Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in review

New Year's Eve

I did a little math at this time last year, and it was kind of entertaining. So here are some numbers for comparison for 2008 (2007 data in parentheses):

Total bike miles: 12,693 (10,931)
Total days with no bike miles: 29 (23)
Month with the most miles: June (July)
Month with the least miles: December (January)

My three longest rides were 193 miles (September), 190 miles (May), and 152 (July). Not much else in the way of epic miles: there was one day of 97 miles on the tandem and another ride of about 103 miles, but otherwise it was pretty tame stuff.

I won some races and wasn't even a factor in a lot of others. The best smack-in-my-face result was having the fastest women's time in a short, flat, technical prologue at Willamette. It was definitely not my kind of course, and it definitely should've belonged to some of the other women there. Don't sell yourself short! The Tenino TT course (I'd never seen it til I raced it) was kind to me--and fun. I learned to relax and have some fun in tandem crits. I took some pleasure from my results in those 193- and 190-mile races listed above, beating most of the men in those races. And I learned SO much on that 152-mile ride.

Goals for 2009: continue to have fun on my bike and to encourage others to have fun on their bikes. Enjoy riding my BEAUTIFUL NEW BIKE! :) Maybe I should try to crack that double-century mark, eh?

Happy New Year to you and yours. May you surprise yourself with your accomplishments, exceed your dreams, and enjoy good health throughout 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Two weeks and counting

St. Stephen's Day

Today marks two entire weeks of not riding my bike outside. I don't think I've ever strung together so many consecutive days of not rolling down the street. Earlier in the week, I was optimistic that we'd get out this weekend. But this was the state of my street late this afternoon, after a day of "thawing" (a neighbor reported that it snowed here most of the day). The street (in north Seattle) is covered by 6-8 inches of compacted snow, with slush at the bottom. Driving in this is exceedingly difficult; we pushed 3 cars (one with chains, one with all-wheel drive) out of the spots they were mired in during a short walk on Christmas morning, and I pushed another all-wheel drive vehicle that got stuck backing out of a driveway while I was on my way to the bus this morning (the bus never came, but that's another story--and another 5-mile walk). It doesn't really look like the snow/ice/slop soup will be gone in time for a weekend ride!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dawgs n cats

Festivus

OK, yes, things are a little slow. My legs got tired after 30 minutes on the trainer tonight. Maybe that's because I ran 2 miles in the snow this morning and walked a total of about 7 miles on my way to and from work today. Or maybe it's because they're not used to pedaling? I keep baking lots of cookies, but that's pretty uneventful and not really very photogenic. There were so few people in the gym when I was there yesterday that I couldn't even think of anything malicious to say about any of them. And the toddlers in Starbucks were just about the cutest little cherubs you could hope to encounter. So here's the odd pair of photos from today's portfolio:















Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter solstice

Happy Hanukkah















Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow !

Thursday, 18 December

Unlike most people in Seattle, I was at work today. But I managed to squeeze in a little Christmas shopping and a long walk home. Here's the view from my office, Ravenna Park, and random landscaping that caught my eye.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Double Macchiato

Wednesday, 10 December

What's in your living room? As the quip in my household observed, we have a Double Macchiato. The co-owner of the "second shot" is worried that they may mate if the lighting is right and that we'll soon have tricycles roaming our hallways.

Alas, the other owners will pick up theirs this weekend and then ours will only have the couch and the LandShark single bike for company.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bad idea

Tuesday, 9 December

On my way home last night, meandering through a neighborhood between arterials for a couple of miles, it struck me how really enjoyable it was to pedal along and admire the Christmas lights on (and in) houses. This is a very low traffic area, so riding doesn't require so much attention. It occurred to me that it might be fun to get a group of cyclists together to go caroling--on bikes--through a neighborhood like this one. Honestly, it took me at least a block to figure out why this would not be a good idea:

1. I've heard cyclists sing "Happy Birthday." I'm not sure anyone would recognize their group-sing rendition of any Christmas carol.

2. Too many people these days have helmet-mounted headlights. Turn your head to look at/talk to your neighbor, and that Christmas carol would be filled with expletives from the victim you just blinded.

3. I think that pedaling, singing, and steering a bike in a group requires more coordination than most of us have; it would be a massive crash fest. Even at a sedate pace, that doesn't sound like so much fun. "Hark the herald----slowing----angels sing...."

I tried to work out how to do this on tandems, but I'll leave that to Henry and just enjoy this particular quiet, well-lit neighborhood each night on my way home.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

How do I say this ?

Saturday, 6 December
(Happy Birthday tomorrow, .n.!)

I know of at least three Seattle groups whose "training rides" have the unstated objective of dropping as many people as they can. Wait? Regroup? Hah. LSD base miles? "I don't want to lose all my fitness." Testosterone isn't quotable but seems to be a factor. And I can't tell you how many times I've been hanging on to the back of some group of male riders when one of them comes back and starts griping--just to me--about how so-and-so is riding too hard. Do they gripe to the offender? Not so much, apparently, because it's a pretty regular occurrence and the offending is mutual (they take turns griping and riding too hard at the front).

Today I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of riding with one of our local pro riders. He was on a nice Felt with his name on the top tube. I was on my 3-year-old Redline with disc brakes and fenders. He saw no need to drill it on the flats or drop us on the climbs (and, happily, nobody was going to attack him on the climbs!). It was an enjoyable, pleasant ride. His season starts in the middle of February and there he was in early December, training at a pace that someone his mother's age could keep up with.

I often say I ride and race for the entertainment value; you never know where you're going to find it!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pie !

Friday, 28 November


I got up before dawn on Thanksgiving morning to bake two of these to take to the feast for 16 we attended. I wanted to make a pecan pie too but discovered I only had two pie pans. So the pecan pie was in cookie bars, which I made a day ahead. And since we ate rather too many of the cookie bars before Thanksgiving, I also made a batch of ginger cookies. So while we didn't have any other (semi-nutritious) leftovers, we did manage to have pumpkin pie with whipped cream and pecan pie cookies for dessert tonight. I'm saving the ginger cookies to go with post-ride tea tomorrow afternoon. But I'm not sure they'll last that long. :)

I failed felting

Friday, 28 November



Today I got around to one of those craft projects I've been pondering for a while. It's time to start thinking about making Christmas presents!

For a long time, I've had a Pendleton wool blanket that used to belong to my grandparents. When I was a child, they were using it to keep apples from freezing in their shed during the winter, so I figure it was at least 50 years old and maybe a decade or two more. It was threadbare in many places, and the binding around the edges was long since gone.

The plan was to "felt" the blanket and use the fabric to make tote bags? vests? slippers? My previous attempt at felting worked exactly as it was supposed to, although it was about 1/200th the size of this blanket. Blanket agitates in the washing machine in hot water and a tiny bit of soap until it shrinks down to the size and texture you want in your felted products. (I did this by accident to my husband's beautiful Irish sweater a few years ago, but that's another story.) I figured the most awkward part would be coaxing a big piece of wool to get dry in Seattle in November.

After two passes through the "agitate" part of my washing machine's cycle, I checked out what was going on. The blanket had escaped its cloth bag (which you use to keep the fuzzies that come out of the wool from stopping up the machine's lint trap), so I put it back in, scooped out some stray bits of wool fuzz from the soapy froth, and set it back to doing its thing. Two more "agitates" and I did another inspection. Hmmm. Gobs of fuzz everywhere. Tape measure tells me the piece of wool is not getting any smaller. I decided to take it outside and hang it up on the clothesline to dry. As I hold it up, I realize the blanket had been gradually disintegrating in the washer, hence all the wool fuzzies. Instead of becoming compacter, the fabric was loosening up and falling apart. Hmmmm. That means this project isn't going to work.

But giving up isn't as easy as it sounds. Sure, the blanket goes into a plastic bag and into the garbage. But my washing machine is full of (surprisingly dirty) water that's full of wool fuzz that I cannot possibly let just drain out. I can capture some clots with my fingers, but there's still a lot in there. I end up scooping all the water out into a bucket and then pouring that water through a strainer to capture fuzzies. Slooooooooow process.

