Sunday, August 31, 2008

Overheard on Today's Shop Ride...

"When we get to the hill, the skinny Dutch guy will tear the lungs out of your chest"
- Chuck

"Watch out for the twitchy Jew and the spastic Sicilian"
- Andrew

"It's Sunday morning, everybody's in church, so this is when the Jew boy goes riding"
- Me

"Ah, studying the 'Velorah'"
- Andrew (and thus, the sketchy Sicilian gives Jewish cycling its first official term)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happiness is...

...freshly-wrapped handlebars.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mazel Tov - it's a New Bike!

There is a scene in the classic Jewish movie "Fiddler on the Roof". Set in an old Russian shtetl, the poor town's tailor finally acquires his much sought-after, hard worked-for sewing machine. The sewing machine draws the delight and excitement of not only the tailor for all it will allow him to do, but also draws a special blessing from the revered Rabbi, whom wishes that the Almighty will allow the tailor to derive joy, pride, and expected benefits from his beloved new purchase.

I feel the similar sentiments with my new bike.

In fact, I even received a similar blessing for my new Giant TCR-C2 Composite from my father-in-law; black hat and all. Much like the tailor's sewing machine, this bike was a worthy budget-stretcher. If you know about this bike, you're response is anything from "man, I've heard awesome things about that bike" to "yeah, you and like ten thousand hundred other riders out there - bet you're a big Team Columbia fan, eh?". Well, I am indeed a Columbia fan, especially of Mark Cavendish and Andre Griepel, but more so the mere fact that this bike is indeed awesome.

True to form, the Giant carbon is not only great bang-for-the-buck value, but the ride is incredible. Giant, along with Look, are the only manufacturers who source their own carbon fiber. The bike has a feel which is not only light, fast, and comfortable, which is typical of carbon frames, but also a unique characteristic of confidence and stability. Not only is it a great climbing and sprinting bike, and a comfortable all-day rider as well, but it's true brilliance shines as the bike tracks beautifully through high speed descents and maneuvers. With an Easton SL50sc wheelset, Shimano Ultegra shifters and derailleurs, and Fizik Alliante Ti saddle, this bike is all about fast.

Also, this bike is from The Bike Rack in Washington DC. The Bike Rack is an incredible shop which is new to the DC cycling scene, but has done more than any local shop to reach out to and embrace the local racing scene, from their cyclocross team for whom I race for, to their road and triathlon teams, to their rides and classes for all levels of recreational cyclists. They were patient and attentive in helping me select this bike, masterfully built it, and did a great job of fitting my complicated body measurements to the Giant's tricky geometry. If you live in the Washington DC region, I highly recommend this shop (check 'em out: They are friendly, very knowlegable, extremely charismatic and fun, and they have dogs in the shop. What more can you ask for?

And as for me, I'm ready to reap the possibilities of this awesome new bike. Speed, fun, and a technically beautiful bike - sounds like "simcha and nachas" to The Complete Jewish Cyclist.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Banner Header

Did it in like 1/2 hour, and you know what?

It looks like a rank bumper sticker.

Don't worry, though, it's just experimental, something to break out of the blogger-template mold. Maybe I'll come up with something more cutting-edge cycling hip cool, or maybe something kitchy Judaica, or maybe even something an artisan like Dario Pegoretti would dream up. Who knows, certainly not I; it's almost midnight, I'm ripping tired (rode intervals this morning), and I need some serious sleep.

So stay tuned for an eventual new banner, something not as vertically high, not as rushed. But for now, the Complete Jewish Cyclist is the Very Tired Jewish Cyclist, and after a 100+ mile week, it's time to get some sleep.

Layla Tov.

O.K., so I'd rather spend a Motzai Shabbat downing a good Belgian beer and watching a bad movie. But as a graphic designer, The Complete Jewish Cyclist banner's height was gnawing at me all day. The banner's height is now reduced, typography is tightened-up a bit, and it's a little more developed. There's still a bit to do on it, but I sacrificed some design time to go onto and register for my first cyclocross race of the season (and for an added bit of Shabbat joy, my USA Cycling racing license came in the mail today!).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ooops (Correction)

Thanks to Josh for pointing this out in regards to my previous post.

"Shmita" is not the Hebrew word for Rabbinic certification. That word would be "Smicha".

Shmita is the Jewish agricultural law, based in the Torah, where the land is allowed to be laid fallow (unused/unworked) after seven years of sowing, reaping, and harvesting. It allows the land to replenish amongst other things. This diminishing lack of Jewish knowledge is what I get for spending too much time on a bike and not enough time in a Beit Midrash learning.

By the way, since those fields are lying fallow, maybe we should hold some cyclocross races in 'em, the permissability of that of course being best left up to those with Rabbinic certification, though in this case I would defer to the Belgian Rabbis.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

License to Thrill

Well, I may not have shmita to disseminate rabbinical discourse, and I do not have certification from the OU to designate kashrut, but there is now one thing I sure as heck to have:

My racing license!

It's my first USA Cycling/USCF license in almost 15 years, so I'm back to the beginning: cat. 5 on the road and cat. 4 in 'cross. I raced unlicensed last season, so this year I don't have to deal with one-day license registrations and fees (though I did have to pay for the license, which is standard). The best part, in not having to do the day-of-race license, which includes a usual lengthy wait on line in addition to filling out a form and digging around for cash, is that I can pre-register at, then show up to the race venue and start warming up once I get my race number (sometimes you can pick your race number up the day before the race, but that means Saturday - a no go for The Complete Jewish Cyclist).

