My Brokedown Palace…

“Goin to plant a weeping willow

On the banks green edge it will grow grow grow

Sing a lullaby beside the water

Lovers come and go – the river roll roll roll

Fare you well, fare you well
I love you more than words can tell

Listen to the river sing sweet songs

to rock my soul”

-Brokedown Palace, Grateful Dead

   
    
    
 
-Pics @ PTAP

Sublime Athletics Racers Descend Through The Frederick, MD Forest

 

Music: “Excuses” by The Jon Bailey Bailey Band from “Chances”; available on iTunes.

Description: Stunning scenery of a technical descent and the mountain laurels in full bloom from a few Summers ago!

10 Differences Between a Contestant and a Racer…

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As the owner and head coach of Sublime Athletics, LLC I have worked with competitors from MTB to Ironman; Motocross to Cyclocross, and TT to Criterium. Most people think being a Contestant is synonymous with being a Racer; here are 10 differences that make that distinction clear:

1. Contestants “Work Out”; Racers “Train”:

-Contestants are working out to feel good, better their fitness, look better, and be a healthier person. Fitness is the goal

-Racers train the specificity required to give 100% during competition. Health and fitness are merely a benefit of work

2. Contestants are proud of their workouts and disseminate accordingly; Racer training is considered a trade secret:

-Contestants work hard and are happy to post on social media as the hours, KOM’s, segments and selfies accumulate

-Racers spend most days alone honing their craft, and evaluating every aspect of their performance for an advantage

3. Contestants enjoy being part of the athletic group; Racers are who they are and live it every day:

-Contestants let others dictate their workouts, and get through it to enjoy the highlight of their day

-Racers have a specific purpose in training every day; achieved or not, it is the highlight of their day

4. Contestants have “diet” specifics often guided by allergies and trends; Racers eat to train, and train to eat:

-Contestants have every new mix, smoothie, food, or magic bullet; and will make you very well aware of their needs

-Racers use a “Flex-fuel” approach; like a Tiger Shark whatever is present at a checkpoint, aid station, or bar works

5. Contestants talk about their injuries and fitness woes… especially at starting lines; Racers always exude confidence:

-Contestants will let you know they aren’t at their best, and have a list of stress in their lives preventing their good form

-Racers are, excited, reserved, friendly and focused; no time for negative thoughts or questions: Its Showtime…

6. Contestants need conditions and specifics for a good day; Racers optimize their performance for current conditions:

-Contestants hate the heat, hate the cold, hate the wind, hate the time of day; they always do better any other time

-Racers are prepared with equipment, apparel, nutrition, and shelter; they push through any conditions with a smile

7. Contestants often get upset and complain to competitors; Racers thrive on the dynamic and respect their rivals:

-Contestants have bad starts, bad finishes, problems, and are prevented from their best performances by competitors

-Racers expect you to exploit their mistakes and current situation; they reach new highs because of racing adversaries 

8. Contestants are always getting the latest and greatest; Racers are always doing the latest and greatest:

-Contestants often have the newest, lightest, and latest; and question how they are doing compared to everyone else

-Racers know they will be successful; and are pushing the most out their equipment and performance opportunities

9. Contestants need to beat someone to be happy; Racers find positives even in defeat, and change for future victory

-Contestants feel good if “they beat ____”; and expect that every time they participate. When they don’t they may quit

-Racers know and respect every competitor who posts, find positives in the day; and adjust for future success

10. Contestants hold on to events, problems, and conflict; Racers learn from competition and build on their experience

-Contestants hold grudges, blame, and let events define them. If someone is fair but aggressive, they take it personally

-Racers respect rivals, and are happy to push their limits. Win or lose they congratulate their competitors and move on

Whatever discipline you pursue; strive to be a Racer, not just a Contestant. There is nothing else in this life where you can get the same satisfaction simply out of doing your very best in competition. Every Racer is a Contestant; but every Contestant is not a Racer.

“Only those who…

“Only those who will risk going too far

can possibly find out how far one can go.”

-T. S. Eliot

     Some things command substance, commitment; effort. Whatever the challenge; it will remain until every drop of skill and effort is poured into the moment. There is no measure, no return, no quarter. This is our life, our clarity, and definition. The performance knows no outcome, and becomes the purpose itself. Into the void the boundless energy encompassing all we are, and all we will be is released. Very few have the mettle to expose every last fiber, with the courage to deal with the consequence. This is where competitors are left behind and the champion emerges, never to return to the faces in the crowd.

