Archive for January 2011
Last weekend saw me put in more work in two days than I’ve done all year. Yeah, I’ve done 9 hour weekends before, but this 9 hour weekend was particularly difficult due to the amount of intensity I did. All told, I did 300 TSS on Saturday and 250 TSS on Sunday. I understand that “TSS” means nothing to you if you don’t have and use WKO+, but let me put it this way: it stands for “training stress score” and 550 in two days is a shitload. (Basically, TSS is a way to quantify how much work you’ve done on the bike with a number). That being said, I never fully recovered from my tough weekend. I went ahead and did my workouts on Tuesday and Thursday with fatigued legs. By the time this Saturday rolled around, my legs were still tired and fatigued.
Despite the sorry state my legs were in, I had a lot of good things going for me. For one, the weather was going to be in the mid 60s and High Grade was clear and ready to be shredded. Secondly, Brika’s Mom was in town and the two of them were going to be knocking out a bunch of wedding stuff together both Saturday and Sunday. You know what that means? HALL PASS! I had a two-day hall pass officially signed by the principal. Tired legs or not, I was gonna ride my ass of this weekend.
Sure enough, yesterday’s Worlds was the most difficult for me yet. It was like trying to race at half strength. I still managed to stay at and sometimes on the front, but could not manage to get in the right breakaway that stuck. I finished somewhere around 10th or 13th or something like that. Nothing spectacular. The strange thing was that I ended up doing over 1,000 watts at some point during Worlds, and held 900 for like 10 seconds. It must have been when I was trying to make a split or cause a split in the field. Still not sure how I managed that with two lumps of dough for legs. Anyways, we headed up High Grade after Worlds and it was every bit as painful as I imagined. I went along at my own pace, vividly aware that anything over 220 was unreasonable pain. I climbed somewhere between high zone 2 and low zone 3 with a touch of zone embarrassment thrown in for good measure. Nevertheless, I wasn’t all that slow compared to everyone else and I really enjoyed the warm weather and the beautiful blue skies. You really get to take in Colorado’s beauty when you’re not going full bore and suffering. We got to the top of High Grade and Applebottom and I convinced the others to take Highway 73 and 74 home. I think it was a decision they’d eventually regret.
We battled nasty head and cross winds all the way up 73 and down 74. It was sort of this catch 22. The wind was chaffing my face off, but it was really too warm to break out the steez like I normally would. I decided to just suck it up, get some red face, and keep the steez off. In the end I finished the day with 103 miles in 5 hrs 40 min and a whopping TSS of 336! Wow. If I can manage doing that much work on a day with tired legs, I am farther ahead that I ever realized. It means I don’t need to be fresh as a daisy to throw down. Sweet!
Today was my free-flowing spin around, drink coffee, and day dream day. I wanted to get out, enjoy the scenery, and make many stops with delicious consequences. I met Brika and her Mom at the Rooster and Moon cafe on Bannok. We love that place. I had an Americano and a PBOB – oatmeal with peanut butter, bananas, brown sugar, and some honey. Dee-lish. I then headed down to Wash Park and spun around. I struck up a conversation with a guy who just joined a team for the first time and was planning on starting to race a bit this year. We chatted it up for awhile then parted ways. I headed down to Cherry Hills and did the reverse Quincy loop. I hit the team Starbucks on the way back for some good old newspaper reading and a blueberry coffee cake. On my way back home I ran into Brika and her Mom again – this time unintentionally. I caught up with them at Generous Servings on 32nd Ave. We chatted a bit and then they had to leave for the airport.
It was real fun today. I left the house this morning around 10:30 and didn’t get back until almost 4pm. But I did a lot more messing around than riding. (For perspective on the whole TSS thing, I did around 100 TSS today). It was a great way to cap off a few solid weeks of work. Now I’m going to take some much needed rest days.
When people talk about government “services,” what leads us to believe that the general public wants these services? When the bill comes due for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the drug war, public art, military weapons, police, firefighters, elementary schools, and on and on and on, how can we know whether citizens want these things? Taken further, how can we know citizens not only want them, but also at the price they are paying for them?
Suppose you are walking down the street and pass by an alley. Something catches your attention and you peer into the darkness. You find a man with a gun to his back. The man holding the gun is tearing into the other man’s pockets. At this point, you’ve made an obvious assumption – one man is being robbed by another man. You yell at the gentleman holding the gun, “Get out of here! Quit mugging that man!” The man with the gun responds, “Why do you assume I’m robbing him? He’s letting me borrow money.” Do you believe this? What gives you the impression that he is indeed robbing the man and not just borrowing money from him?
