Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Seattle is actually an Indian word meaning “tease”

Grey sky, green leaves and wet pave'

This week has been an exercise in teases. First, our spring has quite suddenly turned to October with dark, wet skies and cold temperatures. The team ride last Sunday saw the reemergence of tights and jackets. The space heater in my office is working again. The Seattle sports scene is making us all feel like Cubs fans. How is it that our baseball, football and soccer teams all suffer from a lack of offense? Although they say defense wins games, seems to me the outcome is actually offensive points/runs. Our Mariners win a couple games and we suddenly envision the turnaround of the decade. Yet we know our hope will shortly be crushed. Unlike NASCAR nobody pays for number of laps (or in this case innings) led. I can't confirm it, but I believe the M's are leading the majors in games lost in the ninth inning. The Angels did it last night with a walk off.

Our weathermen and women smile as they predict doom and gloom with alarming inaccuracy; and yet we tolerate their poor performance with the same fatalistic attitude with which we cheer on our sports teams.

Hottie and I did enjoy a dinner on our deck last week; the fleeting spurts of sun are welcomed like an old friend. The problem is, in May, we expect to see more of this friend.

Recent travel to California and Arizona reinforced that while hot places are nice to visit, I do love it here in Washington.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Project SS2 Milk or Frosted Flakes ?

Spinner John says the correct answer to how many bikes should you own is always one more. My finite mind sees that answer eventually running into problems. I would willingly concede that one should always have a project in the works. Something to think about, something that puts your mind on the hunt.

To that end; I have had something brewing for several months. The beauty of not being in a rush is one can peruse eBay, Craig’s List, bike shop clearance bins and garage sales with peaceful frugality and selectivity. My current project has come together slowly and has turned out to be an amazing bargain as well.

I concluded the project bike for Zach a few weeks ago and the timing allowed that to simmer over the dark days of the Seattle winter while parts periodically appeared on the doorstep. I got him some Bontrager bars for $1.04 plus $5 for shipping. I got a similar deal on the stem. He came out of it with a wonderful bike. I meant to get some photos for the Blog and will do so before too long. It is a beauty.

All the while I had another project waiting in the wings. Although fewer parts were needed (a hint for you sharp readers) these too arrived in boxes on the porch now and again. Quality was less of a concern for this one and it is perhaps a bit reflective of my sense of humor. I will share this project shortly, stay tuned….

When you work on bikes you face the dilemma of how to dispose of the old parts. It would make my dear mum proud to see the plethora of odd parts sitting in boxes in my garage. When I start tallying up in my mind, “I do have those wheels and that old fork, I must have some brakes” Pretty soon I create a mental list of what would be needed to turn those parts into a project.

My sister in law brought over a bike I had built for her a few years ago. She wanted a couple upgrades and I was happy to do it. Now I have a crankset that is sitting in my spare parts bin. . It reminded me of the lineage of some of my bike parts. I have a set of handlebars that has been on four different bikes. Parts don’t like to stay in the bin. They want to be used again.

In my college days I was running eighty to a hundred miles a week and eating everything that didn’t move fast enough. We runners used to compare stories about eating. One of my teammates said he starts with a bowl of Frosted Flakes and adds milk and starts eating. When the bowl runs low on cereal but still has milk, he just adds more cereal. When the cereal gets a little dry, he pours on more milk. This process leans toward being a perpetual thing, and I am not sure what would ultimately prompt him to stop, but he had single digit body fat at the time. I can only assume that like me, his eating habits changed; or perhaps he looks like a house.

So to draw out this metaphor as far as possible: I don’t want to get fat, but I do enjoy those Frosted Flakes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Davis Double Century Equipment Observations

Don't call me "Spot" The name is TUX !

This is my fourth post on the DDC TOC trilogy. Kind of like how there were five films in the ROCKY trilogy. For those readers who kept close track, there was actually a sixth Rocky movie, and since Stalone is still alive, we need to leave that door open.

Giro Pneumo helmet
Perfect. I am sad they have discontinued the Pneumo. It vents my hot head like nothing else.

