Sunday, December 20, 2009

Training Week -- 12/14 - 12/20

OK, I had decided I was done putting up these Training Week blog posts. I mean, how utterly absurd is it to think anybody gives a flying-#### about my training?! Even my wife can't stand to hear about it...
"...from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, and to listen to ad nauseam stories about training rides..."

Yes, Mr. Minister, all except that last part.

But then two things brought me back here. First, I had the biggest, most-enjoyable winter training week in perhaps 13 years. Perfect storm of weather, motivation, health, and available time. I cannot express in words how pleasurable it has been to pedal this week.

Second thing: a nice mention in Ryan Barrett's blog about the idea of posting training weeks. Hey, if a guy as good as him thinks it's OK, well then who am I to judge??


Mon: 1 hr; around Goleta and UCSB
Tue: 5 hrs; 8:00 group ride from Goleta + Gibraltar loop
Wed: 1 hr; OSM, tempo
Thu: 5 hrs; 8:00 group ride from Goleta + Gibraltar loop
Fri: 1 hr; OSM, easy
Sat: 5 hrs; early w/ Ben + group ride to Ojai (big-gear on hills)
Sun: 5 hrs; Worlds + Gibraltar loop

Total: 23 hours

(Note: I have some video clips from the ride today and will post as soon as my son teaches me how to use the editing software.)

Go Johnny Go

Just in case there's anybody who hasn't seen this yet...

The talented filmmaker is 11-year-old Beau Lettieri, and you can visit his website here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Old Time CX

Long before there was Page, Trebon, Johnson, and Douville...

...there was Sir Lawrence Malone, Clark Natwick, and Mary Ann Allen:

(Thanks to Dot Wong for finding this)

And some trivia for SB locals... in those results listed at the end of the video, which rider is the brother of a popular Santa Barbara endurance athlete? Next, which rider lost a National RR Championship after being forced into a ditch during the final sprint by a Santa Barbara rider? (Yes, I know, those are hard questions...)

Oh, and by the way, if you're wondering who Gary Douville is, check this:

And it turns out he can CX in addition to TT, as he is the SoCal elite champ and got 36th at the Elite nationals in Bend last weekend!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Scream

Casitas in the big ring while seated is the easy part. It's the torture session with The Stick afterward that kills. I hope the neighbors didn't hear the screaming last night.

Why do it? Because it works, that's why.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Soft?!? Hmphff!

I crossed paths three times today with HE-IS-TED-KING including a joint jaunt up Old San Marcos during which I whined about our upcoming storms. To that he responded, and I quote, "You California riders are too soft!" So as he turned down 154 to get coffee and escape my babbling, I felt the need to defend the honor of CA cyclists everywhere, and so I continued on up Painted Caves and East Camino Cielo. The higher I went, the colder it got. Near LaCumbre peak, the wind was whipping in gusts approaching 10 mph, and the temperature in the shadows was surely near 40 degrees. Brrrrrrr. Undeterred, I pressed on through patches of snow at least 1 mm deep, see:

Whatcha say now, huh!?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Perfect Weekend

Finally, after six months of things-are-not-quite-right weekends, the past 48 hours have been pretty much perfect. Allow me to bore you with the details....

Wife's Holiday Party
I've been told that a classic symptom of an introvert is that you dread going to parties, but you almost always end up having a really good time. That's me to a tee. Gina has worked at the same company for 24 years and I think I've been to all but one of her company's holiday parties. Some years are more memorable than others --the drunken, skirt-lifting affair comes to mind-- but they're always enjoyable. Like Friday: Tasty food and wine, along with good conversation. Our table won the trivia contest, albeit with some help from internet-connected iPhones. Then, after dinner, Gina danced and I played poker. The first few hands were bleak. The dealer was flirty with the cuties, and Lady Luck was not flirty with me. Twice I lost big with two pair, and then when I drew an inside straight, I ended up splitting the pot. But on the final hand of the night, when everyone goes all in, I nailed a flush and took it all.

Saturday Ride (Bonk-a-rama!)
All week I'd been excited to do the group ride, especially with near-certain rain for the next four days. Plus I really, really need to train. But all that logic goes out the window when the alarm goes off and you're still dog tired and outside the covers is dark and freezing cold and really early. Inside the covers is cozy warm and my sweetie is near. Why get up?! Because, that's what we do, isn't it. 8:00 downtown and I see that 40-50 other riders also got up in the cold dark early. The ride began with nice chatty tempo pace, but as per normal, the climbs sorted us out. I immediately fell back from the leaders and decided the remainder of this ride should be done solo. Skip the regroup, onward to the lake, Ventura, and up the coast back toward SB. Nice power on the rollers at first, but by three hours my fuel light went on and all I had left to eat was a small baggie of raisins. 40 miles to home.

Side story: I have a personal Thanksgiving tradition, and it goes something like this. Leave mid-morning for a four-hour ride. Carry no food. Inevitably a nice bonk will arrive at about three hours, just when the aromas from amazing Thanksgiving feasts begin to waft into the air. Savor the sensations: gnawing hunger, weak legs, slight headache, delicious smells. My theory is, a good old fashioned bonk kicks your metabolism and fitness up a notch.