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Cycle Style Gear Assessment: 2014 Rapha Long Sleeve Country Jersey

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The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, and Maryland in particular, runs the gamut of Fall and Winter weather. From sunny, breezy days with low humidity, to wet and stormy freezing rain, sleet, and heavy snow days. Often the humidity is high and temperatures are hovering around freezing creating a tough environment for an outdoor athlete. This winter I purchased the Rapha Long Sleeve Country Jersey to use on the Road/CX bike, MTB, and Snowshoeing. These are my thoughts for a product I purchased from their website, and I am not affiliated with Rapha as a company. More detailed information, features, and availability can be found on Rapha’s website: .

What sets Rapha apart from many cycling and outdoor apparel clothing is their use of “Sportwool” which is a combination of merino wool and polyester. The Country Jersey uses 52% merino and 48% polyester and is heavier than their short-sleeved version. Sportwool provides excellent wicking properties while providing great breathability and warmth. Sportwool also has anti-bacterial properties and does not hold on to odor like polyester. Unfortunately I can attest to its durability in various falls on the road and MTB over the past few months.

The quality, fit, and finish is apparent as soon as you first try on the Country Jersey. The quarter zip medium rise collar is reinforced and your skin is protected from the metal zipper hardware. The tapered sleeves are longer on each cuff to provide coverage without feeling bulky or constrictive; and work with various glove combinations. The front hem is smooth and gripper-free, while the sides and slightly dropped tail have an adjustable elastic band as well as a thin gripping material. The rear pockets of the jersey are larger than normal for extra food, supplies, and gear for riding in varied conditions; and the right pocket has a separate waterproof zipper pocket, reflective accent, and audio interface. I followed the sizing on the website and ordered a medium which is spot on for my 5’9″, 158 pound body. This jersey is made by riders for riders, and is a tool for the varied conditions you will find day after day. I have worn it with a lightweight s/s base layer up to 60 and as low as 45 degrees on the road and trail and been very comfortable. Combine it with a wind vest, or jacket and it can easily provide warmth into the teens and below. I never notice the Country jersey while wearing it which is the point to a great piece of gear; it allows you to focus on the task at hand rather than dealing with your environment. It could use more reflective highlights, but usually will be used with other layers and flashers when conditions reduce visibility.

After a few months being caught in rain and ice storms, riding in single digit snowy days on the MTB, and muddy road and trail spray the Country Jersey is still performing like new. It has quickly become the single piece I always have with me for warm ups and cool downs before and after races; and long days alone in the weather. The available color-ways pay homage to National teams; 2014 are the United States, The Netherlands, and Norway. The understated graphics are stylish while being acceptable in more casual environments like the local coffee shop or pub for a post-ride beverage and food. Rapha has created an excellent piece of gear in the Country Jersey that is durable, functional; and champions the athlete instead of its own brand which is very hard to find in current cycling apparel.

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The Tension On the Razors Edge of Creation

“Whatever precautions you take so the photograph will look like this or that, there comes a moment when the photograph surprises you. It is the other’s gaze that wins out and decides.”

-Jacques Derrida

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What is it that makes an art? Where is performance in the discourse? Does action need reaction; or does it stand alone? Moving ahead of past in present on the precipice of future is the construct, but is this form in and of itself? The performer is both the artist and the art: the Genesis. The observer brings semiotics: the Structure. This creates tension; the structural problematic, which drives forward the pursuit. The artist exists in the moment, fleeting creation that once witnessed is created anew again and again. The detail secondary to the art itself.

What will come?…


What will come? What will the future
bring? I do not know. I have no presentiment.
When a spider plunges from a fixed point to
its consequences, it always sees before it an
empty space where it can never set foot, no
matter how it wriggles. It is that way with
me: before me always an empty space; what
drives me forward is a consequence that lies
behind me. This life is perverse and frightful,
it is unbearable.

-Soren KierkegaardIMG_2518

Spring is here, the Sun warms; longer days instill assurance.

Every second brings another opportunity, another consequence.

Cyclical presumption lends touchstone to what may be.

Therein is the Excitement, the challenge.

The moment is beautiful and terrifying;

The drive for new heights and new experience.

Whatever the outcome has begun and ended as it is perceived.

The observation is the Reward, the Condemnation.

The Strong Will Strive to Seek and Find, and Never Yield.