If you were to see a woman with a knife to her throat with a man forcing himself on her, why would you assume it is rape and not love-making? How can we tell the difference?
The assumptions we made above about the man being mugged and the woman being raped were indeed correct. What gave it away? Well, in the first instance it was the gun in the back. In the second it was the overpowering with a knife to the throat. We made correct assumptions because we recognized the aggressive force taking place and identified victims in both scenarios.
When aggressive force is used against someone, they are by definition worse off. If they were not made worse off, you would not have had to use violence against them. A “trade” involving a gun to the back is no trade at all. Sex with a knife to the throat is not sex; it’s rape.
Again I have to wonder, what makes us believe that citizens want the trillions of dollars in government “services” they are forced to consume each year? How can we know that citizens are made better off by these services? I cannot deny that citizens want roads, education services, retirement plans, health care and the like, but it does not follow that demand for these services means a demand for forced consumption of these services at non-negotiable prices. Precisely because we genuinely want things like roads, health care, and education, what does it say about the government’s ability to provide these goods and services that they must use the threat of prison in order to complete the “sale?”
For example, I want a retirement plan, but if it were my choice would I choose to “invest” in social security? You may want an education for your child, but if left up to you, would you purchase the education services of your local school district? Sure, many of us love eating hamburgers, but should government produce hamburgers and force us to pay for them?
Here is the reality: when government provides goods and services, we get them whether we like it or not, whether we use them or not, and regardless of any other options that may exist. We cannot control how much is produced, the quality produced, nor the manner in which they are delivered. And forget about having an option to pass on the purchase.
If we must be forced under threat of jail and violence to pay for government services, why is it assumed that we are made better off? If we actually wanted these goods and services, would we have to be coerced into such a trade? Does the local grocery store force me into shopping there – whether I like it or not? Am I threatened with prison to trade with the movie theater across the street? Did Apple force me into buying my iPod? Imagine if Apple attempted to operate like government by giving consumers no ability to abstain from trading. Instead, they sent bills to millions of people who never ordered an iPod. Can you imagine the outcry from consumers? Yet the old couple down the street say nothing when they are forced to pay for a light-rail project they’ll never use.
If the government were truly interested in providing goods and services to the public at competitive prices, they would act like any other business. Indeed, they would be just another business. Instead of threatening their “customers” with prison in order to sell them a service, they’d offer a service at a price pleasing to the customer. We could then choose to buy or not. Either way, we would be showing our preference for that service and providing valuable feedback to the government in terms of supply and demand. “Buying” a service because you’d rather not go to jail is not showing a preference for the service at all. Rather, it’s displaying your preference for not being a prisoner.
As in the mugging and rape examples, we were able to recognize the victims as victims because they were being forced to do something against their will. This force was necessary because the victims were revealing to the aggressors that the interaction was making them worse off. If left alone, the victims would not have willingly agreed to participate in either of the interactions. Thus, the very fact that the government must threaten us with prison in order to “sell” us their services reveals that we would not make these trades if left up to us.
When I take action in my life – going somewhere, not going somewhere, doing something, not doing something, buying something, not buying something – I am attempting to improve my situation, otherwise, I would not have taken the action. My action is displaying a preference. When I am forced into changing my course of action from what I wanted to do, I am made worse off.
At this point, I know what you’re thinking. “But Justin, I do things that I don’t want to do ALL the time!” I know, and so do I. Do I want to clean the dishes every night? Do I want to come into work every single day? Do I want to shell out all the cash I do to buy gas for my car? No, but I do these things anyway because the alternative is worse. I’d rather do the dishes than be a jerk to my fiancée (and sleep on the couch). I’d rather come into work even when I don’t feel like it because unemployment is a worse alternative. No gas means no car, and I’d rather drive than use the alternative transportation options. This is fundamentally different than saying “I’d rather give up my money to the guy who mugged me because living is better than dying.” Revealing a preference because of aggressive force or violence is not the same as revealing a preference through a mutual, voluntary interaction. A preference that is revealed through aggressive force is at the very least distorted and at most completely manufactured. Either way, it cannot be considered a genuinely revealed preference.
