Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Midlife crisis job

If I ever get fed up working for the government sow, I know exactly what I'm going to do:

UPS Delivery By Bike! Salem, Oregon from nwduffer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Surprise Jorge!

It's been a while since we checked in on Maria, the Healer of Santa Fe.  Last time everything seemed so wonderful, I was sure this match was made in heaven.  Oops, looks like I spoke too soon:

Oct 19

Last night I went to [the bar where Jorge works] to be surprise Jorge.  I didn’t get the wonderful warm welcome I usually do, he handed me a drink and said “here, I saw you coming.” 

Maybe Jorge wants to “talk on a deep level.” 

I asked him if he was okay and he seemed a little irritated.  Turned out he was just tired and had a stressful night, and everyone was coming to him for everything, he said people want too much from him sometimes. 

Doesn't she realize she wants too much from him too?  Something he isn't capable of delivering?

I need not take it personal, that’s ego.  It had nothing to do with me.  We drank a bottle of wine and talked for a few hours.  I was still feeling a little tension , the night before had been so amazing and beautiful and full of love, I guess I was a little disappointed because I was so looking forward to a forever continuance of that loving night that he told me he loves me.  I know we are getting back to that again now I just need to let that night go, and focus on new beginnings and continuing and remembering his and my loving words and feelings for each other, he loves me, this is the truth, this is what I need to always remember and feel, and he the same for me.

Next time:
    Maria responds in the only way she knows how.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Winter weather has finally arrived in Salt Lake City.  That means it’s time to swap my skinny tires for skinny skis.  But first I needed an afternoon on some fat tubes.  Hooptedoodle style.
Hooptedoodle style

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cyclocross regression

Weber Fairgrounds1

It’s a beautiful, sunny December afternoon here in Salt Lake City.  I’m sitting here in bed with a clogged nose and gnarly cough instead of racing the final cyclocross race of the series at the Andy Ballard Equestrian Center.  Lately the weather’s been so nice, in fact, that I haven’t been wishing I was sliding through the woods on skinny skis instead of skinny tires during every race. 

Since I’m not racing today I figured I would do something I enjoy equally well.  You guessed it; I’m spending the afternoon doing regression analysis.  First I plotted my finishing place in each of the five cyclocross races I’ve done this season:

As you can see, the data indicate that I have clearly improved over the course of the season, but they also indicate a leveling off of my progress, as is evident by the 12th place finish the data predict for me if I had shown up for race number 11 today.  Me and steve1

Rather than get discouraged by these data, or write them off as an indicator of my level of enthusiasm for cyclocross this year, I next plotted the number of riders I finished in front of in each of my first four races.  I deemed race number 10 to be an outlier because I had a mechanical during the race (i.e. my handlebars slipped downward every time I rode on the hoods, then slipped back upwards when I shifted my hands to the drops.  I stopped to fix them after two laps, and after several minutes spent frantically searching for someone to loan me a multi-tool, I managed to tighten them in the downward position, so that even when I was on the hoods I felt like was riding in an aerodynamic tuck.  This, of course, clearly explains why I was able to ride fast enough to catch two competitors before the end of the race and not finish last.):

I must admit I find the upward trend of these data much more encouraging.  And look at that coefficient of variation—a whopping 0.85!  That’s pretty exciting, but what troubles me about these data is that they predict I would have finished in front 10 riders in race number 11 today.  Do the math if you must, but can you believe that?  Ten riders!?! The data don’t lie.  If, like last week, only 14 riders showed up to race in the ‘A’ Category, I would have finished in fourth place. 

Finishing fourth in a cyclocross race requires commitment.  It requires discipline.  It requires training, skills, desire.   It requires knowing how to get back on my bike after every barrier without hopping around like a fool.  No way.  I’m not ready to finish in fourth place. 

Sheesh.  It’s a good thing I stayed home today. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

San Antonio and trouble with Jorge

Mission Espada

XN66_MingBikeIt’s been a star-studded week for me here in Tejas.  First there was my race against Lance Armstrong over the weekend.  Then, as I was checking into my hotel in San Antonio, a group of tall black men walked past me.  If I was the type that follows pro basketball, I would have recognized them as the New York Knicks.  But I’m not, so I was fortunate that a few of them were wearing T-shirts and other Knicks paraphernalia so I could figure it out.   A few of them said hello when I smiled and nodded to them.  Nice fellas. 

