Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another holiday season come and gone

We had a quiet Christmas here at Casa de Evo. One of the reasons it was so quiet at home was Hottie and I loaded up the war wagon and with my mom strapped to the top and Tux in the back we went off to Winthrop for a white Christmas.

Spending Christmas in a cabin in the woods was something I have wanted to do since I was four years old. Winthrop was all decked out for the occasion.
Hottie in front of Winthrop town hall staying warm in full Eskimo mode.

The only downside was that despite dropping hints the way Cancellara drops the peloton, nobody got me what I really wanted.
A guy can dream can't he ?
Still we found things to do.
Hottie sliding on boards in Mazama

I will confess I haven't seen a lot of fifty year old guys in Utilikilts.
Someone once said it is a cruel God that grants our wishes.
So maybe it isn't so bad that I am approaching 2012 kiltless....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pearl Izumi Full Finger Gel Gloves Final Review

So long old friends..
These may be about the oldest full finger gloves I have. They have been my go-to gloves forever. See my previous review here. They have been mountain biking, cyclocross racing, and semi-cold weather gloves that I have never regretted wearing.

A keen eye will see where I have patched them to keep them going. I didn't like the gloves these evolved into, so I never bought a pair and I just kept stitching them where they split.

I wore them on more than a few home construction projects. When I undertook the epic wall removal, I turned to the faithful PI gloves.
I'm pointing to where an errant nail tried to cut me and was thwarted by the glove
The project proved almost too much for me, and marked the end of the road for these gloves.

I have been trying to think of an appropriate memorial to these gloves. I don't think I would be honoring them if I just tossed them in the trash. I haven't checked out the latest offerings from Pearl Izumi, but I will. These gloves have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December Surprise

With our nest empty, Hottie and I had discussed taking out a wall that divides our master bedroom from the bedroom next to us. Hottie had a photo trip to Africa on the horizon, so Evo contemplated a clever plot.

After dropping off Hottie at the airport, Tux and I set to work...
This is looking down the hallway. Our bedroom on the right, underused bedroom on the left
This is the view in our master. Tux is guarding the bed
This is the underused bedroom. Note the non-functioning intercom system. Let's all say "Brady Bunch" together, shall we?
At first I did some checking just in case there was something unexpected in the wall..
Let the demolition begin !
Okay... no surprises yet. If this doesn't work, I will have some explaining to do...
I had everything covered to keep it clean. Time would tell if it worked..
Tux got comfortable with his changing surroundings
A new view. This had better work...
Between 48 year old rockwool in the attic and flying drywall dust, I was anxious to keep the crap out of my lungs. Can you guess which one is the new one and which one I used today ?
Tux was unfazed. See him on the bed? Reciprocating saw cutting beams; no problem. Sledge hammer knocking out posts; not an issue. "I'll be here sleeping, just keep the dust down," was his unspoken message to me...
New doorway goes.... here !
We'll start with new beams here
Like this. The first of four
Here we are..
Oh yes, it got messy..
After holding my breath I removed what was left of the walls. No shifting, no surprises, wonderfully according to plan..
Then Tux and I cleaned up. The sheet on the bed is so Tux doesn't get fur on our blankets, etc..
Add drywall
Tape and mud...
Sand, mud, sand, mud, sand, mud
mud, sand, mud, sand, texture, clean, clean, clean, clean, clean...
The notes on the wall were my daily goals on the project
Move the bed into the middle of the room (for the time being)..
Wrap it..
She liked it !!
Hottie looks pretty good considering she has been home five minutes after spending twenty seven hours on planes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Hottie loves sports. I appreciate that very much. When the TV is turned on at our place, there is a good chance it is tuned to a game, match, race or the like.

Hottie has been traveling for a bit so Tux and I have had the machine tuned to ESPN more often than not. It does not take much ESPN to get sick of ESPN pretty quickly.

That's it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Me and Tux looking at the moon

Tonight, while Tux and I were walking, the clouds were dancing with the moon, giving it a real "Werewolves of London" kind of look.

At this moment I have family in Russia, Cambodia and Botswana and the USA.

I was wondering how they were all doing and out of the blue Tim called and filled me in on his exploits in Southeast Asia. What a world we live in.

When I was a child my father flew from Los Angeles to San Francisco for business. I thought that was an adventure, to be able to fly six hundred miles. I have raised the bar since then.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SCX Season Finale 2011

You gotta read it, I'm not giving anything away..

It looks like I have another arm coming out of my chest doesn't it?

Rain, rain, rain, rain dominated the days leading up to the climatic Cyclocross season finale at Monroe. My brake pads were shot so I replaced them in anticipation of a muddy, gritty secession. A couple spins up and down the street and I would be good for the race that was still a couple days away.

