Monday, December 22, 2008

Blog on Vacation...

...for a little while. Have a happy holiday.

Training Week -- 12/15 - 12/21

Weak week due to rain and work.

Mon: 0
Tue: 0
Wed: 0
Thu: 2 hr; OSM easy, then to SB and back.
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hr; 8:00 roco, rode hard to 2nd climb
Sun: 3 hr; Sunday worlds, hard around Goob and Bates

Total: 9 hrs

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How About You?

Nothing like an approaching storm to sort out the hardcore riders from the fluff. If you look at this picture and think, "What the hell, my bike needs cleaning anyway ...might as well ride", then you are hardcore and I respect your dedication. You deserve to win bike races. This sport, more than any other, rewards those who stay motivated and train consistently no matter how much discomfort it entails. People who win bike races are people who know how to suffer.

I type this while enjoying a steaming hot mocha, and my bike sits clean and dry in the garage. Fluff.

Disaster Averted

Do you regularly back up your computer? Neither do I. But when my laptop started acting flaky recently, I was uncharacteristically on-the-ball and copied everything over to an external hard drive. 'twas my first back up in the two-year life of that computer. Good thing too, because it finally died on the weekend. A premature death if you ask me. I've bought five Hewlett-Packard machines (3 PCs & 2 printers) in the last few years and this laptop was the third one to die young. Yet still, as a long-term stockholder and fan of the HP story, I gave the company a final chance and got another one yesterday.

Back up your stuff!

ps. I'm going to try to give this blog a face lift sometime in the next few days. If it disappears or otherwise gets ruined, you'll know I screwed it up.

Training Week -- 12/8 - 12/14

Nothing but group rides. That's too lazy and needs to stop! Less than 50 days 'til Santa Barbara World Crit Championships, i.e., Mothballs

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hr, lunchtime hammerfest
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; lunchtime OSM, comfortable tempo - 18:00
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hr; 8:00 roco ride to 2nd pass, 3X big-gear seated climb
Sun: 3.5 hr; Sunday worlds, some effort around Goob and Bates

Total: 10 hrs

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Danger ...From Us and From Them

I try not to dwell on the dangerous aspects of riding and racing, but really, they're never very far from my mind. Over my lifetime I've descended roads like Gibraltar, Painted Cave, OSM, Figueroa Mountain, and Mt. Hamilton, surely a thousand times or more. Often I find myself really railing the corners and enjoying the thrill of speed, only to think later about the catastrophic consequences of an ill-timed tire blowout or unseen patch of gravel. Or an oily road! Mostly though, I feel in control and tend not to obsess over those low-probability situations.

Of course it helps to keep your equipment in good shape. Don't ride worn tires, and fercrissakes, tighten your skewers properly. Years ago I was in a three-man rotation coming down the 101 at 25 mph when the guy in front decided to bunny-hop a little lip in the pavement at the Refugio bridge. His front wheel came off. Can you imagine the terror in that split second between seeing the wheel come out and planting your fork into the pavement?! His face and teeth got the worst of it. I also remember a local rider losing his front wheel when trying to hop a cattle guard coming down Figueroa Mtn. He got beat up pretty badly. Personally, I don't file off the nubs on my fork-tips because of those incidents.

Racing is a bit different. We all rely on each other in the pack, and whether it be benevolence or self-preservation, 99% of the time things run smoothly. Pretty remarkable when you think about the physics of it. All those bikes, with their sharp metal parts, moving fast in such close proximity ...each piloted by an independent-thinking rider whose primary objective is to force his front wheel ahead of all the other independent-thinking riders trying to do the same thing. All this with near non-existent communication.

But 99% is not 100%, and when things go wrong it can be disastrous. Earlier this year, a rider from Schroeder Iron crashed in a mid-week training crit and a finger was severed off of his hand. Just a random and unfortunate placement of a body part in all that metal and mass. Sometimes the results are more tragic, as was the case with a young rider from Santa Barbara named Barrett Holmen.

Bicycle racing is risky and I think in some twisted way, that's part of the appeal to many riders. We knowingly take those risks and experience some level of exhilaration when we survive.

It's an altogether different risk we take when training out on open roads with vehicle traffic. Indeed the vast majority of drivers are courteous to cyclists and they exercise appropriate caution when encountering us. But make no mistake, drivers do not share the "we're-all-in-this-together" mentality that fellow racers have in a pack. Drivers do not risk injury or death if something goes wrong or if they use poor judgment in the presence of a cyclist. There have been a couple tragic incidents recently that show how one-sided the danger is, with cyclists being run over and killed by inattentive drivers.

Worse yet are the sociopath drivers whose behavior is egregiously irresponsible and dangerous. Long time SB riders remember the horrific tragedy when six of our fellow cyclists were mowed down by an intoxicated driver up by Gaviota. One was killed, and another literally had his leg ripped off his body. I'm still haunted by what I saw a few days later at the scene. Police markings along the highway showing where bikes and bodies and been thrown, including a chalked outline of a detached leg. Every visit to the Albertson's on Calle Real is a grim reminder because the widow of the rider killed manages the produce department.

So I have no tolerance of idiot drivers who like to harass cyclists with their vehicles. Anybody who's been riding long enough knows the split-second terror you experience when a fast moving vehicle passes by deliberately close, literally threatening your life. Sometimes it's a bunch of high school kids who think it's funny; other times it's an old codger with deep-seeded prejudice of people in colorful lycra clothing. It doesn't really matter who they are, if they misjudge the distance between you, their 6,000 pounds of glass and steel means you're dead.

I'm sorry to write such a downer blog post. My lunch ride yesterday had some bad-mojo vehicle incidents, leaving me too depressed to ride today. First a huge black truck drove unnecessarily close by me, and then felt the need to gun its absurdly loud, gas-guzzling engine. Next I get the finger from some middle-aged loser for absolutely no reason. Hey, I'll admit if I do something stupid on the bike and interfere with traffic, but in this case all I was doing was innocently using the same road, well to the right of the white line. Then while riding with the group, a car full of high school kids must have thought we were poor because they threw a handful of coins at us. What other reason could there be?!

