The best chance the rest of the group has is to let him sit out there off the front fighting that wind himself.  Let him lop his own head off.  But bike racing is not always about logic.  Often egos get in the way. The guys up front could not let someone get ahead of them.  They had to show right then who was toughest. And once one tried to jump the attacker’s wheel, the others had to follow, and so it goes.  An ego cost us all, because by the end of the ride, the only ones who had anything left were the attackers.  They used short efforts, one after another, to blow apart the rest of the field. 

Kuddos to those guys for a brilliant tactic.  Knowing the ego played a huge role in how they were successful.  They knew the older guys up front couldn’t let one of these young guys get a gap.  They had to show the young guys who was boss.  And for that, they paid dearly.  The young guys kept it coming until the older guys buried themselves. 

It was a good learning experience for me.  I may not have seen all this had I been in the right position and been able to jump in.  I can in no way say that my ego would not have gotten the best of me as well.  It sure hurt my ego to get shut down so early in the race.  Also, I learned that my assessment of the situation on the road really doesn’t matter if it is not the same as the rest of the group.  I am certainly not “Il Patron” of the local peleton and was not in the right place to make my thoughts known.  The group’s actions rule the road. After everything shook out, I got to limp home with a Korean guy on a time trial bike that didn’t speak English and refused to take a pull.  It was a painful night, but good lessons were learned.

One Wedding and a Funeral

•April 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

After 1600 miles of driving last week, I am just now getting to a new post. 

I am sure glad I was able to make it to see my family following my grandpa’s death.  I was even more glad to be there for my dad, who doesn’t cope well with things.  We all had to take the bold step of going to the funeral home together to see grandpa.  That was extremely hard for all of us, but I was glad they got him ready for me. 

After the viewing, my dad and I drove around the small town and he told me stories of him growing up in a place that is still a decade behind where we are today.   We had some good talks about the dignity of human life and our survival instinct.  And most importantly, where such an instinct may come from.  After we had our time, I said goodbye to my relatives and headed south to re-pack my bags and head to the Texas Hill Country for a wedding.

It was not just any wedding, it was the wedding of one of our best friends.  She is like my little sister.  It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to.  I have never been so thankful for such a friend in all my life.  Seeing her so happy and so loved by a good man was encouraging as a surrogate big brother and as a father.  Her faith has grown so much in the past couple of years and it was awesome to see her realize that God does have her best interests at heart. 

What an amazing week.  To see good endings and great beginnings is such a blessing.  They happen every day, though usually in a less obvious way, so we should have our eyes open for them and be thankful for them.

A Rock and a Hard Place

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As promised, sometimes the hard times in life are a hill or a headwind, and sometimes the death of a relative.  

My grandpa died today.  He was an old cowboy.  He farmed. He hauled dirt.  He did just about everything.  For about the last 25 years, he has been raising longhorns for show.  He trained them to pull buggies, to be in commercials, and just to ride around if you felt like it.

He was always my favorite of the grandparents, though I don’t really know why.  I hardly knew him when it comes down to it.  I would see him at most once a year.  He was always a lot of fun, but I know nothing of his character.   Do you really know someone that you have only had some laughs with?  I’m not sure.  Why does it all matter? Not sure of that either, but there is a rub here.  

You see, one of our very best friends is getting married this weekend.  My wife and daughter are both in the wedding. It has always seemed to me that family means much more than blood.  Maybe my view is skewed from my childhood, but given the choice between the two, I take the friend.  Is that wrong?  

They could have the funeral for Thursday, but one of my aunt’s husbands can’t travel until Friday at the earliest.  So they must chose to schedule the funeral around him or around me, knowing that I will be traveling to the wedding on friday.  Does their choice of the son-in-law over the grandson let me off the hook?  Am I on a hook to begin with?  

I am not so much worried about the opinions of the family, so much as being there for my dad.  My presence won’t really mean anything to anybody as we seem to be the “other” grandchildren in the family.  But my absence will surely be discussed.  I am planning on spending the next couple of days there, does that make up for missing the actual funeral?  Should I have to make up for it?    This may all be premature, as the funeral could very well be scheduled for Thursday.  But the struggle within exists either way.

Teamwork and Leadership

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Teamwork and leadership are the keys to success in just about any realm.  Cycling seems to be the epitome of this.  Teammates absolutely bury themselves for the success of their team leader. 

What we have with the ProTour team Astana is quite possibly the greatest Grand Tour team in history, with the greatest Tour rider in history, being Lance Armstrong, the guy that may well surpass Lance, in Alberto Contador, and to top it off, Levi Leipheimer, who is an incredibly talented Tour rider who has been on the cusp of winning it all for several years, if not for the other two.