Jawbone glasses
Perfect. I used dark lenses and had no problem in the pre sunrise light, and they were great when the brutal sun was beating me down…

Descente Liner sleeveless shirt
Liner shirt in hot weather hard to tell as there was no control group. I was hot, and I was kept dry. Would no shirt have kept me cooler? I don’t know. This mesh Descente liner is a great garment and I didn’t bake. On a side note, I do know that I rode this weekend in a Patagonia Cold weather “CRAFT-like” liner and it felt cold and clammy. Once I got cold in the coffee shop I didn’t warm up until I was home and stripped it off. Descente 1, Patagonia 0. I have been buying Patagonia stuff since 1977 and this is the first Patagonia garment to let me down.

Giro Monaco gloves
The padding was fine, and the ventilation was good as well. I was disappointed the black color seemed to bleed unto the heel of may palms, and the edges of my jersey pockets were likewise showing black stains which I attribute to the gloves.

Pactimo “Hank” Bibs
My first impression when I rode these was that the chammy pad felt like I had four slices of swiss cheese under each cheek. The pad is thick, and I am a thin pad kind of guy. With that said- I had twelve hours of happiness in these. The pad seemed to disappear when I was pedaling. It is between these and my Giordana Red bibs as to which is my best. I guess since I wore these, they win the prize.

Sidi Shoes
My feet felt sore on the bottoms from the road vibration and I feel like I am spilling over the side (suponating) of my left one. So I can’t give these five stars. I will try and put a new insert or similar treatment and see how they do.

Aliante Saddle
I can recall on centuries standing up and reaching back and squeezing my saddle to see if there was any padding, or if my saddle had somehow turned to stone. The Aliante was perfect, no hot spots, no friction, and total happiness.

Brave Soldier chammy goo
This is different stuff. You put it on you and let it dry (sort of) and then bib up. I supplement this with some Belgium Butter and was so happy. The logic is this. When you ride, if your skin is moist it is more likely to chafe and have unhappiness. This is kind of like petroleum jelly, but it isn’t therefore it won’t kill your chammy. It helps the skin be…..tough. Not sure how to describe it. When I supplement with a traditional chammy cream like Assos, that stuff provides the lubrication and the Brave Soldier keep my skin happy.

Belgium Budder Chamois Cream
This is my new favorite. While Assos is perhaps the “thinnest” of the chammy creams and DZ nuts is thicker, the Belgium Butter is thicker still. Still slippery, but I think this stays in place better. Sorry for the extensive diatribe, but to us cyclists, this is important stuff.

Sustained Energy
I had some the other day just to see if it was my error, or if I wasn’t meant to use this stuff. It was my bad. The stuff works and if you keep it fresh it tastes like a cross between toothpaste foam and pancake batter. If it starts tasting like bread dough, spit it out.

This is the best stuff. They supported our team and it was appreciated in every way.

Little camera
I have a little Cannon Powershot that I keep in my jersey pocket. It is a great machine and I am glad I brought it along.

Hincapie low cut socks
I wore some low cut socks by Hincapie. They were fine. A little more padding on the bottom might have helped.

Monday, May 24, 2010

GUEST RACE REPORT Enumclaw Stage Race 2010

John at the Volunteer Park Crit

When I first began riding with the team, John was the one who set the pace on our weekly rides. John is a beast of a cyclist that can fly on the flats like a locomotive, yet he can climb with the featherweights while generating more watts than a hydro electric plant. John’s strength is legendary and sadly he has broken more bike components than I thought possible. Bent chain rings, sheared cantilever mounts, stray crank arms and shredded derailleurs are just some of the cycling carnage that has marked John’s cycling odyssey. John and I rode the Clydesdale Championship of the Universe together and I felt like a stud to finish one spot behind him.

This is John’s account of his third place finish in the recent Enumclaw stage race.

TT - Saturday Morning

The TT went very well. I felt strong going out and rode the 10 K in 14:15. This was enough to put me in first place by two seconds going into the crit at 4:35 PM. It rained hard before and then a bit during the race and the course was wet. Luckily, it was a U shaped course with only 3 right angle turns and several moderate curves where I was able to stay down on the Aero bars.