As I picked up some stray fuzz off the floor in front of the washing machine, I realized that it looked a little bit like nylon fuzz instead of wool fuzz. So I let it dry out and gave it the burn test. Wool will turn to ash, but synthetics melt. This stuff definitely melted. That was a very complicated way to find out that an old wool blanket wasn't just wool! I guess the lesson is not to try to felt something that's so old the label has fallen off or worn away. Or maybe it was just a complicated way of figuring out that my family didn't wanted felted wool tote bags from Grandma's blanket?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving thanks

Tuesday, 25 November

Please join members of the cycling community for the 5th annual Seattle Thanksgiving Day Ride to benefit Northwest Harvest. Meet at the Leschi Starbucks at 9am for a 9:15 departure and a socially paced ride around the south end of Lake Washington. The suggested donation is $5 per rider, but donations of any amount are welcome. In past years, the cycling community has contributed $600-$800 to Northwest Harvest, and this year a gracious donor has stepped up to match our donation.

And to all of you who can't join this ride: best wishes for a Thanksgiving filled with sharing thanks and joy and being grateful for whatever you have !

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Whirl-a-weekend

Sunday, 23 November

Wowza. What a weekend. Hubby goes to Tucson, wifey plans to do a zillion things while he's gone. Here are some of 'em that actually got done.

Thursday evening: new bike build take 1 (lasts til 11:30).

Friday evening: not enough sleep Thursday night but I race CycleU TT anyway--and go faster than I did any time last winter (I think they must've recalibrated in the interim). Run errands on way home, stop for Thai food, emerge into a monsoon. Go to bed at 8:30.

Saturday: 73-mile ride, remodel the garage to store more bike stuff, new bike build take 2 (it's done; it weighs 15.2 pounds; I'm afraid to ride it outside cuz the streets are still damp and it might get dirty).

Sunday: 69-mile ride, rake leaves, sweep up fir needles, do laundry, make soup, go to the gym, sit in the sauna (ah!!!), go to the grocery store, catch up on email.
Going to work on Monday? Recovery. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gifted

Saturday, 15 November

What a gorgeous November day we were gifted with today in these parts. Warm enough to make the grass grow, sunny, wispy clouds--maybe there is something to that global warming hoopla. We're still drying out from the deluge at the beginning of the week. Really, though, it didn't rain all that much in the city. The damage was done in the mountains: the freezing level was sky high, so all that precip came down as rain, washed downhill as it tends to do, and overflowed local rivers. If you rode to, say, Snohomish today, you saw very little flooding. But just a few miles south (upriver), conditions were different:



I wish this picture had a soundtrack to go with it. In the new lake that stretched a mile across the valley were thousands of ducks and geese, all honking and quacking about their good fortune of a new water feature in their habitat. This flooded road was so convincingly flooded that no trucks even tried to drive through it, and I'm pretty sure it will be under too much water to ride through tomorrow.

Enjoy the gift of these glorious days. You'll be complaining about the weather again soon enough!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bugs on drugs?

Wednesday, 12 November

I was stung by a bug this morning on my ride to work. Given that we're in mid-November, I expected bees to be dead or hibernating by now. But this one latched onto my neck and delivered a dose of venom that could only be described as "on steroids." The sting site hurt like heck, and I nearly collided with one of those posts in the middle of the trail as I tried to make sure the bug wasn't still under the collar of my jersey. I seemed okay for the rest of my ride (5 miles).

But when I got to work, I was mostly covered in a red rash that itched like crazy. Then I got lightheaded and watched my peripheral vision close in like I was going to pass out. I've never had a reaction--other than "ouch!"--to a bee sting, even as recently as this summer, so I searched for some sound medical advice from Google. Apparently, if you're going to die from a bee sting, it'll be in the first few minutes; at least I was past that worry. A coworker told me to take Benadryl and implied I'd then need to go home to bed to sleep the stuff off. The welts on my arms were getting worse, and my eyes were red-rimmed. Time for "urgent care."

The doctor told me I was having a mild allergic reaction to the sting (imagine that!) and that Benadryl would help (but I thought the side effects sounded worse than the symptoms). However, what he spent most of his time assessing was my low blood pressure (90 over 60-something) and HR (less than 60). They took my blood pressure and pulse SIX times--sitting, standing, lying down. When I explained that I had ridden my bike for 5 miles after getting stung, they figured out that there was probably not a cardiac incident going on.

From the clinic, I went straight for my drug of choice--caffeine--and skipped the Benadryl altogether. But I think I'm going to start carrying it on my epic bike rides out in the middle of nowhere. Bee sting reactions supposedly get worse as you get older, and anything much worse than what I had today would have me sitting in a ditch somewhere for a while.

Watch out for (s)low-flying bugs on steroids!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Rally for Ed

Sunday, 9 November

Today was the Rally for Ed, hosted by Wenatchee Valley Velo to show support for Dr. Ed Farrar, who's been in intensive care since being struck by a car more than two weeks ago. Except for the whole reason we were there, it was a marvelous event. WVV had it all extremely well organized, and I think it was the first ride I've been on where a max speed (12 mph) was announced before the start and never exceeded.




We started behind the convention center, did a ceremonial lap of the original crit course from the omnium (I did not get dropped!!), and then rode out past where Ed's accident was and ended at the hospital. A few locals made speeches, and Tyler Farrar finished the event by thanking us all for coming.






Everything we know about Ed was affirmed by how many locals turned up--on everything from Cervelos to BMX bikes. And more than a few of those locals were amazed to see so many of us "westsiders" on the ride. If there truly are healing powers in the positive thoughts of so many caring people, then Ed's recovery should have made major strides today. Thanks to WVV for making it possible for so many of us to express our concern and good wishes!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Small boxes are nice too

Friday, 7 November

Some people get as excited about the stuff that came in the mail yesterday as I got about the new frame that arrived on Tuesday. Parts! Really new parts. I've got to get this stuff home so I stop opening the boxes back up to drool while I'm at work!




Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Epicness

still Tuesday, 4 November

OK, I can bear pouring rain and lashing winds on the 4th day of November. The extra bonus of a thunder and lightning show was unexpected--but I paid it hardly any attention because I was busy trying to figure out whether I could ride across a layer of hail on top of mulching leaves on top of wet pavement (slowly, eventually, yes--remember I have less traction than some of you). When I stopped to take this picture of white stuff at the beginning of November (see Henry, it's not just in Bend!), I happened to look up at the houses on the hill above me. I thought the weather was pushing the envelope of the season just a tad, but then I saw a Christmas tree. Two miles down the trail, there was just a little light rain and the trail was dry under the trees. Microclimates? Maybe a nanoclimate?

Good things in big boxes

Tuesday, 4 November
Election Day


I brought my camera to work today. I wanted to take some leaf pictures while there are still leaves left. There's a Japanese maple outside my building, and all the different colors of its leaves on the ground were gorgeous this morning. And then the leaf blowers came and by the time I went out with the camera (after it stopped raining), the leaves were gone. :(







But mostly I knew I wanted to try to take pictures of something that was supposed to arrive in the mail today. Sometimes good things come in big boxes too, at least in ones that say this on the outside.






It was really fun to pull this out of the box because I had requested the general idea for the graphics but had no idea how John would put them on the frame. It's beautiful, and more subtle and nuanced than I thought possible. It also weighs just about a kilo.



Unfortunately, my camera and office lighting just don't do justice to the complexity of the blue-black paint. Hopefully some of the depth will come through if you click on the pictures for a bigger image.


I can't wait to get it home and built!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

October diet summary

Sunday, 2 November

I survived 31 days without sugar or flour. You can too. Your body needs neither. You will feel better without them. I lost 4 pounds and 1-2 percentage points off my body fat. My rain bike still feels like a fat slug, however. :)

My celebratory feast included (my half of) an amazing plate of antipasti, all of which I could've consumed under those dietary restrictions (but not the nice foccacia that went with it). The pumpkin and goat cheese ravioli were a little too much pasta and not enough pumpkin and goat cheese. But the German chocolate cake (from Whole Foods) was definitely a good choice for getting a sugar and chocolate buzz. With my head still not quite screwed on tight after the chianti with dinner, I was kinda loopy (but happy) for a while.