Another objection might be that we popularly elect politicians who then choose what goods and services we must consume. If we don’t like it, we’ll elect new ones. But this objection fails when broken down to what it really implies: rule by the whims of the majority. If majority rule is how people prefer to buy goods and services, why not take a poll every time you go to the grocery store or shoe shopping? Whichever pair of shoes gets 51% of the votes you will be forced to buy at a price you have no say in. Worse still, you must wait four years before the majority picks another pair of shoes for you. How about letting the majority rule on which career path you take? Take a poll before going into college and whatever the majority says, you must do. Didn’t want to be a biology major? Too bad. Didn’t want to go into the PhD program? Oh well, 51% said so. We inherently recognize the absurdity of majority rule when it comes to many of our personal decisions. If 51% is a terrible way to make personal choices as mundane as what pair of shoes to buy, why overlook its consequences when it comes to the really big stuff? Why accept it when it comes to our health care? Or our children’s education?
In short, there is no reason to believe people want government goods or services, at least in the capacity they are delivered today. How do we know this? For the same reason we know a woman with a knife to her throat didn’t want to have sex. The fact that these “services” must be forced onto the people through taxation and the threat of prison is proof that if let alone, we would not choose to consume them. Yes, we want many of the goods and services that government forces on us, but that does not mean we want them provided by the government, who offers us no control over the quantity, quality, or distribution of them. We are necessarily made worse off every time we are threatened to do something against our will. Government is the personification of this. It is the ultimate “offer you can’t refuse.” The quintessential “your money or your life” scenario.
Quite simply, it’s the difference between rape and love-making.
Before I do a little race recap from today, I want to thank my teammates for the encouragement and support they’ve given me. I have been riding with a core group of Primal guys for a year now, even rooming with a couple of them for the Steamboat stage race last year. They are good guys and good friends. There is no better indication of this than the support they give to each other and myself. In cycling there tends to be a lot of big heads – stuck up – cockyness and very little inter-category mingling. People who have long since left the 4′s forget what it’s like to be just starting out and clueless half the time. They forget what it’s like to be struggling at the back. At least that’s the way they make it seem. A good word for it would be “snobbery.” Anyways, my teammates at Primal are the complete opposite of that. I have felt nothing but support – even before officially joining the team this off season. Jordo, Hanna, Bailey, Cameron, Welker, Rosie, and whomever else I’m missing have been invaluable for my development into a better rider. Their encouragement and pointers have made me stronger each week. I am thankful to have such great dudes as teammates and friends.
Ok, enough of that sappy shit.
Today I woke up to warm weather and blistering winds. It was like the Hugo road race all over again. Normally I would be pissed, but my mentality these days is to embrace the wind and learn from it. It is my number 1 limiter for sure. As we made our way down to Deer Creek for the start of Worlds, I found myself on the front much of the time with Jordo. This was fine by me. My legs felt really good. (Sidenote: Brika and carbed it up last night at Udi’s. We had a ton of hummus and bread and sweat potato friends. Yum!)
As soon as we departed for the race to begin, I made sure to once again be at the front but not on the front. There were a few more people in the group today. One of the newcomers was a super strong Garmin U-23 rider Gregory Daniel and a Specialized U-23 rider Dean Haas. I would guess that it took Applebottom about 3 miles before he decided to attack the bunch and ride off solo. As soon as he went and the pace didn’t pick up, I figured he had a chance. When we made the left hand turn, the pace picked up and we hit the hill hard. I made quite an effort to stay at the front this time. When we turned right we made another big effort. My legs were okay but my lungs were feeling it. The rollers came and the pace was upped again. This time by Bachik. He put in a monster pull and then Truman took over and put in some work. I was really feeling it now. Compared to last week, these efforts of 350W had me out of breath and hurting. Coming into the final down hill towards Roxborough, I knew two things: 1. Applebottom already won. 2. I am hurting! Keeping up at the front was difficult this time, not because my fitness was lacking but because the pace was much higher going into the climb.
As soon as we made the right hand turn onto the base of climb Jordo took off. I stood up and started hammering. I noticed Gregory Daniel just take off like he was shot out of a cannon. Kid is fast. At this point I’m pleased that I made it to the base of the climb in the front group with the elites. There were around 6 or 7 of us: Hanna, Jordo, Gregory Daniel, Dean Haas, Cameron, and me. There could have been 1 other person but I can’t recall. So…. seeing Jordo take off and then look like he was standing still from the bullet that is Gregory Daniel, I gave it everything I had and started stomping on the pedals. Unfortunately, this time I didn’t have the adrenaline from attacking like I had last week. Regardless I was doing well. I was only behind G. Daniel and Jordo at this point. I passed Dean Haas who, towards the top of the climb passed me. I made my way to the top, gasping and hurting, and mostly in 4th place. Dean Haas passed me as we reached the top, so I ended up 5th. The finishing order was Bailey, G. Daniel, Jordo, Dean Haas, then me. Top 5. I’ll take it considering my company.
