Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Hollidays!

Hope the holliday season treats you well!

Monday, December 15, 2008

CX Nationals

'Cross nationals went well. Had fun hanging out with the crew and managed to pull out a decent result. I was surprised to see everyone so surprised with the way I road. It was fast, relatively dry, plenty of climbing, and for the first time in 2 years I started at the front. To be honest, although I was pumped with my 4th place, I was pretty disappointed because I know I could have been higher up on the podium had I actually been racing to win. Oh well, it's just 'cross. Over all, the team really kicked ass. Especially in the D2 collegiate race. 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, & 7th ain't too shabby. That had to have been one of the best races I've watched in a while!

With all that side show stuff out of the way, it's time to get refocused on the big goals for next season. Right now the only thing between me and the big wins next year is the weather. Current temp: -4 degrees. Burr.

Anyone game for a southward bound road trip?

alex

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm a Jerk....

  • I know, I'm a jerk. I spend all season keeping ya'll well informed on my whereabouts and activities and then as soon as the off season rolls around I cut you off cold turkey. My bad. I'd promise not to let it happen again but it probably will so, I'll just ask you to bare with me. It's the price you pay for reading the blog of an ADD twenty year old.

    Anyways.... Where to start? I took a nice little off season from mid September to mid October. Raced a little cross, raced the Tour of Okinawa, raced a little more cross, and these days I'm on my bike 20+ hrs a week plus in the gym 3 days a week. Sometimes I have to remind myself that my break actually did happen and it wasn't just some awesome dream. So yeah, that's the bike side of life. Sorry to be brief but if you really care to hear more shoot me a comment.

    Oh, and I'm racing Cross Nationals this weekend. If you're out there give me a shout!

    As for no bike stuff... Moved into a new house up in North Boulder. My roomies were 4 lesbians, a Polish girl, and a guy that sells soy beans. But then 2 of the girls broke up (and the one that left took her awesome dog. So not rad.) and the Polish girl and guy that sold soy beans got fed up with our requests for them to clean their pasta sauce of the kitchen ceiling so they bounced as well. So, now it's me 3 lesbians and I think our new room mate is a (gulp...) triathlete. The official drink of choice at the ol' 1540 homestead is PBR. We have a tent in the basement for slumber parties, we have a custom painted beer pong table & dart board, and I think I'm home about 20% of the time and I have about 20 pairs of ear plugs on hand. Ridiculous contrast = ridiculous fun.

    These days I'm getting around in an old '92 Dodge Dakota pick up courtesy of my grandma. Thanks grandma! It's 120% horrible in the snow, has the names of various high school dingbats scratched into the paint, a couple of Avery's brewery stickers permanently stuck to the back, and by my unprofessional diagnosis, may possibly be on the verge of explosion. But god damn it, it's got character. I'm convinced it runs on a character/gasoline mix. Just add 1 part character and 400 parts gas. Seriously though, I shed a tear for all the pour polar bears I'm drowning every time I drive the beast.

    Running out of time...

    Quick list of other stuff that went down this off season:
  • Voted
  • Went "hunting" (ran around the woods, shooting cans, throwing knives at stumps, doing a little 4x4 action, and pooping in the forest. It was awesome)
  • Played "head, shoulders, knees and toes" with thirty Japanese kindergarteners. They sing it in English.
  • Worked my way up to a 2.5hr run. I think I might try and do a marathon next year. Don't tell my boss.
  • Got rained on in New Jersey.
  • Ate pie for breakfast 4 days in a row.
  • Became addicted to $5 burger night at the attic.
  • And danced my ass off on numerous occasions. Can I salsa? No. Can I dance to salsa music? Yes. Will Everyone around me be angry that I am not dancing salsa? Yes. But will those people also be secretly jealous of my sweet moves? Of course.
Well there you have it. That's what has been going on for the last couple of months. For the future, I should be updating once a week or so from now on because I once again have a steady supply of internet.
Take it easy and happy holidays,
alex

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ready to go


99.99% packed. Just need to toss my tooth brush in by bag tomorrow morning. My bags are super stuffed and it's going to take every trick in the book, and plenty of muscle, to haul 2 slightly over weight bags plus 2 plus sized carry ons half way around the world with out paying. Dosn't help that I have a an airport switch. At least I don't have to go through customs with a short layover. That seems to be where I always have troubble. Must be the machette....


Anyways, I am SOOO ready to get gettin'.


alex


PS- Bummer that it's true:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Packing....

Packing up my crap. Got lots of it. A full room and a years worth of supplies has to fit into 3 backpacks and a duffle bag. I love a challenge.

Challenges also make me tired, and due to limited space, I need to finish all my coffee and tea before leaving. God forbid it falls into the hands of the unworthy French. Call me greedy and hateful, but no one in this country is either worthy of or capable of consuming my coveted Ethiopian dark roast. Unless they add the norm of 4 spoonfuls of sugar tarnishing its rich black beauty and muddling with it's perfectly pleasant, eye opening, bitter bite. No, this coffee shall be consumed by none other than I.

Boredom is cured in mysterious ways. Packing 3 days in advance, dreaming up reasons to drink another cup of coffee, and finding ways to make the SAT test easier than ever:

http://www.gizmowatch.com/entry/touch-hear-will-deliver-knowledge-at-fingertips/

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Climbed a Mountain Yesterday....


Asside from the fact that I now have tan lines consistant with a spagettie strap tank top on my back thanks to my vision quest pack..... it was totally rad.
No mom, I didn't wear sun screen.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ring Side Seat

Optimism and positive thinking are usually the best cures for home sickness. Living in the moment, staying busy and searching for the good in one's surroundings typically will pull a person back to a state of semi sustainable happiness. I say semi sustainable because contrary to what the song says, if you're always getting knocked down you won't always get up again. Physics states that what goes up must come down but has no law for what goes down. Typically, after an initial rebound, a fallen object never gets up again. Today that fallen object was me. My spirit lost the last dim ember of love for this sh*t hole of a town. I've never particularly cared much for my adopted French ville. It's dirty, sketchy, and 5000 miles from where I want to be but, my distaste was never particularly justifiable. Today however, my buried anti Aubagneisum was justified as I watched, what had to be, one of the worlds most spectacular and horrific hobo smack downs.

For a small town we have more than our fair share of homeless folks. Actually, I'm not convinced they're all homeless. Many of their cloths change day by day, and dirty as they may be their hair seems to have no trouble adapting to what current fashion dictates. Basically, there are a bunch of gypsies, drunks, nomads, homeless, and in general F***ups running around this town. With nothing to do but ride my bike and ride my bike some more, I've spent months worth of time camped out in the town square observing and mentally documenting the habits of the inhabitants of this slab of concert in the sun. I know that the bald guy sleeps under the air vent behind the post office every week day but never on the weekends. I know that the girl and 2 guys trio lost one of their German shepherds after it bit a police officer. I know that the plants in a particular flower pot will never grow because one of the drunks uses it as his toilet. Not just for urine. And I also knew that 2 of the wanderers had some serious sh*t brewing between them.

Today that sh*t stew boiled over. Drunken fists whirled through the air. Swings found targets and lights darkened. As I and the rest of the shoppers at the Simply Market watched one man repeatedly kick in the face of the other, all I could think was, "I'm getting the f*** out of this sh*t hole. I'm getting the f*** out of this sh*t hole. I'm getting the f*** out of this sh*t hole. ASAP" Part of me wanted to help the man and part of me felt that some sort of karmatic dept was being leveled against a man who had tormented our unhappy little town.

It was so bizarre. Nothing Really seemed to happen. The man who did the kicking walked away, an ambulance came and took the unconscious man away. The crowed dispersed. I paid for my soap and felt sickly consoled by the fact that a man who had once spit on me for denying to give him money, probably wouldn't be spitting again anytime soon. The only thing that seemed to exist after the incident was my overwhelming need to leave this place. Transform it from a reality to a memory. So that's just what I'm going to do.

Optimism eat my shorts. I’m peacin’ out of here,
Alex

The Perfect Solution

Currently looking for a new home in the Boulder bubble.

I think I found it....

http://boulder.craigslist.org/sub/822075450.html

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Home Sweet Home

That's where I want to be right now; home.

Sorry about disappearing for a while there. I only packed my iTouch in anticipation of some crazy, unorganized travel with out realizing that I couldn’t actually update my blog with it. I can write in the title section but not in the content section. Oh well, I'm guessing everyone will survive just fine.

