Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I just try to survive the holidays...

My wife, on the other hand, absolutely thrives on the frenzy of family. She rolls with the punches. She always has a smile. And she looks pretty damn hot in a Santa hat.

Thanks for keeping me sane the last few weeks, baby. And Happy New Year... it's gonna be another great one. I love you. -mikey

Lisa also writes about our daily adventures with 2 teenagers, the world's youngest pre-teen, and 2 badly-behaved dogs. Check it out: Le Lovely Life

Monday, December 29, 2008

I have an idea...

I've been marinating on a business idea the last week or so. Nothing groundbreaking... in fact, it's been done before by every get-rich-quick-on-the-interwebs-tom-dick-and-harry. Thing is, I think I might be able to do it just a little better. So, I've got a couple questions for my tens of readers (that's you)...
  • Have you ever started a business?
  • What was your motivation?
  • How did you get rolling? All-in or just dip your toes?
  • What is one thing you would do differently?
Comment away, or shoot me an email. I'm not ready to spill the beans on my idea yet, but I will say it does not involve the manufacture, sale, or transfer of bacon. Mmmm... beans and bacon.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Having fun with my family...

Be back in a day or two! -mike

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cyclocross 2008, the season that almost was...

A beautiful, blue fall morning and my girls are cheering from the infield. Feeling exhausted, yet strong... the dichotomy of 'cross, I guess. That's me on the stairs. This is where my season peaked, and also where it ended, in a crescendo of adrenaline and pain.

It's quite a shot, really. Lisa snapped it from about 50 yards and could not have known that I had just tripped, overstepped with my right foot, and was about to severely sprain my ankle. This was the very moment that would end my season.

I'm a total 'cross newb. But I caught the bug quick. It started with a birthday present from my wife... an introductory class in which both ego and body were thoroughly bruised. It led to a bike (doesn't it always?). A new old-stock Bianchi Reparto Corse that's a full 10 years heavier than what most guys compete with. But beautiful. I mean, damn is this a gorgeous bicycle. Anyway...

Jumping back in time to my first race; Crosstoberfest, St. Edwards Park... miles upon miles of grass and singletrack, right in the middle of the city. I warned my fans that I might pull dead-last, which turned out to be quite prophetic.

On lap two, a hard fall locked up my front brake (a fact I wouldn't realize until the race was over). I remember wondering why guys were passing me with such ease, while I was working so hard. To turn. The pedals.

Jesus, how I wanted to quit. See how there's nobody around me in this barrier section? That ain't because I'm off the front, homey. Ended up nearly last, but I've never enjoyed a can of Fat Tire so much.

Next up, two races at what some consider the cradle of Seattle 'cross, South Seatac. Focus was building... racing was what we did on Sunday. We bought a cowbell and my girls rattled it with love. My son even dragged himself out of bed to see Dad ride 'round the course (in spite of the embarrassing tights). Confidence elevated and my finishing position improved. I was still back-of-the-pack, but at least the curve was arcing in the right direction. Most importantly, we were there as a family, taking communion...

And then it ended, on that staircase at old Fort Steilacoom. Two weeks of racing missed. Then three. Momentum lost. Even after the ankle healed, racing became just something we could do on Sunday... relegated to the same list as housework and grocery shopping. It's amazing (and maybe a little disheartening) how quickly something can fade when you lose focus.

But the great thing about cycling, or any sport for that matter, is that each season is new. Next year we start again. My ever-courageous Lisa has thrown down the gauntlet and said she wants to race. Our daughter, Payton, was anxious to ride even in the weeks Dad was down.

And for me... the pain, frustration, and small victories of this "season that almost was" have quietly fueled a fire. I will be better next year. As a dad, husband, son, and bike racer. More cowbell.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Banned Cans FAIL...

Energy drink on the way into work, and now a can of soda with lunch. Hell, I might pick up a 6-pack on my way home. If you're gonna fail, go BIG, right? Ummm... right?

Banned Can Success Rate: 83% | Target: 90%

Got heart?

At Saturday's Foot Locker Cross Country Championship, Zach Torres made this perfect, sailing dive for the finish line. He knew he was 16th... one place below qualifying for All-American status.

He made the decision, he took the dive... he's an All-American.

See the eyes? At this moment, nothing matters but that white line painted on the grass. How many of us have this kind of drive?

I'll be keeping this image in mind as I bring my own goals into sharper focus, and take the leaps required to snatch victory.

Photo credit: PhotoRun via Runner's World

Monday, December 15, 2008

A cancer journal...

"Prostate cancer is a dark waltz, not the raging battle of popular imagination."

Dana Jennings is a New York Times editor who is learning "the dance" and sharing the process on his blog. Check it out for a bit of perspective, a laugh, and some simple comfort in shared experience.

One Man's Story

Friday, December 12, 2008

Viva la bacon...

Look, we all know that "wrong" is everywhere on the Internet. And we've learned to look with half-open eyes, as if passing a wreck on the freeway. But every so often comes an insult that cannot be dismissed.

It's come to my attention that some "forward-thinking" blogs (see here, here, and here) are loudly proclaiming the death of bacon. Such a bold affront to all that is tasty cannot go without a response.

