2008 Maxda CX-7 Automotive Review

Automotive Review, 2008 Mazda CX-7
By Brian Lebow

We're on the Road in the 2008, Mazda CX-7

The Good: Nice styling, good handling, decent list of standard features, good curbside appeal, very safe.

The Bad: Road noise is somewhat pronounced, rear seats are low.

Overall: The CX-7 is a sharp looking small SUV, sporty styling while offering a well designed, handsome and functional interior.

The CX-7 is Mazda's five passenger crossover sport-utility vehicle, initially introduced for 2007. The powertrain consists of a 2.3 Liter 4 cylinder turbo engine, outputting 244 horsepower and 258 lb foot of torque, coupled to the front wheel drive, six speed automatic transmission with sportshift! Mazda offers the CX-7 in three trim levels: Sport; Touring; and Grand Touring.

The CX-7 is very sporty, from the five-pointed grille and prominent front fender, up to the A pillar slanting at a 66 degree angle, the Mazda holds true to "the soul of a sports car" slogan. The integrated rounded xenon headlights round out the front corner of the vehicle nicely! It's retains the sharp handling and responsiveness of a car, while offering light duty utility as well.


The CX-7 scored best marks in Government Front, Driver and passenger, side driver/ rear passenger test as well as good marks in government rollover tests. The 5 passenger SUV has many standard safety features, including: ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist, as well as Dynamic Stability Control and Traction Control System. Also standard find side impact door beams, Front/Rear crumple zones, an anti-theft immobilizer and TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), four wheel ventilated disc brakes; Front wheel or Active Torque-Split All-Wheel Drive. The CX-7 has thick D pillars, but the area is very visible using the side mirrors. This Mazda also features a good compliment of six airbags for front and back.

Driving Impressions

The CX-7 is a handles well and although you might expect a v-6 to be necessary for this size vehicle, you'd be surprised how well the 4 cylinder turbo performs. Unlike the turbo of the past there's almost zero lag. The turbo does a great job of compensating for what could otherwise be a lighter duty engine for this rather hefty vehicle. Handling is solid, responsive and tight (without being numb) and thanks to the four wheel independent suspension you'll feel little road, the response is direct. Road noise is a bit more audible than others, but it's not enough to be troublesome. Consumer Reports rated Mazda's CX-7 as less than average for first year reliability, but we did not note any potential issues during our test drive.

The Way You Feel Inside

Jump into the CX-7 without needing a boost, it's not a huge SUV. Mazda's red and blue lighting combine for a pleasing hue across the clean and simple analogue gauge cluster. Interior styling is handsome and build quality is good, inline with the category.

Function meet form, form meet function: nice looking front/side defrost vents are smartly integrated into the dash, which is stacked to include a centered LCD display, for clock and audio info. Discover a large lockable center console, large enough for a music junkie's CD collection, and more space for snacks. Got power? Plug in to either of the 12v power outlets. Drivers will also appreciate lighting accents that make it easy to see the interior while driving at night, thanks to the indirect blue cabin illumination (on the upper trim). Drivers and passengers delight with lumbar adjustment on front seats, that are also heated (love the heated seats, also on upper trim).

The CX-7 has a good long list of standard features, they include: Cruise Control, AM/FM/CD audio with automatic level control (automatically adjusting the volume (smooth and non intrusive) based on noise levels) fold away brake pedal assembly, LATCH rear child safety seat anchors and tethers, A/C, power door locks, plus more. The CX-7 offers fun, a sporty drive and a bit of utility as well, and gives you alot for your money!


For a five passenger SUV, you'll likely be taking the weekend road trip and the CX-7 is ready for the road, with decent and versatile stowage space. Fold the rear seats down (although they don't lay entirely flat, check the photo below) and you'll have 58.6 cubic feet. With the rear seats up find 29.9 cubic feet about average for this class vehicle, and decent space for the weekend warrior or occasional camper. Options exist to extend your storage with a roof rack (100lbs max); and the tow package (towing capacity up to 2000 lbs).

By the Numbers

By the new 2008 fuel rating the FWD CX-7 is rated at 17 city / 22 highway, and we averaged 17.8 MPG on premium fuel, combined (city and highway) driving. (AWD model gets 16 / 21MPG)

Mazda CX-7 Sticker Price

FWD Sport Trim starts at $23,750.

FWD Touring Trim starts at $25,500. and

FWD Grand Touring starts at $26,300.

AWD Sport Trim starts at $24,450.

AWD Touring Trim starts at $27,200.

AWD Grand Touring Trim starts at $28,000

Publisher: Brian LeBow,
LeBow Media, LLC is the original author of this new car review.

Chocolate Covered Beetle Art Car

A chocolate-coated car was placed in front of a supermarket in Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, on Valentine's Day. This eye catching car was the work of seven employees from a local car company. The car was wrapped in a plastic wrap before being painted with melted chocolate. A total of 200 kg of chocolate was used in its making.

Article from Spluch

A Year Later for a Day in Hillsboro

Results? Could've been better. I finished higher in two of the three road races I completed in during 2007, my first year racing.

But all that happened in between the start and the finish? The actual racing part? What a difference a year has made.

The morning of Hillsboro-Roubaix, the intermittant sunshine didn't do much to warm the cold morning or calm the unexpectly quick winds whipping out of the east. I procrastinated a bit too long inside the registration area of the church before finally getting on the trainer an hour before go time. I got in a solid, if abbreviated, warm-up with a couple of superthreshold efforts in about 25 minutes, before heading out onto the course. I rode out about a mile past the feedhill to get a feel for the headwinds and the gearing I'd need for the big, decisive hill before divebombing onto the race's namesake jolting, jarring brick streets on the way to the finish line.

The night before I'd scouted the course in the car with Tamara and Katy so I knew what we were in for. Even then we'd known there would be some kind of wind out of the east, so being able to see that much of the cross-wind section would be though technical, narrow, rough, and winding roads helped much with the mental preperation.
There was a centerline rule in effect for all but 300 yards of this race, not-with-standing the fact that there was no yellowline at all, and much of the back part of the course was only one lane to begin with.

I knew staying at the front would be key during the entire race.

Everything timed out well, and I found myself at the front, awaiting the 4/5 field's start, without too much time to get cold, but I still stood there shivering next to my xXx teammates: Jeff, Newt, Sheriptis, Bob, Loukis, Leonard, and Jim. I'd be lying if I said the shivering wasn't mostly due to the nervous antipation of my first time attempting this very famous regional road race. But thankfully, the neutral start was soon rolling.

