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.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

For Drea....

Re your last comment in the post below: Don't quit your day job just yet.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Food Not Lawns ...Not Bikes

As you might expect based on the banner at the top of the page, this blog has been predominantly about bicycle racing, albeit with a few other topics thrown up from time to time. It's been a true reflection of my activities and impressions, and my posting frequency is usually a good indicator of how much I'm thinking about bike racing.

Or how little, as it were. Last week I did not use those few precious blocks of clear-weather time to crank out VO2Max intervals or climb tempo pace up the mountains. Instead I planted food. Lots of food. Blueberries, raspberries, asparagus, potatoes, garlic, onions, lettuce ...LOTS OF LETTUCE..., Fava beans, spinach, chard, cauliflower, soy beans (edamame), peas, and basil. My mind was in the garden and not in the saddle. Wait, that didn't sound right...

And it's not completely true either. I have watched most of the Tour of California, and marveled at the Pros' ability to race in horrible conditions. I've also been enjoying the race reports from SB riders who've been ripping apart pelotons all over California. Chesta-san taking a Cat-3 Vee at the UCLA RR in the desert, and C-Walk taking 2nd in P/1/2. Great placings from Chicken Ranchers John, Bob, Matt, and Danny up at the Velo Promo races, along with Derek Johnson and Steve Weixel, with the latter doing three races and bagging two top-10s. Finally, HeyRon, Chesta, and Brandon raced a crit in Brea this weekend, with Ron sprinting to a Bronze. Congrats to all.

I included all those links so you could read about bike racing, because the rest of this post is about gardening...

It's been three or four years since I dug up our back lawn and started a mini-farm. Gina rolled her eyes but went along with it because of the good supportive wife that she is. Besides, the lawn had died by that point and was being overrun by weeds. How much worse could it be? As the picture here shows, I planted crops in the rows-and-furrows style of a real farm. When the plants were mature, it was both productive and attractive.

But it wasn't the best approach. After every crop, I'd need to cultivate the soil and re-form the planting rows. That's pretty harsh on the soil life, and soil life is crucial to healthy plants. Watering was more difficult and wasteful, especially when the plants were young and their roots hadn't yet reached the furrows. Walking down the rows compacted the soil more than the plants like.

Last year I built a bunch of raised beds, shown in the picture here. Each bed has a drip irrigation system on its own valve. Lots of advantages to this approach. First, the soil fertility and life can flourish right where the plants need it, and you need not walk on it or disturb it after every crop. The size of the beds allows easy access so you can plant densely, in the so-called "French Gardening" technique. The drip system allows very efficient watering, and the drainage is good if it rains a lot (like lately).

One of the most exciting (haha) things about gardening is how dynamic it can be. Day-to-day and season-to-season. Californians can grow food year round, especially true here in Santa Barbara. The picture here is from this morning. Mostly greens and root crops are growing now.

Not visible in this picture, but I recently added a few new beds around the sides of the yard and house. Slowly but surely, this farm is taking over my entire 0.2-acre lot! Now if you think that doesn't sound like much room, check out what these good folks have done with the same sized tract-house lot.

Anyway, a few more pics with some details of what's growing now...

Collard Greens, a southern favorite, first time I ever tried growing these. Leaves are tough as leather but get tasty and tender with 20-30 minutes of steaming. I cooked these last week with garlic and onions, topped with bits of bacon. Served with cornbread and pork roast.

Hard neck garlic. Supposed to be a lot stronger taste than the grocery-store varieties which are mostly soft-neck. I'll let you know in a few months. The yellowing leaf tips are a sign that the soil is a bit too wet.

Chard is sure happy though!

Fava beans grow like crazy in the winter. Lots of biomass for green manure and also nitrogen-fixing roots. A great plant to grow. I hope to find a good Chianti soon.

I planted some Blueberries in a special bed that I'd prepared months ahead of time. Added lots of peat moss and some elemental sulfur to get the soil pH down to around 5.0. Blueberries need very acidic soil. If all goes well, they'll make a beautiful six-foot-tall hedge.

Compost is the real black gold. Early results of my son's science experiment shown in this picture. Equal number of spinach seeds planted three weeks ago. The soil on the right has been amended with our homemade compost, a very rich brew of kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, and Azomite. The soil on the left was amended a year ago with garden-variety store-bought potting mix. The results are dramatic, both the number of seeds germinating and the size and health of the young plants. We'll see over the next few weeks if the healthiest plants avoid bug problems.

One challenge with food gardening is getting the timing right. Sometimes you want to leave an area fallow, to give the soil a rest, but usually you want the ground to be productive. How to avoid long stretches with barren dirt in the vegetable beds? Easy! Plant seeds in flats and time it so they're ready to transplant as soon as the previous crop is finished. In fact, plant extra and give the "starts" to your friends and neighbors. Then later you can share the bounty.

OK, if you've read this far, perhaps you're interested in building a garden or expanding one you've already got going. Need motivation and/or ideas? Find a copy of "Food Not Lawns". The author is a grass-roots (haha) activist and she's been the inspiration for a growing movement. In Santa Barbara and want local help and advice? Check out the local chapter of Food Not Lawns. Looks like they'll even help you with installation!

This is the wave of the future.

Training Week(s) -- 2/2 - 2/15

Lots of zeros. Lots of excuses. Rain, sickness, and motivationally challenged. Sigh... A troubling trend: two years ago, I raced my bike when the Tour of California was going on. Last year, I did intervals on my trainer while watching ToC coverage. Yesterday, I sat on my butt to watch nearly an entire stage start to finish.