Critirium - Saturday Afternoon

Although it rained steadily in route back to Enumclaw, miraculously, the course was dry when I arrived. It was cool to be the first guy called out to the start line as the GC leader from the TT. This made me feel like Mike Hayes at CX races; which is a good feeling. This race was super technical with short sprint lines. It was flat, but it was laid out in a tricky figure 8 configuration. The course had 8 turns, one with a nasty grate near a good turn line and another with a metal plate in the inside turn line that made a horrible noise every time you rolled over it. I just wanted to survive the race and preserve my GC position, if possible. I stayed top 20 throughout. The front group stayed fast. Despite the 8 turns, our average speed was 25.8 mph for the 30 minute race. I played out front a couple of times, but did not over work . In the end, I felt like I was in a good position coming into the final sprint turn for a top 10 finish, but got caught inside and edged out a bit near the end of the turn. This edging sent me slightly into grass at the side of the road. Luckily, there was no curb and my Cyclocross skills paid off. I was able to pull myself back onto the pavement and I finished 21st in the big group. Since my time was measured with the big pack finish, I was able to preserve the GC 1st position into the road race.

Road Race - Sunday mid morning

The course was 45 miles made up of three fifteen mile laps with one big 3 kilometer climb about 8 miles in up to SR 410 and a screaming descent back down to town.

My race went off at 8:35. It was 42 degrees at start time and it rained steadily during the entirety of the race. This was real rain. The roads were drenched and it was impossible to keep glasses clear. Beyond the rain, rear wheel road spray from other riders was constant. It was impossible to stay out of road spray to keep any kind of a draft. Early on, the attacks began. Bunselmeyer and Holland individually and team attacks by Olympia Orthopedics and NW Chiropractic. I stayed in the top 20.

I led the charge to bring back several attacks early on, but backed down as the race progressed to share the job with other riders. I was determined to race smart and hoped to preserve my GC lead. Into the first climb, there was a slow crash just in front of me when someone clipped a wheel in front. I narrowly avoided it, but had to unclip and put a foot down. This didn't set me back much and I was able to pop back on with the group. By the end of the first climb, we had lost probably a quarter of the starters. The climb was long and what appeared to be relief at the top was actually a false flat before hitting SR 410 to head back down.

The descent was screaming fast. Despite the rain and limited visibility with good roads, descent speeds were 40 + mph. This is when I am happy to weigh 200 lbs, and when I reap what I have sown in the form of working my tail off to hang with the light climbing types. In the last 4 miles of the first lap, I led much of the way downhill and into the flat before making the left to begin lap two.

In the flat sections of lap two the attacks began again. Bunselmeyer and Holland tried repeatedly to get away. Finally, just as we reached the 3 K climb section, David Hecht of IJM and a Olympia Ortho guy amped it up and zipped up the hill. Before we knew it they were well ahead. The pack must have thought we could catch them in the false flat. Fortunately we did catch them and then we all zipped down the hill at good speed. During the descent and into the flats at the bottom, Holland tried again and again to get away, but we always pulled him back in.

Finally, into the third and final lap about 4 miles before the big climb, Holland and Hecht got away and out of sight around a turn. No one seemed to think that they could hold it as a group of two for the last 11 miles, but we were wrong. They bombed it up the hill while the group made a good, but not all out effort to get up hoping to save fuel in the tank. At one point, Holland and Hecht reappeared near the top, but once they hit the false flat at the top, they disappeared again, not to be seen again except for way off in the distance with the lead car. I, along with others still thought we would have a chance to pull them in when we last saw them, but it was not to be. They ultimately finished Hecht first, Holland second about a minute and a half ahead of my group.

The rest of us in the group worked hard through the false flat and flew down the hill back toward town. With 5 miles to go, the speed came up a notch. One rider tried to break. He got a gap, but was, as expected, pulled back in and spit out the back. Into town, there were a couple of right angle turns before hitting the last turn with slightly more than 200 meters to go. Alistair L. of IJM tried get out before the 200 meter mark, but was kept at bay. Into the last turn, in a group with the whole road open, the sprint took off. Riders were everywhere. My move was a little late at the jump. Feeling like I was gaining ground, I finished 10th in our finishing pack, so 12th in the race in light of Holland and Hecht's having kept themselves away and finishing ahead of us.