Spin easy, big boy. Right turn. Down hill through the feed zone. End of the cones in sight. Just as Newt said to me, "Yo! It's a race!" at least 8 were immediately attacking. But the uphill right after reeled all but two in. The Ghisella and Killjoy riders were soon only on the periphery of our attention. Immediately xXx set the pace for the main field, and we were well into our first lap.

Newt, Chris, and Jeff did wonderful job keeping all the subsequent attacks in check, and the pack stayed together in the tailwinds heading west on the long stretch of Interurban road. A very good thing, too. Any gap would have been much harder to bridge once we turned south and took on the 15-20 mile an hour crosswinds.

It was here that two decisive crashes happened, right after another. One, right behind me, seemed to stretch on forever, "crack! bang! snap! crack!" and riders yelling the obvious. I heard later those split the field and left a lead group with about 40 riders. It then hit me that last year, in Spring Prairie or Proving Grounds, two much easier races, technically speaking, I would've been behind that crash.

Yet even then, as Newt churned a furious pace at the front, I found myself, along with Jeff, one too many wheels back. The echelon was out of room, and it was either hang myself in the wind or ride in the shoulder. I asked Jeff to move up so we could start a second echelon, but nobody behind us was paying attention or had already found another group, and it was immediately intuitive that with just two us, a gap would form pretty quick.

I don't know how, but someway it was easier to dig down and try and grab a pinch of draft here and there until we reached the straight headwinds on Walshville and headed back east. It was still not without supreme effort, and through a 10 minute stretch was at near-max fighting only to hang on to my place in the pack and not give up an inch even then.

I was able to recover in the straight draft, with Newt still at the front. A couple of attacks flew off in the headwind, but nothing got far at all and were overtaken on pack dynamics alone. He took us up the big hill at increasing speed and down over the bricks and onto our second and final lap. That last effort split the field again I heard, now down to under 30 riders. Again, last year I would've known for sure, as I would surely have watched that lead group growing smaller while I counted every rider.

Back onto Farm Trail and Interurban, the pack was much calmer and more thoughtful. The breakaway was still about 45 seconds ahead, and we could see them, tantalizingly close. Upon reaching the headwinds of Walshville, one more crash behind me sent a few more riders packing, and the front group got down to a bit of business.

The chatter started as two lines naturally formed, and when the right leader pulled through, I yelled "your clear!" and to the wheel in front, "it's you, man!" A nascent rotation began to form.

But all we had left in the main group were myself, Jeff, Newt, and Bob. Bob was conserving himself for his strong pack finish, and Newt was in desperate need of recovery after cracking the whip for nearly the entire first lap. It was up to Jeff and I to keep things moving. But we had enough Killjoy and Ghisella riders to disrupt things, and other teams were either too tired or unknowledgable to get in the flow. The work to fill the resulting gaps was too much in that wind that close to the finish.

Soon the fields ahead were going past on their 3rd lap on the out and back stretch, and it was obvious the break woudl stay away. And the end game was on.

The pace immediately slowed to a near crawl in the wind, no body making a move at all. It quickened a bit up the feedhill, but mostly to get around dropped 3/4 riders without gapping. I moved up to second wheel and rolled down the hill on a Vision Quest wheel, again with no one making any moves. Except for the lead wheel I was on half-heartedly trying to move off. I stuck on like glue and waited.

Waited until my impatience to make a decisive move got the better of me.

I jumped and attacked at the base of the hill. It felt wonderful. I spun and danced and fast and big as I could and imagined the separation growing behind me. I really thought I could make it. In the depths of my oxygen-deprived brain, I really thought I could.

The line of demarcation from ecstatic endorphin rush to the painful crash of cracking is one of brutal contrast.

It happened so fast.

I sat down about 2/3rds from the top and tried to grind out that last little crest as they caught me. I clung onto the back as I hit 40 going onto the bricks. And was dropped sharply out the back on the second to last turn before the finish.

I watched them float away. I kept my pace up as fast as possible to fend off the rider behind me maybe 75 yards away. But I wasn't going to catch anyone else. Jeff was maybe 30 yards ahead, and Newt at the back of the pack maybe 25 in front of him.

While not entirely down on myself, I flashed a huge smile through my anger as Katy took a picture as I crossed the line while Tracy held the huge red sign Katy had made on the sly before the weekend. I knew I was dating a former cheerleader, but damn.

It was a thoughtless, ill-timed move that wasted all the gains I'd made thoughout the day, not to mention the efforts of my other teammates for a stronger overall finish. But then I realized, of course, that I had still made those gains.

Last year, I waited and had to react. Today, I'd been making the decisions and moves that made others react. I'd heard so much and so often that the race is at the front. Today, I lived it. I'd avoided the crashes, barked the orders in the chase group, and made the first move.

Eggs, omelet, blah-blah-blah...big lesson learned.

What a difference the year has made.


I ate it animal style on the way back to town: a Culver's Double with bacon and cheese, not to mention half a bag of orange slices and candy corn from the gas station before.

We saw the Sears Tower go dark as we arrived in Chicago, for Earth Hour.

I even had a gig that night believe it or not. A benefit show on the far northwest side, it was luckily a show/play/split show on account of provided equipment and understanding bandmates.

We found that Hatchi's Kitchen in Logan Square was still serving. I ate about a 5 pounds of sushi, before heading to bed and almost immediate sleep.

Convert Your Car To Run On Water - Can You Really Turn Your Car Into A Hybrid?

Convert Your Car To Run On Water - Can You Really Turn Your Car Into A Hybrid?
By Marios Crawford

Is it possible to convert your car to run on water and own a hybrid car, without having to buy one?

Many years ago, Nicola Tesla discovered the almost "magical power of water. He realized that water can be used as a fuel and produce energy. Unfortunately, his invention was never released to the public, probably because water can be seen as the cheapest source of energy and there was not much profit involved for any company to develop his system.

Lately many people are using the HHO gas based system, in order to increase gas mileage and save money on gasoline. Buying a hybrid car costs around $20,000, but this apparatus costs less than $200 and can be easily installed on almost any car.

The Hydrogen-On-Demand system is environmentally friendly, because it reduces car's emissions that contribute to global warming and pollution.

Turn your car into a hybrid and enjoy these great benefits:
Boost gas mileage by up to 70% and save hundreds of dollars every month
Prolong the life expectancy of your engine
Reduce the noise of your engine and ensure a smoother operation
Remove carbon deposits
Enhance your engine's performance
Reduce your car's emissions and protect the environment

This is how the device works: by using the battery of the car, water can be turned into Brown Gas or HHO (Oxydrogen), which can serve as an energy source and move the car. As a result the car needs a much smaller quantity of gasoline, because it will run partly on water. Everyone who uses this revolutionary apparatus will be able to save money on gas and protect the environment, at the same time.