Please ride safely out there.

Training Week -- 12/1 - 12/7

Time was a bit limited by work, but still feeling some gains in high aerobic zone.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hrs; lunchtime hammer ride +
Wed: 0
Thu: 1.5 hrs; 2X OSM, near max on 2nd one (15:38)
Fri: 0
Sat: 3.5 hrs; Ca BikeFest, good tempo ride
Sun: 3.5 hrs; Sunday worlds

Total: 10 hrs

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ca BikeFest Ride

100+ riders rolled out for the long loop of the Ca BikeFest ride. Beautiful clear morning with just enough crisp to remind us that it's Winter in Southern California. The Amgen/Giant Masters set a spirited pace along PCH up to Rincon, and then they picked it up a notch on the Casitas climbs. By the top we had a ~15 rider front group, ten of whom were Amgen/Giant, including a few of their recent recruits (KB, Chris DeMarchi, and Antony Galvan). They are unquestionably the team to beat in 2009. Also in the bunch was Fast Freddie Rodriquez, who I think was Sherpa'ing for Mike Gourley (as if he needed a Sherpa!) Garmin/Chipotle rider Peter Stetina also joined us, and didn't appear the least bit homesick for his Boulder, CO weather. Other than a blistering sprint into Santa Paula, the group rode a nice tempo all the way back to Ventura. A perfect winter group ride!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Really Random

Missed it by That Much!

I had it all worked out. I'm riding the California BikeFest 100km route on Saturday, and I had a plan to win! Money in the bank, baby. Sure it's just a charity ride and all, but since I began 2008 with a glorious victory in the Solvang Century, I figured why not end 2008 on the same note? Bookends to an otherwise mediocre season. Just to be sure though, I needed a domestique. A super domestique. I needed a top roadie with big-time international experience.

So I placed my bid on Kim Anderson. I've ridden with her enough times to know she is a motor. We would TTT those 60 miles in like 2:20, leaving everyone else in our dust. Nearing the end, our DS would choreograph the finish such that I crossed the line first. Yes, that's how it was going to unfold.

Until somebody snuck in at the last minute and out-bid me!!! Grrrr....

Now all I can do is hope the 8:00 roco ride crosses our path and I can hop on that train along hwy 150. We leave Ventura at 8:00 also, and the hwy 150 / hwy 192 intersection is almost precisely in the middle!


All I Can do is Laugh!

Guess what! The City of Goleta raised the remodel permit fee from $380 to $1,490. They say the new fee better reflects the amount of work required to review the architectural drawings and inspect the construction. The change took effect on December 1st. I learned all this yesterday, December 3rd, when I turned in my permit application and wrote a $1,490 check. Sigh...


Recession? What Recession?

That's what my 13-year-old son says. He signed up with Google to show ads on a few of his videos on his Youtube page and now every month he gets a check. And look, the amounts are going up. His October check arrived yesterday and it's $266! The amazing thing is that he hasn't made any new videos in months. He barely even looks at his page any more. But obviously a lot of other people do!

Disclosure: the account is actually in Gina's name, since my son is below the minimum age. I guess that means we'll do his taxes for him next April.


Got Data?

TnA's dashboard. At one point he had a fourth device.


The Hammer Is Back!!!

So now we know how to motivate Ben "The Hammer" Haldeman. Bet him a burrito that he can't do something. Actually, the bet can't be with just anybody... no, I think it only works if the bet is with Matt "needs a nickname" Dubberley.

Take today for example. Normal lunchtime ride up Old San Marcos. Only this time, a burrito was on the line between those two hairy-legged former professional bike racers. For Ben to win, he needed to: (1) beat Matt to the top; and (2) break 15:00. Now, no offense to Matt, but I was pretty sure Ben would beat him. Matt's got a huge anaerobic tank, which is why he's so fast for 2-5 minutes, but OSM is about aerobic W/kg and Ben's got that in abundance. But sub-15:00?? In December???

We start fast. Ben's got three teammates for support. Matt's got none--we should change that, btw--but he's locked on like a Sidewinder missile, not letting more than a centimeter of air between his front and Ben's rear tire. I'm on the point and shoot my wad to reach the first mile at 4:20. I peel off and Ben bolts. Only Matt can match the acceleration, so now they're mano-y-mano. We watch from behind as Ben eats up the road. His form is not pretty--head bobbing up and down, torso skewed left--but the power is undeniable. Ben doesn't ask Matt to pull through because, of course, he wouldn't. Matt's best tactic would be a slow cruise to the top and then a furious sprint which he'd undoubtedly win. But really, I don't think he could have pulled through even if he wanted to.

At the big left bend, it appears that Matt's on the ropes. He's off Ben's wheel by a couple feet. You've heard of the Seinfeld "close talkers"? Well, Matt's a "close wheelsucker", frequently buzzing the tire in front of him, getting maximum draft. If he's off by just a couple feet, it pretty much means he's cracked.

We lose sight of the combatants as they round the big left-hand bend. A minute later and we're around the turn also, but see no sign of them ahead. A few tense moments. Then, up beyond, through a clearing in the trees, we see a lone figure emerge. White jersey, unmistakably unique form, flying fast uphill... a solo Ben. A quick check of my watch shows he's on pace to smash the 15:00 barrier. As he enters the switchbacks, we won't see him again until it's over.

Our attention turns to Matt. Oh how sweet it would be if we three could catch and drop him, teach him a lesson for diss'ing our teammate. He's a wounded animal up there and we smell blood. Trouble is, he smelled us too. He would not be our prey today.

I finish off the climb in 15:38, my best time since the summer. As I roll up to the hairy-legged former pros, I see a look of content in Ben's eyes. The look of a person who knows he'll be enjoying a big fat burrito for lunch.



