Thursday, July 31, 2008


154 miles
800 riders
10,000 ft of elevation gain
1 mountain

Is said of Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day. We did it today on the Super Shooter Scooter. Please allow me to use one adjective to describe: EFFINGwow! As I am a bit tuckered out from the seven hour shoot (a modern RCV record) and have less than 12 hours to repack, charge batteries, download video and maybe even eat, before heading south for Vineman tomorrow, please allow me to coin another cliche and thereby bail on the verbosity by simply saying, a picture is worth a thousand feet of elevation gain.

My Motel 6 in Petaluma guarantees in-roon DSL so I might be able to eek in another report from California tomorrow. What a day!

Monday, July 28, 2008

IM France

We got a first here!! Included in the IM France RCV sampler is an intro by, ta da, your's truly. I struggled with this for a couple of reasons (the most important being that I am a ham and the intro sucks by professional standards), but, I needed an open and there it was on the footage, so, here ya go. Please toss those tomatoes gently. The song is by Martial (mar-see-ALL-eh) called "Cette Fille" and is a catchy little number about (as far as I can translate) a guy that can't seem to get the girl despite all his "well intentioned attempts", like flowers, perfume, telegrams and billet doux. Poor guy. Maybe he should try riding his bike for 112 miles through Provence. THAT bienseance might impress her!!!!!

UK 70.3

Simon The Triathlon Coach interviews Pros Luke Bell and Julie Dibens after the brutal Ironman UK 70.3 race on June 15. Some sweet shots of the bike course are included for your viewing pleasure. BTW, there is a great new YouTube feature that allows high resolution viewing. You need to go to the YouTube home site, then to RCVman and then to the one (of 34) videos that you want to watch. Under the "Views" counter is a blue highlighted command line that says "Watch in High Quality". Check this box and you get a much improved codec. While you're there you might as well subscribe to the RCVman vidz. What have you got to lose?

Friday, July 25, 2008


A sampler of the recently released IM Australia RCV. Did I mention the hills?

A couple of production notes:

1) To watch in high rez go to the URL at YouTube and click the high rez bar.
2) Great guitar track (Fox's Smile) by Michel-Yves Kochmann
3) RCV available at

Dirty Business

You will remember that my nephew is out there trying to keep the peace and protect the privacy of his employers who just happen to be the most famous couple on the planet. No easy chore. Being a card carrying member of the media puts me in somewhat of an odd position, in as much as I try to keep my camera pointed at triathletes instead of movie stars. I would much rather see my work on CompuTrainer screens than on CNN anyway. I trust D is OK after this skirmish with those nasty, unscrupulous and lying French paparazzi.

More on this a text messages come and go. Oh, yeah, and I wrapped IM France yesterday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Last Five

New way to update. We call it TL5. The Last Five.

TL5 Books:

The Road Cormac McCarthy WOW.
Everyman Philip Roth Death, dying, a little sex and a lotta guilt.
The Tao of Willie Willie & Turk Pipkin Six string grasshopper sageisms
Hayduke Lives Edward Abbey The Sequel
Monkey Wrench Gang Edward Abbey It was 1975. It was fun. We raised hell.

TL5 Movies:

The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan WOW
Hellboy II Guillermo Del Toro Had its moments.
U2 in 3D National Geographic Cool, duh.
Children of Huang Shi Roger Spottiswoode I cried a little.
Indy Jones Steve & George I cried a lot (out of pain)

TL5 CDs:

Radiohead Amnesiac Deep
The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers Steady as She Goes
The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely Effen rocks
Euro Groove Compilation Not the groove I was hoping for
Jeff Buckley Grace Hallelujah!

TL5 Netflix:

Deadwood First Season WOW
The Savages Phillip S Hoffman Darkly hillarious
The Station Agent Peter Dinklage Finbar McBride gets it done
Eastern Promises Viggo & Co. I liked 'History' better
The Darjeeling Limited Owen & Co. Moments of mirth, but not enough of them

TL5 Cities Visited:

Lake Placid Upstate NY A canoe on every car
Nurmberg Germany Lot's of old, lot's of new
Frankfurt Germany Totally modern and hip
Nice France Very, very nice
Exeter UK A groovy shade of grey

Fat Lady

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lake Placid, NY

The Fat Lady has sung. She belted it out and then came back for an encore. It was the 10th Anniversary of the the race they call Ironman USA and the opera was staged from start to finish in the pouring rain. As if swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 through the Adirondack and then running a full marathon isn't drama enough, the torrential downpour added a not-so subtle external challenge. And hence the potential rewards.

