Showing posts from 2013

About that woman I married...

I like to talk about myself.

Most of my social interaction consists of telling people about me or sharing my opinions about things I really know nothing about. When I'm not doing that, I'm usually wrenching conversations that might otherwise have led to cures for cancer or a grand unified field theory back to the subject of me. I mean, who doesn't want to know about my morning cleaning the cat box? You see my point.

So it was with some surprise I discovered that I was way more interested in the world of my wife this past week. She had gone off to Mexico with her friend Anne to an all women's surf camp called Las Olas. I had expected the "surf camp" part of the resort title was a pretext for laying on a beach, drinking margaritas and trash talking about husbands and boyfriends for five days. That would have been great. We could have talked over the fine points of good and bad margaritas and I could get back to talking about myself.

But I started getting texts …

Thoughts on Home

I’m sitting on the bed in the guest bedroom at my in-laws in Waterford. The bedroom is about 8’ along from where the house begins to slope toward the canal, dropping about a quarter of an inch per foot as you walk toward the back of the house. The house has been sloping long enough that doors and windows have been trimmed and re-trimmed to continue to work as the slope gradually increased over the years.
The slope begins as you enter the dining room. Two decades of meals here have been punctuated by oft-repeated stories about having to dam up gravy with mashed potatoes to keep it from running off the plate. They eat a lot of bananas here largely because it’s one of the few fruits that won’t roll away when you set it on the table.
Yesterday, while Merle and Catherine were at a GE retiree’s luncheon, Carolyn and I took over the sloping kitchen in their sloping house. Though she still bakes quite a bit, at 88, Catherine doesn’t cook much anymore and it felt good to dirty the place u…

Dave Grey - Founding Father of Single Speed Racing

It's early October and while my friends are getting their cowbell on with cyclocross, I'm waiting for my flight to NY for the HiEdWeb conference followed by a visit with family. Since I have some time on my hands with a computer in front of me for the next few weeks, I thought I'd follow through on a promise I made to Tom Keller to scan and publish some of my old photos from my racing days back in the 80's and 90's. I found one in particular that has some historic value.

We were quite a sight back then. Day-glo lycra, really large goggles,toe clips, thumb shifters, no suspension, and races that were run largely on dirt roads and double track. There was also a dizzying sense of being caught up in something new. Companies were experimenting. Bikes were changing, it
was all evolving. Everyone knew the bikes could be better and everyone was tinkering trying to figure out how.

My first race was the then famous Revenge of the Siskiyous. In July of 1987 I lined up on my …

The Hard Day

This year, my fourth start at the Fat55 was far and away the hardest race I've ever finished. I was 45 minutes slower than last year. Nine hours in the saddle to get it done.

Nine hours.

I've been pondering what to write about this.

I was so shelled by the last descent, I had to stop three times to keep from throwing up. About halfway down the Larison Rock trail I closed my eyes and nearly passed out going 20mph.

Joe brought me a beer at the finish. I set it on the ground and thought about how much I wanted to puke 10 minutes earlier. I thought about the tequila bar at the Capital Forest 50. I wondered how these races could end so differently. Maybe 20 minutes later I took a sip.

Joe, by the way, finished second overall in 4:40, finishing just 5 minutes behind Evan Plews. It made me smile to think of Evan being harassed by him for the whole race. Yeah, I'm slow. Say hello to my family.

But I can't really find any humor in it. Evan is an incredible racer. He deserves…


I sometimes wonder if we're the only people who live in a funhouse world where bees take over your wood stove, raptors fly in to your bedroom, bike rides require shooting earmuffs, cats weigh 23 lbs and don't know how to clean themselves, and vacuum cleaners are gateways to Hell. Does this all happen to you and it just doesn't seem important enough to tell me?  I'd love for you to share. I'm starting to worry...
This past Wednesday our evening started typically enough. I got home from work, Carolyn was just putting the granola in the oven.

OK, let me stop there. That's normal around here. About 3 years ago Carolyn made granola from a magazine recipe. It was so good she kept doing it and now my mother and sister are making it as well. It's mostly mixing dry ingredients and baking. It's dead simple. It's posted at Epicurious. You should try it.
Anyway, it's midweek so we're having a simple dinner. Hamburgers. As normal and all-American as a meal …

Capital Forest 50/100

It's another long race report. Sorry. Just be thankful it's not the "Linfield College catalog database update for 2013" report that I was thinking of doing.