We got word that it was snowing on High Grade so we went home via Willow Springs. Not doing High Grade was a huge bummer. Ah well. We fought the wind all the way home. I broke off from the group to go home on Garrison Rd. and got blown around quite a bit.
I still hate the wind.
Finished the day with my best work rate of the year. My numbers weren’t quite as good as they were last week, but still very good for me. I did 277 watts for 30 min and ended the ride with 209W normalized for 4 hours 45 minutes. Awesome!
After the last couple of weekends being a little too snowy for good rides outside (minus the super successful all-team ride we had last Saturday), I was itching to get outside and hit it hard this weekend. Why? It was the first Wadsworth Worlds of the year on Saturday! First time the big dogs got to flex their muscle and test their legs. I had heard a lot about Worlds from my teammates and despite my hankering for some suffering, I had some reservations about staying in the front group and not getting dropped before the final climb up to Roxborough Park. My goal going into the mock-race was to be there in the final at the base of the climb and then just go entirely all out, leaving everything I had out there on the road. I knew that the battle wouldn’t be the climb, but the stretch of roads getting to the climb where the crosswinds blow and the 2′s and 3′s take hard pulls trying to break the bunch up.
My advantage in this mock race was that unlike the real races I would ride this season, I knew all the players that showed up to Worlds and what they were capable of. I had my eye on 3 riders specifically as we set out from the official start at Deer Creek. I immediately jumped into the top 5 or 6 and stayed there out of the wind. I kept my focus on the big 3 and was ready to go if they made any move. The pace didn’t really pick up until we made the left hand turn into a slight downhill. I kept stuck on the wheel in front of me and made sure I was in the top 5 as we approached the first little roller. Predictably, as soon as we hit that roller everyone stood up and started dancing on the pedals. It was a mass movement to the front. I was in my element at this point and had no problem sticking in the top 5. First test passed with flying colors. We made the right hand turn towards Roxborough and some more rollers. This is where the crosswinds really picked up. I also knew that this is where Applebottom loves to take monster pulls. I was right. Carlos Casali and Applebottom took a couple big time pulls into the cross-head winds. I’m not sure what was happening behind me. I just kept myself out of the wind and stuck on the wheels in front of me. I couldn’t afford to look around much. This stretch of the road was difficult, but not out of my range. I didn’t have to burn any matches. I felt pretty good.
We were getting closer and closer to the base of Roxborough. I almost couldn’t believe I was still there. I looked around me and saw 5 or 6 cat 2′s and 3′s. It was everyone I expected to be there in the final. I figured the only chance I had at winning the climb was to make a move before we got to the right hand turn onto the base. It had to be as hard as I could go and it had to be a complete surprise. I knew that it would be a total surprise because no one expected me to be there and if they saw me still there, they certainly didn’t expect me to make a move. We got closer…. and closer and finally it was time.
I clicked up a few gears, grabbed my drops, and jumped from 5th wheel as hard as I could. Surprise bitches.
As I pulled away my first thought was, “Shit, I went too early. I can’t hold this.” I felt like I was dying around 20 seconds in. I sat down and put it into the small ring as the slope went towards 10%. I stomped as hard as I could on the pedals. I dared not look behind me. I stomped and stomped and stomped. I was dying. I got out of the saddle when my legs couldn’t take it anymore sitting down. I rocked the bike back and forth while my lungs were searing with pain. I couldn’t breath. All the while I’m just waiting for Applebottom or Hanna to fly by me, laughing at my futile effort. Just when I thought I couldn’t hold on any longer, the finish was getting closer. Seeing the finish gave me a little boost. No one had flown by me yet. It was a miracle. I sat down, stood up, rocked the bike back and forth – anything I could do to keep going. Every ounce of energy was leaving my body. The finish line was right there now. I could nearly spit on it from here.
On the verge of throwing up, I reached the top and made the left turn into the parking lot, head down, weezing. I swear I almost died. I looked behind me and saw Applebottom charging the finish line only around 30 feet back. He must have been closing in fast. But in the end, he ran out of road.
The others trickled into the finish and couldn’t believe what just happened. I felt on the top of the world. Now I realize that “winning” a silly mock race isn’t a big deal. But for me it is. My confidence is something I’ve been trying to work on ever since I started coaching with Hanna. This “win” was exactly what my frail confidence needed. I proved to myself that I could be there in the end and make a ballsy move that would stick. This effort gave me tremendous self-belief. I’m slowly but surely improving on my other biggest weakness: staying out of the wind and up at the front when the race gets fast. If I can be there in the final, I have no problems taking a chance and making a move. I just have to be there.