These misguided souls would have you believe that, because bacon has been co-opted and merchandised by the pop culture powers-that be, we should all take our love for the hard-working hogmeat underground.

No! Not now, not tomorrow! Not ever!

Don't shun the king of breakfast meats just because the hipsters have latched on. Welcome them into the circle with open arms. After all, bacon is The Peoples' Meat. How did the Malamute Kid survive on Alaskan dogsled trails in the 1800's? Beans and bacon, chappy. Staple protein during the Great Depression? Yessir, bacon. And for modern-day spendthrifts, what's the only thing Denny's can cook right? C'mon, you already know.

Don't let the terrorists win. They can have our bacon when they pry it from our cold, dead (and slightly greasy) fingers.

Footnote: The bacon industry bailout is failing in Congress. We encourage you to do your part to prop up the salted-and-cured meat industry by going deeper into personal debt. This holiday season, please spend the money you don't have on bacon and bacon-related merchandise.

Thank you.
teh management

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rising to the challenge...

I don't, as a rule, ask people for money.

There are two notable exceptions. At age 10, before this particular form of child labor was outlawed, I had a short run selling stationery for Olympic Sales Club (to the guy two houses down... it wasn't a scam, really. Your order came in as promised. I just never got around to bringing it over). And then this past summer, with the help of family and good friends, I raised over $400 for Washington Trails Association.

Other than that, I haven't asked.

But cancer has hit close too many times. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and we hold our breath every time she has a checkup. My dad is living with the most serious kind of prostate cancer, and we hold our breath waiting for a miracle. Step-parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, and friends have been dealt the blow. And we hold our breath.

But is that all we can do?

The guiding premise of The Lance Armstrong Foundation is survivorship; living with and living through cancer. It's an organization I believe in, and a cause that's all too near my heart. On June 21st, I will ride my bike 100 miles on the final day of The Livestrong Challenge. Hopefully my dad, my best riding buddy will be there with me. I need to raise at least $250 during the Challenge, and I'll be asking for your help. Consider yourself warned :)

Just for fun, I joined up with Team Fat Cyclist to try and break some Livestrong Challenge records. I read Fatty's blog every day, marveling at his strength in dealing with his wife's cancer. This team, much like the disease, is much larger than any one individual. It's going to be epic.

To sponsor me now:
My Personal Challenge Page

New series in the works!

I'm pleased to announce a new series of posts to Mud, Sweat, & Beers. While still in its formative stages, I can tell you that the series is tentatively to be called "Our Landlord is an Asshole".

The first post I have in mind will be loosely based on the theme, "Don't leave us long-winded, profanity-laden voicemails about everything that's wrong with the house when you only come by once a year. Asshole."

What do you think? Does this series have enough "legs" to become a regular feature?

Banned cans...

You didn't think I was serious about this Unfat Me thing, did you? Well it's about to get real up in this piece, motherfathers. The end: Lose ten pounds and be in the best shape of my life by September 8, 2009*. The means: A three-phase attack on my gooey midsection...

PHASE 1, December 8 - March 8:
Banned Cans

Some of my favorite things come in a can. In fact, as vessel of instant good cheer, the ol' pop-top has no peer. Problem is, when a guy cracks six or seven of these vessels a day, his body can't process all that happiness and it... ummm, gathers.

Phase 1 will be far and away the toughest. It's a strain even to type the words, but here goes... No. Beers. No. Energy drinks. No. Soda during the four-day work week. Friday through Sunday, all bets are off (hey, I never said this was church camp). Oh sure, I'll be excercising, too. But let's stay focused on the hard part.

I'll call Phase 1 a success if, by March 8, I've banished weekday cans 90% of the time. If I haven't, somebody better buy me a case of Schmidt for to drown my sorrows.

Wish me luck... it ain't gonna be easy!
Weight: 157 | Banned Can Success Rate: 100%

*The timing is not accidental. I'm aiming for a top-20 finish in Cat-4 cyclocross next season.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


is Dutch for "field riding", or what the rest of the world calls cyclocross. They've got their own name for it, see, because in Belgium they simply do 'cross better than everyone else.

As Greg Keller over at Mud & Cowbells put it, "There's something inherently different about their riding." An old man approached him after a race in the cyclocross motherland and cleared up the mystery. “You Americans are too nice... our boys are going across the same fields in the mud they had to work in as young boys. So, they’re angrier. You need to try working in a field.”

Anger. The killer instinct. Can a guy train for that? I'll put it on my list, because I'm gonna race in Belgium someday.

Read Keller's piece at Cyclocross Magazine. 4 bacons, mate.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Ever get that giant fucking manatee feeling after Thanksgiving?

Last month, when racing and running had me in decent shape, I actually punched an extra hole in my belt to make it smaller. Well, thanks to a sprained ankle and this week of gluttony and sloth, I'm back to the old belt hole. Bud Light, my ass.

So it's official, and I'm stating it here for officialness, Unfat Me 2009 is starting a month early. Details to follow just as soon as I put down this sandwich. Check back regularly and scoff at my failures!

No bacon, Mike. Step away from the bacon.