Triathlon is sport that requires a huge amount of preparation. Most triathletes train, on the average, between 12-20 hours per week. Most days are double sessions. You live in kind of a constant state of dehydration, muscular fatigue, always on the very edge of illness. This because your immune system is working so hard to heal sore muscle fiber and repair tissue that has been damaged, sometimes severely. Diet is a major contributing factor as the body in training needs the proper type of high octane fuel in the proper amounts and at the proper times to operate at required intensity levels. And then there is rest and recovery. Try dialing up your workout schedule 75% without adding adequate time to heal and something is going to break. Feet hurt, knees ache, lower backs stiffen, joints swell, shoulders lock, noses run. And this goes on, week after week, sometimes for years, leading up to the big show. Not only have you paid the physical dues, you have dropped $500 for the entry fee, $5,000 for a new bike, $250 for a couple pair of running shoes, $300 for a wet-suit, and roughly another grand or so for miscellaneous stuff (like maybe even a $1,600 CompuTrainer). You have booked the airfare, let's just round off a number and call it $1,500 RT), booked a room in the local hotel who gouged you with not only a five night minimum but a "peak use" fee as well, for another large one, then eat a couple of meals on the town, rent a car, buy a present for Aunt Minnie and your Nephew and, cha-ching, you are over TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Please, let me retype that.


And then it rains.

You might, in light of all of this, want to cry. Or curse. Or crumble. And herein lies the aforementioned potential for reward.

Outside of a lightening strike in the water, rain really doesn't impact the swim much. You're already wet. But out on the bike, it's another matter altogether. Most tri- geeks seem to think that just because the pros dress as skimpily as possible, they are somehow compelled to dress likewise. Yesterday, I had to cringe at all the folks in just shorts and tri tops. I saw more exposed skin that Malibu in August. And not one person had the foresight to pack booties along with their shoes, helmets and race numbers. There very few rain jackets. Folks, when you're out riding 112 miles in the pouring rain, DRESS FOR IT. It is easier to take off than to wish you had more. Trust me on this.

As skies crackled with thunder and lightening, Debby, my Harley rider and I, took off feeling very much like sea drenched Vikings in some Wagnerian ring cycle. She had the perfect bike, no windshield, low profile handlebars and a small back rest for me. The plan had been to do a two camera shoot but the rains reduced that to a single camera on the bars, out front and wrapped much the same was that we shot Roth, just seven days prior. Debbie, to her credit, was volunteering for the first time, so we had a longer than usual indoc session. She will be running her first IM at Florida come November and was very enthusiastic about the day, even though we were about to undertake a painful ride. We rode the 56 mile loop, watching, filming, helping whenever we could. At the end of lap 1, we called it a day as the gray skies gave no indication of turning to blue. My fingers were pink and shriveled, my nose running. We headed towards the coffee tent and left the 2,200 athletes to deal with the second lap and the marathon. Like I said, the potential for mega-rewards was here. All you had to be was tough. And fit. And focused. And strong, and.......and....

Eight hours and forty-three minutes after the mass start, Francisco Pontano of Spain, crossed the soggy finish line for his first Ironman win (it should be mentioned here that he finished 11th in Kona last year). And for the first time in the ten year history of the race they call Ironman USA, and American woman took top honors.

Somebody out there just go ahead and try to tell Caitlin Shea-Kenney that the rewards today weren't special. Her 9:51:00 doesn't even begin to sing the story of the day. Rain, what rain? Drama the likes of which Wagner would appreciate.

Cue the Fat Lady. And get your tickets early for next year.

Photos: Mirror Lake the day BEFORE the race. Our NY rep Doug Bush explains the features of the Pro 3D at the wet Expo. Debby and the Man with Nine Lives. Part of the bike leg. Parking is an issue on the man drag.


To be fair, it was an old theatre. The Palace in Lake Placid, NY probably opened to the first run of a Boris Karloff horror movie. Or maybe Lon Chaney. Whomever the lead, it was in black and white, with maybe a scratchy monaural audio track. Probably cost a nickel. The seats were so short of back that you couldn't slouch down and rest your head. when you crossed your leg a knee would hit the seat in front and, if there happened to be someone sitting there, bug the bejesus out of them. Despite all the quirks and shortcomings, the 4 o'clock matinee of The Dark Knight was a mere $5 and I needed to see it.

I was somewhat disappointed in the prior day's screening of Hellboy II and needed to see if (for once) all the hype surrounding Heath Ledgers rendition of the Joker could warrant the first posthumous Oscar since Peter Finch's Best Actor (Network) in 1976.

USA Today was giving it four stars, a rare stellar critique. It was directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento) and costarring Christian Bale (3:10 to Yuma), Aaron Eckhart (Thank you for Smoking) as well as a superb team of perfectly cast players, Gary Oldham, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Maggie Gyllenhaal. And then there is Heath.

To say that his performance is transcendent, cheapens his efforts. To say that he singlehandedly dialed up the definition of character acting several degrees, understates his vision. To say that he steals every scene is not enough. He not only steals every scene, he swipes the set, absconds with the plot, heists the dialogue and literally rips off the entire narrative. When he is not on screen you are wondering where he is and what he is doing. Everything else is simply a set up. While hanging from a wire outside a sky scrapper matching moral wits with The Batman in the closing moments, we are given a moment of dialogue that sums up our monumental search for purity. The Joker is a social scientist merely showing society to itself (albeit in extreme ways) with The Batman (as he is now referred) admitting that his means PERHAPS no not equal his ways. And we are left with that question, wondering if there is such a thing as all-good, or all-bad, total evil or complete altruism. Or more importantly, which is right, true or just. This theme is brilliantly played out in a simultaneous cut away scene on explosive rigged ferry boats, bringing the conclusion to a nail-biting, heart-thumping, eye-popping, hair-raising climax. WHAM!