Aside from the blogging withdrawals, the last few weeks have been memorable. Paris with Ryan and Emily- Absolute blast. Hanging out in the Netherlands with Tejay, Ryan, and Emily- Absolute blast. GP Tell- Worst race of the season by far on the bike but one of my favorites off the bike. The legs were terrible but waking up to see pointy peaks shrouded in clouds every morning and hanging out with a fun group of guys keeps the spirits up even when the form is down. So basically it was a blast.

After all that yada, I spent a week up at the national team house in Belgium trying to kick a nasty cold I picked up mid way through GP Tell and spending way too much time shooing the sh*t with the guys on all the coffee shop rides. Time flies when you're having fun....

And now.... I'm back, home sweet home, in Marseille. And after a full day of train travel, I must say, as I lay here on my 2 inch thick foam pad of a bed: I just want to go home. Like home, home. The kind of home where there is always someone to pick me up from the airport, puppy dogs to play with, friends to hike with, and a girl to snuggle with. The home where I have every inch of the maze of roads with in 100 miles memorized like the back of my way too tan hand and I actually run into people out on the road whom I want to chat with (opposed to the old cycle stalkers around here). I've been playing this euro trip game for quite some time now, and now, faced with a September 100% void of all racing, I'm ready to pack it up and slap on the official Alex Howes seal of completion on this mini odyssey.

Not that anyone has asked but, I'd say I've pretty much done it all over here. Am I satisfied with my season? Hell no. Results wise I plan on sweeping this season under the rug ASAP. However, as far as (and I say this at the risk of sounding like some sort of liberal hippy douche) growing as person, the last 8 months are untouchable. I went 2 days with out food, wove a hammock, read 16 books, broke 7 chains 1 wheel and 1 bike, had 1500 euro worth of crap stolen, swam in the Atlantic and the med, sampled every type of beer at the grocery store (don't worry there are only 12 kinds), climbed the local mountain, busted the tail light of a team car with my break hood, won a trophy, cut my own hair 4 times, bought my first real saw and hammer (which I still need to figure out how I'm getting home...), visited 8 countries, walked the Luvre, laughed myself into shape, actually cracked, learned how to talk with an Irish accent, threw a bag of trash 50m and scored, more or less learned French, finished a coloring book, watched 106 movies and every episode of south park, spent a full week carving a small statue and threw it in the river, got way too good at sewing, and got beat up by an old Irish woman. I'm not saying I've done it all and I'm done here. Hell no, I'm just getting started. But, damnit I'm beat. I'm ready for a break and a burrito and some State side adventures.

I'll keep you posted but I think my butt will be planted on a familiar couch soon,
alex

Sunday, August 17, 2008

paris, netherlands, belgium

Sorry about the lack of updates. I've been surfing around the nothern part of europe for a while now. Few days in Paris with Spracky and Emily, who are on vacation right now, followed by the three of us making the trip up to the netherlands to visit Tejay. It's been heaps of fun with way too much laughing.

Off to Belgium tomorrow morning, to go race GP Tell in Switzerland with the national team. Feeling strong. Little stiff after breaking a chain while doing sprints yesterday and flipping ass over tea kettel at 30mph but, feeling strong.

bed time,
alex

Sunday, August 10, 2008

2nd

Got second today. It was cool. Took off with 4 other dudes on a really hard circuit and never looked back. The circuit was pretty straight forward: hard steep climb, short flat section, another hard steep climb, technical decent. Kinda like the old Andy Finch course except w/ a knarly descent. Figured the race would be won by a small group, guess I was right. Last time up the more difficult of the 2 climbs one of the riders maxed it and got a gap. Me and the other remaining rider didn't do a very good job at that whole cooperation bit (should have paid more attention to Sesame Street...) and never closed the gap. I attacked on the final climb and got w/ in 4 seconds of the leader but ran out of real estate. Had the legs to win. Oh well. Still pretty cool to be up there on a really tough day in the heat. Don't believe me that it was hard? The main "peleton" was about 14 guys by the end. No wonder we stayed away...

Drinking a beer and packing for Paris,
alex

Just Thought I'd Ask

Does anyone out there know of any cool stage races in October? Preferably one where I don’t have to miss Halloween…

I'm looking to really earn my off season this year.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Well, well


Well, well, well, where to start.... I guess it's been a few days since my last post. Sorry about that. I know how me being the center of the universe and all, everyone lives and breaths through my recolections of my mundane existance. Kidding of course. Any ways the past week or so has been plenty of fun. It started with the end of Tour d'Alsase. Great race. I have nothing but good things to say about that race (asside from some of the rediculous cobbles circuts w/ countless speed bumps traffic islands and narrow tunnels...). The organization was awsome and the crowds and start/finish towns were great hosts. In a truly professional style layout, the final day was increadibly hard. Here's part of the post that I typed up on the drive home but neglected to post:


"Well I'm spent! That last stage was a real doozy. I'm not really sure how long it was, how much climbing there was, or how many killijoules I'd did but it was a rediculous amount on all accounts. The day started with a 3 mile climb right off the bat. I survived. Decent. 6 mile climb straight after? Not really sure. My brain turned to mush sometime after the 20km mark. Long story short, I spent all day in the cars leap frogging groups and ended up somewhere in the top 30. It was one of those long days with out a seconds rest. The entire day was spent doing one of 5 things: bleeding from the eyeballs on some climb, playing caravan roullet (I'm getting WAY too good at this game. Bouncing off of bumpers, smacking tail lights, and skimming off the sides of cars (the right side of my body seems to be oddly attracted to the left side of the Ag2r car) are all bad habbits I'm trying to quit), staring in disbelieve at the five separate groups echeloned accross the road, catching and attacking said echelons, and my favorite.... Screaming at those unwilling to work, in what ever language comes to mind."


So yeah, it was tough. But I finished. Which is more than half my team can say... including the 2 leaders we'd all been working for. Bummer. Good thing is my legs are really starting to come around and the power is really starting to shoot up there. Although there is one small problem: No races. Correction: no races for me. Right now the only races the team is doing are in Italy. Only 4 riders plus 2 potential riders for next year went. So if you're not one of the six, you're training. I was scheduled to do a small criterium today but I have a funny feeling that the person who was supposed to pick me up has made other plans that don't include swinging by the apartment. To put it frankly, it's bull shit and I'm about ready to hop on a train and race kermeses in Belgium.


Ok, not Belgium. I'm off to the Netherlands on the 11th to go visit my good buddy Tejay who's been having a killer season this year. Should be fun especially because my other best bud Ryan and is Girly Emily will be up there as well. Should be buckets of fun.


I hope it's fun because Ryan and Emily could sure use some fun. They swung by Marseille a couple of days back during their France trip and I met up w/ them in the train station. There they were walking towards me, 2 people 1 back pack. Someone didn't sut the bus luggage door correctly and now $3000 worth of climbing equipment and travel stuff has found it's self a new home away from Ryan's back. Major bummer and insurance sucks but, it's hard to get that kid in a bad mood. Good to have a friend like that.
Trying to find a train to some BS race,
alex

Friday, August 1, 2008

Back

I'm back. Felt great today. I'm not going to go into details because it's almost 9pm (apparently going to bed before 9pm gives you magical powers...) but I was fast. Real fast. Like, "when do we hit the hill?" "we just went over the hill why do you think the group is down to 30 guys?" "oh that's cool" type of fast. I think today was also the first time I was bummed out because I had such a good team. Took off on a climb bridged 30 seconds of a 45 second gap on the winning move and had the momentum to go all the way when I was told to sit up because I was dragging one of the GC guys with me and we already had 2 guys in the lead group. Bummer. I'll be sure to leave that guy behind tomorrow.

Going to bed early in hopes of gaining magical powers,
alex

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Injured Pride

My pride hurts. Not because I've finished off the back every day so far (although that dosn't help...) but because, for the first time in my life, I failed to pee on comand. Yup, I got pulled for a randome doping control today and after 157km in scorching heat w/ about 5 fewer bottles than I needed I was 100% empty. Well ok, not 100% empty. The minimum amout was 75cl. I Mustered up 60cl. Close but no cigar. That 15cl difference was made up after consuming 3liters of water and waiting for 45min in a sweltering room. Talk about perfect recovery. Lets all hope I pass.

Ok, I'd talk more but my room mate has decided it's bed time. Shit, what time is it? 9pm. Humm, he must be tired. Perhaps he should have finished off the back to save some energy like me!