All in all, I was happy with the road race result. I kept the wheels on the road in horrible weather and survived the dreaded 3 K climb and false flat that I had heard so much about. For once, I raced pretty smart, using my head and legs instead of just my legs. In the end, I would have liked to have finished the road race a little further up, but was right there in the pack to the end and kept my time low enough to end up in third place in the GC. With this third place finish, I picked up a check to go with the one I received for winning the TT. I will try not to spend it all in one place unless it is at 2020 Cycles or Fuel Coffee.

Overall GC Result-----3rd Place
Road Race----12th Pack Finish @ 1.30
Critirium-----21st Pack Finish…s.t.
Time Trial----1st

Thanks to John for Sharing..

Friday, May 21, 2010

DDC TOC 3 of 3 Watching the Tour of California

We started our day by visiting the Arboretum in Davis.

Some of us looked closer than others...
I have been following cycling racing for many years now. The spectacle I beheld was beyond my expectations. Hottie, BTB, Tux and Evo piled into the war wagon and we drove to Auburn California to see the pros ride past.

We found our spot and settled in. The tree lined street had welcome shade. I put my KOM jersey on Tux in hopes of providing some entertainment for the riders. I didn’t think he would quickly become the belle of the ball, but he was a hit to say the least. We spoke to a local was volunteering. She said the TOC people had come to train them and based upon the number of intersections and number of driveways (something like twenty five and one hundred eighty-seven respectively), told them the number of volunteers required. The needed one per driveway and two uniformed people per intersection.

Tux can CLIMB !!
An hour before the riders were expected the street was secure, or so I thought. California Highway Patrol (CHP) motorcycles and cars started flying past making sure the road was clear. They were looking for anything that could be in the way. Next was a huge tow truck adorned with what I can only guess was structure to push any offending object (or vehicle) out of the way. Then came a series of maybe twenty official cars. After only a minute along came more CHPs and support cars. Then an official car with a loudspeaker that said riders were five minutes behind. The sound of two helicopters now filled the air. The stream of cars continued on the ground. When we saw a bunch of motorcycle photographers we knew the riders would be close behind. Then a breakaway of four riders came through with motorcycle escorts before and team cars after. After a couple more minutes we saw more photographers and official motorcycles ahead of the peloton. There’s Voight, there’s Boonan, there’s Cavendish, there’s Levi and Lance, that’s Chris Horner, there is McCartney. They’re gone. Team cars came behind like they were racing for position, then aid cars and official cars. A minivan labeled “the broom wagon.” Finally a Chevy Suburban labeled “end of caravan.”

Heeere they come !!
It was gone. Looking around everyone had a “now what” expression. The buildup had been tremendous and had taken over an hour. Then the let down was instant. The intensity had been amazing. Tux had been nervous with all of the commotion, and he was all too happy to leap into the back of the vehicle and head for whatever was next.

We returned to our hotel room and watched the end of the stage. I took a short spin to loosen my legs from the 206 miles the day before. By chance I was interviewed by a local reporter and we got to see Evo on TV at ten o’clock that evening.

On Monday we got up and checked out and headed for the starting area in Davis. We found a parking spot that was better than we expected and went sniffing around. We bought a TOC hat for BTB and my attempt to get Lance to sign her book was quickly over as he RODE past my spot on the way to the rider sign in. I did manage to get autographs from Jens Voight, Mark Cavendish, Steve Cozza, Jeremy Powers and David Zabriskie. Fabian and Chris Horner snubbed me, but I will survive.

They call me Jens "Amazing" Voight...

The casual roll out was even fast.
Then we loaded ourselves into the wagon and chased to see the first of two spots where we could see the pros go by. An hour later we were at our spot and we parked and walked/ran to the road. We had arrived between the breakaway and the peloton. The riders flew past and many were eating as they went by. Then we got back in the car and drove to the Trinity Grade climb and parked. By now it was really raining.

