(This tweet is too perfect, so I am not going to bother attempting to make a better joke than it, and yes I am leading off my blog post with a tweet someone else made)
You can read about what happened in the races elsewhere on the internet, and honestly my brain has like three hours of rotating memory for these things so, sorry, I can’t tell you anything other than “Curtis White is very good, so are Ellen Noble and Helen Wyman and I was sad that Ellen didn’t race on day two also Dylan had a fantastic start on day two”.
Okay those were several things.
The courses were very similar to last year, with the exception of the ATOMIC CAFE COFFEE ZONE being right in front of the ANNOUNCING ZONE so naturally I had at least six espressos each day. Also the beer tent was closer.
Frankie Andreu (of “actual day job talking about bikes” and “former director of Rock Racing” fame) was the other half of the announcing crew, and as he is not from New England I got to inform him of things like the Facconezone and the Scrubzone and various other zones that are native to NECX.
I ALSO PLAYED A BUNCH OF MUSIC which is really why you are here.
I make a few specific playlists for big events like this, depending on the promoter’s tastes, who is in the field (yeah I wouldn’t ordinarily play “Kings of Metal” at a bike race, but if Mike Wissell is racing, then I am), what people on Twitter have asked for and taking into the account the venue/crowd (White Park and families vs. Night Weasels and a full beer garden).
The 45+ lists are what I played last year (LAZY RYAN! BAD RYAN!), but I think they are pretty great and only got played once, so I put them on there again. I guess now I’ll have to change it up for 2017…damnit. the 45+ race is Paul’s race, so you’ll see that influence (pandering?) in there.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me waxing poetic about music released in 1994. The 35+ guys would have been in their formative years in 1994, so I thought “hey maybe that will be a fun thing to do.” Note that the 35+ race is also the Junior Men’ race, so…yeah they might have been less impressed with the inspiration here.
For the UCI races, I put in some stuff that I thought would be good to race bikes to.
Then there’s the “General” playlist, which is just over nine hours of stuff that I’ve liked or found in the last year. Spotify is great for this – it makes discovering music and exploring similar artists/sounds so easy. I just save tracks, and when it’s playlist building time, I go through what I’ve liked in the last few months (along with what people say they want to hear) and start going from there. This was partially played at Night Weasels, too.
So if you’re at any of the other events I’m doing this year – Orchard Cross and Ice Weasels (does that even have a date or venue yet?) – you’ll probably hear a lot of these tracks – just a heads up!
Yeah, I don’t do this shit very often, so people who are good at it probably know these things. But I took a screen recording of a tool I developed and was sending it out in an email blast – so, going to be viewed on iPhones, iPads, and Windows 7 laptops.
I first exported it as .m4v (from Quicktime), which did not work on Windows. I asked some of my internet friends for tips:
Then I started playing around in HandBrake to see what would work.
Exporting to the Devices->Universal preset got video working, but not audio. HandBrake defaults to two AAC audio tracks, and I figured that might be the issue with the (who knows how up-to-date) Windows 7 laptops some of my colleagues are using.
So I added an MP3 track and an AAC track:
Please note that I do not actually know what the hell I am doing, I just made some educated guesses at things I thought might work. And maybe they’ll work for you? Who knows.
One of the tools I developed and manage for work is populated with data from Cognos on a daily basis. In order to not have to download and upload a file like some sort of IDIOT, I figured it would be good to write a Selenium script to do this for me.
For those of you who and are reading this post because you are my friend from the real world or bike racing or the internet, you might want to stop reading it because it will probably not pertain to you and I’m really writing it so I can remember what the hell I did later on. Continue reading Python, Selenium, Cognos, and timeouts
The title says it. Here’s the news from facebook. And a screenshot for when the Internet breaks in five years.
Anyway here’s that blog post from nine years ago, because apparently all that this website is now is just RYAN’S GREATEST HITS.
There was also a picture of me whacking my head on a beam in the basement.
UPDATE: Found the picture.
