May 13, 2008

Dah House

Saturday Night: Sunday Levi was moving in
It's been two and a half years since my dad and I bought this house on the disputed border of East Falls in Philladelphia. I was advised not to buy it by someone I respect in the construction business and local cycling community. Considering that I would be trying to rehab a house while at the same time trying to take myself to the tops of my cycling ability, I have to admit that he was right. I never should have bought the place. It needed a complete gut and remodel. I've lived the past three winters without heat, sometimes a bathroom, sometimes hot water. Mostly no walls and a kitchen that was mostly there. None of these living conditions were supportive of trying to race bikes at a high level.

The biggest thing I've missed in this process is a couch, and the ability to invite people over. Some have come and visited, enjoyed the novelty of urban camping and left probably not realizing how the novelty of the situation had worn off for me over a year ago. I've cursed this place. Thrown fits in the morning cold resulting in embarrassingly broken things. I've hated it with all my heart. Problem was I had no where to go, so throwing in the towel and bailing on a lease wasn't a real option. I'd just be abandoning myself.

My mother said owning a home would be one of the most trying things I'd ever do. She was right and unfortunately it's not over. Fortunately I have reached a momentous event. Sunday I moved a renter (Levi) into a mostly finished front apartment. And I have to say I'm pretty proud of how the place is turning out. Levi and is a relaxed sort, so I'll be painting and finishing some carpentry behind him.

Up until this fall I've managed to concentrate mostly on training and racing, but unfortunately the time had come for rent to get paid. After the rezoning debacle and various permit snafu's the order was up and this cook had to turn on the burners. I was fortunate this year to have a coach, Jeff Herrick at Allez Training, to help take the wait of planning my own training off of my platter of duties. His input was a key in keeping me on some sort of track, no matter how many training days were ruined waiting for electricians, plumbers and dumpsters.

The point is now I'm a little more free to return to feeling like a professional bike racer. I still have my own living quarters to square up, but the hard part is done.

Some one asked me the other day if I still felt like a racer, had I kind of given up on the year? I didn't really understand the question at first because in the past month or so I had come to terms with the situation I was in and in my mind had determined that the season was a long one and I was more and more optimistic and enthusiastic about the possibilities. That idea is what got me through the last two weeks of 8-16hr days working on the house. To get the riding in I brought the Lupine light out for some great night rides to stay on the bike as much as possible.


Matt said...


I'm sure you're pretty stoked about making some measurable progress on the house. And having a tenant makes it that much more real!

Great work, after some pitfalls you had to overcome.


Trevor Walton said...

Hey man.

Been reading your blog since Ben turned me onto it. You may remember me as the guy who had the major eye incident on SART, in SoCal a couple years ago.

Just had to comment on the house. I'm not a pro, and have an 8-5 job, in addition to trying to train enough to race as a mediocre semi-pro SS'er, and your place looks waaaaaay better than mine, and I've been here since '04.

Good on ya, and way to kick ass in the endurance racing ranks. If you ever find yourself in SoCal again, and wanna go for a ride, gimme a call. I'll try not to stab myself in the eye with trailside vegetation next time.

A-ron said...

wow, looks a ton different than when i saw the place. Nice work, it looks great.

spokejunky said...

Holy Sh$%. That looks great. I've got a bathroom and hallway I could use some help remodeling.

steevo said...

Hey, we have never met, but I have raced you a few times.
Mad respect for the work you put in. I/we bought a similar thing a few years ago, and after getting enough living space done, have made it last priority.
That stuff looks real good.

camps said...

Lookin' very nice there.

the season is just getting started

Lenore said...

congrats. it looks so awesome harlan =D =D =D

Samantha said...

Wow Harlan, it looks beautiful!

Chris Wurster said...


Glad to see that the digs have finally come together and there is a couch to crash on!
My hat is off to you for enduring the winters under such conditions. Now it is time to reap the pleasures of the crop you have sown, relax and enjoy it.


Rocco said...

doesnt even look like the same place

doug said...

Great job! Its tough to balance so many things at once. I've been doing that for so long. Work 50+hrs a week. Try to ride. Remodel the house while learning how to do it all yourself(not nearly as much as yours, but still). Rebuild/tinker with the car. Ect..

Keep it up!

airing out said...

Hey, I've been thinking... next time, taco night should be at your house!!!!