And this morning we had pumpkin muffins! But I used almost no sugar and substituted whole wheat flour, soy flour, and a tad bit of corn meal for 2/3 of the white flour in the recipe. And they came out better--a finer texture--than usual. I discovered, however, that my organic molasses is a product (are a product?) of Paraguay. Now really, has the United States lost the ability to produce organic molasses?

On the subject of Whole Foods, did you notice the juxtaposition of articles on the front page of the Seattle Times today? The one at the bottom notes that the rush for organic foods is fizzling and companies like Whole Foods are hurting. But while people are expected to cut back on good food, they are likely to have no trouble finding millions to spend at the new casino built by the Snoqualmie tribe, as noted in the feature article on the front page. Maybe that's why molasses are from Paraguay?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I wanna believe

Thursday, 30 October

Of all the athletes brought down for use of performance-enhancing drugs, the one who disappointed me most was Marion Jones. I thought it was beautiful to watch her race. She had so much poise, such a race face, so much emotion....and speed. So when the voice across the room last night told me she was on Oprah, I had to watch.

Marion the arm-chair interviewee was a much different person. Maybe she was trying to be a much different person. I think six months in prison certainly gave her time to put together her story and repeat it like a mantra until it was her only story and the one she believes 110%.

A newspaper column this morning said that Oprah only asked "softball questions," but I thought the one that Oprah kept coming back to, kept not fully believing Marion's answer, was "how could you as an elite athlete not know what you were putting into your body?" On the surface, that seems like a valid sticking point in Marion's story. But embedded in our society, it's totally plausible.

Marion wanted to believe her training was making her better, faster, stronger. The "supplements" she was taking would help her recover faster, build more muscle, all those things that we take supplements for. Her job was to focus on herself; she had coaches to help her with the details. And maybe, just maybe, at some level she just didn't want to know what it was exactly that she was taking.

Still don't believe it? You wanted that $875,000 house, even if it was beyond your means. Your lender said "I've got this great adjustable rate mortgage and we can make it happen." Maybe you asked what happens when the ARM "adjusts," but look how many Americans did not. Or you hear that eating fish is good for helping to prevent heart disease. And look how much fresh fish is available at the supermarket. Those reports that it's laced with flame retardant and heavy metals and other toxins? You don't worry about them; fish is good. It's so much easier not to ask questions, especially if you are otherwise getting something you want or like.

Marion does not deny that she took performance-enhancing substances but says she did not "knowingly" take them. She knew something she was doing was making her faster, but wouldn't we all like to believe that good training was bringing the promised results? I'm not trying to defend her or say she was unjustly punished. I'm just sorry her career ended the way it did. The saddest moment during the interview for me was not when said she'd missed her children's birthdays while she was in prison but when she said she'd never run again. She was a cover girl, and she could've been a role model. If she finds the right theme, maybe she still can be.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Excitements

Wednesday, 29 October

[ This is my 360th blog post. Does that mean I've come full circle? ]

Here's what passes for excitement in my world today.

I have only two days left on my bizarre, ban-the-refined-white-stuff diet. It really only seems weird when you try to "eat out." I've learned how to make cheese sauce and pie crust without flour and many, many things without sugar. I'm trying to restrain my excitement so that when I get up on November 1, I don't immediately consume all the leftover Halloween candy for breakfast and then go for a bike ride to a bakery where I'll have to have two 16 oz. cups of coffee to go with at least two white-flour pastries. For the WSBA meeting that afternoon, all that white stuff would either leave me with such an incredible sugar buzz that I would get, um, passionate about some very obscure item of discussion or send me crashing from the aforementioned sugar buzz to sleep through everyone else's passionate discussion. Since the venue for this year's meeting also offers retail therapy, I need to stay awake.

I have, however, already done my part to stimulate the (relatively) local economy. My brand new, custom, handbuilt frame is in the mail. It weighed less than two pounds pre-paint. I think this is my first new single bike in four years. At Ring of Fire in September, Brian said "I can't believe you're still riding that K2." It was the perfect follow-on comment to the initial contact about a new frame just a week earlier. It's supposed to arrive on Halloween, and you can be sure I'll post pictures.

I am thankful that my excitements are on the happy end of the scale, and I wish for good news today for Michele, Ed, and Amy, each of whom could do with a healthy dose of happy excitement.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Planning ahead

Thursday, 23 October

Eight more days and I'm done with my diet of no refined white flour and no refined sugar. So where should I go to celebrate (?) a month of healthful eating? In the entree department, I miss pasta the most, but that's an easy fix. The more challenging question is where to go in Seattle for the best dessert? Not the biggest, but the best. Not the fussiest, but the tastiest celebration of flour, butter, and sugar (sorry, TB!). While the Sweet Life in Eugene is calling my name, even I can't drive that far for dessert. There has got to be something similar in Seattle, something I have so far successfully managed not to learn about for good reason. Suggestions, please!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Newspaper surprises!

Wednesday, 22 October

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find not one but two items connected--if remotely--to cycling on a single page of my PI (that's the Seattle Post Intelligencer for you non-locals).

The front page of the Life&Arts section has a blurb at the very top about expansion at the Garage--more bowling lanes, pool tables, etc. Congrats to the Garage crew for their success! Good to know that the business is growing just like the cycling team!

And in the bottom right corner are some extremely nice props for Craig Hetherington at Taste restaurant at SAM with many kudos for his great October all-local menu. When was the last time you saw such a laudatory restaurant review? Way to go, Craig!

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/384321_dining22.html

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tandem fun

Sunday, 19 October

Another fun day on the tandem. Coincidentally, we ended up in a group with three other tandems. It was cold at the start and took a long time for the sun to come out. But another good day for riding nonetheless.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dessert

Saturday, 18 October

Dessert. The most important meal of the day. Also the most difficult one to prepare when you're on a no-flour, no-sugar diet. But what I assembled this evening was pretty tasty.

A handful of late blackberries hanging over the back fence this afternoon was my inspiration. I spread them in the bottom of a small baking dish (the perfect size for serving two people--found at Avoca Handweavers in Kilmacanogue, but I digress) and sliced two apples on top. The usual topping for apple crumble definitely includes flour and sugar (brown sugar, in my kitchen) plus some sugar on the apples. I finely chopped some oatmeal and pecans, added a little cinnamon and about a tablespoon of finely cubed butter, and then bound it all together with maybe 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. I poured a tiny bit more syrup over the apples, put the topping--you guessed it--on top, and baked it until the apples were done. It was definitely not overly sweet, but it wasn't tart either. There was no maple flavor, and the pecans and the oatmeal held together perfectly. You could make this fancy by putting some maple-glazed pecans on the top before serving, but it was also pretty good with nonfat vanilla yogurt on top.

This was definitely better than the broiled bananas with honey and walnuts that I tried last night. Not sure what tomorrow night will bring, but I know lunch has some butternut squash and carrot soup. No curry in it this time, just leftover fried rice.

Tandem ride in the sunshine tomorrow. That's almost good as being 5 years old and knowing that tomorrow is Christmas!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Demises

Friday, 17 October

I was greatly saddened yesterday to learn of the demise of not one but two of my favorite establishments in the town of Monroe.

Years ago I made so many stops on training rides at the Fiddler's Bluff coffee shop that the baristas would have my order started before I even spoke. I bought a framed piece of art there once, done in chalk, by a local artist; since I was on my bike, I couldn't take it with me, and the shop owners eventually delivered it to my doorstep (32 miles away). It was hard for them to compete in the baked goods department with the Sky Valley Bakery across the street, but they were a local source for Fidalgo Bay coffee, and in their heyday, Fiddler's Bluff was a perfect stop on a 65-mile ride.

Just a few years ago, the Wicked Baking Company opened out on the west edge of town in an old yellow house. Their cinnamon rolls were to die for. It was many visits before I could forgo one of those in order to try something else. It was (as far as I could tell) a women-owned and operated business. All the pastries were amazing, and they did wedding cakes and bread too. My sources tell me the building is now a BBQ joint. So sad.

