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Showing posts from 2014

Rot

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We cram quite a bit into our weekends.

This one was unusually warm so I was planning on getting some winter prep stuff done in the morning and then get a ride in in the afternoon before it got too hot. I made granola in the morning. I ran the box scraper up and down the driveway ahead of getting a load of gravel on it. I sent Carolyn off to work and started to do a little scraping on the front porch railings. I figured I could scrape and wash Saturday and throw some paint on Sunday. Piece of cake.

Getting to the bottom of the 4x4 post that holds up the right corner of the porch roof, I poked at a blister of paint. Their was air under it. And dust. And very little structural wood. I was able to push my chisel all the way through the post. The bottom 3' of it were past rotten and well into compost. I've built boxes out of styrofoam and 1/8" plywood that had more structural integrity than the post that was supposed to be holding my porch up. If too many finches landed on the…

Fat55 - The Non-Race Report

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Carolyn and I were planning on heading down to Oakridge on the 13th for my 5th tilt at the windmill that is Fat55. I died last year from heat and fatigue at this race and this year looked to be even warmer. But I've learned a bit about keeping myself cool and had set the modest goal of finishing 15 minutes faster and enjoying my beer at the finish. Seemed reasonable. According to my annoyingly accurate Garmin computer, I had spent more than 40 minutes of last year's race not moving. That's 40 minutes at aid stations, joking with course marshals, laying face down in creeks, sitting by the side of the trail wondering "why me?" Really, if I just took slightly shorter breaks from having a bad race, it should have been a piece of cake.

Then this happened:


Well, fuck.

Eugene cancelled the race. The Deception Complex fire wasn't big by Oregon standards, a bit over 5000 acres now, and it was burning a couple miles west of where the race was going to take place. But t…

Dinner en Blanc. Magic and Dust Part II

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I usually write about mountain bike racing and cats. But because July was one of those months, a few weeks after getting all the dirt and dust off of my bike, my clothes and myself from the Oregon 24, I found myself dressed in white, sipping champagne and having a lovely dinner. I was sitting at a white table with white plates and linens with my wife also adorned completely in white. We were seated next to  roughly 500 other people dressed in white. You might for a moment, think I had actually died during the Oregon 24 and was reporting this to you from the all-you-can eat buffet just inside the gates of Heaven.

We were in fact, seated outside in an abandoned shipyard under the Ross Island Bridge on the outskirts of Portland which, on reflection, is equally improbable. But there we were.

We had sparklers too.

Dinner en Blanc, according to Wikipedia, is among the earliest examples of a "smart mob", a variance on a flash mob. It started in 1988 and has spread around the world…

The Oregon24 - Magic and Dust

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Last weekend I raced the Oregon 24 mountain bike race solo. Most people do this as part of a team so my insistence on riding it alone was widely considered a stupid thing to do. Physically I'm ok, but let's face it: peak fitness has left the building. Even if I was in top form, doing 10.5 mile loops for 24 hours sounds like the definition of madness. In some ways it was. Riding the same trail over and over, you get to recognize every single hill, turn, rock, tree. All those little details become your world. When a branch fell in the trail, it was a topic of conversation with my fellow racers until the time we came around again and it had been knocked out of the way. About 7 laps in, I thought a bike was coming toward me. My headlamp had reflected off a disco mirror ball hanging in a tree. I had passed it 6 times, never noticed it. How do you not notice a disco ball hanging in a Ponderosa pine in the middle of nowhere? I spent the remainder of the race wondering what else I wa…

Look Up

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I'll admit to having some trouble figuring out what to write for this post.

Actually, it's been tough all year. Here's the thing: Carolyn and I are fine, but a lot has been happening around us with work and people we care for. Some of it's good, some worrying, some painful. Most of it is still evolving. And it's all important, much more important than race reports or amusing stories involving the heating elements in our oven.  They fill our conversations in the evening and my head as I drive to races. But I can't really write about any of it. So much of it is still happening and it belongs to other people we love. Trying to weave those stories into my own narrative at best reads like color commentary at a football game. At worst if comes off cheap and selfish. So emotionally, there's this hole and this weight and this sadness that things won't be the same as they were and I'm stuck with a blog and nothing I feel good writing about.

