Job Spam

I’ve been exposed to a new variety of spam recently – job spam. Since posting my resume on the major job boards, I’ve been getting two to three dubious offers per day. Today’s first example was the best yet:

We cordially invite you to join our great team as a Sales Representative / Project Manager. Company (name witheld) is in the process of expending its operations in the U.S. market.

Thanks, but expending operations is what got me into this position in the first place.

The End of the Dream Job

“We’re sorry, but…”

Those are words you never want to hear at the beginning of a closed-door meeting with your boss and his boss. That’s how my day started a couple Fridays ago.

I’d spent the preceding two and a half years in the Marketing department of the Hayes Bicycle Group – a manufacturer of mountain bike components based in Mequon, Wisconsin. I came in as the Marketing Supervisor and was subsequently promoted to Marketing Manager. It was a dream job. I managed some very talented, creative people, and we did really good work. I was especially excited about the way the organization was embracing social media. At the time of my departure, we had one active blog, four Facebook pages, and at least half a dozen people on Twitter. We were way ahead of the curve in the bike industry.

Unfortunately, the recession hit the bike industry hard. Bike manufacturers canceled or reduced orders and delayed production. That pushed our sales down, which put pressure on our budget. Since mine was one of the biggest slices of the pie, I was instructed to cut back, then cut back some more. I realized that a point might come when the only thing left to cut would be my salary…

While I’m not thrilled about being unemployed, I realize that it’s a valuable opportunity. I’m going to be a dad next year, so if I’m still hunting when the kid comes, I’ll be grateful for the extra time I get to spend with him/her – not to mention Kelley. I’m also excited about some freelance opportunities that have presented themselves. More on both of those subjects in future posts.

Saddle Surgery

I love tinkering with stuff – especially bike stuff. Today, I decided to tackle a project I’d been considering for a while: “butchering” a Brooks saddle.

The patient was a Brooks B-17 Narrow Imperial. I’ve had it for a few months, but never cared for the way it looked. The side skirts had an ungraceful profile, and it tended to bulge out at the sides.

After reading a number of articles on the process, I installed a fresh blade in my utility knife and went to work. The results were pretty dramatic:

Before (the green tape marked my intended cutpath):

Brooks - unbutchered


Broks - butchered

Post-op, the saddle was noticeably flexier, so I increased the frame tension. We’ll see how she rides this afternoon.

UPDATE: Success! I put the saddle on my Salsa La Cruz and went for a 20 mile urban ride in Milwaukee. It was noticeably more comfortable – hammocky, you might say. It’s similar to having a suspension seatpost.

La Cruz with butchered Brooks at MAM

Too sick for cyclocross


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I’m sick. I don’t think it’s the dreaded you-know-what. It’s probably just a common cold. In fact, I’m already on the mend.

Regardless, if I do the cyclocross race tomorrow, I’m going to end up sick as a dog next week. I wouldn’t mind so much were it not for the fact that tomorrow’s race is one of the most fun races of the entire year – the Velo Trocadero Halloween Classic. Last year’s race was an absolute blast. There’s nothing like a bunch of costumed weirdos bunny-hopping a burning barrier and being heckled by an enormous, diaper-clad man-baby in 40-degree weather.

Illness notwithstanding, I will be at the race tomorrow, but I’ll be packing a video camera instead of a bike. Hopefully I’ll capture something YouTube-able. I just hope I don’t see anything as shocking as Katy’s 2008 costume (I looked for a photo, but mercifully, couldn’t find one). Looks like she’s going high-class this year.

New blog?

Hey there. Been awhile. If you’re hip to Twitter and Facebook, you know I’m still around, just in different parts of the Internet. My interest is turning back towards blogging, though. I’ve got an idea for a new blog (or a new direction for this blog) that reflects my changing focus, from road racing to a broader spectrum of competitive and non-competitive riding.

In a nutshell, I’ve been racing less this year but riding more and having a lot more fun on the bike. I’ve gotten back into mountain biking, and I’ve been commuting to work about two or three times per week. Kelley has become a very strong rider, and we ride together most Sundays, often leaving from her parents’ house near Holy Hill.

If I make good on my intentions, my future posts will relate to racing, training, and transportation; mountain biking, road biking, and touring; rides, tips, and maybe even some product reviews. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll keep it here on Blogger or if I’ll switch over to WordPress. I’m trying to come up with a catchy name right now. It’s slow going, but I’ve already drafted some new posts that will help me set my direction and hopefully aid in the naming process.

Meanwhile, if you’ve never been to the Rivendell Bicycle Works site, go there now and read anything in the “Read” section. I don’t agree with 100% of Grant’s “velosophy”, but there’s a lot of truth there that you won’t find on other bike companies’ websites. While you’re there, if you’re feeling generous, I’d love an A. Homer Hilson in size 55. I’d also be quite satisfied with a 52cm Sam Hillborn (in orange, please).

Training Philosophy: Having Fun

Riding a bike is fun. If it weren’t, kids wouldn’t do it. So why do adult cyclists frequently suffer burnout? I think it’s got a lot to do with poor goal-setting, and the work we undertake in order to meet our self-imposed expectations.

