Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Grey Black and Brown

Hottie approaching Tapeworm in the Methow..

To everything there is a season. This is the season of base miles. Between trips to the cabin I've tried to squeeze in some long rides. Saturday looked to be dry and I had yet to do a ride on this side of the Cascades without fenders in 2015.

Schedules converged and El Chefe, McWoodie and I rolled out in a fog (literally- but it was dry). We exchanged stories and caught up on what has been happening in 2015.

McWoodie had to catch a flight to the other side of the world so he turned back a little more than an hour into our ride. El Chefe and I chatted and I kept looking at my computer because the fog was supposed to burn off around ten thirty and I was ready for some sunshine.

The fog did more than block the sun it also limited our views and kept my glasses wet. The resulting tunnel vision was kind of depressing. We had hoped to see the scenery. We weren't cold per se, however, we were far from warm.

When the road kicked up we welcomed the chance to get warm. Ironically at the top of the climb we were both hot and cold. The sweat generated on the climb was now getting chilly. I had joked that when we stopped seeing Seahawk flags and started seeing Aryan Nation flags it would be time to turn around.

We never did stop seeing Seahawk flags but we did see this !

Just as we stopped one of the "Eagles" stopped and realized the local youth had been busy Friday night.

El Chefe and I stopped and refueled. I quietly hoped I would warm up a bit. When we resumed our journey I felt cold. El Chefe was also chilled. Seeing the sun was no longer a hope but would be the difference between a good ride and a sufferfest. A hundred miles is a long way to be uncomfortable.

Within five minutes the sun burst through and our Brown-clad bodies were warmed. Twenty minutes later we were again shrouded in fog but we had been warmed and we no longer cold.

El Chefe pulled alongside and in a tone that reminded me of an eleven year old with Playboy magazines in his backpack asked "Do you want to add in some...gravel?" Oh yeah !

Soon we were on gravel and it felt GOOD.

Gravel in January ! !

El Chefe and his El butte on gravel along the river.

Finally when we hit Lake Washington the fog had burned off for good. I even took off my vest for the last fifteen kilometers. By the time we finished we had a hundred miles and tired legs. I had sat on El Chefe's wheel more than I should have but he didn't seem to mind. Thanks bro.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Foggy mountain breakdown

The promise was an overcast morning commute followed by a dry evening commute.  I left Casa de Evo in total darkness a bit before six in the morning and my helmet mounted headlight illuminated the wet, misty fog before I was out of my driveway.  I was snuggled in warm clothing that included a neck warmer and beanie under my helmet.  The first downhill let me know that not wearing shoe covers was a mistake.  I don’t recall if that was a decision or an oversight but soon my ankles and then my feet were cold. 

There were patches where there was no fog and those tiny fifty foot windows were anomalies that only served to remind me how depressing it is riding in fog. It wasn’t raining, yet in almost no time water started dripping off my helmet and gloves. I wasn’t wearing glasses but still I kept blinking to try and improve my limited vision.

I focused on my pedal stroke and hummed a song or two as I plodded along my usual route.

After reaching my destination and following a shower and cup of Joe I was social and had a fine day.  I felt relieved when the sun emerged and looked forward to my evening commute.  All was good.

By mid afternoon the fog had rolled back in and the temperature and my motivation both plummeted. This wasn’t what I had signed up for and I wanted a dry commute.  I had ridden over a hundred soggy miles the previous weekend and I was ready to be dry!

When it was time to go I put on an extra layer and braced for the cold.  I was wearing the same jacket I had in the morning and I don’t know if it was still damp or what was wrong- but in less than a hundred yards I was cold.
Sends a chill down your spine doesn't it?
I decided to ramp up my cadence to try and warm myself.  I caught another bike commuter whom I have chatted with a few times as we rode south.  I said hello but was in no mood to make small talk.  I finally told him I was cold and needed to spin to try and warm up.   I didn’t look back and with my teeth gritted I took off.  As it happens I had my third fastest time ever on a STRAVA segment I have ridden over a hundred times in the past four years. THAT is how motivated I was to warm up. 

