Saturday, May 23, 2009


To commemorate our final days as students either for the year or for a long, long time to come, the RIT EPO Test Mule Squad held a midnight cRIT. Going through the winding, bricked (the poor man's cobblestone) and weather beaten Rochester campus, the midnight cRIT lacked all the sophistication, classiness and safety of just about any other race one could possibly do. We had a nice mix of rider skill levels and bike types with primes and handicaps being of the fermented variety. I ended up flatting on the third lap and put a new tube in unbelievable record time, but failed to be anywhere the lead pack and just ended up huffing and puffing around. We all know who won (and he was awarded a very stylish Chiang Mai cycling club jersey with THAILAND emblazoned on the back), with Anthony taking second and who cares taking third. I ended up throwing up on the library.

The next day, some of us took an easy ride in the beautiful weather to visit one of our sponsors. Rohrbach's makes prizes of the fermented variety, and it turned out being a fantastic way to spend some time and finish up a season, a collegiate career and a day ending in y. Good times, kids.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Cavalcade of Disappointment

Allow me to register my disappointment first with my teammates, who, when offered the option to ride the Tour De Syracuse, said, "yes, let's do this thing," and then when the moment of truth came near, said, "no, this thing, let's actually not do it." So, since I was the only one to show up (and because I write this thing anyway), it gets to be a personal blog. Second, allow me to register my disappointment with myself, for getting intolerably drunk and riding my bike, at very high speed, directly into a railing. In true Pyrrhic victory fashion, the railing came home with me to be stuffed and mounted, at the cost of my ability to walk and maybe a minor (ok, major) concussion. Third, I am disappointed that I did not heal faster. I am not, contrary to the way I act, made of steel, though if there were any justice in the world, I would be.

Anyway, I spent the last week limping around, not seeing a doctor, not training OR resting my leg, and eating lots and lots of candy. Luckily, I had only signed up for the crit and not the full omnium at Syracuse, which meant I could run my plan of blowing my knee out in the race and then limping home, where my youth power would fix everything up like those old people in 'Cocoon.' Knowing this, I didn't expect much out of the race, but its really kind of disheartening when your worst predictions come true. I felt good at the start, even breaking at one point, though I was immediately swallowed up by the pack (or, finger quotes, "peloton"). I did my patriotic duty as pack fodder until a gap opened up between the fast guys (us) and the faster guys (them). Then I took a long pull down the windy stretch and then another gap opened up between the fast guy (me) and the faster guys (everybody else). See what I'm doing here? Anyway, the fast guy got pulled with two laps to go, at which point he immediately sat down and wished he hadn't been so dumb as to come out. Disappointment.

The course itself was really fun, the wind less fun, and it was good to see some familiar faces kickin' around ('sup Army?). Everybody always wants better weather, but really, it was nice enough. The fields were split, mercifully, because those old dudes are fast. Also, the younger crowd has an entirely different tenor than that noted last week, which works well for me because I can't take anything seriously. I'll just have to change my race strategy from "go slower than everybody else" to "go faster than everybody else. Beyond that, anybody know any good knee surgeons?

Before racing, I'd fallen off any bike in any serious fashion maybe two or three times, and that was when I was six. Now, I've managed five chance encounters with the ground since March, with the scars to prove it. A recap: Stevens, my second race ever, I'm unaware that braking in a turn is bad. Result: can barely wear pants for a couple days. Delaware: I run into my teammate at very low speed with a very large audience. Yale: I fall off my bike after trackstanding like a jackass, dropping my chain directly before the start of the crit. Penn State: I run over someone's rear wheel, resulting in a purple and bilious-yellow-green mass on my hip, which has now turned into a sort of carapace to protect me from similar accidents. And now, last weekend, running my leg into railing so hard that the hurt comes out the other end. If I had any sense at all I'd take up canoeing.

Here, enjoy the dubious honor of seeing my inexpertly shaved and tanned legs:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Real World Isn't Very Fun

While the ECCC was busy kicking people's teeth in in Colorado, The RIT Outlaw Bicycle Crew took time out of its busy schedule to get its teeth kicked in in its first USAC race this weekend, riding around a very windy Bristol Mountain circuit. The picture available on the race website belies the massive, 50+mph descent that went into the straight, false-flat finish. Unfortunately, to get to that finish, a climb (and this has been a subject of much discussion) that was worse than Penn State but not as bad as Dartmouth had to be surmounted. And, even before that, the incredible headwinds along the flat had to be contended with, leaving absolutely no time to rest and making it impossible to attack. Truly, a day for the climbers.