I took a look at the power file on WKO+ when I got home and saw the damage I inflicted on that attack. (Here’s the Garmin file) I did around 700 watts for 20 seconds getting away and held 500 for the first minute. After that it looks like I finished the climb in the upper 300s. Not too shabby. I also noticed I set new records for 20min, 30min, and 60min power. I did 309 watts for 20min and 289 watts for 30min. That is great news. If I can go into the Gila with an FTP of 290…. watch out!
On Sunday I met up with the guys at the Golden Starbucks. My goal was to put in around an hour or so of zone 3 and zone 4 work. I really wanted to test my legs after such a hard day before. Hanna and I went up Lookout a little before the rest of the elites started. They caught us around 1/4 of the way up and I decided I wanted to test my legs. I clung to the wheel in front of me and stubbornly refused to get dropped. The pace was at my limits. I was doing around 260 to 280 most of the way up. My legs hurt like hell. Needless to say, I was able to hang until the final 500 meters or so. Hanna went to the front and really picked up the pace as we got closer to the top. I just couldn’t hang anymore. Regardless, it was a super successful showing on Lookout and another big confidence builder. I finished out the day by climbing through Mt. Vernon, bombing down Rt. 40 into Morrison and climbing out via Red Rocks and Rt. 40.
Another solid weekend training. I feel better than I’ve ever felt before. My form is improving steadily and I can’t wait to see what I’m capable of this season.
If you happened to have grown up in NJ in the mid 90′s / early 2000′s, you inevitably saw Saves the Day at some point or another. Whether you liked pop punk, metal, punk rock, hardcore, or other bands that were influenced by Lifetime, it was impossible not to have grown up with Saves the Day during this time period. I was a HUGE fan along with all my friends. We saw them super early on, I think in 1999 or so – between Can’t Slow Down and Through Being Cool. Lead singer Chris Conley was still a pimply teenager at this point and was perfecting his pop song writing skills (and said Hi to his Mom who was in the crowd halfway through their set that night). Saves the Day’s lyrics pumped through my veins all through the end of high school and the beginning of college. There is no doubt Chris is one of the most talented lyricists in music (my pick for the best would probably be Wes from American Nightmare).
Anyway, Brika and I got to see Chris perform solo last night when he opened up for the 10th anniversary of the Swiss Army Romance Tour. It was my Christmas present from Ben, Rikki, and Jonah. (Thanks guys!) Of course most of the crowd could care less about Chris or Saves the Day and many decided to heckle him during his set. They were just too immature and impatient for the Dashboard performance. I wanted to yell in their faces, “Don’t you realize how influential Saves the Day was?!” But of course they don’t. They didn’t grow up with the band like we all did. It’s a shame. Despite the many shortcomings of the East Coast, they have probably the greatest music scene in the world. From Boston down to DC, that corridor is a treasure trove of musicians from every genre of music. New York hardcore in the mid-late 80′s (Sick of It All, Warzone, Gorilla Biscuits). Boston hardcore in the later 90′s (American Nightmare, Bane). New Jersey pop punk and ska (Inspecter 7, Bigwig, Midtown). DC hardcore (Minor Threat, Bad Brains). Billy Joel. THE BOSS, to name a few.
Well, the music and the food. The food is way better too.
I’ve spoken to Chris a few times at other shows in the past, but this time I made sure to talk to him after his set particularly because of the unfriendly Denver crowd. He mentioned on stage that he was from Princeton, NJ and got some shouts from the crowd about NJ and where a couple others were from in the Garden State. I yelled how I was from the Princeton area too – EXIT 8 baby! Anyways, I saw him hanging around the merch table before Dashboard went on and told him he did a great job and that I appreciated the fact that he was still doing this all these years later. Then we talked about NJ and the Princeton area for a bit. Brika walked over and took a picture of us at the end of it. Pretty awesome. He is still a super humble, down to earth dude who doesn’t hesitate to talk to fans when they approach. I wish I could have really broken down how much his music and lyrics influenced me growing up. There are still a few lines that I can’t live without. One of them that will forever stick with me is, “But it’s okay ’cause I’m still breathing.” That lyric in the context of the song, and in the context of my penchant to blow things out of proportion in life kept me sane at times. Thanks again Chris for writing some of the best songs with the best lyrics. You made Jersey an even better place to grow up.
Grab a seat, take a load off, and make yourself comfortable ladies and gentlemen. I’m about to tell the tale of the craziest love story you’ve never heard. Before I begin, I’d like to warn some of you: this tale is especially frightening if you’re one of those risk-averse types.
