Archive for January, 2011

Spanish cycling officials have successfully wrestled every instinct to look the other way and finally proposed a one-year ban for Alberto Contador for failing a Tour de France doping test.

If adopted by the UCI, Contador would lose the 2010 Tour title because of the positive clenbuterol result he blames on contaminated meat.

Clenbuterol is banned because it causes an increase in aerobic capacity, central nervous system stimulation, and an increase in blood pressure and oxygen transportation. It increases the rate at which body fat is metabolized, simultaneously increasing the body’s BMR.

I don’t know about you, but it sounds to me like Clenbuterol may help a cyclist improve performance.  Except that, in this case, Alberto says he just happened to be near Spain and asked his team soigneur to get him some of that incredibly good Spanish beef for dinner following a Tour stage.  So the guy dutifully drives to Spain to pick up a steak for Bert – not anyone else on the team, just Bert.  And, this steak just happened to be tainted with Clenbuterol.

Every cyclist has claimed some crazy, far fetched story as to why they failed a test.  But, you have to give a high score for creativity to Bert on this one.

Once again I say, I do not like Bert.  He is a tool.  A one year ban does not seem like enough and I hope the UCI reminds the Spanish Cycling Federation about the need to protect the sport not just individual riders.

It is, however, poetic justice that he is being stripped of his title.  He completely took advantage of Andy Schleck when he dropped his chain on the “Jalabert” climb last year.

I say, Congratulations Andy On Your Tour de France Victory!

Oh, and later Bert..


Previous Post About Our Friend Bert:

Tools Eat Beef

Amoral Victory

Gaining A Great Chance To Win Vs Losing The Chance To Win Greatly

Contador Is A Tool




Be Here Now

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Lyrics & Poetry

Be Here Now by Ray Lamontagne

Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try
Don’t let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there’s a strength that lies

Don’t let your soul get lonely child
It’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you, that’s where you’ll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don’t lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don’t put your trust in walls
‘Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

It seems that all of my Jack Handy-like moments come during stimulating lunch conversation.  This week, a friend left me with a fabulous thought and ritual, which, I hope, will change my life.

Heal Yesterday, Live Today and Manifest Tomorrow.

To do this means that you start every day fresh, having let go of any negative stressors, like anger or resentment, left over from the previous day.

All of us have a tendency to carry this baggage forward.  Rationally, I know that this is such an unnecessary burden, yet each day I pack it back up and huck it back on top.

Everyone has “something” that they carry around, like piles of bricks.  My mom didn’t nurture me enough, my boss sucks, someone was mean to me in 1984; whatever, at some point we have to let these things go and move on.

Another wise friend recently reminded me that it is given everyone has some issue, but there has to be a time limit for it to negatively impact your life.  Regardless of fault or scale, at some point it must be addressed or let go.

Hence, the ritual.  I plan to literally write down all of those things which have eaten at me for week or years, read them out loud, forgive any transgressors, purposeful or not, burn the piece of paper, take a very deep breath, and let these things go forever.  Then I can forgive myself for my own mistakes and poor decisions and Heal Yesterday.

The next day I plan to see the trees as I walk and become what I want to be.

When you find yourself in a deep hole, stop digging.

I could rattle off a laundry list of excuses why, but the bottom line is that I have NOT got my training on track for 2011.

My procrastination has left me at the bottom of a deep hole given that I wanted to PR the Tobacco Road Half in March and pick up my speed in spring.

Jackie Miller, of Britfit Personal Training & Coaching performed a Functional Performance screening on me two weeks ago.  Frankly, the result was embarrassing.  My core strength and flexibility must be improved.  Jackie wrote out a great plan and life has conspired to keep me from executing.

It is time to stop digging and dig in.

Sunday began the turnaround with a great ride and I had a great run today.  The sun was shining and my new super-green Newton shoes feel great.  Tonight, Jackie is going to work me over and give me that Tony Dungy-like stare, without any yelling, that will remind me how I have to get it done. Wednesday will be a sweat-fest brick at the HEAT Studio.

I am digging in.

A Son Says Goodbye

Posted: January 15, 2011 in It's All Important Stuff

This is the Eulogy I delivered to say goodbye to Mom.

Regardless of whether you are 13 going on 20 – weeks from 50 – or 88 years old, your mom will always be your mom.

Remembered in spirit, seen seldom, or with her daily, your mom is an anchor to where you came from, and the genesis of who you are.

Giving up your mom is one of the hardest things you can face. It is certainly hard for us today.

And, whether you remember THIS unique soul as Grandmom
Aunt Ruth
Or Mom,
she showed us all how to enjoy life and be grateful for what we have.

One may track the days back to 1922 and believe that her life was hard. She survived the great depression, she lost two children, she certainly lived modestly, and she took care of dying parents, as well as Ralph.

Along the way, she likely invested herself in YOUR tribulations as well. Yet, she rarely expressed regret or disappointment.

She chose to see life as a simple adventure. Offering that wry smile and an occasional cackle at the kitchen table – probably more than once at your house – perhaps over a game of Cards – certainly with coffee in hand.