Ejected from the collegiate cycling womb, I discovered the cat 5 pack is filled with old people of whom the hardships of life have gotten the better. No longer are jokes about doping appreciated, and more often than not people have only this brief escape of grueling "fun" before being sucked back up into the machine that crushes people's spirits like children's fingers in massive cogs. High points, however, came when I whistled the Smurfs theme song and someone whistled it back, as well as a guy who was nice enough to offer me a piece of Snickers. Once the "Serious Business" riders got down to their business and left us goofy guys behind, the tone lightened and everything was right with the world. None of us, in any category, had a very competitive race (especially Chris, who broke his chain and decided to run his bike to the finish), leading us to believe that "don't train to save your legs" isn't a feasible regimen.

We left the race just as the rain started coming down and eschewed the fine dining nature of things by getting gas station pizza. The weather, violent and full of thunder and fat drops of rain, disappeared by 3 o'clock, but ushered in a very powerful wind that made eating and cooking difficult. We moved everything inside, where the party stayed until people got bored, tired, or grossly injured, depending on who you were.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

He's like the drunk uncle at the wedding who grabs the mic!

[this post written by Jesse, not your usal blog-tastic Dan, who can be recognized in a pack by the messages on his calves written in brake dust...]

Well, in one last act as an 'important person' in the Cycling and Fine Dining Club, I've commandeered this blog like your drunk uncle who wants to put his two cents in when the microphone and video camera come his way...

Now many of you may have found yourselves wondering why all of a sudden there was a huge boost in good-looking and talented bike racers this season. You may have noticed an unusual increase in general ruckus and mayhem. You may have even seen a glowing white posterior at some point and begun to wonder what it all meant. These phenomena can all be explained by one thing: The Arrival of The RIT Cycling [and Fine Dining] Club. I'm here to answer some questions and clear up some myths about "The Arrival."

The "R" in RIT does not stand for Rennselaer. Nor does it stand for ripped, rocking, regurgitated, or rump. It stands for Rochester.

With our classically handsome facial bone structure and fair skin which gets easily burned by the harsh Massachusetts sun, you may be inclined to think that Rochester must be some beautiful place in Scandanavia where the water is fresh and the women naive. While weather patterns in Stockholm closely resemble those in Rochester, we hail from Upstate New York, a full 16 degrees south in latitude.

The "IT," in case you didn't know, stands for "Institute of Technology," just as it does for our fellow Massachusetts, Wentworth, and Stevens schools. This is really a polite way of saying that the ratio is skewed. Too many bros, not enough hoes. To many dicks, not enough chicks. Women are like parking spaces- they're all either taken or [too vulgar for this public forum. Look it up...]. This makes forming a cycling team a bit difficult, as we all know that winning weekends in the E-trip-C falls largely on the women of many teams.

Another important thing to note is that we're not Princeton. This seemed to be a major point of confusion for many riders in the pack, the reasons for which I can't begin to imagine. Yes, I realize that both Princeton and RIT have kits which are orange and black. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it's because the mascot of both schools is the tiger, and not the siberian type. You can pick out and RIT rider easily by the tiger stripes on the thigh (no, Princeton doesn't have them, and somebody owes me $5 because of it), or more importantly the giant letters "RIT" on our asses and on the front of our kits. To be fair, during a race you're not likely to see anything but our hind ends, and the lettering can seem small at such a large distance. [he said facetiously...]

Yes, some of us drink beer. No, you have never seen any of us drunk. Yes, we take our racing seriously. At least as seriously as any collegiate cyclists without serious aspirations of going pro should. If you're not doing this for money, you should be doing this for fun. For me, I'm not willing to give up more for cycling than cycling gives me, and you shouldn't either. Life's about balance. If you're not balanced, you'll topple eventually.

I'll take a moment to address any team who may have been the victim of one of our many highway shenanigans involving bare asses on glass... Hahaha gotcha! But seriously, it's all in good fun. We only moon the teams we like [except for you, that is!].

