Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Tuesday, 29 April

Just in case you thought I wasn't making hats any more, here are 3 of my latest. These are for a coworker whose baby shower is next week.


Tuesday, 29 April

Is it art? A prank? A new kind of nest for birds? squirrels? racoons? "It" is a traffic cone, but there's not much traffic up there except the aforementioned wildlife. The gardners must know it's there so perhaps they're conspirators. It will be all but invisible when the trees leaf out. It's at least 30 feet off the ground, so it'll take some work (or a fat racoon) to bring it down.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Random DRVTT thoughts

Sunday, 27 April
Happy Birthday, Jamie!

It was sunny and almost hot when we left Maupin this afternoon--and cool and rainy when we got home. Back to reality.

Here are some observations that struck me today:

A stoker is really shortchanged in an uphill TT. The captain gets to watch the drama of the race unfold before him. Mine occasionally mumbled things about guys making moves or passing people back. Me, well, the words CO.MOTION CYCLES on the boom tube are only exciting for so long (sorry, Dwan). Mostly I got to watch the snot dry on my arm warmers.

Today's course was 47 miles, slightly longer on the way out than the way back. Last year it was brutal. This year was not so painful, although we were slightly slower (a lot less wind). The first 4 miles are pretty steep, then gradual big ring climbing, then 4 steeper miles again before the turn. We FLEW down the first part of the hill on the way back. I distinctly heard the words "yee" and "haw" come from the guy in front of me. We did not pedal for at least 3 nonstop miles--we were waaaay spun out in the 56x12. We passed riders on single bikes like they were walking. For the 23.x miles of the return, we averaged 30 mph. And there are a couple of short climbs on the way back and really gnarly twisty, grab-the-brakes turns in the last few miles to the finish line. We were 6th overall in the final GC. It's kinda funny how many people don't like getting beat by a tandem in a hilly race. :)

We took only one water bottle (between us) on this trip. Observation when we got home: "hey, there's only one bottle to wash this time" (instead of the usual 8).

I am pretty self-satisfied that I set a goal for myself in this race and I managed to accomplish it. The goal was not to backseat drive, as in, "eeeeek, you're going too fast for this turn." I heeded Kenny's words in stage one and just watched the middle of my bars on the two descents. I totally missed the bends and was surprised to look up and see that we were already in the run-out at the bottom. Stage two wasn't a problem because it was all uphill, but we had to go back down those 8 miles. Fortunately, with a couple of tight exceptions at the bottom, it was wide open. I had been dreading the last 3 miles of stage 3 for a long time because it's steep and the corners are really tight. And you can't look at the bars when you need to know which way to lean on the bike. But I did not verbalize my panic and did not freeze up, even when we PASSED riders while diving into a couple of the hairpins.

There are spectacular views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Washington from Bakeoven Road. I highly recommend you race out of Maupin sometime just for the privilege of picking out all the peaks.

And my but they have big moths in Maupin. This one was about as big as my fist!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Saturday, 26 April

In the field of 60+ riders at this race, skill and experience levels sure run the gamut. We have some really fast racers--including a former world hour record holder--and some not-so-fast folks who are racing for the first time. We (I'm racing tandem here) were the 24th bike to start the 40K TT this morning, and the first one to cross the line. (We probably passed $75,000 in bikes on the course!) We ended up with the 5th fastest time for that stage. This afternoon's 8-mile hillclimb (1600') was a bit more challenging for us--and for others. It's kind of demoralizing when the guy who started 2 minutes behind you passes before you're 2 miles into the race. We slipped to 7th in GC but increased our gap over the other 2 tandems in the race.

Some mean comments about other riders. Many clearly do not know how to pin a number: right side? right side up? A lot of 'em started the 40K TT with 2 full water bottles. Now, I know hydration is important, but you're adding whole minutes to your time if you reach for your bottles enough times to finish 2. And if you paid all that money for the aero bars on your bike, why don't you use them? Don't ride the flat headwind parts of the course on your hoods. Don't come into the flat finish holding onto your brake hoods. Then, of course, sometimes you think things along these lines and get put into your place. I couldn't help but notice one guy rolling into the finish who looked like he REALLY needed a bike fit. And then I realized who it was: he's a recent RAAM winner, so obviously his position works for him.

Last year the view at the top of the hillclimb was stunning. You could see at least 7 major peaks in the Washington and Oregon Cascades. But today was hazy and you could barely even make out Mt. Hood. Still, the hills are beautiful shades of green and gold and pink. A local explained to me tonight that the pink tint comes from the red heads on the new grass. It adds only a very subtle shading overall.