She believed that despite our mortal failings, everyone has something good inside of them. Ruth was an eternal optimist. Some might call this gullibility or a lack of sophistication. However, I think that mom sized people up very well.

When I was about 10, my mom watched as a relative of a relative “borrowed” my dad’s skill saw from our garage. She followed him a block or so as he headed toward the pawnshop. This guy was 25, and a recent Vietnam Vet, and mom was 50ish.

Despite the age and gender gap, she totally had his number, and when he saw her, he nearly wet his pants. He was terrified of her.

She let out a string of cuss words at him that would have embarrassed a trucker. With tail between his legs, he quickly put the saw back in the garage.

The irony is that a few weeks later, I uttered just one of those cuss words and she chased me out of the house and through the back yard with a bar of soap.

“Todd Ralph Spain, you get back here RIGHT now – I MEAN IT.” You knew she was serious when she said, “ I mean it.”
I had to hide in the neighbors’ garage for hours to avoid her.

I missed dinner that night, which was quite a punishment, as she used to be a good cook back then.

Apparently she also had a license to practice medicine, as we were rarely taken to any other doctor or the hospital.

My brother is lucky that his appendectomy wasn’t performed in the bathroom with an old Coke bottle opener.

When I was eleven or so, I was trying to help out in the kitchen and took a cherry pie out of the oven, only to drop it smack on the top of my bare foot.

This hurt like hell and instantly created a giant blister. This clearly confounded Dr. Mom – as she had to ring Dr. Melba for a consult.

Upon her arrival the two agreed on the treatment – (can you guess what it was??) That’s right – they rubbed butter on it. They clearly saved me, because I can walk today. Thanks Drs. Mom and Melba.

I never once heard her make fun of, belittle or demean another human. To her it is simply wrong to do so.

Mom did set a very high bar for her kids. She certainly never made me feel small, or unimportant, or incapable – quite the opposite – she simply expected us to be our best and be good to others and ourselves.

Are YOU being your best?
Are YOU being good to others?
Are you being good to YOURSELF?
This is HER life lesson.
Perhaps WE should listen.

She certainly let me off the hook a few times, but I knew that she would not let me get away without trying my best for long. She was simply an incredible example of strength and grace.

I hope that my kids may feel the same way about me some day.

I am not a religious man, but I am spiritual. My mom knew exactly what would happen to her after she died. She believed, and because of her, so do I.

Perhaps not here
But, there is a celebration today –
a celebration 33 years in the making. Welcome home mom.
I hope to see you both soon

Today Is A Gift

Posted: January 4, 2011 in Lyrics & Poetry

life swings wide,
and rages to subside
With subtle intensity
and mortal immensity

Calmness mingles,
in pairs and singles
Caprice then fury and color
amaze the other

Weapons of defense
seep emotions intense,
harassing fellowes and foes
with melancholy echoes

Temporal processing,
emotion and sensation
flee by unwound and unbound
Captured midflight, entropy confounds

To these laws we attach,
with sanguine dispatch,
all manner of mind and breath
Clinging to a gift we dare not relax

You Deutsche?: Ciao

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Bike Stories

Laboring to finish the climb from Vinci up to San Baronto Italy, I heard the clear sound of silk tubulars coming up behind me.  Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.

I was expecting one of the young svelte Italian pros, with perfect Greco-Roman curls, whom I had seen riding in perfect formation earlier in the day.

Coming ’round the corner I see a 60ish, pot-bellied, signore atop a vintage Italian steed.  He rides up aside me, clearly within himself, while I struggle for the ability to converse.

“You Deutsche?” he asks.  “No, me Americano,” I offer.  For the next three or four minutes we banter back and forth about Agriturismo in Montespertoli, The Empoli soccer club, and Bianchi bicycles.  This was amazing, considering that I speak about 8 Italian words and he about 10 English words.

Suddenly bored of the pace and/or the conversation, he stands and presses a bit on the pedals and shouts, “ciao” as he quickly pulls away.  Unable to just let this go, I vainly attempt a recovery and rally to hold his wheel.  This lasts about 60 seconds before the explosion occurs on this 12% climb.

This guy was likely a cycling pro in the 70’s, racing the Giro d’Italia, who then retired to the serenity of the Tuscan mountainside vineyards.  Regardless, it still hurt that he was old and round and on a vintage machine – when he dusted me.

This day began for me on my rented Bianchi.  I picked this up in Florence and was very frustrated that it was affixed with a triple crank.  Starting out at the Gelato store in Vinci, within minutes, I was glad to have it as I headed up the short route to San Baronto.  Not quite warmed up when the climb began, this hurt.  Struggling, I turned around and headed back down.

For about an hour I enjoyed the roads in and around the vineyards which produce the perfect Da Vinci Chianti.  Working up the courage, I once again attempt the San Baronto climb – this time up the steeper side.

After my Consigliere damaged my manhood, I managed to finish the climb and enjoy the incredible view from atop.  On the other side of town, I realized that, on my first attempt, I had turned around one turn or 50m from the top.  I got the last laugh on this irony as I turned downhill and opened it up for a death-defying descent.

I completed the perfect April day in Tuscany with the perfect Caramel Gelato.