Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Tuesday, 25 March

About two months ago, I was asked to take on a freelance book project. Nothing makes me agree to a ridiculous amount of work like flattery, so I said sure. I don't know what waking moments I thought I was going to squeeze it into, what with a "real" job and training and WSBA stuff. But, hallelujah, I finished it (I think) today. All that's left is to send in my invoice. :) The downside has been that sitting at the dining room table in front of the laptop and piles of paper is not a good weight control program.

So, it's time to catch up on my blogging.

New career? A while back I got a real, first-class letter addressed to me by name from Hill Top Records in Hollywood. They want to consider my compositions for "arranging, recording and distribution." They want to be my "first big break in the music industry." A cynical coworker pointed out that they left out the page that says how much to make out my check for. I still have the letter, but all my recent compositions lately are very unmusical.

Google redux. The tech staff at work reminded me that Google's astronomical consumption of electricity comes from climate control for all its servers and not for, well, googling. So, since the AC runs whether I'm googling or not, I guess I don't have to be conservative in internet searches. Someone in the industry did raise the question, though, of why the heck they put server farms in the toasty climate of Hermiston, OR, where they probably have to have air conditioners to keep the air conditioners from overheating in the summer.

On the green theme. I can now compost at work! Lest you wonder what output I'm paid to generate, let me explain that it's just like food waste in your yard waste bin. It means the leftovers from my apples, oranges, and bananas don't go in the landfill. The only drawback is that I have to accumulate the compostables in my office and carry them over to the next building. Fortunately, it takes a lot to draw weird looks where I work, so my public display of decomposables so far hasn't generated much attention. Just have to remember to empty it before I go on vacation....

The calendar says it's spring. The fashion calendar (post-Easter) says I can now wear white, open-toed shoes. Too bad the weather doesn't cooperate. Those peas I planted last week aren't going to rot in the ground, they're going to freeze. My annual countdown to the reopening of the North Cascades Highway has begun (May 1 is the due date), but there's new snow up there, which can't help the snowblower crew.

The experimental cat 3 women's race series is off and running (note to self: must update those points!), to both praise and criticism. My month of training races is done; April holds two stage races and a "spring classic." Maybe with the book project behind me, I'll be able to get training miles in that aren't just laps on the Burke Gilman Trail.

Sunday, March 23, 2008



Yesterday was the Independence Valley Road Race. Erik and Dawn (and TGH) have done a great job of developing this race into a local spring classic. It's a beautiful course with the proverbial "something for everyone." After my race in the morning, I rode a lap backward in the afternoon, taking pictures along the way. Going that direction gives great views of Mt. Rainier in the long valley between the two climbs. And in case you don't think the course is hard enough, ask the promoter to reverse the race direction--those climbs are lots longer going the opposite way!

There were only a few flats yesterday and no crashes. More than 400 riders--including some from faraway places, such as Portland and Ohio and South Africa and Jamaica.

I wonder how many of those 400 were loony like me and went out for three hours in the rain this Easter morning. We sure didn't see anyone between here and Snohomish!

Afterthought: You know, that barn and my bike racing these days seem to have a lot in common.....

Monday, March 17, 2008

How Irish are you?

St. Patrick's Day

Irishness pervades my household down to the smallest everyday detail.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stop go stop go equals stop

Sunday, 16 March

IMHO there are a couple of things that need to be fixed at the Banana Belt race at Hagg Lake. One is the road. There are several places where the road is sinking with drops of 3-4 inches running across the road. There are other places where the asphalt is missing, resulting in significant potholes. If you hit any of these landmines wrong, you could wreck a wheel...or worse. It impacts the racing when a pack has to funnel through a safe zone that's the 12 inches closest to the centerline on a descent. And it's just not safe.

