Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Yeah, it was that wet...

The email went out Friday. The ride rolls out from the cobbles at seven AM sharp. It was supposed to be wet. 100% chance of rain wet. I was up early and checked the radar map. The map wasn’t green; it was yellow. It was raining hard. We usually think there is fine line between stupid and epic, there was no line today; this ride would be both.

As I was gathering my stuff for the ride I spotted my camera. “Not today, it’s too wet” I said out loud. On the drive to the rendezvous, I plucked a pair of toe warmers out of the glove box. I game them a kiss before opening the pack and sticking them to my socks. The rain was slapping my windshield as I drove.

We gave each other fist bumps like most morons do just prior to all manner of foolish undertakings. It was raining pretty hard. Like solders following orders we rolled out with minimal emotion.

We stopped for a moment whilst Sam made a brief clothing adjustment. As I was stopped, a drop of water from a power line fell as if aimed by a sniper, and went down the back of my neck and chilled my whole body. A cold rain continued to fall.

I looked out across Lake Washington. It was so dark and grey it looked like a black and white photograph. The ride was going to be so epic, the story should have been told in monochrome.

As we crossed I-90 there were whitecaps and the wind was blowing. For the first time in two years I closed the pit zips on my rain jacket. Dave kept going off the front. We three chasers; El Hefe, Hardman, and Evo spent the early miles trying to catch him. It seemed to be raining harder now.

The rain was unrelenting and we found ourselves crashing through puddles the way one does the last lap of a cross race. We seemed to have a mindset of, “I’m already soaked, and it’s almost over.” The only problem was; we were not nearly done; we had just started.

We were in Medina when Dave needed to take a natural break. Considering the neighborhood, we stopped at a gas station. While Dave was using the bathroom, Hardman bought a cup of cocoa, to show some patronage while El Hefe hung out in the walk in beer cooler to try and warm up. He passed the cocoa around and we all savored a sip or two.

Dave contemplated taking a bus back home and his body language revealed how cold he was. He mentioned how his feet were soaked. The store clerk, I’ll call her Marge because I could believe she was a Marge, offered Dave her socks. She said they were men’s socks and that her feet were clean when she put them on before her shift. Even with all of the sarcasm I have, I can’t say anything except that was among the nicest things I’ve seen in a long time. It was bombing rain outside.

Dave did take her up on her offer of two plastic bags which he promptly inserted between his shoes and his failing Pearl Izumi Cyclone Shoe covers. We scarfed food in hopes of stoking a fire in our bodies and warming up. With our bellies full we again set out.

The road was being resurfaced, so it was as rough as the cobbles we had started on. We kept the pace conversational and asked about each other’s gloves and shoe covers. Today was the test for all of our gear. I opened and closed my hand. My (waterproof) gloves were soaked. The temperature was in the upper thirties. The rain wasn’t ever going to end.

We climbed out of Kirkland and my glasses fogged up. My feet were now cold. My core was still good. Our bikes were covered with road mung. They looked like they had just finished a Cyclocross race. Mud on the chain stays and seat stays and down tubes.

We stopped in Kenmore for a second natural break. Would the bathroom have hand dryers that blew warm air? No such luck. For a moment I thought the rain had stopped. It hadn’t.

As we pointed south for the return to Capital Hill we were greeted with a stiff headwind. We had the weather trifecta; cold, wet, and windy. We plodded toward home. We were on the home stretch and each of us suffering quietly. I took some solace that there would only be thirty-nine more days and thirty-nine more nights of this biblical storm.

Dave kept popping off the front, not so much because he was aggressive, but because he was trying to warm up. After passing through the University of Washington we began to climb. Standing on the pedals only served to stir the water in my shoes and pump the warm water that had been close to my pruned skin away, and draw the colder water close to my skin.

“Guys,” Dave offered in a tone that concerned us. He sounded like he was about to confess something serious. “I’m just going to go straight home and sit in my hot tub.” We continued to climb and as we neared Dave’s house he bid us farewell. I don’t know if Dave changed his clothes or just dropped his bike and stepped into his hot tub in full kit. Either way, I respect him.