Tomorrow is 47 miles out and back. The first 4 miles are steep and twisty, and then the road straightens out and the gradient moderates. But it's still pretty much 23.5 miles of climbing and 23.5 miles of descending into cross/headwinds. Last year it was savagely hard. It just wasn't any easier after the turnaround. And then there's those gnarly tight turns at the end. And it's racing all the way, so there's not so much looking around to admire the scenery. But on the way home, we may drive the newly substituted segment for the big road stage for the Mt. Hood CC. Locals say it'll be 40? 50? miles of very gradual headwind climbing before the last climb to the finish. Not nearly as epicly (epically?) nice as last year's route. But then riding in snow wouldn't be so nice either.


Saturday, 26 April

Two hours from the start of the Deschutes River Valley TT stage race. It's sunny and clear here in Maupin--and neither warm nor windy...yet. Stage One is a 40K TT with 1200' of climbing (and descending). The views of Mt. Hood and the Deschutes River should be glorious, except for those of us stoking, who won't see much at all!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Sunday, 20 April

Back at the beginning of March, when we had 3 consecutive Saturdays of dry weather at Mason Lake, I thought "we are going to pay for this." Little did I know. North Shore was cancelled at the end of the month due to snow. April started with a cold and rainy wet Willamette but then, oh, then it was tantalizingly glorious 80-degree sunshine at Kings Valley (or Volunteer Park, if you think in circles). But for this, the third weekend of the month, it was back to the snow routine. I kid you not. Significant snowfall in Seattle (OK, in the north parts) on 18 April. Still around on 19 April. Today, 20 April, I rode north to Snohomish and encountered roads with snow right up to the fog line on the shoulder. One woman (out to pick up her Sunday paper in her bedroom slippers and pajamas) told me "you shouldn't be out in this!"

The funny thing about riding in snow in April (folks in Bend know this well, I'm sure) is that the air is cold off the snow but the sun has warmed up a lot since the regular snow season in Seattle (November-January). You're inhaling cold air but your back is overheating from sunshine on 5 layers of clothes, and inside your rain jacket (which you need because you keep riding through snow/freezing rain showers) it's that proverbial sauna. I was lucky today to never get drenched, which made staying warm a whole lot easier. [Note to self: Remove condensation from viewfinder before using a camera phone that's been in a jersey pocket.]

While the bike rider copes with the weather challenges day by day, the farmer sees the longer-term progression. In the process of shuttling my pots planted with peas indoors (to avoid the snow) and back outdoors (to soak up the sun), I noticed that the rhubarb was far enough along to harvest. So, to culminate this snowy weekend, we ate the first produce from the garden for 2008: rhubarb crumble. I've pulled the last of a carrot crop in cold November weather, but picking rhubarb on a snowy April weekend was a new experience!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mr. Pop Lolly

Friday, 18 April

There is a sad, wonderful article in a recent issue of the Eugene Register-Guard about an amazing man in the Northwest cycling community. Norman Babcock is a special contributor to, and sustainer of, women's racing in Oregon.

I first remember Norman, in his capacity as an official, for his willingness to listen to my woes about some injustice or other in the (pro-1-2-3-4) women's field at the Tour of Willamette stage race. He would always hear me out, ask questions in his calm fashion, and promise to see what he could do. He would bring me back to equilibrium (from either the ranting or near-crying end of the spectrum) before I dared to go whine to the lady in the red Jeep Cherokee (she drives a Mini now).

When I started racing tandem, Norm greatly increased my sensitivity to the concerns of the non-riding partners of my male tandem captains and explained that some (many?) women think that riding tandem is just too close and personal for husbands to do with anyone but their wives.

One spring, I wanted to take a long lonely ride outside Eugene, past Wolf Creek to the Clay Creek/Vincent Creek/Smith River loop, but I worried about loonies in the woods and other hazards to women riding alone (those are utterly empty roads, no cell phones, nuthin' but trees). I sought Norman's advice on whether I would be "safe." I knew he would be cautious in his answer but respect anyone's desire to ride a bike in a wonderful space. (He worried more that my bike would fail than about my personal safety.)

At some prologue at Skinner Butte in Eugene, he told me about his experience leading a Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He said it was the most rewarding thing he had ever done in cycling, better than any race. He took a bunch of non-athletes and trained, encouraged, and cajoled them into riding an epic distance they never thought possible. He made them athletes. That was before the Poplollies, or maybe it was a dry run for the Poplollies.