I told you it com…

My Bicycle is a Thing. A Cripplingly Expensive Thing.

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"The geometry felt well balanced, which, along with its relative lightness, gave the bike a snappy, playful character that compelled me to charge technical climbs and descents with equal alacrity."

This is my favorite sentence of 2014.

Good writing should make you think, and this passage from a recent magazine's collection of bike tests, is right up there with "Finnegans Wake" for being both thought provoking and making me wonder what the Hell the reviewer was talking about.

To begin with, it was written by a beer chugging, pizza eating, hairy legged mountain biker after doing a couple of laps on some crazy rocky technical trails in the southwest as opposed to, oh I don't know, William F. Buckley. I'm trying to imagine him pulling up after his test laps and saying "My word! That bicycle's playful character let me charge technical climbs and descents with alacrity!" The image just slides off my brain and makes the back of my eyes hurt. Wit…

Hey, I'm still Here!

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That phrase has been rattling around my head for the last week. It started Saturday when I was sitting at my computer doing some software patches on my company's CMS. Ah, you probably don't want to know. There are only around 850 people in the world who care about the kind of work I do and we all get together at a conference every October and drink too much and hug each other because it's hard to be a geek and actually like it. We should probably wear costumes.

Anyway, it was a slow process so I had a lot of time to think while lots of little files dashed off to their assigned corners. Mostly I thought about how my Echo post was a lot funnier in my head. An old friend who read it thought I might be coming down with something. Carolyn read it and was genuinely alarmed.

"You had a medical emergency?!"

"Well, no. It just felt like one."

"What if it had been a real one?"

"Umm, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation?"

Lots …

Echo Red 2 Red: The Old Man Never Knew What Hit Him

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One of the challenges of growing old is realizing the young you is still in there, growing ever more frustrated with the aging body it occupies. An additional challenge for those of us who race is realizing the faster you is still in there, growing ever more frustrated with the increasingly slow body that it occupies as well.

My Inner Fast Guy had a pretty rough weekend at Echo. 

I'm something of an authority on bad races. I've had quite a few of them. I could write a book from  the post-mortems I've given myself after my bad races. It would be a sad, depressing, demotivational book. It would also be a pretty thick one. Still, I've learned to take those races in stride and move on.

This was different. While I was asleep in the back of the Subaru the night before the race, my old man brain and body had a conversation. They decided I was going to have a nice, easy, recreational ride the next day. They were going to ignore the number plate on our handlebars and all the …

Beginnings

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I have a pretty modest trophy collection for 15 years of mountain bike racing. Here's a picture of it.
 I have four. Technically, I have 5 if you count the 2nd I took at Chainbreaker a couple years ago. I didn't get a ribbon or medal but I did get an awesome pint glass.  It's down in the kitchen.

It's not much to show for all those miles of racing and the time and pain, not to mention the thousands of dollars spent on gear, gas, and race fees. The personal investment for that 2nd place ribbon from the Mt Ashland Hill Climb - the ribbon that looks like a prize from a spelling bee at a Southeastern Oregon charter school with serious budget problems - must have been a couple grand alone.

I suppose because I have so few, they matter more to me. They all have a story, but it's the big one in the back I'm most proud of. First Place First Timer at the Revenge of the Siskiyous. 

It was July 1987. Ronald Regan was President. MTV still played music videos. George Michae…

Motivation, or lack thereof

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I stare out the living room window. It's foggy, 38 degrees. There's an air stagnation advisory and what little breeze there is carries the sour bite of wood smoke from stoves and slash piles. It's been this way for three weeks. I walk to the back room where my kit is stored and mentally weigh how much clothing I'll need to put on to go for even a short ride. My shoulders sag. I walk back to the living room and stare out the window again. I go get the furniture polish and clean the coffee table. I run the dishwasher. I return to my vigil at the living room window.

Carolyn doesn't want me to ride in this fog. She's afraid I'll get shot. She might have a point. I don't want to ride in this fog. I'm afraid I'll hate it. I know I'll hate it. What's to like? Hard work and hypothermia, what a nice way to spend an afternoon.  Looking out the window seems like a much better idea.

I throw another log in the fire and continue to wallow in the awfu…