Laters,
alex

Monday, July 28, 2008

Surfin' France

Paris is cool. The Tour is cooler. Tour de France after parties are even cooler. And all of that with KT and crew is as cool as it comes.

Fun and games end in 9hrs and it's off to Alsace. From what I hear this race is no, "walk." what ever that means.

alex

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

&é"'(-è_çà)=

I am the proud new owner of a crappy old skateboard......

Monday, July 21, 2008

training camp and the tour

training camp is gong well. the mountains are majestic. i'm tired. i saw the tour for the first time in my life yesterday. it was really cool but i had to ride 4hrs in the rain and stand on the side of the road for 15min just to see it. not sure i would do that agin. but, danny pate looked good.

cyber cafes are expensive and i miss my querty key board. i've been out for 5hrs 45min today and my pacence is pretty low.

off to climb the 4 miles home,

alex

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Time

Well it’s definitely summer time! Yeah the heat is a good indicator of the current season but an even better indicator is the amount of ink on my calendar. Leaving for the alps today. Excited to get some good quality altitude training in with a group of really strong (and a couple of English speakers!) riders. I’ll even most likely get the chance to see a bit of the Tour’ up close! After 8 days in the alps a five hour train ride will land me in Paris for a few days chillin’ with the Slipstream staff (and the lovely Katie Merritt) and some quality Tour’ watching/ English speaking. From Paris it’s off to the six day, Tour d’Alsace. Which if I’m correct, which I think I am… crisscrosses the boarders of France and Germany.

Not quite as crazy as years past (did the math from last year: significant time spent in 13 states and 4 countries for the year’s total) but hey, at least I’ll be out of the house!

alex

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Portugal

Well, Portugal wasn’t exactly easy….

I know I was completely wrong in dreaming of warm sun, sandy beaches, beautiful Portuguese women, relaxed racing, and an all round good time as I made the pilgrimage to the wholly land of pain last Monday. A man can dream right? Alas, it was little more than a dream. I’m sure many of you have heard the rumors of the insanity of Portuguese racing and listened to the tails told by Pro Tour riders who, upon returning to their native lands, preached nothing but shocking tails of distain, pain, and caravan surfing. So I won’t elaborate too much on the racing side of things and give you a quick day by day:

Stage 1- “Wow I hope my legs wake up for tomorrow because spending 36hrs traveling from the states then driving 18hrs to Portugal has me in the hurt locker”

Stage 2- “F***!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could have F***ING WON THAT F***ING SPRINT!!!!!!!!!!!!! F***!!! I’M GOING TO KILL THAT LITTLE PORTUGUESE PIECE OF SH*T TOMORROW!!!! (I got 21st after being 4th wheel w/ 1km to the finish before being nearly killed…. lame)

After stage 2- Seriously contemplating crawling down the stairs to dinner. Legs giving out

Stage 3- “F***!!!!! I SHOULD HAVE MADE THAT BREAK!!!! F***!!! (Shortly after….) “Boy I’m sure glad I didn’t make that break because there’s no way in hell I’d be able to make it over all these climbs”

Stage 4- “Oh Sh*t. Did I really forget to eat for 40km? Looks like I’ll be finishing off the back. I sure do hope they don’t make me ride to the hotel after the race…. Damn it.

Stage 5- “I love circuit races and I slept for 12hrs like a dead man last night! I feel great!.... This is not a circuit race. A 4km climb with a 4km decent is torture.”

All things considering (lots and lots of travel, spare bike that kinda fit (if you can consider a 3cm longer reach “in the ball park”)) I did ok. Nothing special and I did finish off the back on a few days but at least I was still givin’ it hell and making the cracked out (I’m not necessarily saying they’re all dopers but every single one of them is twitchy as hell on the bike…) Portuguese earn their podium kisses. If nothing else it brought me up another level on the toughness scale. A few more races like this and I’ll be up to Clint Eastwood tough.

Anyways, w/ zero regard to the racing, Portugal was pretty damn cool. We stayed in a tiny little Mom and Pop hotel just above a local bar. Aside from the toothless 90 year old men and poorly camouflaged transvestites the place was pretty cozy. There were even a couple of English movies on one of the 4 TV channels! Yeah, Fast and the Furious 2! Although, I’m still trying to understand the meaning behind the psychedelic heard of running horses that would play in substitution of commercials… I think I want to join the Portuguese army?

All our food was home made (the first time I saw the kitchen counter covered w/ dead rabbits I was a bit shocked until I realized their purpose) by a small army of semi toothless old women. And any hair found in the food was quickly forgotten with a smile from the granddaughter who worked behind the bar. The sun was hot, nights were cool and the breeze was always the perfect temperature. We stayed 20 km from the ocean and the day we arrived we were granted the rare opportunity to go on an unstructured team ride to the beach. I took advantage of the situation and can now say I’ve jumped in on both sides of the Atlantic! At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think it’s safe to say my dreams came true. Portugal, I’m coming back for you someday.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

F$#% NWA!


If I'm lucky I'll get to race a five day stage race in Portugal on a spare bike.... If I'm lucky. France shuts down on Sundays and we leave tomorrow at 6:30am.


Remind me again why I got on the plane...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Flash update




Just got back to France after a looonnngggg day of travel. I thought I'd be able to just jump back into the swing of things over here but, there's no denying the fact that my French has started to rust and a brief taste of home has only left me wanting more. Oh well, no time to cry. I leave for Portugal on the 7th. Just enough time to wash my dirty cloths and take the tub of peanut butter out of my abused and over used bag. Any ways, as the title promises here's a quick list of all the rad things that went down over the last few weeks-




- Tour of PA - Wow, what a race! Felt amazing to be racing back in the states and it felt even better to be racing w/ a group of guys who are not only some of the best in the peleton but some of my best friends! Awards taken are as follows:




  • Team GC (as Walker will tell you, it's a big deal because we all got jearsys)


  • Climbers jearsy (Won by Peter Stetina after some of the most hardcore racing I've ever seen. Took a couple of pages out of the, "Eastern Block Book for Bikers - We Break Legs for breakfast"


  • Best young rider - Won by Peter Salons. If you count nail sanwiches and horse semen recovery shakes* as doping than that kid is jacked.


  • Most agressive rider jearsy on 2 stages - I had it one day and Stetina had it the next day.


  • Oh yeah, almost forgot..... we won 2 stages! One of them was live on national television! Both were won by Daniel Holloway. That kid is FAST! Everybody was saying how amazing we were as a team riding on the front in the crits trying to set it up for Holloway. Fact is, is that it ain't hard to go hard when you know you've got a guy like Holloway to seal the deal at the end.


- Home - I could write a full book of the events that took place but I'll spare you the details.





  • 8hr rides trying to cover every inch of the front range roads I love so much.


  • Farmer's market loitering


  • Levi's 21st and a steller Hat party


  • Goodwill shopping


  • Rock climbing (Fred and Vaughters, if you're reading this right now you can go ahead and ignore that last bullet...)


  • 2 crashes (one stupid one in a construction zone and one on live television)


  • One potato gun shooting (may the Kelly Cannon live forever)


All of that is topped off w/ a healthy serving of quality laughs, tasty food, hugs, and good ol' Colorado livin'.



Well then, It's been 29hrs since I last had a wink of solid snoozin' so I'm off to bed.



Happy late 4th of July,



alex





*The Slovok never actually ingested nails or horse semen...

Monday, June 16, 2008

CO

BACK IN THE OL' CO! Boy it sure does feel good to see some old friends and walk around speaking English but, it feels even better to get a little down time. That whole bike riding thing is fun again! I'm going to warn you right now by saying that I probably won't be updating the blog much for the next week or so. I'm doing everything I can to cram 6 months worth of living into the space of about a week!

Enjoying the sun,
alex

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Road

Still in Belgium right now. Raced on the 8th, and preparing to race again today on the 10th. The race a couple of days ago went about as I had expected it would. Race, race, race, cough, cough, cough (I've been sickish for the last week), 20 guys go up the road, race, race, race, make it into a chase group w/ 5km to go, flat, finish mid pack. Normal stuff. I'm sure today will be more of the same.

I will say though, that hanging out here at the national team house is a very welcomed change of pace. Hanging out, speaking English, recalling war stories, watching English tv, and just enjoying riding bikes (or not riding sometimes! our "training session" at a playground in a near by town wasn't exactly the most strenuous ride), has me feeling happy as a clam here. Not to mention I don't have to cook dinner! I could most certainly get used to this.