In the midst of all the morality, Nolan and Co. have packaged an action film that literally blows away anything that has come before. I sat riveted for the 2.5 hours, wanting the spectacle to continue until my eyes could take no more. I wanted to see what Heath could possible do to upstage his last scene. How would this end? Who would walk (limp, crawl or be dragged) away from whatever carnage lay destroyed, burning, smoking, crumbled? I was cheering for The Joker. Because Heath Ledger had created him so vivid. So marvelously bad. So scary. I was cheering for the actor, not his part. This is genius. Not many actors can upstage Jack Nicholson the thorough way that Heath did. Same character, same part. Totally different take. BLAM!

The Palace may have had Boris and Lon up on their screen in the past, but never will they see a performance quite like the one that Heath Ledger turned in yesterday.

Two closing thoughts: Parents: The Dark Knight is rated PG-13. This so misses it. There is no sexual content and not a lot of swearing. Big deal. There is enough violence, gore, and emotional mayhem to darken a immature mind with a thousand nightmares. IF YOUR KIDS ARE NOT ABLE TO DISCERN THE ACTOR FROM THE ACT, please go see Space Chimps.

And lastly, to the management of the Palace. When I confronted you with the question as to why the credits did not run after the close, you said the projectionist inadvertently shut it off when the lights came on. I will accept your response as truth, and as I told you, that is the best (only) answer you could have given, However,



Ray Brook, NY

July 18, 2008

There is dirty. And then there is dirty. I was informed of this distinction a few years back by a lady who does house cleaning. She should know. Prior to this conversation I never looked closely at the levels of dirt. And its correlation with attitude, apathy or arrogance. I was set up for this by the immaculate condition of my pension in Nuremberg. True, the room set a record for paucity of square feet, but what it lacked in volume it more than made up for with sanitation detail. The room was spotless and if I dropped a few bread crumbs on the floor, I would pick them up and throw them in a bag lined, closed topped trash receptacle, of which there were several. I know what you're thinking, well, of course, it's Germany, but the same was true in France and England before that.

Not so here in Lake Placid.

Last year, sister Kathy, my hired driver for the weekend, and I stayed at the Tail o the Pup halfway between Lakes Placid and Saranac. We immediately joked about the rustic accommodations, the dearth of hot water in the shower stall and the bubbas lines up outside our door with cash in hand, eagerly ordering BBQ ribs, chicken and pitchers of diet coke. It was, after all, a vacation for her, an assignment for me, and if I could save the company $900 for the four days by slumming in the joints "cabins" instead of paying the five day minimum gouge at the host hotel (where rooms are $350 A NIGHT), then so be it. But that was last year.

What a difference a year makes.

I was late in reserving my hotel this year, admitted, so when Eddie called and said that they had a cancellation and I was one lucky guy, I took the bait and gave him my Visa numbers. And I showed up yesterday, tired and ready for a nap.

First indication that things had changed was the fact that there was no doorknob. No lock. Just a swinging red door with a screen that looked like somebody took a Bowie knife to it. The floor is listing about 9 degrees towards the bathroom, where the toilet is playing back the tape from the last "guest" to vomit into it, on an endless loop. I have never heard such a sound coming from a toilet. I am getting a little concerned now, and look for a chair to hang my jacket and rest my gear bags. None. I look at the bed, the only article of furniture in the room, and notice that the bedspread appears to be one of the designs that was on-sale at Macy's. In 1974. It is filthy. I look behind the pine bedposts and see, bottle-caps, candy bar wrappers, cigarette butts, and dust-balls. Remember that there is no other room available for a 125 mile radius.

So I put all the gear back in the trunk of the Kia Rio and head out to find an ice chest (there is nothing but the bathroom sink), a pad lock, and a six pack of beer. I will think about all this, sip a cool Guinness, and make a decision. It might be better to sleep in the car. But I need to charge at the camera batteries and Garmins, so there is another challenge. Plus, per normal, my back hurts. Gawd almitty.

I am used to taking one for the team. But this was a test of a completely different level. And I was being tested. And I refuse to cheat on life tests by throwing money at it.

So I sip on the aforementioned Irish stout and go see Hellboy II. When I leave the Palace theatre I am now faced with the dilemma. Confront Eddie and haggle the price, Sleep in the car, relent and go to the Best Western in Saranac and pay $200/night, or tough it out.

Having shut off the water supply to the toilet, I stood in the light rain outside the cabin pissing at 3 in the morning, thinking that there is dirty, and then there is dirty. And then there is THIS.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

John & Robert

McCain picks Mugabe as running mate.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain today announced that he has asked Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to be his running mate in the upcoming elections.

"We feel that Robert gives us the complete package, he is a fierce negotiator, a fearless crusader for the principals that this party holds dear, and a tireless worker to bring about electoral outcomes."

