August 25, 2010

My Summer Vacation

As August comes to a close and the new school year commences, I think this is the right time to submit my "What I Did for My Summer Vacation" report.

My girlfriend's parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year, and they had a large party in Lakeside, Montana last Saturday (8/20). Lakeside is on the northwest corner of Flathead Lake, about 480 miles from my home near Seattle. I have not had a real vacation since 2007 so was really looking forward to getting away.

My gf's 3 children, a girlfriend of one of her sons, her daughter's fiance and 19 month old child also went for the celebration, and the house and yard were full of 2 tents, one trailer and lots of fun. I am so glad I took my two frisbees as we got a quick game in before the festivities. We also got one botchee ball game in a few days later. I recommend you don't play after too many drinks:) I did not forget bikes, and took my gf's and my titanium cross bike.

My gf did not get out, but I got a few short fun exploratory rides in, including a fun climb partway up Blacktail Mtn to the ski area. I rode 4 miles on dirt/gravel on road tires, making for a fun descent (see pics).

I also got to drive a convertible for the first time, a Myata owned by the parents. It was fun but I prefer bikes:)

Anyway, a very nice relaxing vacation.


August 18, 2010

Words That Begin With S

It seems that many of my races have a theme. Take last night for example, the third to last (and my 12th for the year) Pacific Raceways event, a 50 minute affair on the flat 2+mile oval. Last night's theme dealt with words that begin with S. Please forgive all the bolds in the following report:
It was very hot and hazy and I arrived 45 minutes early, allowing me plenty of time to warm up (unlike last week). I rode my old steel Gazelle for 3 laps, some sections at good effort, and was sweating greatly, even though I was wearing a team sleeveless jersey. I discovered a sprinkler operating at the little bungalow next to the track, so stood at the fence for several minutes getting soaked. One other rider joined me and we had a nice discussion in the "rain."
With 10 minutes to go before the start I sat on a rock in the only section of shade. I had a nice chat with my 2 race buddies as I felt the cooling affects of the sprinkler. Radio Shack may have the manpower and funds to develop cooling vests, but I make do with what I can find:) I looked around at all the riders milling at the start and though we were on different teams and would compete against one another, I felt such a bond and companionship. My season is almost over and I will miss it, but am looking forward to 2011 and beyond.
The first lap was quite social and I hung at the back with my buds. However, as we came around for the start of the 2nd lap the bunch eased up and before I knew it I was attacking. By the time I looked back I had a very large lead. I decided to do what I could so had my head down and worked. I could feel my legs and lungs burning but I stayed off the front for over just a full lap (2+miles), my longest solo break ever. As I came across the start/finish I sat up and had time for a long drink before getting on the back of the train. 2 laps later I brought back a break of 4, pulling my good racing bud with me, allowing him to attack. He didn't go anywhere however.
A few laps later I and my 2 buds were near the back when the pack slowed, exactly where I attacked on lap 2. I told my buddies to go as I did not have the legs. They went! 2 others joined them but I could see the pack wasn't letting this attack go. I was so excited for them, more so than when I attacked. I got up to the front of the pack and tried to block but I was outnumbered. So many Starbucks and Cycle U guys.
A few laps later, with 1.5 to go, I found myself attacking at the end of the back stretch on the drag strip just before a very wide sweeping left hand turn. The sun was low behind us as we headed east, casting our shadows on the pavement. As I sprinted off the front I noticed all the shadows disappear! I knew I was alone as I started on the turn. I looked back and saw one Starbucks rider trying to join me. I eased up some and worked. I knew this time I would not get too far off the front, but as the Starbucks rider refused to work with me I dug deep down to be first across the start/finish line. We still had a nice gap at that point, but I was tired and sat up for another leisurely drink before getting caught.
I ended up near the back of the pack in the sprint, but was so very happy with my efforts. I was greatly outnumbered by Starbucks and Cycle U riders but did mix it up a lot. They know that 53x11 Coffee means business!
I also met my gf at the local brewery for a free aloha beer. I was so excited about my recap of the race. She was excited for me as well.
PS-I go to Lakeside, Montana tomorrow for a week to be with my gf's parents on their 50th anniversary. I have never been and am taking our bikes. I may even ride the Going to the Sun Highway up to Glacier National Park. All the best to my teammates.