I remember too that Eugene Celebration stage race where the Poplollies debuted. As the Register-Guard story says, he and Kori had pretty much made a women's cycling team from scratch. Without the Poplollies--without Norman--there probably would not have been a women's race. The Poplollies were indefatigable. They had so much enthusiasm they were (to borrow a Veloforma rider's recent term for someone else) "giddy." It is good for jaded, cynical veterans like me to have some giddiness at a race. It is good for racing to get new teams. And it is good for our cycling community to have been blessed with all of Norman's many contributions.

I thought that as I got older, the "fabric of my life" was supposed to become richer and fuller. Instead, it seems to be getting holes that used to be filled by the people who have made me what I am.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Sunday, 13 April

The Kings Valley Road Race is one of (arguably) two classic one-day races in Oregon. It's a beautiful course that truly has something for everyone, and it's an Oregon Cup race so there are usually big, competitive fields. This year was even better than that.

SEVENTY women (cats 1-4) started the race. Equally noteworthy was the fact that the weather was soooooo nice that I didn't even put on arm warmers. (And this race is about 20 miles from where we raced past snow less than a week ago!) It took a while to get over feeling naked with all that breeze on my bare legs and arms. But no complaints. And it was a chance to eradicate those tan lines from the bottom of knee warmers and the tops of booties, which look oh-so-strange in shorts or a skirt.

SEVENTY women in 4 categories have a rather wide range of abilities and skills. At least 10 women dropped their chains at various points on the course, there were probably 6-8 very close (wobble into each other, slide around, stay upright) calls, and eventually one crash. On one roller, I was riding on the left edge of the field, and the woman next to me pulled left to go around a rider who was drifting backward on the hill. When she realized she was going to ride right into me, she tried to push herself off me and shoved me 3/4 of the way across the left lane on the road. After repeated dire threats at the start about the fate of anyone who crossed anything yellow for any reason during the race, I waiting for the follow official to come alongside and tell me my race was over. But either he wasn't there or he saw what happened, and I continued racing (sans one bar end cap).

It was great to see 4 teams really working as teams in the race, although if you knew the riders involved, you could anticipate the strategies. The perfect weather held, it didn't get horrifically windy on the exposed sections, and my result wasn't disgraceful.

A couple of asides. Probably in the interest of hyping the tradition of this race (and its regal name), the promoters post a list of past winners of the men's 1-2 and women's 1-2-3 categories at registration (for personal reasons, I think this is cool). This year they went all out and rented enough port-a-potties to label each one with the name of a previous men's winner. Thankfully, previous women winners were spared this fate. :) And showing that habits die hard, lots of riders started with arm warmers or knee warmers just because it was hard to realize that it could be warm enough not to need them. My favorite accessory spotted in my race was a pair of pink socks (I think) being used as shoe covers; Laurel looked for all the world like she was out racing in pink bedroom slippers!

So, after you get up at 4:15 a.m., drive 4.5 hours, and race 58 miles, what do you do next? Since we were Portland-bound, we stopped at the outlet mall at Woodburn. (This is, like, a once-every-two-years experience for me.) One clerk actually told me, "This great weather is really good for shopping, don't you think?" Well, I think rain is better for shopping because there are too many other things to do when it's sunny, but I didn't argue. The parking lot was jammed, traffic coming the other direction was backed up on the freeway for a mile before the exit, and it was crazy. But I saved a lot of money. :) It says something that I spent more money on a pair of winter knickers for riding my bike than I did on a dress for an upcoming evening work function.

We enjoyed gracious accommodations with friends in Milwaukie on Saturday night and then headed east to the Beautiful Estacada Time Trial this morning. It really is beautiful. The road is along the Estacada river, which is down in a gorge. Except for a few divets in the pavement from rock falls, the pavement is great. It's not flat but the only hill is the last kilometer to the finish. I had not checked my previous time on this course in 2006 so had no idea what to expect. At my finish, I felt like I had ridden hard and had a good race, so what more could you hope for? Turns out I had beaten my previous time by 11 seconds--and had the fastest women's time of the day.