Another sad demise yesterday was the demolition of yet another perfectly nice house on Riviera Place in northeast Seattle. Odds are that it will be replaced by a garish, ugly, 3-story box with no redeeming features that stretches from one property line to the other. Is this progress, or just greed?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daunting

Wednesday, 15 October

It's a good thing I have to watch where I put my feet when I run stairs. If I kept my eyes on where I was going, I think it would be a little daunting/discouraging/demoralizing. On the stairs I run, you can't see the top from the bottom. This photo makes them look like something out of an Indiana Jones movie: covered with moss and leaves, and ivy vines creeping over everything. Hadn't noticed that in person! The view from the top is wonderful, and it's so quiet in this neighborhood that you can hear the wind blowing off the lake and rustling the trees--before you start breathing hard, that is!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Last of the . . . .

Monday, 13 October

Grapes. For lunch today, I had the last clusters of fat, juicy, purple grapes out of our garden. About half a pound of them, I think. And they are just about the last things to be harvested out of the garden this year. There are still the herbs, which go on forever and would take over if I didn't clip them back, and some green lumps on the tomato plants which might be induced into ripeness with a few days in a paper bag. Oh, and one of the raspberry canes set some late raspberries that will probably never get ripe. But the days of meals with mere minutes from plant to table are gone. We now select from the summer harvest stored in the freezer, which is just not the same, or hidden away in jam jars.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pumpkin time

Saturday, 12 October

What a great day to ride the tandem! All I had to do was pedal along and admire the great foliage. Those trees down at Coulon Park in Renton have started their annual show. Another week or two and they will be on fire with color! Lots of shrubs and trees in other places are already at their peak. Add in the sunshine and a mellow tempo, and it all made for a grand ride. We wanted one last spin on the tandem before it might be forced into hibernation by the weather.

And when we got home, we had one of my cooking experiments. Curried pumpkin soup with quinoa. No added fat. Curry, ginger, garlic, and a little cayenne gave it some zing; the blender smoothed out the stock before I added the cooked quinoa; and a little nonfat milk made it sort of creamy. Tasty and healthy both, and warm in more ways than one. Mmmmmm!

Friday, October 10, 2008

One third

Friday, 10 October

At Carol's Big Birthday Bash about a month ago, TB was lamenting her upcoming time with her inlaws because they seem to subsist on food comprised solely of "flour, sugar, and butter." Unlike TB, I happen to like FSB, but her comment made me realize I'd been indulging in rather too much of them. I was then 36 hours away from my second 12-hour time trial of the year, and when you know you're going to be pedaling for that long, you figure you can eat anything. And a week later, I did a 104-mile ride, which only reinforced that thinking. All that time on a bike, though, gave me lots of time to think, and I put together my training plan for the autumn and the beginnings of a nutrition regimen.

My goal for October is to eat no refined wheat flour and no refined sugar. (The original plan was to also eliminate caffeine, but for the sake of my husband--who has to live with me--I ditched that element.) Neither of those are things your body needs, and they're hard to digest, so it is an attempt to eat more healthfully for a little while and to maybe strengthen better eating habits. So far, I have made it about one third of the way to my goal. While a few things have been challenging, it's not too bad.

Breakfast cereal is the number one stealth location for sugar. Some form of sweetener is the second ingredient in almost every cereal I checked. I already eat a lot of oatmeal and I need/want something else occasionally, mainly as a vehicle for milk or yogurt.

I forget sometimes that there's a little bit of sugar or flour in things I cook. I had to put maple syrup (the stuff from trees, not high fructose corn syrup disguised as "maple" syrup) in applesauce instead of sugar, and we couldn't tell the difference. I tried using a mixture of soy flour and cornstarch in place of flour in scalloped potatoes, and it didn't work at all (not a bad result, just no effect). One of my favorite things about the off-season is being at home for weekend breakfasts. While my husband could live on cereal and toast, day in, day out, three meals a day, my parents always made something special for weekend breakfasts, and I confess that I love to make (and eat) pancakes, waffles, or muffins when we're not racing (provided there's a big training ride on the agenda). So I've missed those, both making them and eating them.

One thing I hadn't thought through was how much protein I get from the white flour that's in pasta. Wheat has a lot of protein, and we usually eat a lot of pasta. Quinoa has become my new best friend. A neighbor tells me you can cook it and eat it like oatmeal, but I haven't gone that far yet.

For me, it's easier to lay down basic rules like this to guide my eating than to take on a diet where I just intend to eat "less." I know from the get-go that there's absolutely nothing inside a Starbucks that I can eat (on principle, I refuse to pay $2.50 for 25 cents worth of oatmeal). Eating out would be a bit of a challenge, but I am looking forward to yummy Thai curry with rice soon. I'm hoping a side effect of this nutrition plan will be a few pounds lost, but that's not the goal. I am, however, thinking of trying a super low fat diet for November to try to accomplish that. As a vegetarian, though, it would be really tough for me to get by without nuts or cheese. I'll just be sure not to start that until November 2 so that I have one day when I can indulge in Halloween candy!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Numerology

Today is, as expressed following U.S. convention, 10082008. Not such a good date in my family, but hopefully somehow happily significant for you and yours.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Hat therapy

Friday, 3 October

I've made three hats in the last week, all given away now. A therapist would probably have a heyday with how therapeutic they are in the making but also how comforting I hope they are in the receiving.


The first one went to an expectant mom at work. Her firstborn is a boy and she was ecstatic to have something pink to go in the nursery. All the time in making a baby hat is spent thinking how much joy there is to come in the tiny little person who will wear it.






The other two went to cyclists who've been enduring extraordinarily tough times in their personal lives. In a way, these are meant to be like hugs when there's no one around to give a real one. Both women have both suffered from pain that can't really be shared, no matter how much the rest of us reach out in support.





The yarn in the pink one is all acrylic; baby stuff has to be highly washable. The green one is nubby stuff from Co. Donegal that I picked up in the basement of a shop in Dublin last year. I loved the way the color and texture aren't uniform; I don't think it was spun by hand, but it had that feel. And the yellow one (representing a team kit, not my fashion sense!) comes from Peruvian sheep. This yarn is a staple in my hat making--it has so much body and stretch and is wonderful to work with.

Next up I think is another baby blanket. I haven't picked out the yarn yet, which is always a fun step in itself.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Winter weather

Thursday, 2 October

Forecasters are saying our last flirtation with summer weather is about to come to an end, so I spent yesterday afternoon painting some more of our fence (it was installed last summer) and then after dinner I did a spin around the front yard with the lawn mower in "low light conditions." It was still warm this morning--62 degrees when I rode past the digital thermometer by Counterbalance Bicycles on Blakeley at 7:05. But just in time for weekend training rides, the wind and rain will spread all over western Washington. Reality arrives on a big wet, heavy cloud.

Cyclists rate winter weather by how much of it you can ride in; different people have different tolerances for icy conditions and monsoons. Not much good is remembered about the winter of 2007-2008. We had floods, ice, and snow. I remember a lot of days when I couldn't ride to work. Now the forecasters are out with their predictions for 2008-2009....sort of:

"Relative to last year, it's likely we'll stay a little drier this winter." But there's also no sign of the El Niño conditions that usually bring an exceptionally warm and dry winter to the Pacific Northwest. That leaves the region in a kind of meteorological limbo, where it's very hard to predict how the upcoming season will play out. "We can have crazy weather here anytime." Computer models suggest temperatures might be slightly warmer than usual this winter. But when it comes to rain and snow, the models are deadlocked: They show equal odds it will be wetter or drier than usual. But that doesn't mean the weather will be bland. Some of the region's biggest floods and windstorms have hit in years when there is neither an El Niño nor La Niña.
"We could see a fairly significant amount of severe weather." (
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/othersports/2008221280_winter02m0.html)

I think they don't have a clue....imagine that! Time to put your fenders on!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Literature

Sunday, 28 September

For the first time in about a year, I suddenly discovered myself with time to read a book, so I bought Annie Proulx's latest collection of Wyoming Stories, this one titled Fine Just the Way It Is. As one review quoted on the back cover notes, "Proulx has found a tone and style of delivery that allow her to be humorous and existentially black at the same time." My father quit reading her work because it's too "gloomy" (he prefers biographies of dead presidents, which are neither light nor cheery). She can poke subtle tongue-in-cheek fun at the most dire human condition or circumstance, and her writing is sometimes oddly hysterical.