And Speaking of Food...

Gina and I saw the movie Our Daily Bread last night at UCSB. Oh man, was it ever powerful. The viewer is immersed in the sights and sounds of industrial food production, and there is literally no dialogue at all. It doesn't need any. A DVD release is scheduled for January and anybody in the developed world who eats food should see it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rouge d'Hiver

This is an heirloom variety of lettuce (or Lactuca sativa for you botany nerds) from France that dates back to the 1800's. Of all the varieties I've grown, it's the most robust and problem-free, and coincidentally enough, is also one of our favorites to eat. Pick a bunch of these along with some other, more-crinkly loose-leaf lettuce and you've got yourself the basis for an awesome salad.

Add toasted walnuts, sliced apples, and feta cheese and top with a tasty Walnut-oil Vinaigrette:
2 Tbl. Apple cider vinegar
2 Tbl. Maple syrup
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbl. Walnut oil
1/8 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper


Training Week -- 11/24 - 11/30

Backed off a tad because of rain and sickness in the house.

Mon: 1 hr, recovery around Goleta
Tue: 0
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr, OSM, tempo
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hrs, 8:00 roco to Casitas Hills, big-gear seated climbing
Sun: 3 hrs, Sunday Worlds, one hard effort up Bates

Total: 9 hrs

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friendly but Intense Competition

I'm a sucker for a good competition, especially if I can just relax and watch. So when I found out who was lining up at yesterday's Thanksgiving 4-Miler, I cruised on over for some pre-turkey spectatin' and hecklin'.

Three of my fleetest-footed runner friends--each of them excellent cyclists to boot--would be lining up against each other in this popular annual event. Stakes higher than normal. Grand Prix tie-breaker points on the line. Prizes too, a rarity for local running races. Side bets were placed and taunts were lobbed in a bit of pre-race psychological warfare.

The three combatants (all equally capable of winning):

Mike Smith--gazillion-time winner of the Santa Barbara Sprint Triathlon, including this year at 44 years old. 9-minute two-miler, sub-15 5K, and 31-minute 10K. He's been speedy ever since his track days at Westmont in the 80's. I first met Mike 20 years ago as we rode together off the front of a mass-start Gibraltar Hill Climb. I can personally attest to his tenacity.

Todd Booth--Most consistent top finisher in local running races, ranging from one-mile to a half-marathon distance. 39 years old but getting faster every year. Top California MTB expert-class rider and energetic leader of my team. Rumored to fancy those pink foofie Starbucks drinks, but I won't say that to his face.

Eric Forte--41-year-old Librarian, Father, and quiet philosopher of all thing meaningful. But don't let that fool you... he'll rip out your liver and eat it for breakfast, raw. I've personally witnessed fits of rage in the heat of competition. When he channels that force, he's nearly unbeatable. Case-in-point, last year I saw him solo away from the cat-3 field at the Orosi Road Race to win 10 minutes.

Here's what happened yesterday...

Pre-race smiles almost hide the intensity in the air. When/if Eric (L) moves back to town, and when/if Todd (R) gets a year older, there will be epic battles between these two in the 40+ age group.

Todd started really fast, and soon after this picture he had a nice gap. Smitty tucked in right behind Eric.

Not that those three would notice, but behind was a moving mass of humanity. Nearly 500 runners toed the line, making for a lot of justifiable gorging on turkey and pumpkin pie later in the day!

Todd's blistering pace shattered almost everyone. All except Eric, who clawed back and took the lead. They came through the two mile mark (shown here) in a remarkable 9:56!! Whose engine would better absorb that early pain?

Smitty followed just off the pace, but keeping it steady like he's done for 30 years.

Eric pulled away into the headwind on the gradually-uphill mile three.

Todd close behind but showing the strain of the early attack.

Eric leaves it all on the road during the final mile and finishes first in 20:49.

Todd 2nd, a bit disappointed perhaps, but a rocking fast time anyway.

And the old warrior Smitty takes the Bronze.

Post race, everyone is friends again.

Results and more pictures.

Monday, November 24, 2008

For Sale: Slightly Used Bike Racer

Very experienced; high power-to-weight ratio; excellent endurance; sprint needs a little TLC.

Salary is negotiable.

For your investment, you'll receive a former Elite RR National Champion...

...the 2008 winner of the season-long SoCal points competition...

...and most significantly, the winner of the Bates Road sprint on the Sunday Worlds a few weeks back...

Current owner, Time-Sport USA, may be pursuing other options for 2009.

But seriously folks, C-Walk needs some help finding a team for 2009. Unlike most of us who spend absurd amounts of time on computers and the internet, CW goes without those luxuries in favor of spending MORE TRAINING TIME ON HIS BIKE! Of course, that handicaps him when it comes to modern-world communication and information gathering. So I'm trying to help (and will forgo my usual agent's fee).

Serious inquiries welcome. Rather than put his phone number on this blog, where it might be seen by millions of daily visitors, you can email me and I'll facilitate further communication. The address is over on the right somewhere. Please speak up if you know of a team that would be interested.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Training Week -- 11/17 - 11/23

The good thing about restarting your training is that gains are made quickly and motivation is high. Much needed today as I slogged along in the little ring into a ridiculously fierce headwind by Gaviota and along the coast. I think winter is finally coming.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; Lunchtime Hammertime, three hard efforts
Wed: 1 hr; OSM, moderate pace
Thu: 1.5 hrs; 2X OSM, 15:51 max effort
Fri: 0
Sat: 4 hrs; 8:00 roco ride, seated big-gear on climbs
Sun: 5.5 hrs; Los Olivos - Cat Cyn - Drum Cyn - Solvang - Gaviota - home

Total: 13 hrs

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Damn That Felt Good

Sometimes you just gotta cut stuff down, especially if it's an ugly old 20-foot-tall scrub oak growing 12 inches from your house. Thirty years ago some kid planted an acorn there, and being the lazy homeowner that I am, it grew unfettered and wildly out of control.