Bikes don’t get delivered fully assembled. They come in large boxes. Then, someone who knows what they are doing with allen keys and a torque wrench puts them together and gets them on the floor. The boxes get haphazardly tossed in the back room of the shop, where Sean probably thinks they magically break themselves down and get put in a dumpster.
Those of you who have entered the shop through the back door know that this is where boxes go before they die. This is where the “box fairy” comes and takes them away. Now, unfortunately the box fairy isn’t attractive, dainty or even winged.
The box fairy is me. I’m 6’3″, 175 pounds and I have a beard.
My name is Ryan Kelly. I worked at Bethel Cycle primarily on Wednesdays through the summer, and you may have seen me during the last few months emerging from the basement covered in asbestos and toxic mold, or in my natural state destroying boxes.
My goal this summer was to work at a bike shop, to learn as much about the equipment necessary for the sport I love, so I wouldn’t go through life as mechanically astute as a rhino. I contacted Greg before I got home from college (I will be a senior at the University of New Hampshire) to line up a job, and started working at the shop in early June.
I spent my first day at the shop organizing the basement.
I don’t suppose any customers have ever been in the basement, as it is probably an insurance liability. But, since I’m 21 and I probably heal fast, worries about dangerous mold and radon were tossed aside in interest of Sean’s constant pursuit of an organized shop.
I don’t quite remember Sean’s exact words on the first day when Greg told me to organize the basement. I more remember the look on his face. It was a grin. But it wasn’t a happy grin, not the kind of facial expression that is brought out through a joke.
It’s the kind of grin you get when you see someone take a fastball to the face on a sports blooper reel. You aren’t being really malicious, but are somewhat enjoying the humorous discomfort of others.
The discomfort part came when I walked down into the basement. The ceiling is about 5 feet, 10 inches high. There is a heating pipe running across one side of the basement at about four feet off the ground, which is not necessarily ideal working conditions for someone who rides a 60 cm road bike. And there were years of abandoned bikes that needed to be organized.
But hey, I was getting paid to be around bikes, so I didn’t mind.
After I emerged from the basement alive, much to the surprise of Greg and Sean, I continued to perform various other tasks around the shop.
As the summer progressed, with the worst task available at the shop already completed, I slowly climbed the ladder of the retail bicycle industry. Every day I would water the flowers, break down the boxes and vacuum before doing other random jobs. First I was cleaning windows or organizing the back room. Soon I was building and selling bikes, and I was allowed out of the back room to interact with other people.
Now, I wasn’t around bikes in a dank basement or fiddling with excess stock in a musty storage room. I was around bikes and those knowledgeable about them in an air conditioned room with a dog I could play with.
I learned a lot from Sean so far this summer (like tighten everything several times), although I am still pretty much an idiot. It’s hard to teach an English major mechanical skills.
And even though Sean may be the head mechanic, he’s got nothing on me when it comes to box destruction.
I pulled this out of an .sql backup I had from before I totally deleted every post on my site one time in 2011 or something (which…honestly was for the better).
BACKSTORY: 2008 Ryan worked full-time from home for a small software company in a house with three of his college friends and didn’t have any responsibilities so he drank a lot of High Life and that was reflected in his race results.
If I ever say to you “Hey, I’m going to go do a 97 mile road race with lots of climbing,” pistol-whip me into a three-day coma.
Because Tour of the Hilltowns sucked more than anything has ever sucked in my five years of bike racing. I have never cracked so badly in a bike race. I fell apart worse than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (yes, I was just watching Modern Marvels).
For your viewing pleasure, here is the course profile with my annotations (click on it!):
[Note from 2015 Ryan – I think I drew a picture of the course profile, and there were some jokes or something on it? Maybe a dick?]
It got to the point where I would be riding up the final hill (where I was going ten miles an hour), and I wanted to stop, sit on the side of the road and cry. My legs were wrecked, my spirit was broken, and all I wanted to do was drive my car and my bike directly to a pawnshop and drink all the money that I would get for it.
Even today, walking up the stairs of my apartment, my legs hurt. Still.
I don’t know who won my race, and, frankly, it doesn’t matter. Because by the time I had finished, they had probably taken a shower, had lunch and gotten halfway through writing a dissertation on Dostoyevsky.
