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