So laying in bed awake at 2:00 AM stressing about the stock market, our remodel, garden pests, C++ memory leaks, and the dirty chain on my bike, now I also had visions of this stupid tree cracking our foundation and getting the house condemned. They say that stress is caused primarily by feeling a lack of control. I can't do anything about the stock market, but I do own a chainsaw. Few things provide such a visceral sense of raw power as a chainsaw cutting through fresh wood. One less thing to stress about now.

Next I'll clean my bike's chain.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life is Like a False Flat

Is there anything more enjoyable than riding fast in the downhill direction of a false flat? In your mind's eye the terrain is level, yet you're comfortably on top of the 53x12 at 31 mph. Feeling strong and powerful, conjuring up thoughts of Fabian Cancellara soloing away to win Paris-Roubaix. Yeah, that's you, right here, right now! Miles of road left behind for somebody else. To you, it's just a continuous blur beneath your wheels. No time for scenery gazing 'cause you're hyper-alert to what's ahead... best not to hit a rock at this speed!

Such a rush, riding down a false flat, but all too soon the road flattens out. It always does. Click, click, click,... back to the 53x17 ...back to reality.

And sometimes reality means riding the false flat in the uphill direction. Struggling to turn over the pedals, not moving forward as quickly as you hoped. You don't understand why it's so hard. What's the problem, flat tire? Brake rubbing? Gotta keep the pressure on, losing focus now could mean slipping backward. Or failure. So you compromise a little... CLUNK, shift into the small chain-ring. It's easier now, you don't reach as far with each pedal stroke. You're slowing down, settling in for the long haul.

And then you remember, it's riding the uphill direction that makes you stronger.

Shift back into the big ring.

Training Week -- 11/10 - 11/16

Taking advantage of this crazy warm weather.

Mon: 0
Tue: Ride; 3.5 hrs, 8:00 roco ride, moderate pace
Wed: Ride; 2 hrs, OSM-Painted Cave-Repeater, tempo
Thu: Ride; 1 hr, OSM lunchtime, 16:34, max effort
Fri: Run; 2 miles, moderate pace, calf hurt
Sat: Ride; 4 hrs, 8:00 roco ride to 2nd Casitas pass, climbed hard
Sun: Ride; 3 hrs, Worlds, rode hard from Polo Fields to Bates

Totals: 13.5 hrs riding; 2 miles running

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tea Fire Map

My blog is getting hit a lot today by people googling for a map of the Tea Fire. I guess it's because google knows I had a map of the Gap Fire this summer. SB locals probably know where to find fire info, but for all those folks landing here from other places, the best map I've seen is here. That was updated as of 6:00 AM this morning.

Check the Cal Fire site for further updates on the Tea Fire.

[Add/edit] You can also get updated data here on a Forest Service GIS site. Download the KMZ file (link below the map) and then you can open that file with Google Earth (everyone should have Google Earth!!). Zoom into the SB area to see the latest hot-spots in Montecito and Mission Canyon.

SB cyclist Steve Otero took these great shots last night.

Stay safe.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bacillus thuringiensis

Waiting in the checkout line at the garden center, I wished I had dark glasses and a fake mustache because I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea. I was holding a bottle of Thuricide, which at first glance, looks like the typical eco-terror poison capable of wanton mayhem and nondiscriminatory destruction of life. In other words, the type of insecticide applied by the ton on most industrial farms across the country. I have sworn off such poisons and would rather give up gardening than stoop to using such environmentally-unfriendly products.

But these strangers in the store didn't know that.

Finally I couldn't stand it anymore so I blurted out to the woman in line behind me, "It's organic could actually eat it." She gave me a strange look which I interpreted as, "Did I ask? Please don't talk to me anymore you weirdo!"

I paid at the counter and slinked away with my items bagged and hidden from view.

The day had come where I needed help. Help in a bottle. Our winter garden is growing with Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, and Collard Greens, among other cool-weather crops. These plants have attracted daily visits by the ubiquitous White Cabbage Butterfly. They are pleasant enough to watch as they flit around whimsically from place to place, but in reality they are pursuing a singular and determined purpose. They want--NEED--to lay eggs on plants in the Brassica family, i.e., Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, and Collard Greens.

Here is a picture of what happens next...
A small green caterpillar emerges within days and begins to eat an unbelievable quantity of leaf. See the little dude in the picture? See what he has done to my growing broccoli over his first few days of life? And this despite my daily search-and-destroy missions.

So I bought some Thuricide, a brand name for Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a naturally occurring bacteria that is toxic to certain kinds of caterpillars if they ingest it. I think it's working. The little guy in the picture has not moved or eaten in the last couple hours. I think he's dying. snif, snif... NOT!!

There are other biologically-based insecticides approved for organic gardening and farming. Two of the more popular ones are Neem oil and Pyrethrum, made from seeds of the Neem tree and Chrysanthemum flowers respectively. I will be trying these eco-friendly pesticides when the aphids arrive.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Training Week -- 11/3 - 11/9

Wading back into the pool, so to speak. Shockingly, I cranked out ~90 miles on Saturday without bonking or much power loss, despite not riding anywhere near that far for three months. Of course I didn't take any hard pulls and rode in the last bunch on the climbs, but it was still a surprise. I think the concept of "muscle memory" is real. My legs grew up pedaling circles for hours on end and it's still their favorite activity.

Mon: Ride; 1.5 hrs, around Goleta
Tue: Ride; 1.5 hrs, OSM-Painted Cave, 39x25
Wed: Run; 5 miles, neighborhood 8:30 pace
Thu: Ride; 1 hr, OSM (slow)
Fri: 0
Sat: Ride; 5 hrs, 8:00 roco ride around Casitas
Sun: Run/Walk; 4 miles

Totals: 9 hrs Riding; 9 miles Running

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A November Morning's Harvest

How many places in November can you go in your backyard and harvest: tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, onions, garlic, and limes?