Anyways, just got my ticket info and I'm officially heading to the states on the 12th! REALLY EXCITED!

Oh, and one more thing. A few of you were asking about my fight at Roubaix. It started when they neutralized the race after 60km and some hozer was pushing his way to the front. He pushed me down into the mud in an effort to move up and I grabbed onto his bike to preventing him from doing so. Upon regaining my footing, he had some choice words for me in his language and I had a few for him in my language. He swung, popped me in the top of the helmet (that had to hurt!) and in the heat of the moment I felt the need to give him a quick jab w/ the right. Pretty stupid, but I'm sure it was pretty funny to watch!

Goin' out swinging today,
alex

Friday, June 6, 2008

Belgium

Well, made it to Belgium. Suprise, it's raining!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

...




Big thanks to Jean Jacques Delrot from VC Roubaix Lille Metropole for the superb photos!


Crazy

(Finally have my camera harware back. Sorry for the lack of photos. Here's one from the iPod surgery to hold you over)

Well Roubaix was pretty crazy. What else can I say? It was almost exactly what I expected. Mud, slick pave, pissed off euros, wicked fun. Don't be fooled by the results (I think I got 60th. The last guy to make the time cut), I had a pretty good day out there. My job for the day was to led Gatis and Evaldas into the cobble sections and I did just that.

Quick break down of the race- Marked breaks for the first 50km. Got a flat 5km before the first pave section. Motor paced back at 70kmph almost killed myself riding on the side walk then revved the engine at the front and launched Gatis into the pave. Race was neutralized after a moto crashed. Got in a fist fight during the neutral. Stayed upright by riding 15yards out into a mud field during the second section to make the led split of 25. Marked breaks till Gatis rejoined the front (crashed during pave section). Race, race, race. Bla, bla, bla. Pave, pave, pave. Crash w/ 30km to go. Got an epically slow wheel change and no help from the car after the change. Day was over. Packed it up and just dragged my tired ass to the finish. Damn seeing the finishing velodrome felt good!

One funny thing about the whole Roubaix experience is, before the race the staff told us that after the race we could drink all the beer we wanted. But saying that is like telling a little kid who is going in to get his tonsils taken out that, after the surgery, he can have all the ice cream he wants. After surgery the poor kid is in too much pain to get the ice cream down his throat so he just sits there staring at it in agony. We were not much different. After the race my hands were so trashed and bruised I could hardly even hold a beer can. Opening it was damn near impossible and drinking it.... not happening.

Anyways, Roubaix was fun and I'm really happy I got to race and even happier that I put in a good race and was able to really help out the team. However, there is no time to bask in the post Roubaix vibe; I've got a big month ahead of me. I'll spare y'all the details but I will say that in the next month I will visit 5 countries and 4 states. Yeah, that's right I said states!

Going home for a week,
alex

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Worst Fear


For some people it's public speaking or public humiliation. For others it's death. For me it's a bit of a combination of the two. My worst fear is ending up in the Darwin Awards. I guess it wouldn't be that bad seeing as I wouldn't actually know but damn, it would suck to be the parents of some of the winners. "Yes, Mr. & Mrs. So and So we are deeply sorry for your loss but, you have to admit..... your son was a dumb ass."

However, no Darwin awards will be given out this weekend. Hence, I have noting to fear. Courage is the name of the game and honor is at stake. As the old Cody Racing Team always liked to say,

"BRING IT!!!"

alex

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Big Show

Typically I get pretty pissed when I am told that, instead of getting the planned rest I so desperately need, I have to man up and stick it out for one more race. Call it a pet peeve of mine. However, I just can't seem to get mad about the fact that U23 Paris-Roubaix has been tossed into my calendar. It's not really my kind of race but, it's a legendary beast of a race and with Gatis we have a legendary beast of a rider to call our leader. I'm itching with anticipation (ok, maybe it's not anticipation.... I've had some wild hives ever since laying down in the grass at the finish of French-Conte) over the idea of loosing a few brain cells as I bounce over the cobbles.

Manning up,
alex

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Home(ish)

Whew! Glad that's over! Sorry about the lack of updates but most hotels in these parts care little for that whole wifi thing. Anyways, by some Godly miracle I some how managed to get my gimp ass to the finish line for all six stages. I know it doesn’t sound like much but I'm actually pretty damn proud of myself given the state I started in. The best part is that I seemed to get better day by day. Actually, no, that's wrong. I think as the days ticked by the other riders slowly dipped down to the speed of my pathetic crawl.

Oh sh*t! I almost forgot, I managed to sneak into the break on the 5th stage! It was one of the strangest breaks I have even been apart of. We all raced like crazy men for the first 20km and the big split happened on the decent. 20-30riders. Crash.... 12 riders. Race, race, race. First big hill 1 rider get dropped (I'm felling surprisingly invincible at this point). Decent.... Crash. 11 riders. Crash.... 10 riders. Somewhere in there I go from feeling like I'm cornering on rails to cornering on greased ice. 2 wheel slide here, skimming along the guardrail there (I knew I wore leg warmers for a reason!). Now I know I've made a lot of huff and puff about how crazy and dangerous this or that race was but this one takes the cake! I was scared just riding in a straight line! Anyways, after a few more descents and a lot more wild, chamois soiling, incidents the break was whittled down to the 7 best/stupidest, riders/bike handlers. However, we were doomed from the start seeing as there was a pretty knarly finishing climb at the end. We made it to the hill, tried our best to pretend we were still racing for the win, and were promptly caught in the last 5km. 130km in the rain off the front risking life and limb only to get caught at the very end. That's life I guess. But just like life, it was fun.

One last thing. By far my favorite part of the entire race occurred about 10km into stage 4. The race started w/ a long high speed decent (yes, I am now sure the promoters were trying to kill us...). Fearing for my life when in the bunch, I did everything in my power to make it up in to the top few riders. On my way to the front, I completely misjudged a corner and came w/ in inches of mowing down 2 old men who were standing on the side of the course. When I looked back, half expecting one of them to be laying on the ground dead, I saw two of the world's biggest smiles w/ one of the old men shaking a limp hand. In France this limp hand shake roughly translates to, "holly sh*t!" I don't know why but it was rad.

Bed time,
alex

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This Is Going To Be Tough....

On paper today looked like the easiest stage. Didn't feel so easy. We road in one long line for 130km today until someone finally called uncle and the field shattered then regrouped into 2 groups. In the second group everyone seemed to be just as tired as I was and we were all more than happy to coast in the last 15km or so. So now me and 3 others from my team (we only have 5....) are now 5min down. To be perfectly honest I'm a bit happy because now I won't have a target on my back and there's no pressure for the TT.

It's strange having no idea where I am. I have yet to look up the location of the race on the internet and I slept for the entire 5-6hr car ride. All I know is that I'm located 5-6hrs from Marseille, the landscape is and odd blend of urban meshed w/ rural which reminds me of Pennsylvania (good training for Tour of PA), and tonight we're staying in the same town as the College of Notre Dame (a fact which was made very obvious as we came rolling in gawking at all the lovely "scenery" that only a college town can offer). On the plus side tonight's hotel has some really tasty food w/ plenty of variety.

Already dreaming about breakfast,
alex

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just Don't Look Back

Any one who says keeping a training log is a good idea is a complete idiot. This is the second season I have kept one and once again it has been telling me nothing but bad things. I could see the benefit if I had control over my own training and racing schedule but, right now all it's telling me is I'm way in the hole and about to go even deeper w/ the next big race that stats tomorrow. So I'm tossing it out the window right now and taking a page out of breaking away 101: Don't look back.

Sunday's race was a full day of time trialing. The morning TT was well.... a TT. As is the norm Gatis and Evaldas had good rides and took the top 2 spots. In the afternoon it was TTT practice. After splitting the field over the first climb La Pomme went into formation and hammered on the front for the next 100km. Gatis won the road race and the over all. Long tough day in the saddle.

Tour de Franche Comté starts tomorrow. I honestly thought I had a few days to take it easy after training camp/Sunday’s race before Comte. Guess I was wrong... Oh well, I'm perfectly happy living vicariously through the results of my peers. Can't tell you how happy it makes me to see guys like Mike Lange (3rd Tour of Arkansas), Brad Huff (1st stage 4 Tour of Arkansas), and Kilian Patour (stage 3 Tour de Picardie) back on the podium. Nice work guys!