Things that were going through my head during the race:
– Creating lyrics to the song “Bike Racing Sucks” – which are “Biiiike racing sucks. Oooooooh bike racing sucks,” repeated infinitely, or until you catch the group at the base of a monster climb.
– Thinking about the best way to sell my bike – eBay as a whole bike, or a frame and group set? Craigslist? Selling it to someone on the UNH team?
– Wondering how I should spend the upcoming week – Completely demoralized, off my bike and drunk; or motivated to improve and getting in good training?
– The song “Rage!” by Chromeo.
– Hoping that more people give up – if that happened, I’d have more friends to ride with.
– How good my post-race Baconator was going to be
So, yeah, that was a ton of fun.
Time to put Tour of the Hilltowns in the “don’t do again for a really long time” pile of races.
p.s. Dear other teams that I might try to get on…I’m a really strong racer. Really. I swear.
Twitter has ruined me, so I can only think in Tweet-sized chunks. Drew and I were on the mics at Gloucester this weekend, and it was a friggin’ magical experience. As two guys who came up through the amateur ranks and watched Trebon/Wicks/Johnson/Powers/Page battle it out years ago at Stage Fort park, it was pretty absurd to be standing in the gazebo with Drew forcing Star Wars references upon a thousand spectators.
These are in no particular order.
This is the actual conversation I had with Stephen Hyde before the podium:
Caitlin Szymkowicz had an awesome race in the Women’s 3 race. I thoroughly enjoyed announcing it.
Andrew Lints killed it in the Men’s 3 race, with a droppah post on his cross bike. He is doing Night Weasels, he needs to make sure he has a hook up with a good couch repair shop because you know what’s gonna happen.
I sat on the side of a hill next to Powers interviewing him after he won. I asked him about Day 2, what would happen if Cannondale stayed away from mechanical issues. He said something to the effect of “Well, I always think that the strongest rider wins and tactics don’t play a huge role,” which is a nice way of saying “Shut the hell up Ryan, you really don’t know what you’re talking about, I am gonna fuck this race up tomorrow” (foreshadowing).
About two laps into the Elite Women’s race, Ellen Noble attacked Caroline Mani and Helen Wyman (don’t remember if Compton was up with them at that point) on the off-camber by the big rock heading down to the low ball fields. It was fucking amazing to see. Paully was near me at that point (I was standing by the course crossing by the Shimano tent). I put my mic down and started screaming at Paul “THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!!” because it fucking was.
Ellen never looked terrified while she was riding with Compton and Mani. Um. Which is absurd, because that is a terrifying proposition.
Trebon flatted, was almost in the scrub zone, and then fucking rode through people into 5th. It was a phenomenal ride. The results say 5th, but he made up like 10 spots in the last three laps of the race. If he kept air in the tires it would have been amazzzziiinnngggg.
There was a lot of dust.
Many people asked me why I was not wearing the seersucker shorts or jorts. The truth is, folks, that I haven’t been riding much lately, and I didn’t want to disappoint fans of my shorts by draping them over a sub-par canvas.
I put “No Diggity” on the UCI Women Day 1 playlist. When it came on, Drew stopped mid-announcing to ask me over the microphone if I actually put No Diggity on the playlist.
Leslie Robinson crushed the Cat 4 women, so she should upgrade now. Someone tell her this.
“Kings of Metal” and “Shoop” will be on the playlists forever.
With 1.5 laps to go (I think), Powers just started going so much faster than I thought was possible. He put his hands out on the hoods and immediately opened a gap over Curtis. Going in to Day 2, I thought that a flat-free Cannondale could team up and take out Powers – but after seeing him lift the pace like that, I do not see how anyone can beat him in America this year.
A Quebecois woman said to me that they came down to the race hoping I was announcing again, but were disappointed that I wasn’t wearing seersucker shorts.
I wore a buff over my mouth for much of the race to keep the dust out of my lungs. It was a smart move.
Drew and I really forced the “fully operational” “joke” about the Cannondale team. We liked it, didn’t really care if anyone else did.