We may not have brilliant fall colors or picturesque dustings of snow...

...but we got really fresh salsa!!!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

California BikeFest 2008 -- Be There!

Ever had a leadout from Ivan Dominguez, Rahsaan Bahati, or Fast Freddie Rodriguez? Would you like one? How about having Daniel Ramsey or Aaron Olson pull you non-stop from Ventura to Casitas at 29 mph? Or would you prefer drafting Kim Anderson, Dotsie Bausch, or Mari Holden? How about hearing stories from US legends Thurlow Rogers, Wayne Stetina, or Roy Knickman as they stick with you for a chip-timed 100 km training ride?

Well, now you'll have your chance! All these top American cyclists are up for auction to be your personal Cycling Sherpa for a fun-filled road ride. And that's just part of the excitement you'll have at the California BikeFest taking place in Ventura on December 6th. Also on tap are an endurance cyclocross race (any CX'ers out there??), a family fun ride, a tricycle race, and a lively expo with activities, exhibits, and information.

Visit the California BikeFest website to learn more about this great event.

Yes, it will cost you a few dollars to participate ...maybe more than a few if you get in a bidding war for one of those great Cycling Sherpas... but the proceeds go to a worthy cause, The Breakaway from Cancer program.

So, whatcha say SB roadies? Let's support this thing! Two course options, as shown below, but naturally we'd all do the longer one (Casitas loop plus Santa Paula). Who will be the fastest? Do you want a Sherpa to help you? (I know who I want...)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No More Potholes??

Ed reports new paving over much of East Camino Cielo. If I can haul my sorry fat butt up that high in a 39x25, I will check it out and report back.

Monday, November 03, 2008





Help me understand, how exactly does intolerance protect marriage?


[add/edit day post election]

As per normal, the state results are split... urban/coastal versus interior. Go here to view national and state-wide election results. Navigate down to see the county-by-county maps. The Prop 8 results are shown on the map at the right.

With 90+ percent of the votes counted, it appears that Prop 8 will pass. Disappointing as it may be, the bright side is that it is getting closer. Much closer than the last time it was put to popular vote. It took a long time to overturn racial prejudice in the US, and look where we are now. We are moving forward more or less.

[Add/Edit ...two days post election]
I'm turning off the comments because nobody will change his/her viewpoint and I don't want people attacking each other. But this issue is not going away, and the title of this post remains sadly appropriate.

I am heartened to see that, at least, the South Coast of SB county--where I live--voted "No" overwhelmingly on Prop 8. Like 2-to-1, and it would have been much greater except for two groups: the over-65 voters and religious conservatives. State wide, those two groups made the difference. Change takes time as the electorate and the judiciary evolve.

Training Week -- 10/27 - 11/2

Final week of slack time.

Mon: 0
Tue: Run; 4 miles, easy pace
Wed: 0
Thu: Ride; 1 hr, OSM, 17:50
Fri: 0
Sat: Run; 13.1 miles, SB Half, 1:50:35
Sun: Ride; 30 minute spin

Totals: 1.5 hr riding; 17 miles running

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Glass Half Full -- A New P.R.

...of course, before today I'd never run a Half Marathon, so anything would have been a new PR!

I completed the race but I am so totally humbled. 324th. 1:50:35.

Running is a weird beast. I finally understand that training is predominantly about finding the region between stressing your physiology enough so that it can adapt and improve, while simultaneously avoiding injury. If you are physically robust and strong, then the in-between region is large, and you have room for trial-and-error. On the other hand, if you are a one-dimensional weakling like me (and dare I say, most bike racers) then the training region is treacherously narrow.

Contrast this with cycling, where the primary limiter in training is mental fortitude ...if your brain can take the pain, your body will adapt and get stronger.

So the Glass-Half-Empty view goes like this... I started today's SB Half Marathon with a strained calf/soleus muscle and it began to fail at about Mile 4. This despite easing in with a comfortable sub-8:00/mile pace. I gradually slowed over the next five miles while mixing up my stride, hoping other muscles could pick up the slack. Then at about Mile 9, they all rebelled in a full left-leg mutiny. Gut check time. I really wanted to RUN the entire 13.1 miles (other than when grabbing a Gatorade cup). Now I don't know what pace distinguishes slow running from fast walking, but certainly I was on the cusp. A steady stream of more-resilient runners passed me by. Some gave me funny looks, for example, the nice young lady in orange... caught by Ron on film ...or on flash memory as it were.

Passing Mile 12 gave me a big psychological boost, as it marked my longest run ever and I started to believe I could finish without walking. Unfortunately in the final straightaway I became That Guy, you know, the annoying one who speeds up to pass ten people so that he places 324th instead of 334th. Embarrassing.


Okay, enough woe-is-me whining... back to a glass half full. What a fun time! And beautiful fall weather ...finally... with clouds and raindrops and cool, fresh, ocean breezes.

A few impressions will linger with me...

* I was temporarily mesmerized by the lead runners as they were inbound while I ran outbound. Aaron Gillen (the winner in 1:10) flew by like a wisp of wind. Silky smooth. Todd Booth (pic at right) in 3rd looked like souped-up Pontiac GTO muscle car ripping up a drag strip. Pure power. The gnarly dude battled neck-and-neck over the final 3 miles with some out-of-towner half his age. Annie Toth (women's winner in 1:19) appears to run without touching the ground. She's just about the most graceful runner I've ever seen.

* All the competitors who achieve negative splits, or even hold their pace the entire distance, have my deepest admiration. Top o' that list is my sweetie, Gina, who locks in a pace like an airplane on auto-pilot. Today she flew to a 1:42 good enough for 7th-out-of-78 in her age group. I cannot comprehend that consistency.

* I remember once hearing a mid-pack runner complain about the cheering spectators. He ...and I'm sure it was a he... apparently got tired of getting the obligatory "Good job", "you can do it", "nice work". Maybe he interpreted it as pity, I don't know. What I do know is that, for me, those encouraging words helped A LOT to get through the final few miles.