 Then today, as I was checking out of the same hotel, I noticed another basketball team walking in.  This time I didn’t have to look at their clothing to know who they were, because Yao Ming was with them.  The Houston Rockets were checking in.  I didn’t see a bicycle with Yao, but I still recognized him from this picture:

Since I was going to be in San Antonio all week, and since 
I had destroyed my back tire in my race over the weekend, I bought a cheap commuter tire to go on the back wheel, so I could see some of the city.  On Monday 
afternoon I set out to see the five missions of San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, is a must see.

  Mission San Jose

I loved looking at the Spanish Baroque architecture and this 250 year old fresco almost as much as I loved exploring a new city on my bicycle.  There simply is no better way to see a city than on a bike.
Original fresco

While pedaling around the rough edges of San Antonio, looking for good Tex-Mex and Barbecue (i.e. not on the Riverwalk), I made sure to stop at every thrift store I saw.  I was hoping to find the diary of another insecure, naïve healer in the used book section, but I was sorely disappointed when I all I found was children’s books and tattered romance novels.  Ok, maybe I was a little less disappointed to find the romance novels. 

However, in searching for another Maria, I realized I had forsaken the original.  It has been too long since we have checked in on our favorite Healer on Santa Fe.  So today’s installment covers three short entries that show just how enamored Maria is with Jorge.  First is Maria’s affirmation to herself that she and Jorge belong together.  It wrenches my heart to read how badly she wants Jorge to be the one for her, and how she believes that telling herself that it is meant to be she will make it happen.  I imagine she also believes that repeatedly telling herself that she can breathe underwater will miraculously cause her to sprout gills.

October 18

I am confident, strong and fearless, I let go of all guilt and fear and worry.  I have a man who is making me happy, Jorge E. and I bring each other, joy, love, respect, trust, loyalty, faithfulness, and happiness.  We are meant to be together, soul mates, let nothing tear us apart.  We are friends and lovers who communicate well to each other and are honest and open with each other.  Every day our love grows and we fell more passion for each other, we are in love and this love is always going to be strong. 

Next is a tender, unfinished letter to Jorge where she tells him that he can sprout gills too.  True love can do that to a man.


I am ready to move forward with you forever.  I am letting the past go, I am letting go of the guilt, thank you for helping me see how, because of you.  I trust you, I believe in us and I truly believe you are the man I am going to spend the rest of my life with, I have no doubt I love you. 

Mi amor-Maria
Finally, this note welcoming Jorge home gives us our first concrete evidence—as if we needed any—that Jorge might not be as enamored with Maria as Maria is with Jorge.  I think it’s important to show this in Maria’s own handwriting.  Click on the picture for a bigger view.  Notice how she expected him to be home before 8:00, and that she waited a while for him for before she had to go out for an errand.  Where could Jorge be?

Next time:  What’s bothering Jorge?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My short-lived race against Lance Armstrong

If you had checked the Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association riders’ forum on Friday evening, you would have seen the following headline:

The Rumor is true, yes, Lance Armstrong was pre riding rhr

It’s OK if you didn’t see it.  I didn’t either. 

So it wasn’t until I was pre-riding the course myself on Saturday morning that I discovered that I would indeed be lining up against former world champion and seven time Tour de France Winner Lance Armstrong. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

I am in Texas this week for a conference on natural gas production and transmission systems.  When I found out I would be coming here I got online and did some searching for a bike race—just to make the trip meaningful.  What I found was the Rocky Hill Roundup; it’s the season finale of the fall season here in Texas, comparable to the ICUP’s Wolverine Ridge race.  

I arranged to borrow a bike because I broke mine at 12 Hours of Sundance.  I boxed up the borrowed bike and hopped on a plane to San Antonio.  I camped just outside of Smithville, Texas on Friday night, where I took in the halftime show at the high school football game.  The hometown Tigers were getting slaughtered in this episode of Friday Night Lights

The morning of the race I busied myself getting my bike and body ready.  I didn’t notice any additional hubbub that ought to be present when cycling’s biggest celebrity (at least in Texas) is getting ready to race.  In fact, I had almost forgotten that he was there until the race director, after calling the top ten in the series point standings to the front of the line, spoke the following words: 

“To honor a former world champion, we would also like to call Lance Armstrong to the front of the line.” 

I moved out of his way as he walked his bike (a Gary Fisher Superfly) right next to me.  He was wearing a Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop of Austin jersey.  I lined up behind him and waited for the gun.  Yes, in Texas they use a real gun to start races. 