Anyway, back to the weekend... I missed the Thanksgiving bonk ride this year, so Saturday looked like a good make-up opportunity. By Carp, I was mindlessly turning circles in the 39x17 at 15 mph. By SB, I moved up to the 19 and down to 13 mph. Literal State St. crawl. I saw big-time pro I-AM-TED-KING sitting alone at a coffee shop in full Cervelo kit, and my normal pro-ho tendency would have been to stop and chat (annoy, harass, stalk) him, but this bonk was serious business so I plodded on by. The smell of In-and-Out onion rings almost killed me, but I persevered. At 4 hours and 50 minutes, I arrived home and went straight to the kitchen to fry up some eggs and drench some toast with melted butter which I enjoyed immensely while growing mushrooms in my chamois.

A Nap!!!
After a long ride, a meal, and a shower there anything better?

A Marathon in Town
A huge, huge event for our little community and the organizers did an incredible job of pulling it off. The Santa Barbara International Marathon had a couple thousand runners, which seems like a pretty good turn-out for an inaugural event. Gina decided to run (her 12th marathon in 12 years!) so I rode around to cheer and snap a few pictures of her and some other runners:

One of the most amazing things about Gina is her consistency and her ability to stick to a plan. All but her very first marathon have been in the 3:20-3:30 range. This year she targeted 3:30 which is a nice even time with a bit less pressure than her usual 3:20 goal. Despite the constantly changing slope of our local roads, she stuck to the effort level she knew was right and completed the 26.2 in 3:29:58. Incredible.

And you thought Chicken Rancher Gabe Garcia was just a sprinter! Look at him smiling here on the Cliff Dr. hill after already pounding out 23 miles. His goal was 3:30 also but he went a tad too fast and finished in 3:29:21. Congrats Gabe!

Lunchtime OSM rider Leif Reynolds is also a good runner and this was his 3rd (?) marathon so he knew what he was doing. He also looked quite comfortable climbing that brutal hill on his way to a 3:16:44.

Lots of press about the fast women entrants, and the smart money was on local speedster Drea McLarty to take the vee. But press leads to pressure, which can be a burden on race day sometimes. Well, not this time. She ran away from the field to win in a powerful 2:52:23, 11th overall and a solid eight minutes in front of the next woman. Wow!

Also notable for the cycling community was Eric Forte's performance (2:51:13 for 9th overall) and Nikola Valerjev's run in 3:26:31. Who says cyclists can't run?!

So inspirational was this event and those awesome runners, that I'm going to join the fun next year.

Farmers' Market, Lunch, and Coffee
...with brother and sister-in-law on Sunday afternoon. Nice that he'll still hang with us common folk since he's now a national TV star after his appearance on "Top Chef" and all. Rumor has it he'll be on a future episode of "The Bachelor" as well! Really.

My garden really suffered during the remodel, but now it's finally getting the attention it needs. Amazingly, a bunch of summer crops were still producing so I picked a few things...

...and also finally planted my winter veggies. From seed: lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, cilantro, onions, Fava beans, and peas. Also pushed a bunch of garlic cloves in the ground. As soon as the rain lets up, I'll plant a bunch of flower seeds too, so that by next spring and summer we can have a beautiful mix of color and food. The added bonus, of course, is that the flowers will attract and feed a diverse population of predator bugs that keep the pests under control. Nature is amazing.

So that was my weekend, and it doesn't get any better than that.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wild (??) Life

These Bobcats have been living at the lake a half mile from my house...

As cute as they are, for their sake, I hope they move on to a more wild habitat.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Almost Done! (...fingers crossed)

One week until Thanksgiving, which we are hosting. Could we possibly cut it any closer?!?

What an experience this has been. Mostly good, but also some problems and associated stress. Living in the midst of it all has been a real test of our adaptability and has certainly strained family relationships at bit. We will emerge stronger.

Since I work from home, I was able to spend lots of time with the contractors, the vast majority of whom are great people who take pride in their work. I truly appreciate their willingness to educate me and explain the nittiest grittiest details of their trades. I find myself asking, "If I knew then what I know now, would I have undertaken this job on my own?" I am not naive enough to think I could do it all myself, nor that I could complete it in any kind of reasonable time, but it would be so deeply satisfying to build with my own hands. My siblings and I are the first generation of our family who haven't built a house (or a large portion thereof) with our own hands. We're certainly not alone there in modern society; it's sad in a way that so few people do their own physical work anymore. (Pot-kettle-black... I freely admit my preference for a nice bike ride over digging trenches or lifting drywall.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Training Week -- 11/2 - 11/8

Only group rides this week. The intensity is really painful and probably not the best idea just yet, but perhaps it's good to remember those sensations so it's not such a shock in January.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime torture, dropped 3 times (after my pulls)
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, 18:20 max effort, slight tailwind assist
Fri: 0
Sat: 2.5 hr; SB - 2nd Casitas - SB
Sun: 2.5 hr; Worlds

Total: 7 hrs

Monday, November 02, 2009

Get Your Power On

Doing just a little math, you can figure that eight riders like the ones above are generating a combined power of around 3 kW, give or take, during a one hour TTT. Cool. That would easily power your house for an hour.

So here's a thought... build up eight stationary trainers, hook them all to a DC generator with an DC-AC inverter, then plug it into your electrical service panel. Now invite that team over to your house for a TTT session on the trainers and, shazzam, free electricity!!

Well, almost free... they do need a salary I suppose. Also, they'll only ride for an hour before cracking and falling off their bikes. I guess you'll need to hire a few more teams, like maybe the entire field of the Tour de France, if you want to cover all your energy usage.