I only say this about a one or two races each year (next up: Elkhorn), but you really should do both of these races. Part of what makes Kings Valley great is that it's not perfectly suited to anyone. Yeah, as one Washington rider pointed out, the course itself is not as hard as TST. But the race is as hard as the riders make it, and there are a lot of riders that events like TST don't draw. Kings Valley is mid-spectrum: definitely not flat, but no epic climbs--just enough hills to split fields and pop riders off the back. And you should do Estacada because it's a beautiful course and it's so much fun to ride on a TT bike and there are frogs along the way to cheer you on.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dalai Lama's unpeace

Friday, 11 April

It's kind of ironic. The Dalai Lama is in Seattle for nearly a week to spread his message of peace and compassion. That's all good, and I'm glad he's here. But this morning he is speaking about 1/3 of a mile from my office, and unpeace prevails. There are at least 2 helicopters circling, and I'm guessing they're military/security because they don't seem to conform to any noise standard (except loud). The Secret Service is buzzing around in its black SUVs on footpaths without much thought for pedestrians. A coworker of mine (from Israel) was about to call the police because of the unsafe and erratic behavior of one of those SUVs. I guess there's peace, and then there's peace and quiet.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

PR fun

Wednesday, 9 April

Last night was the first installment of women's racing at Pacific Raceways for 2008. Last year it poured rain for the entire 30 minutes of the first night; this year it poured before we got there and the temp was all of 40 degrees, but it didn't rain on the race.

We had a great crowd of women, a lot of them really intent on racing hard. Too hard, in fact, for my legs that were still tired from Willamette. I was ready for the totally newbie beginner pace--but none of them showed up. After the women's race, I hopped in the men's races but kept getting popped in strange places. I made it up the hill in the 1-2-3 pack which was pretty odd considering the other groups dropped me on the flats. The fields were small last night; I guess not too many others like racing in cold and wet conditions either!

Given the disaster that befell my race bike on the way home from Willamette, I was racing last night on our "spare" bike, which has not been off my trainer for at least two years (it did get a new rear tire for the event). The gears were not what you'd call smooth, and the wider, deeper bars were just weird. The replacement part for the race bike is on its way, so I guess I will use Saturday's race to "road test" the unfortunate frame.

I had a hard time getting my mind around starting up the PR habit again; it's a huge time sink, and sitting in traffic is not my idea of a good time. But in spite of getting wet and cold and dropped, on the way home I had come to terms with the prospect of doing it at least every other week.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Willamette 4

Monday, 7 April

The last stage at Willamette was the (in)famous Wolf Creek course. No embellishments, just the short, simple loop. A short hard climb that shed a few folks out the back, a hairpin at the bottom of a quick descent that sent more than one rider off the road yesterday, then a 4-mile climb, 2-mile descent (more guys offroading), 5 miles of false flat (with a tailwind yesterday), 2 miles of descent, 10 miles of flat headwind, 1-mile climb, 1 mile flat, and a 1K climb to the finish at the King Estate Winery. It played out about like I expected; I came off the front group in the steeper section at the bottom of the long climb, reeled in a couple, solo to the second descent, hopped on the Miranda train for the headwind section but got popped after 4-5 miles, and then soloed to the finish. I was second on GC going into the stage and it was not too likely that I was going to take time out of the woman in first or that the women behind me would make up time on me. So I'm not sure if I was highly motivated to ride super hard in the last 10 miles.

We had a few really heavy showers in the race, but we also had sunshine. I think the masters field got hailed on. King Estate Winery has this great sort of glass gazebo space that they let us use for bike races; I've never appreciated it in the summer, but yesterday it was great to have somewhere indoors to wait before and after the race. In the summer, there's been wine tasting, ice cream, and other things to sample post-race. Yesterday there was coffee, and I think they did a booming business. They also sold out of all the cookies they had.

It was a good race. The promoters (hats off to Mike and Sal) didn't try to be too fancy or do too much in their first year, but their planning has already included ways to improve and expand for 2009. When the race guide first came out, I was disappointed by the short distances of the road races. But in each case, the distances were appropriate for the courses and the time of year. Friday's road stage was truly epic because of the weather. Sunday's road stage wasn't epic, but there was plenty of climbing for the climbers and plenty of flat for the nonclimbers who like to try to chase back on. Both road stages had indoor spaces for riders to use before and after the race. You should plan to go next year!!

Note to self: There's a reason for TWO mechanisms to secure the bike on the roof rack: one to hold down each end of the bike. Leave one undone, and the bike will try to fly at 65 mph. :( At first we thought the bike had flown off the car but an eternity (60 seconds?) later realized it was still attached but not where it ought to be. The fork had stayed tight in the skewer while the rear wheel had twisted the bike sideways. One shifter is totaled, there's some lovely chainring damage to the car, and the chainring itself doesn't look so good:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Willamette 3A & 3B

Saturday, 5 April

The only stage on today's calendar at the Willamette Stage Race was the crit. And the women's event was shortened from 60 minutes to 45. So what to do with the whole day before the 4:00 start time? Go for a training ride, of course.