Ok, van is here. I'll try and keep y'all posted,
alex

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 3

Rain, rain, rain. Gotta love it. At least when it rains here it isn't nearly as cold as a rain storm on the ol' Colorado front range. In addition to the spectacularly rainy, climb filled training day today, I was delivered the information that I will not have the opportunity to race L'Isard next week. Can't say I'm pissed. Nothing like finding out the big goal of the season is no longer in my schedule, by email. What ever. As I have taught some of my team mates to say when bad things happen, "F*** it" and proceed. Seems like I've been saying that a lot with my recent streak of ill fated luck and crappy weather.

It's strange how the vocabulary deteriorates when the opportunity to speak English surfaces only once in a blue moon. For example, in Spain I was nearly run over whilst walking through a gas station parking lot. First words out of my mouth were, "YOU F*** ASS!!!!" F*** ass? Pretty creative I know. I think it's from the movie Donnie Darko.

Anyways, training camp is now over and tomorrow I plan to sleep till 1pm in an attempt to get some legs back under me for the race on Sunday. Oh, and not doing L'Isard is not the end of the world; I'll be doing Tour de Franche Comté instead. 5 days of fun. From what I hear the weather is supposed to be good and the scenery is top notch. Maybe the pasta will even be al dente! Ummm.... probably not. I think I'll just count my lucky stars and be grateful I didn't break my neck racing in Spain and cross my fingers I stay healthy from now until May 26.

Pissed off and riding fast,
alex

Thursday, May 15, 2008

T-Camp #2 Day 2: Ventoux

Man that hill is tough! We never even went all the way to the top (although we did the lower 10km twice) and I feel like I've been run over by a truck! Today was not what I had expected. I've seen the Ventoux on the TV a number of times from it's various appearances in the Tour de France and every time I've seen it, it looked like the sunny side of the moon, i.e. hotter than hell and completely barren. However, today since we only road the lower 2/3 of the climb we never left the forest and (big surprise here....) it was cold and rainy. It really is a testing climb; long, steep, plenty of extended straight sections where you can catch a glimpse of all the fast guys up the road and all the guys nipping at your heals. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if I ever race the Tour I'll be crossing my fingers that Ventoux isn't part of the course!

On a completely unrelated note. I road up on two guys conversing w/ one another using sign language as they road through city traffic today and concluded that it was unsafe to use sign language in traffic and be unable the hear what's going on around you. Then I realized that flipping someone the bird while listening to an ipod fits that criteria. I guess I'm not a very safe person...

alex

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Training Camp #2

Well we have another training camp. Mid season right smack dab in between stage races. The purpose of this camp is completely beyond me at the moment because most of the guys look like they should be sleeping on the couch w/ their legs up trying to recover instead of doing climbing intervals. But hey, I'm not the boss. Today was pretty rough for me. Actually, "pretty rough" is a serious understatement. I think today was one of the worst days I have had on the bike all year. I was absolutely crawling. Oh well. What ever, nothing a good night’s sleep can't cure. Tomorrow we head out to the legendary Mt. Ventoux for some serious climbing. Let's hope I'm not pedaling squares!

alex

Monday, May 12, 2008

If You Want To Help Me Win Bike Races....

Help stop global warming. Being the mountain boy that I am, I've never been particularly good at racing in the heat.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-mckibben11-2008may11,0,7434369.story

350,
alex

ps. It always pisses me off when the global warming articles get put in the opinion section of the paper.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I would like to wish all you mamas out there a HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! Especially to my mom! Thanks for bringing me into this world. I'd also like to thank my little brother Jordan who, for the first time in 17 years, is cleaning house (Mother’s Day tradition at the Howes house) w/ out his older brother around to vacuum and oil the antiques! Way to pick up the slack little bro!

Also I'd like to make it clear that there are no hard feelings between me and the Basque country. Last night I was repaid for all my bad luck and effort w/ an amazing traditional Basque dinner and some delicious champagne. Is there any better way to finish up a hard race? I think not.

alex

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bad Timing

Well today sucked. Not really any other way to put it. It started off ok; cold, rainy, and aggressive. I managed to get away with a ridiculously strong Spaniard for a total of 12km early on and was rewarded w/ a few more King of the Mountains points. But the peleton was having none of it and our advantage never made it past 32 seconds. After getting caught I had just enough time to catch my breath and slam some sugar before a tough category 2 climb. I was feeling surprisingly good for about 2km at which point I rocketed into the red. Wondering what was up, I kept looking back to see if some on was hanging on to my saddle. My assumption was close, I had a flat. 3/4 of the way up the hill w/ my team car a full km behind I was granted the opportunity to wait for a solid minute for a wheel then wait what felt like an hour as the wheel was changed. My race was pretty much over. I came pretty close to making it back in the caravan but ended up in the grupetto and finishing behind the time cut. Oh well, that's racing I guess. At this point, even if I was offered a pro contract for next year I'm not sure I would sign simply because I intend to come back to this race next year and rip it apart. I've got some unfinished business here in the Basque country.

Training for L'Isard,
alex
Training for L'Isard,
alex

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Crazy

Today was honestly one of the most insane races I have ever done. I think 75% of the peleton crashed. By some act of God I managed to stay upright but I was taken out of the race in the last 15km by some hozer who thought it would be a good idea to smash my rear derailleur into my spokes as we chased back on after getting caught behind a crash. Pretty fun. On the bright side I felt great today, although I didn't manage to get any more King of the Mountains points. Oh well. My new plan for the rest of the race is to do what I do best. Go really, really hard. I'm thinking another long break is in the cards for me tomorrow. If the motivation to get a good result isn't enough to get away tomorrow, the fear of running through the Basque gauntlet of carnage again surly will be.

Cross your fingers it doesn’t rain again,
alex

Quick update from Bidasoa

Well day one is in the books and I'm pretty happy with it. Managed to make the break with out even trying which is a first for me here in Europe. 2 quick corners and wham bam thank you mam. Even w/ some pretty shotty organization we managed to make it pretty close to the line and only got caught in the last 7km. I felt good all day and am now tied for the King of the Mountains classification. We'll see where I end up by the end of the race....

Today promises to be pretty tough with a hard 8km climb right in the middle of the course. W/ a little luck and some guts I hope to be one of the first ones over the top.

OK, time to go!
alex

Monday, May 5, 2008

Off To Spain

Once again, sorry about the lack of updates. I'd love to say that I've just been too busy but, it's been quite the opposite. Not doing much around here these days. Eat, sleep, and ride. Fun, fun, and more fun! Kinda... So yeah, I haven't had much to write about. That little race I was talking about last time went ok. I managed another 8th place. I swear someday I'll do better than 8th. I swear on my dead dogs grave I'll get 7th one day. Maybe even 6th! Oh well, at least I didn't loose any skin and I felt really cool after the race because of how torn up my pedals were from clipping them through half the corners. I know I sound like an idiot because I think that trashing my pedals and almost crashing is cool but for some reason I see it as something to be proud of.

Anyways, I leave tomorrow morning for Spain for the Vuelta Bidasoa. Looking forward to some good food and hard racing. Cross your fingers for me to make it to the line w/ some of the little Spanish climbers so I can wax them in the sprint. At least that's what my plan is....

Talk to you again next week,
alex

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Just Around The Corner....

http://www.vuelta-bidasoa.com/2008/index.html

Check out the Etapas. They look like the teeth of some sort of man eating animal. Lets just hope I come out alive.

Paris-Mantes was nothing special. Other than the shocking feeling of imminent death quickly advancing upon me as we entered each obstacle course of a town (and we passed through plenty of them) I was left with little to brag, I mean... write about.

I've got another race tomorrow some where in France. Should be a fast little bastard. 30 laps of a 1.8km circuit. I've busted out my carbon knuckled oakley boxing gloves for this one. This American crit racer is predicting some serious bush league antics and intends to arrive prepared. With a little luck I think those gloves may be in the air as I cross the line tomorrow.

Dustin' off the crit legs,
alex

Friday, April 25, 2008

Great Day Or, The Greatest Day?

A surprising number of people have brought the lack of posts over the past few days to my attention. It appears that my blog has a heroin like effect on some people. Like heroin, reading this blog will make you late for work, less intelligent, and over time will probably make your teeth fall out (I'm warning you now...). But, for some reason people read on. Interesting... Well, I have a damn good reason for not posting these last few days. My ipod died. And with it's passing, a surprisingly large chunk of my soul went with it. I never realized it till now but that little hunk of metal affectionately named Pijon and engraved with the saying, "You can't make a quesadilla with out the tortilla" is probably one of my best "friends." It's been with me now for over 3 years and has spent far more time with me than any other inanimate or animate being. I know how lame that must sound but it's true. These days especially. Plugging into the ipod is one of the only places I can get my English fix!