Or here's another thought... slap a few of these babies onto your roof:

They'll make power all day long and you won't even need to feed them. Sure, there will be some upfront cost, but thanks to generous state rebates (here in CA) and the forward-thinking policies of our country's CEO, you can expect to recoup your costs within 10-15 years, depending on the specifics of your situation. And if it wasn't compelling enough before, just a few weeks ago our Governator signed a bill requiring California's utilities to pay homeowners for any surplus power they generate. This is the wave of the future, for sure.

So let's bring this back around to cycling. I estimate that our photovoltaic system will generate about 20 kWh of energy a day, averaged over the year. How much is that? Well, it's roughly equivalent to the (mechanical) power I'd make doing 267 maximum-effort rides up Old San Marcos Rd., assuming I could capture it. [20 kWh / (.3 kW X .25 h)]

Full disclosure: My generous and forward-thinking parents offered to pay for our solar installation. Their offer is to each of my three siblings as well. Gina and I plan to gladly accept that gift, although we like to think we would have taken this step anyway.

Training Week -- 10/26 - 11/1

Steady mid-aerobic-zone efforts (20-60 minutes) mixed in with a bunch of easy pedaling.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hrs, OSM + Painted Cave, very windy
Wed: 0
Thu: 1.5 hrs, OSM + PC + 2/3 OSM
Fri: 1.5 hrs, Goleta and Hope Ranch
Sat: 3 hrs, Figueroa loop from Los Olivos
Sun: 2 hrs, to SB and back

Total: 9.5 hours

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Okay, Where Were We?

It dawned on me last night after a dinner of Cheetos and beer in front of Monday Night Football, that perhaps it will be harder than I anticipated to get back into serious training. It's not rocket science of course. Eating right, sleeping enough, and riding a bunch--they're all pretty simple concepts. The hard part is implementing them into the routines of daily life ...every day. No matter what. Being the best bike racer you can be pretty much demands it. You can bet your competition doesn't eat chips for dinner, or stay up late to watch "Top Gun" for the 19th time, or skip a ride because his chain is dirty.

"You need to be doing it better and cleaner than the other guy. Now what is it with you?"

So here we go again. I want to race in 2010 and 2011. I remember what it feels like to be fit, and it feels a whole lot better than I feel now. I'm in a deep hole and it's time to start climbing out. As a benchmark, last week I rode a maximum effort up my favorite climb (Old San Marcos Rd.) and logged a 19:15. By next spring, I need to knock 4+ minutes off of that time.

My team has gone through some changes. The MTB and road sides are now more separated, and each is somewhat smaller. The focus on the road side will be a revamped cat 1/2 team, featuring some ex-pros, assorted speedsters from yesteryear, rising stars, plus all the same stalwarts from 2008 and 2009. If they're firing on all cylinders, they'll be competitive with any amateur team in California. Our masters team won't suck either. Follow all the action at the Platinum Performance Cycling Team website.

Training Week -- 10/19 - 10/25

Here we go again... 2010 season starts right now. Trying to remember how to pedal.

Mon: 1.5 hr; around Goleta and Hope Ranch
Tue: 1 hr; around Goleta and Farren Rd.
Wed: 1.5 hr; OSM + Painted Cave
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, max effort produced 19:15. Wow.
Fri: 0
Sat: 3 hr; Hecky ride in SY Valley
Sun: 0

Total: 8 hours

Monday, June 29, 2009

From Dirt to Dinner

My "if-money-were-no-object" fantasy is to develop and manage a small farm just outside of town along with a small co-located restaurant where nearly all the food is grown or raised on the property. Naturally the menu would be seasonal, perhaps even changing daily depending on the vagaries of farming successes and failures. This fantasy would be the ultimate in eating local and farm-fresh-to-table. For those customers who want a stronger connection with their food, I'd encourage them to tour the farm before or after they eat. Maybe we'd also have a small farm stand to sell any extra produce.

This idea is half-baked at best, but my gut tells me it's doable, although perhaps not particularly profitable. I'd guess 10-20 acres could support a 5-10 table restaurant. That's asking the land to be a lot more productive than what we see currently in our industrial-farming paradigm, where it takes about 1.5+ acres to feed each man, woman, and child in the US. That is a real problem, by the way, because it's almost precisely the amount of arable land available per capita. As the graph below shows, the trends are troubling...

...because our population is growing and our arable land is disappearing (to erosion, depletion, and urban sprawl). What happens when we cross over? Do we become a net importer of food, dependent on foreign countries for our nutrition? Even now, with most of our food grown in the US, the average meal travels 1,500 miles to reach your plate. That's just nuts. And don't even get me started on the environmental damage done by the industrial farming mega businesses. Here's an industrial dairy's manure lagoon to whet your appetite:

Yum... I bet that's some tasty groundwater coming up from those wells in nearby towns. The really crazy thing is that the manure should be a valuable asset to the local agriculture, if it just weren't so concentrated in the feed lots and not full of pharmaceuticals and hormones. For a better way, see Polyface Farms, the place made famous in the book "The Omnivore's Dilemma".

What can you do? Lots of things. Buy local, eat lower on the food chain, grow some of your own fruits and vegetables. For those blog readers here in Santa Barbara County, consider signing the online petition to urge our leaders to preserve Goleta farmland.


But anyway... all that stuff above is not what I really intended to write about. All I really wanted to post was the two pictures below.