Mugabe, who was reached while vacationing in The Hague, said by phone that while he considers the ticket to be somewhat unorthodox and possibly even illegal under U.S. Constitutional guidelines, he doesn't see that as an issue. "Never in my political, military or diplomatic career have I allowed a little thing such as the law stand in the way of progress. And I would like to reward all those who voted for me in our last election by providing the spoils that only being the preeminent African conservative Republican can bring."

Several political analysts were quick to call the selection a winner. Karl Rove called it, "a rare combination of unique personalities and contrasts." while at CNN Wolf Blitzer hailed the move as "absolutely visionary".

Democratic candidate Barack Obama could not be reached for comment as he was speaking to a sold out Madison Square Garden audience of MENSA members.

At the news, oil jumped to $200 a barrel.


Now he started to pace back and forth. It was raining relentlessly with nary a sliver of light on any visible horizon to indicate that it might burn off. He was soaked. The gear was wet. He paced hands clasped behind his back, thinking, talking to himself as all the other motorcycle pilots and their charges gathered in small circles, smoking. They had it easy, just cruise out to a location on the course with a decent backdrop, fire off a quick 2 or 3 hundred digital stills with a protected camera body and lens, and get the heck out of this ugly, wet grayness. Even the TV guys with their heavy duty JVC artillery could get the requisite highlight shots (including the obligatory water dripping into a pothole in slow motion) and keep comparatively dry. He, on the other hand, had challenges of a different magnitude altogether. So he paced, searching for a solution.

The easiest answer, of course, is to bag it. Quit. Rained out. No work today. This is what almost all production houses, rental facilities, schools, and most people that value the cost of their equipment do. Number one rule: DO NOT USE THIS GEAR IN THE RAIN. Hollywood and TV stations, being in it for the gold, have another motto: GET THE FUCKING SHOT. They don't really care how, just bring me the footage that I can use. We have insurance for the cameras (and your stint in the hospital).

So quitting was out. Just the thought of traveling all the way to Germany, prepping for five days, having every duck in a row, and then having an uncontrollable element wash away the day, was almost more than he could bear. To say nothing of the expense. He thought about asking one of the pilots for a smoke. He thought about kicking the press bus. He thought about screaming at the top of his lungs. He thought about how silly he must look to Pascal, his pilot, who stood by the coffee car watching him and awaiting instructions.

OK, if we wait, it may never stop raining. Now, may be the best conditions of the day. But there is no way he could control both cameras, constantly swabbing their lens', keeping the tapes dry, batteries secure, framed, steady, covered, all this (as expected) capturing perfect video, and here's the kicker, of every inch of this amazing course all the wile sitting on a sport bike, Pascal's Ducati 700 with no back rest and nothing remotely useable to HOLD THE FUCK ON TO. Jesus, you might as well take me now.

But wait. STOP PACING and DO SOMETHING. It is not going to ease up. Face that. Let's use the shoot priority list and at least give it a go. On the priority list, way down at item six, was, when everything else fails, get some highlight footage. OK, fine. He marched back towards where Pascal and the Ducati were and grabbed his backpack, Pascal jumping to attention. Let's use just the B cam, lighter and with a 37" lens opening to the Canon's 72", this to catch less moisture, mount it on the mirror arm, wrap the sucker in a baggie with a hole cut for the lens and secured with snap ties, set the focus, frame the shot and see what we get. And, let's ride a bit faster than normal, say 35-40 avg/mph in order to blow as much water off the lens as possible. Start the Garmins, start the Skyclock, tighten the adjusting knobs on the Manfrotto 3025, tie the cameras jacket underneath to make sure it doesn't blow into the shot, say a quick prayer, and join the fray. After all, now at 0830, a steady stream of triathletes had been coming up the ramp from T1 for almost 90 minutes. So, throttle-up that motherfucker my friend, here we go.

The long line of motorcycles, photographers, fans, officials, and assorted soggy hangers-on, parted like the Red Sea as we passed. The Lord only knows what they were thinking as we set upon our journey of somewhere between 1 and 112 miles, and he also know what I was thinking: This is a serious long-shot. Borderline preposterous.

So we rode among the athletes, up hills, through villages lined with shouting locals, across bridges, into forests, past verdant fields, into the rain. He thought often how cold they must have been on their bikes, some in Speedos, but most with arm warmers. He was cold. To the bone. At one point his right hand went numb and he reached way down alongside the exhaust pipes for some recuperative heat. His back started to ache. Not being able to see the viewfinder on the camera because rather than leave it exposed, he decided to keep it closed and inside the bag, they were literally flying blind, and when his watch chronometer hit 80 minutes he hollered to Pascal to find a covered and safe place to stop for a tape change.

Or not. So many things could have terminated the video, moisture being the most likely culprit, but also excess vibration, issues with the rain jacket, the camera settings, auto exposure, manual focus, the last of which was the fact that he had no idea how the footage was being framed as they rode, he had made just a quick set up and then said giddayup. So now as they each stretched and shook out limbs from the cold, he inserted a fresh battery and pointed at the rewind arrow with a pink, frozen and wrinkled index finger. The rain pounded the wood shingled roof over the loading area of the barn where they stopped as triathletes sped by. The moment of truth was at hand. He knew that he wold know almost instantly weather or not the footage would be anywhere close to useable. Now, at least, he could say, well, we tried. As he stooped to look closer, Pascal came to peer over his shoulder.