I’m not sure what to say about what happened next.  Immediately after the start, Lance swerved sharply to the right.  Apparently he could not get clipped into his pedal—typical roadie—and lost his concentration while he tried a second time.  That caused a domino effect, as the guy to his right also swerved right, causing the guy to his right to do likewise.  By the third or fourth domino the riders had run out of space and started going down.  I think at least five guys went down, right in the first fifty meters, and as far as I could tell it was all Lance’s fault. I suspect you'll be able to find video of it on YouTube soon. 

I should mention here that ten minutes before the race I got a flat tire in my back wheel.  I tried to get it to seal but didn’t want to risk it, so I raced back to my car and inserted a tube.  What I didn’t notice was that the flat was not in the seal between the tire and the rim, but I actually had small hole in the sidewall.  If I had seen the hole I would have done what any smart cyclist does in a pinch like this—insert a dollar bill between tube and tire.  The heavy duty, cotton-based paper works like a charm.  Hindsight is always 20/20. 

Anyway, back to the race.  After the crash at the start, I moved around a few guys and found myself right on Lance’s wheel.  A guy named Austin gave me the following pictures. 

A shot of Lance. 
Lance close-up

My shadow (left) and Lance’s back wheel (right).  You’ll just have to trust me on this one. 

A shot of me. 

About fifteen minutes later, after I had passed three guys and was riding in seventh place, and with Lance still in view, I heard what I thought was a gunshot.  Incidentally, only Oklahoma leads Texas in per capita gun ownership.  In exactly 0.75 revolutions, my wheel was completely flat.  I changed my tube and filled it up again, but I broke off the valve stem, exactly like I had at the American Mountain Classic, is my Big Air valve to blame, or is it my adrenalin? 

I started pulling the tube out again when I finally noticed the hole in my sidewall, because it was now quite large and impossible to miss.  I realized my race was over so I started waking. 

Ahhh, there’s nothing like a walk in the woods to do some personal reflection. I was really racing with a living legend.  

P.S. Lance ended up winning, and the last guy I passed before I flatted finished ninth.  Could I have been on my way to a top ten finish?  Results are posted here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm a doper. Again.

I did another cyclocross race last Saturday.  It was the second time in my life that I was a doper.  

I’ll tell you about that in a minute, bur first I need to ask you to do me a favor.  I’m going to be out of town all week, so can you please attend this open house for me?  It’s your opportunity to provide input on existing and potential bicycle corridors that connect communities throughout the state.

UDOT to host Bicycle Corridor Public Open House in Draper

(Salt Lake) -The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) will host a series of public open houses throughout the state to discuss existing and potential bicycle corridors. The Draper/Sandy open house will be held on Thursday, November 13, 2008, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Draper City Hall, Council Chambers, 1020 East Pioneer Road in Draper.        

In response to increasing demand for bicycle corridors in Utah, UDOT is preparing a statewide Bicycle Corridor Priority Plan. Key elements of the plan include: an assessment of current bicycle accommodations; a methodology for improving bicycle corridors; and public input and recommendations.

For more information, contact Amy Steinbrech at 801.364.0088 ext. 115 ( or visit the UDOT Web site at

So apparently the latest performance enhancing drug of choice for endurance athletes is Viagra.  I know this not because I pay attention to stuff like this, but because my buddy Leif, who studies this sort of stuff at the University of Utah, tells me so.  

Last Friday, Leif and I did a quick Halloween ride on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  We were riding past Red Butte—he was dinging his bell the whole way—when he asked me if I’d like to participate in a study he was doing.  

He wanted me to take 50 mg (half a pill) of Viagra before my race the next day, and fill out a survey describing any perceived effects.  

I consented, but only for the cause of science.  

So the race went pretty well for me.  I popped the pill about an hour before the start, warmed up as usual, then lined up on the back row where I belong.  For the record, Viagra is not currently a banned substance by the World Anti Doping Agency.  

Cyclocross may not be the best venue for me to test a drug.  The race course wasn’t overly technical, but I still suffered in the place where it was.   Part of the course was on the motocross course at Rocky Mountain Raceway, complete with whoops, tabletop jumps and high-banked corners.   Maybe a high octane beverage would have made me faster, the kind they advertise there at the Raceway.  

I suppose what I’m saying is that it’s not my fitness that holds me back in cyclocross, it my bike handling skills.  So a performance enhancing drug probably isn’t going to help me that much in this discipline.  In spite of this, I did finish better than I did the week before—14th this time—and I did feel a little stronger, but I attribute that more to this being my second race of the season.  I always feel a little better after the first race.  I did my best to tell Leif that when I filled out the survey.  