First picture shows a portion of what I harvested from my backyard on Saturday. The potatoes were mostly a failure because all I got from about 40 sq. feet was a single brown bag full. Most of the plants died from pests or disease. I think next time I'll try to grow them in containers. But everything else in the picture has been wildly successful. We have enough carrots and garlic to last for a year. In fact, I've been giving away most of the garlic. The onions have done well as have the squash. Rosemary is always around.

...and so we combined all that and tossed with some olive oil and roasted it for about an hour. Paired with herb roasted chicken and a mellow merlot, and this was dinner in our makeshift kitchen on our cheapo Corelle plates:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Hi. How are you? I am fine. Sorry for not writing sooner, but things have been really busy here. Thank you for the $20 bday gift ...I will put it towards our remodeling project (more below). Also, please read this letter to Grandpa as I know his eyesight won't allow him to read it himself.

We are in-progress on our home remodel. I have been helping a little bit (abating asbestos, installing insulation, digging dirt) but the major work is being done by a group of real pros. They work hard and we are pleased so far with the results. You can see a chronology of the first three weeks in these photos here:

Despite losing functionality of half our house during the construction, we are managing fine so far. My office has become our living room with couch, TV, and multiple computers. We assembled a makeshift kitchen/dining room in the garage which has actually been very comfortable. Cozy but comfortable.

I don't bike much anymore. I have lost all my fitness but what I miss more is seeing my biking friends on the rides and at the races. I do still get out twice a week for the lunchtime group rides, but I use every ounce of energy just to hang on to the last wheel. On the Thursday climb, I am the last one to reach the top.

Earlier this month there was a bike race in Ventura and I went with Gina to watch. The criterium was right downtown on a really nice looking course with a short hill and a fast final corner. All I can say is that those racers were lucky that I wasn't competing! Haha. (Sorry for the arrogance Grandma... that was just some bike-racer bravado. We're all really fast and strong in our own minds!) Anyway, I really hope the race happens again next year because I want to do it. Maybe you and grandpa can come watch. There's a really good announcer named Dave Towle. I was invited to go onstage with him for the Masters races but I was too scared.

I did take some pictures of a couple of the races. Here are a few:

The 35+ race (that means, all the racers are over 35 years old) looked fast and many of the riders fell out of the group. Past the half way point, these two riders broke away (that means, they rode in front of the group).

This man is from England. He chased after the two riders in front but he didn't catch them. Do you wear Rock-&-Republic jeans grandma?

By the end, one man rode away from the other one. The other one almost caught him by the end, and he probably would have passed him if the finish line was just a little farther! By the way, the man who won is your age. That's why he won I think, because he has had a lot of practice. It also helps that his team picked many of the best players.

Now for the pro race. Why do people call it the "pro" race? Only two or three riders have pro licenses. Anyway, this is a young rider named Eric and he does have a pro license. He won the field sprint but only got 3rd place. Last year he won an exciting race in New York City.

This rider almost bumped my camera. Maybe I shouldn't lean out into the road. Anyway, he got 2nd.

This rider won. Surely he is the fastest.

My teammates raced too. They all did well, finishing toward the front of the pack. My teammate Ron won his race and so did my friend Jane.

Do you remember my little red pick-up truck? I sold it to a nice man who needed a truck. He doesn't speak much English so it was hard to communicate. The truck wasn't running and I was worried he didn't understand that. I gave him a really good deal anyway. His cousin took out the carburetor and rebuilt it and now it runs. Good for him.

I have some sad news also. Our kitty Rocky went missing a week ago. He loved exploring all the construction and he escaped one night after dark. We couldn't lure him back in so we let him stay out, thinking eventually he would come back to the door. He never did. We looked all around the neighborhood and put up signs. We checked the shelters and the vets and put a message on craigslist. Nothing worked.

We are all very sad. Brian has cried himself to sleep a few times. He and Rocky had a special bond; both young men learning about a vast and exciting world. I really miss the way Rocky would come running down the driveway to meet me when I got home from a ride. Apparently he knew the unique sounds of my bike. We all miss him at the dinner table where he would sit with us, hind feet on a chair with his torso and front feet resting on the table, while taking in all the wafting aromas of human food. I miss him following me around the garden with his fluffy tail up in the air.

Wherever you are Rocky, I hope you have a place at the dinner table and a big slice of tri-tip on your plate.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Not-So-Brief Disruption

I have fallen off the wagon. The training-and-racing wagon mostly, but other wagons too. Obviously tumbled off the blog wagon a few weeks ago. "Wagon" ...that's a funny sounding word.

Bicycle racing is, for me anyway, part of a lifestyle that relishes healthy living, hard honest work, and both inward and outward competition. It's a symbolic thread spanning most of my life so far. My first race was 35 years ago, and I hope my last race is 35 years hence. It's also cyclical like many other things in life. Relationships, careers, hobbies,... they all wax and wane at times. Sometimes because passions and interests fade, other times because of demands on your time.

Below is a chart of the approximate number of races I've done in each of the last 35 years.

Some pretty big swings in there. I never raced in college, although I took a year off to see if I could "make it" as a bike racer. I could not ...or did not. I also had some down years when work and family were more pressing. Family is always a higher priority, but sometimes it's possible to devote yourself to both. My kids spent lots of time in feed zones, and when they were young they actually enjoyed it! I don't think that a career is always a higher priority, at least not in the broader sense of balancing it with a healthy active life. Financial responsibility is one thing, but to sacrifice your health and happiness to a career is a huge mistake in my opinion.