August 11, 2010


I ran for 23 years and completed 52 marathons. The marathon was my favorite distance, one that really tested me without REALLY testing me like an ultra. My goal was to run under 3 hours, a magic number for runners, much like a sub 5 minute mile or 40 minuted 10K. I never beat 5 mins for the mile (5:14) but did go under 40 for the 10k on several occasions. The closest I ever got in the marathon was 3:01:22. I was in great form as I ran a marathon for fun 2 months later and ran a 3:09. I never ran that fast again.
Yesterday I accomplished a great deal in just under 3 hours. I drove to and from the Pacific Raceways (45 miles or so roundtrip) for the Up the Escape Route race, stopped at the local brewery for my free Aloha beer and grabbed dinner to go, and loaded my bike and gear for the commute home today.
I had planned on racing yesterday but then my cat had surgery on Sat. She needs pain meds and my gf and I administer it as it takes two. I got home at 5:30 and had my bike and gear loaded and ready. However, my gf did not get home til 6:15 and the race was at 7. I thought I might not go but we were done with the meds by 6:30 so I thought "what the heck." I was confident I would be late, but these races are so casual it would be acceptable for me to jump in a lap or two down, so long as I did not contest primes or the final sprint. Plus I only have 3 races left for the year as I cannot do Crystal Mountain, have opted not to do Mt. Baker and the Blackberry Crit has been canceled:(
Traffic was very good and I flew down to the race. I work for a court and deal with numerous traffic issues on a daily basis so am a very careful driver, but I did speed some (at least in my mind I did). I got to the race with less than 10 mins to spare. I got the bike ready and then had to dress and pin my number. If you saw the last stage of this year's TDF you will know what I mean when I say Radio Shack had nothing on me. I placed 6 safety pins in no time:) I then had to pay and sign in so ran over to the trailer with my bike. I heard Rory call the first two races to the line as I fumbled with my gloves. Good thing the 4/5s go last. I rolled up and said a quick hi to 2 friends just as we rolled out.
I had no warmup whatsoever. I have never raced without a warm up so it was a new experience. Fortunately the first lap wasn't insane. I did okay for the first 3 until we had a prime lap. The field was blown apart at the top of the climb but I managed, barely to get back on the much smaller group. I never recovered. I had wolfed down some new Gatorade product about 15 minutes before, while "speeding" down Highway 18, and it was affecting me. I finally let the pack go about halfway thru the race, and road 2 laps solo. The organizers' 10 year old daughter cheered me on up the climb. Her remarks took me back to my marathoning days:)
I finally got caught by the 1/2/3s and rode the last 2 laps with them. There were 2 other 4/5s hanging on the back so I felt okay catching a ride.
Overall I was quite happy with my sub 3 effort. Still hard to believe I raced last night though:)

August 9, 2010


I live just about 3 miles from Cougar Mountain, which has an incredibly steep 2 mile climb. I used to ride it several times a year, almost on a weekly basis. But I have only gone up a few times in the last two years. They have a free tt up it in August, and this year's was held last Sat. I was the first to sign up months ago and was set to be the 4th starter. I had qualms since I knew I was not ready to race it. The weather had recently turned cloudy and cooler and I new conditions would be ripe for fast times. I awoke Sat morning with trepidation and wimped out, opting to linger in bed and snuggle. Our one year old cat had had stomach and vomit issues for the last week that escalated Friday night. We eneded up taking her to a local vet for emergency surgery to have hair ties removed from her stomach and intestines.
My gf awoke at 4:30 and surfed the internet for a vet. She picked a local one very close to Cougar Mountain as he is a cyclist. He seems like a really good doctor. The surgery went well and the cat went home with the doc for recovery. The cat's name is Ridley, named after the bike, and the vet has a Ridley cross bike. Good karma I think.
The surgery cost over $2000. I would gladly sell all if needed, but not at that this time, though it is time to unload a few items. Anyone interested in a 1972 Condor frame (Reynolds 531), 57 cm c-c top tube and 56 c-c seat tube? I am the second owner and bought it in 1982. It has not been ridden in years. Comes with a campy headset and bottom braket. beautiful chartreuse green with red highlights on the lugs, red bands for the decals on the seat and down tubes and a gorgeous head badge. It was restored in 1985 by Cyclart in San Diego. Or I have a titanium road bike (55 cm-c-c top and seat tubes, standard geometry) with Campy Record and Chorus 10 speed. It has little miles, never ridden hard or wet or crashed. It has no decals or markings so I don't know the manufacturer.
Anyway, at least the tt was free so I don't feel so bad wimping out. Plus, after dropping the cat off I met a cyclist who had raced. He said the record was smashed. Maybe next year........

