Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Meatrix

The Meatrix I

The Meatrix II

The Meatrix II 1/2

Seems to me that we're not really that far away from Soylent Green.

Think about it.

Training Week -- 10/22 - 10/28


Number of rides: 1
Riding time: 1 hr
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 17 minutes
Best ride of the week: uhhh, the only ride of the week? (Thur OSM)
Other: Ran 4 times, today for over an hour

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Funk

You ever just feel kind of blah? That's been me all day today. Maybe this big glass of Syrah and some bloggin' will pull me out of it. Or maybe put me to sleep. Or put you to sleep!

Speaking of sleep, haven't had much the last few days. My son is a 7th grader, and unfortunately he's going through something I was hoping he'd never experience. He's on the victim end of a bully. Some jerk'ish kid has picked him out to torment. Mostly teasing but some physical stuff too, and I know it's getting him down, even though he still keeps up his happy-go-lucky demeanor. We've talked about options. He could just try to ignore it and avoid the kid as much as possible. He could fight back, as in, if he gets pushed or hit, unload a fist with all his fury right into the kid's nose. But the best option in my opinion is to talk to a teacher or counselor about it. Or have us do it.

Well, predictably, he's totally opposed to talking to a teacher, and he doesn't want us to either. He doesn't want to be a tattle-tale and he's also worried it would just make it worse. He's also not too keen on fighting back. He's a pacifist through-and-through, besides, to hear him describe the bully, he must be like 6'9" or something. He's not sure he could reach the kid's nose! So, for now, he's just trying to ignore the jerk.

As a parent, it just breaks your heart when your sweet kid experiences meanness in the world. You know it's there, and that everyone faces it at some point in growing up, but you can never really prepare for it. Literally, it makes your heart ache.


But life goes on...

One of my sisters lives in London, and she's always on some grand kick or another. A real dreamer she is. A few days ago she suggested I get involved with a guy there who's promoting an idea for urban transportation that is a cross between a taxi and a bus. He calls it the taxibus. The service would operate a fleet of big passenger vans that roam a large city. When you need to go somewhere, you text the service about your trip parameters--when, where, etc.--and some fancy software figures out which vehicle can pick you up and get you to your destination most efficiently. You say "yea" (or "nay") and one comes to pick you up (or not).

Of course they're looking for funding and supporters, and they need to do some detailed studies and simulations to show that it makes sense, which is where sis thinks I could help. Sounds cool, and nothing I like better than developing fun new simulation software, but no way can I commit to anything that substantial right now. Gotta keep balance in the universe... she's the dreamer; I'm the slacker.


What else...

Gina and I are debating about signing up for Plow to Porch. It's a good concept--every week they deliver a nice assortment of locally grown, organic produce right to your doorstep. Kind of like the Farmers' Market coming to your house. I think it would be fun and a good way to try all that's in season. Gina's worried we wouldn't use it all, and still we'd have to shop for our staples (apples, berries, bananas, etc.). So what?!?


Been running with the Bam-Bam Hammer lately. He pushes the pace--big surprise, I know--and my soleus muscles are killing me. It's all good though ...I can feel my bone density increasing every day!


The USMF was threatening to revoke my Man License so I needed to score some points. What better way than swinging some power tools around for a few days. See my handy work...
When finished, these will be redwood planter boxes (complete with irrigation) for year-round greens like spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc.


I added some new links over on the right. One of my new favorite blogs is Smithers in Minneapolis. He updates multiple times a day (not a slacker!) and he's pretty funny and pertinent. He also works with Doug Knox. PNW Buckeye is a bike racer with a football addiction. He's a friend of Jake's and has some pretty good stories. Flahute is written by Steven Sheffield who is one of the more entertaining RBR posters. Blue Squirrel is a fellow clavicle-club member and a masters racer from LA. Finally, among new bike-related blogs, I added a link to the one-and-only Chuckie V, who was one of the original pro triathletes. I dig his unconventional style and his absolute rejection of all the johnny-come-lately training techniques. Just go ride your friggin bike for 8 hours a day. (BTW, he rode with us in the SY Valley last winter when he was hanging out in Buellton.)