All that is a long way of saying that 2009 is shaping up to be a down year for bike racing. Living in half our house while it gets remodeled will be a huge disruption. Further, I hope to offset some expense by doing a portion of the work myself, and that will necessarily be on the weekends so I don't interfere with the professionals. I'm also trying to work more (as in, earning more) and my productivity is not very high after a hard three-hour training ride. My goal for the year is to get eight races so I don't get fired from my team!

Which brings me to this blog... I will continue to write occasionally but please be warned that it will be infrequent and that the bike-racing content will be less. (I say that because my impression is that most readers are from the cycling community.) Maybe I'll try using Facebook more, since it's a speedier way to keep in touch and spew out some scribbles and pics. Here, I'll continue to post the random musings related to gardening, particularly since my tract-house yard is slouching toward becoming a farm, which I find pretty amusing personally. I'll also post about our remodel. As I've said before, I believe there's a real benefit to sharing info and lessons-learned about the process.

So tune in occasionally if you wish. Or not. I really appreciate everyone who has been reading along for the last couple years. It's been a pleasure to write for you. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alice Waters Rocks

(If the video doesn't work for you, try here instead.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


...or lack thereof, as it were. One word sums up my life in the last couple of weeks: triage. Some things get critical attention, others are deferred, and some get blown off completely. This blog has been in that last category for awhile now. Not that there's not stuff to write about. Lot's of topics rattling around in that half-empty block atop my shoulders. How about a quick shotgun blast of verbiage on a couple topics, just to keep this blog rolling along...


San Dimas Stage Race:
An impressive weekend for Cody with a 2nd place in the Pro RR and a 4th in the crit, and that's against many of the best domestic riders in the US. But do you remember another SB rider to snag the silver in that San Dimas Pro RR not too long ago, getting pipped just barely by Chris Horner?

The Masters races looked interesting to this observer and I'm sure there are some stories below the surface of the results pages. In the 35+, the change from the Day-1 TT to the final g.c. results show how important time bonuses can be, and also how crucial it is to have a solid cohesive team. Chris DeMarchi won in large part because he scooped up nearly 50 seconds of bonuses. Congrats to Chris and his Amgen/Giant brethren:

Greg Leibert used a great TT and help from a solid Cynergy team to claim a well-deserved 45+ win.


Uhhhhhh.. next topic.


Home Remodel Update
This is starting to get very real. The architect is done and we really enjoyed working with him. It cost around $12,000 but was extremely useful. He was equal parts interior designer, lighting expert, ergonomic consultant, structural whiz, and bureaucracy expediter. He will continue to consult when we start construction. We have two teams bidding for us, and we really like both of them. Unless their numbers are vastly different, we will struggle to decide which to use.


Gardening Update
In this triage process of my life, I must admit that gardening is ranking above training on the importance scale. There are certain times of the year when stuff just needs to get done in the garden, and this is one of them. Seasons change and don't wait for you to get your act together.

Some pictures (apologies to those who've seen them already on Facebook):

A while back I bought a Raspberry plant in a 3-gallon pot and it was extremely root-bound and overgrown. I divided the root ball into seven parts and planted them all, figuring maybe half would take. Now, six weeks later, they're all growing and looking really healthy. Across the walkway from these, however, I planted six Asparagus crowns and unfortunately only one has survived. You win some, you lose some... but there's always next year.

I mulched my Strawberries with straw. Novel concept, eh?! Well it turns out that straw is full of wheat seeds, so now I also have a crop of wheat growing in the Strawberry patch!

I just picked seven artichokes yesterday from these thriving plants. I have a recipe for using Artichokes, Fava beans, Garlic greens, Lemon, and Thyme, all of which I can harvest from my backyard right now. By the way, I've also picked a huge crop of slugs from these same Artichoke plants, but I haven't found a recipe for those yet.

First-time potato farmer, and so far they're doing well. Companion planted with Garlic and Rosemary (not shown here because I planted after the picture). By summer I'll harvest them all together and make Mondo's famous potatoes!

Who knew greens could be so colorful?!? See the happy Fava beans along the side of these two beds.

Thinking ahead toward summer... tomato plants started inside. Roma and Brandywine.


Lots more to blog about but now I think a training ride is bubbling up on the importance scale.

Random topics I'd like to pursue at some point...

1. "Retirement" is a thing of the past. Why? Prevalence of "defined contribution" plans and the woeful shortfall in people's savings. Those people with "defined benefit" plans will suffer their limited cost-of-living-adjustments in the coming era of much higher inflation. But anyway, why shouldn't people continue working at some level into their later years???

2. Paths kids choose, such as my daughter being baptized and confirmed Catholic despite no religious influence from her family. Lots to cogitate about that one.

3. Commitment-phobia -- What do you do when you see somebody who has an incredible, smart, funny, attractive, fit, and all-around awesome girlfriend, but he seems a bit frightened to take the obvious next step, as in getting married?

