Doing it all the hard way...

Friday, December 31, 2010

That is it for 2010

Highlights of 2010:

Hottie relaxing between races at the USGP in Portland.
Hottie got her life back. Her surgery in January was both horrific and wonderful. The road back was long and arduous. She worked hard and her recovery is at the extreme good end of the spectrum.

Zach found Julie. Well done for both of them.

Tim sporting the "recumbent"beard.
Tim is finding peace in independence. I expect he will soon figure that his life is his alone and that only he can choose what he brings to it.

RJ is one baby step away from a whole new world.

Live it. After debating, we took a vacation to Hawaii. I had airline miles and we got a deal on a condo through a friend; so we were able to travel fairly cheap. We researched and did our snorkeling on our own instead of paying for guided trips this saving even more money. While I do love my kids, this was a trip for just the two of us, and it was a blast.

We are social people. It was a joy to meet new friends and wonderful to share experiences with old ones.

Tux came to live with us.

I hit some goals. I wanted to average ten blog entries a month and here I am. I lost the ten pounds I have been chasing for years. I had focus in my training.

Bike Stuff:
I am learning about this training thing. I won’t change much for 2011, except for adding more core work. My four keys were recovery, strength, flexibility and intervals. I’m adding a fifth for 2011; CORE. All my races had one of two outcomes, either a sore back, or a top eight finish.

For those of you keeping track I had 3,903 miles, 266 workouts, totaling nearly 300 hours of effort. Sorry, I get a little compulsive about tracking stuff. I thought about going for a long ride today so I could hit 4,000 for the year. We decided to go and watch these guys instead...

No regrets !
Carbon wheels are impressive. A feller I know manufactures Nine G carbon wheels and had me test a set for Cyclocross. I thought I would break them, but they took all I could dish out. They dampen vibration, corner like a dream, kept mud from accumulating, and kept me going straight when it got ugly. They look so freakin’ fast, there is a significant bitchin factor as well.

Glasses all the time. This year I rode all my races with eye protection. When the rain came down and the sticky mud flew up they kept the mess out of my eyes. It is easier to see out of wet lenses than trying to race with mud in your eye.

Waterproof socks don’t work for Cyclocross. The water runs down your legs and into your socks. Your feet don’t care if the water enters your socks through the sides, or in from the top. It seems a better method is to just wear a second pair of socks so there isn’t much room for water to occupy.

Cycling caps are actually functional. Historically I had always worn ear bands and let the top of my noggin breathe. I picked up a team cap and I found them to be the hot ticket for keeping spray and rain out of my eyes and it also provided some needed warmth.

It is still just fun to ride a bike. After working toward goals in Cyclocross, it was pure pleasure to get back on the road with my mates. Hottie and I have also shared some rides of late, and that is a real treat.

I have high hopes for 2011. Let’s go.

Snowboarding 2010

I received an enticing email solicitation from Hank and decided to join him at Crystal Mountain. I have been pretty limited in my snowboarding recently and am determined to make a comeback this season. Hank is an absolute weather fiend and when he says it is the perfect opportunity, you had better believe him. The previous days had dumped plenty of new snow and the coming days promised sunshine and crowds. Wednesday offered cloudy skies, cold temperatures and perfect snow. We arrived early enough to get a primo parking spot in the free lot. Walking to the lodge served as our warm up. Ticketing was smooth and soon we were on a lift.

I am a tall camper and I have a long board. It features a Polynesian mask, which is consistent with the Bavarian theme of most ski lodges.

The face of snow ?
It was my first (and only) boarding trip of 2010, my first time to Crystal, as well as my first time with Hank. Hank took me straight to the steeps and the virgin snow. We got off one lift and took another to the top of the mountain. We proceeded to hit every diamond and double diamond run Hank could find; and he found them all. Temps were cold and there was some wind on the ridge. We traversed to find clean lines and proceeded to carve it up.

Despite some glimpses of blue, the clouds never gave up and by about 12:30 it was snowing lightly. We caught some lunch and returned to the slopes only to face white out conditions..

Time to get your chill on...

I found Crystal to be a wonderful mountain, and by staying on the upper slopes we avoided most of the crowds and never had to wait long in lift lines. The snow was about as perfect as you could wish for, and by the time we left most every patch of new snow had seen skiers and boarders. Stevens Pass is my usual haunt and I would say the mix of skiers to boarders there is two skiers to every three boarders. At Crystal it looked to be about three skiers to every one boarder. We knuckle draggers were clearly the minority.

As the witching hour approached, my legs were getting wobbly and I had reached my limit of yard sale head over tea kettle experiences. Hank deserves accolades for showing patience as I kept crashing and getting up, or he deserves punishment for trying to kill me on the steep cliffs and bowls of the mountain.