The first 20 miles were absolutely perfect for spinning the legs out from yesterday's road race: flat with a pretty stiff tailwind. I struggled to stay in the small chain ring to make sure I was really spinning, especially with two guys in front of me who eventually shifted up onto their big rings. We went up and over Gap Road into Brownsville. The plan was to continue east and then south on Marcola Road and then back along the McKenzie River into Springfield, but from Brownsville you could see that the clouds were below the hilltops (and just above the snowline!) out Marcola way, so I turned back and retraced my steps and let the boys venture into the storm. Not the best decision. Once I got back over the "pass" on Gap Road, it was rain and headwind all the way back to town. The kind of headwind you get out in the flat, wide open Willamette Valley. It takes a long time to go 20 miles when you're only going 12 mph. My argument against going out Marcola Road was that I didn't want to get drenched again after yesterday, but I got pretty drenched out there on my own, trying not to tax my legs too much (who was I kidding?!). Turns out the boys had a nice sheltered ride on Marcola Ride, through the hills, and then a tailwind all the way along the river. Sigh. 55 miles, 3.5 hours. Another round of wet clothes strewn around the hotel room.
I did stop once in the middle of that 12 mph stretch. Funny that rain and wind don't show up at all in pictures. It was fun to watch the lambs today. The littlest ones were too skittish to stand still for a photo.
Stage 3B wasn't nearly so interesting, at least not from my perspective. From the start line of the crit, you went up a slight uphill drag for about 200-250 meters, did a 180 around a planter in the middle of the street, back down toward the finish but then took a right turn, up a short hill, left, down a short hill, left, one flat block, left, another flat block, and you were at the start/finish. The uphill/downhill/flat section was pretty bumpy pavement. Oh, and it rained most of the time. Give me a TT--any TT--any day instead of this.
The best part of the day--the sweetest part, at least--was our visit to the Sweet Life patisserie. It's really a good thing I don't live in Eugene, or I'd be there way too often. Raspberry Rhapsody was the indulgence of choice tonight--chocolate cake with chocolate filling and raspberry reduction and chocolate icing on top. Oh my! I don't think 55 miles was enough to, ahem, outweigh that decadence. :)
Tomorrow's stage starts at the King Estate Winery, out Siuslaw River Road, over Wolf Creek, and back along Territorial. The cat 1-2 men have to do two laps, but the rest of us are done in 42 miles. The cold wet weather is supposed to continue. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Willamette 2

Friday, 4/4

Classic Willamette conditions today. Biggest question: how many clothes can I wear? The forecast was for "showers" in the afternoon, but by 8:30 it was pouring. True, there were occasional sunbreaks, but mostly it just poured. It was 42 degrees when we passed through the last town on our way to the start. Like I said, classic Willamette.

We did a 43-mile road race today. Somewhere around 3500 feet of climbing, most of it in 2 climbs in the second half of the stage. It was windy, which is never fun for me. I hung on without too much agony on the first climb--up the "twisties" to the turn off to Marys Peak. Think of the curves on the east side of Mercer Island at about 8%. Pretty nice climbing. The descent off that climb was where we were supposed to hit 50 mph, but there was a stiff headwind and pouring rain and potholes, so nobody was flying too fast. And soon we were all freezing cold. We finally got to Alsea, where we turned off the "highway," and everyone was trying to figure out how much farther we had to go and when the finishing 10-mile climb was going to start. I must have blinked or had a senior moment, because one second I was riding along in the middle of the pack, watching the riders at the front, and the next second the race was totally blown apart and there were gaps everywhere. Oh yeah, and the road surface was really really rough and it was like trying to accelerate on those 28 mm tires on my rain bike (no, training on them didn't do me much good in the race). I finally got into a group with 2 other women. The "climb" had a lot of descending, and after one long false flat section where I motored along in my big ring, we were within 15 seconds of the front group. But the last 5K was steeper, and someone attacked, and poof, there we were on our own again. This climb reminded me of Dooley Mountain at Elkhorn, but with more trees and rain. From the finish at the top, it was an 8-mile ride back to the start; they promised it was all downhill, but it definitely was not. The injustice of the day was that the sun was shining and the roads were dry when I got back to my car. Microclimates of the coast range, I suppose.