That is all. Time to ride.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Training Week - 3/9 - 3/15

Making every hour count.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hr; Lunchtime Hammerfest, chasing fast guys on TT bikes
Wed: 0
Thu: 1.5 hr; OSM (17:15) + 154, 4-5 really hard surges
Fri: 0
Sat: 5 hrs; Solvang Century (4:37 for the 100, inc. stops)
Sun: 0

Total: 8 hrs

- Ronde de Solvang 2009 (Bandit style again ...sorry): A fun day with near perfect weather (cool & less wind than normal). Settled into a great group of fifty or so riders, including C-Ranchers, StumpGrinders, a few SB lone rangers, and of course some of Platinum's finest. First hour was a fast blur. Second hour got a bit harder with some cross wind and false flats where half the group got popped. Third hour went through Orcutt and Santa Maria where we had a couple stops to pee and get water before the traditional start of the "real" racing. Fourth hour was the brutal slog along Foxen Canyon, a relentless false-flat up-hill into a headwind -- valiant soldiers died unceremoniously along this unforgiving battlefield. With 15 miles to go, five riders remained: Seth the Silent Slayer, Derek the Matador (called up from reserves), Chesta-san trying to blow out his last week of freedom in a blaze of glory, Moi barely surviving on two decades of Ronde muscle memory, and M-Dubb-too-early who had spent most of the day OTF in a nightmarish TdG flashback. Four against one ...the numbers favored Platinum ...barely. Not one to play defense, M-Dubb took one final solo kamikaze mission which took us 15 minutes of full-gas 4-man-TTT to extinguish. After being recaptured and realizing his fate was in our hands, the wounded warrior took a couple pulls then quietly drifted away toward the Grim Reaper. Across 154 and Chesta and I went all Butch-and-Sundance on the hill in Los Olivos, then flew down Ballard with help of a couple mercenaries (MM and Victor). 2K to go and Chesta attacked me that's how it is, eh?!? I clawed back and quietly slid my switchblade up my sleeve. We traded pulls into town and through the neighborhoods. He stumbled and I should have shanked him on the spot, but just couldn't do it. Final few hundred meters in downtown Solvang and we were weaving through SUVs, dodging recumbents, and blowing by grandmas on tandems. Then Chester sprinted to a glorious victory. Or something like that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ventura County Stage Race

Lots of hits lately from folks Googling the Ventura County Stage Race. This is going to be a rocking great race. The movers and shakers are attending to a few final details, but you can get previews of the courses here:



Road Race

Those babies look fun, eh?!

[Add/Edit] - In the month or so since I first posted this, the promoter has changed the prologue course. Check the race website for the latest details.

Word on the street is that some VERY GOOD amateur teams were rejected by Redlands this year, in favor of pro teams (mostly) from far-away lands. In other words, Ventura will be the marquee stage race for SoCal riders in 2009. Do it!!!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Youthful Passion

When you are young, you spend way too much energy on sex... the detriment of your long-term health.

I was told this yesterday by an expert in the field.

You just know how all-consuming it can be...

...whether or not you're getting any.

I blame it on genetics.

We're all wired to propagate the species.

And it's hard to resist instant gratification... hold off in anticipation of sweeter fruit in the future.

But I know in my heart it's the right thing to do.

So today, after looking lovingly at my beautiful young Blueberry, covered in hundreds of tiny delicate flowers each with just a blush of pink...

...I proceeded to cut them all off!

That horny little plant better focus it's energy on long-term growth. For now.

In a few years, Blueberry orgy time!!! Hopefully all five get in on it. Three O'Neil, one Misty, and one Southmoon.

(ps. I wonder if this blog post will get a lot of hits for some reason??)

Training Week -- 3/2 - 3/8

This is embarrassing...

Mon: 0; Lazy
Tue: 0; Busy
Wed: 0; Rainy
Thu: 3 hrs; OSM (15:55) + Painted Cave + SB & Goleta
Fri: 0; Busy
Sat: 3 hrs; warm-up + two crits at Research Park
Sun: 0; Lazy and Busy

Total: 6 hrs


- I've said before that I don't think people can train effectively when they don't have their head together and/or their stress under control. This is applying to me currently. The economy --in particular, the stock market-- is a source of stress right now, along with some uncertainty about a work project. Actually, my only work project. And still we're going full steam ahead towards an expensive house remodel. It feels like the makings of a Perfect Storm of Financial Doom. Spending 20-30 hours a week in the Bike Game just seems a bit too frivolous at the moment. For me.

- Given the above, there is something appealing about the way triathletes and marathon runners approach their respective sports. They do not race too often, and they accept the concept of "training through" the few events they do leading up to their goal race(s). The emotionally-healthy athletes don't get caught up in their results in each little competition either. Instead they keep their eyes on the prize off in the future. An Ironman tri, or the Boston Marathon, ...or the Tour de France I suppose. I may take that approach this year. I'm thinking of three biggies to target: (1) the Ventura Stage Race in May; (2) the SoCal district RR championships (Elite and Masters) in June; and (3) the Cascade Classic (Masters) and the Elite RR Nationals in late July in Bend, Oregon. I don't know... it feels like it takes the pressure off for some reason. Maybe only because it gets easier to procrastinate the start of hard training... Sigh.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Island View (from the back) Crit

Sometimes team boss Todd lifts verbiage from my blog's race reports and submits it to sponsors and media. This won't be one of those times.

I think I can speak for all of us Team Platinum riders in the P/1/2/3 Island View Crit when I say we collectively blew it today. We lined up in the back, and a break went from the gun including Cody O'Reilly and some other speedsters from Rock Racing and Team NOW/MS Society. By the time I noticed Cody's absence, they were out of sight. Ten minutes later they appeared from behind having lapped us in record time. Brilliant.