I'm going to get mushy for one last time before I sign off for good. When this club was formed last March, I didn't even dream of being where we are right now. When the original guys rolled up to the line at Penn State in '08 wearing their numbers on our [now infamous] grey "performance apparel" t-shirts, we could have either been laughed at or respected for even showing up. I'm quite happy to say that it was definitely the latter case, with just the right amount of laughing thrown in. That day explains a lot about why our team is how it is right now. We didn't take things so seriously that we couldn't laugh at ourselves too. And now that we're a "legitimate" team, we've still kept enough of that to keep it fun. By "legitimate" i mean that this season we had at least 12 people at every race, and even with some of those ever-elusive "women" that we were somehow able to convince to get in a 15-passenger van with the rest of us. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't so damn fun. And it wouldn't be so damn fun if it weren't for you, the rest of the ECCC. To the Men's A, B, and Women's A riders, you were at least fun to watch. To the rest, you were fun to race with. To everyone, you were fun to hang out with after and between races. Yes, that's right, we haven't yet fielded a rider in the 3 aforementioned categories. And no, I'm not bothered at all. Give it a year or two. We're exponential, baby!

I've obviously got to give a huge shout out to Joe Kopena. Not only has he put in a ridiculous amount of time and effort to the ECCC that you all know of, he has consistently given us those little hints that let us know the ECCC loves us.

Lastly, I've got to thank everyone on my team. Most of you have heard me say this before, but I want to make sure everyone gets it. You have all made this team what it is today, even if you were only around for one race, or even if you were only ever there in spirit. I never really knew any of you before the club got started, but if I had, you would have seen the huge impact it had on me personally. Before this club, the only things I was good at were partying and school. Not that I'm claiming to be any good on two wheels, but at least now I've got something I can be proud of. I'll admit to dropping a little bit of a tear on the way home Sunday after we had all split from Jason's parking lot. It was probably a bit like a parent when their last kid goes to college. I've put everything I had into this club for the past year, and I've gotten to watch it grow from 6 of us meeting in Java's trying to figure out how to get 6 people and 6 bikes to Penn State, to now watching other people do huge things like run the bike maintenance, the bike blender, and the club. Now that my duties as road captain are over, its incredibly bittersweet. I've got this huge thing that I created and put my blood sweat and tears into, but now I've got to let it go as I move on to something else. My most emotional day isn't going to be when I walk across the stage in 2 weeks at graduation. It was this past Sunday. Thank you all for giving that to me.

Oh, and big thanks to the Northeastern team- especially Al(ex) and Elliot, who got me into riding in the first place, and former member Keith, who always reminded me that I was just a little bit crazy, and got the idea of starting a club into my head in the first place.

Signing off permanently as the founder and former road captain (and president, and sponsorship coordinator, and...) of the RIT Cycling [and Fine Dining] Club,
Jesse Steiner.

I'll miss you guys.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

It's All About the Finish

Tragedy struck the Fine Dining Club mere minutes into our journey to State College: The Molester Van, trusty steed, cherished friend, traffic statute violater and altogether integral part of these cross-state jaunts, disassembled. Specifically, the radiator began to leak antifreeze at an alarming rate and we were forced to abandon it for other, smaller vehicles that proved less capable stages for our theatrics.

We stayed at the Harbor Inn in Philipsburg, "harbor" perhaps referring to the refuge given to the central pennsylvania denizens who scream into cellphones, party all night and loudly make disparaging comments about various minority groups. The benefit of this location was that we were located close to the Moshannon staging area, allowing us to arrive earlier than just about everyone and acclimate to the damp, chilly weather. The C TTT went off first, Jake once again agitated that he could not use the aero helmet. We went off first in the D group, dropping Jason and Zach pretty early and then I dropped Jake a couple of times because I felt as strong as I have in any race all year. After yelling at some riders who were milling about in the middle of the course, I effectively pulled Jake to a fourth place and I am stunned and totally proud of this so don't take it away from me. With our C men taking first (break out the champagne), we D guys taking fourth and our ladies also picking up points in B, it was our most successful TTT of the year. Tough not to be excited.

It warmed up and cleared up for the road race and we set off to our unknown fates, although I was certain my fate would be either a) eat pavement on the descent or b) cry like a baby on the ascent. Some riders went with a, I went with b. I finished by Jake, Chris once again was our top finisher and all of us had a little bit of trouble with the turn just before the end. The ladies finished nicely with a minimum of tears, Julie in Intro picked up our only road race points and our C riders, rocking the very stylish and always classy grey throwback t-shirts, fell victim to the spread-out field and hill and landed themselves outside of points.

By this point, we all smelled like the dried out filth we had been coated with earlier, and once I had had enough standing around in a towel and everyone else had had enough of harassing certain t-shirt salesmen, we absconded to Philipsburg and took a very convoluted path to get beer and food, traipsing around town before settling on Sarina's, a reasonably priced local place whose main claim to the fine dining pantheon of Restaurants That Are Tasty was some very, very well-made bread.