So when it comes to performance enhancement, I guess its back to flax seeds and maple syrup for me.  Viagra just doesn’t do it for me.  Yes, I realize that is a double entendre.  

Besides, if cyclists start using Viagra to get an unfair advantage it would be really easy to test for.  Picture this, scores of guys in skin tight spandex standing around after a race.  All it would take is one of the podium girls bending over to pick something up.  Every doper in the crowd would be HARD to miss.  

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I ride a tandem bike and I vote

Mags and I voted on Friday.  It was an unseasonably warm day, so we pulled out our tandem and made a fun outing of it.  (Any ride on a tandem bike is a fun outing.)

I had tried to vote on Thursday night, but the line was too long when I got there.  I had the impression that early voting was meant to be a way to avoid the long lines on election day, so I figured I could stop by the Northwest Multipurpose Center on my way home from work and be in and out in a flash.  When I saw how long the lines were, and realized I had forgotten to bring a bike lock, I decided I could come back another time.

It didn’t help that I was wearing my race kit and was a bit sweaty and smelly.  I had gone for a ride with a co-worker earlier in the afternoon, and had to rush back be on a conference call.  I made it in time for the call, but didn’t have time to change out of my chamois.  So I sat there at my desk in my spandex and stewed in my own sweat.  This happens more often than I care to admit.  By the time the call was over it was nearly quitting time so I figured I’d just wear my kit home instead of taking the time to change back into my civilian clothes. 

Like I said, Mags and I tried again on Friday afternoon.  This time we brought along a lock, which was good because the line was even longer.  That gave us plenty of time to discuss the influence of the tandem bike-riding couple as a voting block.  I wondered why McCain and Obama had failed to reach out to us.  Don’t they know that couples that tandem together vote together? 

Remember that it’s patriotic to ride your bike to the polling station, and you won’t have to worry about parking (if you remember to bring your bike lock).  I’m not going to tell you how to vote, or who I voted for, but I will say that the following two photographs influenced my decision: 

Barack and sarah

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The point

Hooptedoodle reader and regular bicycle commuter Vincent G. of Phoenix sent me this email the other day.  He was one of the winners in his company’s incentive program to encourage alternate transportation and trip reduction. 

It’s great that the company is encouraging alternative methods of transportation, but I think the may have slightly missed the point.  

Look at the prizes Karen and Vincent won. 

Congratulations to Karen, Vincent and Chris.  They are the prize winners for our Trip Reduction/Alternative Mode Users Quarterly drawing.
Karen         $10 Danny’s Family Car Wash
Vincent      $15 Gas Card to Quick Trip
Chris         $25 Visa Gift Card

Thanks to all participants for doing your part to save gas and the environment.


I wonder if the prize for the winner of the company weight loss competition is a big slice of chocolate cake.  

Speaking of missing the point, it took an extra effort to not do so in my race last Saturday. 

Wishing I had fenders
This year’s cyclocross season is already a month old.  So I decided it was time to strip the fenders off and remount the knobby tires on my ‘cross bike.  I’ve been putting it off because my ‘cross bike is a great commuter.  I thought seriously about leaving the fenders on this year, so I wouldn’t finish another race looking like this:

I rolled up to the start line for my first race of the season last Saturday at Ft. Buenaventura.  I took my place at the back of the line, where they put riders who lack cyclocross skills.  I had one goal for the race, and no, it wasn’t to not finish last.  I would have been fine with coming in last place. 

No, my goal was to not get a flat tire.  See, last year my ‘cross season was hampered by flat tires, which is good for hiding a lack of skills, but can have a bitter aftertaste when you have to drop out of a race. 

I got worried while I was working the pit for Ryan.  He couldn’t finish a single lap without flatting, so I helped him change his wheel.  I got another scare about five minutes before my race when Rich pointed out a thorn in my front tire. 

“Oh well,” I thought, “there’s nothing I can do about it now.”  I left the thorn in place and hoped the sealant in my tubes would do its job. 

Ft. Buenaventura 10.25.08
To shorten a boring story, I felt exactly the way I you’re supposed to feel in a ‘cross race if you haven’t raced in over a month.   I also crashed once and dropped my chain.  Three guys passed me before I got it back on so I thought for sure I was in last place.  

This is where I almost missed the point, but instead I reminded myself that I was there because I love riding my bike and not because I thought I could win. 