The other thing that needs to be fixed is the race scheduling. For the second time in two weeks, the cat 1-2-3 women's race was neutralized three times in a four-lap (44-mile) race. That, too, impacts racing (the last time today was in the last 3K of the race). Try as they might promise, officials never do justice to a break when a race gets neutralized. And all those people who have popped off the back have a great opportunity to catch back on when their race is suddenly (and I mean suddenly--we nearly crashed into the lead car today when it whipped in front of our pack at 8 mph when we were probably cruising along at 20+) reduced to a crawl. Either there are too many categories on the course at one time, or the promoter hasn't given any thought to start order...or both. Is it really rocket science to calculate that cat 1-2-3 women are likely to catch cat 4 women started 5 minutes ahead of them?

Maybe I'm just whining because I had a bad race. But after a hard day at Mason Lake on Saturday, my legs were not really that eager to have speeds yo-yo as we got neutralized and "released" while the cat 1-2 men passed us in bits and pieces. My rubber band snapped, and I had a nice 1.5-lap ride around the lake with a couple other women. I thought I was nearly last, but I was 24th out of 36 starters, so that's as good--or as bad--as yesterday's result of 6th out of 9? starters.

I see in the paper today that there's a new book out called The Art of Racing in the Rain. The title was a timely reminder of last year's weather at the Independence Valley road race, which is coming up next Saturday. The description of the book, however, seems to have nothing to do with what you and I might think.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Venus and Mars

Sunday, 9 March

Do you know anything about planetary alignment? Did you know that Venus and Mars were on a collision course yesterday, going circles around Mason Lake, WA? This, apparently, is what you get when you combine masters' and women's races around here. If the frustration levels hadn't been so alarmingly high on both planets, it would've been entertaining. It just showed that different people have different ideas of what makes bike racing; I think in this case it was decades of experience vs. only years of experience, not Mars vs. Venus.

To escape the course that always engenders (sorry, bad pun) bickering, I headed south to race today. There's also a 3-week series in Oregon going on, doing laps around another lake about an hour west of Portland. The cat 1-2 women there get to race with the....cat 3 women. And they're not scored separately, so they can/have to race together. It was good. The only flat road on the entire course is about 300 meters across the top of a dam. It was interesting to contrast the savvy and smarts of women in the two pelotons. Teamwork goes to WA; pure smarts and savvy go to OR (although no team had more than 2 riders in the OR race). Funniest comment in the race: "you're the one who rides 400 miles a week, right?" (I really will have to be careful what I say here.) And it was great to race with Alice again! On the last lap, going down The (Down)Hill on the course, she sat up, both hands off the bars, and pulled out her water bottle. And hers was still the steadiest wheel in the pack.

Then, to start training for stage races, my local tandem partner and I followed our individual road races in the morning with a tandem road race in the afternoon. On lap 1, the group was pretty slow on the climbs, and the guy with the controls on our bike was choosing huge gears, and I thought my legs would never get to the end of the race. But they loosened up. The next-to-the-last time up The (Up)Hill on the course, there were just two bikes, and we started worrying that the race was going to come down to a sprint (it's a downhill finish, so it would've been a scream). But the tactician on the bike (stokers don't do anything except pedal and whine) worked over the other pair, and we'd dropped them about 3 miles later. We TTed to the finish solo.

It was nice to finish all three races this weekend, and to finish them with a win!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Icebreaker TT

Thursday, 6 March

David Longdon has posted video of about the first 40 riders starting the Icebreaker TT last Sunday. If you want to check your position, or assess your relative speed off the line, or laugh at someone, or just listen to the sound of all those disk wheels going by, you'll find the link here:


No, don't worry, he cut out the 25-second dead time between riders.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mason Lake 1

Saturday, 1 March

Nice day at Mason Lake. 44 cat 4 women, 17 cat 3 women, 12 cat 1-2 women. Plus one cat 1 who raced with cat 1-2 men. 74 women out of a total 343 riders = 22% of all racers. Nice.

I really have just one burning question from race day, though: Why does the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge have porta-potties? Can I park on the shoulder and jump over the jersey barrier to make a "rest stop"? They seem to be semi-permanent because they are lashed down. Are they for pedestrians who can't walk that far without a nature call? How come transportation dollars didn't pay for these on the I-90 bridge? Is this what the tolls pay for? They don't even match the bridge paint color scheme.