I did math and tried to figure out what would have to happen for me to get on the podium. You drop your lowest finish and the final was worth double points. If you took out the low races, I was fourth with 302 points and there was a guy with 301 and another with 300. Scott, who was nine points ahead of me was traveling and wasn’t sure if he would make it back. The guy with 300 points had been first or second in every race and even though he was two points behind me (he missed two races and was still in the hunt), if he showed up, he’d beat me and thereby pass me on points. I made a list of predicted finishes and I expected to end up fifth in the series.

I pumped up the mud tires, but didn’t put them on the bike. I had managed to end up with the team tent last week, so I was bringing most of the team gear and the car looked like Hottie and I were refugees.

Loaded for bear..

I hadn’t set any specific goals about trying to follow any particular rider, or make sure and beat that guy. I just wanted to race, have fun and be done. Tim and Sam showed up to cheer for Dave F and myself, which was nice. Tim was convinced I could podium. He is as much of a numbers geek as I am and he made it sound simple, “You just have to beat those guys.” I tried to argue but he would not be deterred.

I put on the mud tires and did the pre-ride. It confirmed the course was to my liking. I did grab the brakes on the screaming downhill only to realize the mud tires had narrower rims and my brakes were almost useless until I tightened the cables.

We had set up the tent and now it was raining harder and harder. Something that perplexed me last year was what to wear in hard, cold rain. If you layer under your jersey the cold water wicks through the layers in milliseconds. I pondered this all summer long and never came up with an answer.

I put on my team vest over the unitard and slathered embrocation on my legs. I selected my socks based on their being thin and wool, so they wouldn’t hold much water, thereby not adding pounds to my feet when soaked. The vest turned out to be perfect for the conditions and a question I had been asking since last December was finally answered.

At the start line I peeled off at the last minute and my teammate Tim, gathered up our muddy layers and I looked around. No spinner John. Scott was there, I wished him luck and meant it. He said he drove sixteen hours on Friday to be here to race on Sunday. There was a river of water on the right side of the starting straight away, so I took a slot on the left.

I got a decent start and hit the first sharp corner fifth or so. On the long power straight I lost some places and when we turned and began the grass climb I was about tenth.

“I gotta move up,” I said to myself and got out of the saddle. I passed riders with ease and had moved up to about forth as we hit the venue trademark down, and up off camber.

Evo running instead of crashing

I had decided to run it and dismounted early and cut it high and tight. I found myself second after that section. After a stretch of road we had a stupid steep climb and then we were in a mud bath. I was still sitting second and then we went into the mud pit of despair. There were no good lines and we were again in a bunch of five when we hit the sand.

I used my Portland riding experience and took the line where the water was. Once the ground is saturated, the water pools on top, but the surface under the water is stable and you can ride faster through those lines. I shot ahead and found myself in first. I wasn’t about to do all the work and so I just tried to ride good lines and see what happened.


We crossed the finish line on the first lap and I was still in first. I wasn’t cooked, so I didn’t panic. I pushed on the long straight and waited for someone to come around. Nobody did.

On the grass climb four riders shot past me and I tried to catch the wheel of rider number four. He got a little gap, but I kept drilling it. We had a huge gap on everyone else.

When we completed the second lap the announcer said I was fourth, but I hadn’t passed anyone that I remembered. We were catching some lapped riders, but generally had clear sailing on the course.

I was ahead of Alex who was Mr. 301 and Scott was behind him. I didn’t know who was in front of me, but I was going about as fast as I could imagine. I figured the third lap was where I would either succeed or fail. I got out of the saddle after sharp turns as much for speed as to try and discourage anyone chasing me. I tried to ride smart lines and could see the riders in front of me, and those chasing me.

At the end of lap three they said I was fourth, but I still figured I was fifth.

Cyclocross can be.... Refreshing

After the grass climb I could see Alex, Scott and Dave F coming after me. I still had a gap and was pushing. I thought that if I managed to stay ahead of these guys a by-product might be catching the rider in fourth (since I was sure I was fifth).

Tim and Sam were yelling for me and it helped. I saw a Cucina rider in front of me and while I thought there had been two Cucina riders in the group of four that passed me this guy was gassed and I figured he was a lapped rider and I tried to catch him.

Cresting the run up !

I got closer and closer and then when we hit the mud pit of despair I stayed close, but kept my own line in case he crashed or stalled. After the mud I was close and then we hit the double barriers on the asphalt and I was right on him. He cut me off when he remounted and I sat behind him as we entered the sand. I had his wheel on the corner and then I exploded and passed him and kept going. There was no reaction so I assumed he was a lapped rider. I kept on it and as I approached the line they said I was third.

Slip sliding to third !

I really was third. It was my highest finish ever in a Seattle Cyclocross race. Scott finished sixth. My teammate Dave F was seventh and Alex was eighth. We all shook hands and posed for a picture or two.