As I write this I am getting into my second bottle of white wine.
Drew and I put the sound stuff in the Verge trailer. Drew texted me when I was on my way down that he couldn’t get it open. Turns out that he was just not pulling the door hard enough. He had to wait for JD to come do it. THANKS, JD.
After the Elite Women’s race (where Katie Compton said “Hey guys remember me? I’m Katie Fuckin’ Compton, I’m gonna go win now thx”), I tried to chat with her after the finish line. I walked up to her and said “Hey Katie, care to chat?”, and she nodded yes. A bunch of media folks came over…and then Katie and Caroline began to talk shop for probably two minutes (as one is to do after a bike race).Two minutes when you are standing around awkwardly with a bunch of cameras pointed at you is a very long time.
Eventually Mr. Katie Compton broke the conversation up and both Katie and Caroline had a laugh at me because welcome to my life (it is actually pretty baller at times).
I saw Collin Huston’s parents.
My voice was fine on Day 2, also fine today (Monday). I think the years of screaming about vans (and getting into them) in college has given me much vocal fitness.
I think Sunday’s course was better for spectators. Certainly better for announcers. All the elite racers I talked to like Saturday’s course more, though.
I planned this week well, family-wise – worked from home Friday, off today, off Wednesday before I head down to Night Weasels. Shoutout to my job for sponsoring me with vacation time.
I really wanted to talk to Trebon at some point this weekend, but I wasn’t able to. Looks like he’ll be at Night Weasels, though.
Drew has an instrumental of “C.R.E.A.M” and “Regulate” that are absolutely perfect for call ups.
I am listing to “Regulate” right now.
Announcing with Drew is fucking amazing. People were putting dollar bills on the barriers.Me: “You know what they say, Drew – cash rules everything around me!”
Drew: “Cream. Get the money.”
[in unison]: “Dolla dolla bill y’all”
I talked to five Gloucester residents about the race. Gave them a bit of background on some of the efforts against the race…they all thought that was lame. One guy said “Well we don’t have any fish left, may as well have a bike race!” Pointed them all in the direction of ECV, and they remembered seeing stories in the paper this year about it – and are sure, now, to voice their support.
Support your local bike race promoter, but support their significant others and families even more – because if they’re promoting all weekend, they’ve got someone back home keeping it LOCKED DOWN.
I butchered Lydia Hausle‘s name all weekend until I was corrected (and then butchered it one more time) because I’m terrible at pronouncing names (aka “illiterate”), which is a great trait in an announcer. HOWEVER, I am great at correcting myself, which makes me endearing? I think?
When Caroline Mani is giving it the business, she looks like a bobblehead stuck on top of a rock tumbler – you KNOW she’s all in. Drew asked her about this, she seemed…surprised? yeah, I’ll go with surprised – with this question. But her response was along the lines of “it takes energy to look composed, that’s energy that could be going to the legs”.
Trebon threw down an attack up the pavement with 3 to go (? maybe?) and it was fucking awesome.
Yeah that was awesome. haha I announced Gloucester again, this makes no sense.
The mayor of Chandyland decided it would be a nice to welcome our northern neighbor by comparing his win at road nationals to winning Ninigret.
Guillaume doesn’t know what Ninigret is, but he was able to infer it was an insult by everyone’s reaction.
(don’t worry folks, Chan pays)
We spent the night making piles o’ rice cakes, Periscoping dumbness, and I particularly enjoyed being around a 22 year old, because I am old and the continuous joy and wonder of a 22 year old is refreshing and also rage-inducing.
So then it was wakeup time, someone decided it was a super idea to put maple syrup IN THE COFFEE GROUNDS in the coffee maker, which obviously caused the syrup to become thick and clog the filter and back up coffee all over the counter at 5 a.m. before a 200 and something mile ride THANKS NAMELESS PERSON WHO LOVES MAPLE SYRUP.
I ate three eggs. And maybe some of the weird leftover Skratch cookies we tried to make that Ben totally screwed up because he’s 22. I think I drank some coffee.
