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Showing posts from 2012

Everybody in the Pool!

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As a tribute to Carin, a bunch of us are going to do a sprint triathlon in April - the unfortunately named "Beaver Freezer". She and her mom did this race in the past. It's put on by the OSU triathlon club, the club she was riding with when she died. It's a fitting tribute. In that fog of loss and despair, this seemed like a reasonable thing to commit to.

When I say "reasonable" I'm victim of an anchoring effect. Sprints are shorter versions of the classic "Ironman" triathlons. Full triathlons are composed of a 3 mile swim, a 100 mile bike ride and, oh yes, a full 26 mile marathon. By contrast, sprints are a much less bat shit crazy 500 yard swim, 12 mile bike ride and 5k run. So by that comparison, yes, it's reasonable. But compared to sitting on the couch and catching up on "Dr Who",  it's still on the bat shit crazy side of life's balance sheet.

The biking part I've got dialed. The running I'll need to work on …

A Weak Defense of Cycling

The rains have come and I've been driven back to the barn to clock my miles spinning on a trainer as sheets of rain blow by the barn door.  It's been two weeks since Carin left us. It still hurts.

Last Saturday was her memorial at the Silverton High School. It was a singular testament to what a remarkable woman she was that the 700 seat auditorium was filled nearly to capacity. Family spoke. Carin's sister created a movie that was alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. She is a talented filmmaker and she had a lot of material to work with. It occurs to me that video is as common an artifact of this generation's lives as printed photos were to mine.

The event was described as a celebration of Carin's life and indeed it was. There was nothing black about her and everything we saw and heard described a person who was always moving, always alive. But there are things that need to happen at these events, no matter what you call them, or how they appear. There are tea…

Carin Norris

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This is Carin Norris, my brother-in-law's niece, a sophomore at Oregon State, a triathlete.

Carin's life came to an end this Saturday morning when she collided with a vehicle during a training ride.

I want to blame someone or something. That wouldn't make this any easier to accept, but at least it would provide some reason for this happening. The truth, as best we know a few days after the event, is that it was an accident. Nobody was to blame. She was traveling downhill on a twisty road. The police report said she lost control of her bike and drifted to the opposite lane where she was struck. That may have meant the bike went out from under her on a corner and she slid into the lane. She may have come in to a corner too hot and drifted out of her lane trying to keep upright. She was riding a dedicated time trial bike she'd only owned for a few months. These bikes are great at going fast in a straight line but they corner like 18-wheelers.  Maybe she was having a grea…

Fat 55 - All Your Races Are Belong to Us

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I don't want to get too gushy about it but really, Fat 55 pretty much defines a great mountain bike race. What, you might ask,  defines a great mountain bike race?
It should take  place when it's 72 degrees and partly sunny.It should start with the national anthem played on an electric guitar with just a bit of Hendricks thrown in.The starting pistol should be a rifle, and a muzzle loader.It should be supported by an army of volunteers who were genuinely happy to see you there racing. Some of those volunteers should have such well behaved dogs, you have to stop racing to pet them and tell them how good they are. Even if you're not a dog person. And you're supposed to be racing.It should be well marked with difficult or dangerous sections clearly flagged. All the aid stations should be stocked with bottles of hydration mix to replace the bottles I kept launching off my bike while I was being reminded that I suck at technical trail riding.Your race should have a finish c…

No one else cares about this as much as you do

It’s the night before Fat 55, the last race of the season for me. I decided to come down the day before, crash at a cheap motel in town and start the race fresh. After last year’s debacle, I packed every  spare part I could think of and enough food to see me through the Zombie Apocalypse.   Carolyn’s at the opening of Sweeney Todd in Portland, the 25th season of the theatre company we helped start all those years ago. She’s coming down tomorrow so tonight it’s just me, the laptop, 12 Honey Stinger Waffles, 8 packs of Honey Stinger Chews, 5 bananas, 4 home made energy bars, six bottles of Scratch Labs Exercise Drink, 3 hard boiled eggs, 1 large bag of Crasins, one quart of yoghurt and one bag of home made granola.. With little to do but stare at my huge pile of food,  it seems a good time to catch up on last weekend’s racing.