I made it back to the tent and Tim told me there were showers at the restroom and I grabbed my bag and headed off to get some warmth in my bones. I was about to take off my shoes when I changed my mind and walked into the shower in full muddy kit and shoes. I undressed and dried and was getting dressed when Tim burst in and told me I had finished third in the series. I made the podium !!

I'm gonna need a bigger helmet !

I managed to beat Scott by three points. If I hadn’t beaten the last Cucina rider I would have been fourth by one point. Scott congratulated me. I told him I had been racing in this category for seven years and it was about time I got some bling. He was almost as happy for me as I was.

I made it to the podium with two minutes to spare and when they called my name I was jumping up and down like a caffeinated contestant from The Price is Right. I got a bronze colored cowbell for third (gold and silver for first and second). I also get two free races next year.

Spinner John’s teammate Alex came up to me after the race. He had clobbered me early in the season and battled me in the middle and I beat him in the last few races. He commented on my improvement and asked me what I did to make such a difference. I told him the absolute truth, “I have no idea.”

Hottie and I stuck around all day while she took pictures of the races. I had a celebratory Brat and it was okay. A while later I had a second one and that wasn’t such a good idea. It was easy to follow me that day as I kept the cowbell around my neck.

The next morning I went to spin class on a Monday for the first time in many months. I was in full team kit, which I have never done. Spinner John didn’t say a word to me as I walked in. Finally as we were warming up he asked if I had ridden the day before.

I whipped out the cowbell which had been tucked into my jersey.

“Third place on the day and third place in the series,” I shouted.

I rang the cowbell and the class clapped. Spinner John was stunned.

It was fun to get on the podium. I can think of a hundred things that are more important, or mean more, but it was fun. For a season that started under such strange circumstances, it sure ended on a high note.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dry and Tough

We had a fine Thanksgiving at the Casa de Evo. One of the highlights of the day came when I cooked some squash, Acorn and Butternut for anyone keeping score, on the barbecue. There was some sugar involved, and sugar crystalizes with extreme heat, so some of the squash looked more "done" than other ones.

My dear mum always volunteers to take the burned one when given a choice. For some reason this time it hit me funny, and I questioned her on this odd sounding preference.

"Dry and Tough," she offered. "That's how I like 'em."

Dry and tough. Those aren't usually word used in marketing food. We all questioned my mom and she didn't back off.

Some of the questions from my childhood were answered at that moment.

What drives a person to splash around in mud when the days are short and the suffering is long? I guess the motivation to do things the hard way starts at an early age. How can one adapt to challenges even as a child?

Dry and Tough.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SCX #6 2011 Race Report doubling down in Spanaway

Note the one gloved hand. It's like I'm freakin' Michael Jackson..

It was twenty-six degrees and as dark as midnight when I looked at the thermometer Sunday morning. Our team had course clean up, so I knew would be around for the duration. The high was supposed to be in the thirties, so there was no need to pack cargo shorts.

My mum and Tim were in tow and we picked up Dave F on the way. We had tent duty and I had Mr. Heater packed as well. We arrived and secured a spot for the tent and soon were signed in and ready for the pre-ride.

The course was wonderfully different than prior years. Long straights followed by sharp turns meant lots of accelerating and brief breaking. There is really only one hill and we managed to climb it five different ways. More on the course later.

Despite the cold temps I dared to ride in what has come to be known in my house as the “unitard.” I did add knee warmers and a hearty long sleeve undergarment and a beanie along with full finger gloves.

Tim agreed to gather clothes for Dave F and myself at the start and we both had front row call ups. We peeled down and Dave realized his number was on the wrong side.

“The timing chip on your helmet is what matters, don’t worry about it,” I offered with the sincere belief it would be just fine. For a moment Dave acted as if he was my mother and didn’t hear a word I said and began unpinning his number. I pulled off a glove and helped him. Soon his number was off and in my hands as the starter, Marshall Will, made his way back to the front.

“Ten seconds,” he shouted with authority. We usually get two or more minutes notice, but not this time. I told Dave not to move and I tired to pin a second pin on his number. Once again channelling my mother Dave kept moving and I felt like an idiot trying to pin him as he fiddled with his other number.

“Davo, grab your bars,” I heard in a calm tone from Scott who was lined up behind me. My internal clock told me it was about time to hear the words, “racers ready.” Instead I heard the whistle and I had both feet firmly on the ground (not clipped in like I should be) and forty-five guys wanting to get in front of me. Most of them would succeed, at least for a while.

I went about one hundred and fifty yards before I was even clipped in. I was about thirty riders back when we hit the first one-eighty corner. The glove for my right hand was still gripped in my teeth. This cluster would have been funny if it had been someone else. If it hadn’t happened in real time it would have been upsetting, but it just was...what it was; Cyclocross.