Uh huh. You're welcome.

Last Friday I gave myself a little mini vacation by jumping in the Subaru, going to work for half a day, going to Les Schwab for an hour to get a flat tire fixed, going to OVS for an oil filter for the tractor, driving through rush hour traffic in Portland behind a truck with the worst mission statement ever, getting re-routed because of an accident for miles through suburban Olympia before arriving, at about 7:30 p.m. at the starting line for the Capital Forest 50/100.

Vacation, as a concept, seems to still be eluding me.

I did this race a couple of years ago and I remembered it as being challenging but manageable, very well supported, and filled with friendly racers and volunteers. I'm happy to report my memory wasn't playing tricks on me. Fat 55 is still a bit nearer and d…

Why Does My Vacuum Cleaner Smell Like Death?

Some years ago, about the time Carolyn's eyesight started to get bad, she discovered I liked vacuuming. Since she couldn't see how bad I was at it, and I had the opportunity to buy a machine that did something I would otherwise have to do by hand, it was a win win.

Since then, pretty much every Saturday, I've had a date with a purple and red (Linfield colors!) Dyson to mitigate construction dust and cat dander. Vacuuming had the additional benefit of completely freaking out the cats so I've been pretty much guaranteed a cat-free afternoon simply by rolling the purple and red monster out of the closet.

It's been a steady, reliable machine over the last seven years. It's had a few scrapes. OK, the handle broke off. Carrying it upstairs is like wrestling an unhappy toddler out of a shopping cart. So maybe it's not in the best of shape. Then there was the bee thing. All those sucked up honey bees from the wood stove exacted one last act of vengance on me by co…

How Evan Plews Ruined my Life

Anyone who follows this blog or worse, has actually raced with me knows one great truth: I'm not terribly fast. Which is a bit of a setback if racing is the focus of your chosen sport. The point of racing is to be faster than everybody else. If you can't be faster than everybody else, well, you better be faster than everyone in your Category or your age group. If you're not faster than them, you better find a nice fantasy world where you can imagine you are faster than everybody else.

My fantasy world is the mountains I live in. The Gooseneck and Mill Creek valleys, Dorn Peak, the lookout and the fire roads that connect them have been my haunt since my early explorations on my Bridgestone back in 2003. With the exception of occasional rides with Joe, Mallory and Maddie over the Holidays, I've had them pretty much to myself. Riding up the fire roads several times a week dropped 30 pounds off me, made me strong,  and gave me a place where I was King of the Mountain - ch…

Test of Endurance - The Good Day Edition

Truman Capote said: "That isn't writing at all, that's typing". This is one of those posts. It's mostly for me because I want to remember how all this transpired when I'm too old to do it again. For those of you looking for something meaningful or funny, you can skip to the end.

For those just tuning in, The Test of Endurance is a 50 mile mountain bike race run outside of Corvallis. Mike Ripley has been putting on this event for seven years. This was the last year for this course and distance. He's changing to different trails and distances next year. I haven't asked him why. Maybe with a 100 mile race and a 24 hour race in his season, it's one too many long events to promote. These must be a bear to put on. Multiple aid stations, longer distances and greater chances for rider injury make shorter, multi-lap events much more appealing.  Maybe endurance racing distances have grown to the point that a 50 mile "Test of Endurance" seems under…

Of Bike Races and Bees

As I look back on it, last week definitely ranked among the more surreal. It began last Saturday morning. It was the day before Pickett's Charge and I was looking forward to an easy ride, some wrenching on the bike and a lot of carbo loading ahead of the race. I came downstairs, made some coffee, sat down on the sofa and I heard the buzzing.  Yup. There were bees in the wood stove. Great. This has happened before. Scouts from a hive that's about to divide go looking for promising homes. Our chimney shows up quite a bit in their real estate listings. Some of them wander down the chimney and get stuck banging themselves against the glass of the stove door. I vacuumed out the bees and lit some paper in the stove to send a message up the flue that this isn't a good place to call home. That's worked fine in the past. The scouts don't come back and the chimney stays on the market. This time when I came back and looked, the half dozen bees had been replaced by a hundred. …

Alsea Falls - Overly Attached Bicycle

Well, after a great race at Sister's Stampede, I'm back to sucking again.