Please note that there will be no pictures from me of the actual ride because my phone is dumb. Ted posted some, but I’m not really featured, send me an email if you want some pixxxxxx.
We got to the border at North Troy at 6 a.m. There is a photo from the first year just like this, maybe Chandler has it. I certainly don’t. I don’t know where my photos from 2011 went. GOOD WORK RYAN.
Then we started riding.
And as soon as Guillaume got to the front I realized “oh dear this is not going to work out well for me and my 7 hours a week of training but maybe at the halfway mark there will be an Excel challenge and the winner gets bonus food and I’ll certainly win that?”
I kept my pulls to 2 – 3 minutes, as did Andrew Gardner (aka AG), because we have jobs that do not involve crushing it on the bike every day or being a professional fit person. Chan was smart, and kept himself on the back, muttering about how screwed he was.
We covered the first 100 miles with an average speed of 24 miles per hour. With a head wind.
Which makes sense, as the first 100 miles is less climby, and also every time Guillaume went to the front we were going THIRTY MILES AN HOUR and he would pull for about FIFTEEN MINUTES and then he would come back into the rotation with a shit-eating grin on his face because he was clearly having fun and that dude just loves riding bikes and making me feel like garbage.
I also nailed a pothole at 30 and flatted, killing my S-WORKS TURBO tires which makes me sad.
And yes I rode tires that have a lifespan of 800 miles on a 200 mile ride because I needed every advantage I could get.
ALSO I flatted five times total. Not a great day for me (thanks Chaz for keeping me moving!)
The first 50 miles of this ride was also the worst pavement-wise.
At some point we picked up a gaggle of 1k2go’ers, and eventually ASG and Carl, I don’t even know where or for how long because I was at the front trying to reconcile how much fun Guillaume was apparently having with how terrified I was of him keeping this pace up.
My body started throwing up warnings on the climb into Killington (around mile 106). A few cramps, getting gapped off the group and realizing I should probably not see the front for a while.
Obviously we were hammering from there until the climb out of Ludlow, which I remembered from 2011 as being the really terrible one, and there was some cramping and some stomach distress. Chan had decided (or was told by his body) to go hang out in the car, and he gave me a Red Bull Cola which has GINGER in it, which helped me keep my stomach together.
I think we picked up Elle Anderson on this climb. She asked me how I was doing, to which I responded “Generally good, but at the moment pretty terrible.”
Well, I was probably 80% of the way to being that cracked this year. My IT band was killing me, I’d started cramping (which is not a frequent occurrence for me, but neither is riding 200 miles), and the only food I’d been grabbing from the car had been rice cakes. Which, while good, were starting to get old and destroy my stomach.
So I had an iced coffee, and a Red Bull, and AG did some sort of secret ski coaching trick where he basically had elbowsex with my lower back (he was out at this point because of a Di2/outlet on a light switch issue), and then we were back on the bikes and I went to the front for the first time in three hours.
At this point in the ride I realized I had passed the point where my brain shut down in 2011 because I don’t remember having ridden any of this stuff before.
I think the climb out of Wardsboro saw me holding onto the side of Tim’s Touareg while Chan shoved gummy worms, gummy sharks and maple candy into my mouth while I used my free hand to massage a cramp in my right leg.
Eventually we got to the point where, in 2011, we decided that we should just go straight to the Mass border instead of continuing on some other road that looked like it went up hill.
FUN FACT: that road was the last 25 or so miles of Route 100 and they are ALL BASICALLY UPHILL.
hahahaha oh god
yeah I started falling apart pretty rapidly here
Some FUN FACTS about this final section because it’s all pretty spotty in my memory because I think my brain didn’t have enough oxygen or calories to create new memories:
I bunnyhopped a pothole and my calf cramped in the air and I almost crashed upon landing.
I flatted, and had to get motorpaced on a descent back to the group because Guillaume.
My Garmin mount broke and my Garmin was in my pocket which was great because if I was looking at how many miles we had ridden I would have been even more sad.
I stopped drinking and eating because who cares.
