Archive for February, 2008

Team Mack’s Waterford R-33

February 29, 2008


It was great to see that under the Waterford R-33 listing in Velo News, the Team listed as racing on Waterford is Team Mack!!! Damn Right!!! Frankly, their product is more effectively touted by old men who race bikes than by “professionals”. My R-33 is about as light or lighter than most carbon fiber bikes, and the ride quality is incomparable.


The Decline of Christian Hegemony

February 27, 2008


Figure 1

Atheism, Agnosticism, and Beliefs in God in the United States: 1988-2000 General Social Surveys (N=7,980).


Yesterday, a Pew Funded study on American religion was released, with much fanfare. It seems to be an OK study, but I suspect that it’s high on N, and low on response rate. Plus, there is only so much you can do with a single shot, cross-sectional study. Change happens over time, and across generations. At one particular instance, you only get a view of what seems to be.

Still, one thing that is becoming more salient in studies of American religion is that substantially more people are opting out of religious affiliation, and embracing non-Christian views of the nature of the supernatural. Currently, the best available data from the General Social Surveys show that over 16% of Americans are Atheists, Agnostics, or believers in a supernatural that does not reflect a “god”. That’s about the same proportion of Americans who reject a religious affiliation, and, predictably, there’s about a 55% overlap–non-believers and unconventional believers aren’t connected to religious groups.

In earlier cohorts, virtually all Americans reported growing up with a religious affiliation, while GSS data show that more than 10% of Americans born after 1970 were raised without a religious affiliation. What has happened? One of the key factors is that Americans are now more free to choose not to consume religion. Throughout most of American history, anyone wanting to establish status in the community, protection for their family and children, or solvency for their businesses, would be forced to project some aura of piety by embracing affiliation with a Christian denomination (with a token nod to allowing Jews some standing). To fail to be religious was considered proof of illegitimacy and immorality, and we still see strong vestiges of this–particularly in the political realm where candidates must profusely declare their allegiance to Christianity (and maybe Judaism).

Throughout the 20th Century, Christian activists helped undermine their own moral authority by evidencing quite prominent moral failings. The racist bigotry, warmongering, greed, child abuse and molestation, misogyny, and hypocritical sexual behaviors commonly found in Christian America enabled non-religious persons to reject the moral condescension of Christian activists, and to establish alternative sources of social status and moral standing. Now, the non-religious have more voice to respond, and to tell their children that religious fanaticism and hypocrisy are morally undesirable traits.

Snow Ill

February 25, 2008


 Wow, more snow today. Good thing it didn’t get in the way of Jackson’s 5th birthday party. I bet Froze Toze was a lot of fun in Columbia….

This is two ice storms and a snow in two weeks. That’s more winter than we’ve had most winters since I’ve been in So Ill. The ice really sucked. I usually do some riding on the fire roads in Trail of Tears, and those were devestated in the first ice storm. There are so many huge trees down, you can’t get up the road. Pomona was much better, and I did the trails around the Natural Bridge on Saturday. Still, I was on the trainer four days in the last 12. 

 Tomorrow, I will do some actual training on the Big Muddy Levee…..I’m starting the season in Indiana on March 8….

So Ill Training Camp

February 21, 2008


It’s almost spring, well sort of. Not up North, though. So, some of the Team Mack guys from Wisconsin are thinking about taking a long weekend or so and heading down here for a mini-camp. It’s not a bad idea. We’re a bit cold so far, but you never know what it’ll be like in two weeks. And it will certainly be warmer here than in Wisconsin….

 So Ill is a great training venue. Bring a cross bike, if possible. Especially since we had the ice storm last week (and may get more this week). The roads are graded with cinders after a snow or ice, and those things eat tires. Tuffys and strong tubes and tires are a must with road bikes.

 We’ve had several Mack guys doing mini-training camps down here (including Macedon and Zellmann testing SRAM prototypes), and Dave Stone up in Champaign has regularly brought down groups for spring break training. I still have hope that maybe his kid Adam will wind up in the PhD program at SIU for mechanical engineering or something. Dave’s an awesome guy and one of the best racers in the region, and Adam is a truly talented kid. However, school comes first! And Adam has been taking a break from serious racing while finishing his degree. But, in a few years, he’ll have a real job!!! And then he can go back to racing bikes more often. Still, I’m sure he could race more if he went to SIU….

Revenge of the Ground Hog

February 18, 2008

I’ve done the Tour de Ground Hog five years in a row. It’s been on the same course at New Salem, yet each time, it’s totally different. This year, it was really muddy!!! Last year it was snow. The year before it was fast frozen tundra, before that it was somewhat muddy.
Best part of TDGH 2008: 1) Clark Priebe finds one of the Jensen kids’ shoes stuck in the mud on Mud Mountain and returns them dripping with gook to minivan central.
2) Nate Rice nearly dies of hypothermia (sorry, Nate) while Podium Girl Uncle Gary sorts out the results and distributes the checks. Note to Uncle Gary, maybe check on some bifocals?.  Heads up to Nate, notice that the Mack guys in the top 10 washed their bikes and changed clothes before the podium ceremony….”We’re going to do this right now” doesn’t necessarily mean “now” now. Evil Mike had the right idea “can’t we just take the picture and sort this shit out later!” But, in the end, this is the second best because those envelopes had real money! There were happy racers once things were sorted out!!
Local Carbondalians and SIU students Brett Billings and Emily V showed up, and Emily took the women’s race. Brett slogged through the mud in the “Open” race. Team Mack’s Robo was on a tear, winning the Masters and then taking 6th in the Open race! Wow!! Frank and Nick Brummer were also fighting it out in alternating races. Nick always breaks stuff…today was flat day for him. AND, the craziest showing at TDGH was the return to cyclocross for Steve Driscoll!! Holy crap, dude, I think all that metal in your body qualifies you for a hall pass on cross.
Jeff Williams and Clark Priebe were the trolls of Mud Mountain. Of course, they had no mud on them.
Clark: “Wow, this vintage Castelli Windstopper Team Mack shell is really nice”
Jeff: “Yeah, I have one of those, I only use it when we play outdoor gigs in Winter”
Clark: “Well, I’m not getting any mud on this.”
Jeff: “Smart move”
Jeff: “Oh, look, there’s Darren coming around the ruts…oops, oh, ugh, that’s gotta hurt…”Pick it up, come on, run with it…Keep running…You’re getting your rhythm now…keep running…don’t even try to ride. Way to go, man.””
Clark: “Damn, that must suck. Why doesn’t he just quit?”
Jeff: “I don’t know, maybe he did something to deserve this.”