* ...well, except for the one guy who said, "Don't give up!" Huh? I'm not thinking about giving up I really look that bad?!

* Bike racing could learn a thing or two from running races, particularly when it comes to starting on time and posting results. But that's all I'll say about that, having never promoted a race myself.

* A Full Marathon!?!?! In a month or two?? What was I thinking?! Man, was I ever naive!

OK, now it's time for a Full Glass.

Of Syrah.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to Build a Better Giant

Easy. Just add Karl Bordine, Chris DeMarchi, Antony Galvan, and Kirk Bausch. And maybe throw in former NetZero pro Michael Johnson. 2009 additions to the already dominant Amgen/Giant Masters team, as told to me today by Rich Meeker (visiting SB for Rob Lettieri's bday party).

What else is shaping up for 2009 SoCal racing? Seriously, I'm asking. CBR reports a beefed up Sho-Air team with Jamie Paolinetti and Jason Bausch. And a Rock Racing Masters team!?! Wow! Where will C-Walk go? I suppose I could wander two blocks over and ask...

Training Week -- 10/20 - 10/26

One word: Discouraging. I pulled or ripped some muscle just below my left calf (soleus?). It was already sore and like an idiot I pushed it too hard. One week to recover for the Half Marathon, which may end up being a long walk.

Mon: Run; 7 miles at ~7:30 pace.
Tue: 0
Wed: Run; 3 miles then ripped calf.
Thu: Ride; 1 hr, OSM, 18:20.
Fri: 0
Sat: Run; 1 mile easy
Sun: Ride; 2.5 hrs, Sunday Worlds (fast)

Totals: 3.5 hrs riding; 11 miles running

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ehh, What's Up Doc?

I dug up these beauties today. Twist off the greens, wash off the dirt, put them in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag and they should be good for 6 months or more.

But I wanted to use some now, so I made juice...

Ingredients (all from my garden):
- 6 Carrots
- 2 Tomatoes
- 2 sprigs Parsley
- 2 sprigs Cilantro
- 10 Swiss Chard leaves
- 1 ripe red Serrano pepper
- 1 marble-size red Onion
- dash of salt (not from garden)

Chilled over ice, it wasn't half bad ...despite how it looks!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Running... It's Just Like Riding a Bike Up Hill

At least that's what I've been told now by half a dozen people. Knowledgeable people, supposedly.

Hmmm, let's see...

During the first few minutes of a run, my feet feel as if I'm scampering barefoot across hot coals. No, not coals.... more like hot, spiny sea urchins. Soon it feels as if Rambo is thrusting his serrated knife up deep inside my shins ...metal on bone... then he twists it to scrape out the marrow.

Seems like my calves rip on most runs. Imagine a heavy-duty meat hook attached to a rope with a metal anvil at the other end. Now bury one of those hooks deep in each calf muscle, and run along while dragging the anvils behind you. It's sorta like that, only worse.

I'm also convinced that a gang of invisible evil elves run beside me smacking my kneecaps with invisible little hammers.

My side cramps feel like I just had an appendectomy--without anesthesia--only upon completion, the surgeon decides to tear open the incision, reach up into my abdomen, and stab each lung rhythmically with his own Rambo knife.

That's not the only abdominal discomfort either. I find that, when running, any morsels of food I've eaten in the previous 12 hours mysteriously bulk up to the size of a Jumbo Deluxe Combo Burrito. This mass hurtles down an express lane of my intestinal plumbing, and soon demands to exit the freeway. With each footstep, like a SWAT team pounding a battering ram against a tightly closed door, that burrito wants out.

And as if these problems weren't dire enough, when I do longer runs, my nipples feel like they've been sanded by a sheet of 60-grit sandpaper. They bleed sometimes.

But yeah, other than those things, running is just like riding a bike up hill.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm probably the last to know, but I finally discovered Carlos' photos of the group rides on the sharp-looking bicicorsa web site. Looks like the site will grow to be a nice resource, but for now I'll bet all the hits are from SB folks looking at his pics of Sunday Worlds!

Training Week -- 10/13 - 10/19

Off-and-on sore knee. This running stuff has been more difficult than I expected, and my cycling fitness has really plunged. After the half marathon, I need to put some serious time in the saddle.

Mon: Ride; 1 hr, around Goleta
Tue: Run; 10 miles, C.O.-Farren Rd. & back, 8:10 avg. pace
Wed: Ride; 1 hr, around Goleta
Thu: Ride; 1 hr, OSM, 17:15 at max effort (~15% power drop since mid season)
Fri: 0
Sat: 0
Sun: Ride; 3.5 hrs, Worlds, felt better than I expected.

Totals: 6.5 hrs riding; 10 miles running

Training Week -- 10/6 - 10/12

Forgot to post this last week. Not surprising, since apparently I also forgot to train!

Mon: 0
Tue: 0
Wed: 0
Thu: Ride; 1.5 hr, OSM/PC at lunch, ~17:00 at max effort (sheesh!)
Fri: 0
Sat: 0
Sun: Run; 4 miles, w/Gina at 8:00 pace

Totals: 1.5 hr riding; 4 miles running

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lake Los Carneros Cross Country

I gotta say, watching a running race is a whole lot more pleasant than running in a running race! My sore knee was all the excuse I needed to skip this morning's 5-mile XC race at Lake Los Carneros, but since it was only two blocks from my house, I had to go watch ...and take pictures.

Eric Forte and Carl Legleiter quickly jumped into the lead. These boys are very fast. Eric is a former bike racer who has turned his focus to running. Carl, on the other hand, just started cycling this year and by his own admission, is already fully hooked. He's still adapting his legs to turning circles but can already crack the 16:00 mark up Old San Marcos. Too bad he's leaving town in December, otherwise I'd make a strong effort to bring him fully over to the dark side (i.e., bike racing).