From that point forward, NOW/MS and Rock kept the speed sufficiently high that nobody seemed too interested in trying to to un-lap themselves. We took a couple of shots, including Seth soloing for a lap, but nothing materialized. Choo-choo pulled Cookie up to the front at the end, and Brian got 10th, which is a little bit of consolation.

Cody won so easily that he fell asleep on his bike five minutes after the finish. He was at the Bissell training camp during Mothballs, but other than that, Cody is three-for-three in winning the local crits this year and last. Can anyone challenge him?

And here are the USCF results for your viewing pleasure (since the race was in my backyard, it's only fair that I scoop those "real" news sites like SoCalCycling and SCNCA!)

P/1/2/3 Results. Cool to see some speedy juniors in there, like Sam Simmons from Ventura. No, he didn't take his hands off the bars.

35+ Results. We tried to get organized at the end but couldn't quite swing it. Then our sprinter Brian flatted. Mark Noble is looking really quick. If he can uncork a decent TT at San Dimas, I don't see him getting beat as he'll gather up RR and crit time bonuses like Easter eggs. And he'll have some strong teammates to help. Rock on.

Cat-4 Results. Derek continues to roll!! TnA and Bill Lupo up there too.

Cat-5 Results. Way to go C-Ranchers! And Echelon and UCSB too. But look at that name in 13th place... Aulden Diaz... Aulden Dais... Olden Days... That was Chris "Genghis" Hahn, taking out a one-day license and putting his toe into the water. Will he get hooked? Word on the street is he's notching up lots of vees at the BMX track, so clearly those competitive juices are flowing again. Bike racing -- the addiction that won't ever die.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tea Time

Corey Welles can ride a bike very fast, but he is also one smart cookie when it comes to organic horticulture. He's in charge of plant health at Ganna Walska Lotusland, which is home to some very rare and beautiful botanical specimens. Some are literally priceless, with genealogy traceable back to prehistoric times. It's Corey's job to keep those babies alive and thriving ...without using any chemicals. When Corey talks plants, I listen carefully.

And so it was a month or two ago on the Sunday group ride, that Corey told me about the Compost Tea Maker he just acquired for Lotusland. He told me about the beneficial effect on plant health, how the billions of microbes in the tea help suppress plant diseases and discourage insect pests. The plants at Lotusland are thriving and Corey says that Compost Tea is a cornerstone of their operation.

I decided I needed some of this magical brew too. For my plants. So I raced home and jumped on Google and probably spent an extra hour of chamois time researching Compost Tea. Sure enough, the organic gardening community raves about it. The only problem was that the equipment to brew the tea is not cheap. Even the units made for the home gardener ran a hundred dollars or more.

So after a bit more research, I concluded that the key component was really nothing more complicated than an aquarium aerator pump. You see, the crucial aspect of brewing Compost Tea is to oxygenate the water to breed a booming population of microorganisms. So off to the pet store I went, dropped $30 for the pump, and came home to brew Compost Tea. That was a week ago, and my backyard garden seems to have responded nicely, so I made another batch and documented it for your consumption...

Start with water in a five-gallon bucket. If the water is fresh, like from rain or a stream or directly from an underground well, then you're ready to go. Otherwise if it's from a municipal source, then you should run the pump in the water for a while to evaporate off the chlorine.

Next, take a shovel full of compost --about a quart or so-- and pile it on a piece of mesh fabric. You want the fabric to be permeable to water, but you want the compost material to stay inside when you enclose it. It is important that the compost be fully aged, preferably from a hot pile, so that it's free of diseases and pathogens. You want that dark and rich mix that smells like a forest after a rainstorm.

With a piece of twine or string, tie up the edges of the fabric so the compost is inside just like a tea bag. Leave enough extra string so you can hook it to something else so that you can hang the bag in the bucket. A couple other ingredients are helpful. Add a tablespoon or two of unsulphured molasses. This will feed the microbes. You can also add a tablespoon or two of a fish-emulsion/kelp fertilizer as a good nitrogen source for the plants.

Now hang the bag into the bucket and get about your day. The concoction needs 12-24 hours to fully brew.

By the next morning, the liquid has turned the color of your favorite dark beer, and it should have a rich, vaguely sweet and yeasty smell. You'll almost be tempted to drink it! Or not.

Dilute it with some additional de-chlorinated water and use it as a foliar spray, or pour it directly into the soil around your plants' roots. It's important to use it within a few hours because without the aeration, the microbes will begin to die.

So there you go. Homemade organic fertilizer, plus disease control and pest repellent.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Oh Snap!

Please learn from my mistake...

When --not if-- you break your rear derailleur cable inside your brake/shift lever, do not continue to use the lever. Under no circumstances should you click the lever all the way over (as if moving to your largest cog) because that stupid little nub with the frayed cable strands will drop down into the guts of the mechanism. I just spent an hour doing surgery on that lever to remove it. Shame on me of course, because my shifting was feeling a little ragged last week and I suspected the cable might be fraying but I was too lazy to fix it.

Training Week -- 2/23 - 3/1

Got some great intensity on each ride.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime hammertime
Wed: 1 hr; Hope Ranch Hell'ervals
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, 17:10, yucky headwind
Fri: 0
Sat: 4.5 hrs; early w/ Gina, then 8:00 roco to/from 2nd Casitas
Sun: 3.5 hrs; Worlds, hard 'til cable broke

Total: 11 hrs

Thursday, February 26, 2009


In case you missed this cool flick at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival a couple years ago, you've got a second chance because it will play Saturday March 7th at the SLO International Film Festival.