Last Friday, Carolyn and I loaded up the car and headed to Ashland for my 4th Mt Ashland Hill Climb. It's a great excuse for a family visit. Mallory and I do …

Waiting, Short Track Racing and Carolyn Goes Under the Knife. Again.

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Waiting is an odd state. It's inevitable, to be sure. We all have to wait for something or someone sometime. But it's the antithesis of doing and it's frustrating. A few weeks ago I competed in the Salem Short Track Series - pretty much the antithesis of waiting. Short track racing was a blast. It's very - concentrated, I suppose. The heats only last 20-40 minutes on a short 1 mile course. You pretty much go all out for the duration but you have to think all the time. You can't just put your head down and hammer.  There are tight turns, sudden climbs, drops off curbs, there was a bmx track involved. At one point the course went by some people playing bocce ball. I'm still not entirely convinced I didn't imagine that part. It was pretty madcap. No waiting involved. Pedal your brains out. Chat with other riders. Home for dinner by 7pm. A great way to spend a few hours on a Monday night.
But that was a few weeks ago. Once over racing sort of got put on hold u…

Why is this man smiling?

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There were a few reasons I was smiling in this photograph.
I was about halfway through Pickett's Charge over in Bend last Sunday. It's the last race in the points series and the last short cross country race of the season. I've always loved this one. It's not a great course for racing. Mostly single track that's hard to pass on and it's so short, even a small mistake can cost you positions. Still, the trails are fun and the atmosphere is a bit less intense. So even before the race started, there was something to smile about. This year, the start was cold and rainy which you wouldn't think would be anything to smile about except a guy next to me waiting for our wave to go off asked if I wanted a hug. You couldn't not smile at that. In the cold and rain, snuggling with a guy from Boise did have a certain appeal but I took a pass. Fortunately, just a few minutes into the race, right as the trail turned into the woods, the sun came out. One more reason to sm…

Test of Endurance

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It's 8:30, the night before Pickett's Charge, the last race in the points series for the year. I need to hit the sack so I can be up at 4am for the 3 hour drive to Bend. But this has been sitting in draft mode for days and it's time I finished it.
Thing is, I'm having some trouble setting a tone for this post. Anyone who's read my blog for a few years (thanks mom) knows the Test of Endurance has been a sore spot with me. In 2010 I missed the cut at the end of the first lap on something of a technicality and was pulled from the race. It was a rainy, nasty and slippery day. I think I was the only racer to get pulled. It was embarrassing, and combined with the weather, it set itself in my mind as a dark, awful theatre of failure and despair. This year I'm lighter, faster and riding a better bike. It was sunny and the trails were beautiful. I hit it hard and finished the first lap 40 minutes faster than in 2010. 8 hours and 21 minutes later I rolled across the finis…

Of Birthdays and Bees

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Last week was my wife Carolyn's 60th birthday. These big landmark birthdays generally fill most people with dread. Who wants to turn 60? Who really wants to throw that party? Lucky for me we decided a few years back that we just can't do big parties out at our place any longer. the logistics are too complicated. We don't want people drinking too much and trying to drive home. We're lazy too. All good reasons. So I took the day off and we went to the coast. We had a nice lunch, did a little shopping, came home, opened a very nice bottle of champagne which was remarkably disappointing. Not to end the night on a sour note, we also opened a bottle of Cos Cerasuolo that was absolutely transcendent. We spent the evening talking about what it means to grow old together and lose most of your dignity in an unfortunate explosion of cats.

I need to back way, way up for just a second. In 2006 I started "Residual Sugar" as a wine blog. Carolyn was through the viticultur…

Sisters Stampede - Thinking Fast and Slow

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It's 3:30 in the morning after the Sisters Stampede race. Raps is napping behind me on the sofa. Eber is sitting in the hall staring at me trying to use some kind of feline hypnosis to get me to do something. I have no idea if it's working. Ink is in the other room playing murder in the dark. I can't sleep, so I thought I'd write a bit about this book I'm reading called "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel winning psychologist.  He's challenged the traditional model of rational thinking by breaking that process into two systems that he rather unimaginatively describes as "System One" and "System Two". System One is the part of our minds that makes quick decisions based on past experience, expected outcomes, intuition and faith. System Two is the part of your mind that balances the checkbook. It's not fast but it's capable of assembling complex blocks of data and calculating results. System One is what's…

Spring Thaw 2012: Things Change

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May 19th Carolyn and I headed down to Ashland for the Spring Thaw cross country race. I've written about this race a few times over the years. It was my first race after a 12 year break. It was during the following year's race that we settled on my cancer treatment. We stay at my sister's up in the Greensprings and whatever life event is going on, attending this race is like coming home. This year was no different. Actually, that's not really true. It's a bit different every year - this year perhaps more than others.