Like I wrote earlier, it’s important to have meaningful goals, and to work hard towards them. But come on – nobody reading this is making a living racing their bike. It’s our hobby, so if it’s not fun, what’s the point?

With this in mind, here’s a list of ways I’ve found to make riding fun. If you’ve got more, leave a comment.

  • Ride with someone you care about. Go at a pace that’s comfortable for them.
  • Ride a bike that forces you to go slowly – a cruiser, a clunker, or whatever’s available.
  • Ride somewhere new. (Find a route on
  • Ride to an interesting destination.
  • Bring a camera and take pictures during a ride.
  • Leave your computer/power meter/GPS device at home.
  • Ride farther than you’ve ever ridden before.
  • Do spontaneous intervals of indeterminate duration and intensity. Just enjoy going fast.
  • Go to a race and just spectate. You’ll remember how much fun it is to be in the action.
  • Go on a night ride.
  • Ride a route you haven’t done in a long time.
  • Ride to work.
  • Ride in the rain.
  • Try a different type of riding – road, MTB, BMX, cyclocross, time trial, touring, track, whatever. Just don’t start running and swimming. That’s a slippery slope…

Training Philosophy: Key Workouts

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve struggled with training programs that were too detailed and regimented. I seldom actually managed to do the prescribed workouts, so I was in a constant state of catch-up and readjustment.

Once I began targeting specific racing goals, I realized that my training program didn’t have to be so complicated. Last year, since my main goal was a time trial, I made sure to get out on the TT bike once a week for a hard, race-pace workout. If I could only ride once in a particular week, that was the ride I’d do. Beyond that, I took whatever threshold-level intensity I could get on solo and group rides. And beyond that, I rode as often as I could, just for the fun of it.

Since I plan on doing a number of crits and road races before this year’s national championships, I’ll do more short, high-intensity intervals than I did last year. The weekly TT ride will still be a priority, but I won’t adhere to it quite as rigidly as I did last year. When I do race, I’ll try to get in breakaways, which of course are a great way to build threshold power.

After Masters Nats, I’ll shift my focus to mountain bike races. My limiter there has always been endurance, and especially leg cramps. Consequently, I’ll do my best to get out for one long ride per week – either 2+ hours on the mountain bike or 3+ hours on the road bike.

Finally, if I still have the motivation, I’ll go back to short, high-intensity training to prepare for the fall cyclocross season. While a ‘cross race couldn’t be much less like a time trial, both require dedicated, race-specific workouts in order to become competitive.

So, the message here is this: once you’ve set your goals, figure out the workout that will most effectively prepare you for your target event. Do that workout at least once a week, and make it count. Having done that, look for ways to incorporate similar, goal-specific work into two or three other training rides that week. If you’re fortunate to be able to ride more still, make sure it’s the adult equivalent of recess, not extra homework.

Training Philosophy: Setting Meaningful Goals

In my last post, I summarized my training philosophy in three points: setting meaningful goals, focusing on key workouts, and having fun. In this post, I’ll develop the concept of setting meaningful goals.

I’ve been racing for about 15 years. I’ve done mountain bike races, cyclocross races, road races, criteriums, and time trials. I even did one duathlon just to remind myself how much better riding is than running. That variety is one of great aspects of our sport. It has allowed me to set and achieve a number of meaningful and challenging goals.

We all know that goal-setting is important. What I think gets overlooked, though, is the importance of setting meaningful goals. A meaningful goal is one that, if accomplished, is worth more than the sacrifice required to accomplish it. Too many people have pursued competitive success at the expense of more valuable things like relationships, careers, financial wellbeing, and their health. Don’t let cycling take any of those things away from you.

Here’s an example from my own experience. One of the most challenging goals I’ve ever set for myself was a top performance in the time trial at last year’s Masters National Championships. Before I decided to make it a goal, I calculated the cost of the equipment I would need, the travel expense, and the time investment. More importantly, I discussed the idea with my wife. I ended up taking third and was extremely satisfied with my result. It was well worth the sacrifice. Of course, if I had bought more expensive equipment, trained longer, and spent more time away from my wife, I might have done better. But the satisfaction would have been less. I would have given up more than I’d gotten in return.

Another key to setting meaningful goals is variety. Every time we achieve a goal, we expect to be able to do it again. For some people, the repeated accomplishment of a goal is satisfying every time. For me, though, the goal becomes more of a burden than a challenge, and the accomplishment becomes more of a relief than a reward. That’s why I try to start every season with a fresh set of goals. Some may be repeated from the previous season, but only if I still have the motivation to give them another run. This year, I’ll target Masters Nats again, but I’m adding the Midwest Cycling Series, a top-100 finish at Chequamegon, and possibly the state cyclocross championships. I’m looking forward to a more balanced mix of road and off-road events.

Well, that’s enough said about meaningful goals. My official training program begins next week, so I’ll tackle the subject of key workouts in an upcoming post.