It all started at my best friend Ben’s wedding in December 2007. Having nearly identical mutual friends for years, Brika and I both went to Ben and Rikki’s wedding in Richmond, VA. Good times ensued. We ended up sleeping in the same hotel room down in Richmond with some mutual friends of ours. Having drawn the shortest straw, Brika had to share the bed with someone she didn’t know very well: me. But the story doesn’t start there. When I say “shared the bed,” I mean she was a good 2 feet away from me, trying to sleep while fighting with an encroaching sickness. She eventually got up at like 6am and went down into the lobby because she couldn’t sleep through all the sniffling, sneezing, headaches, etc. So no, the story really doesn’t start with the bed incident you sick perverts. Fate had other things in mind.
The next day Brika was feeling a bit better and the wedding parties and friends had to make it back up to Fairfax from Richmond. This should take an hour and a half. But this is I-95 in Virginia, so it rarely does. Anyways, Brika’s soon to be ex-boyfriend never showed up to the wedding like he was supposed to, so she had an empty car. I just so happened to need an empty car to take me back. Hellllooooo fate.
I weaseled my way into her car for the trip up to Fairfax. THIS was where it all began. We finally started talking to one another after years of sharing mutual friends. One obvious topic of conversation was: why in the hell weren’t we already friends when we shared identical friends all these years? Part of it was probably that she thought I was some cocky asshole who wasn’t worth talking to. We had interacted before this fateful car ride, but always in a snarky, standoffish sort of way. I even moved into the house of friends in Fairfax when she moved out, yet somehow always managed to avoid having any meaningful conversations with her. Anyhow, this car ride forced us to finally interact on normal terms. We talked the entire way up, catching up on all the things we ought to have talked about before. We loved the same music, shared lots of similar interests, and had the same goals for the upcoming years. At this point she was already considering leaving VA for her parents house in Texas. It seemed the only logical way of breaking ties with the Northern VA area and not going broke doing so. I talked about my recent move to Colorado and how it changed my life. I talked about the beautiful mountains, the outdoor life, the great city, Boulder, Lookout, Breckenridge, my cool job. I really talked it up. She must have been impressed.
Fast forward to Spring 2008. Brika finally left VA for her parents home in Texas. She needed the home base in TX in order to save money and start visiting places she might like to live. Enter Denver, stage right. I believe we were talking on the phone sort of regularly since she moved out of VA. She asked me if she could come visit me and Denver in July on her birthday weekend. I obliged. In July 2008 Brika flew up here for a long weekend. If the car ride sparked the fire, the visit in July threw gasoline on it. We had so much fun together. I showed her downtown Denver and Boulder, we hiked Chautauqua park, went up Lookout, visited Breckenridge for a couple days. It was amazing how well we got along. Why in the world we weren’t good friends back in Fairfax was mind-boggling to us. I later learned that the Breckenridge trip really solidified it for her. She admits that’s when she started digging me as more than a new friend.
September 2008: Zach and Crystal’s wedding, Northern VA. Brika and I both flew back to VA for the wedding and anticipated getting together again. We had the best time ever. We danced like there was no tomorrow… and for us, there kind of wasn’t. Despite shaking many legs, we really didn’t get to talk a lot during the reception. It was a lost opportunity to talk about how great our July trip was and how we ought to do it again.
Press fast forward again to November 2008. After suffering through a job in Texas she hated, she quit her job and again flew up here to visit. We did most of the same thing we did together in the July visit, but this time we had our first kiss on the last day. Not only that, Brika had to confess her feelings for me. But I thought it was obvious before the confession she made the last night. (ummm… we kissed already, duh). It was a tough goodbye that time. The pandora’s box had been opened and there was no turning back. A tough decision was in our future.
After the November trip we both wanted to, no needed to, take a chance with each other. Our options were pretty dim though. She lived in Texas and I lived in Colorado. She didn’t have enough money saved up at the time to just move up here and live on her own or with another roommate. Paying rent was really no option. And if you’ve ever tried getting a job without living in the place you’re applying, you realize that is also impossible. We were kind of stuck. I was living in a tiny 580 sq. foot studio style apartment in Olde Town Arvada. My rent was cheap enough for me to get by, but just barely. I could definitely use some help each month… hmmmm… this is where the story takes a turn towards Risk-ville. Could it be possible for two people who were not yet officially dating to START dating by moving in with each other? Has that ever happened in the history of mankind? Ever? We doubted it. It would definitely be a very risky way to start a relationship. It’d be like throwing a promising young pitcher into the bottom of the 9th in game 7 of the World Series just to see if he was going to be good in the majors. But at this point, did we have any other option?