Hydrogen-On-Demand is a home made system that can be assembled by simple and cheap products found in any hardware store. The device can be easily installed and removed. The car's engine is not harmed in any way, in fact this system will clean the engine everyday.

Thousands of people are already using the HHO system and have successfully increased fuel economy by up to 70%.

This site can provide you with details and videos about how to convert you car to run on water and save thousands of dollars on gas every year.

Race Day.

It's on. Just don't blow your wad too soon.

Best of luck.



Charlie Don't Surf!

Actually, he rides a bike.

That's the music that's gonna be in my head in Hillsboro on Saturday.

To all of you racing with me:

Do it for fun.

Do it for love.

Do it 'cause you must.

Do it for yourself.

But whatever the case, make it real, and don't leave with anything except satisfaction and crossing the line.

It's a long season, and kicking it off with anything less would be a shame.

For it's what is good in life (thanks for the reminder Newtron):

Oh! And 200th post! (And fuck Bob Huggins.)


I think the upcoming racing season has me a bit rattled...or maybe this is a sign I'm finally becoming a real cyclist?

Monday night:

The scene was a random, vague looking office party, and I was with some teammates and friends are there. I am told Floyd Landis is in the building and that he’s looking for me. He’s mad and blaming me for some reason about his positive test and ban from cycling. Note: the suspension of disbelief is total here. Of course I know Floyd Landis.

I’m moving from room to room to avoid him, thinking at worst he’s gonna pick a fight with me or slap me around some...as I walk through a foyer, Landis comes out of a stairwell or elevator or something, and looks pretty dirty, unshaven. Like things have been pretty rough. All he says is, “Yo Morrissey,” and pulls out a gun and shoots me dead.

Last night:

This was obviously a Hillsboro dream. I am racing in Hillsboro, IL this weekend, in probably one of the biggest spring races in the Midwest, the Hillsboro Roubaix. It's in honor of the European one-day spring classic, ala Paris-Roubaix. There's even a section of brick for a few blocks before the finishing straight. My first race of the season. I had a great camp, but I'm still pretty nervous. I really want to have a good finish and help the team success as much as possible.

Oh...sorry, the dream. It's all pretty normal, except for the following:

  • at the start, everything was on FIRE,
  • I abandoned the race when I got to the half-pipe,
  • but I got to the finish in time to see Ed and Luke sprinting for 1st, but it was down the front hallway at my Jr. High School in Anchorage, AK…
I don't know what it means, other than maybe I need a massage...huh? Oh, no thanks. I'm short on cash. I can do that myself.

The Lost Weekend

The clock struck Midnight this past weekend on my time with The Midnight Shows...but it was a big ol' clock at least. We got it all done, at least the basic tracks we needed.

Also, next weekend, at the Note in Wicker Park, will be my last performance ever with these great guys. If you haven't had a chance to see me play, this is it, your last one. Please come out...I love playing for my friends just about as much as I do riding with them. I know a lot of us are racing in Beloit that weekend, and I got you covered. We're on at 10:30. So you will be in bed no later than midnight. And besides, the sleep you need for this race will come on Friday night. So get your ass to the Note next Saturday and send me out in style.

But in the meantime, a look behind the scenes:

Setting the drums (this takes forever, BTW. But it's arguably the most important facet of the entire recording. Even with the three hours of due diligence, you will still be asking, for days after, whether the snare sounds right):
Drums Jeff

There are lots and lots of mics involved in setting up the drums, at least 8:
Balti Mikes

The Main Recording Room:
Mics Drums Studio

Laying down the basics first (Getting the drums right is followed closely in importance by re-tuning the bass guitar between every...single...take. If your pitch shifts even a few cents here and there, pretty soon you are going to be off. And then when the bass rig is broken down and it's time to lay guitars on top of an out-of-tune rhythm section? You have no idea how pissed everyone is going be at you):
Brian Kevin

Two Inches!
2 Inch!

The Evil Supercomputer of Effects:
The Racks

Vic Damone? Fuck yeah it's Vic Damone! Ooh, baby.
Vic Damone

The cut on my left index finger from the crash in California a weekend ago still hadn't healed all the way (I bleed for my art, what else can I say?):
Bleedin for My Music

The guitar trax are going down!

If you've ever spent more than a few hours in a studio of any kind, you know this cookbook very well...hint, its "recipes" are primarily burritos and Kung Pao Chicken.

The Chairman of the Board:
Balti Board

Be sure and take notes:
Bass Board

30 hours out of a possible 72 available on Easter weekend spent recording? What could possibly get me through it?!?

This helped too (and contributed significantly to the fact that the above is possibly the worst picture ever taken of me):

That smooth voice laying down the soul of the weekend:
Rudy Vox

Car Flipping Art Cars

April in UK means that the British Rollover Championships is going on full "tilt". This video is hilarious and when I saw it I knew it would make the art car central "hall of hillarity" (and I am not talking about any presidential candidate in particular) The cars are painted somewhat artistically therefore I think they be included here.

Car Lot Joke Of The Day - Service Department

This joke actually comes from the service department instead of the sales department. I do not want any customers to take offense to this as it does not refer to you.

The service manager gathered his service writers together for a meeting. If you do not know, the service writer is the person who greets you and takes the information on your vehicle pertaining to the problem you are having.

The service manager continued to go over many points that needed to be handled. As he was ending the meeting, he said;
"You must remember, ALL customers that enter this service department have a problem. It's YOUR job to determine if it's mechanical or mental."

Be sure and check out these other Car Salesman Jokes and Car Lot Humor;
Car Salesman Joke; Eyeglasses
Grean Pea (New Car Salesman) Prank
Car Salesman Joke-Flying Cars
Car Salesman Joke-A Little Tail
Mexican Joke
Transmission Joke
Car Salesman; Day In The Life!
Dirty Car Salesman Joke

"Tapigami" Masking Tape Cityscape by Artist Danny Scheible

Danny Scheible is the amazing "Tapigami" artist who created an entire city scape using regular masking and painter's tape. I met Danny at Art Car Fest 06 in Berkeley CA, where he came to visit all the cars and was gracious enough to make and give out small versions of what he does. We talked for a while and during that time he created a small city scape that I have in an old 100 CD plastic container to protect it from dust. There is not a lot of mention of him on the net but since we drive art cars through cities, I figured it would be OK to write about him on art car central. Maybe he can do a city scape inside a car!!! Danny you rock and you have inspired me with your art.

from this..

To this!!!!!

and the video

Hybrid Cars; Whats The Big Deal?