Check it out...

Bad Mulch?

What happens to all that green waste we put out each week? What about all the debris from commercial tree trimming? Turns out that Santa Barbara County turns most of it into composted garden mulch and offers it for free back to the community. Check out the details here. I gathered some and put it around a couple of trees and they seem much happier, especially my semi-dwarf avocado. I'm sure y'all know the advantages to putting a layer of mulch on the ground... helps retain moisture, adds organic matter and improves soil structure, keeps the nearby roots cool, and suppresses weeds. Good stuff, that mulch.

So yesterday when I saw some city workers trimming the Brazilian Pepper trees on our street, and subsequently feeding them into the mother of all chipper/shredders, I asked if they could dump a bunch into my driveway. Sure thing, they said...

Thirty-seven wheelbarrow loads later, I had it spread around my yard on some bare spots and weedy areas. I was careful not to put this mulch too close to any plants because it was too fresh. As it begins to decay, it will suck nitrogen from the soil underneath, so it could harm the plants initially. It should be fine within a month or two.

Then later, on a whim, I googled "Mulching with Brazilian Pepper trees" and discovered that this particular species is hated in some places (especially Florida) because it's extremely invasive and hard to kill off. A couple sources recommended never making it into mulch. Seems it can propagate from the pieces and if you aren't careful, you'll end up with a forest growing from the mulch. Now you tell me!

Oh yeah, and on my ride yesterday a rabbit ran across the bike path and got decapitated in the spokes of the guy next to me, and blood and guts splashed up on me. It was gross.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ontario Speedwagon Pics

Here ...from John Goodman. Excellent as always. Looks like Cat 3s (HeyRon 2nd), 30+ 1/2/3/4, and Pro/1/2/3. Maybe one more... Did Big Derek Johnson win another race already??

Training Week -- 2/16 - 2/22

Getting back into a routine...

Mon: 0
Tue: 0.5 hr; rollers
Wed: 1.5 hr; Hope Ranch hurt'ervals
Thu: 1.5 hr; OSM, 15:53, dropped by Ben and M-Dub
Fri: 0
Sat: 5 hr; out early w/ Gina, then roco ride to Casitas & back
Sun: 1 hr; OSM, easy

Total: 9.5 hrs

Friday, February 20, 2009

Solvang TT Pictures

The vibe in Solvang was great. Thousands and thousands of fans, cheering these world class bike racers. Like Rock Stars. We wandered around soaking it up. Then I noticed this guy, the one on the right of the picture with white curly hair. Odds are you don't know who this is unless you've been around cycling for a very long time (or you live in San Diego).

I wonder what he thinks about all this. That's John Howard. He was the best bike racer in the US from the late 1960's to the mid 1970's. A three-time Olympian, four times US Road Champion, and one of the first Hawaii Ironman winners. But even in his prime, he would walk the streets in total anonymity. Nobody knew about bike racing back then. He was the best in the US, yet he barely eeked out a subsistence living racing his bike, sleeping on floors in dorms and youth hostels. Did he ever think his sport would get to this place, where thousands of fans would line a California street to watch a time trial?!

...or that a mass of humanity would crowd around a team bus as if Bon Jovi was inside?!

This sport has come a long way since I first started.

I brought my camera. First set of pictures is of the local amateur riders doing the same TT as the pros (pics of them further down). Each rider raised (or was sponsored) $1,000 to support the event and its causes. Fun to see how the amateur times measure up.

Mike Hecker starts. Mike lives near Solvang and has been leading a popular group ride up there. He raced road twenty years ago and is getting back into it.

Cookie LOVES time trials and jumped at the opportunity to ride, thanks to the generous sponsorship from Platinum Performance.

Gary D'Velo is going to win the 30+ National TT Championships this year. He decided to warm up with the Tour of California TT. He rocked a 33:47 time, which would have slotted him in at 72nd place in the Pros, just ahead of Tom Boonen.

Blingerman did the event for the second year in a row. did Matt "Chicken Ranch" Benko, a clear favorite of announcer Dave Towle!

...and just a few minutes later, they were back!

Platinum boys went really fast.

Picture by Goodman Graphic

Mikey flying in.

Blinger was too fast for me to get the right exposure.

Matt powers through the final 300 meters.

Kisses on the podium! Gary wins, Cookie 2nd, Brent Kay 3rd. Congrats all!
credit: Steve D'Velo, Gary's Dad ...or... Todd Booth?


Now some pictures of the GC contenders and a few others...

Some kooky fans on the hill...

Especially these crazy fanatics...

BJM rides by thinking, "Hey, I remember those guys... I can't wait 'til I retire and sit around watching bike races!"

Oscar Sevilla looks like a little kid.


Chris Horner is one of my favorite riders.

I'm not much of a photographer, and the crowd went crazy when Lance came up the hill. Somehow my one shot was not blocked and I got a decent picture for once. I used the flash, which was a tip given to me by Mark Johnson, whose awesome pictures can be seen on and elsewhere on the internet.

DZ is also one of my favorite riders.

What is inside Michael Rogers' skinsuit?

Last to start, Levi...

By the time we walked across Solvang to the final km flame rouge (sp?) they were already back...

For the record, Levi won.