All week I thought I had finished last, but I was content because I didn’t get a flat tire.  Results were finally posted yesterday and I was tickled to see that there were two racers behind me. 

I’ll be at Rocky Mountain Raceway this weekend.  Maybe I can finish in front of three guys this time.  Maybe one day I can take cyclocross seriously, but then again, what’s the point?

One more thing.  Check out Racer's video of himself, Aaron and me in the race:


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Local Dog Struck By Reckless Cyclist

Fellow Racer’s Cycle Service rider, Hooptedoodle reader, bicycle commuter and Mountain Dew slammer, Ryan M. recently had a run in—literally—with a Bull Mastiff during his bicycle commute.   According to Ryan, the traumatic experience began with him just riding along when he saw a dog coming at him from his right.   His next sensation was of being airborne, followed abruptly by the sensation of his back and shoulder grinding on pavement.   He says it all happened so fast that he can’t really describe it in detail, which is a shame, really, because a story like this has high hooptedoodle potential.  Especially the part about Ryan getting a ride home in a police car. 

I’m not going to leave you hanging, dear readers.  I knew that you would all want to know exactly how this tragedy happened.  So I have commissioned a special report from an eyewitness to the whole event; one of the key players in the drama.  I am pleased to introduce the newest guest writer to Hooptedoodle:
Please meet Rusty the Bull Mastiff.   I asked him to tell us exactly how this tragedy happened. 

Bull-MastiffOh boy, oh boy, what a day George, WHAT A DAY!!!  Oh yeah, oh yeah pant pant today is perfect.  I love this time of year.  I love when the sun is low in the sky, I don’t pant as hard—pant pant—and I can run around for so much longer. Pant pant. 

Hmmm???  Why does George keep yelling at me to come back?? You go back George.  There is too much to see out here to stay by your heel.  Pant pant.  Look at all the cars go by, George, look at ALL the cars!!  I can catch ‘em George I CAN CATCH ‘EM!!!  It’s a great day!!!  Pant pant pant.  Hey George what is THAT?  It’s a bike and rider George, A BIKE AND A RIDER!!  Pant Pant Pant.  I can catch him George, I CAN CATCH him!!  Oooh, oooh!  Look at that!  George, you left the gate open.  Watch me go George. Pant pant pant pant pant.  HERE I GO!!  No time to bark, NO TIME TO BARK!!!!!  Maybe he’ll play with me George, MAYBE HE’LL PLAY!!!   He’s coming pretty fast.  I’ll get in front of him and then I’ll……………………………………



OWWW!!!!!!  What the woof was THAT??  (no urge to pant)  Look how that rider soars through the crisp autumn air.  Look at him George; He’s at least six feet high!   Is that gonna hurt when he lands George?  Is that gonna hurt? 

George it worked.  IT WORKED!!!  He stopped George.  Pant pant pant.  HE STOPPED.  He wants to play!  Hey George, HEY!  Why are you taking me away?  Look at all the people getting out of their cars George, LOOK AT THE PEOPLE!!!   Oh yeah, they all want to play George, THEY ALL WANT TO PLAY!!  Let me go George, LET ME GO!!  Aww, don’t shut the gate George!!  Ooh, ooh, Look at the shiny red truck coming George, Look at the SHINY RED TRUCK WITH THE FLASHING RED LIGHTS.  What’s that loud noise George? What’s that loud siren noise?  It hurts my ears George.  It hurts my ears, but this is still a great day George, What a great day!

Hey, I smell something stinky coming from the back yard.  Better go investigate...  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Moving forward

Yesterday somebody out there in Cyber Land
did a Google search for “i want a man who is sensitive and loving to me”  and wound up on this blog. 

This made me wonder about a couple of things. 

1)  What kind of
person would turn to Google for a search like this?   You
can find a lot of stuff on Google, but I don’t think a sensitive and loving man
is one of them.

2)      After
searching for a loving and sensitive man, this person had the misfortune of
landing on Hooptedoodle and reading about Maria’s yearning for that same kind of
man.  I wonder if this person is waiting
to see what happens next in the thrilling story of Maria, the Healer of Santa

 So, without further ado, I present to you the next installment
of Maria’s story.

October 17

 Last night I had the best talk with Jorge, I told him that I
had been feeling a little insecure of his feeling + thoughts about our relationship,  I guess I was having a hard time not being
able to ask him questions when that is how you get to know someone better.