We found a spot that was wickedly steep and pulled off the road. The parade of pre-rider vehicles was repeated. BTB got into position with her sign. Hottie had her camera warmed up and ready to go despite the challenging photographic conditions.

In position...
The slow moving motorcycle was the first tip off followed by four bobbing helmets. The break was moving pretty good. I could tell they were working hard and they looked smooth. To look smooth on a ten percent grade you need a level of fitness I can only imagine.

About five minutes later came a select group that contained the GC contenders and was being driven by Radio Shack. Lance was third wheel and BTB held her sign high. I spotted Zabriskie and Levi and Chris Horner as well. I looked at Lance and as his gaze went up the road he must have seen the sign. I swear I saw him mouth the name, “Betty” as he strained to recognize the hunched figure by the side of the road. Looking up the road there was my mum holding up her sign that said go Lance!.

The rally of team cars swept past and there were riders sprinkled in who had been dropped by this elite bunch.

A few minutes later came the gruppetto. Boonen was at the front and I said “good job Boonen.” Tom looked at me like I had just offered him a pulled pork sandwich. Although there was no condemnation in his expression, my take was he wasn’t doing well, and he didn’t expect anyone to say otherwise. Fabian was also near the front and the bunch was just trying to keep it together to the finish. They would end the day some fifteen minutes behind the stage winner.

Look close and you will see world champions and Olympic medalists..
After more team cars came the “Lantern Rouge.” This poor fellow was just suffering his way along. He was weaving back and forth and his pedaling motion told of his agony. He appreciated our words of encouragement, but his suitcase of courage was empty.

After this we made our way to Calistoga for some awesome pizza and we drove to Weed to spend the night. The next morning we made it to Seattle and called it a trip…

Thursday, May 20, 2010

DDC TOC 2 of 3 The Davis Double Century Ride Report

Toto, we are not in Washington anymore..

Cautionary Note: I am a selfish man. When I write a ride report for these epic events they serve as future reminders to me of what to do, and what not to do, next time. For this reason I go into details that you might not care for. Deal with it.

The alarm went off at 4:00. I took Tux outside to water the plants and loosen up my muscles as well. The night was dark with no moon and it was cold with a slight breeze. Returning to our room I mixed up my drinks, fiddled with my bike and contemplated taking a shower. Mixing up my Sustained Energy first thing would prove to be a mistake, but I didn’t know it yet. I eventually dressed, donning a long sleeve T-shirt over my wicking top, but under my jersey. This would be discarded at 53 miles when the weather had warmed up.

I couldn’t get the roof rack clamp on the passenger side to adjust enough inward, so I put the bike inside the war wagon and although Tux felt crowded, we all fit in for the short drive to Spinner John’s hotel in downtown Davis. Looking to the east there was no hint that morning was coming anytime soon.

Before the deluge

John was fiddling with his bike in the doorway of his hotel room. Five minutes later we posed for a “before” picture, then we rode like giddy school children the mile and a half to the start. Resetting our odometers as we crossed the start line we rolled out with dozens of other cyclists with similarly questionable judgment. There were all manner of head and tail lights and it was an entertaining parade.

Into the darkness...
In most of the epics that I have done you find yourself on heavily trafficked roads pretty quickly. The DDC, in sharp contrast, has you on quiet residential streets until you find yourself on even quieter farm roads. This gave us the unique chance to have multiple pacelines without having semi trucks whipping past too close for comfort. Leaving town we saw the first hint of sunlight to the east. The roads went north then west alternating in four to six mile segments with ninety degree turns in between. To break up the monotony Joe lost his saddlebag when I was on his wheel. In a few minutes Geoff had a water bottle spit out of its cage into my path a few minutes later. The time spent stopping while Joe, and then Geoff recovered their missing luggage allowed us to catch and pass the same riders a few times.

As we passed farm fields where the farm hands were starting their day, Joe commented that whenever he thinks he is working hard sitting on his bike, he looks over and sees the farm workers doing real work and he ceases his laments.

In no time we hit the first food stop at 23 miles. As planned we skipped it and aimed for the foothills. The sun was up and we were casting long shadows. The air was still crisp and we were tooling along at twenty to twenty three miles an hour. John was leading our group and seemed not to want or need anyone to spell him at the front. When I looked behind me instead of seeing Joe, I saw thirty riders enjoying our pull. The speed would have been a concern, but I was two from the front and I felt the pace was well within my ability.