With little time passing to allow for digestion, we headed into State College for the banquet. We attacked the food with all due ferocity, piling our plates with everything that was offered us. There was a video courtesy of MHC that neglected one of the nakedest and certainly handsomest of ECCC riders (me) but featured Jesse's mug prominently as well as one of the most bad-ass of ECCC pictures, the RIT 'Untouchables' shot. Millersville won the dance-off fashion contest with all the grace expected of a half-naked man hopping tables, medals were handed out and then Joe proposed marriage to Caitlin, coincidentally mere seconds before everybody got something in their eyes. Upon exit, I collected a stack of styrofoam take-out trays that will no doubt be put to the dumbest of effects.

The next day provided all in attendance the opportunity to stand around in a light drizzle, and perhaps slip and fall on the slick pavement. The crit course was, it was generally agreed, "bomb as hell" but the slickness of the wet added an element of danger to a course that naturally required a difficult-to-move-up paceline. People still tried to do so, usually resulting in a tumble and a frown. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the kid who decided to cut me off on a dumb line and then fall in front of me; that was a pretty sweet trick, maybe you could show me how you did it some time. Nevertheless, RIT was well-represented in the D top 10, with Chris taking second, Jake taking sixth and me taking seventh in a euphoric, hungover, post-crash haze. Amanda decided to not race in B women, but Sam put in some strong work with the chase group before getting pulled. Brandon took the Intro W on a broken bike, pushing a nice finishing sprint, and Julie was taken out in the first lap of the women's Intro and was understandbly a little gunshy vis a vis race continuation. The real party was in C, though, with Peter making a massive break that lapped the field and Will doing an excellent job blocking. Jesse had the worst of luck in his last collegiate race, first getting taken out by an Army crash, then getting shafted on the re-entry from the pit, and finally taking another tumble in an overzealous attempt to catch back up to the group. The points Peter and Will picked up, however, helped propel RIT up the standings to a final Overall position of 19th, 9th in D2. The only damper on the day was that I, for the final time, did not get a water bottle, though my teammates had promised me they would be prominent all year long. Shameful.

Somewhere around this time we set up our soon-to-be world famous bike blender, selling a couple of banana-strawberry smoothies like good little capitalists, and afterwards moving on to some well-earned margaritas. Look for the bike blender to be used in longer road races next year; those GU packets are very expensive. We eventually needed some kind of food, so we wandered over to Green Bowl on Zach's suggestion and ate stir fry that can't really be reviewed because it's personal to each member in attendance. A buffet-style pre-prep allows you to put various vegetables, noodles and sauces on your plate that is then stir fried in the mongolian barbeque style and is then delivered to your table. The all-you-can-eat aspect was a positive, as well as the customizability. The minute bowl of rice stands as a negative, as do the people in line who can't figure out if they want two carrot slices or three on their dish. A certain degree of patient is a requisite for eating here.

We returned to our tent as the awards ceremony was beginning, a product of our impeccable timing. People got their medals and we packed up our things, waving good bye to one another and going our separate ways. I found a water bottle on the ground, fulfilling my season long dream of getting one at a race. By all accounts, Peter had a season-best mooning on the return trip, keeping his ass on the window of Amanda's saturn long enough to expose himself to three vans worth of Army riders.

This concludes the ECCC portion of this blog. It'll probably be updated with some RIT-related varia in the next few weeks before I graduate, and after that I'll pass the torch onto someone to whom I can entrust the great responsibility of the upkeep of this blog. I'd like to finish by acknowledging the things and people who've had a pronounced affect on me these past few weeks. First, thanks to the ECCC for existing; you've saved me from the drudgery of my last quarter as a college student. Concurrently, I'd like to thank the RIT team and the Intro field for helping me get into racing bikes, as both were instrumental in my ability to not flounder around like a jackass. Thanks to Neosporin for helping me recover from road rash, thanks to beer, Vitamin Water for helping recover from races, thanks to everyone who drove the incessant miles. I'd like to specifically thank Jesse Steiner for being as good a captain as one can have, through organization, being support for the team and always riding hard and inspiring others to do likewise. Finally, thanks to everyone who put up with my bullshit in the pack, everyone who beat me and everyone who didn't. I guess this is the part where I put an inspiring quote like, "keep the rubber on the road" or something equally banal, but profundity is overrated. Ride bikes, have fun.