They stood up and faced each other like two mongrels just fetched from drowning, each with the same expression of amazement, as if they had just witnessed a miracle.



Dateline: Nuremberg, Germany, 12 July, 2008

At last, race day is upon us. Almost. It's a rainy, blustery Seattle-esque Saturday, with the first wave scheduled to start with the cannon blast in less than 10 hours. We have been prepping, Pascal and I, for two days now, outfitting his Ducati 700 with everything we could throw at it. It'll be an RCV first, oh loyal readers, that the bike configuration will accommodate BOTH cameras. His bike has a very sleek front profile so we've attached the Bogen 3025 Super Clamp to his right mirror rod with the Sony HC7 sitting atop. My thoughts here are that the Sony is half the weight of the Canon, and now that we can dial up the shutter speed to better the smooth cam render, this might be the perfect time to test its capabilities up front where we can grab HD widescreen uninterrupted. Then, a few meters behind, I'll wear the vest with the Canon attached (rigid) to the Fig-Rig. This might free my left hand enough to hold on to the Ducati as, once again, I have managed to draw a bike with no back rest. It appears that big touring bikes (Gold Wings, Harleys, Yamahas) are not the popular ride in Europe. My poor back. It already hurts.

All we need to capture what, by every testimony to date, is a spectacular bike course, is some decent weather. Consider: Felix the RD, in an exclusive interview on Thursday told me that in 2001 when he was negotiating with Lew Friedman of the WTC, he stood fast on the validity of the bike course, to the chagrin of WTC who wanted to make it one loop. It was a deal breaker. WTC went up the road to Frankfort and started their own event (timing it so to discourage participation in Roth) and Felix kept his vision of a uber bike course. Who needs Ironman when you have everything else, eh? Still, for RCVman, rain is the deal breaker. And just for this record, I never liked that money grubiing Friedman anyway.

So there I was yesterday. Had it all planned out to the second. Did a test walk of the 2.5 miles from the hotel to the hauptbhannhof (38.32 with a 10lb pack and stopping for red lights), and then from the Roth train station to the bus departure site (15.37). All this means that I could get up at 0345, walk the 2.5, catch the RE 23909 local train to Roth, walk to the bus departure area and catch the last bus to the swim start at 0520. All this to get there, film some of the swim, get set up on the Ducati and start filming at approximately 0725 or so. It was all tested, perfected and ready to go. I was happy with the logistics and ready for the wake up call from the iPhone.

I told Pascal the plan. He replied, in his very decent English, "Dude, be in front of your hotel at 0530, I'll pick you up."


Second Handed

Overheard today while walking through the streets of Nuremberg, "The Germans are all bastards, I want nothing whatever to do with them." Well, OK, but I think that might be a slight generalization, yet I can understand the sentiment. As a few examples: I had been taking all the usual precautions in making sure that I was never caught outside the floating 1K radius without correct WC change. The reason for this I learned the hard way 16 years ago in Naples. That very humiliating lesson cost me a most embarrassing taxi ride and a pair of Levis. This morning as I waltzed the platz again I realized that I was outside the (comfort) zone. I started the search at the usual places, but no WC. Fortunately I wasn't far from the Hauptbahnhof, so back I went, picking up speed on the way. When I found it, the cost was a bargain at 50 euros and I noticed the attendant sitting reading the paper dressed in what appeared to be janitors coveralls emblazoned with day glow green. Dropping coin allowed passage through the turnstile and into the private chamber with the stainless steel, one-piece commode. Duty done, I washed hands (there are no towels or blowers so you're on your own here) and attempted departure only to be brought to an immediate halt by the aforementioned turnstiles. I am thinking that I have never come across two-way turnstiles, so there must be another exit somewhere. I look about not wanting to disturb the attendant who is reading the sports page. There is none. I look for buttons to push, levers to pull, instructions to follow. Nine, none and non. Then I hear it. Something abrasive and accusatory. Like a cop or my seventh grade math teacher (a nun). I plead immediate nolo- contendre, both hands going up in the universal "I have no idea" gesture and say meekly, "Anglais". He kicks back his chair, causing a screeching echo that probably was heard all the way to Munich and marched towards me with body language that suggested that I default to Tae Kwon Do fighting positing One. He walks past pushing the inside of the turnstile and commands "Go". Resisting the urge to ask where is that instruction written (on the fucking shit room door?) I exit watching him return to his chair, paper and underachieving position with the state. Que bastardo!