What a day !!
I felt strong and my methodology for carrying the bags of powder that would provide my nourishment seemed to be working. In my small saddle bag I carry a spare saddle bag made of a lightweight fabric. This bag was employed to carry two ziplocks of Sustained Energy and a packet of sunscreen for later. This “spare” bag was strapped to my main bag and when my pockets would later be empty (at 103 miles) I would put the ziplocks in my jersey packets and empty the spare bag and return it to the inside of my regular saddle bag.

Soon we were cruising along next to Putah Creek and I kept thinking the rollers were tending downhill. I had thought we were supposed to be heading up river so downhills were not expected. I checked my super cool VDO cycle computer for indicated elevation and realized the rollers were gradually netting us uphill progress. Way cool. This road was alos the course of the second stage of the Tour of California (TOC) that would cover these roads in two days. In no time the road turned steep and John took off. I hung behind Geoff and noticed I was getting warm. I was ready to ditch my long sleeve T-Shirt. The view of the water in the dam was nice. A series of long descents interspersed with short up hills brought us to another valley.

Spinner John at the Food Stop
I was expecting a food stop around the next corner and was out of nuun. My Sustained Energy did not taste like its usual cake batter, but I thought nothing of it. I reached into my jersey pocket and took a hit of Hammer Gel. Just as I got the gel back in place I saw the stop at the intersection of highways 121 and 128. This would be where we would be watching the TOC in fifty hours.

I have learned that when you mix Sustained Energy (SE) you put the powder in first and then the liquid and shake and then add more liquid. I opened up my bottle and (here is my fatal mistake) left the little bit of SE in there and added more powder. I got some water, shook it and added more water. Then I pulled off my long sleeve shirt and tossed it into a trash can and after a minute or two of stretching and I was ready to go. Joe told us to head out and that he would catch up later (which meant in Davis) while John expressed plans of his own as well. He was planning on skipping the next two stops and he took off like he was late for the prom. Geoff and I rolled out and enjoyed the beautiful Napa Valley. The sun on my arms felt nice.

My legs felt strong but my stomach was feeling bloated. I kept drinking my SE as I knew I should, but my appetite wasn’t there and I figured this was why the SE didn’t seem to taste as “fresh” as it usually does. In no time we were at the 75 mile stop and I refilled my nuun bottle and topped off my SE bottle.

Fans !
The next stop was at 94 miles and Geoff made it there before me. When I arrived my stomach was really unhappy and I again refilled my nuun and topped of my SE bottle with water and added some powder. For those of you who know, you may now realize that I haven’t emptied out my SE bottle since filling it at 4:10 AM, but have just added more powder and water to the now fermenting brew. If anyone has made sourdough bread and knows what you do to keep the “starter” yeast alive, you may note the similarities between that and what I mistakenly did on this ride.

The Cobb Mountain climb
The approach to Cobb Mountain is on a narrow road that should not be asked to hold both cars and bikes on it. With little warning the road got steep fast, and the turns were tight and relentless. My VDO tells me the grade is consistently seven percent with long stretches above ten percent. At one point it says fifteen percent. My cadence is slow and I commit to using a different cassette if I ever do this again. My stomach is now cramping and I look to the side of the road and contemplate a trip over the edge and down in the bushes. The scenery reminds me of Topanga Canyon in Southern California, except the grade is ridiculous. The heat of the day is upon me and I’m cooking. I seem to recall the high point of this climb is 3,600’ and I can see there is a long way to go. The rest stop at 94 miles was below a thousand feet so I know I still have a lot of climbing to do. I will confess I was pretty discouraged.

Eventually the grade lessens and I hit the food stop at 103 miles which marks the (almost) top of Cobb Mountain. I check the map and the highpoint of the ride and this climb is 3,050’. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I pour out my SE and fill both bottles with nuun. I have a guess of what went wrong and I eat a banana. This ride is supposed to have 8,500 of climbing and I have 6,400 of it behind me. There is one more major climb, known as resurrection, and then it should be a cruise into Davis.