What's this got to do with bikes or hats, you ask? Well, the second story in the collection is titled "I've Always Loved This Place" and it's about the Devil trying to plan a make-over of Hell. "Nothing has been done to this damn place for aeons." (See the connection yet?) So the Devil and his assistant set out on a golf cart to "tour the property and see where we can make improvements." They devise plans for a new entrance gate (keeping "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here"). "Double our fly-gnat-mosquito-chigger package order."

The Devil's attention keeps returning to a city high on the top of a mountain. Here's where my brain started taking in familiar words out of context, just like when you unexpectedly encounter a cyclist you know in a work setting. "It's the ideal end point for the Tour de France. Pro cyclists have earned a place in Hell. It is twice the size of any Alp." But just a long, steep climb isn't torture enough. "Let's get some coarse and broken cobbles on the steepest stretches here. I want those guardrails removed from the abyss....Varied weather will help; sleet storms, parching heat, black ice on the cobbles, hurricane force crosswinds [sounds just like racing here on earth, eh?]....Every rider will be on drugs and some will go down frothing at the lips like Simpson on Mount Ventoux in nineteen sixty-whatever. And let's have screaming crowds who throw packets of filth and fine dust, handfuls of carpet tacks, who squirt olive oil and then piss on the riders. Water bottles filled with kerosene and alkali water....More dogs on the course. And rattlesnakes. Let's see--how about an obligatory enema in the starting gate and EPO breaks every thirty minutes. As for the UCI--" The Devil whispers into the assistant's ear and then they move on from cycling Hell to talk of castrating and branding cowboys in an afterlife reversal of fortunes.

Maybe the moral here is that I need to be nicer so I don't end up on this slippery slope for eternity? :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Starcrossed

Sunday, 21 September
last day of summer

Last night was the Starcrossed cyclocross extravaganza at the Marymoor velodrome. Lots of people had lots of fun. There was: Beer. Mud. Coffee. "Stale" hotdogs (a second-hand report). People I hadn't seen in a long time. Teammates and other friends racing. Long, grim faces (O.A.D. and I concluded that (1) nobody racing looked in the tiniest little bit like they were having even a trace of fun, and (2) there was nothing fun-looking about the actual racing). But oh the very best part? Walking around and looking at all the hats. :) I was like a kid in a candy store (OK, like ME in a candy store) and stared at a lot of people's heads. And I realized that the ones I make are as good as anything anyone had on. Maybe next year I should bring a boxful and a tent (it poured rain for hours) and see if I can make enough money for coffee on winter training rides?

Friday, September 19, 2008

When did this happen ?

Friday, 19 September


It was summer just last weekend....sunshine, warm temps, tomatoes from the garden.
Now all of a sudden the trees aren't green any more and it's dark during too many of my waking hours. The rain bike keeps trying to get ahead of the race bike in the queue in the garage. And the trainer bike: I can't remember the last time I "rode" that.
I guess it's like rain in January: there's nothing I can do about it, so I might as well enjoy the show of colors and the sunshine when it happens.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

PruParty

Wednesday, 17 September

Just a reminder:

Come say goodbye and good luck TOMORROW to the PruFamily as they move south:

Thursday
September 18
7:00 p.m. - ??
Pied Piper Ale House
2404 NE 65th St
Seattle WA 98115
(206) 729-0603
"kid friendly"

Monday, September 15, 2008

New-team ride

Monday, 15 September

After my Ring of Fire race, I figured I deserved some serious time off the bike and I wasn't planning to ride much this last weekend. But then I got an invitation to join a ride of a new team that's still coming together. Unlike other new-team rides (as reported on local blogs) that ventured all the way around the north end of Lake Washington or featured a whopping 4 kilometers of climbing, yesterday's outing was a nice 103-mile jaunt and featured 6,400 feet of elevation gain.




We started in Carson:











We rode out the Wind River road and climbed about 10 miles up and out of the drainage and over this pass:











A few miles past the summit, we turned left on Curly Creek Road (a screaming descent) and had great views of Mt. St. Helens. This view is from the top of the descent. The mountain gets closer and closer as you descend and fills up the gaps between the trees by the time you're near the bottom.









We turned right on FR 90, which winds along the Lewis River for a long way. We met up with a couple signs like this one; the longest dirt/gravel section was about half a mile.






We stopped at a campground along the Lewis River for water (which we had to pump out of the well). Instead of pit toilets, this campground had composting toilets, and I learned that my waste wouldn't go to waste:


At the next junction, instead of taking the road marked toward Trout Lake, we opted for the hillier route (even though Trout Lake was our next way point). About 15 miles of climbing brought repeated view of Mt. Adams--and utterly empty roads. There was absolutely no one to patrol the yellow line in the middle of the road. :)





After all that climbing, you come to the junction to Randle and Trout Lake. While Randle is closer to home, Trout Lake was where I needed to go. A few miles of flat and gentle rollers (and more views of Adams and no traffic), and then there's a 12-mile descent into Trout Lake. I hung on to the freight train paceline until one steep section where gravity didn't favor me. We stopped for calories (the first store we'd seen since Carson) and then rolled the last 25 miles down to White Salmon with views of Mt. Hood most of the way (but speeds too high for me to fish the camera out of my pocket!.

Glorious day, perfect ride, wonderful friends, and great food all weekend. I was so glad to be there!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Veep wannabe

Thursday, 11 September

I usually leave discussion of all things politics to PruDog, but I managed to hear today an interview by ABC's Charles Gibson with Sarah Palin. The best laugh I got was hearing a woman who wants to be the proverbial heartbeat away from being president of the United States talk about "nucular" weapons. I guess they don't have too many of them up in Alaska and she can't be expected to know much about them--or at least not how you say the word? I suppose she bought her house from a reelator, too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Life is so damn fragile

Wednesday, 10 September

Those words from one friend in reference to the tragic loss suffered by another. Our hearts and thoughts and prayers are with you, Jen.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008168505_webclimber09m.html

http://www.ece.utah.edu/~ccharles/personal/RyanTriplett/

Monday, September 08, 2008

It really was fun, I tell you!

Monday, 8 September

It was as much fun as it looks!

48 hours on, and nothing is sore. Beer and french fries are good for recovery!

I figured out I drank 8 bottles (Gleukos, Coke, water) in 12 hours. I ate 3 bars, 2 homemade cookies (300? calories each), and 1 orange. And 2 pretzels. Maybe I should work on nutrition habits for 2009? Or find some arm warmers that stay up? The Stungunner optics were fantabulous all day long, PruDog!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My little time trial: 193 miles

Sunday, 7 September

Yesterday was the final race of my 2008 season: the 12-hour Ring of Fire time trial. You have to set goals for yourself going into an event like this, so my primary one was to break my own course record of 183 miles from 2006 and hopefully to match the 200 miles that O.A.D. and I rode on the tandem (also a course record) in 2007. It's hard to be confident that everything is "dialed in" going into a race that long, with so many variables, but I thought I was feeling as ready for it as I could.

The first time I did this race, it was my first-ever "ultra" event and I was by myself and I had a little bit of that "deer in the headlights" feeling. Doing it on the tandem last year was different, and I was curious to see how my attitude and approach (and confidence, I suppose) had changed this year. I knew the course, I knew that I would make it back to the start/finish, so it was just a matter of turning over the pedals, not using the brakes on the descents, and minimizing the time off the bike.

The race is in 2 parts: a 112-mile big loop, and a 27-mile short loop that you do laps on until your 12 hours are up. The big loop climbs forest service roads around Mt. Hood, has several descents of more than 5 miles (one is 20 miles), and features spectacular scenery every inch of the way. There are 3 time/aid stations on the big loop where you can pick up food and water, drop off extra clothing, and get lots of encouragement and support. The stretch between time stations 1 and 2 would be worth doing the rest of the ride on highways: there are so many beautiful views of Mt. Hood and endless forest. And empty, empty roads. So I guess another difference between 2006 and 2008 for me at this race was that apprehension had been replaced by anticipation of great riding.