“Do you want to take a chance with me,” I asked while on the phone. She agreed. It was the only way to make it work. Now I know this sounds absolutely crazy, and nearly every person that heard about the plan beforehand agreed – we were nuts and doomed to failure. After all, making a relationship successful is hard. Why make it even harder by moving in together right off the bat? True enough, but we had no choice. My logic was simple: there was no risk at all that she would move in and we’d start fighting or hate each other. We got along too well for that. The only risk I perceived was that she would move in and then we’d discover we really didn’t click on the next level. That we were just friends. Ah well. At that point we could act civilly until she found a job and another apartment. No big deal. So in my mind, there was a risk, but it wasn’t as bad as everyone was making it out to be. Yes, it was crazy, but we’d never know otherwise. It was worth the risk.
January 9th, 2009: She moved in exactly 2 years ago today. Now at this point I could just end it by saying, “and the rest is history.” But not only is that too cheesy, but it’s not enough to end on that note. I will say however that after moving in 2 years ago, we discovered that we did indeed get along super well – like best friends reunited – but also that our relationship did work on that next level. We could be best friends who were a couple too. The true testament to the strength of our relationship was that we lived together in basically a glorified dorm room for a year and a half. That kind of thing usually tears 2 people apart. But it didn’t harm us one bit. It only made our bond stronger.
July 2010: “Do you want to take another chance with me,” I asked on the 2 year anniversary of her visiting me in Denver. It was on the same jungle gym, at the same playground in Breckenridge that we watched the sunset 2 years earlier. It could be no other way. In other words, she saw it coming. She said yes and I put the ring on her finger while choking back tears. A guy walked by with his son and said to us, “Are you kidding me? Congratulations…” Was it so impossible to think that two people would get engaged on a jungle gym in Breck?
To sum it all up: we started dating by moving into a small dorm room together. Crazy right? Most guys avoid moving in together after years of dating. I must be weird.
Today marks our official 2 year anniversary. Our wedding is planned for the top of Lookout mountain at the Boettcher mansion, October 9th this year. Take that doubters.
There was an article today on CyclingNews that made me recall just how far I’ve come in my eating habits. It was basically an overview of Matt Fitzgerald’s book Racing Weight. I read the book last year and it reinforced everything I knew was right, and most everything I was currently doing. But it wasn’t always like this for me.
Believe it or not, for as long as I can remember I was around 155 pounds. Sure, at 5’11″, 155 isn’t fat by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, most people would kill to be 155 pounds at nearly 6 feet tall. But for me and my body size, it was never a lean weight. I always had a little squish around the edges. This just seemed normal to me. What did I care? The squish didn’t prohibit me from pitching as well as I did, and it certainly didn’t stop me from shooting the lights out in basketball games. Without any adverse effects, I had no incentive to change my eating habits or my body.
As I went from living in a college dorm, to living with college friends in Fairfax, VA, my eating habits did not change one bit. I’d eat cereal morning, noon, and night and indulge in treats whenever I felt like it. For variety I would eat PB&J’s with different types of breads. No matter what I did or what I ate, I stayed basically the same weight. I was playing basketball regularly, running 5K’s, and playing soccer at this point. This is how normal people live. What I came to realize after leaving Virginia to come to Denver was that it was how non-Coloradans live.
Upon moving to Colorado and picking up cycling, my diet got a little better. I was living with a buddy I’ve known since I was like 10 years old and luckily for me, he was an outstanding cook. At this point I was still indulging in cereal, PB&J’s, and treats whenever I felt like it, but I was also getting some pretty decent home cooked meals. We’d have all sorts of meat and fish, and even some vegetables now and again. Denver was definitely a step up for my nutrition and health. It wasn’t until my finacee Brika moved in 2 years ago that I made a complete transformation.
Brika was fortunate enough to land a job at a doctors office where health, nutrition, and wellness are a lifestyle. The amount of knowledge she has accumulated since starting work there 2 years ago is astounding. I have been free-riding off her knowledge ever since. She not only learned the ins and outs of proper nutrition, but also how to cook really well. I have the luxury of eating whole, nutrient rich foods that are delicious each and everyday thanks to her. What sorts of food you ask? I’m talking about spinach, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, quinoa, chick peas, squash, millet, wraps, miso, smoothies, nuts, seeds, soups, and the list goes on and on. We eat more vegetables in a week that most people eat in a year. And man does it taste good. She’s brilliant because she’ll make these meals that have Indian, Thai, or Mediterranean influences. And she’s constantly expanding her menu with new foods and recipes. We don’t just sit around eating carrots all day. (although baby carrots are the shiznit!)