Whats The Big Deal About Hybrid Cars?
By Steven H. Longoria

As we all become more environmentally conscious, efforts are being made worldwide to reduce the pollution caused by the cars you drive, the trucks that deliver the goods to your favorite stores, your kids' school buses.

You've probably seen newspaper articles and TV news reports on hybrid cars. But what exactly are hybrid cars?

Hybrid electric vehicles combine smaller gas engines with electric motors powered by a battery system that charges as the gas engine operates. This powertrain combination provides significantly improved gas mileage as well as dramatically reduced CO2 emissions. In these days of $3 gas and global warming, that's no small improvement.

If you regularly drive in an urban area, hybrid vehicles are particularly cost-effective as you can drive almost completely on electric power, which obviously saves gas dollars as well as the environment. This is the exact opposite of traditional gas cars that tend to get better mileage on the highway than driving in more stop-and-go city traffic. Take into consideration the type of driving you most frequently do when considering a hybrid.

Interestingly, when a hybrid car is running on electric power, particularly at low speeds such as in the city, they are practically silent, reducing noise pollution as well as air pollution. This means drivers of hybrids have to be more careful as pedestrians have a hard time hearing them coming...and being a more attentive driver is a positive thing.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that not all hybrids are created equal. For example, should you need a larger family vehicle, such as an SUV, a hybrid SUV very likely will not be as fuel efficient as a standard SUV. While this will surely change in the future, don't be fooled into thinking that just any hybrid is going to be better.

In addition, hybrid cars are definitely more expensive than "regular" vehicles. While the savings in gas mileage will help offset the higher purchase price, particularly if gas prices remain high, if you are thinking about buying a hybrid simply to "save money" you might find yourself unpleasantly surprised if the car does not meet your other needs.

On the other hand, if your major concern is the environment, the extra cost of a hybrid vehicle can be well worth it.

Steve Longoria writes on the growing Alternative Fuel Vehicles market, encouraging people to adopt greener fuels and, ultimately, to help people save money. For more info on Biofuel Vehicles visit EZAlternativeFuelVehicles.com

Making E85
Is a Hybrid Car For You?
BioDiesel Conversion
BioDiesel Process
Take a Ride In a Hybrid Car
Hybrid Tax Credit
Pursuit of Hybrid Synergy
Electric Hybrid Aptera
Hybid Cars, Whats the Big Deal?

John Lennon and His Rolls-Royce Art Car

Originally the car was painted matt black overall but John got tired of it and in April of 1967, visited J.P. Fallon Limited, a coachworks company located in Chertsey, Surrey. They then commissioned "The Fool" - a Dutch team of gypsy artists, to paint the car "psychedelic" at a cost of £2,000 (or about $4,200 Cdn).

John’s newly painted psychedelic car drew some public outrage when a old woman, in London’s downtown, attacked the car using her umbrella and yelling: "You swine, you swine! How dare you do this to a Rolls-Royce." Obviously, the Rolls-Royce is passionately regarded in England as one of the many symbols of British dignity!

This is one car we won't be seeing in any of the parades, and by far the most expensive and famous art cars that was bought for $2,299,000 in 1985 by Mr. Jim Pattison’s Ripley International Inc. for exhibition at Ripley’s "Believe It Or Not" museum.

John Lennon's car is featured in more detail in this tribute youtube video of him and his Rolls-Royce, with the "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" sound track

F*$% this

Updated 3/22: Decent ride this morning...Logan Square up to Bryn Mawr, to California to Pratt to Warren Park, back down Ridge/Ravenswood/Damen to Division to Milwaukee to Halsted to 33rd to MLK to 35th and the Lake. Got a sweet picture of the Stephan A. Douglas tomb, and then I made it to the studio.

We are having problems with the 2inch tape machine right now, so I am passing the time here...this is potentially a weekend killer, and as this is my last weekend...it could be a disastrously anti-climactic ending to my time in The Midnight Shows...

Sorry for the stream-of-conscious babbling...thanks for playing Scrabulous with me while I sit around awaiting my fate...hold tight and keep your fingers crossed...

Fuck you.

Fuck no.

My Castle

The relentless waves and buckets of wet sand come endlessly under the moonlight. I barely hear the drone and it's soggy denseness covers me.

Walls are being built. Turrets sculpted. An impassable moat.

All night long, the waves just barely reach and touch the edges, driving the workers on, a vision of fear and power fuels their creativity, and their will is to be my strength.

A fluid muscularity that never sets or hardens immobile. A fortress to be built again and again.

When day breaks, the builders have gone. I only see the fruits of their labors. Impeccable work has been done, overnight, and the Castle stands, reflecting the sunrise into a billion rays off of a billion tiny grains of glass.

The walls are stoic and expressionless. Like the face of a well-trained soldier. And will give no comfort to my enemies.

But they won't always hold. All for my good. I want failure. For the men will build those broken walls stronger, and clear my ravaged castle clean the next night.

And the next, when they come with the waves and the sunset and the drone and the heaviness sends me to sleep.

San Luis Obispo, The Wrap Up...

Photo by Luke Seemann:

"So...don't be afraid if you're lost to stick your thumb out and least ask. One year, I was driving at 6:30 in the morning, and came across a drunk lady...I ended up taking her all the way home..."
(pregnant pause)
"...and one thing led to another..."

"These eggs are too fresh!"


"Troy? You got a minute?"

"Wrong mailbox!"

"Yeah, but you're still only going at Light Speed."

"Internal massage therapist? CanI see your certification?"

"I think I'm going to stop talking now."

"I think the road just said 'fuck you' back!"

(Sniff...) "Apricot?"

(Raspy, movie trailer voice): "In a world where you must eat two breakfasts just to survive..."

"When it gets nasty, get down to biznezz!"

(And here's a few priceless ones from Jeff - there's more in the comments section)


"We've had like 30 dropped chains already..."

"Is that you Morrissey? Get your fat ass up here!"

"You were my second choice for most likely to have snorted a line of coke off a hooker's ass"

"You want to compare the number of women slept with??? Are you serious? Dude, I will carpet bomb you!"

Lessons Learned:
Always, always, always wear the base layer. This is what's left of my vest, my outer layer on Friday's crash ride:

Although I was also wearing a jersey inside that, underneath was this tight, slick baselayer:

Note the small brown smudge. That's it. That prevented my skin from catching and ripping, saving me the broken collarbone. Wear the baselayer always.

Camp is hard...

And thanks for the memories...
Squeaking, choking clouds of rust from ravenous ice
And out we spilled into bright sunshine and dewy grass

Leaving comfort and ease, boredom and apathy
Every animal finds itself when finally set loose

We raced to the moutaintops, if only for the view
And to tumble back down, all the way to the bottom

We laughed like children, cried with pain
Extended comfort and wisdom

We ate with the intent of condemned men
Except we were the ones who'd never die

For that great and fiery wind which ripped through the valley
Laid bare our hearts, alighting them with love and power

And out spilled our blood down into the dirt
A planted seed to fuel the desire to never stop

And the great green fields of poppies and horses
Will have that piece of us always, fovever.