Example number two. Germans, and to be fair, the French and Italians too, have yet to understand the idea of second hand smoke. I guess they are all a little peeved at being kicked out of cafes, bistros, bars, restaurants, subway stations, hotels, stores, shops and just about every place that does commerce, and some that don't. So they smoke outside. And it makes no difference who happens to be around. I am sitting right now at a cafe that serves french style coffee and wonderful pastries, I have joined maybe twenty people outside to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. I am sitting quietly sipping coffee and writing this to you on my trusty old iBookG4, and taking on the second hand smoke of EVERYONE ELSE HERE. It seems obligatory that on every table, as on every lip, is a cigarette. This is gross. It is also very comical. I swear if you watch smokers closely (they can be of any nationality) there is a pantomime ritual that borders on comedy. Sit, fumble for one, try to light in a light gale, inhale, cough, cross leg, try to act relaxed as powerful pollutants attack your throat, lungs and heart, attempt to look sophisticated, cough, and repeat until cigarette has been completely inhaled, take a deep breath, cough. OK, here comes a new comedian, a middle aged mother of four (I instinctively know this), wearing the obligatory cammy cargo pants and an almost too tight stripped blue blouse. She has a tray with one grase tasse cafe and what appears to be a croissant covered in chocolate and sliced almonds. She puts her tray on the table two tables upwind from mine. She pulls back the rubberized-rattan backed chair and sits. OK, here we go. Even before she takes one sip of her coffee, she is into her plain black hand bag (with one silver star near the strap) and is pulling they come......a pack of........Marlboro Lights. And she starts the routine. I am laughing so hard at this point that I have to turn my head so as not to spoil to show.
But the laughter quickly subsides and she gets the last a putrid plume of exhaled carcinogens makes its way ardently towards my turned up nose.

You win, I'm outta here.

Strum und Drang

Strum und Drang

GERMAN: Storm and stress. A late eighteenth century literary movement of which the most enduring is Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. It emphasized energy over reason, the universal over the conventional and the primitive over the civilized. I passed by Goethe's former residence today on my walk thru town. Somehow this idea is very relevant to the spirit of triathlon. And the Germans (as we have known for a while) take all this very seriously.

Smoothed out almost all the details for tomorrow. There is a press bus departing from the media center at 0500. OK fine. I can wake at 0400 and walk there, schlepping all my gear. I meekly asked for an English speaking moto pilot (no-one understands or appreciates all that I have to do) and Manfred, the media director, just kinda smiled past me and said, "ja, ja, sure, just be on zee bus.". Danke. The challenge of me explaining all that we need to do to a non-English speaking pilot (at six on race morning) is the equivalent of Jesus explaining to the apostles that he was serious about the non coveting of neighboring wives thing. Some concepts, like commandments, just take a little more time to sink in.

EDITORS NOTE: And why is it dear dear readers, that there is no reverse commandment that tells the females among us to not covet thy neighbors husbands????? What about that???????

Maybe for the same reason that there was no lady apostle and JC was rappin to a totally male audience, and he, as well as they, kinda already understood, even 2,000 or so years ago, that this particular commandment is a MANS responsibility. Cause we can always just say no.

Goethe would. RIGHT.

LATE REPORT. Hey kids, it's 1911 on Saturday night in Frankfurt. The night before the European Championships, Ironman Germany. I still have lot's to do but I will make the 0400 wake up call from my iPhone.

Just wanted to pass along some notes form the first stage of the 2008 TdF, which I caught on a big screen from a bar near the train station. Seems that EVERY negative camera operation, from focus (0r the lack thereof) to composition, to contrast, to movement to framing, was on display. Yes, I know they do it live, but they also do it with cameras costing twenty times as much, the best mounts, riders, and support, and a budget that is, shall we say, otherworldly.

I am gonna say this only once, so if you care one iota listen up. I AM OUT HERE ON MY OWN, I HAVE ONE CAMERA. I ATE DINNER AT THE TRAIN STATION TONIGHT TO SAVE MONEY. I WON'T MEET MY MOTORCYCLE DRIVER TILL AN HOUR BEFORE THE RACE AND HE PROBABLY WON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM SAYING TO HIM. And yet the final footage of the events we have covered so far this year is every bit as good as the coverage of the Tour de France that I watched today.

I shoot therefore I am.


The din of traffic had ended, and with it the impersonal bleat of the day. The commute was done with families now setting about the transition from the public to the private. There was dinner to enjoy, stories of the day to share and a rare opportunity to quietly re-group. The calm, peaceful summer evening sent a personal invitation to anyone who cared to listen. Come and join us it seemed to say.

He sat a bench in the park surrounded by tall apartment buildings and a grammar school. It was safe to say that this was a stereotypical Nurmberg suburb, almost 5K from the city center and home to a mix of nationalities. From a fifth floor window he could hear a girl reading to her Dad (or tutor) in French. The kids playing hacky-sack were Middle Eastern and there was an impromptu soccer game going on with a mixture of jersey names that hinted at heros from Brazil, Italy and Morocco. There was an Irish pub on the corner. In the midst of all this, he felt very much at ease.

He was reading, relaxing, taking in all the sights, sounds, letting his memory drift to other park benches, other summer nights, distant places and times. A ladybug crawled onto his arm and began a slow yet determined march towards his shoulder. He was on auto pilot, allowing a rare indulgence of the visceral. His breathing had slowed, his muscles relaxed, his mind free. He smiled at the bug. Stay as long as you like.