I found that if I thought about Margot smiling and laughing when I went into her room when she woke up in the morning that I didn’t hurt anymore and I would smile so that was nice.
Tim was riding at the front towards the end. I knew that the road we were on was the last road of Vermont, and I was watching mailbox numbers to get an idea of how much road we had left until Massachusetts.
A photo posted by Todd Prekaski (@20poundskull) on
Wait were we sprinting? Who cares. It’s going on my resume.
Then we laid on some person’s lawn and drank um seltzer and pulled our crap together and headed into North Adams to eat. I had some mozzarella sticks and a gyro and it was great and then I shouted at Tim, Ben and Chris to GET IN THE VAN because they went to a “fancy place” that “considers food allergies”.
Then I got home and ended up not doing Gnar Weasles because that wasn’t gonna work out with my life, but I donated my entry fee to Colin and he didn’t have to deal with my dumb ass on Sunday.
It’s not every day that you get to ride bikes with some of the best cyclists on the continent, so I feel pretty hashtag blessed to be a part of this ride once again. It was glorious seeing Ben Wolfe crack, Tim had my back when he was on the front by keeping the pace sane, I am really glad I don’t have to ever race Guillaume, Ted is annoyingly chipper, Chris needs to keep his sodium intake up and Cooper Willsey is an overly-energetic youth who needs to stop popping wheelies when his elders are cramping and looking for someone to punch.
I have no idea why Meg McMahon and Jenn Blazejewski and Chaz and Todd and Chris Milliman came out to help us but it’s probably mostly because they are very nice people and partiallybecause they enjoy seeing people complete collapse while riding bicycles.
If you don’t want to read what I have to say about my bicycle riding (which is Very Important Stuff) you should go read some other blog that is less masturbatory (does such a thing exist???).
Anyway, last week was crap because it was sales meeting at work (GUYS LOOK AT THESE BOOTS, RYAN HELP US FIGURE OUT HOW TO SELL THESE BOOTS) and then I announced/quarter-promoted Exeter on Tuesday night and other things so I didn’t ride.
This Thursday is the 200 on 100 (for real this time, on route 100), and the last time I did a ride of this magnitude I was in substantially better shape.
For example, going in to the first ride (in 2011), I had ridden 5611 miles (297 hours). This year, I’ve ridden 1646 miles (217 hours, because my whole winter was spent on the trainer playing Gran Turismo 3). My longest ride in 2015 has been 69 miles (awww yeah), usually I’ve done a few 100+ mile rides by this time of the year. I only have 90 minutes of fitness in me (see: where I exploded at Sunapee and Purgatory, and oh yeah that time I got SUPER COLD and things got FUZZY at the 90 minute point of the Exeter Ride).
WHAT I’M GETTING AT is that there is a good chance that somewhere around the midway point of the ride this year I am going to single-handedly increase the price of balls in Vermont because I will be tripping all the balls. There will be no more balls to trip.
If you are a fan of me looking exhausted, then YOU MY FRIEND are in for a treat! Because yeah I’m gonna be real tired from all the pedaling.
However, I am mentally stronger than any of the fuckers on this ride, so there’s no doubt I’m going to finish the ride as, if I have to, I will do so through sheer force of will. As it is only a bike ride. Though I will be tired.
You should come do the bike ride! Just meet us at the North Troy, VT border crossing at 6 am. Or just see us somewhere along Route 100 on Thursday. We will be the three or more people on bikes, I will be the one with a beard screaming obscenities.
AND THEN if that wasn’t enough of a “fun time” on Sunday I’m gonna do my first mountain bike race since 2006 (Pretty sure there is a blog post in a WordPress database backup about that race) at Gnar Weasels, because Colin is my friend and I like to give my friends gifts. In this case the gift is “reading my blog post after the race”.
I have been mountain biking a bit in Hampstead, so I am approaching the race as “a mountain bike ride in Rhode Island I paid $25 to do”. And it will probably be fun, and Paully will be there too and he will be equally miserable and then he and I will conspire to make Colin’s 2015 Gloucester as terrible as possible (aka not playing “Battleflag” in the Elite race).