Friday, September 23, 2011

Charles Libolt Sends Greetings From London.

Hey Chris!
So it has been a while since I contributed to the blog, so I thought I would send you a little write-up on how things are going over here!

I've been in London since the 6th, and while I am still without a bike, I plan on fixing that by next week! Bringing a bike amongst all of my other baggage seemed like more hassle than it was worth. Fortunately, being a sprawling urban city, there are a handful of bike shops all within walking distance from my little apartme

nt. But now the questions is - what kind of bike do I get? Road? Cyclo-cross? MTB? Trendy neon-colored fixie with no brakes and extra-narrow handlebars? Whatever I end up with, it will definitely have a sticker on the handlebars gently reminding me to KEEP LEFT when on the street.

As for my living conditions - If anybody has ever seen the first Harry Potter movie, they should be familiar with his little "cupboard" under the stairs that he was forced to live in by his evil relatives. If you haven't seen it, I suggest searching for it on YouTube. My London apartment is about the same size as Harry's little cupboard. My bathroom is small enough that I can sit on the toilet, brush my teeth over the sink, and shower all at the same time. Not that I have tried this yet, but if I am ever running late, it is a good emergency option to have. My kitchen consists of microwave and a "hob." It took me a couple of days and a Google search to figure out what the hell a hob is... I'll leave it up to you to do the same.
And speaking of food and kitchens, Britain has gone through a sort of "food revolution" of sorts over the last couple of years. Gone are the days of crappy, laughable English fare consisting of black pudding and greasy, stale fish and chips. Now, restaurants serve an endless variety of foods. They proudly advertise that they work directly with local farmers to purchase fresh, seasonal ingredients every day. This is seen everywhere from the local bakeries, coffeshops and pubs, all the way up to Gordon Ramsay's Michelin starred restaurants. Very little is imported, and almost everything goes right back into the pockets of the local farmers and butchers. Most importantly though, it makes for some delicious food at reasonable prices. My only complaint is the lack of quality Mexican food. There is a place up the street that claims to offer "Authentic California Mexican Food." However, three of the four words in that claim are misleading. It is neither authentic, Californian, or Mexican. Not bad, not really good either. But, they seem to have the Brits convinced that it is authentic, as the little place is packed every time I pass by.

My classes start in a couple of days, so before I disappear into academic oblivion for the next year, I will try to send another little update and some photos of whatever sort of bike I end up with.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ara's So Cal 'Cross Report!

Raced in a CycloCross race for the first time on Sunday and it sure was fun. Thanks to Joy, who runs Big Wheels Training, for letting me borrow her cross bike and giving a small clinic to beginners before the first race of the day. Getting a lesson on the proper way to dismount and remount was crucial to competing in Cross races. Thanks again Joy!

Luckily I lived close enough to the event in LA that I biked there and back home. Good warm-up and cool down. The course was long compared to other cross events (was told) and had some techie sections. Going to get some slack for this but I did sandbag and entered the Beginner 4 race. Never been on a cross bike, never raced in cross, I was essentially a beginner. With family and friends there we lined up and took off, all 74 of us!

Had a decent start in the top 30 and slowly started to pick people off after the first lap. Did not trust the bike and tires on those hairpin turns. Second lap felt much better and more comfortable on Joy's bike and started to move up and compete in the top 10. On the 3rd lap, with a shout from my brother that told me I was in 5th, I knew I had a chance to get atleast top 5 now. My endurance is good and had good power, all I had to do is open up some space on the technical sections because they were catching me on the flat straight aways.

Broke away from 6th by couple of yards and started to put the hammer down on the steep short climb when BAM back tire pops! Not only was the tire deflated so was I. Took it with a grain salt, its all good, had my fun, and I guess it is karma. Shouldnt have sandbagged.

Overall, it was a great experience. For sure I'm want to do more Cross this season to get more power for mountain bike season. Thanks to the core workouts we've been doing my lower back had no pain at all ! Gotta work on my flat terrain speed.

Thanks again to Joy for letting me use her Cross bike. 17 month old nephew had a blast out there throwing a Kenda Water Bottle everywhere (quality testing), Mr. Margve and Mr. Sarquiz for supporting us all. Vegas Bob showed up also, had to ride home before he raced. Bummer.

To all our sponsors : Amino Vital for keeping us hydrating and primed. Sigma computers, Xpedo pedals (talked to Kevin), Royal Clothing and gloves, Ryder sunglasses, Voler team clothing, and Kenda Tires.

Until next time, love you all....