From behind he heard Papa correct the girls use of the what sounded like an irregular verb as one of the teens went into an impressive hackey-sac solo to the clapping accompaniment of his mates. At center-pitch the Brazilian all-stars had scored another goal it seemed. There were no nets, just two well worn patches of dirt where maybe a thousand goalies perviously had left their prints.

And then everything changed. Day turned to night with no dusk to buffer, Apples turned orange. The jolt was like an electrical current. It ran the length of his spine and came to rest at the base of his skull. It was an old memory. A simple scene from not that long ago, but it still carried a charge.

It was summer. He was taking care of his girl friends thee kids. Boys, 11 and twins at 8. They went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. They lived in a rental house way too small for the four of them because anything more suitable was way too expensive. The house bordered on a new development, cookie cutter McMansions. They came across a small green belt area with a swing set and open field, not really a park, but space to play. There were three young girls playing kick ball and a man across the street with a push-broom, supervising. Without thinking, he stopped his bike and started to play catch with the boys tossing a nerf football that he had carried along. That lasted about three minutes before the boys were invited to play kick-ball by the girls. He was walking back to his bike to watch and allow the kids to play when the man with the broom came over and said that the boys couldn't play here. Rules. Residents only. You have to OWN one of THESE houses to use this space.

OOh, really?


These boys live right there he said pointing to the rental house.

Yes, I know. They can't play here.

You're serious?


They're kids.

I know, they have to go play somewhere else.

He could feel his anger about to take control, so he called the boys and said let's go. They rode off, leaving everyone wondering what had just happened. And more importantly, why.

The ladybug, reaching his shoulder, jumped into flight.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Der langste tag des jahres

Day two in Frankfurt. Lot's to do. Got in a solid sleep (at last) at the Kaiserhof and today it's checking details off the todo list. Like finding out how the heck I am going to get to the swim start at 0600 tomorrow when it is five miles from the finish. The swim is in a lake in a part of town called Zeppelinheim so one can only hope that they are blarring appropriate music as the athletes get ready to, ahem, Rock 'n Roll. The bike leg promises to be fun, two loops with climbs earning such dramatic nicknames as "The Beast", "The Hell", "Huhnerberg" and "Heartbreak Hill". As for a translation of Huhnerberg the closest I can come up with at this point is, roughly (from the Italian) "that painful place where legs feel like honey gelato." The others, I trust, speak for themselves.

Photos: Hauptbanhof, der central train station, now sporting a bank logo. The finish area is assembled at Romerberg Platz. Another example of the old and the new (in terms of architecture). A vertical shopping mall with a cafe at the top.

Der Frankfurter

Gooten nabben. Day one (albeit late) in Frankfurt. Took a cab, as scheduled from the airport to the Kaiserhof, checked bags and took off to find the race venue. Found it after a 30 min walk along the Main and immmediately ran into my old frind Andrea, whom I first met last year in Lanzarote. She might have a lead for a Graman rep. Met with the media folks, got set up for race day (there are some issues to resolve) and then went for dinner, tired and slightly dingy (normal?) Snapped some pix along the way for your entertainment. Going back after a nap to see U2 3D at 9115. Friday night here. Fouth of July there. Kinda weird. More of the same. Guess I'm used to it.

Photos: Sea-Tac on Thursday. Easy one: What is wrong with this picture?
Cool promo at the Philly airport of all the movies shot there. Click on it, enlarge, and name as many as you can.
Going over the bike leg at dinner way high.
Rockin street band in the platz. Marimba (not shown) Steel drums, flute, dijambe. YES!
Old German meets the new (one reflects the other?)

The tuition of in

The tuition of in

You sometimes hear otherwise well intentioned people say, listen to your heart, be true to yourself or let your conscious be your guide. To this, I would like to humbly add; When you ask yourself a question, answer it. LOUDLY, verbally and with as much logic and veracity as you can muster at the moment. If it also happens to coincide with a talking heart, the truth of self and/or the guidance of your inner tour guide, all the better.

"Maybe we should catch an earlier boat.", was that question, but instead of performing the exercise outlined above, he dismissed the calling, and went back to the studio to order two books on-line for two young friends who would be celebrating their birthday next week. Sure, he qualified for free shipping (using Amazon prime), but the eventual cost of the decision, or of deciding not to amend the decision, would cost him. About a grand.

So he sat at Gate A2 in drizzling Seattle, one day later, waiting for his flight to Philadelphia, connecting to Frankfurt. True, Brittany at had been very helpful in making the changes, getting a refund for him when none was available (or even possible according to the not-so-fine print), and booking a room at the Radisson, but that was all expo facto. Fact was, he missed the flight, and all his arguments with the Lufthansa agent(s), centering on the fact that he could still get a boarding pass check two bags, clear TSA security, and get to the gate in less than 35 minutes, were having the same effect that a driver clocked at 100 in a 55 zone has with a motorcycle cop. In both cases you need to make a call, the former to the hotwire 800 number and the latter to your lawyer. As consolation, he supposed that he should be happy talking to Brittany instead of a public defender, or, considering the way he commandeered RG's PT Cruiser in trying to get to the airport, both.

