Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bad decisions lead to great stories

"That's all I have to say about that."  -F. Gump
The riding was great. -Davo

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Gravel Dreaming

It is prime time in the Methow Valley.  There is a healthy blanket of snow and temperatures are favorable for all kinds of winter fun.  We ski, fat bike, snowshoe and marvel at the sharp contrasts of the deep blue sky, the bright white mountains and the dark trees.  

The season is unhurried as the outdoor activities are strenuous and after an hour or two you are physically done for the day.  This leaves more time for indoor activities. 
I find myself studying paper maps and Google earth and Google maps and using an elevation app as I contemplate gravel routes for spring and summer.  In addition, because they close pass on the most direct route we approach the valley from the bottom instead of the top.  After studying route options, I am crane my neck looking up canyons at possible routes as we drive to and from our cabin.

This is a quiet time and even though my training totals are meager, grand plans are being made.  Horst and Lutz we will be ready for you! 
Spring is a magical time and it is just around the corner. The snow will slowly yield to the longer, warmer days.  Typically I “scout” the routes as the snow recedes and ride up gravel roads until the snow turns me back.  The lower elevations explode with wild flowers and everything is alive.
Spring will come, but for now we plan and enjoy the gifts we have.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Thomas said you can never go home again.  Mick said that you don’t always get what you want.  Evo has said I should know better. With a gap in the schedule Hottie and I thought we could head to the land of my youth and enjoy some sunshine, relax and get in some warm bike rides.
I shall spare you the details but let’s just say we were zero for three.
 Hottie and I rode around Solvang and the rolling hills were rolling right along.   
Our route started on the double century course before diverting for some climbing and a shortcut back to Solvang.

 A smattering of steepness kept us honest.  Note the summer apparel........
Putting the Bi in Bison
 The rollers did lead us back to Solvang and a nice sandwich.

After letting the next storm pass and visiting the happiest goddamn place on earth I finally had what I hoped would be my day in the sun. 
Sure enough the sun was out. It was in the forties (just like at home) but the sun was out.
 This is my right knee.  I had forgotten what it looked like......
The wind along PCH was predictably chilly.  Sticking with my alternative facts I had skipped the knee warmers and was pretending it was hot.
 Son of a beach
I was following a Garmin route I had created after communicating with a So Cal expert and eavesdropping on the Hagens Berman training camp routes. At Yerba Buena I took a sharp left and the climbing was underway.
I grew up in So Cal and learned to ride a bike there.  I went from a Sting Ray to a Motobecane Nomad ten speed that I used exclusively for riding to school.  
In college I had a SR road bike I used as a commuter.  I still have no idea what ever happened to that bike.  
Despite twenty years of bike riding in So Cal I never had a pair of bike shorts or rode in the Malibu hills. This was my chance to see my worlds collide. 
As I gained elevation I kept looking up and ahead and seeing road cuts in the mountains and hoping my route would go way up there.  The pavement was really pretty bad but I was climbing slowly so the bumps didn’t bother me too much. 
 Does this shadow make me look fat?
When I stopped to take a photo I saw a plane taking off from Pt. Mugu. I watched it until I flew behind this rock peak.
I settled into a high zone three pace and just enjoyed the scenery.

After climbing I enjoyed some time at elevation and the route was almost playful.
At one point the route turned down a private drive that led to a school for young criminals.  I say young criminals because I’m not sure how to spell juvenile delinquents. I don’t mean to imply that it is a school that teaches kid how to be criminals but rather a school that is attended only by youth who are criminals and for some reason they don’t want them in regular schools.
At the end of the playfield there was an old, and I do mean old, road that climbed out and up.  At this point the hot sauce I had on my morning eggs was contemplating an escape from the same route that it had entered my body. This combined with the steepness of the route had me wondering if this would be a type two fun sort of day. 
Soon enough the road pointed down and I got ready to put my Swissstop blue pads to the test. In contrast to the climb there was a lot of water on the roads from the recent rains.  Enough water that any thoughts of a flying descent were dashed. 
 I could read the signs but I had little idea where I was.
Down we go!

Down toward Thousand Oaks and then through Hidden Valley. 
 These roads felt harder than I expected.  After looking at the STRAVA elevation profile I realized it was a series of slight uphills. 
Soon I was on the final descent into Camarillo.
The final few miles back to WW2 on PCH went quickly. 

