Monday, December 31, 2012

Tagging Along

Simone and I took a little ride through Avery park and to Crystal Lake sports fields. The original plan was to go to the south co-op and have some hot chocolate, but Simone was so into the ride that we just kept on going.

We took some dirt/mud trails at both parks because Simone said she did t mind a little mud.

Other than being a little cold, it was a most excellent ride.

Last Ride Of The Year

I took a spin in the fog.

Simone Rides Again

Simone went on a ride on her two wheeled (plus training) bike. It'd been a good six months since we last tried, and at that time Simone wasn't very excited.

But this morning she was interested in riding her bike (and not just the tagalong) so we took advantage if the nice weather and headed out to the Midge Cramer path.

Long story short, she rocked the ride. She was fearless and full of energy. She made it up the hills and kept her cool going down the hills.

I've a hunch that with a few more rides and she'll be ready to ditch the training wheels. I'm not crazy about training wheels. As Simone gets going faster, the training wheels get in the way of making any real turns. At one point she got going a little fast and pointed off the trail. She slowed down but wasn't able to get turned back onto the path. She spilled in slow motion, almost landing on her feet. We were happy to see her bravely brush herself off and stand up.

We turned around at that point, not wanting to push it, plus it was starting to sprinkle. She did a great job biking back, taking her time when she felt uncertain and racing when she felt strong. At one point she wanted to ride with her eyes closed.

Definitely looking forward to our next few outings, and I can't wait until the wheels come off.

Political Snapshot

So.... We had an election. I voted for Rocky Anderson, a guy whose ideas I liked and I knew he wouldn't get even one percent of the vote. I think Obama is marginally better than Romney would have been, but I'm still incredibly frustrated with all of the abuses of executive power, the war mongering, violations of the fourth amendment, indefinite detention, assassinations of US citizens, drone attacks, lack of transparency, and the list goes on and on.

The fiscal cliff is upon us, and I think we should fire all the senators and representatives. While I don't really want to pay more in taxes personally, the whole situation is ridiculous. Tax rates are at the lowest since the 1920's and income inequality is at similar historic highs. Something needs be done. The solution certainly isn't lower taxes nor is it cutting entitlements.

Social security is not on the brink of collapse, the politicians just need to stop using those funds to fund the tax cuts they've been making over the past 20 years.

The media is continuing its commercial slant, providing nearly zero information but tons of hype about tabloid-like stories to fill the air waves.

Medicare is a problem, but nobody is talking about a real solution. The root problem isn't the high cost of medical care, but is the fact we're such a sick nation. Too much bad food (over processed), too much environmental pollution, too many prescription drugs which don't solve problems but instead mask symptoms. We need to overhaul our food system to heal ourselves from the inside out. Just cutting Medicare will only move the cost from one place to another.

I'm hoping the next year is better, but I have little hope the system is going to change. Not quite sure what the next step is.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cycling 2012

It's been a good year for biking. I raced in 5 cross country races, 2 short track, and one cyclocross. I logged over 165 rides, covering over 2800 miles and climbing over 325000 feet of elevation (nearly 1/3 a million feet, over 61 vertical miles).

Sadly, I'm down to one bike. The road bike was sold for scrap, and the full suspension ran into a parking garage. I have enjoyed riding my single speed, but it'll be nice to have some gears again.

Next year... What will it bring?

My goals are to place in the top 3 of the Clydesdale category in cross country races, and to do that I'll be racing in 6 races in April through July. And then, I've signed up for the High Cascades 100 mile race at the end of July. I've heard only good things about the race and look forward to riding nearly 80 miles of singletrack.

Other goals are to finish the TOE in 6 hours (finishing first in Clydesdales), and to get on the podium at least one other XC race. I think that in training g for all this racing I'll log 400000' elevation gain for the year.

And, of course, my ultimate goal is to remain healthy, strong, and in one piece for the whole year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa Cross

Two weeks ago, Mudslinger hosted a cycle cross race in Corvallis, Santa Cross.  As far as I know, it's the first CX race in Corvallis in years (not that I'm really in the know).  I figured I'd give it a shot - it was just on the other side of town, and only 30 minutes of riding.  I even signed up for two races (back to back) - beginners and clydesdale.

I invited Mom and Dad down, and Sam came too, and of course Mary and Simone were there to cheer me on.  One nice thing about CX races over my more standard XC races is that they're more spectator friendly.  The course for this one happened to look like a snake that had coiled upon itself many times, and there was really no open space in between the lanes - just barely enough in a couple places for spectators to stand.

It'd been raining for a solid week, and the course was under the trees that looked like an old Christmas tree farm (very close together), so there wasn't any grass, just pine needles holding the floor together.  The course turned pretty muddy by the middle of the second race, I've no idea what it was like after an entire day of racing.