For 3 days I fought back the tears in silence and tried to stay strong with the music from my computer but it just wasn't the same. So this morning, after 3 cups of coffee and a couple of slices of home (peanut butter, honey, sliced banana, and cinnamon on toast) I cranked up the MGMT got out my Tok, Alaska Swiss army knife and proceeded to perform surgery on poor little Pijon. For 3 hrs I worked. Hands shaking from the nervous energy that can only come from diving head first into the unknown abyss of open heart surgery performed on ones best friend (or was it the 3 cups of coffee?), brow sweating, and eyes darting back and forth from a dismantled Pijon to Wikihow. And I'll be damned, I did it! I am happy to report that Pijon is once again fully functional! A revived ipod, spectacular ride w/ perfect weather, new bar tape, and new cleats makes today one of the most amazing days in the life of Alex Howes!

As I write this I can't help but think of another good friend of mine who's in a tough spot. Timmy Duggan recently hit the deck (hell, he probably broke the deck with how hard he hit it) at the Tour of Georgia. Pretty scary stuff. Hearing about crashes like that always makes me (and the rest of the peleton I'm sure) wonder why we do this stupid sport.

Heal fast Timmy!

Oh yeah, and there's a race this weekend! Paris-Mantes. I have no idea what kind of race it is or who is going to be there but I know where Paris is!

Goin' to Paris,
alex

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day


Happy Earth day!!!


Not sure they have Earth Day here in France land but, I suppose I'll take the recycling out and ride my bike to work today to do my part!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Grim Reaper

That's what I was for the Rhone Alpes Isere Tour. If you were behind me you were screwed. If you were in front of me, everything was going to be ok. With out fail, I was always the last guy to get popped from the lead group. Even when I was feeling amazingly strong something would happen that would keep me out of the lead group. Missed feeds, broken derailleur hanger, dropped chain, slick corner (fallowed by me body checking a rather solid brick wall), ect, ect. The list goes on. And as much as I'd love to sit here and bitch about all my misfortunes this week, the fact is I just didn't have the legs to play w/ the big boys this weekend. Yeah, it sucks when a major objective is met w/ sub par form and fortune but one must never cease to look on the bright side. Not only will repeatedly getting whipped on the climbs help me improve for the upcoming races but out of both panic and necessity I am once again one of the paragon falcons of the peleton. After 4 days of racing up and down rain slicked, and diesel soaked roads I have emerged not as one of the primer climbers but as one of the few who have perfected the delicate ballet moves required to play with the race caravan at 50mph. I may never be one of the best climbers in the peleton but I am quickly becoming one of the few crazy enough to hunt them down post summit.

Sun's out, better go ride,
alex

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Real Beginning

Warning: Don't eat Pussy too fast, you will get a brain freez.


First big race of the season for me starts tomorrow. Legs are good (although the ribs are still pretty sore) and I'm pretty excited to get some stage racing under my belt. If you speak French and feel like waking up early you can fallow the race live at http://www.directvelo.com/index.php. It's the Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour. Other wise I'll let you all know how it went next Monday. No laptop for me on this trip. I think I've ODed on internet and need a little detox.

Thanks for reading and cross your fingers,
alex




ps- What will happen when someone from my generation named Kenny actually gets killed?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ice

Ice is the word of the day today. Just so happens it was the word of the day yesterday also and will most certainly be the word of the day tomorrow. Why? Well, the day after my spectacular high speed dismount I awoke scratching my head wondering what the hell had happened to the right side of my torso. Had I been hit by a truck? Was I slammed by a ram? Did I fall from the 3rd story of a building? Guess I was distracted by all that red liquidy stuff after the race enough to make me over look the fact that I had done some serious whacking to my torso. Oh well, I've got 2 days to get things all straightened out before Rhone Alpes Isere Tour and I'm taking the fact that I managed to pull it together for 8th place on Sunday's road race as a sign that everything is going to play out in my favor. However, until Rhone Alpes.... ice, ice, ice.

Another thing I have going in my favor is the fact that I have rediscovered my bandage changing song. I know it sounds weird but a few years ago I discovered that the usually silent pain of cleaning wounds and changing bandages is much more tolerable while rocking out and occasionally playing naked air guitar. My long time favorite bandage cleaning song: Holy Diver by Dio. Why is this at the top of the list? If only I knew....

alex

Saturday, April 12, 2008

For Those Of You That Don't Know....

Hitting the deck at 60kpm really sucks. Not to mention hurts. Sucks even more when it happens in the 2nd Km of the race when the S--t is hitting the fan. To add insult to injury I was in what ended up being the winning group! Oh and after the crash I had 6 gears (3 in the back and 2 up front). Not 6 gears that worked, just 6 that the deraliure was phically capable of reaching. It made for a long day in the saddle. Can a guy get a little luck around here?

Ok I'm done venting. Good thing is, is that I finished so I can race tomorrow (at least they tell me that's a good thing.....) and my legs were actually really good today. I think I might have actually finished second group. Not sure seeing as I spent the whole day playing leap frog working my way up from the back. Tomorrow stars w/ a 6km up hill TT w/ a short road race in the afternoon. Cross your fingers I don't break my chain in this TT also.

Sleeping on the left side,
alex

Friday, April 11, 2008

What A Strange Land This Is....


"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."


Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Just Thoughts


If M&Ms and Thin Mints don't kill me does that mean they make me stronger? I sure hope so....


I think I'm going to scrap the cycling tour I was planning on doing in Italy during my mid season break. In replacement I'm thinking camping/canoeing around Sweden or Norway. How rad would that be?!? Get away from the city and sleep in the dirt for a while. It should be just what the doctor ordered to prevent me from fully decomposing in this tiny little French apt.


alex

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Updated Team Site

http://www.veloclublapomme.com//main.php?PAGE=305

Wildlife


I saw a wild boar today. It scared me. I scared her. I thought she was pretty ugly. I wonder if she is thinking the same thing about me right meow….

Rain, rain go away,
alex

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I Got Robbed

They say Marseille has one of the highest crime rates in the country. Guess that’s true. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
alex

The races this weekend were pretty solid. For the first time in a long time I actually felt fast in a time trial. It was a 4km sprint. 1.5km into a head wind, 1km cross wind 1km tail, 1.5 cross. Pretty straight forward w/ only 2 corners worth breaking for (if you were planning on winning that is!). Got off to a great start and decided that I was going well enough to take some risks on the tail wind section and I promised myself I wouldn’t break. Underestimated the speed I would have when I road the course during warm up and ended up touching gravel in 3 out of the 4 corners on the back stretch! Some how I stayed on the road a was ready to hit the afterburners for the last 1.5km when I suddenly found myself riding a front wheel endo praying to every god in the universe to keep from kissing the concrete (this is the second time this season this has happened!! WTF!!). I didn’t crash and for my acrobatics I was rewarded w/ the opportunity to run/coast my bike for the last 1.5km. Fun! I’m not saying I was going to win but, I think I could have been top 5. Which for me, is a big deal when it’s a TT. Oh well.

The road race in the afternoon was much better. After few nervous moments of trying to beg, borrow, and steal a new chain a rival team stepped in to help out. Other than that I felt great all day. From the km zero attack (yeah, I was that asshole) to the final few km. Managed to TT up to the lead split which was pretty rad. Guess snapping my chain in the morning helped me save my TT legs for the afternoon…. I think I finished up somewhere in the top 10. Expecting big things for the big races comming up in the next couple of weeks and months.

As is the norm, the team road really well. Balbuena finished up 3rd overall, Lopez snagged the sprinters jersey, and Delaroziere came in 3rd for the mountains classification. Did I mention we only had 4 guys in the race? Not too shabby.


Not that anyone cares but, have I ever mentioned how much I love Sea Wolf?


Well I do so there,

alex

Friday, April 4, 2008

I Must Say....


I feel like a straight up bad ass cruzin' around in the team vans! There's nothing that brings me back to a state side mind set than driving a big ass van, shirtless, in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic! Long live cassette players and ghetto clutches.