BTW, I'll be racing again with the 'cross team from The Bike Rack out of Washington DC. Check out the team and the shop at

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Crushed: New PR for the pre-Shabbat Time Trial

32 Minutes over 9 miles at 16.4 mph.

Now of course, that isn't actually fast at all. In an actual time trial with roads closed and aerodynamic bikes, a nine-mile time trial would be ticked off in less than half an hour, twenty for the true speed merchants. But this is no ordinary time trial; this is the Pre-Shabbat time trial, a uniquely Jewish cycling discipline.

In fact, it's not really a time trial at all.

It's actually just my Friday commute home. The commute itself is brutal; the nine miles include a good deal of climbing - everything from a long, sustained climb to a series of short, steep walls, near-gridlocked traffic sections and the usual inconsiderate DC drivers, wearing a loaded backpack, and doing it all on a singlespeed with 42x17 gearing. Also challenging is that there is no time for this to be a leisure ride. As Shabbat beckons on the whims of the western horizon, this ride is a mad dash home where a litany of pre-Shabbat preparations await. Once off the bike, it's a matter of vacuuming the apartment, setting up the hot plate and timers, making the pre-Shabbat phone calls ("Hello Grandpa, nu, gut Shabbos"), taking a shower, and trading lycra for formal wear.

The goal? Ride home as hard and as fast as possible, get the chores and preparations done as quickly as possible, and then there is time left over to run out and stock up on good Belgian beer (Leffe makes for both a very good kiddush wine and a nice way to sooth the sore legs on an erev Shabbat). And of course, there's nothing like having those sore legs durirng Kabbalat Shabbat as a sense of accomplishment and pride of being a Complete Jewish Cyclist.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Night for a Sport Other than Cycling

Putting cycling to the side for an evening (and riding for today, including the crucial Thursday interval session - bad Jason!), The Complete Jewish Cyclist became The Complete Jewish Baseball fan; our company took us out for an evening to the new Nationals Ballpark in Washington, DC to see the Nats take on the New York Mets.

Now of course a baseball game is a far cry from a Belgian Classic, and the Nats and Mets are not CSC-Saxo Bank or Caisse D'Epagne, but it was still an enjoyable time. The ball park was absolutely wonderful - clean, well-lit and appointed, very convenient to fans, and lots of fun. My company treated us to a buffet dinner, and they brought in special kosher meals for me. However, the beers were still ballpark beer, so The Complete Jewish Cyclist had to drink Budweiser instead of a fine Belgian Ale commonly preferred by pure cyclists.

The game itself was interesting. Being Jewish, it's no surprise that I am originally a New Yorker, though it is surprising to most non-New Yorkers that I am not a Yankees fan. I grew up going to Shea stadium with my father, and I was a Mets fan, Baseball fan, and little-leaguer until I discovered cycling. That was back in 1985, one year before the Mets won the World Series, and the same year Greg Lemond won the Tour de France. Still, the kid and New Yorker in me endured the joking displeasure from my local coworkers as I cheered on the Mets to their 9-3 victory (though the Nats do have a player named Ryan Zimmerman, also a Jew, whom played a nice game tonight and I gave him his due). The most interesting part of the night is that the Mets fans at this DC stadium outnumbered the Nats fan; blue and orange reigned supreme over red and white.

But now the baseball is over, and it's back to cycling. The Langster, revived for some more riding, is propped-up near the front door and ready to go tomorrow. The morning ride will be an easy spin, and the afternoon ride will be my pre-Shabbat time trial - 9.5 miles of pure violence and speed, with a significant climb in the opening miles, and undurlating tear through Rock Creek Park, and three leg-burning sprints up the final three climbs. If I make it home in time and get the pre-Shabbat preparations done, the hopefully I'll have time to run out and restock the Belgian Ale (Leffe makes for both a for a fine kiddush wine and a post-cyclocross beer). The riding is critical, though; Sunday is a 40-mile group ride with the Bike Rack, and the last 20 miles are at race-pace, so it's pedaling and miles on Friday to keep the legs fresh and carbs on Shabbat to keep the engine revving.

But for tonight at least, it was kosher hot dogs and cheap beer at the ol' ball game. Go Mets!

Monday, August 11, 2008

In the Beginning...

Better something more than nothing. No, it's not some Talmudic bit of wisdom nor pivitol lesson of this week's Torah portion. Rather, it's just that: something more than nothing, merely, something to kick things off on this blog which aims to explore and enjoy all than happens when the Torah lifestyle meets the Hardcore Cycling lifestlye.

I'm in the progress of typing up real, content-laden entries for this blog, but not tonight. Tonight, I have a beat-up, over-worked, horribly abused Specialized Langster to breath yet a little more life into for tomorrow's commute/training ride. It's late, yet the strong coffee is poured and the teflon dry-lube is on the ready. The Park stand is set up and the tool box is open with a motley assortment of Park and Spin Doctor surgical tools. The Langster is creaking and groaning, grimacing and moaning. The poor thing has 1520 harsh miles on it this season and takes the abuse of it's dual role as commuter and trainer for the upcoming cyclocross season. It's seen rain, it's seen snow, it's seen speed and it's seen the ground. Yet, the valiant thing soldiers on with the fighting spirit of any serious road bike out there. A Colnago it may not be, but a trustworthy steed for The Complete Jewish Cyclist it is.

So a little coffee for me, some teflon dry-lube for the Langy, and eventually, lots of Jewish Cycling all of you out there.