Also added links to Nooz Hawk, a new online local news source for SB, and also the aforementioned Plow to Porch.


Finally, I've decided to start training for the 2008 bike-racing season beginning on November 1st. Not sure yet whether to work up a fancy plan or to just use the good ol' dependable ride-a-lot method...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SoCal Fires

San Diego is getting hit very hard by these fires. Hoping our friends down there are doing okay and staying safe. We need some rain!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Thinker

I think most people have done this. When you were in class, in elementary school, you probably meant to say, "Miss Wormwood, may I go sharpen my pencil?" but instead it came out as, "Mommy, may I go sharpen my pencil?"


Time freezes as you immediately realize your gaffe. Oh God, did anybody hear that? You want to rewind time and gobble up those words before they get out of your mouth. Too late. Kids start to snicker and the teacher cracks a little smile. Your face heats up to a thousand degrees and turns bright red. Your day is completely ruined. Chances are you'll remember the Mommy incident the entire year.

Sitting there this morning, pondering what to write about in this blog, I was reminded of those kinds of embarrassing childhood moments. I had many, but one stands out from the rest and I still remember it vividly.

I was around eight years old. We just recently moved to the neighborhood, and my sister Shelly and I had made friends with the girls next door. They were the first girls I ever had as friends. Stacey was a couple years younger, but Lori was my age and she was the object of my growing crush. The four of us played well together, riding bikes, hiding and seeking ...kid stuff.

One summer evening after dinner, we were lounging on the grass in our front yard near the rose bushes. Just talking. Now, if it had been me and my guy friends, certainly the topic would have been something like the color and consistency of dog poop, boogers, or spit. But this was me and three girls, and we were being cerebral and philosophical. The conversation topic was... thinking. I mean, we were talking about how kids think and how they make sense of the world. Pretty deep for eight-year-olds. I was doing more listening than talking, but it was really pleasant to be there in that moment in our little world. With Lori.

Then I blurted out, "I do my best thinking when I'm sitting on the toilet!!"

Oh.... My.... God.... I knew instantly that I had made a colossal blunder of judgement. I had gotten too comfortable and relaxed and crossed the line of sharing thoughts that should have stayed in my own head. Like locked up in Alcatraz.

The damage was immeasurable. First of all, I had just admitted in front of Lori that I actually used the bathroom, and worse yet, since I am a boy, she could deduce that I go number two! That concept was horrifying enough, but now I had implanted an explicit picture of myself in her mind like this...

...which was not really the image I wanted to portray.

So yeah, they laughed at me and teased me for a couple minutes and then we moved on to the next subject. Odds are Lori forgot my embarrassing comment by the next day, and maybe it wasn't really the reason nothing ever became of my crush. Yet I remember it clearly almost 40 years later.

It's interesting how our sensibilities change as we age, and in particular, our vulnerability to being embarrassed. Of course we learn to filter our comments better than when we were young, but also I think our sensitivity dulls. Maybe we just don't care. Did I tell you where I was when I thought of the idea for this blog post??

Training Week -- 10/15 - 10/21


Number of rides: 2
Riding time: 3 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 1 hr
Best ride of the week: Fri Painted Cave w/ TnA
Other: Ran three times

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Portland's Great Conspiracy

Gina and I had a soon-to-expire $500 credit on Southwest Air and we desperately needed to take a little trip anyway, basically a long-weekend escape with no kids, no car pools, no chores, and no schedule beyond getting to the airport on time.

We chose downtown Portland (Oregon)--a nice city with great public transportation and generally a very cool vibe. No need for a car, and all we took were backpacks with some clothes and a few books. Simple. I got a room in the downtown Hilton through Priceline at a lower rate than some Motel 6's. (BTW, if you ever stay in big cities on weekends, you owe it to yourself to check out Priceline for bidding on rooms. You can get 3-star and 4-star hotels for dirt cheap, like $30 - $50 a night. Someday I'll do a detailed post about it.) Our only concern was the notoriously rainy weather we so often hear about.