A conference call that refused to end and a distant meeting conspired to force my lunch to be a hastily grabbed cup of soup so in addition to being cold I was bonking as well.  Another red-letter day at the Bailey’s!
THIS is how you fuel a cyclist...
I noted Chismus lights blazing despite it being mid January. I even looked up and saw a fully lit Chismus tree in a window.  What the heck?  Luckily I wasn’t too tired to be judgmental.  Getting home was my focus as I zigged and zagged my way home. 

At some point along the way the body heat I was generating was enough that I was no longer uncomfortable although my feet were still cold.  “You can’t save them all” I told myself.   

I arrived home and switched off my headlight and four, count ‘em again…four, flashing red lights.  I unlocked the door and put the bike in the garage.  I unplugged my battery to bring it upstairs and recharge.  I shut off the garage light and paused for a moment.

I closed my eyes, tilted my head back and took a slow breath. Physically I was standing downstairs in a dark hallway clutching a bag of dirty clothes in one hand and a bike bag with my phone and wallet in the other. My mind is not downstairs. 

With eyes closed, for just a moment, I am riding under bright blue skies along a winding road in France.  My legs are tan and strong from dozens of soggy rides like the one I just finished.  The sun warms my shoulders and the cool breeze flows through my helmet. 
Although in my mind I'm not riding this French antique..
Although it takes no more than thirty seconds, it is worth it.  I smile and head upstairs.

I will always have memories of riding in France. I hope to get back and do it again before I am too old to be able to do any meaningful riding. Until I do return and during these dark winter months I will gladly savor these silent moments. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Coffee and Lies # 106 It's twenty-fifteen

2014 was a fantastically eventful year.  Zach got into and subsequently started at Lauder; we were able to get the cabin and spend a bunch of time there. Bikes were bought and sold and kids and grandkids had fun.  The nightmare that was the Carlton Complex and Rising Eagle fires scared us, but left us mostly unscathed. Work was good and playing was even better.

To put the icing on the preverbal cake; by combining some vacation and comp time with my company holidays Hottie and I were able to spend two solid weeks at the cabin to close out the year.  It was the longest vacation we had taken since we traveled to the Middle East after Zach finished his program in Damascus. We were gone long enough we had to have our mail held. Whoop whoop.
We had some time to ourselves as well as time with family and good friends.  We watched it snow and walked under the stars.  We skied, rode fat bikes, sledded, baked and read. We ate well.  I skied hard and biked hard a handful of times and at other times we enjoyed some mellow skiing, riding and walking.  The sun went to bed early and so did we. Aside from a feast prepared by El Chefe’ and our Chismus dinner the meals were simple and satisfying.

Only because I could- I let the hairs grow on my chin just to see how much grey there was.  I was wondering if I might get kind of a Walter White cerebral-bad ass look going.  
It turned out to be more of a cowboy sidekick look.  
I was happy to shave it off, but not as happy as Hottie who had practically resorted to picketing to try and persuade me to shave off the prickly monster.

When we got home I went to grab a plate and opened the wrong cupboard.  It was an accomplishment to have been gone long enough to be confused.   When I returned to road biking the more traditional Q-Factor felt odd after the super wide pedal spread on the Fat Bike.

Despite a discouraging rain a half dozen of us showed up for the Coffee and Lies ride. Another three joined the soggy squad for post-ride coffee at Fuel. Big John had a surprise for me that was truly a Chismus miracle. 

Speaking of Chismus miracles; after months of working on updating our tried, true and awesome kit design our team’s design committee offered up the results of their labor to the team and it was received with open arms.  I can assure you I will never look at a team kit the same again.  There are a lot of riders wearing bad looking kits. There are some kits that look okay.  There are very few that look outstanding.  We were striving for excellence.  I think we nailed it.  More to follow.