He would eat the difference. A costly error in judgment. All was not lost. A lesson had been re-learned. Life goes on. We'll be in Frankfurt tomorrow. Happy 4th of July. The tuition of in. Education is expensive these days.

Chapter 75

Chapter 75

Everyone saw it coming, yet curiously no one gave it the slightest bit of attention, save him. He understood what it meant to the big picture, the sum of the horizontal and the vertical (as measured by the diagonal). It was sad the same way that clouds pass before the sun, or the moon shrinks to a crescent. Worse, when he tried to speak of the danger, his words were met with raised eyebrows and cocked heads, glances askance trying to determine the sincerity level in the delivery and the message amid the ramble.

"Are you kidding?", they all asked.

In that place of deep inner truth, however, they all knew he was not. The larger, much more important question, to him, was, is it too late?

Was he on his way to buy expensive lumber and fix the corral knowing that the horses had all regained their freedom and were out roaming the range? Did it really make any difference? Did anyone care enough to join him in this hopeless mission of saving the planet? Or was it too late?

The answer came with the crackle of thunder, YES IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE, a jolt of lightening, YES, THERE IS ONE, and the open spigot of a hot summer torrent, IT IS NOT TOO LATE.

(but it's close)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chapter 74

"I can't believe this is happening."

'What next, we've already been delayed by fog, extreme low tides, the fucking Coast Guard, a metal-bending, rubber-burning, traffic-snarling, I-5 blocking traffic accident, and now the alternate route (Old 99) seems to have every signal stuck on red."

"You could miss your flight"

"I haven't missed a flight in 25 years, since me and Beets sat innocently drinking salty Margaritas as the TWA (!) 707 slipped past us at Sea-Tac the Christmas of '83, and I ain't gonna miss this one, either. So please tighten up your seat-belt and keep all unnecessary conversation to a minimum for the next 20 minutes or 8 miles, whichever comes first"

"You sometimes forget who you are talking to."

He was about to say sorry, you're right, when the dip-shit dimwit dogface dumb-fuck in the dented Dodge hit his brakes as he hit his gas. This leaving a diminishing amount of physical space between the cars. Rapidly diminishing. As is non-existent.

"I can't believe this is happening."

Milestone #85

Milestone #85

Had a lengthy chat with the boss yesterday. Progress from the coding end means Roger's life will be lot easier, and hence the outside chance that we can now get product to market faster. Australia could be released as early as next week. That will make Phil and Wendo happy. Sales are "better than one could expect", with CdA sitting atop the Number One seller list for the 3rd consecutive month, a modern era record!!!! All systems are go for Germany and Lake Placid (although I might have to sleep in the rental car in the Adirondacks, so I upgraded to a SUV this morning for this very purpose).

The Boss, looking at his sales report, said we just passed the 85K mark in cash sales. Nice. Now that we finally have the coding technology to finish St. Croix, Switzerland and UK from last year, coupled with the new and improved RCV dynamics from this year, I will be a busy boy for a while. As an example, me and the local guy (Dad) deliver this years UK 70.3 (shot a mere 16 days ago) on my way to Sea-Tac this morning. This on the way to Frankfurt and Roth. As I am in Germania the IM France video is rendering. All this as Roger adds the CT algorithms and codes to OZ. Real time progress kids!

And the temperature rises with another milestone.

Danke scoen

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Off to Germany

Germany travel notes:

Start IM France render
From Frankfurt airport take cab to Pension Alpha. (15K)
You need to get a dorm room for Friday night at the Pension Alpha.
Make sure that check out is Monday after the race.
Pick up rental car (Europcar) Monday morning 7/7 at Frankfurt RAILWAY (Meitwagenzentrum) by 1000
Get road map from Frankfurt to Nurmberg (time trip) (226K, 2:10)
Check in Casa de Portugal
Return rental car to RAILWAY station (2.5 miles from hotel)
On Saturday, 7/12 @ 1600 pick up car at AIRPORT
Drive to event (Roth is 200K, 2hrs), shoot and return to Hotel
Sleep early, depart for Frankfurt at 0230
Drive back to Frankfurt (see Map)
Drop car by 0600
Fly to Copenhagen
Check IM France render when home
Unpack, do laundry, relax
Lave for Lake Placid Thursday

So, dear readers, we begin a new adventure tomorrow. Off to Germany for two events, IM Germany in Frankfurt and Quelle Roth Challenge, some 225K to the southwest of Bavaria. As you can see from my trip notes above, this is another highly technical and logisticially challenging 10 days. Cabs, cars, planes, bikes, legs, anything to make it work.

The photos above are from my ride on Sunday morning from Battle Point to Country Club and then over to see George and Sarah on Eagle Harbor. Dad (George) is the RCV local guy, assisting with events in the greater Seattle area. He will shuttle RCVman to CTHQ in the morning and then on to Sea-Tac. He is handsomely rewarded for his tireless efforts and always asks if the next event is local. Unfortunately, Germany is not considered a local event big guy. RAMROD on July 31, however, is.