4km TT tomorrow morning w/ a 100km road race in the afternoon. Should be a bucket of fun!

alex

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Are You F---ing Serious?

http://velonews.com/article/73998/carpenter-and-phinney-start-new-venture

This better be an April fools joke. I don't think I could keep up if there was a whole peleton full of Mini Phinnys!

Am I the only one who Noticed

That Pete finished second to Oscar Sevilla in San Dimas? Damn! I here by retract all prior harsh words and sarcastic phrases made this winter in reference to both Pete's large butt and January intervals.

Nice ride Petra,

alex

Monday, March 31, 2008

Mini Adventures


That what life is for a bike racer. It's just a series of mini adventures (some less mini than others) interspersed with brief periods of extreme boredom. A few days in a faraway land filled w/ picturesque rolling hills and snow caped peaks here, a week or two in a foreign jungle of a city there. The concept of consistency does not exist (aside from the fact that as a bike racer you KNOW that you HAVE to ride your bike EVERYDAY (w/ a few very rare exceptions) if you want to WIN) and to entertain the idea that you actually have a home, or some sort of permanent base, is simply an act that will set you up for quite a let down. Sometimes it sucks however, most of the time the pace and rhythm mesh perfectly with the beat of my little humming bird heart rate.

This weekend's mini adventure was to Annemasse. The race was hard. I spent most of the day driving the peleton through valleys and over some pretty damn tough hills. The team road really well as a cohesive unit, splitting the field into smaller and smaller groups until lighting a rocket going into the final climb. My legs felt solid but after 120km of flat out racing my body yelled, "uncle" and I had to find a little laughing group and limp home with. All things considering I'm pretty happy w/ the way things played out and w/ way I raced. Big props to Jonathan Balbuena who road a stellar race to finish 2nd. But ya, bla bla bla.... racing shmacing. What I really wanted to say is how F---ING AWSOME Annemasse is. I'm pretty sure if I ever decide to buy myself a permanent residence here in France it's going to be somewhere in that region. Absolutely stunning landscape. I'm thinking a nice little cottage in Switzerland.....

Oh, and I had another little mini adventure today too! While digging through the piles of food on my shelf I had a sudden thought, "WTF Alex why are you still using an old dilapidated cardboard box to organize your crap? Build a f---ing spice rack!" So that's just what I did. I walked/hitch hiked the 4 miles in the rain (people keep telling me it never rains here... What the hell?) to the hardware store, bought a saw, nails, and a hammer, ripped apart some chairs by the dumpsters and made an absolutely baller spice rack. Thank you boy scouts!

Oh and congrats to Jonathan Brunel, and Gatis Smukulis who both snagged sweet victories this weekend at Saint-Ciers!

Did you know the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated on this day in 1889?

Yeah, didn’t think so,

alex

Friday, March 28, 2008

For the first time in a long time


I feel 90% sane (personal best). Why? I don't know, but I like it. It's funny, you never really realize how far from sanity you were until you return to normality.


Feeling good for the race this weekend. I think I can do something pretty rad on the final climb. We'll see.....

Don't hold your breath. Although, it would be perfectly acceptable to cross your fingers.


Oh, and I'm going to buy my first guitar. My lofty goal: To be able to play Iron and Wine's "Each Coming Night" by the time I go back to CO in October. Then find someone who can play the banjo to jam w/ to bring the song to its full level of awsomeness. Any takers?


Thanks for reading,

alex

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Well it's Official

I now know just enough French to get myself into trouble. For example: I read a team email the other day and instead of running it through a translator after I read it just to make sure I understood everything I just assumed I got everything and continued to go about my internet surfing. Turns out I completely missed the main point and because of that I missed the team ride today. This whole language barrier thing is a real bitch sometimes. Looks like I still have some studying to do.....

BIG race this weekend,

alex

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Few Days Late....

But, happy Easter.

My Easter was pretty fantastic. I passed the day speaking English and enjoying a few smiles with a special girl and even got to talk with the whole family on the phone during Easter lunch! I couldn't have asked for a better day (although, I do find it pretty ironic that it was the first day in roughly 5 weeks that I did not consume any hard boiled eggs). Today however, it's back to the grind. I can't remember the last time I road in wind like this. Oh wait I think I do..... I think it was that time back in Colorado when I got a chunk taken out of my helmet from a shingle that was ripped off my neighbor's roof. Remember kids, always wear a helmet.

alex

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today's Lesson

Pee before you mop the bathroom. Why? Because apparently French cops do look behind the dumpsters out back.


Whoops.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen




I present you with the worlds finest (if not the first) American hand crafted French hammock. It was produced using only the finest Chinese cloths lines and traditional Central American weaving techniques. So far durability is superb and shall soon be moved to a more permanent outdoor location.

Life is chugging along here in France. Training is going great and the sun is shining.

Swinging in style,
alex

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Pretty busy around here......

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield....

Is pretty much amazing. garfieldminusgarfield.tumblr.com
Perhaps my life would make more sense w/ a cat......

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

God

I've never really been a big believer in the big man but at the same time I've never really considered myself educated enough on the subject to be a legitimate disbeliever. However, if there is a God chillin' in the cosmos somewhere out there I'd like to thank him for saving my dumb, bonked ass with a sweet tail wind for the last hour of a 6hr doozy of a day.

Merci

alex

Monday, March 10, 2008

When it Rains it Pours

Today I though I had timed it perfectly and left for my ride at the perfect time. The roads were just drying out and the sun was starting to poke through. For a full hour I enjoyed the sun and then, almost without warning, it rained. It rained hard. REALLY HARD. I don't think there is any other way for me to describe it. I was completely awestricken by the intensity of the rain and spent 2 full hours trying to convince myself that I wasn't hypothermic and wishing that I had gills. I honestly can't remember the last time (if ever) I have encountered rain like that. Oh well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right? Lets just hope it dosen't make me sick first.....

As for the race this weekend, the team road really well. We finished up with 5 out of the top ten and Tanner was second. Not bad at all. The race its self was absolutely brutal. The course was a series of farm roads the size of bike paths with numerous steep 1km climbs and 160 degree corners. Oh, and it was windy. I knew I was in for a long day when I looked up and all I could see was a series of 5 man echelons! There had to have been at least 15! Shortly after I made the mistake of looking down at my heart rate monitor. 197 beats per min. OUCH! Given the circumstances I think I road pretty well but it wasn't exactly the ideal first race back after being sick and off the bike for 6 days and I called it quits after 130km.

Hoping for a good week of training,
alex

Friday, March 7, 2008

Corima Tour





The day stared pretty shaky. For those of you who are unaware, I'm going to tell you right now so there will be no issues in the future. A man who wakes up in the dim, wee hours of the morning to discover he is out of oatmeal (or whatever happens to be his breakfast of choice) is not a man to be messed with. Thankfully, nobody did but, I was still pretty grouchy after a meager breakfast of toast and figs. The drive to the Corima factory was not much better. In the middle of one of me and Fred's better conversations (zero translation issues) came the unmistakable sound of carbon scraping on metal. One of the team bikes had been ripped off the roof at 110kmph. After the recovery of the bicycle (which included some impressive street ballet moves from Fred and a lovely conversation with the woman who ran over the bicycle) the mood was quite sullen.

Upon arriving at the Corima things took a welcomed turn for the better. Did I understand the majority of the things said today during the presentations and tour? No. Was I floored by the professionalism and prestige of the Corima business? Hell yes. The coolest part about the whole experience (aside from the wheels themselves of course) was the way Corima really tried to make us feel like part of the Corima family. We met all of the employees, had a chance to ask ANY questions that popped into our heads (I was even permitted to ask in English!!) and we got to enjoy an amazing lunch, with our new friends, of wine, pizza, and ice cream at a very posh restaurant down the street. The perfect food for a kid trying to get down to race weight!!!

All I can say is, thanks Corima; that was fun.

Chris Boardman's hour record bike

The fastest bicycle on earth! Hard to believe when you look at the cranks!

Just plane cool

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

This Picture....


Does no justice for the back roads of southern France.
What a day.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Back From the Dead

At least that's what it feels like! This has been one the nastiest viruses I have ever cross sowards with and it finally looks like I will be the victor. I'm not going to lie I was sweating pretty hard there for a while (literally) and things were looking pretty dark. I think the worst was seeing what I would look like if I were a zombi: Pale, Emaciated, along w/ 2 intensly blood shot eyes tinted green/brown from falling asleep w/ tea bags on my eyes. It was freeky.

Any who, I'm back on the bike and starting to feel like myself.