Hardman, El Hefe and I stopped at Fuel and started to acknowledge reality. I wrung out my waterproof gloves and then winced at the resulting puddle. I searched in vain for my second cleat cover and had to concede I had lost it somewhere along the way. It was still raining.

We were all soaked. What was the best part of the ride? The end was the best part. We all knew exactly what we were getting into when we started. It was as rough as expected. We didn’t whine and our bravado was all tongue in cheek. The warm coffee was good, but we were so cold we knew the path to warmth involved a shower, and so our respite was brief.

I didn’t even think about putting on my soaking gloves, I just wedged them into a back pocket and rode the half-mile back to the war wagon with bare hands. At the car I plopped my wet clothes in a pile and climbed in.

I drove home sitting on a towel. Once back I had to do the full Post-Cyclocross Race routine. I hosed my clothes off and washed everything. I hosed off the black gunk that coated my rims.

The shower was welcomed and the washing machine did its job as well. My boot dryer was called to service and my shoes are there right now.

I think I’ll get up early tomorrow and do it again.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The first K is the hardest

My 2012 training miles passed the one thousand mile mark today. I am still feeling my Saturday in my legs. Saturday was a combo of 56 hard miles and yard work. I'm not sure which contributed more to my suffering, but suffer I have. Today I felt like I was always a couple gears too high. to my great surprise, as I neared home, my legs started to feel good again. Hope !

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Travelers like

Travelers like travel shampoo bottle WITH SCREW TOP LIDS. Those flip top bottles or quarter turn bottles are like playing Russian Roulette with your clothes.

That is all I got to say about that.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

If my legs could talk

This weekend this is what they would have said:

I rode uphill anyway.
Today this is what they had to say:
Aleve can be a wonderful thing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Montreal is so freakin' French

Montreal is so polite, they give every sign English subtitles....

I flew into Montreal for the second time in as many months. On my last visit it was 25 degrees. It was 25 degrees this time as well, but this time the 25 had a "C" after it instead of an "F." Hard to believe Montreal in March would be 74 degrees, but it was.
I was excited to be in the land known as Americas Attic, but then I heard the announcement that smoking wasn't allowed in the airport terminal, but was REQUIRED 25 feet from the exits. As you would guess, I didn't have any cigarettes. How was I to know smoking would be REQUIRED. I just thought that was so French. With my newly purchased pack of unfiltered Camels I went looking for a smoking area.
I was bummed to see this sign, but as I passed it I checked the other side and found that indeed...
I had arrived.
Apparently the demarkation between smoking areas and no smoking areas is about a sixteenth of an inch. For those of you without calipers, let's just say the thickness of the sign...
I did make it to my hotel room where smoking was forbidden. See the pillows? They were like foam bricks. Although no ducks were harmed in the making of those pillows, Evo sleeps better with his head on the preverbal breast of a duck or goose.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hopping last night of winter at Casa de Evo

Tux and Kyson shared a moment..
Kyson posed like a pro.
He chatted with his uncle Garth who is in Cambodia.
Hottie surprised me with a schmacker.
RJ was just glad for a little break
I tried to talk, but Kyson just didn't want to hear it..

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Wintertime is NOT over

We delayed the start of our ride an hour to let the storm pass. It didn't. It didn't rain the whole time, near the top of Cougar Mountain there was snow mixed in with the rain.

You know it's cold when everyone offers to pump up the flat tire.
El Jefe, who must carry some special delegation from the UCI, takes the opportunity to perform a surprise inspection to ensure Tim's bike is fully compliant.

I marvel at how many clothes I wore today and I wasn't overheating. We went long and it never made it to 40 degrees. Luckily it wasn't just wet, it was a cold wet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The rain wasn't a problem

Bombing rain on the ride in this morning. I was dressed for it and I was fine. The evening commute was dry but windy. Really windy. Like I was riding uphill with brake drag and low pressure windy. I was slow. Uphill into a headwind is a double whammy, but downhill with a headwind is like a broken promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Midwest in March

Putting the Duh in Dubuque...
I had a meeting in Platteville, Wisconsin this week and the trip was pleasant. I flew into Dubuque and was unsure of exactly how Dubuque would rank on "cool." My route took me through Chicago's O'Hare airport (Orchard Field or ORD to the flying veterans). Before boarding the delayed flight the gate attendant came on the loud speaker at O'Hare and offered a $300 travel voucher and a night in a Chicago hotel if anyone was willing to be bumped and fly out the next morning.

