Monday, November 27, 2006

Word of the year

Sunday, Snow Day, 26 November

To say that cycling bloggers make a few typos would be an understatement. (I'll be uncharacteristically generous and give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume those are typing errors and not thinking errors.) I am amazed at how many people road their bikes on the rode, got in brakes, and grabbed the breaks. But one of those by PruDog earlier this year in a comment on these pages gets my nomination for new word of the year: unnuendo.

Innuendo means to imply something somewhat devious, mischievous, maligning. But with the new "un" prefix, the word comes to mean not implying it, but out-and-out saying something devious and maligning. And ain't that a perfect fit for someone who encourages, in his own words again, "cheap shots, bitter recriminations and general tomfoolery"?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Velotron take 2

Tuesday, 21 November
(just one more month until winter starts!)

Last night was the second installment of Velotron testing at SPU. Same drill: flat, 10K TT effort. The only difference was that this time they had me try to focus on something other than what I usually think about. In the end, my time was almost exactly the same, which was good to learn because it means that when I feel like I'm getting bogged down or thinking too much about how my legs hurt, I can try focusing on something else and it probably won't lose me any time.

The Velotron software shared lots of juicy tidbits after the "race." It confirmed that I don't produce huge quantities of watts (which I knew), but it showed that my tandem captains' perceptions have been right: I am smooth and steady. My pedal stroke is not absolutely perfect, but it doesn't have any glaring hiccups--although when I try to push an enormous(er) gear for the last kilometer, it gets choppy. But just roll me along in a 56x19, and I will give you smooth and steady power, cadence, HR, speed, you name it. I don't fade, I don't fidget, I don't surge (I don't have enough power to "surge" on a 56 chain ring!).

We'll see what happens at CycleU tonight when they throw hills and competition and data feedback into a 10K TT!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

3 races in 4 November !

Saturday, 18 November

After an abbreviated Saturday morning ride, I was a human research subject today, doing a 10K time trial for doctoral research at SPU by former pro Nate Reiss. It was indoors on a Velotron, roughly like a Computrainer. I've done plenty of Computrainer 10Ks, so I thought I knew approximately what I was in for. Ha. In this test, you don't get to know time, speed, HR, or distance. So you sit on the bike and stare at the white walls and go as hard as you can--until they tell you there's 1K to go, and then you try to go harder and nearly crack. Oh, and it's dead flat so the resistance doesn't change. So it's really just you and the thoughts that go through your head in 10K (would you guess that this is a psychology research project?). At the end, they don't give you any feedback except "good job." Funny thing, it's an awful lot like doing a time trial on the back of a tandem, except that I had to pick the gear. And just for kicks, I get to go back on Monday night and do it all over again. They promise data and feedback then. And Tuesday night is a Computrainer TT at CycleU. And, to mix things up, they promise rain for my outdoor ride tomorrow.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


St. Martin's Day

I took a lengthy detour from the usual Saturday ride to view the remains of the havoc wrought by this week's flooding. There was plenty left to see.

The Snoqualmie River valley is pretty much a giant lake with a few islands and marshy sections. The gulls and other shore birds were abundant, and there were even snow geese out there. Cattle were crammed onto the muddy patches of higher ground.

I've seen more water in the valley in floods past, but I didn't go exploring for details then. Like pumpkins that ended up in trees when the water receded. Or round hay bales wrapped in white plastic that drifted into a stand of trees like a flotilla run aground. Or the new lake that's just south of the Snohomish airport; odd bits of stuff had accumulated on its northern "shore" (a plastic kids' picnic table, a gas can, innumerable bottles).

I took two sidetrips that I knew were deadends. First, I went across the bridge (which is new since the last big flood washed away the old one) that's at the junction of High Bridge, West Snoqualmie Valley, and Crescent Lake Roads. Crescent Lake Rd. is still underwater, but I just wanted to see what I could see. Duck hunters, mostly. Cool dudes in pickup trucks jacked waaaaay up driving through deep standing water. After I turned around, a guy in another pickup pulled off High Bridge Rd and asked me if I had ridden through it!

Second, I rode west on River Road from Snohomish as far as I could. There are signs that say the road is closed, but there are homes and businesses and therefore traffic going out that way. There is a fine layer of silt on the road from the flood waters washing across it; it's slippery when it's wet, and it blows in your face when it's dry. Just past the last business (topsoil place) there were more "road closed" barriers and then a massive pile of dirt that was clearly intended as a barricade. No motor vehicle could get over or around it, but they left just a foot of space on the north shoulder that I could get my bike around, so I rode all the way out to the edge of the new lake. There is a dump truck out there in the standing water that must be stuck or stalled. The stretch of water is only a few hundred meters long because you can see another earthen barricade on the side--and since there was a pickup truck over there with its lights on, I assume you can get that far if you come from the west end of River Road.

It seemed that all the houses and barns on W Snoq Vall Rd were okay with just lots of mud and vastly smaller pastures. The road itself had not been underwater (no muck or scum or other substances you don't want to think about). But on the River Road, the homes and yards had all been flooded. The houses are maybe 50 feet from the river and lower than the road which is between them and it. Old vehicles and tractors and even buses had been towed from backyards up to the "high ground" on the shoulder of the road. Anything that was piled around a house had floated some distance away. Woodpiles, for example, drifted downstream. Kids toys were in odd places. Most of the houses along there have been jacked up about 15 feet (many since the last flood), but I came across one 1960s-ish rambler with all its carpet and pillows and beds piled on the front lawn; you could see the high water mark about halfway up to the windows on the outside of the house. Most of these homes still had lakes in their backyards.

They say that natural disasters are, ultimately, good for local economies because people have to rebuild and replace and hire tradesmen. And there's a reason for the flood plain evaluation you pay for when you buy a house. There's a quote in the Everett Herald today from a 76-year-old woman in the valley who was more worried about her family's cattle than her house or anything in it. But still, my heart goes out to all those people who've had their lives disrupted and their homes ravaged. Including the owners of the Christmas tree farm, still under water, on Springhetti Road--they might be wishing for a way to grow some of those $400 plastic trees from Sky Nursery (see yesterday's entry)!

Friday, November 10, 2006

A $400 Christmas tree ??

10 November

On a mission today to find something to liven up my front porch for the winter, I ventured into Sky Nursery. Right inside the front door were a pair of artificial Christmas trees (how does a nursery grow an artificial tree?). The LITTLE one was $399.95. That's at least 10 years' worth of real trees. And real trees smell good, generate oxygen, create local jobs, and decompose readily when they're shipped off to the landfill or compost heap. Are there really people who spend $400 + tax for something they have to store in a box 11 months out of a year that gives off toxic fumes and will never ever decompose? I guess there must be....

Monday, November 06, 2006

Where is everybody ?

Monday, 6 November

I came home the long way today, riding the 10-mile stretch of the Burke Gilman from UW to Lake Forest Park, and the trail was EMPTY!! I saw one cyclist for every two miles of trail. How often do you get a chance, in Seattle, to ride in November in 60-degree weather? No gloves, no rain, no traffic, glimpse of blue sky over Matthews Beach, glorious leaf colors on the trees, and only a few patches where the leaf mulch on the trail was deeper than my rims. And a great tailwind!

Friday, November 03, 2006


Friday, 3 November

That's fall as in autumn, not fall as in crash (this time, anyway).

It's just so dang beautiful out there--as long as you're not on your bike in one of those downpours!

Oh yeah, .n. -- where was I?