OK, race details. As I mentioned before, I gave up on the aero bars plan. Most people had them, and I ended up leap-frogging many of them: they'd pass me on descents, I'd pass them on climbs. Climbs last longer, and I ended up riding away from most of them. :) There were 3 other women in the 12-hour race, and one 2-person women's team, and I had passed all of them before mile 25. When I figured out that I'd won the women's race, barring catastrophe, then I had to focus on the aforementioned goals--and reeling in as many men as I could. My time at the end of the big loop was within 5 minutes of our split on the tandem last year, which made me very happy. But the short loop is tough: it starts with a 4-mile climb. And by that point (almost 7 hours into the 12) it was hot (90 degrees), my stomach wasn't very happy, and I was starting to think it would be nice to get off the bike. But each lap finishes with 9 miles of flat (and increasing tailwind as the afternoon went on) road along the Deschutes River, so you feel pretty good when you get to the start/finish for your time check. I was "focused," they tell me, every time I came through, and got back on the road immediately. At the end of lap 2, I felt awful and my lap times were 10 minutes too slow to match our tandem pace. I had 1:46 left, and a full lap is 27 miles. I needed 18 to break my record. Obviously, I could do that much. But then you tell yourself that you should break a record by more than one mile. When I got to the start of the final 9-mile flat stretch, my oxygen-deprived brain managed to figure out that I might be able to get all the way to the finish in the time I had left if I could just keep my speed over 20 mph. I made it with 2 minutes to spare: it was a huge mental battle to compel myself to keep the effort up for that long and to fight back when the wind would force my speed down. I didn't get to 200 miles, but 193 isn't bad. And just 7 miles (what? 25 minutes?) off the tandem record on my single bike ain't too shabby. The men's winner of the 12-hour race rode 202 miles, second place rode 194 miles, and I was third overall at 193. On my aero-bar-less, carbon-wheel-less, ordinary aluminum road bike. :)

Before the race, lots of folks were telling me I really need to step up and do a 24-hour race, and one experienced ultra rider invited me to be on a mixed team for Race Across Oregon in 2009. But I was wary--I like to eat dinner at dinnertime and go to bed at bedtime--so I haven't jumped at this challenge. And yesterday confirmed that I just need to keep working on improving my 12-hour racing. The first 6 hours were fantastic. They confirmed my commitment to change things next year, learn to say "no," and not take on burdens that cut into my ride time: I have just too much fun on the bike. But then there was a lull when the fun wasn't so fun anymore. Surely that was mostly related to the heat and hydration/heat exhaustion issues. In a strange twist, part of what kept me going was knowing that I could get off when I got to 12 hours. But something intangible that I can't quite put my finger on pushed me to ride that last lap, to ignore all those impulses to stop.

Ironically, I was so focused when I rolled in to the start/finish before my last lap that all I did was ask for my total miles so far and how much time I had left and take on one bottle of water. I completely missed the fact that my husband, who was competing in the 24-hour race, was sprawled on the pavement, unable to stand up, much less ride his bike. He had been way ahead of the course record on the time splits through about 10 hours of riding and then completely came apart. Heat, hydration, and who-knows-what were all factors. Unfortunately, he was unable to get back on his bike--barely able to get to bed--so his total distance in the 24-hour event was 184 miles, tied (!) for last place.

Many, many thanks go to our friend Brian for coming all the way to Maupin to support O.A.D. and then me in this adventure. After his Race Across Oregon experience, hopefully it was interesting for him to see the crew side of a race like this, even if it was curtailed and he didn't have to sit at the start/finish all night long.

And in spite of the tired knees, hot spots on my feet, and other aches and pains you'd expect from 12 hours in the saddle, this race also generates more warm fuzzy feelings than any I know. The people--the promoters, other racers, other support crews, even the people of the town of Maupin--support you 110%. A couple of people put on race faces, but everyone else is all about wishing you a great race. A little friendly rivalry and banter develops on the road as you pass and get passed by the same people several times over. The volunteers at the time/aid stations would clean your windshield and check your tire pressure if you asked them to. I think everyone walks away from this race (OK, maybe not O.A.D., maybe not this year) with a huge sense of accomplishment. Even if you don't meet all your goals, it's a super hard course and you earn a ton of respect from every other competitor out there. You learn something, you race hard, you beat some people and some people beat you, and you enjoy the luxurious privilege of riding through wondrous natural beauty. How could you ask for more?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

More Beijing reports

Thursday, 4 September

Another Northwesterner is in Beijing. Check out Erik Moen's blog on the Paralympics:

http://erikmoen.blogspot.com/

What a great opportunity for Erik. Those athletes could not have found someone better to be part of Team USA!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Season finale

Wednesday, 3 September


I'm following up last weekend's 5-event stage race (ha! everybody else only did 4 events--ain't tandem crits great!) with a season-ending time trial in Maupin this Saturday. At this point, I can't think of much that sounds better than 12 hours on my bike. 12 hours of no phone, no email, no upgrade requests, no hemming and hawing over Meet the Teams rides. I won't say there won't be any thinking about this team and that team, or what to make of offers of deals on new bikes, or what I want to do different next year. But it's amazing how your mind can be filled for most of 12 hours with just absorbing where you're at and what you're doing--living in the moment. Somebody once asked Uta Pippig, the great German distance runner, what she thought about during a marathon. She said she didn't have time to think about anything!


I'm taking my mantra for this race (and it is a race--there are some powerful athletes in my field) from Brian Ecker's Race Across Oregon experience: my only job is to pedal. The beauty of the scenery will be absorbed whether I think about it or not. :) Thoughts about teams and bikes and the cat 3 women's series and a winter training ride schedule and all those things that hound me when my feet are on the ground will just have to wait.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Easy to please

Sunday, 31 August

I thought last Saturday was about the best day one could hope for: sunshine, 8 hours on the bike, and I was grinning from ear to ear. Well, today was a whole lot different, including some rain and not-so-warm temps, but I'm competitive enough (although I deny it 99% of the time!) and take enough satisfaction in doing things that are a challenge for me that in the end it was a pretty rewarding day.

Today is Day Two (stages 2 and 3) of the Eugene Celebration stage race. Stage 2 was a 7-ish mile TT, mostly flat with maybe a 1/2 mile of stairstep rollers up to the turnaround. I got to preride the course twice for a warmup, mostly just spinning leftover "stuff" out of my legs from the hard effort of stage 1 (a lot of getting pushed around in the wind and hanging on for dear life in the second half of the race went the tempo went up by about 4 mph). In the TT, I didn't seem to be making much progress in catching my 30-second person, which was not so satisfying, but I was consistently riding in the 55x11, so I figured my tempo was pretty good. After the turn, I started reeling riders in, which gave me something to focus on besides watching for the mile markers. And still I was in my 11, so the wind must've been a crosswind both directions?

When I finished, my husband confessed that he had loaned his aero wheels to Becka, who doesn't own such things and was just going to TT on her regular wheels. That was OK--better to get more use out of that stuff, right?--until we come to find out that she beat me by just 18 seconds to win the stage. I was second, which made me darned happy.

I had an extra race today. The promoter threw in a tandem crit before the stage race crits started, and I raced it with him. Sal is too busy putting on the race to get to ride himself, so this was his one effort of the weekend--and he decided to make the most of it. We hung in there with the other bikes (including one with a rack and a mirror on the handlebars) for about 1.5 laps, and then Sal took off. The other bikes responded, then didn't, then couldn't catch us, and we rode the rest of the race solo off the front. Thanks to Henry and Web Cyclery for putting up the prizes for this race (we passed ours off to the next bike in the race)!

Then the serious racing started. And the rain showers. Just before a shower it would get super windy, then dump, then the sun would come out, but never long enough to quite dry things out. The women 1-2-3 crit was on mostly wet roads but it didn't rain during our 45 minutes. Even so, I was chilled after the race and it took me a long time to get warm. I got dropped a couple of times in the first 6-8 laps, but got back on. I managed to hang onto the pack until the last 200 meters, which was better than I had expected an hour before the race (rain, legs tired from tandem race, etc.).

Then we got to put the icing on the cake, so to speak. Dinner at Laughing Planet: a burrito with black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, collard greens, brown rice, and tempeh. It was divine. I mean, when you've just raced your bike, you don't really want some high-falutin' food over umpteen courses that always comes with slow service. This was tasty AND healthy AND fast. And across the street is the Sweet Life Patisserie, which I know I post about every time I'm in Eugene. There are always too many choices, and I think what I select is like rolling the dice: if the wait staff asked me 15 seconds sooner or later what I wanted, my answer would be different. Tonight I had a chocolate cheesecake tartlet with peanuts and caramel sauce on top and chocolate frosting around the edges (OAD had the strawberry cheesecake). Undoubtedly more calories than the preceding burrito! :) And a sugar buzz to keep me awake long enough for the drive to the hotel and unloading the car.