OK, rather than give you a detailed and boring trip report, let me just say this: Portland rocks!! We had a great time. Maybe it's just because we're usually living life as middle-class suburbanites, but spending some time in a buzzing and hectic downtown environment was really fun. So much to do in such close proximity. They've done a great job of mixed-use urban design... living, shopping, and working are all together. As they like to say, Portland Works. I usually fantasize about moving to a more rural environment, like maybe a small mountain town, but after spending four days there, I'd reconsider city life in a place like Portland. Of course, we'd have to get fixies and single-speed bikes to fit in as a local!

What else...

You want to eat? Dozens of good restaurants and bakeries within a few blocks. Coffee? I lost count at about 20 places downtown ...and that's not including the ubiquitous $tarbuck$. You want stuff? Tons of shopping mixed in with all the high rises. Huge Powell's bookstore dwarfs your typical Border's or Barne's & Noble. It feels more like a library than a bookstore. Also a REI full of fun toys and clothes. We could have spent an entire day just at Powell's and REI. In fact, if you throw in the nearby Whole Foods Market, I don't think I'd ever need to visit another store!

Beautiful parks and wild areas are very close by. Our Portland-based friends the Erkers took us on a hike in Forest Park which is spectacularly green and lush, and has miles and miles of trails and gravel roads, which is a good thing because it seems all of Portland is into running and cyclocross! We also visited the Hoyt Arboretum which was only a five-minute MAX ride from downtown.

Ooops... I'm starting to give you that boring and detailed trip report that I promised not to. So let's just move on to some pics from my crappy phone camera...

Looking south from our room on the 16th floor of the Hilton Executive Tower building. I would have stuck the camera phone out the window for a shot straight down but I had an irrational fear of dropping it. Seriously.

The location of this place was perfect. One block from Pioneer Square and the MAX rail stop, and four blocks to the street car stop. You can ride all trains, trolleys, and buses in the downtown area for free.

Speaking of which, this is the light-rail train leaving Pioneer Square.

...and this is the street car heading up toward Northwest Portland, home to lots of restaurants and other fun stuff.

Yep, it's really autumn outside of SoCal. These trees are up in the hills west of downtown. Think about this: if you're a stressed-out, suit-&-tie-wearing cubicle worker and your day is sucking, then you just hop the train for a five-minute ride out to the forest and have a picnic lunch under the trees in solitude. You go back to work in a good mood.

When I saw this tree, I almost called the fire department 'cause it looked like it was on fire.

We saw our first-ever, live hockey game. Portland's team, The WinterHawks lost a close one 5-4. Hockey is crazy fast and confusing ...good thing we had a real Canadian with us to explain stuff! And yes, we got to see a fight too.

We would have loved to see a Trailblazers game but it's preseason and they were out of town anyway. Maybe next time.

So yeah, it was a fun weekend, and just what the doctor ordered. I'd highly recommend it for a quick getaway. Oh, and about the title of this post... it didn't rain a drop on us the entire weekend. It was mid-60s, clear, calm and beautiful. Obviously all the talk about Portland's rainy weather is just lies and propaganda designed to keep us Californians away from their paradise. Quite understandable actually. I won't tell...

Training Week -- 10/8 - 10/14

Lots of cross training, and lots of eating.

Number of rides: 2
Riding time: 2 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 1 hr
Best ride of the week: Thu lunch-time climbing
Other: Ran twice; lifted once; lots of walking
- OSM in 16:50 at comfortable effort
- having asthma problems when running

Thursday, October 11, 2007

gone fishin'

Off to PDX for a long weekend of R&R (&S)...

C ya L8'tr

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why Blog?

That was the question in my earlier post today. I pondered it deeply for a few minutes... and then I googled "Why do you blog?" and discovered, like usual, this was not an original thought. One of the first search results was from the Washington Post and it had this gem:

Some outsiders believe bloggers are friendless shut-ins with hobbies so bizarre as to be shared only by a handful of people on the planet. Or, at best, they are the superstar narcissists of the look-at-me generation. Both are true, for some. But as with evaluating most groups, generalization is tough, dangerous and often damning.

Yeah, sounds about right!

But then I turned away from the google results and started thinking for myself again. There must be a reason, or at least there was a year ago when I started this thing.