While I have been an absolute non factor in both my US Cycling Nationals Cyclocross races, if there is one thing I learned it from the experience, it was that you can pass just about anywhere. I worked through riders and on a straight I took my glove from my teeth and stuffed it down the front of my jersey (actually, the ‘tard for you careful readers).

At one of the corners after a long straight everyone slowed for the single-file turn. I usually get a good enough start that I’m not in a lot of traffic, so it was a different experience for me. The fast guys don’t tend to bunch up as much either, so I felt some of the energy I expended on the straight was wasted.

Just past the first sand pit, Evo would ride out of the picture and come back for the pit in the foreground..

The course had barriers on a run up and there was a lot of traffic there so I had to choose my line wisely. A short downhill led into a sand pit. “Power on Evo,” I said to myself as I let the bike kind of go where it wanted. Arguments with sand are always won by the sand.

I kept moving up and I was just outside the top ten at the end of the first lap. On a short road section I pulled my glove out of my jersey and stuffed my hand into it. I had thought I would toss it to Hottie, but my hand was getting cold and I needed the warmth.

I tried to settle down and ride smart. I grabbed a wheel and hung on for a while. When I saw a chance I took it and moved up. The course went past a big climbing structure on a series of easy grassy turns. The grass just past here was a mush of frozen grass and dirt that was getting slower and slower each lap. A pair of barriers in the middle of two one-eighty turns kept your legs burning and your brakes squealing. Then some dirt trail and more grass. A series of switchbacks precedes the hill, and then it is into the sand.

Evo on the Orange Crusher chasing Dave F and the rest of the old men

After the sand a series of sweeping dirt turns leads back up the same hill and then a downhill that I took without fear every time. Another barrier infested climb and a long gradual downhill that got us moving again. More grass led to a long power section that had a single line that was smooth with bumps on either side, so passing here was a high stakes affair.

A wicked off camber led to some sweepers and then around a baseball field and then it was pave to the line. After the third lap I heard the bell and I thought I was in about eighth.

I had two races where I opted not to pass at a given point on the last lap only to never get a second chance. My promise to myself was that on the last lap, I would take any opportunity that came to me. I moved up and was behind a SCCA rider and closed on him and when we hit the long power section we were both out of the saddle and the guy I had just passed was on my tail as well.

I buried myself and drilled the pavement and made the last chicane and then was across the line. The announcer said I was sixth, which I thought was an error, but I was indeed, sixth. By the way, it is awesome to hear your name over the loudspeakers when you’re riding.

Spinner John ended up eighteenth and was spewing excuses like a fire hydrant. It doesn’t mean a lot to me, but he seems to have to justify finishing behind me as if it matters. It does not. Dave F grabbed 13th and was content considering the calamity that had befallen us.

I was sixth in the race and now I am fifth in the series. If you drop your worst race (which you get to do in this series) I’m fourth. If I geek out and project finishes in the double point finale, I still think I’ll end up fifth or so, but we’ll see. There was a race in 2007 where the guys faster than me didn’t show up and I scored my one and only win. Maybe that will happen and I’ll podium. Fun to dream.

Because I was sticking around, and just because I thought it would be fun, I raced up with the faster old guys two and a half hours later.

That was a six-lap affair where I started dead last with Dave F. I just worked my way past a few guys and hung on. When I watch this race from the sidelines it seems to be a confusing mess with riders getting lapped and stringing out so you can’t tell where anyone really is. There are four different races and it gets crazy. From inside the race I knew where I was and I kept passing a rider or two each lap.

I settled in with a group of five or six guys. We jockeyed for position for the third, fourth and fifth lap. My “plan” was to hang with these guys and gas it on the last lap. It seems that was everyone else’s plan as well. When we heard the one to go bell I was at the back of the group and the pace was picking up.

I picked it up as well and took advantage of a bobble and took a spot. Then I poached a rider on a long straight. One of the riders had a chain come off, and while it might have been nice to stop, I just kept going. This was when I would make good on my promise to show no patience or mercy on the last lap.

After the sand I was on a rider and passed in the dirt. Then I took another spot on the post hill downhill. I was chasing a wheel as we began the long power section and the two of us passed a rider and then I passed the wheel and hit the baseball field in front of my group. I was in the drops and picking good lines. I was in a big gear and downshifted as we approached the final corner. I took it smart and drilled it to the line wondering why nobody came around me.

It turns out six guys came in at one second intervals behind me. I was 27th out of 42 old fast guys, which I was pleased with. I rode back to the team tent and put on a jacket right away.

My face was cold and my legs were burning. My teeth hurt, which reminded me of hard runs in cold weather in my youth.

In no time the last race was over and we were taking down barricades and rolling up course tape. I was wearing a ton of clothes and hungry like a hippo.