The course was super zig-zaggy, and pretty dark under the trees - I had considered bringing my headlamp and kind of wished I'd had it.  Luckily there were no real obstacles (other than the trees), so other than the geek factor, it wasn't really necessary.

I psyched myself up pretty good for the first race, the beginner men, and made sure I was in the first few people at the start - positioning really is everything in these tight and fast races.  I tucked in behind a guy wearing knee high striped socks and hung onto his wheel.  We passed a few people and were near the front of it all.  Another guy came up from behind and was racing with us as we passed the last person in front, and it was just the three of us - but they slowly pulled ahead.  I pushed hard, but never caught them - and I finished in third, well ahead of the remaining pack.

I stood there panting and wheezing, confirming with a guy at the finish line that I was in the next race.

I pedaled down to the start line, sucked down some water, ate a sausage/rice/egg bar, and chatted with Jason (a friend on Team Dirt) who was racing in the Cat C race.  The organizers made all the Clydesdales start at the back of the pack (weightism!!!!), and they started the race.  I realized just seconds before the start that I hadn't reset my Garmin (gotta Strava).

I realized I was a bit winded and decided to not worry terribly about the start - especially since they forced us to be at the back of the pack.  I took my time pedaling up to the barriers since I knew everything would bottle-neck right there.  Sure enough, I caught up to everyone and hadn't lost any time.

I slowly picked off the (5) Clydesdales and worked my way up the pack.  It was a bit confusing as the two categories were together.  I could tell one of the Clydes was serious about racing (I recognized him from Pickett's Charge) and he was my only serious competition.  I had passed him going over the barrier on the 2nd lap, and was ahead of him for a while, but couldn't manage to gap him.  I came up on a slower guy from the Cat C and remember thinking, "I gotta pass this guy" - but I wasn't aggressive enough and remained content to sit on his wheel.  He was a pretty good obstacle, almost as fast as me, and had I been able to put him between me and Mr. Yellow, I might have stood a chance.  But... one one particular curvy point, we got jumbled up and Mr. Yellow and another guy passed me and got behind Mr. Slow, and then they passed him, and I didn't.  A gap opened up and even though I passed Mr. Slow, I wasn't able to bridge the gap.  I finished probably about 30 seconds behind Mr. Yellow to come in 2nd place.

I was happy with the two races, they were fun, and I learned a little.  And, it was definitely a better showing than my first CX race a year ago where my chain fell off 10 times.  I had no mechanical issues whatsoever.  Yay singlespeed!

After all this, we went to Les Caves for brunch and chowed down on some tasty grub.  I hope to do the race again next year.

Dark under the trees, but plenty of bright white tape kept you from going the wrong way.

Navigating a corner, with Mr. Yellow chasing.

Barriers on a muddy uphill section, not much fun.

My form is not to be copied, not if you want to win.

I am but a blur.

Simone is ready to ride.

At brunch, happy to be sitting down (and together).

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Let It Snow

It snowed!

I woke up Tuesday morning and over an inch of snow was on the ground around the house. I knew this meant some deeper snow up high. So I threw on some layers and hopped on the bike.

You can see the little tree we lit up, actual snow at the house. Nobody in Portland had any - I felt lucky. Simone had a great day at school playing in the snow with friends.

On the way to the forest I passed bald hill. Snowy and foggy.

By the time I'd gotten up to the junction just below dimple hill, the snow had gotten up to 3 or 4 inches. It was still pretty light under the trees, but anywhere open was deep.

The top of dimple actually poked through the clouds into sunny sky, so the view up was gorgeous. If the peak had been but another 100' higher and I would have been standing in sunshine.

I headed down Dan's trail because the snow was light, and then down horse. At one point on lower horse you enter a thick grove of tiny trees. The snow and light made interesting patterns.

I certainly regretted not spending the time to put on my shoe covers because my toes were frozen by the time I'd reached the bottom of the trail. May e Santa will bring some that actually fit my shoes.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Halloween Celebration

We were getting ready for the Halloween celebration at school tonight, and Simone was full of ideas for all of us. She painted Mary's face with cat whiskers, and she herself was dressed as a butterfly.

While pondering my situation, Simone said, "you can wear your fanciest shorts!" Simone sure knows me.

The school had the gym full of tables and two guys were playing music (which Simone danced to quite a bit). We then took tours of different rooms - each with a different story. One had a pretty pirate who was full of himself. One was a spider catching a fly (scary). One had a song about looking at the donut and not the hole. And little red riding hood met the wolf - who then went to grandmas house to find a pig - who told wolf he had horrible breath (solved with a toothbrush). Al the rooms were very imaginative, and everyone had a good time.

We'll see what treasures Simone got tomorrow morning.

November Rides

I continued riding this month, about the same number of hours as the past few months - nearly 26 hours, but the distance is on a trend down.  Not quite sure why I'm biking slower, perhaps because the trails are getting a little slick from rain.