The war wagon cloaked in white at the end of a long day..

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The trip to Nationals another retro post

The trip down to Bend for Nats included every kind of weather you can imagine. We had rain off and on all through Washington. We zipped through Portland and when we turned off to head toward the cascades the sky turned dark once more. We passed through forests that were so dark I wondered if they had ever seen the sun. The greens were so dark, the color seemed a variant of brown. Rust and moss coated everything. What side of a tree does moss grow on? In the Northwest; the answer is, "the outside." In the spring, this area will have greens so bright they border on neon; but for now, the feel is that of a rotting corpse waiting to be buried by snow.

As we climbed we spotted patches of snow and then near the crest, it was snowing on us. We descended to the high desert and the sun pierced the clouds and we fumbled for our sunglasses.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Festivus Let Down

Like a drunken sailor who has had several too many, our Festivus pole lists to the side, exhausted from the holiday merriment.

The fat man made it to the Evo household. We had family and friends and fiends over.

Though we tried to put on a good party, it wasn't enough to keep everyone's attention.

The Beast found something in her stocking. I like this photo because if you look closely, you will see Tux lurking in the background waiting for a food morsel to fall to the floor..

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Portland 2010 Retro post

Not Portland, but still Evo
Portland is always a blast. Portland has all of the hip that Seattle thinks it has, but Portland isn’t insecurely checking itself in the mirror like Seattle does. Hottie had some business in downtown Portland so we arrived late Friday. Just as I was thinking, “I could live in Portland,” I realized why the bike scene is so alive in P-town. The automobile traffic is horrific. Freeways were parking lots and downtown was crawling. I recalled the freedom of my bike commute days and the smug joy of sailing past stuck drivers. I’m hoping for a reprise of that in my life.

The big reason for our journey was Cyclocross and the USGP. It was the season finale for many on my team. I also got to meet blogging legend bikelovejones, who is as cool and sincere as one could imagine. I cheered her on in her race, and she cheered me in mine. We share the wonderment of late blooming masters racing in this bizarre sport of Cyclocross. Bikelovejones also mixes it up in short track mountain bike racing, which I shall admire from afar.

This year the Cyclocross season was backwards. The early season venues, chosen for their fragile susceptibility to wet weather, are traditionally dry races. In 2010, they were rainfests. We literally destroyed Beverly Park. The rains came early and they came with a vengeance. The late season races were cold, and only slightly wet. This made the season seem unusually long.

In keeping with the backwards year of 2010, the Portland race was DRY. The drive down to Portland was sunny. What the heck? There was a moment when I thought the trend of reversals might result in a high finish for me, but it was not to be.

My race started off poorly as something was caught somewhere in my drive train and I had horrible skipping as soon as I upshifted off the starting line. I spent the starting straight soft pedaling trying to figure out what was wrong trying not to lose too many places. The good news was whatever was causing the problem disappeared and I could apply power again; the bad news was I was in last place as we hit the mud. I worked up valiantly where I could. The course was a mix of everything. I kept it upright and had a fun, albeit non-stellar, race.

We had heard that because this wasn’t a Cross Crusade race, that Portland had withheld some of its Portlandness from the event. The crowds weren’t as big or loud as I’ve seen at PIR for past events (I’m thinking of the 2009 SSCXWC). It was still a fun time, and we’re glad we went.

We stuck around and Hottie shot the rest of the days races, including the pros. The women’s race was noteworthy in that there were such huge gaps between the first four riders that any one of them could have stopped and had a beer and resumed riding and not lost a place.

After making it home and beginning the clean up, I realized my racing kit was the cleanest it had been (before washing) all year. Who would have thought?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I will catch up soon..... I promise

Is this YOUR hat ?
In an effort not to get further behind, here is a post. We’re back. We are warm. We decorated the house so we’re no longer the neighborhood Scrooges. Tux welcomed us back and we have shared some fun times.

My mum had a surgery that resulted in her staying here past her usual return to California date of mid October. She hadn't planned this when she came up so she wasn't prepared for the Holiday season. I priced Festivus poles and we decided to surprise her with a tree. My oldest and his sweet wife joined Hottie, Tux and I as we descended on her place like a tornado.

We brought a tree, decorations, cocoa and music. She was so excited she later confided she couldn't go bed until almost midnight.

Tux getting some lovin'
With Cyclocross over, the Sunday morning rides have resumed. Despite the recent rain, I set the alarm and drove down in the pre-dawn darkness. Hank rolled up to greet me and when we spotted John’s lights weaving up the road, we had a quorum.

To the south I could see the end of the clouds. We had wet roads and dry skies. Fenders and lights were helpful.