Because of the complete transformation in my diet, my weight has come down a lot. Like something near 20 pounds. I’m no longer squishy thanks to cycling and my diet. Now instead of being 155 lbs. no matter what, I tend to hang around the 135 to 140 pound range. Just the other day I weighed in at 136.8. It’s winter, I shouldn’t be that light now. I can’t say I’m surprised though. I’m still training a lot and eating super well. My goal was always to go into my first ever Tour of the Gila at 135. Umm, check.
I can’t stress the importance of expanding your diet to include a whole host of fresh fruits and vegetables that you may not know even exist. Don’t be boring and eat lettuce and tomatoes. Walk the aisles of your local natural grocer and witness the sheer amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that you might not be able to pronounce. Don’t overlook them! There is a ton of literature and cookbooks that divulge the secrets of preparing delicious meals with natural, whole foods, just ask Brika and she’ll point you in the right direction. It truly is a life-changing experience. But if you’re going to do just one thing, listen to Fitzgerald when he says,
If you only focus on one of the five steps to reaching your optimal weight, eating quality foods is the one. The right foods will have the highest nutrient value, but will often also have the lowest calorie density too.
Cut out the processed faux-food. Read labels. Eat small amounts of quality food throughout the day. Eat fresh green things. And most importantly: get off your ass. If you live in Colorado, you really have no excuse do you?
The western expansion of the United States has a fairly well accepted narrative: namely that it was “wild” and more violent than life on the east coast during the 19th century. This, like many other legends and folklore, is completely untrue. If you look at the data, the west was less violent than the settled east coast during the same time period. Yes, there were fights with Indians and some hangings, but not to the extent that most people imagine. In fact, the violence people imagine was a result of the government’s expansion into the western territories. When government moved in and started throwing its weight around, violence escalated and intensified. Is it any wonder why? Indians did not take kindly to having their land stolen by the federal government. And settlers did not take kindly to having their institutions messed with. After government arrived, rent-seeking was the norm.
Western expansion serves as a case study of the emergence of law and order in a geographic region untouched by government. Do property rights, law, order, and peace spontaneously emerge like our price system does? The clear answer to this question is yes, thanks to Terry Anderson and Peter Hill’s work.
I just finished reading Anderson and Hill’s The Not So Wild Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier. I highly recommend reading the book if the idea of emergent order seems crazy to you. If reading a 200 page book on such a subject sounds daunting or dry, then read this short essay version titled “An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild Wild West.” It’s only around 20 pages long and has many of the same nuggets of evidence and theory.
So what’s the short of it? The short of the theory is quite simple: when a certain resource or good reaches a certain threshold of value, institutional entrepreneurs create property rights. The book is chock full of history and evidence of this happening over and over again as settlers expanded west: horses, water, land, crops, etc. Entrepreneurs figured out how to efficiently maximize a resource’s value by creating property rights with an adequate enforcement mechanism. They pre-contracted with others before herding cattle north in groups of 10 to 20 herders. They evaluated the water supply in the western states and came up with a variation on the old English water rights doctrine. They made efficient rules on how to claim land. Trade posts and supply chains were formed along well traveled routes north and west. And the list goes on. All of these market creations happened without any formal backing of any formal government. It wasn’t until the U.S. government started impeding on property rights – both through expropriating Indian land and reconfiguring the institutions that made law and order so efficient – that violence and conflict arose in the west. As the settlers well understood, violence is a zero sum game. Trade is not. Therefore, when YOU bear the costs of violence, the optimal move is to trade (like settlers did with the Indians before government arrived). When you can offload the costs of violence onto others via taxation and regulation, violence becomes less costly and the incentive to trade lessens. Hence the government’s expansion west was the spark that ignited violence and conflict.
The only part of the book I took any issue with was a small part towards the end where the authors attempted to apply the same framework of the west to developing countries nowadays. Much of that was well done, except for the part about intellectual property. They made it seem like if developing third world countries could just create and enforce IP laws, they’d grow much faster and quickly become first world. I completely disagree. But my anti-IP law rants are for another post. All in all, Anderson and Hill’s work was thorough and quite convincing. They provided a ton of data, both empirical and anecdotal, to back their claims. And unlike Hayek and Mises, the writing was clear and at a generally consumable level. Give it a read, you won’t be disappointed.