These are the gentlemen who I aspire to keep up with someday... Terry Howell, Fred Mellon, and Travis Bower. They're my age +/- a couple years, but they tick off ~5:30 miles when doing races in the 5K to 10K range. Yowza!

Ricky Ho, getting faster and faster. On the few occasions where I was near him at the end of a race, he blew me away with his final surge and sprint. The dude has some major anaerobic capacity!

Travis gets a second picture because he was my daughter's Freshman year math teacher ...and he was so good that she actually enjoyed Math! Will she follow in her parents' math-nerdy footsteps?

Drea McLarty... one of the fastest women runners in town, and also getting into cycling! She writes an eloquent blog.

Mariann (aka Tommy) was a close 2nd, until taking a wrong turn.

Steve Miley and a harem of strong runners (Desa Mandarino, Romy Suzuki, and Gae Triplett).

And back to the leaders... Eric opened a gap in the first 3 miles, but Carl closed it down and passed him on the final lap. Eric dug deep to stay close (see below) and then tried to use his awesome bike-racer sprint at the end, but ultimately came up a few meters short.

All in all, a beautiful fall day for running ...or just taking pictures.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not Slackers

They're just so cute sometimes that I hate to smash them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

House Remodel -- First Step

I debated with myself about whether to blog about our journey through the house remodel. It seems like it might get a bit too personal. But then again, I really wish I could read about or see a start-to-finish discussion from somebody else, with all their lessons learned, tough decisions, and which contractors were good and which ones weren't. And the cost. Nobody wants to talk about how much their remodel cost. It's like a taboo subject or something. Well, dammit, we'd all be a lot better off if we shared this stuff! So I decided I'll blog about our journey, unless Mrs. objects. You, the reader, are free to ignore remodel-related posts or you can follow along. You certainly are invited to share any ideas and experiences of your own.

Our first step was hiring an architect. He's pretty experienced with Goleta tract-house remodels, and we get along well with him so far. He's $100 per hour, and I'm figuring we'll end up paying him somewhere between $5K and $10K. In addition to generating the drawings and plans, he'll be responsible for getting approval from the Architectural Review Board and the necessary building permits.

This is our current floor plan, and what he has to work with:

We want to redo the kitchen (new cabinets, counter tops, appliances, floor, and ceiling. We will add a guest bedroom and bathroom in the front, but we also want to keep a separate living room, so he'll need to push forward. Miscellaneous other things: all new windows, wood floor throughout the house (except a couple bedrooms), raised ceilings in family, dining, and living rooms, refurbished fireplace, and new roof and photo-voltaic solar panels.

What a Loser

This guy.

Sanctioned by USADA.

Yeah, I confirmed that this is the right guy by checking the results of the race where he was caught, the Vuelta a la Independencia Nacional.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Are you...

...foregoing the leather interior and postponing that winter ski trip to Aspen?

...brown-bagging a PB&J and brewing your own cuppa joe?

...patching your tubes?

Are you battening down the hatches in preparation for a bumpy ride?

Do you believe we're on the cusp of another Great Depression?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Training Week -- 9/29 - 10/5

Sigh... I'm depressed. I blathered on about the importance of running (or doing some other weight-bearing, natural activity) as a complement to so much cycling. The point being that an only-cycling exercise regime can lead to low bone density and unbalanced muscle groups. I still believe that. But dammit if I didn't go an re-injure my right knee by pushing too hard when I knew I shouldn't.

Mon: 0
Tue: Ride; 1 hr, Lunchtime group
Wed: Run; 9 miles, 8:00 pace, All around UCSB and back
Thu: Run; 5 miles, 8:15 pace, xmas-tree farm
Fri: 0
Sat: 0
Sun: Run; 5 miles, Avocado Run (17:12) + w/u & cool down

Totals: 1 hr riding; 19 miles running

Monday, September 29, 2008


Uhhh, yeah... Is this a good time to undertake a quarter-million+ dollar house remodel? ...while embarking on a career change that very well might have negative income? ...after buying a car for your newly-licensed teenage daughter? ...because of whom our insurance nearly tripled?


Impeccable timing.

(PS. Can I still get a TT bike and a CX bike?)

[add/edit] OK, I wrote the above before the news broke that the House didn't approve the bail-out package. This is getting even more interesting, albeit in a perverse watching-the-train-wreck sort of way. Maybe I am on the train while watching... Moving to the forward car ...I bought more stocks today, including a bank.

I consider myself a social liberal, and a radical on the environment, but I confess to being somewhat conservative financially. It's time to pay for the gross excesses and push the reset button. I'm glad the House rejected the bill.

[Note: I reserve the right to change my mind...]

Training Week -- 9/22 - 9/28

Running is taking over. Maybe not in total time, but definitely for fatigue and pain. Seems like each run demands 2-3 days of recovery, and seriously whacks my pedaling. This is uncharted territory for me. I'm wondering if it might be better to do more frequent easier runs, building slowly to a consistent 13 miler...

Mon: Ride, 1 hr, around Goleta
Tue: Ride, 1 hr, lunchtime hammerfest (was passenger until dropped)
Wed: Ride, 1 hr, Hope Ranch slog'ervals
Thu: Run, 8 miles: warm-up, 3-mile tempo, 4X quarter-mile repeats at 1:18, cool down
.....Ride, 1 hr, OSM, really slow
Fri: 0
Sat: 0
Sun: Run, 12 miles at 8:30 pace

Total: 4 hr riding; 20 miles running

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Still a Fan, Greg

Greg LeMond continues to pop up in the cycling news, most recently at an Interbike press conference where he directly confronted Lance Armstrong and doping expert Don Catlan. You can hear audio from the contentious exchange here and also a follow-up interview with Greg. A video of the press conference is on

The public's reaction hasn't been particularly kind. Based on comments in various internet forums, I'd say the prevailing opinion is that Greg needs to drop the crusade and get on with his life. The more vitriolic comments suggest that he's a whiner who can't stand being eclipsed by Armstrong, and that he has serious emotional issues. While I wouldn't go that far, it's clear that he's obsessed with exposing Armstrong's past doping. Unfortunately that obsession obscures his primary message and his ideas for better dope-testing procedures going forward, which I believe come from his sincere love for the sport.