Ride Day 2

The Group Black Mountain

Photo by Erik Didriksen:

2008 Honda Civic Sedan Automotive Review

Automotive Review - 2008 Honda Civic Sedan
By Brian Lebow

The Good: The legendary nameplate continues to balance price & performance in one nice package with tons of variations (over 20 different models between the coupe and sedan)

The Bad: Interesting gauge cluster design, road noise is pronounced

Overall: The civic is a leader in its class and a staple, for over 30 years in the US. The engine is refined and with many trim levels/models to choose from it's easy to find a Civic that will suit your budget.

For a very long time now, over a quarter century, Honda's been a force in the industry, with Civic's and Accords buzzing around the United States, often times crushing what had been the long term expectations for a vehicle (longevity curve). I remember the 300 thousand club advertisements Honda aired. I owned a Honda and like so many other Honda drivers, found it extremely reliable and exceptionally easy to keep on the road. It's difficult not to love Honda. A friend drives an Accord coupe, and has since 1998 when they were re-sytled. Every two years, he'll go get another one, going on 10 years now.

The 2008 Honda Civic is a small car available as a sedan or coupe. For both, there are five main trim levels: DX, LX, EX, EX-L and Si. On the Civic sedan you can also find the Hybrid, the GX and the Mugen Si. The DX is for those on a tight budget and offers power windows, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel & a height-adjustable driver seat. Then there's the popular mid-grade LX, which comes with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control and a four-speaker CD/MP3 audio system with an auxiliary audio jack.

Go on the road with the Civic EX and you get 16-inch alloys, sunroof, six-speaker audio with steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a 60/40-split rear seatback with a rear armrest. This year's new Civic EX-L comes with leather upholstery and heated front seats. The Civic Si has most of the EX's features plus a high-output engine, a premium audio system, 17-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, and special interior trim.

A navigation system is offered for the Si and EX/EX-L models. Hybrid models are equipped similarly to the EX and have automatic climate control and optional navigation. The GX has a feature list similar to the LX's.

The limited-production Civic Mugen Si sedan has a track-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels with more aggressive tires, performance exhaust and a specialized exterior body kit

We're on the Road, in the 2008 Honda Civic Sedan, Consumer Reports top rated Sedan, scoring great marks for reliability and depreciation, and good marks for satisfaction. Under the hood find the 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder outputting 140 hp, (except for the Si and Hybrid models outputting 197 and 110 hp respectively) and 128 lb ft of torque.

Four engine and four transmission choices range from the 140-horsepower, 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine (Civic DX, LX, EX and EX-L), with either a 5-speed manual or an available 5-speed automatic transmission, to a 197-horsepower, 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine (Civic Si) with a 6-speed manual transmission. Several years ago the civic was the smallest car from Honda, but now the Fit takes that title. While acceleration is respectable, it's not built for blazing quick acceleration, it clocks a 0-60 time of 10.1 seconds (EX sedan).

The Civic exterior looks better than ever. Coming up on a re-designed Civic several years ago, shortly after they were redesigned, I remember asking myself, if that was a new luxury brand model. Well as I drew closer, I was surprised (in a good way) to find it bear the legendary nameplate. Especially the Si model, looks like it's a luxury sports car masquerading! Nice back side! The Civic sedan looks like it is anxious to hit the road with a seriously sloped front windshield which allows for a more forward dash inside, and the two tiered gauge cluster. Fit and finish is good. From the front fascia and the grill, to the intergrated head lamps the Civic looks ready to roll. We especially like the bumper split front grille, and the way the Honda emblem is incorporated to the silver accent span streaking across the grill, looks like it could be symbolic of aircraft with such a sweeping wing upfront.

Handling is steady and compliant, and provides good direct feedback.

Safety: Seated in the driver's position you'll find great visibility that you'd expect in this class vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Civic its best rating for front and side impact crashes for driver and passenger. All Civics' come standard with drivers and front passenger's seat belt reminder, Dual-Stage, Dual-Threshold front airbags (SRS); Front side airbags with passenger-side occupant position detection; side curtain airbags; VSA; ABS; EBD; TPMS; Side-impact door beams; Child proof rear door locks; LATCH; and a comprehensive list of other standard safety features that will help keep you safe.

Driving Impressions: For the casual or long distance commuter the Civic is an ideal combination of good gas mileage, comfort and safety. You'll enjoy driving the Civic with stable, responsive handling and a steady compliant ride, and though there is a bit of road noise, the Civic really does well overall. From everyday errands to the weekend road trip, you'll enjoy exploring in the Civic. We like the mix of digital and analogue gauges (the speedometer is digital, while the RPM gauge is analogue) and the speedometer, temp and fuel gauge are also included in the top tier (forward most tier) of the dash and the rpm, odometer, drive indicator are on the lower level, closest to the driver position. The seating is comfortable for most, especially for this class vehicle. Controls are where you'd expect them and you won't need to crack the manual to operate the vehicle, turn on the stereo or play a CD. The Civic also helps you every week at the pump, with good MPG!

The way you feel inside: The Civic offers solid build quality you can rely on, seat comfort is good. You will notice somewhat pronounced road noise. Inside find nice creature comforts like power outlets (front and center on upper trim levels, front only on lower trims); Cruise Control (not on DX); Leather wrapped steering wheel on all models; A/C with Air Filtration System (not on DX); Power Windows; good storage compartments; steering mounted controls (Cruise and Audio on upper trims) and available Nav system, which as a technology person remains one of my favorite options, along with the heated front seats available on the EX-L trim. Also find an aux input to plug in your mp3 player on most models. Find thoughtful design elements like tilt and telescoping steering, there's a lot to love from Honda's Civic!

By the numbers: The EPA rating for the 2008, 5 speed automatic, Civic Sedan is 25 MPG city / 36 highway and we averaged 28 MPG on regular fuel, when driving between combined (city and highway) miles.

The 5 speed manual transmission, sedan is rated at 26 city, 34 highway. While the Si Sedan gets 21 city / 29 highway, and the GX sedan, 24 city/36 highway. The 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid is rated at 40 city / 45 highway.

The sticker price on the 2008 Honda Civic Sedan starts at 15,010 for the 5 speed manual transmission DX model. The tested model (Civic EX-L 5 speed automatic - with Nav & XM which includes leather accent seating up) MSRP is $22,460. The ever popular Civic Hybrid Sedan starts at $22,600 add Nav and XM satellite for an MSRP of 24,350. With so many variations on the Civic (including Coupe and numerous trim levels) it's easy to find one that suits you!