I think Erik Saunders' blog (R.I.P.) was the first I had ever seen, and it was really good. He told all kinds of entertaining, behind-the-scenes stories about domestic bike racing. Things you'd never see in VeloNews or Cyclingnews. Funny stuff. Since he left SB, and I no longer could hear his ramblings on rides, his blog was the next best thing. Sadly, now that he doesn't race anymore, his blog has ended.

Around that same time I discovered Mike Jones' blog. This guy was hilarious. He too has stopped writing, but you can find his stuff archived here.

And then I stumbled across Hernando's site. Woah!! Stories about California racing! And more. This guy could sling some ink and it was (is) pleasurable reading. I followed his links and uncovered a huge community of bloggers up there.

A greater and greater percentage of my bike-related web-surfing time was spent in blog land, and less and less in traditional news sites. Whereas previously I'd visit cyclingnews and velonews a couple times a day, I'd now make the blog rounds instead. Hunting for the latest gossip and local'ish stuff. I'd try to find stories about Sea Otter before looking for the results of Paris-Roubaix.

So anyway, I lurked for awhile. Months, years, I don't really remember. And I started to think, "Hey, I could do this. I enjoy reading what regular people have to say, maybe folks would be interested in my stories too." For whatever reason, it seems SoCal's cycling community is not as into blogging as are our friends up north. I actually convinced myself that I'd be providing a useful service to the SoCal bike-racing community!! How's that for delusional! Plus, a blog seemed like a good way to keep friends and family informed, and maybe even entertained. Why do it? Well, as TnA suggested, why not do it.

Starting a blog proved remarkably easy, and the cost was right in my price range, i.e., free. The challenging part was (and is) deciding what to write about. And also how to write it... who is Marco Fanelli (not my real name btw) and what is his style (or lack thereof)? Is he a boring, mid-40s, middle-class white male (the reality) or is he edgy and witty Joe Cool bike racer. Given that this can be read by anyone--wife, children, and parents, friends and enemies, competitors and teammates, bosses past, present, and future--how much self-censorship should I do? What is the goal? Providing entertainment and information, or inciting controversy? Believe it or not, those questions never occurred to me before.

It seems I've gravitated to be the mid-40's boring guy who's trying to inform and entertain. That guy is easy to be. Obviously.

As to the what-to-write question... for now it's mostly bike racing. It's what I think about and it's what I do. Look at the banner at the top fercrissakes! Every cyclist likes to read race reports and I've never met a bike racer who doesn't enjoy pictures, especially of themselves. So I write up every race, and I take pictures and video when I can. Beyond that, maybe somebody out there likes a bit of history, and since I've been in this silly sport for 30+ years, I've got some to tell. Did you know I was in Greg LeMond's first race in NorCal (1976 Land Park crit) and we were friends for those years that he was a junior? And of course this blog must put forth any interesting gossip I run across, such as that Thurlow Rogers will be racing for Amgen-Giant next year. Perhaps he'll confirm or deny if he ever looks in here anymore. Funny or embarrassing stories too, like Steve Boelter TT'ing in flip-flops ...and beating people! But why write the weekly training log? Well, believe it or not, knowing that I'll publicly state my rides and hours actually motivates me to ride more. That's lame but it's true.

Other stuff creeps into my blog too. Occasional doings by family and friends, but mostly that stays private. What about work? Forget about it ...for reasons I can't even mention. Of course, if I ever have anything insightful to say about social or environmental issues, I'll post it. Sadly, that isn't very often. But growing food is cool to me. I actually think it's kind of noble. Quite the opposite of bike racing, which one can argue is a pretty selfish pursuit. When I make my first batch of salsa entirely from items grown in my back yard, believe me, you'll hear about it!

Why blog? To join another community. To share, inform, and hopefully entertain. To act out a different identity. To rant. To brag. To get feedback or confirmation. To scratch on a virtual tree, "I was here" or something like that.

...and I'll try not to be so long-winded from now on!

Happy Birthday Blog

I just realized that this blog had its one-year birthday last week, and I forgot to celebrate it. What the... Am I for real!?! It's already narcissistic enough just having a blog. What audacity to think anybody wants to read this drivel, with all its misspellings, bad grammar, and self-aggrandizing stories...