I think this would be a beautiful ride on a nice day. That highway through the coast range is scenic, Alsea is supposed to be a gorgeous setting, and the last climb featured a stretch along a river (a la Smith River at ye olde Tour of Willamette) under overhanging trees. But I didn't see much today except wet pavement. I did notice the patch of snow along the road at the turn off for Marys Peak. I had hoped to convince myself to drive over there after the race and ride up the road to the gate or the snowline, but with snow on the highway at the very bottom of that climb, it seemed unlikely that I'd get more than a mile or two up the hill. So I bailed on the extracurricular riding today. Wimp. I did get to a yarn store though. :)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Willamette 1

Thursday, 3 April

Welcome to the Willamette Stage Race. Now really, for the first day of a stage race, you couldn't ask for much more. It was warm and sunny (no arm or knee warmers warm). It was a cute little TT prologue: 6.6K of butter smooth farm roads, a bunch of bends that were a whole lot different when you hit them hot at race speed instead of warm-up speed, pretty much dead flat, wind dying down. Dinner was Laughing Planet (peanut sauce in a burrito--mmmmmm goood), followed by the post-prandial stroll to the Sweet Life. Balmy evening. What could be better? The race results. :)

Tomorrow is a different story. A 43-mile stage that apparently is nothing but uphill (the finish is 8 miles of screaming descent from the start). Snow along the road at the top of the climbs. Chance of showers. Hoping for the best. There's a new powerhouse women's team in Portland and it will be interesting to see how these riders work together.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

See the light

Wednesday, 2 April

People, people, you just don't need to ride on the bike trail with all your headlights on when the sun is above the horizon and there's not a cloud in the sky. Think about it. That wasted light carries a price. Either you are sucking the life out of batteries that are imminently bound for a landfill where they will spew toxins into the soil and water table and eventually into the fish you eat. Or, thinking yourself to be quite "green," you are unnecessarily sapping the energy out of your rechargeable batteries so that you can rush home and plug them in for a refill, thereby enlarging your carbon footprint.

Most of the time you don't need a headlight on the trail for at least 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. In twilight conditions, you can see just fine--unless you shine a massively bright light source in one spot, and then your eyes cannot adjust to your surroundings outside the beam of light.

Be nice, be green, get a clue.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Best of times

No April Fools

What a (well-deserved) smile !!

Foolish bloggery

April Fools Day

No, no jokes here. Not much exciting content either. But there's sunshine outside my window!

March sure did go out like a lion this year. Well, maybe more like a raging snow leopard. I can't remember ever seeing 4 days of snow at the end of March in Seattle. Work on Thursday was distracted because of it, Saturday's race was cancelled because of it, Sunday's ride route was altered because of it. Yesterday it was just plain torrential rain on my ride, so my nice toasty winter commuting jacket was still soggy when I left this morning. I had to scramble to find something else to keep me warm in the 32-degree fog.

Racing has been, well, weird. I have almost nothing but rants about Independence Valley so I've been keeping those to myself. It's a great course, the race is well promoted, and the weather was beautiful, but some other issues.....well, grrrr is about all I can say. Coming up next is what passes for vacation in my household: a four-day stage race. And the indulgent kind, too, with just one stage per day. Sounds like O.A.D. is planning some extracurricular miles to make sure we come home tired and overtrained. I'm planning visits to a couple of yarn shops I don't see very often. Also in sight on the April calendar is a tandem stage race, which is just a bucket of painful fun and a chance to check out the final road stage for Mt. Hood, which is under about 20 feet of snow right now.

Hats have been the small variety. Seems the Garage guys are on a roll (oh, really bad pun there, sorry), getting their wives pregnant in the off season. One of my teammates too. I'll bet you didn't know that the color choices in baby yarn are pretty dull. If you don't know a baby's sex, well, there's yellow and lavendar and icky mint green. If you choose something besides baby yarn, it's probably not as soft. I picked up some shocking neon pink yarn in Dublin last November, so I think I'll break that out for the next baby girl. I did have a request for one that was neon green, and that was fun.

The backyard farm is slow on the upswing this year, but the rhubarb is well along, the raspberries are starting to leaf out, and the blueberries are showing signs of life. The parsley that flattened itself against the ground for warmth all winter is perking up. The peas I planted on St. Patrick's Day, though, haven't done much in all this sub-40 weather we've had.

Oh, Argentius, you ask about my musical compositions and my day job. If I told you the latter, you'd never send me an email message again, and my recording career ended back in my college days, which were eons ago. Bike racing pushed my music performance out of my schedule, and crashing on my face a couple of years ago didn't do much to help it either.

Okay, the sun is shining. It must be time to go....to work.