Tomorrow is the Wolf Creek stage. Just 42 miles, a bunch of climbing, including one 4-mile climb, and then lots of descending and flat time trialing to the finish, which is at the top of two more climbs at the King Estate Winery. We don't start until 2 in the afternoon, so it will be a late trip home!

Friday, August 29, 2008

2009

Friday, 29 August

Those folks in Oregon get so caught up in the cyclocross season that they have to organize their 2009 road calendar before they get distracted by mud for a few months. The "very, very, very preliminary calendar" is posted at:

http://www.veloreview.com/obra3/2008/08/2009_preliminary_calendar.html/

It already poses some heart-wrenching (for me) stage race conflicts: Willamette vs. DRVTT, and Elkhorn vs. Hood. Plus there's a new SR in The Dalles the weekend before Willamette/DRVTT. Steve Rapp is not going to be happy! (But what an awesome training camp that would be: SR, training rides in Hood River, then DRVTT--wow!) Plus there's a new amateur version of Hood. And notice that Cascade is at the end of July--in case you thought it couldn't be even hotter in Bend! Looks like they moved the TTT to the Peoria course, though, where there won't be 16 corners to navigate per lap, in a paceline: good call, IMHO.

Here's an early shout-out for what will probably be the best new road race of the season: the Twickenham Road Race on 2 May. If you like empty roads and long climbs, this is the race for you. It's time for a new generation of racers to make post-race memories at the Shamrock in Fossil. :)

I'm off this weekend for the final SR of 2008, Eugene Celebration. The anticipated excitement at this race is in the cat 4 women's field. It's the final race in their cat 4 women's series, and a Veloforma road frame goes to the series winner. Added to the mix is the rumor that some WA women are headed south in the hunt for upgrade points to finish off their season. With two road races plus crit and TT, there should be a lot of good racing. And I might get to race the crit twice, if I can just find a tandem partner with a bike....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Trial and...not for me

Thursday, 28 August

As I've done the last two years, I'll close out my season with a time trial. It has a lot of climbing, so you don't want to use your TT bike, but it has some descending too and one nice flat stretch along the Deschutes River. So I thought I'd try clip-on TT bars to see if they would offer the best of both worlds. Lots of people have suggested this is the way to go. This morning was my test drive.

Because the clip-ons and the arm rests take up most of your handlebar area, you have fewer choices for positioning. You are limited to riding on the hoods or riding on the aero bars. There's no changing your hand position to shift the load on your shoulders and back.

Because the bike is still fitted for the regular bars, the aero position is awkward. My pelvis rotates forward, which changes how my hip flexors engage and changes how my quads and hamstrings work together. It also changes the pressure points on the saddle. And it keeps you from using your core muscles to support your back.

I can see that if you trained with these, and this is the position your muscles were expecting when you got on the bike, they might work for you. But they are not something I'll be changing to for a race in 8 days.

Oh, and two other detractions: they weigh almost 1.2 pounds. And they did not make me go any faster. So what's the point?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Introductory women's rides

Tuesday, 26 August

These rides really are intended to show interested non-racers a little bit about the women's side of bike racing. The rides are for women only, and the goals are to help women feel more confident riding in groups, to introduce them to local women racers (from the long-time cat 4 to the national-level racer), and to give them the opportunity to explore the possibilities that bike racing offers. Please do send this information to anyone you know who might be interested.


Intro to Women’s Cycling and Racing Teams
Sundays: September 21 and 28, October 5 and 12
Seattle

Join us for the third annual Intro to Women’s Cycling and Racing Teams! In late September and early October, a combination of women from many of the local racing teams will host Sunday rides similar to the Saturday Meet the Teams rides, with the exception that this ride is for women only, and each ride is hosted by women representatives from multiple teams. If you are new to the racing community, looking to strengthen your riding skills, thinking about racing in 2009, or looking to speak with other women about local racing teams or riding opportunities, this ride’s for you!

Here are further details:

Dates: September 21, September 28, October 5, and October 12

Time: 9:00 AM at Pert’s in Leschi. Prepare to be on the road by 9:10 AM. Please don't be late!

Route: south end of Lake Washington

Skills: pacelines, riding a straight line, and racing tactics/techniques. Depending on turnout, we'll break into groups no greater than 10 to keep it manageable and go over the basics, making sure to keep things fun and not stressful.

Bakery stop: Pert’s either before or after for scones & coffee.

Please join us, pass this message along to any who might be interested, and feel free to contact Gina Kavesh with any questions: gina [at] rentonww [dot] com

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Idyll

Sunday, 24 August

idyll n - a work in poetry or prose that deals with pastoral scenes or suggests a mood of peace and contentment

This piece of bloggery deals with an experience that brought a mood of great peace and contentment. Yesterday we did one of my absolutely very favorite rides, and it was absolutely perfect. I dropped Old As Dirt and his trusty Marcroft steed in Marblemount, drove to Newhalem, and set out on my bike for Mazama. If you've never ridden over the North Cascades Highway, I can only wonder why you are afraid of heaven on earth.

The rain we had in western Washington last week had scrubbed the smog away, and the skies were blue blue blue. Diablo Lake where you cross the bridge at Colonial Creek was a sheet of blue-green glass, broken only by a few kayakers. The view to the north over Ross Lake was crystal clear. After the road drops down to Panther Creek, the unrelenting climbing starts--but yesterday there was enough tailwind that I did the first part of this in my big chain ring. I finally passed another cyclist a few miles before Rainy Pass, and then another as I started the final climb up to Washington Pass. The peaks were breathtaking. The descent down the east side of the pass usually makes me...uncomfortable, but yesterday there was a solid (not swirling) headwind that kept the speed from getting out of hand, and I just cruised those seven miles down to Lone Fir. I rolled into the Mazama store thinking (nay, knowing) it was the most perfect ride I had done all year. Whatever happened on the way back--headwind, bad traffic, rain--I would just tell myself that the first part of the ride required that I pay a price.


But where the heck was OAD? How could have not caught up with me in 60 miles? Was the price of a perfect ride for me some misfortune for him? Fortunately, I was too busy enjoying my blueberry zucchini muffin to let panic encroach too far into my blissful state--and after about 10 minutes he rolled in. It was 82 in Mazama, a perfect temperature for an afternoon nap. But we had to retrace our tiretracks back to Newhalem and couldn't linger.



He gave me a 6-minute handicap, and I rolled out to enjoy the stiff tailwind that blows from Winthrop to Mazama and into the mountains. The only problem with a tailwind up a climb when it's 82 degrees is that you get pretty toasty, and there's no water along this route. But I kept picking off the landmarks that break up this part of the ride. A couple of times I nearly rolled into the ditch when I tried to take pictures of peaks to the left (I'm right handed, and somehow the crossover just doesn't work). I searched for the mate of the armwarmer I found after the Cutthroat Lake trailhead two weeks ago, but no luck. And before I knew it, I was at the base of that hairpin switchback just before the top of the pass. I stopped in the switchback and looked back down the several miles of road that cling to the side of the canyon, but I couldn't spot OAD (only the guy I'd just passed who sounded less than convinced when I assured him we were almost there). The last half mile between the hairpin and summit is cliff-dweller terrain, but I stopped and peered over the edge, and then behind me, and there he was in hot pursuit. He caught me just after the top of the pass. It was perfect timing because then we rode together all the way back to Newhalem.

