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.