I'm not surprised. It's been kind of a sketchy season from the beginning and the two weeks spent traveling to Maddie's graduation and visiting JD down in Oakland pretty much knocked me back to "strong but out of shape" status. Saturday I went down to do the Alsea Falls Switchback and let's just say it's a good thing I  have abnormally high self esteem.

I raced down there a couple years ago, the first time Mike Ripley used the area. I thought it had potential but it was a bit rugged and I crashed hard on one switchback. Since then, he's put a lot of work into the trails and significantly changed the course. It's much improved and should have played to my strengths. We raced 3 eight mile loops that began with a 3 mile climb on an old paved logging road. He started the race in two waves instead of letting each category go with a couple minutes between. I really liked th…

Twice in a Lifetime

One can measure the joy of an event in a number of ways. In the case of a bike race you might find joy in winning, or beating a previous time. You might find it in merely surviving.

In the case of Sister's Stampede, I found joy in, well, not getting lost this year. I also found joy in the cooler day and not baking to death. I was also pleasantly surprised that I did substantially better than I expected.  14 out of 21 may not be great by most people's standards but it's the closest to a mid-pack finish I've had in Cat II since pretty much as long as I can remember. It was the first race I've had this year that I could really race too. It rained the night before so it was a fast, tacky course with no dust. It was also a single lap so there was less overlap in categories. There was a lot of bunching at the front of the categories but 8 or 9 minutes back we had room to breathe and courtesy informed all the passes. It was also my first time on the long course and my wor…

Race Report: Cascade Chainbreaker - Pavlovian suck fest with a sandwich

This was the 3rd year I've done the Cascade Chainbreaker in Bend. I like the course. It's got a stupid busy section close to the start/finish that's great for spectators and then it winds out on some genuinely fun single track. It's got a few punchy climbs but not too much of anything, so the whole race seems manageable. When I say "manageable", I mean that in a sort of theoretical sense. If you started off by yourself with a full hydration pack, following a nice breakfast, you'd be able to ride the whole course and finish with a smile on your face in time for lunch. If, on the other hand, you started off with a mini hydration pack designed for a six year old, did so with 350 other riders, and someone was cranking the weather dial all the way over to broil while you were riding, the overall experience would be a bit more... unspeakably horrible. You might still finish in time for lunch, but you'd just cough up dirt and bitter disappointment all over …

Dear Mom

Mother's Day is almost one of those Hallmark Holidays. It's falling into that category not because of the pressure to buy things, though that's certainly there. Rather, it's the sort of dull, mental imprinting that happens when a holiday rolls around every year for generations but lacks the religious gravitas of an Easter or Christmas, or the improvised social celebration of Thanksgiving or St Patrick's Day.

A sure sign of this are the people chirping "Happy Mother's Day" to everybody they interact with, despite the fact that they might not be mothers or might not have mothers any longer.  Carolyn informed me people do this at the grocery store. Since I work in IT, I have the luxury of not having to interact with human beings directly so I had no idea this was happening. Her coworkers are starting to ask for the day off. Like singles on Valentine's Day, people are beginning to avoid the society of others on Mother's Day.

I say "almost&qu…

The Rapture

I've been lagging putting in base miles this season. A combination of travel, triathlons, bad weather, and house projects confined me to Saturday rides and mid-week intervals on the trainer. As a result, I'm pretty strong and the winter weight is coming off, but I've got no endurance. So, with racing season in full swing next weekend, I decided to do what most half-hearted weekend racers do about now. I tried to cram all my distance into one genuinely insane group ride. I'm stupid.
The Rapture has been put on in May since 2011 by VeloDirt, a Portland based group of gravel road riders, in honor of Harold Camping's failed prediction of the end of the world. It's an unsupported 69 mile dirt and gravel road ride that crosses the coast range twice. There's no signup sheet, no check-in, no number plates. The route has no services, no potable water, no cell reception, and no easy exits for the first 60 miles. It travels over a spider web of logging roads, many of w…