I think I'm going to start the craft of bending wood......

alex

Friday, February 29, 2008

PINK EYE!!!

DAMN IT!!! My illness has taken on a new front in the form of pink eye. Woke up this morning and couldn't open my right eye and I knew what it was right away. A warm wash cloth and 5min of delicate work found me gawking in disbelief at an intensely blood shot, itchy, swollen eye. Damn it, I thought I was winning and now this? Crap, I haven't had pink eye since I was just a little tike. Oh well, I guess it is just one more thing to keep my busy around here. And I'm not so pissed off about it that a couple good slices of home can't improve my mood....

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yup....


Just kinda sittin' around. I gots nothin' to do but fight my invisible enemy and dream up things to do once I get healthy.


Did you ever meet my room mate? dimitri936.skyrock.com Personally I think his profile pics are real art.


He's out of town right now along with everybody else. It's a bit strange living here alone but, it's a good strange. No crappy techno music, the stove is always ready to be used, It's so quiet here I can even (you might want to sit down for this) read in the living room. Crazy, I know. I think the biggest challenge to living alone is going to be the readaptation once everyone returns. Until then, PARTY AT MY PLACE!!!! Don't forget your party hat Tejay.
Just kidding,
alex

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sick

Yup. Just a cold but still not good. Pretty typical, just after a little rest break.

Yesterday's video....



Oh by the way, other than a broken chain (and 110km on a saddle sliding spare bike) on Sat. the races went well. Gatis scored a big win in a half professional field on Sat and David pulled out a solid 4th on Sunday. As for myself, typical race animation and wild antics. Nothing but fun and games for me this weekend. Cool, day before the race, pic-



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

New Apartment

Recently discovered proof of my one ProTour appearence!


At least it feels that way. Renaud and I spent our "rest" day giving the apartment a full on over haul. The items now sitting out by the dumpsters include: fridge, oven, washing machine, bookshelf, what used to be a bookshelf, and a pile of trash 4ft high (that's what wouldn't fit in the dumpster...). My back needs a break. The wildest part is, is we still are not even close to being finished. We have plans drawn up for the kitchen which include new shelves and a few cabinets, roughly one ton worth of trophies to take to the club (not having a car means 2 trophies in a back pack for every trip the club. I estimate it will take roughly 2 months to get them all out of here), if we can get the team to pay for the paint, the bathroom needs to be painted, and we still need to do something about all the outlets before someone gets seriously electrocuted (a good shock is a pretty common occurrence).





I guess what I am saying is, I finally found myself a good project to keep my mind off of home and cycling. Although, I must ask, how the hell do I always get suckered into home improvement projects when I come to Europe?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not a Bad Day


Solid day on the bike for me and a good day over all. Decent legs and some savvy decision making saw me sneak my way into the days early 20 rider split. At one point I thought we would make it to the finish for sure. 20 riders working smoothly with nearly a two minute gap, is damn near impossible for any amateur team to bring back and with all the big teams represented only the little teams would have any reason to chase. Alas, this is amateur racing and the peleton some how managed to bring us back. After that it was pretty much lights out for me. Just tried to cover moves and finish. However......

EVALDAS WON!!!!! AGAIN!!!! That's 2 out of 3 for him this season! To put the icing on the cake David Tanner came home w/ third and we won the team competition. Not to bad eh?

High lights of the day:

#1- Getting back to the van and asking, "what happened in the finish?" "oh, Evaldas won again" "!!!!!!!!!"

#2- Stickin' it to some Tinkoff guy out on the road. After getting my ass slapped for the 3rd time to move over by some over anxious Italian I looked over at him and gave him the ol' Alex Howes death stare. Apparently, I didn't do it quite right because a couple of corners later he came buzzing past on the inside, damn near crashed when his front wheel slid a couple of inches, and full on body checked me. Once he had regained composure he again tried an uncalled for pass and I had, had enough. I swear my left elbow reached out half a mile and hooked him like the bottom feeder he his. Stopped him dead in his tracks and almost sent him off the road. Needless to say he had a number of choice words for me. None of which I understood. I on the other hand had no words for him. Just one middle finger placed two inches from his face. He shut up pretty quick. I don't think he got more than 5 feet from me for the rest of the race.

#3- Playing with some random dog at some random person's house after the race. I think we wrestled for a good 15min and I think I cramped at least 15 times but it was fun. I miss my puppy dogs.

#4- Catching the shower gel thief. I had, had a suspicion that someone had been poaching my shower gel because I have gone through a full bottle since arriving. At home a bottle of such size would last for twice as long. That's not to say I don't bathe, although I have been cutting back recently for territorial reasons, but I have always been one to lather sparingly. How did I catch him you wonder? Lets just say that the French set their own trap when they decided that people should always give/receive 2 kisses to the cheeks when greeting. Sent lingers.

Enjoy your Sunday,

Alex

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Just one of those day.....


I'm not going to lie, I had a shitty week. However, as shitty as my week was for me emotionally, physically it was perfect. Perfect training, perfect diet, perfect amount of sleep every night and afternoon. Perfect. I fell back in to my old habit of spending nearly every waking moment (when I was not on my bike of course) with my nose buried in one of my many cycling books. In just 4 days I made it through 234 pages of 263 pages of "Bicycle Road Racing" by Edward Borysewicz. I studied and pondered every word. I had rememorized the cycling bible. On race day, I did everything perfect. Perfect breakfast, perfect breathing exercises, perfect warm up, perfect everything. I felt like shit in the race. Complete and utter shit. Hollow, worthless, and pathetic. It was everything I could do just to finish.

And I know exactly why: I'm actually trying to race well. Not my style. I'm the kind of kid who has one of the best races of his career after playing beach volley ball in the sun for 6hrs and eating half a birthday cake before deciding, "Ya, I should probably race today.... hey, maybe I can make some money!" The night before some of my most memorable rides I was eating hot dogs and pasta cooked over a fire and sleeping in the dirt.* I destroy entire peletons after waking up 2hrs late, running around trying to find my shoes, and shoving 6 slices of bread in my pocket for, "race food." The only way I can really fly in bike races is when I'm flying by the seat of my pants.

So that is just what I am going to do. I'm going old school from now on. I am still going to train like a robot because I firmly believe that tallent don't mean shit unless you work your ass off. But I will be a robot who stops to smell the roses every once and a while and partakes in a little birthday cake munching every once in a blue moon. And as far as racing goes, I am going to stick with what got me here in the first place: Instinct, Ballz, and Wild Flyers off the front.

Oh boy, tomorrow is going to be fun!

alex
*That's not to say living here isn't a little bit like camping. I danced for almost a full 15min after finding a busted up bookshelf that I could use the wood from to put under my mattress to soften the blow of the metal cross bars spaces 5 inches apart that my dilapidated 2inch thick foam pad rests upon. I think my father put it best after I told him my spectacular news, "So now your 2inch thick pad rests on boards you took from a busted old bookshelf? Dude, I know stoned ski bums who've got it better than you." Thanks dad.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Just stuff....




Forgot to mention that we had out team presentation the other day. It was pretty cool. Not really sure what they said about the team or what they said about me but it sure took a while. Always cool to walk down a spiral stair case to see a bunch of people clapping for you.

Today after washing my bike (I love this bike, especially when it's all pearly white and clean! Now she just needs a name.) I was doing an interval up one of my favorite mountains around here. I was going flat out with my head down when I, almost literally, ran into the Tour of Méditerranéen. I was seriously inches from getting hit head on by a police motor cycle. Bastard never even honked or stopped. It was cool to watch the race on one of the fastest parts of the decent and even cooler because a healthy portion of my good buddies from Slipstream were in the front group. Nice work guys!

On another note, races three and four are this weekend with some pretty challenging and unpredictable terrain. I hear the roads are crappy and the hills never stop coming. Needless to say, I am pretty excited to tear things up.

Keepin' it real,
alex

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wikihow


Wikihow will you marry me? You have always been there for me. When I was dieing from lack of peanut butter you taught me to make my own. When left with out a place to call my own you taught me how to craft a hammock. With out the ability to communicate you gave me tips on how to learn French. And now as I find myself in the most difficult of times you give me instructions to rediscover bliss. I would be so lost w/ out you.

Check out the spotlight article for today http://www.wikihow.com/

On another note, I received my first care package today and, let me tell you, it could not have come at a more perfect moment! I was in the process of scraping/licking the last milligrams of peanut butter left in my final jar when the door bell rang. THANKS MOM! LOVE YOU!