Nobody in the gate area showed any interest. After a couple minutes she offered $350. This process repeated itself until she was offering $500. Still nobody moved. At this point I figured Dubuque must be something special.

We arrived in Dubuque and after a short sleep, I got up and ran three miles in the early morning twilight. After showering and checking out we hit the road. The short drive to Platteville was pleasant as it was sunny and the temperature would eventually hit 66 degrees.
Meetings went well and soon it was back to the Dubuque airport where I snapped the pic at the top of the post.

The flight home was fine as well. This is what greeted me at the parking lot at the airport.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pumps; and what they say about you

The pump option you choose says a lot about you, and your outlook. If you knew you were going to get a flat, what kind of pump would you bring? If you knew you wouldn’t get a flat, what then? Here is my take on the pump options.

Boy scout – Your choice: Frame pump and two tubes

We all rest a little easier when one of the guys on the ride rolls up with a broomstick sized frame pump. Nothing is faster or easier. If you think a CO2 is faster, you forgot to add in the time we all take to double check everything before holding your breath and pulling the trigger. The downside is they are heavy. They mount so as to be drawn like a sword when needed. If you carry one of these, you are always welcome.

Frame Pump ? Welcome friend...

Set it and forget it –Your choice: Pump mounted to your bottle cage

In the spectrum, this is the middle. Bigger than a mini pump, less weight and size than a frame pump. It works well enough. The pump gets crusty with mud in season. On the down side, if you are into aesthetics, this isn’t your pump.

I am a racer! - Your choice: Pump in your back pocket

A bike without a saddlebag looks like it is in a race. If you have your race number mounted as well, you look even more PRO. Some riders like the look of a pump on their pocket. A sleek pump peaking out of a pocket can be visually pleasing. When a pump is in a pocket under a jacket, it looks like a misplaced hard on. There; I said it. Sorry. The thrashed Ziploc that holds the tube, patch, levers and some Clif bar crumbs also detracts from the PRO look.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get there – Your choice: Micro-pump

A Micro-pump fits inside your saddlebag. This is a great choice if you assume you’ll never get a flat. You will get a flat. If your ability to deny this is well developed you can lean on your friends who will have pumps that work better, because none work worse. On the other hand, if you flat when you are by yourself, there won’t be anyone looking bored whilst you pump out two-hundred and fifty strokes and lose the use of your hands for the rest of the day.

Speed at all costs – Your choice: CO2 in your saddlebag

First off, you have to carry two cartridges (just in case). Whenever you compare the weight of your CO2 choice, you always compare using the weight of one. Denial is a well worn tool. If you misfire with a CO2, you’re screwed. If you are dialed in, it works well. Each canister costs money. If you care about the environment and carbon footprint, etc. then you may offend some with this selection.

Your name is Brendan - Your choice: "All I need is a cell phone"

Your bike is filthy, you never clean your chain, you don’t even own an extra tube. You pump your tires with a floor pump and head out. You are fast and respect the sport. If something happens, help is just a call away. To the utter disgust of the frame pump carrying Boy Scout, it all works out for you. If you do get a flat tire, a movie star stops and by the time you get home, you’ve been invited to a premier party.

Your name is Hottie – Your choice: Evo

If your name is Hottie, you carry a tube, a tire lever, tissues and hand sanitizer. The fellow who changes your tire will have a pump. This plan has worked for a long time..

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Twenty eight degrees

Yesterday morning it was 28 degrees when I rode into work. It was wonderful.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Where is THIS going?

Recently Hottie and I went to the movies. As we stood in line we were behind a man and his son. The lad looked to be about nine or ten and appeared special. He was looking around and not speaking. His head snapped back and forth as he scanned his surroundings. The expression on his face was blank. He was rocking back and forth and as he slowly turned toward Hottie and me he stopped suddenly.