But perhaps I'm biased.

I fondly remember going to races in NorCal ...including bygone classics like the Tassajara RR and the Butterfly Criterium... and seeing the whole LeMond family pull up in their lime-green VW Westfalia van. A young and enthusiastic Greg would come bounding out like a skinny blond puppy dog, always with a smile and always wanting to talk about bike racing. He was equally friendly with the good guys as he was with those of us who he crushed every weekend. It was impossible not to like him even though he was the purveyor of pain once the race started!

Now I'm an average Johnny Anonymo as a bike racer, but one distinction I do hold is being one of Greg's first acquaintances outside of the Reno/Carson City cycling community where he started. His first race was the Land Park crit in Sacramento in March of 1976. We were Intermediates, which in today's system would be called Juniors aged 14-15. The field that day was small, certainly less than ten riders. Greg went fast from the gun and soon only four of us were left. Despite it being his first race ever, he was barking commands at us to rotate through and keep the speed up. The few kids left behind were probably in total disarray but Greg cracked the whip to keep us focused nonetheless.

It's been well documented that Greg won his first umpteen races, and this was the very first of that streak as he easily took the sprint. I got 3rd. Afterward he came up to me and we talked for a couple hours, sitting on the curb watching the other races. I only remember one thing from that first conversation: he said he rode the rollers two hours a day the entire winter. The significance of that dedication quickly became evident.

The next day was the Tassajara Road Race, the unofficial start of the NorCal season. Nearly twenty years later, upon Greg's retirement, Kent Gordis wrote about that day at Tassajara in the tribute magazine "Greg LeMond, the official story"...
(click to enlarge)

Greg would go on to race nearly every weekend in NorCal for the next two years, winning a substantial fraction of the time.

I was in 20-30 of those races, some of which were more memorable than others. In 1977 we were first-year Juniors (age 16-18) racing against older, bigger, and more experienced kids. That proved challenging for me, and I often struggled to hang on. One of my few decent results that year was the Butterfly criterium in Pacific Grove. For juniors and seniors it was classified as a National Prestige race, which would be somewhat analogous to an NRC event today. Fairly early in the race I managed to hold on to Greg's wheel as he escaped the pack. As I recall, I attempted to pull through but most likely provided no help at all for the few laps we were out there. Just before being caught, he turned to me and said that he would go again with ten laps to go. I actually processed that information and was later paying attention ...from mid pack... when he did indeed attack again with ten laps to go. He soloed away for yet another win. I got 10th place, which was a thrilling result for me.

One of his most memorable NorCal performances took place in 1978 at Cat's Hill where Greg, the reigning US Junior RR champ, entered the senior race, which included Wayne Stetina, the reigning Senior RR champ. I do not know why I skipped the race that weekend, but I regret it because the drama that unfolded is the stuff of legend. Thanks to NorCal cycling guru and head-honcho Casey Kerrigan who archived many old NCNCA newsletters, here is a picture and description of that day...
(again, click to enlarge)

(SB folks: note who got 3rd place that year!)

By mid-1979, at 18 years old, Greg was arguably the best rider in the US. He won many national-level Senior events and capped off the year with a rainbow jersey from the Junior World Championship RR in Argentina. His time in California was pretty much done.

The following year he was racing in Europe, and his upward trajectory continued. Here, also from the "Greg LeMond, the official story", is a podium shot from his first major victory...
(SoCal folks: note a smiling Thurlow Rogers in the middle!)

Well, not much point in me continuing the history lesson beyond this point because everyone knows it.

I feel fortunate at having been around when LeMond started racing, and enjoy reminiscing about those first couple years. I was in the right place at the right time. One point I want to make clearly is this: Greg was one of the most genuinely enthusiastic bike racers I've ever known. I never saw him get conceited or arrogant, despite the incredible success he had. I last saw him in 1981 when he returned from Europe to demolish the field at Nevada City. I don't remember talking to him that day, but I do remember him being humble in victory. Nothing about his public persona I saw in later years made me feel any different.

I think people should cut him some slack now.

[Updated, October 13th 2010]

Well, a lot has changed in the two years since I wrote this post. With all that's happened, only the most naive or delusional fans wouldn't now acknowledge that cycling has some deep and systemic doping problems. Yet, you still find two diametrically opposed opinions. There are many who feel cycling should take the path of certain other high-profile sports, only giving lip service to anti-doping while keeping the dirty laundry out of sight. Why scare away sponsors and promoters, they ask? It's an impossible problem to solve; they say dopers will always stay a step ahead of testers. Dope testing is a joke, just as it should be.

I don't share that view in the slightest. Why? For one, I cannot subscribe to a passive acceptance of cheating. Life has gray areas; sport should not... if it's in the rules, enforce it. But more importantly (to me), if doping is tacitly allowed at the highest levels, you can be sure it will become more and more pervasive in lower echelons of bike racing. It's a bleak future if juniors are faced with doping.

And maybe it's already metastasized at lower levels... Rumors are swirling that a bomb will soon drop on amateur masters racing in the US, one that would hit pretty close to home for me and some readers of this blog. I'll be greatly saddened and disappointed if the rumors prove true, because I had respect for some of the individuals involved. I liked them, and defended them when people made accusations that seemed unfounded. Yes, I was probably too naive.

Sometimes I long for the simpler, more innocent days of bike racing. And on that note, I'll leave you with another historical picture, this one from an old issue of Competitive Cycling. Here's 16-year-old Greg on the front leading the way up a hill in the National Road Race championships in 1976. Hey Greg, I'm glad you're staying on the front and leading the way for a cleaner future in bike racing.