For more automotive content go to www.GoontheRoad.com - Go On The Road.com is produced by LeBow Media for Radio and Television and now on the internet.

Brian LeBow is the original author of this new car review.
More infomation about LeBow Media, LLC is online at http://www.LeBowMedia.com
and our automotive review site is online at http://www.GoontheRoad.com

March 14: What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Today was the Wall. And perhaps a defining moment in my time on the bike, past, present and future.

There was nothing new learned. Technically speaking. That it until we were almost home. But more on that later. Today we put all we'd learned over the course of the week into practice.

The day seemed jinxed from the start.

We rode out on 101 as we had on Monday and on Thursday, going through the Cal Poly campus. We stopped for my flat tire on the way to the beach and the ride was almost over before it began. A teammate off the back came by as I was flipping my bike over, and head turned and mere feet from the rest of the pack standing on the shoulder, said, moving at full speed, "need anything?" She then ran full speed into our coach, Randy Warren.

He lay there, groaning for several minutes. I thought we were headed home as the fire truck rolled up, but by then he was standing. He walked over and thanked them, and then asked me, as two other teammates had, if I was done truing my wheel. Ha ha. I was taking my time, a bit in shock at having seen the whole incident.

We were rolling again.

At the beach in sunshine before the pain, chaos:
The Wall Day - at the Beach

We pulled up to a beautiful stretch of beach and got ready for The Wall. We divided into 4 groups based on fitness, ability, or experience, depending on how you looked at it. The idea was for the slowest riders to go first and the fastest to go last, so the wait for the regroup at the top of The Wall would be minimal. Randy volunteered himself in the first group, as just an hour earlier his whole right side had been numb from the tagging he'd received on the highway.

The second group had many xXx veterans in it. I was with the third. With George, Peter, Newt, Stocky, Carter, and Francois. We were about 20 miles from the climb of my life. 13 back on Highway 101, and 7 from the exit to the top of The Wall.

We instantly fell into a rotating paceline, which we worked for several miles. But the headwind kicked up and the rollers increased, so we began a single line with short pulls. I never really got a chance to take very many, as the stronger riders really took charge. Twice while waiting for Peter's speed to drop and his elbow to flick, George would storm up to take the lead. And right before our exit from the highway, Carter took a pull for what seemed like an hour at 23mph into the wind, never flagging once.

Off the highway, we hit rough chip n' seal pavement and began encountering riders from the 1st group. Bob was already on the side of the highway. He'd had to abandon his Black Mountain climb due to his Achilles tendon on Wednesday, so The Wall was out of the question. George kept Stocky in check: "Don't chase, don't chase. Steady. Stay steady."

The pace was fast but manageable in the draft behind Stocky, and suddenly it was my turn up front. Just then, group two came into view. Right then, the order came to chase. Peter immediately pulled to the fore with the other group to our right and the first steep incline hit us. And hit me.

I hit the incline at full speed overgeared, tried like to hell to keep on Peter's wheel, and promptly went supernova. Everyone in both groups flew past me on the right as I tried to get myself under control. It was embarrassing. I hadn't even taken my share of the pulls and I was the first one off the back. Randy came by just as I was opening a gel that squirted all over my hands and bars. My only option was to was settle in, recover, and try to catch everyone on the climb.

I did just that. For some reason, I can't really hammer out on the flats. I blow up easily. I guess I just haven't put in the interval work yet. But, while not exactly a picnic, I can climb a bit faster than most my size and still stay at threshold. Mentally the climb was as tough as Black Mountain. Physically I came a bit closer to losing control as there were more marks ahead pushing me harder. About a half-mile from the top, Jeff Holland heard my breathing, turned and yelled back, "Is that you Morrissey?! Get your fat ass up here!" Had the climb been just 150 yards more, I would've caught Stocky and been third to the top.

It was a cold and windy place to be, standing and sweaty. It was warm and inviting to sit in the sun out of the breeze and that's where we stayed, while the group came up, one by one.

Peter, Newt, Brian


Mark, Me, Jacques, Kirby:
Mark, Brian, Jacques, Kirby

Luke was top of his game all week:
Luke on top of the World

Coming down was fun as hell. I was off the back, first after a cautious descent on the initial tricky descent, then after getting gapped when the leaders jumped on the last roller before another long downhill to the regroup at the highway. Again, it was Randy, George, Kirby and I, with Francois as well.

Luke had a camera mounted on his handlebars...here's how to stay at the front:

We headed back to town, one extra loop somewhere in there, and then we were back on Los Osos - the scene of yesterday's hammerfest. Some where planning on heading out for an additional 15 to get the century. I was feeling the hotspots in my feet again that I did on Monday, so 85 was going to be it for me. The group came together, and the speed had increased in the strong tailwind when it happened as quickly as I'll describe it.

Stocky, in front of me in the inside line, hit a groove on the shoulder in some patchwork, along with a couple wide potholes. He tried pull his wheel out but his bike was bouncing quite a bit, and at 30+, very unstable. His wheel came down sideways, and simultaneously, he was thrown out into the roadway and his bike was kicked back inside, right in front of me.

Almost at the same time, my shoulder hit the ground and my head cracked the pavement as I rolled onto my back, but strangely, I had time to realize my shoulder was OK, and my head was clear enough to realize a millisecond later it got hit again by someone's wheel.

I put my hands on my face, as I sat up to make sure I hadn't split the scar on my lip open and check for blood. Nothing. But then I heard the moans in the road. Brian was badly hurt. A crowd of riders was soon around him, and I decided right there to give them room and count my blessings.

My helmet was cracked in four places, the coating scraped and crimped, and my brand-new black vest shredded on my left shoulder. My knee warmers were ruined with blood seeping through, and even my shoe covers were trashed. George and JT at first were convinced my collar bone was broken, but I told them I had almost no pain, and when we got the vest off, it was obvious why. The base layer I was wearing, the one Erik talked me into buying the night before, saved me. The vest caught my jersey, ripped, the jersey ripped and slipped on the tight, slick underlayer, and didn't catch my skin.

Lesson learned. Always always always wear the base layer.

The toll from the crash? 6 riders down. One in the hospital with a broken scapula. One frame, one kit and two wheels ruined. Flying over the handlebars at 32mph and riding away? Are you kidding me? Priceless. I wish I could say the same for Stocky.