Pine trees at the top..

Geoff had left the 103 stop ahead of me while I was in the plastic bathroom. As the real food and unfermented liquid took over my stomach began to feel better. The descent from Cobb Mountain was enjoyable and my bike smoothed out the rough road. I was able to apply some power once again only to battle more stomach cramps and have to back off.

Riparian pleasure
At the food stop at 118 miles Geoff and I hooked up again and I continued to feel better. I knew I was heading down a dangerous road with my lack of calorie intake. To settle my stomach I was drinking a lot while eating very little which was helping my stomach, but I was setting myself up for the bonk of the century (actually the bonk of the double century). Geoff was riding strong and having fun.

Resurrection climb
The resurrection climb is the most overrated climb I’ve ever encountered. It wasn’t that long and it was never very steep. At the top I stopped at the food stop with 138 miles behind me. I was feeling strong and I was able to eat a little while I filled my bottles. I had two huge bags of very expensive SE in my jersey pocket that I had no intention of consuming on the remainder of this ride. If I had it to do over again, I would have tried some to see what happened. I took off before Geoff and assumed he would catch me. I was feeling as strong as I had at six in the morning and Geoff never caught me until I had my aching feet in the wading pool at the food stop at mile 160.

In the morning we had some fog..
I drank a can of coke and figured that was one way to get a couple hundred calories in me. I felt refreshed and ready. The stretch from 160 to 182 felt understandable long. The Coke I drank gave me the flash and crash we’ve all heard about and by the time I hit the stop at 182 I needed a break. I ate some cookies and crackers and had a sip of 7-Up. If I ever like the taste of that stuff I shouldn’t have. I tossed the can in the trash and filled my bottles with water and nuun tablets. There were only 22 miles to go and Geoff was shepherding me along.

Leaving the stop I was in full bonk mode. In retrospect I wasn’t thinking very clearly or I would have carried some food to stoke my engine. There was supposed to be a stop at mile 194 and I found myself watching my odometer for the first time. My legs had been tooling me along all day and my glycogen reserves were long gone. I began cramping and had to stop and stretch to get it to stop. Where was the food stop at 194? With 197 miles showing on my odometer I arrived at the fire station and stopped and stretched just for a moment. Geoff appeared and we rode the remainder together.

Heading for the finish
The last few miles were an alternating mix of easy recovery spin which would allow me to feel better and then I would instinctively speed up and pass people, followed by cramps which would send me back to easy recovery spin mode.

BTB and Tux
Hottie, BTB and Tux were by the side of the road as we approached the finish while the sun sank in the west. Shooting photographs into the fading sun is never a formula for success, but she captured a smiling Evo.

D O N E !!!
With 204.5 miles on my odometer and 8,700 feet of climbing and over twelve hours of riding, I was ready to be done. A simple post ride dinner with John, Geoff and Hottie allowed me some recovery. Joe was still on the course and would be arriving in the darkness.

I showered and after a wonderful massage from Hottie, I put on my compression tights and fell into bed waiting for the cramps I knew would wake me. I wore the tights for twenty four hours and never had a cramp. I didn’t set an alarm and instructed BTB that we would call her in the morning. Tux woke me up and I took him out sometime during the night. I don’t recall what time we went out, but I do remember waking up in the same position that I had laid down in.

Lessons Learned:
1. Keep a timer on your Sustained Energy
2. Pour out what you don’t drink when you refill your SE
3. Consider larger cogs for extended climbs over ten percent
4. The term, “Let’s ride” has different meaning to different people
5. Even if you know the way, a list of mile points where the food stops are is a good thing to have
6. Compression Tights rule the world
7. The Aliante saddle will be my saddle of choice until I die

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DDC TOC Part one of three.. The southbound Journey

So many choices..

At the appointed hour Evo, Hottie, Betty the Beast (BTB) and Tux the wonder dog climbed into the fully laden war wagon and we departed under clear skies for the Golden State. As we made our way south the landscape got greener and warmer with each mile. Making good time, we opted to alter our evening plans and drove on to Redding instead of crashing in Medford. A little smart phone search gave us the name of a hotel and while Norman Bates didn’t check us in, we were happy to leave early Friday morning.