It was fun to be riding road bikes again. We were kind to each other and respected the off-season. Yet we got rolling and it felt so good to be in a small paceline going 22 miles and hour on the rollers of Mercer Island.

Post ride we were joined by El jefe, Tim and Tom at the coffee shop. It was good to share a few minutes with these good men. It seems we are all recovering from an aliment or injury. No doubt we sounded like a bunch of old farts talking about our problems.

The afternoon was low key and Hottie captured some images of Tux that I have to share. I will be posting about our trip to Portland and more on Nationals.

Time for a long winters nap..

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2010 NATs day 3 (reported on day four)

Hard to believe there have been three days of 2020 Fuel riders pinning on numbers and letting it fly. Last evening it started to rain hard. As we went to bed we couldn’t help but wonder if Friday would be wet or frozen; would it rain or snow? Our speculation could not affect the outcome. We slept anyway.

The short days and cold temperatures make it hard to get out of bed. Eating our breakfast we watched heavy wet flakes fall and cover the ground. We dropped the photographer off and Brad and I made our way to the time trial course. Light rain greeted us.

The course was short with enough up and down to create some time gaps. We started out of a TT hut with a drop ramp and everything. After a hundred yard sprint out, another hundred yards back, then a final out followed by a series of tight turns with sand and/or ice if you went wide. Then you take a long descent where you forced yourself to lay off the brakes because every second counts. A loose turn and a long false flat then a wide turn and you approach the first real climb of the day. You have to focus to keep in the narrow path, as ice and snow on either side result in a significant penalty if you veer off the (literal word selection coming) beaten path. After you reach the top of the hill you drop down on an icy, rutted, bumpy section of road. Then a long steep run up that was wide and icy. My hobnails gripped well and I kept looking for the top. Another steep descent on a rutted icy trail that pours out into a loose right hander and the penultimate climb of the day. Knowing time was of the essence you poured it on and after you crest the hill you have the final downhill, which was fast and if you managed to avoid the ruts all was good. You know there is a final climb coming and you are in the drops trying to keep your eyes from crossing and then you see two orange barriers. If they weren’t orange you might have missed them as your vision is getting blurry. The final climb was steep and then a long hundred yards to the finish line. If you don’t think a hundred yards can feel long, you didn’t ride hard enough. I finished 36th and Brad finished 37th. That could be the highlight of my racing week..

Henry and Aidan raced this morning and did us proud. Henry had a battle with a hay bale and the way Henry tells it, it was a draw. Henry fought back and finished strong.

Local legend Logan Owen just destroyed the field and added another National Championship jersey to his closet.

The good weather (I’m grading on a scale) held again and the umbrella never left the car. Temps in the low to mid forties and cloudy skies were just fine compared to last year. Henry and his mum celebrated his stellar performance by going skiing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nationals 2010 day two

Busy days here in Bend. After I slept like a piece of furniture, it was time for Hottie and I to get moving. After brewing some coffee and eating our oats we were off to the races, literally.

After parking the first racer we saw was Brian Volkert who was battling it out in the 60-64 race. There were guys as old as 75 mixing it up. I was keen to check the course conditions as my race on Friday would be at this same early time so I heightened my powers of observation. Ice, mud, slippery grass, and rocks; this course has it all.

Tow of our juniors, Henry and Aidan had time trials today to determine their starting position for their age group championships on Friday. Henry is sitting 16th and is talking like a veteran. Catrena had TT’d yesterday and we saw her race this afternoon. She kept any trepidation she may have had well hidden. Her race was super competitive and she held her ground and brought honor to the brown kit.

Everyone's friend Cosmic Miller earned a top twenty finish in the masters 55-59 race. Some dude named Ned Overend took the rainbow jersey in that one.

Local hero Craig Ethridege flatted fifty meters past the pit on the first lap and called it done. Keri Studley had the best TT time of all the single speed women and she crashed out less than a minute into the race. She left holding her left shoulder. Bummer.

Brad arrived and was perhaps a bit awestruck by the spectacle that is Nationals. We are settled in and getting ready for our TT’s tomorrow.

Henry and Aidan race tomorrow. We haven’t hooked up with Keith yet. It stayed above 40 all day and we only had light sprinkles. It is raining now and we are hoping it does not freeze too hard.

Hottie is getting some great shots.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What is fast ?

Tux is so fast he doesn't touch the ground

Portland has always been slow and muddy. This weekend the USGP may not see rain. What would that be like ? Stay tuned. I cleaned the bike, put some glue where there were some gaps and I think I'm ready. I can't really get nervous as I usually get slaughtered in these races. Maybe my mojo will continue and I'll surprise some teammates. Maybe..