Yet, I read lots of other people's drivelish blogs ...and truth be told, I really, really enjoy them. Does that make me some voyeuristic freak, anonymously peeking into others' lives and personal commentary on the internet?!? Am I slumping into ever greater ignorance because I forsake "real" news and information sources for the writings of hack amateurs such as me? (or should that be "I" or "myself" ...see what I mean??) Does it matter that I know more about the blow-by-blow unfolding of some po-dunk 35+ bike race in California, than I do about Bush's veto of the child health-insurance bill, or genocide in Darfur? Me thinks it does matter, yet I'm sitting here typing more drivel anyway. Hmmmm...

I didn't intend to get too serious with this post, but the question is...

Why blog?

I'll have to get back to you later on that one, seeing as I have no meaningful answer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Good Aerobic Work...

...being done by the microbes in my compost pile.

I finally took advantage of Starbucks' offer of coffee grounds for composting. The one over in Camino Real Marketplace has a bucket where they regularly put bagged grounds for customers to take. I got two last week. Each bag weighs 5-10 lbs.

Then, one of Gina's coworkers who is also a barista downtown brought us a huge bag of grounds, maybe 50 lbs! I mixed it all into the existing pile, along with a bunch of Westringia trimmings for a good fiber-to-nitrogen ratio, and the pile heated up within a day to over 130 degrees. That's just about hot enough to kill the weed seeds and undesirable pathogens.

But I know the pile would prefer grounds from a local business, so maybe next I'll hit up Anna's Bakery and the Daily Grind!

Training Week -- 10/1 - 10/7

My transformation to Couch Potato is nearly complete.

Number of rides: 3
Riding time: 5 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 1.5 hr
Best ride of the week: Sunday worlds
Other: ran once
- Legs ache from NOT riding. Can you feel muscle atrophy in progress??

Friday, October 05, 2007

Why We Climb

Thursday lunchtime ride. Two cameras sync'ed up. Forward camera on my helmet; rearward camera on my bars.

Youtube crushed the quality after I uploaded it. The original is way better. Oh well, what do want for free???

BTW, if the embed doesn't play, you can go directly to youtube to see it.

[add/edit] So I recently learned about which also hosts videos, and apparently doesn't compress them as much (or maybe not at all?) as youtube. It also gives you the option of allowing viewers to download the original video file by going to the site. This video is here.

The quality is better, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Broken J's

Jason Hannon is one tough mofo. He already had surgery scheduled in November for some pain in his shoulder. Yes, you read that correctly... voluntary surgery. But then yesterday he thought, what the hell, might as well try some flips and stuff on the mountain bike whilst riding 20 mph on the hard dirt. Result: 5th-degree shoulder separation. Read the details on Gary's blog. (Hey Jason, did you know this pic would get posted all over the internet??)

Jake Erker is also one tough mofo. Read about his trip from hell, concluding at the final stage of the Tour of Missouri with a not-so-nice take-down from a moto carrying a cameraman. Result: clean break of the clavicle (pic at right). Surgery was scheduled for this morning, but just before cutting him open, the doc decided instead to let the bones try to heal naturally. Good call in my opinion, since it's the end of the year and all.

Heal fast Jason and Jake.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

An Idea for Mothballs Crit Next Year...

Hey Echelon, see what you can do to make this happen, k??

You wanna see exciting bike racing? Check out the coverage of last week's USA Crits final race at night in Las Vegas. As per normal, Steephill has an excellent video. Crits at night doesn't get much better than that!

Also, If you haven't done so already, I suggest you register at so you can watch their great video of lots of races, including start-to-finish coverage of the crits in Las Vegas. Not just the pros either, you can see coverage of the industry race featuring SB's own Dave Lettieri--who got a nice call-up btw--racing in a field with Mario Cipollini and Steve Bauer among others. You gotta hurry though, because they take down the videos after awhile (or maybe archive them somewhere that I've yet to find). In both the pro men and the industry races, watch for the crashes going into bell lap. You'll see Cody hit the deck after flying through the first corner, but fortunately he's ok and is now racing the elite track championships down in LA this week.