I made electronic connection with Spinner John and we determined to rendezvous at the Pearl Izumi outlet in Vacaville. The conspicuous parade of while legs and lightly worn sandals let others know we were from Seattle.

A fine lunch of tamales followed, and shortly after we checked into our hotel for the next three nights. While Hottie and Tux settled into our room and BTB napped in hers, I went for a short ride to shake the travel out of my legs and pick up my ride packet. The packet pick up was oh so typical. OCD guys (and gals) wearing I’m so tough T-shirts from other rides.

Pasta loading was fun and I climbed into bed later than I had intended. Hottie asked me if I was nervous. “I’m excited,” was my quick reply. The bike was working, the weather was looking good, my aches and pains seemed to be under control. The roads looked nice and the support was supposedly legendary, so I just wanted to get started...

The bike ready to roll...

Monday, May 3, 2010


What can you say ?

I recall in school when my teacher told us we would be writing an S A. I sat quietly and tried to think what the letters S and A stood for. Simple Answers ? Story Answers? I finally asked and was told the word was “Essay.” I felt a stupid and ashamed. That day at day at lunch I took solace in my bologna sandwich my mother had packed for me that morning. I was lucky to have a mother who made my lunch and laid out my clothing every morning. She did a lot for me, but that day on my way home I realized she had forgotten to put gas in my car. I was pretty upset but I remembered the smiley face on the cake she had baked for my seventeenth birthday some ten months before, and I smiled. I decided to give her one more chance. To this day, I get a little uneasy when I hear the letters S and A, or hear the word Essay.

I just wanted you all to know that.

We enjoyed a low-key weekend that included Hottie and I sharing a couple bike rides. On Sunday we hooked up with Le Cannonball and the Energizer Bunny (Bunny for short) for some easy miles on the Burke Gilman trail.

Bunny and Le Cannonball

Taking a break on the trail

Riding on the trail brings together all of the extremes of cycling. You have families on Wal-Mart bikes being passed by dentists on titanium and carbon Serottas. You have slow bikes, fast bikes as well as double wide strollers and the full spectrum of people on inline skates. This assortment in combination with people walking their dogs with fifty foot retractable leashes gives everyone the opportunity to share the trail. Those hoping to go fast either ride this trail early or late, or stay off it all together. For those foolish enough to be out in the middle of the day as we were, you learn to get along.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Though I was born in Ohio, we moved to Southern California when I was but a wee lad. At the time, So Cal was a great place to grow up. During my college days down there I listened to “A Prairie Home Companion,” a fictional radio show that was broadcast on Saturday nights live from Minnesota. Listening to that show all year long, I was struck by the sense of relief and rejoicing that came with spring. After enduring a long winter, the coming of spring with its promises of hope, the infinite shades of green, the fresh smells and the return to life outside, was very different than my life in So Cal. The perpetual summer and lack of seasons created the “everything, right now” mentality that defines So Cal to this day.

In the late eighties after I moved to Washington with our dark wet winters, I understood firsthand the payoff that comes following a long winter. No matter how many springs I live through, there are always surprises and I often see my life reflected by the seasons around me.

After such a long time, it is scary to contemplate; Hottie is back on the bike and we went 20 miles last Saturday. As the weather and her strength both improve, we will get to share more of the fun that brought us together in the first place.

The days and my rides are getting longer and warmer so I get to ride wearing fewer and fewer layers. As a result of those miles, my pants fit looser and I can climb better and go faster, longer. Climbs that I had to endure in January are fun now. The training plan that was conceived and then commenced in the dark of winter is bringing me fitness in the middle of spring.

Our pup Tux is a full of life and is happiest when he gets to walk a couple times a day. While it is still too early to walk in the evenings wearing flip flops and shorts, I don’t have to don a wool chapeau anymore. While I love my warm clothing, I love putting it away even more.

My oldest son is seeing payoffs in his personal, and soon his professional, life as well. Growing up with a work ethic that hard work precedes the payoff, it is good to see the principle in play.