Strangely, it may seem, the crash will not slow me down. Seeing everything in slow motion like that for the first time - I can see every moment of it even now: the bike kicking back into my line, the conscious thought to roll over on my back even before I hit it - is a lesson...keep thinking where you want to go, not where you don't. With this experience, maybe I'll make it around next time. But at least I know again that crashing isn't the end of the world.

The team dinner was subdued and mellow. Most of us had at least one drink. Me several. Cross-discipline, as well. Won't look forward to sleeping on the hide-a-bed tonight. My left side is bruised and rashed from knee to shoulder. And I won't be riding tomorrow. Will probably be moving so slow I will only have to time to pack, anyways.

We leave on the bus at noon.

Car Salesman Joke - Eyeglasses

This is Car Salesman Jokes-a little break from Car Buying Tips;
I guess this is more of a prank than a joke. It is kinda cruel, but was very funny! Please nobody take offense to this.

We have a salesman that just started and was looking at a map to find a location of a city or something. He was talking out loud to himself and a few other salesman were standing around.

The gentleman looking at the map wears thick glasses. This is where it gets ugly. You know you can get your glasses thinner now, but they looked as though they were from the 70's with the big frames and all.

The gentleman said he could not find the city he was looking for. Another salesman replied by saying, and I quote, "With those glasses you should be able to see people waving on the map!"
Be sure and check out these other Car Salesman Jokes;
Car Salesman Joke; Eyeglasses
Grean Pea (New Car Salesman) Prank
Car Salesman Joke-Flying Cars
Car Salesman Joke-A Little Tail
Service Department Joke
Mexican Joke
Transmission Joke

March 13th: Montana de Oro and the Farmer's Market

Thursday morning and back on the bike again...


It was a gorgeous ride today. Humid and overcast in the morning, through some fun, forested rollers through the park...and then a complete vomit-in-my-mouth, hammerfest back to Pismo Beach, and finally home.

I was tired. Dead tired, after yesterday's soul mission on the switchbacks of Black Mountain. It seemed I could barely get my heart rate up, yet I was breathing and huffing as though I were at the end of a sprint. My body was telling me to lay off, but my brain was saying don't waste the opportunity.

The opportunity came by at about 30 in the form of Bob Willems. I grabbed his wheel as he told me there was a sprint point point coming up and we desperately tried to bridge the gap that had already formed. But by then there were already guys coming off the back. I was in no man's land for a while after Bob fell off. But then Mark Watkins came by and I was able to grab his wheel.

We worked well together, reaching speeds of 40mph (we were coming down a false flat with a tail wind) and once we finally hit the back of the lead group, I tried catch my breath and recover just a bit. But they were still moving at at least 35, and it wasn't possible with my fatigue and fitness-level. Oh well, at least I got Mark up there. He noted how fast it was when I saw him again coming into Pismo with a wry smile on his face.

The view behind

I headed straight back with a large part of the group, and even skipped my last opportunity at the sprint. I was doing enough work this week, and even overextending myself that day, so I was content to roll the west of the way and be entertained by the last minute leadout to the mailbox.

I couldn't wait to get down to the Farmer's Market and relax, take in the town, and then get some sleep. Dinner was lamb shank, perhaps the most tender I've ever had, at Big Sky Cafe.

The scene:

Newt's got a thing for Mascots:

$1 Stella with order of Frites:

March 12th: Black Mountain

(Writer's note: this entry is long and a bit self-serving. I realize that. But so much self-discovery occurred on this 89-mile I need to document it all. So if you think I'm long-winded, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.)


Black Mountain Day.

Time To See What Kind of Man You Really Are Day.

Sitting at breakfast this morning, many riders were talking about what little sleep they'd gotten last night. I was well rested. The difference was, they were expecting to ride with the lead group, and wanted to finish. They'd experienced the climb before, and knew what to expect.

They knew what they were in for.

Me? I wasn't even sure if I'd finish. 2 years ago. Even Cat 3s turned around. Last year? Only 6 made it to the top and JT wasn't even allowed to do it. So my expectations were low going in. I was looking forward to it, sure. I'd found some climbing legs Monday and I realized what the rhythm, the zone, felt like. The question was, would the intensity allow it again?

The day also featured my initiation to The Grade. The Grade is simply a 3 mile long section of Highway 101 with an 8% grade. We'd go up in the morning. Down in the afternoon. Erik had been telling me about it for a month, at least. How passing a semi limited by law to 35mph might be possible. And, to say the least, I was a bit nervous. About the descent to be sure. Speeds of 60mph plus were not unheard of.

I bought my bike on Craigslist. It hasn't let me down yet, but still...

After 4 packets of oatmeal, two bananas, and two pieces of toast, not to mention the two hard boileds and the bowl full of fruit, we briefed and were on our way.

It felt surreal to be on my bike again. The day had a bit of ominous feel to it. Somewhat foreboding. Overcast skies and a stiff breeze ruled, and my heart beat with a bit of anticipation that increased my sensation of all of it. I was well rested from yesterday's time off, but 100 miles was a new milestone for me on Monday. Almost immediately we were headed uphill and I waited to see how my body would respond. My heart rate creeped steadily upwards but leveled off at 80% as the climb continued. Almost simultaneously, Mark and JT came by and passed on a little feedback: keep the shoulders down and the back flat, "crackers under the hands" - keep your grip easy. Fortunately, I was already there, belly breathing and grateful for the reenforcement of my nascent climbing technique. No gaps opened up, at least from my vantage point. It was smooth going.

I stayed at upper level endurance the whole way up, never letting go of my wheel and hopefully giving my rider behind a steady pace as well, and was rewarded with a fun 2 mile descent down to our exit at Santa Margartia that was to take us on our next leg to Black Mountain. We stopped at the turnout, regrouped, and fueled up a bit.

Randy and ex-xXx-er and current Webcor pro, Rebecca Munch:
Rebecca and Randy

There were a series of awesome rollers next after another brief climb. The group pretty much stayed together...at least there were no gaps in front of me. The pace got very quick after coming down. I felt my descending had obviously improved quite a bit, but then again there weren't any extremely sharp turns. Finally there was a long straight away and a fat tailwind and we arrived at a road house bar that Randy had mentioned earlier.

Can you hear the Enrico Marconi soundtrack in the background?
Black Mountain Awaits

We all got a good sniff of barbecued ribs to whet our sense of pride and deprivation, and off we went. Sort of. An aborted hammerfest ensued, as the elites wanted to "stretch" their legs, but Jeremy smacked a pothole and flatted, deflating the effort, so to speak. We waited and joked for a bit, accusing everyone else of instigating the fight. We were rolling again. Just a bit slower.