The first big change was the venue. Since the 1980's this race has started and finished at the band shell in Lithia Park. This year the race started at the top of the park after the road turned to dirt. This was ostensibly for the safety of the riders but since this race has run from the middle of the park for 20 years without any major mishap, the move was more likely a result of growing tension between cyclists, park users, and residents.While so…

Cascade Chainbreaker: Getting Dirty and Getting Faster

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Last Sunday I headed off to Bend for the Cascade Chainbreaker. It snowed all through last year's race. Absolutely lovely but miserable for the poor spectators and volunteers. Carolyn paid her dues last year and decided that turning over the garden was a better thing to do so she stayed home this time. This year it was in the 80's and dusty beyond belief. The dust coated everything even before the race and by the end of the race it had covered all those bits of everything that you had forgotten about when you thought it had covered everything before.

Yes, I drank out of this bottle. It tasted great. If that disgusts you, please consider that I looked like this at the end of the race:

Pretty nasty. It got worse as you panned down but I'll spare you that.

Disgusting is a matter of perspective. Especially when you are really thirsty and just as filthy as the bottle you are drinking from.

I was going to tell you what happened when the dust settled, but the dust never settled,…

Drowning With Dignity

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I've never done leisure particularly well. I've always equated leisure with doing nothing, and doing nothing sounds like... doing nothing. Life is measured by activity. If your entire life is defined by laying around like a spud, well, you might be happy but where are the high points? "Oh that day of laying around in May last year, that was a day to remember!" "Last Monday's sitting on my ass all day, that was the sitting on my ass of a lifetime!" I don't think so.
So it was with some surprise I found myself laying around by a pool at a spa in Calistoga last Friday. Carolyn and Anne were getting mud baths and despite Calistoga having an awesome bike shop, it was just far enough away to not make it worth walking to visit. So there I was laying in the sun. I read for a bit. I applied more sunscreen. Read some more. Watched the people floating in the pool. It was all very mellow. There were no screaming kids or dogs running around. Polite quiet conversa…

On Being Cat 3

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Last Sunday was the 24th running of the Mudslinger down in Blodget. I show up largely out of habit. It's not a race I usually do well in. I'm not a good mud racer. It's early in the season, I don't have the miles in, blah, blah, blah.  Years worth of excuses. Suffice to say, I wasn't expecting much this year. The weather was awful. It was cold - snowing a bit when I got there. I threw on every layer I had and even strapped on a front fender which in the eyes of the racing style police is only slightly less tacky than tassels on your handlebar grips. Standing there in the rain, waiting for my wave to go off, I gradually shook off my attitude, relaxed and when the countdown reached zero, I clipped in and rolled.
It was the best race I've had in ages. Really.
It was the best for a few reasons. I didn't totally suck. I finished 8th out of 21 in my bracket. I didn't make any huge mistakes. I probably won't be sponsored any time soon but it was nice to be i…

Echo Red to Red Round 4 - The Wind Edition

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"Right now, this is worse than childbirth."

This according to my sister, who imparted this truth to a course marshal while laying on the ground - having actually fallen off her bike with crippling leg cramps with only about 3 miles to go in this 22 mile bike race. While Mallory was down for the count at the aid station, Joe was laying in the first aid tent at the finish line with his heart rate stuck at over 200 bpm as a result of his arrhythmia kicking in 30 minutes into the race.

Just another family outing...

I'm not, strictly speaking, in the doghouse with my family for convincing them that this was a fun race to do. Joe's team decided to do it without any input from me.  I don't think I ever said to my sister: "Mallory, you should totally do this race. It's just your kind of course. 17 miles of twisty single track filled with quarter mile climbs and rocky descents in the middle of the Oregon desert with no trees anywhere. It's so you! You would …