February 16, 2008


My favorite pet is twelve inches long, slimy, and likes dark, dirty holes. Can you guess what it is?

He’s my Tiger, and I love him.

Best Purchase of 2007

February 12, 2008


The Sidi Diablo is one awesome boot. I’m a total wuss in the cold, but, I ride outdoors almost every day all winter. We don’t get that cold in So. Ill, but it’s often below freezing. I’ve been riding these Diablos just about daily from the time I got them in November. After three hard months of riding, I can say that these are the best shoes of any variety I have ever owned. They are incredible. They go all the way down to below freezing, and they still feel ok up to 55 degrees, especially if it’s wet.  I’m trying to order some of those electric warmers that SIDI makes, but I’m having a hard time finding them in stock.

 The Diablos are great all around shoes. They have the nice stiff SIDI sole, and, it’s built for walking, if necessary. That’s really good for me, since I do a lot of trail riding in the winter. I bought a couple of extra pair of Time ATAC pedals and put them on my road bikes so I could use the winter shoes on whatever I wanted to ride. I suppose one could buy a pair of road boots (the Hydro, or something), but it’s not like I’m going to race a crit in boots. So, the MTB versions will do just dandy for anything.

 And, these are great warmup shoes!!! I was really happy to have these at Cross Nationals! I packed up my shit (including my race shoes), put it in a backpack, and rode to the warming tent in these boots. Then, I did some more trainer time. It’s nice to have warm feet for a while.

 Still, they’re boots. You can’t race in them. Even on the road, they’d be a huge disadvantage because of the weight and subtle impositions on form. But, if you’re a cold weenie but still ride in the cold, you MUST get some good winter shoes. And these are the ticket. I have some Lake winter boots, and they are are nice, but aren’t nearly the piece of art that SIDI has produced. The Lake’s have have a narrower temperature range, which doesn’t go as low as the SIDI, and is more uncomfortable if temps go above 50f. And, the Lake’s have a mushy sole.

If I wanted a mushy sole, I’d vote for Huckabee or Hillary or something.  

I sold my soul to Satan, and you’re not taking this seriously.

February 10, 2008

Youtube is. I was watching a bunch of old Black Sabbath performances from the early 1970s. They’re fucking awesome, unless Ozzy is too fucked up. What is amazing is that Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and Bill Ward are extremely tight. They are really laying it down to the note, and Ozzy creates havoc, not coming in at the right times, etc. You can tell that the other guys are getting pissed off. I guess when President Huckabee is in power, he’ll ban Black Sabbath, so I’d best get my fill now.

Worst Purchase of 2007

February 8, 2008


I’ve been riding Campy Ergo 10 Speed since 2000, and I just love that gruppo. We’ve had some great sponsorship from Shimano and SRAM on Team Mack, but shifting preferences are more important than saving a little money. And, when I started racing cyclocross I decided to do it on the cheap, and bought a Centaur gruppo for the Old Blue Gunnar. It was awesome!! I probably put 20,000 miles on that bike with three full race seasons and some seriously crazy mountain- biking-on-cross-bike training rides. The right shifter was toast after this season, and I noticed a shiny new set of Centaur Carbon Shifters on sale at an on line outlet. Notably, the place also had the old centaur levers on blowout for practically free. But, I thought, “Wow. Don’t those look just like Record! I bet those are just like the 2003 record levers on my race bike.” After all, the Centaur I had on Old Blue were pretty much just like the 2000 Chorus levers I had on my Pegoretti. So, it must be like that, Right?

WRONG!!!! The new Centaur shifters suck!!! The shift buttons are smaller and feel cheapy (like that Shimano Tiagra or whatever that tried to mimic Campy). Shifting action is noticeably less precise on both shifters. AND YOU CAN’T DUMP THE CASSETTE!!! On top of looking better, having more ergonomic hoods, costing less (Record is the same price as Dura Ace, if not cheaper), and performing better in general, MUCH of the appeal of Campy has always been the ability to go from the 25 cog to the 12 in one fell swoop, if the situation was called for. Not with the new Centaur. No, you have to keep clicking that button ten times, like you’re jerking a bunny rabbit or something.

 I could have saved $ and gotten a better set of shifters by buying the old model. Supposedly, Chorus and Record remain the same.

Catch the Ground Hog

February 5, 2008


The man, Mike Pease, jumping the log at Tour De Ground Hog 2005. You can see Team Mack’s Chris Strout chasing on foot in the distance. Wow, what a battle. Pease got a podium on that day. And, as always, Uncle Gary is the podium girl at TDGH!

 The Tour de Ground Hog is a benefit race and memorial for Team Mack teamate Bill Jensen, who died in a skydiving accident. Proceeds go to an educational fund for his children. The race is a great end of season event, making a transition from cross to road! It’s your last chance to race cross for a long time!!!