August 6, 2010

R Squared

As in road rider, road rules, road rights, and road rage.
A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend's father who was visiting from Austrailia. He mentioned that the cycling community is growing on that continent, and riders are being given greater rights on the road. Rights that we riders in the U.S. have had for years. But rights do not equate to protection. Ignorance, stubborness and downright animosity still make riding a risky business.
Mercer Island, a community not far from my home, recently entertained an "anti-peloton" ordinance. It addressed large groups of riders that ride more than 2 abreast. Mercer Island is a mecca for local cyclists, both racers and the weekend riders, as it offers wonderful views, a smooth road with lots of nice turns and rollers. It is a two lane road and has a great deal of vehicular traffic, most of which are friendly and considerate towards riders. I have ridden the island for the last 7 years, and have only encountered two bad drivers. One was on a nice Sunday morning as I road with a buddy. A car approached from behind and began honking about 1 /4 mile back. We went single file and the car continued to honk as it passed. It was a convertible Mercedes with its top down, occupied by an overweight older man smoking a cigar. I was upset and my friend even more so. It was his first ride after breaking a collar bone. Our beautiful mellow ride was interrupted by this person. We both exchanged "fingers" with the man as he passed. The man continued to honk and flick us off as he blew up the road. We saw him turn off and my friend was livid, all for following him to his home and "having a few words." I realized that it was not worth it and told my friend so, that we could not let this episode ruin our wonderful day. Drivers like that have existed as long as cars have existed, and they will always exist. The ordinance did not pass but is still under consideration.
Yesterday I was riding to the market after commuting home from work. I was on an easy 3 mile ride to and from the market, but was in a lot of traffic with little shoulder. I was going the speed of traffic and was as far over to the right as was safe as per the city code (which treats bicycles as vehicles and subject to all road rules). However, a man was behind me who honked and gave me no room. We exchanged verbal abuses and gestures, and I experienced perverse pleasure and satisfaction in chasing him down at two lights. I even slapped his car as he drove away from the second light. Even though I had the same right to the road as him, his ignorance and our volatile responses created a tense experience for both. A 19 pound bike plus 155 pound rider are no match for a thousand plus pound metal vehicle.
I have ridden for just over 30.5 years and have never been really struck by a car, though I have had numerous close calls and one or two brushes. I have had a few incidents of severe road rage, both solo and as part of a small group. I am a "live and let live" sort of person, but when it comes to my rights as a cyclist I will not back down. But I also will do my best to portray cyclists in a positive light. This is not what I did last night.
Be safe out there. And ride responsibly.

August 4, 2010


I finally got my tenth Pacific Raceways race in last night and am now qualified for the swag giveaway on the last night this month. I really had doubts I would get the 10 in but had a nice run in June and July. I have made half the races out there this year and just want something free for my efforts:)
Last night was very warm and sunny and we raced the "Down Escape Ramp" course for 57 mins. The ramp is quite long and steep, and the bottom have has a lot of choppy road surface and filled potholes. I am amazed the owners don't pave the worst part of the course. I always hang off the back down it to pick my own line. I had no trouble getting back to the front of the group on the following rolling climb. I did make one half hearted attack on the 3rd lap but never got too far off the front. I have been commuting a lot on my single speed and I am so strong.
We did have one crash with 2.5 laps to go. The guy was behind me and was the last in the group. He was on the far inside of the escape route and went down hard at the bottom. I heard a horrendous noise and knew what had happened. I glanced back and saw a large dust cloud but was already back on the climb, so told the organizers at the start/finish. We saw him riding as we came thru on the next lap. Shredded shorts but his bike and body seemed intact. Good news.
Anyway, I may get 2 more Pacifics in. Come on swag!

August 2, 2010


I don't have a timetrial bike. I don't own an aero helmet or clip on bars. I don't own aero shoe covers. I own nothing aero. So what was I doing at the Washington State Timetrial Champs yesterday in Tenino? I was having a ball. I decided to ride the 40k course on my single speed cross. The only aero equipment I had was my mind. "Feel fast to be fast."
The course was well paved, generally flat with some rollers. Most of the road was so smooth thanks to recent paving. Not many riders competed and only 18 in the Masters C. I clocked a 1:06:46 and took last place in my division, but did beat 6 overall. The weather was very mild and a tad windy but overall very nice.
I felt very strong and smooth and the bike got lots of comments.
I know I will do it again. Yes on my single speed with my aero mind.