The biggest bummer of the entire ride was a dead deer in the road going up to WA Pass. There were a lot of miscellaneous car parts along with her. The worst traffic was two pickup trucks that didn't give me a whole lot of space. For a 121-mile ride, that's miraculous. The weather could not have been better: temps in the 70s for the whole ride, thin cloud cover a few times, but no sign of the heavy weather moving in from the Pacific. Shorts, jersey, and armwarmers were the only clothes I had. The hurricane-force winds that often pick up in the afternoon above Ross Lake were just a moderate breeze. You gamble when you ride in the mountains (as we did two weeks ago, when it poured and we chose to bail and drive east to sunnier climes), and yesterday we were lucky winners. I thought I had the most perfect day ever on a bike, and my husband wondered how many other cyclists have wives who think a perfect day involves 8 hours on a bike. :)


Friday, August 22, 2008

PruParty

Friday, 22 August

One of my tandem partners is leaving town. :( Like so many bike racers, PruDog thinks he's found greener grass and is moving on. Whether you agree or disagree with his politics and economics and race tactics, you have to admit that he has done way more than most to support bike racing in these parts. From Ohop to optics, he truly helped "grow" the sport. Even if you don't know it yet, you're going to miss him. Come say goodbye and good luck to the PruFamily:

Thursday
September 18
7:00 p.m. - ??
Pied Piper Ale House
2404 NE 65th St
Seattle WA 98115
(206) 729-0603
"kid friendly"

Bring your roasts, toasts, and PruStories.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Planning for 2009?

Thursday, 21 August

OK, all you folks all eager about your new teams for 2009, have you seen the super ultra tentative Oregon calendar highlights yet? New road races, new stage races...should be good.

Banana Belt Series 3/1/09 3/15/09
Scio Road Race 4/4/09 4/4/09
King’s Valley RR 4/11/09 4/11/09
Cherry Festival Classic Stage Race 4/17/09 4/19/09
Willamette Stage Race 4/23/09 4/26/09
Deschutes River Valley TT Festival 4/24/09 4/26/09
Twickenham RR 5/2/09 5/2/09
Mount Hood Cycling Classic 5/13/09 5/17/09
Cirque du Cycling Criterium 6/13/09 6/13/09
Elkhorn Classic Stage Race 6/19/09 6/21/09
Oregon Pro Cycling Classic (NRC) 6/22/09 6/28/09
Salem Fairview Circuit Race 6/28/09 6/28/09
High Desert Omnium 7/11/09 7/12/09
Cascade Cycling Classic 7/22/09 7/26/09
OBRA TT 8/2/09 8/2/09
OBRA Crit 8/9/09 8/9/09
Swan Island Criterium 8/15/09 8/15/09

http://www.veloreview.com/obra3/2008/08/alright-heres-a-bone.html/

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Team BARR winners

Wednesday, 20 August

The webmaster is apparently away from the web, so I'll scoop the WSBA site and bring you these latest results from the WSBA's 2008 BARR competition. Team BARR prizes only go to the cat 1-2 men's and women's categories, but here are the team BARR winners for all categories:

Men 1-2 Hagens Berman
Women 1-2 Team Group Health
Men 3 Garage Racing
Women 3 Team Group Health
Men 4 Old Town Bicycle
Women 4 Valley Athletic
Masters Men A BRI
Masters Women A Wines of Washington
Masters Men B Avanti
Masters Women B Fanatik
Masters Men C Cucina Fresca
Masters Men D Fanatik

There were some really close competitions!

You can challenge my spreadsheet skills as soon as the full details are posted:
http://www.wsbaracing.com/home.asp

Monday, August 18, 2008

Northshore

Monday, 18 August

For all of you who missed Northshore yesterday (and there were a lot of you who did), you missed out on a great race! It is an awesome course, and WA ought to use it for a state road race championship some year. Good climbing, a couple of flat stretches, and a super fast downhill "bend" that I must say was absolutely screaming fun in the lead car. :) I suppose the stairstep climbing would take its toll (I did the team thing and drove instead of racing) and cause painful suffering, but there was some good tactical racing yesterday along with just plain ol' attrition. The course also features some really picturesque barns and some trouses (a term I learned at the Mt. Hood stage race for trailers that have been house-ified). Oh yeah, and yesterday there was a giant clap of thunder at the end of the masters/women's race but only a few rain drops all day long. Kudos to Phil & Co. for putting on this race again after the snow day at the end of March!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gettin' ready to roll--slowly

Thursday, 14 August

My rain bike came home last night from summer rehab. I wish it was as easy to get me prepped for riding in the dark and the rain again! The notes from the mechanic said I had been riding the bike too much, simply wearing out key parts. The little pulley wheels in the rear derailleur were so broken down he wasn't sure what exactly had been holding them in place or how I had been able to shift. While it was good to see Dean, having the bike on display was a harbinger I could do without. I'm definitely not letting anybody put 28mm tires on it this year!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My summer vacation

Tuesday, 12 August

Last weekend was my summer vacation. I think it was the only weekend all summer to involve travel and not involve participation in a bike race. In 2007 we missed out on our usually annual trip to Winthrop, and we wanted to make sure we got one in this year. So our plan was to drive to Newhalem, ride to Winthrop, hang out, spend the night, and ride back to the car. Because of the quantity and quality of the scenery and the great road, it is probably my very favorite ride.

The plan didn't look quite as appealing on Saturday morning as we drove through the rain on our way north on I-5. It stopped raining, mostly, in Marblemount, and the road was dry in Newhalem, so we chamoised up. But by then the rain had crept east, and it was raining before we got underway. Oh well, "it's a warm rain" and all that. Three miles up the hill, we decided that it wasn't so warm (it was maybe 60 degrees), that it was going to get wetter and colder before it got warmer, and that there was a Plan B. So we turned around, got absolutely soaked on the descent, piled into the car, and drove to Winthrop. There were lots of other cyclists on the road who apparently thought riding in the rain was a whole lot funner than we did.




Things cleared up a bit by Rainy Pass. That's a reflection of my sock, which I was trying to dry on the defroster on the dashboard. I forgot that I also needed to dry the shoes to do much good. :(









And it was 85 degrees and sunny in Winthrop--who could ask for anything better? After too much lunch, we had to seriously think about riding again.




Instead of doing hill repeats up the east side of Washington Pass, we decided to head south to Twisp and then east over Loup Loup Pass, which was new terrain for us. It is a nice road, not much traffic under normal circumstances, and a long steady climb (but no panoramic vistas).






The descent down the east side of the pass into Okanogan was so long and progressively windier (as in more wind, not more winding) that I was having flashbacks to 2007 Elkhorn stage 1. We finally found the town of Okanogan (a mini-Wenatchee....need I say more?), stocked up on water and sugar (coke, ice cream), and braced ourselves for miles of uphill headwind on the return.


We were surprised to see how much a wildfire on the other side of the river had grown in the short time we'd been in town, and then were even more surprised to see a new one had flared up just over the ridge south of the highway. Three fire trucks passed us, and we could hear them lumbering up the dirt roads in the brush. A reconnaissance plane flew over, and pretty soon a helicopter was making fly-bys. I felt a wave of compassion for a family standing in their front yard, watching the activity for a fire less than half a mile away that could potentially threaten their home.

All in all, though, the climb and the wind were not hateful. Again, it's a long climb up to the top of the pass, which summits in pine forest just over 4000 feet. The descent back into Twisp was worth the price of all the toil and suffering: I rode 7 miles without pedaling, and my average speed over the first 6 of those miles was 30 mph. I think I touched the brakes once. And then we meandered up the back road to Winthrop, scoping out some bizarre architecture, including a house that looked straight out of Santa Fe, a giant geodesic dome with green tarps in lieu of siding that looked like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and some more standard million-dollar Methow homes. The ride turned out to be 88 miles with probably 6500 feet of climbing, so it was a good day's effort.

On Sunday morning, we drove to Mazama, rode to the top of Washington Pass, checked out the rain squall just west of the pass, and rode back down to Mazama. Along the road, I found the WSBA frame number that belongs to a cat 3 from Duvall; maybe the WSBA should include the state's fine for littering in the replacement fee for frame numbers. It's certainly not good for our image to be dumping bits of plastic along scenic highways, especially not ones that other cyclists care for under the Adopt-a-Highway program.

Also in this stretch of riding came one of the scarier manmade experiences I've had on a bike recently. There were a couple of hunter-types sitting on the embankment above one side of the road, taking potshots at something across the narrow little canyon. That meant they were firing their guns directly over my head as I pedaled past on the road. And these were no BB guns. The concussion when they fired was enough to make me involuntarily blink. At least they were gone when we came back down!

After a long coffee pause in the Mazama store and a surprise visit with half the Bowmer family, we had to pack up the bikes and endure the long drive back to Seattle, in plenty o' time to watch the Kirkland crit!