APRIL is the Cruelest Month…

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

-T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

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     2014, T.S. Eliot definitely had the sentiment of cruelty and forgetfulness that put us into mental and indoor hibernation. The Winter that brought us a new term “Polar Vortex” which is evidently part of climate change that seems oddly to make me think of catholic guilt? We also began naming of winter storms like hurricanes to sensationalize climactic happenings and have us captivated with the search to find a reliable source to get a head start on the foreboding doom. I am more than over the hype, and the worry.

     It has seemed like forever since I felt the warmth of the morning Sun on my bare, pale limbs and the smell of blooms of renewal in the air. We have been covered in forgetful snow; the creative, motivating spirit has left and in its place worry and intense expectation for a new athletic season. Did I pursue the correct path to bring a smile to my face and the satisfaction of well developed form for the challenges ahead? Am I at a starting point of something new, and tethered to a rocketing assent to new levels and achievement? Is this season starting at the lowest point, or hitting the ground rolling with unstoppable inertia to build to a new heights? All are valid inquiries that only the sands of the hourglass will reveal slowly. April is the cruelest month, for the groundwork is already laid; and though it is barely light enough for life’s demands, progress will not stop for anyone. Our perception shelters us by confidence that we are the same successful being from the past; however we are a work in progress that is different from year to year, day to day, and second to second. Some of us will boldly push forward into the unknown with spirit and confidence, while others will cower at the pressure and challenge to improve on the story of ourselves. Which will you pursue? Where will you be eyeing the world from?

Looking to an Actual Start of the Racing Season

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     This has been a trying Spring for outdoor athletes in the Mid Atlantic. I have had 2 MTB events cancelled in March; and will probably have another in April. I have been racing MTB since 1992, and have never seen or imagined an environment where we are not able to have races in poor weather conditions? Many race promoters are excited to give athletes something to look forward to over the dismal, cold, dark conditions of the Winter months, hence the busy schedule in March and April. Unfortunately since MTB riders are considered the “newest” trail users we suffer the consequences of being responsible for the condition of the trails no matter what other forms of users are out there. In the past 3 weeks I have seen amazing trail damage from Equestrians, ATV vehicles, and even 4×4’s at the Patapsco State Park. There are so many great new trials and enjoyable outdoor experiences for all trail users from the work of MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts); the Maryland Department of Parks and Recreation, and volunteer trail days from MTB riders yet we are still considered the problem? It all sounds reasonable when you think about 200+ racers riding over soft or muddy terrain; until you see the damage of 1 bulldozer moving tons of earth and having to create new man made drainage areas to have another housing development start when there are more than enough vacant houses and lots to renew and revitalize. If you ride the 2013 Patapsco 100 course that was only last July there is a whole new landscape which causes erosion, pollution, and impacts wildlife more than a race on established and maintained trails. I hope the dynamic changes and there are more opportunities for people to enjoy the Parks like Teddy Roosevelt and so many great leaders intended. For now the only events that happen are road races and kids soccer, lacrosse, baseball, football, and the like on man made fields. Lets hope Maryland can realize that MTB riders are successful taxpayers that enjoy life, the outdoors, competition, and camaraderie unlike many other groups; and we are willing to improve any trace that we have caused or impacted.

The Athlete as the Artist

Most of our days of racing and training are normal, predictable, and quite honestly boring. A day racing or training is better than most other days, but most aren’t particularly memorable. We have our plans and routines, and most days play on as any other. There are times though when we reach beyond what we thought was capable, push by previous limits, and transcend our bounds. The pain of exertion becomes secondary, the tension of competition eases; and time and technique are a brilliant machine of unity. It is this very small glimpse of brilliance that drives all other times of training, practicing, and performing. It is when competition causes the Sublime. For hundreds of years philosophers, poets, artists, and musicians have pursued the aesthetic of the Sublime; a work, a moment, or a perception that produces an indescribable sensation of vastness. An artist inspired by this feeling can create a timeless work that can bring that response to the observer. Philosopher Edmund Burke described Beauty as being aesthetically pleasing, calming and caused with the the passion of love; whereas Sublime is compelling and terrifying, its cause the passion of fear. Where beauty is contained and perfect, sublime is infinite and magnificent. It is the Sublime that evokes our most powerful emotional response, and drives our pursuit of excellence. In those fleeting moments of greatness at the pinnacle of performance, the Athlete becomes the Artist practicing a craft of inspiration.

Click the link below to see one of those moments in action:

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