The boy yanked on his fathers sleeve and pointed at me would not take his eyes off me. He couldn't (or didn't) speak and he slowly moved toward me pulling his dad the step or two between us until he was almost touching me.

At this point I wondering where this was going to go.

Was he going to say something friendly to break the ice such as, "That is the man who made me take off my clothes?" Was he going to suddenly blurt out, "You're my real daddy?"

The weirdness was peaking and his father was trying to figure out what was going on as well. I am usually a good sport and was trying to act like this happens everyday, but it was all a facade.

Then his father spotted it. I was wearing a shirt with a small image of the Grinch on the center of the chest and it caught the lad's eye.

"Yes, that is the Grinch," the father said and that satisfied the young man. His tiny attention span saturated, his eyes darted somewhere else and I was off the hook.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Cool Blog

Just another day in Syria..
If the truth is told, I actually only follow about three blogs. I enjoy the writings of two Oregon women who write of things bike, and things not bike. Their sites are listed on this blog under the heading, "My Blog List."

Every now and then I come across a new blog that provides entertainment. One such blog is Transit Interface. It speaks of all things young, strong and foolish. Just to be clear; when I say foolish, I say it with respect. To be old is to have your courage replaced with wisdom. I envy that youthful foolishness. I don't envy it enough to do something that will put me into the doctors office (age is doing a fine job of that), but I sincerely admire that energy.
Tux at the 2010 TOC
A good blog is honest, entertaining, has pictures, and is updated at least once a week. I haven't been meeting these criteria, but I am recommitting. While I am nothing without a goal, once I commit, it is pretty much a done deal.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day trip

After loading up the miles yesterday, I elected not to ride and Hottie, Tux and I piled into the war wagon and went up north. Dark clouds and a cutting wind reminded us that spring is yet to arrive.
Hottie spotted an early Chris King Hub prototype

I played with the little camera that Hottie got me after I sent the old to the bottom of the harbor in Kodiak Alaska. I'm going for that "Rapha" "epic" look.
Sometimes it is all black and white
Sometimes things are more colorful...
A little orange is a beautiful thing..

Saturday, March 3, 2012

0303 2012 News and catch up

This was the shower curtain in one of my hotel rooms on my recent trip

I didn't realize Stevie Nicks had her own line of bathroom furnishings

My travel to Montreal was cool. Wichita, not so much. Next up ? Platteville, Wisconsin.
Good ride today. 55 miles, 4,500' of climbing, 2,500 calories.

You can spot the experienced winter riders around here. They have form fitting clothing (no baggy jackets). Something under their helmets to keep their heads warm. Any of a thousand options for gloves, and ragged shoe covers (no points deducted or added for duct tape).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Back to it

Isn't this the coolest picture of the coolest Greyhound ever? He was sniffing snow and this is what it looks like.

As my loyal fan may have noted, there were no posts in February. Not a plan, it just kind of happened. I lived all 29 days.

My knee is coming along fine. I did some lunges on Monday and I went deep and bonked my Osgood-Schlatter on the carpet several times and thought nothing of it until the next evening when something went wrong and it hurt really bad. I've been nice to it and all seems swell.

Work has been crazy and I truly appreciate nice people. I work with some great people. I come home to a wonderful wife and loyal pup. Life is pretty fun.
Kyson and Tux are absolutely fascinated by each other.

We have enjoyed visits from Si as well as RJ, Kyson, Sophie and Katie. I visited Kansas and Montreal in February. Hottie is S L O W L Y recovering from her surgery and is understandably frustrated.

On a personal note; although I wasn't out of commission very long, I have so appreciated being able to ride again. The morning of my first post-surgery commute it was dumping rain. I woke up (thanks to my alarm set for 5:30 AM) and could hear the rain running down the downspout. My first thought was, "I get to ride today," I put on my rain stuff and went out the door and smiled all the way to work.

I commuted today and riding with a little light makes a big difference. I'm starting to think we are about to finish this winter thing and get started on spring pretty soon.