Mon: 1 hr; recovery pace
Tue: 2 hrs; Lunchtime hammerhood + OSM
Wed: 2.5 hrs; 5X OSM, mostly tempo
Thu: 0.5 hrs; run in the rain
Fri: 0
Sat: 0
Sun: 0
Mon: 0
Tue: 0
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, slow
Fri: 0
Sat: 2 hrs; SB and back
Sun: 1 hr; OSM, tempo

Total: 10 hrs

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bobke and DZ

Darn it!! Shut out of the raffle prizes once again! Would have loved that pound-o'-Peet's a month for a year! At least Gina and some dork got their picture taken with Zabriskie:

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mothballs Race Report and Apology

I've been carrying some guilt and unease since the 45+ crit at Mothballs last Sunday, so perhaps a brief race-report blog post will serve as therapy. The competition was typical for Mothballs: a field of around fifty with the usual speedsters (e.g., CBlackRide, Steve Gregorios, Carlos Soto, and Dave Lettieri) and a good collection of all-around fit riders (e.g., Mike Gourley, David Larsen, Kim Bleth, Bill Lupo). Our Platinum squad was the same as last year: Mark BeLukie, TnA, Choo-Choo Brown, and me. Oh yeah, almost forgot... and C-Walker.

We rolled out and within a lap C-Walk suggested we start throwing guys off the front. My thoughts exactly go first! So he does. Naturally everyone reacted, and he didn't get much leash and he was brought back within a lap. Thus began 30 minutes of textbook team attack/cover/counter-attack in which we all play a role. I was proud of our team. Unfortunately, none of our moves ever got more than 10-15 seconds. With 6 laps to go, I made one final attempt with Kim Bleth, but my legs were screaming in agony just trying to roll 27 mph. Back in the field with 3-to-go.

Now here is where I blew it. You see, our field had one other noteworthy rider, a guy by the name of Bert Glennon. I had never heard of him but he was wearing a rainbow-striped jersey signifying a world championship title. Turns out he's the 45+ Scratch Race champion on the track. In other words, he's very fast. I have a closet full of 2nds, 3rds, and 4ths from Mothballs, all "earned" by surfing the wakes of fast guys like him on the final lap. I figured, why not follow that recipe one more time.

What a selfish bastard!

My legs were toast, and I knew that two of my teammates (TnA and Choo-Choo) had good speed. And yet still, with three laps to go, I told C-Walk I was going to hunt for Bert's back wheel and go for the sprint. I found it with 2-to-go... or should I say, I found Dave L. occupying it. Hmmm.... should I try to barge in? Would Dave hold his ground? Best not to find out... not only would that not be cool to do to a friend, worldly ol' Dave could flick me with ease if he so desired. So I settled in on Dave's wheel. Bell lap, and I looked up to see my two teammates Choo-Choo and TnA on the front, driving this train fast. Last lap chaos --as per normal-- and I lost Dave (and thus Bert) in traffic, so I called an audible and tried to squeeze through up the gutter. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. This time it didn't. Around the final corner and Choo-Choo lost his steam, TnA was bogging, and I'm sprinting from 30 guys back. What a dork. 19th, our top placing.

So, what was wrong with that picture? I'll tell you. C-Walk, Mark L., and I should have been on the front grunting out every last ounce of speed going into that final lap. TnA and Choo-Choo should have had support up there. They could have closed the deal with a just little help from their friends. Perhaps not a Vee, but a podium for sure. I know this, yet I failed to execute on Sunday. At a minimum I should have gotten C-Walk up there. He knows how to race, but he's new to our team and was probably a bit baffled at my selfish attempt to sprint.

So, let me close by saying, "I'm sorry" ...and let's do it right next chance we get.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

He's Nuts and DZ Nuts

Arguably the two funniest characters in US pro cycling will be on stage together this Saturday at the Amgen Conference Center Auditorium in Thousand Oaks. Bob Roll will be your MC for an evening with Garmin-Chipotle Pro Cyclist David Zabriskie. Whenever somebody puts a mic in front of Dave, you're gonna be entertained. He's hilarious. We can only hope Dave's more ...ahem... suitably attired than here:

Bob and DZ will preview the upcoming Amgen Tour of California and will discuss Dave's 2009 Team Garmin/Chipotle.

Look here for more information and follow the link to purchase tickets online up to Saturday. (No tickets available at the door.) Proceeds from the event will benefit the Breakaway from Cancer Initiative.

Then on Sunday, you can roll with Team Columbia on a fundraising ride in Thousand Oaks.


BTW, a credible rumor swirls that Team Saxo Bank may appear in mass at the Saturday evening event. Will we hear some pre-AToC smack talk between them and Dave??

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Mothballs Crit Pics

Sometimes I just need to shut up and let the pictures do the talking.

Enjoy these beauties from John Goodman...

...and check out Carson Blume's magnifico Mothballs Crit Gallery...

...and these great shots from Kim Weixel, and these great shots from Steve. And still more pictures!

You guys are awesome!

Training Week -- 1/26 - 2/1

Lacking motivation. Whah, whah, whah...

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime HammerHell
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, tempo
Fri: 0
Sat: 3 hr; College Kids RR, All In from the gun
Sun: 1 hr; Mothballs crit 45+, tired legs, pack finish

Total: 6 hrs