In my mind this was what I had in mind for this trip:
This was what we got:
 Hottie got some good pictures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Love and Hate

Wake up and smell the rest of the country

During this past election cycle, I cringed as it alternated between comic and tragic. As the campaigns wore on I kept hearing about love and hate.  The folks who claimed the concept of love as their own to everyone’s great surprise, lost the election.

The rotating seat of condescension and alienation goes to Donald Trump this time. I sure didn't see that coming.

In the aftermath of that unexpected turn of events it became clear that the while the circumstances of the past eight years had treated some, including myself, well enough – others had grown even more disenfranchised.

CNN said that those of us “living in our coastal citadels had grown aloof to the plight of those in middle America.” Those without real property or weighty 401(k)s were struggling. The recovery from the great recession had been more fair to some than it had been to others.

Just like the abused daughter marries the first asshole that offers to rescue her from her plight, many in this country were looking for someone, anyone, that would do something different.

Donald Trump is the buffoon the media reports him to be. He was, however, an alternative to the status quo candidate.  For those desperate for something different he was the first to come along and only guy remaining that offered something different.

I am not going to speculate on the validity of that change or the likelihood that his recipe for change will, or will not, help those who voted for him.  When you’re freezing, and waiting for a bus, you get on the first warm bus even if it is being driven by a zombie.

My hope was that after all the talk of love that there might be an awakening to the plight of those so disaffected that they thought this clown was their best hope.  I hoped we might apply that mantra of love and compassion to those who needed it most.

Instead I see an avalanche of people effectively saying “Let them eat cake.”  I want more of what worked for me!  Screw you!  As if holding these beliefs in our heads wasn’t enough we take to the streets and even carry signs.  We want everyone to see us effectively telling those for whom the dream wasn’t working, “Don’t really care about you, I want it the way it was because that worked for ME!” 

I had hoped for some solidarity with those struggling financially but instead of showing love, we see the same people who claimed love as their tenet mocking and stereotyping those who voted differently as redneck, ignorant, racist, etc.  Instead of unifying our country we are increasing our divisions.

We speak of love and diversity yet we laugh and dismiss those who differ from us.  We claim to want tolerance and believe everyone should accept people like ourselves, yet we alienate those who don’t share our every belief.

I point to the studies where they told people of a political policy concept and people accepted or rejected the concept solely based on the party of the person they were told originated the idea.  It seems we don’t like or dislike something until we are told what to think. We have abandoned our ability to think for ourselves and have instead handed it over to our political party of choice. 

I can think of nothing more dangerous or divisive to us as individuals or as a nation. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

White Gravel

....looks like this:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Welcome to 2017

The men and women of 20/20 Fuel getting "Belgian" on the shores of Lake Washington
Clothing choices were "freeform"

First Aid was Jackets and FUEL Coffee
Long term recovery required a tub of Man-Soup

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Coffee and Lies # 207 Maintenance – The ultimate upgrade

This trick isn't in Mr. Zinn's book
On a recent wet ride I squeezed my brakes and was stunned at the lack of stopping power. I rightfully pride myself on my brake set up and this was not acceptable. 

I was on my commuting bike in the middle of a combination training ride and errand expedition. It was bombing rain and while I would expect a minor decrease in stopping power this was dramatic.  At the next stop light I looked at my rear brake.  It was a dated TRP product that had been relegated to my commuter when I upgraded the brakes on my CX racer some years previous.

My front brake was a better model, and while the performance was superior to the rear it was still below par.  I came to a long downhill and as I gained speed I kept a finger on the brake levers and felt uneasy. 

Over the remainder of the ride I contemplated upgrading my brakes.

After getting home I hosed off the brake track on my wheels and then wiped them down with a clean rag.  The amount of dark grey slime that came off was sobering. After showering I returned to the garage and checked the brake pads. 

The pads were worn and coated with the same grey slime.  I decided to replace the worn pads and after adjusting the brake cables I took the bike out for a two minute test ride. 
 All good.
The brakes performed perfectly. As noted earlier I pride myself on the performance of my brakes.  Being able to stop quickly allows you to go faster.  It isn’t that I’m after speed, I’m really after safety and control and speed us just a byproduct of control.

In hindsight a couple things came to mind.  First, I should be kicked for neglecting my brakes.  Second and more noteworthy is that while we all get excited about the marginal gains that come with the latest and greatest; maintenance makes an even bigger difference. 

Brand new but dirty Dura-Ace brakes won’t stop you as fast as clean ten year old 105 brakes. In our lazy heads it is easier to spend a few dollars than to put in the work of cleaning and maintaining the stuff we have.