I'm still riding my single speed - I put the rigid Surly fork on front.  The fork has mounts for disc brakes, so I moved the disc brakes and the front wheel (tubeless no less) to the single speed.  And while I was at it, I moved the brake levers in so I can do one fingered braking, and put on my Ergon grips.  So now I'm about as pimped out as I can get with my bike.

Of course, the mud and rain are beginning to wear on things - luckily there are so few moving parts that there's not too much that's wearing.  I did replace the chain, and next will be the freewheel - either with a 19 tooth to make the hills a little easier, or a tricked out DOS Freewheel that has both 17 and 19 teeth.  Then I'll take apart the old freewheel and see if I can work on it and get it rolling smooth again.

I'm still taking photos when I want an excuse to take a break, or I think something looks artistic.  I got a new phone half way through the month and the camera is much better - and it includes a panorama option.  So enjoy.

Low lying clouds and sun together.


My favorite corner on Dan's in the Fog

Bottom of Lower Horse

On the way to Oak Creek

Favorite corner, no fog.

Gorgeous November Day

Gorgeous Gorgeous Gorgeous

Too Steep for the Single Speed

It's been raining

Mushrooms sprouting everywhere

Leading into my favorite corner.

Pano of my favorite corner, love how the pano flattens out the 180 degree turn.

Climbing in the fog

Low clouds over Corvallis

How do you work this camera?

Looking forward to a good set of rides in December.

December Has Begun

It's already December, so we got a tree from the farm down the street, and after eating a traditional (?) lunch of  Mexican food we came back to the house and set it up.  I'm not sure if Mexican food will be the tradition, but it sure hit the spot for Mary and me.

And then today, we went to First Christian to listen to Simone sing in front of the congregation.  Toward the end of the service, Simone and 3 other kids went up to the front and each sang a line from the song "When God Is A Child".  Simone did great, with her high pitched voice coming through microphone.

Afterwards we ate treats at the coffee hour and then decorated an advent wreath.  Many people came up and told me how great Simone sounded.  A few of them actually told it to Simone.  At bedtime, Simone said singing was her favorite part of the day, and she can't wait until the she gets to sing again.

And at night, Simone snuggled up with Lilla to sleep tonight.


Thanksgiving was at Bob & Gin's house this year.  Tom flew into town and the Mattsons came down from Yakima.

Simone was very excited to see all the cousins - she even stayed the night on Thanksgiving, which pretty much meant she got no sleep (way too excited to sleep).

I played with the panorama photo option on the camera and took two photos at the table, Thanksgiving dinner and then Saturday breakfast of  biscuits and gravy.  I got everyone except for me.

Simone decided it was Sparkle's birthday, and it was time to decorate some hats which Sparkle wore.

Bob even played along with the birthday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Ride

The rain started up after three months of dry. To be honest, the trails were getting pretty slippery with all the dust that had built up.
Now that it has rained, the paths are nice and tacky, plus they're covered with a thin layer of fir needles. Very pretty.
This morning the clouds were out and I biked in the fog some of the time. I took a few photos on the ride.

Morning clouds on the way to the trail.

My favorite bend in the entire forest.

The bottom of horse trail.  I don't like the deep gravel, I do like the view as you pop out of the forest.

Note: Simone can read this all on her own - I only helped her with the word "honest."

A Lovely Walk

Mary and I have been taking walks on Tuesdays recently. We were fortunate to have a beautiful sunny break at our standard time.
We took a road through some private property that we hadn't been on (at least not that far) and it is rather beautiful back there. The crazy thing is that this is but a three minute walk from our house.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Riding Snapshots

I've continued to ride several times a week. I've ridden a number of different bikes: Mike's road, Scott's cross, my Epic, and my single speed.

The two borrowed bikes felt super fast - which matches their super light frames and skinny tires. Riding the cross bike in the forest was odd because of the handlebars and the skinny tires - I did make it safely (if a bit uneasily) down the single track.

My Epic had an unfortunate encounter with the library parking structure. I'd been tweaking the setup to fit well, like adjusting the grips, moving the brake levers for single finger braking. The front shock is beyond repair an I'm going to replace the bike with one from the Team Dirt special order in about a month.
In the meantime, I've been riding my single speed. I've been happily surprised that I can actually climb up to the top of Dimple Hill. The descents are a little shaky because the ancient shock is worse than useless and I'm still adjusting to having no suspension in the rear. I've got a rigid fork on order and am looking forward to riding with that. I also plan on putting the tubeless tires which should also improve traction.
Last winter I rode my Epic a lot and because it has full-suspension, there were a lot of parts that suffered from the wear and tear due to all the mud and water. My thought is to ride my single speed for a chunk of this winter (with full-wrap fenders if they fit) to keep costs down. Plus, it'd help me improve my bike handling skills to put some serious miles on while riding a fully rigid bike.
Enough blabbing. Here are some snapshots I took on recent rides. It's been a great fall for riding.