So what do you do with when a team, be it at work, on the bike, or in some other type of organization?  See what Astana has done.

http://www.astana-cyclingteam.com/fresh_brew/fb-cyl.html

This what I see as one of the greatest examples in our day of selflessness and humility.  This is  3 guys, all who have the ability to win the big races, committed to the success of the team.  All of them are ready and willing to make sure whoever is best for that particular race is on top of the podium.  Could Alberto have attacked Levi on the last climb of Castilla?  Certainly.  Could Levi cover that attack and hang on to his lead?  Who knows. 

But to Team Astana, it doesn’t matter.  Levi was leading and it was his race.  Alberto chose to humble himself and serve Levi.  And when they both stood on the final podium, Levi washed Alberto’s feet.  He gave the honor to Alberto for his humble service for Levi’s success.  And to the other members of Team Astana who ride everyday knowing they may not stand on top of the podium, but know that with their hard work and dedicated service, one of their teammates will. 

And so it ought to be with us.  My wife and I meet in a group of couples on a weekly basis to share our lives together.  The purpose of the group is for us to help and encourage each other through life’s tough times.  It is to learn from each other.  And for us all to be the best we can be in every aspect of our lives, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God. 

This group has many people who have been leaders in their various capacities in life and it is natural for some of those leadership qualities to exhibit themselves in this group.  It surely needs leadership to be able to accomplish its purpose.  The problem is, like with Team Astana, there may be too many leaders.  But unlike Team Astana, the leaders are all wanting to be the guy on top of the podium.  Certainly they understand that there must be teamwork to accomplish the goal, and that we must all work together, but these leaders seem to be missing the one thing that makes Team Astana great: the ability to humble themselves. 

You see, what make the leaders of Team Astana great, is not that they all have the ability to win, but that they have the ability to serve.  Sometimes the greatest thing a leader can do is follow. 

So what does this mean for me?  Well, in discussing the future of this group with a mentor, he informed me that the group sees me as a leader.  What a great honor to be mentioned as such.  But that also means that I must be part of the problem with this group.  It means that if I expect the leaders of this group to serve, I must be the first to do so.  It means that I must be sure to humble myself and do my best to serve whoever is best suited at the time to win the race.  It means that the greatest thing I can do for this group, as a leader of the group, is to follow.  And follow I will.

SDG

Cycling and the Art of Observation

•March 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So the blogging begins.  I have been meaning to do this for awhile now.  I wasn’t sure that anybody would read it or if I would have anything to say.  None of that really matters.  What matters is that I do say what I need to say, or just want to say, when I have a thought worth sharing to someone.  Journaling didn’t really work for me.  It was tedious and I felt guilty for not writing daily; and who would really know if I didn’t write a thing?  Blogging, though, allows me to actually share thoughts and observations with the possibility of feedback and some sense of accountability.  Plus, journaling and blogging presume someone will read your stuff one day, and no one, myself included, can read my hand writing.

What to expect from my blog. . . .

1. Brutal Honesty

2. A Little Humor

3. Lots of Philosophy. . . or not (maybe none at all)

4. Maybe some Theorems

5. Suggestions for Living (mostly for me)

6. Things I See

7. And What It has All Taught Me . . . hopefully I paid attention

And it shall all, somehow, relate to the wonderful world of competitive cycling. 

Why cycling?  Only the cyclist would understand, but maybe this will give you an insight to this strange and wonderful world.  Why not any of my other “circles”?  Well, lawyers already know it all, just ask them, and don’t really learn from each other’s lives.  Why not a religious audience?  Largely the same reason.  It is a shame on both accounts.  Why not politics or social issues?  There is way too much of that out there already, and who really cares what I have to say about that any way?  I am not sure I care what I have to say about politics.  I know that I don’t know enough to be any type of authority, so you probably shouldn’t listen to me.  

Its not that this will not include many posts regarding the law, my work, my beliefs or religious type topics, for it certainly will.  It must, for that is who I am. It is simply that the bike is common ground for us all. All are human on the bike. You can be the best lawyer, greatest theologian, or even the greatest cyclist, but be sure, that pedal-powered, two-wheeled contraption will humble us all.

I just want to speak to people who are dealing with everyday life and aren’t scared to admit that it is hard.  Sometimes the hard thing is a 27mph head wind, and sometimes it is the death of a dear relative.  I hope to be funny and entertaining most of the time, but I will surely do my best to share my heart and express my thoughts and emotions with honesty and clarity.  Hopefully I, and you, will learn something along the way.

SDG