But not slow enough. The rollers began again and soon I was gapped - Jeff was with me for a bit, but we separated, still never that far apart.. With no idea of where the real climb began, I settled into solo-mode, and got used to the scenery. Lots of green rolled by: pasture, evergreens, and some more distant mountain sides. Every-once-in-a-while, a black or white jersey up ahead would tease me a bit, but for the next 30 minutes or so, I was alone.

I finally recognized the two marks in front of me as Newt and Peter. We briefly worked together into the headwind, but the continuing rollers foiled our efforts, and our strength ebbed and flowed at unmeshed times. Finally there was the last turn, the van, and all the strong boys off the front came into view.

A chance to stop, refuel, and finally recognize what was in store. Luke said this was it. The sign just said "FAA Radar Station - 7 miles."

Jeff Holland:
Jeff Holland

The lead group left soon after we arrived. Meanwhile, a few others rolled in. We pissed, ate, posed for a couple pics and then got down to business.

Peter, Jeff, and I rolled about around a minute after Newt did, and he was soon out of sight. None of us knew what to expect besides what we'd heard from the vets, and we tread forward with a lot of trepidation. What happened next was a big step for me, as I am rarely one to step out of line, or forward first, but I felt I could definitely push harder, so I sped away. Not sure if they would follow, I didn't look back. Initially.

The road was definitely a mess, an access-only type of road, a four-wheel-drive required type of road. I felt like a mountain goat as I slowly worked up the switchbacks, carefully keeping even torque and spin over the all the gravel and scree. Soon I felt confident to ratchet up the effort a bit, knowing that blowing up wasn't imminent. There was constant pain, but it was working pain, and staying at threshold was well within my control.

The road up, by Rick Widen:

Seeing that I was going to catch Newt made all of it more tolerable, and my output increased. All the way up, I was later surprised to realize, my normally elusive focus was zeroed in. There was no day dreaming, no lapsing to catch a view, no hitting a rock, and certainly no touching down. My brain was a laser. There were moments of doubt, of course. Such as when the grade pitched up to a ridiculous degree, or looked back to see Newt gaining at one point as I picked my way down a particularly sketchy descent on the way to an even sketchier 20% grade pitching back up.

But within seconds of catching Kirby, I looked back and saw no one else, yet the thought of getting caught when I wasn't looking hit me, and that was the fuel I needed to get my to the top. I am not competitive at all by nature, as I've stated many times in this space. But I look up to Kirby, Newt, Peter, and Jeff as smart, tough, and strong riders. Superlative riders. Guys on the podium. The satisfaction was not in catching them. It was seeing the measure of how far I'd come in my first year of competitive cycling.

The last switchback stretched around to reveal the silhouette of a rider looking down upon me in front of the massive weather radar dome on the ridge above, and I hit the gas and flew up to the flat and my waiting teammates.

I was greeted with a hero's welcome. A great huzzah! arose and high-fives and fists were extended all around. As I hacked phlegm and shivered as the wind sucked away my sweat, a wave of dizziness hit and I never felt higher.

Soon along came Newt and Kirby, and then George rolled in, followed soon by Peter, and then Jeff. The cheers rose each time in honor of the accomplishment, and of course, in the end, order did not matter. It was an individual achievement, but given to us all by a combined effort, and celebrated as one, as well.

What's more satisfying than accomplishment:
Luke Black Mountain

What utter badasses (Kirby, Newt, Mark):
Faith + 1

George Langford, so fresh, fresh, freshly squeezed:
George Rolls In Black Mountain

Persistent Peter Prevails:
Peter Rolls In Black Mountain

Kings of the Mountain:
The Group Black Mountain

The descent was scary, slow, grinding work. I was practically throwing my bike the whole way down, until the grade and turns evened out to a tolerable level for my experience. The van was still waiting for us back at the turn off, and we got more water, and milled about as more and more riders rejoined the group.

And there was a lot more hammering to be done. After waiting for a mechanical to be dealt with the pace was immediately back to warp speed after Peter, Newt and I poked the bear.

Poked the bear.

Poked the bear. RUN.

Ed, JT and crew were stringing it out like a ball of yarn bouncing down the staircase. And soon there were a lot of good, yet tired riders completely shelled off the back for a couple miles at least. Including Randy, George, Peter, Kirby and myself.

Like separate drops of water steadily brought together by surface tension, the five of us were soon trying to work together, at first unsteady as we still thought only of recovery. The catalyst was primed, waiting to be lit, all that was needed was a spark to set the fire.

It came as George hit some scree on the shoulder, lost his line, and nearly endoed onto the steep, dusty shoulder. I looked back long enough to see him recover while Randy, Kirby and I hesitated just for a moment, slowing our pace, when George stroked past and the paceline was on.

Good for us. Bad for Peter. He'd hesitated too much when George faltered, expecting him to go down, and as soon as George righted the ship, he was hammering to catch us, and Peter was fatally gapped. Right before his eyes, he told me later, the remaining four of us slipped into the rotating paceline and begin to move away. He wrenched valiantly and violently, but when we picked up Newt and Jacques, we then had six, and the train was out of the station without him.

The line moved on, picking up everything in it's path. Next, Borg-like, we assimilated Luke, Jeremy, Carter, and Francois, and maybe more. By then the focus was back to its laser-like quality and the rest was blur, nothing conscious beyond being a bearing within well-greased groove. Every time we picked somebody new up, the rhythm would break, but wordlessly it would fall back into the natural motion, until the last roller, when George took one last wrenching pull, and then we speeding downhill, to an intersection where I could see the highway in the distance.

I fell back, grabbed a much needed drink and a gel and came in off the back.

We lay in the crystalline sunshine and soft grass and recounted the past hour.

The Grade proved to be an ecstatically fun and rousing end to the day. The climb up the backside for maybe a mile was definitely pulled back and it even then it split into 3 groups. Click-clack-click-clack up we went, hovered for a minute in equilibrium and then over we fell. The headwind kept me below 45mph - but that was also my caution - being thrown to the wind? George came screaming by, sitting on the top tube with a giant grin on his face, on his way back to the front of the group as usual.

The grade died out, we were relegated back to the shoulder, and the heady roar in my ears diminished with my heart rate and soon I was sitting on the back porch of the hotel common area, eating a sandwich in about two bites and again recounting the day's exploits with my teammates.

It was our first evening for dinner on our own. The mood was congratulatory, lauding, whimsical, even. We split up, rounded up, grouped up...and headed into town in search of sustenance and revitalization. I allowed myself a glass of wine or two and dived headfirst into a bowl full of Mexican prawns and saffron risotto.

Shrimp Risotto

I was so excited about the day's ride (and maybe the espresso bar next door to the restaurant gave me regular instead of decaf) but it took me hours to get to sleep that night.

I dreamed of wind rushing past my ears.

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