 Or you could just read their journal


 He explained that I misunderstood, he just didn’t want to talk
about certain big issues when were drunk. 
Good, I agree.  I told him that I
had a lot of hurt from my past and I didn’t want to be hurt again so I was having
a hard time completely letting go.  He told
me that he is not the one who hurt me…


 ...and he promised he would never hurt me…

 Oh Brother!  She’s not
going to fall for that one is she?  Yup,
she is.

 He told me I never have to worry about him cheating or
hurting me.  He told me that his only
fear is loosing me, that it took a lot for him to open up to me and tell me
that he wants to move forward with me, and to open up to me.  He said he is always going to be honest with
me.  He said I have everything and that
soul connection, I asked him when he told me he loved me on the phone 2 weeks
ago and then I asked him about it later when we were drinking…

 Perfect timing, Maria

 …he said “there are many ways to love” because he wasn’t
sure if it was too soon, but he said he can’t hide how he feels and he won’t,
it just shocked him when he heard himself say it because it was so soon.  He said “but I meant it, that is how I feel
about you.”  I told him that I am SO in
love with him, he said “I love you too.” 

 We hugged and felt it so strongly, at that moment we broke
down the walls, no more holding back, no more insecurities, if felt so right.
He sang me this song by Mana that was so beautiful and he said its how he feels
for me. 

He told me we are going to travel together to Mexico, Europe and Hawaii and help each other.  We decide we are going to open a spa
together.  This feels right, I know this
will happen… 

You can’t help but admire Maria’s belief in the power of
positive thinking. 

 …we have a future goal and it feels really good.  I had a vision of him proposing to me in Hawaii on one knee on
the beach in white linen pants and me in a white dress and a lei at night, it
felt so real.  I want this.  I can see us so happy forever together in
love.  I believe that Jorge and I are
meant to be together and are going to be so happy and so in love, growing with
each other and experiencing all the good things this life has to bring us:  love, honor, respect communication,
friendship, passion, happiness, togetherness, loyalty, goodness, laughter,
family, wealth. 

 Danielle Steel has nothing on Maria, the Healer of Santa Fe. 




Thursday, October 9, 2008


 Well, the response to my request for help interpreting Maria’s dream was wholly underwhelming.  Apparently hooptedoodle readers don’t have any creativity.  Neither of you.

Or maybe you know better than to get involved interpreting dreams of a healer with mystical powers.  Not me, I’ve got several more diary entries from our healer friend ready for your reading pleasure.But first I've got to do something about this piercing pain in the back of my neck.

There was one reader who submitted an interpretation of Maria’s dream, so it was easy to pick the winner of the Diet Mountain Dew T shirt.  Those of you who didn’t submit an interpretation are going to be sorry when you see GhostWriter sporting this T.  Did I mention it’s a cotton/poly blend?  You can’t find clothing like this just anywhere.  GhostWriter, send me your address in an email and you’ll soon find clothing like this in your mailbox.

Speaking of interpretations, you’ve been reading my interpretations of the virtues of commuting by bicycle for quite some time.  Sarah, one of my co-workers, heard my call and commuted by bike several times per week all summer long.  I asked her to write up her feelings and experiences about commuting.  Here’s what she wrote.  It’s great.

Finally!  I did it – I rode my bike to work!  Wow – I am so wiped out and now I have to work.  Are you kidding me???  By mid afternoon, it was all I could do to keep my eyelids up.  By 5:30 I was back on my bike and heading home.  By the time I got home, my butt was not sore, but RAW, my neck and shoulders were throbbing, and my hands were numb……And I loved it!  Weird, right?!  I was hooked and back on my bike once more!Sarah M

Getting up super early and riding into work on the Jordan Parkway, dodging doves and ducks, rather than crazy car drivers, was a fabulous change.  I get to work awake, in a much better mood, & I’ve already gotten an hour of exercise in for the day.  

Also, now when I have errands to run, I take my bike.  I love it so much I wonder why more folks aren’t out there riding.  I don’t think I’ll ever reach Chad’s level (Who goes to Costco on a bike!??) but it is a worthy challenge!  Can you imagine bikes replacing motorized vehicles?  The military “surge” into Bagdad with the army people all pedaling bikes!!  OK maybe rush hour…someone gets a flat on their bike and everyone slows down to see if they are alright and need anything?  No honking, no rubbernecking, no tailgating.  Probably some cutting in, but who cares, I ride pretty slow.  It’s not likely that I’ll speed up and catch the biker that cut me off to shoot them the bird!

Let’s one by one remind, and if necessary, convince folks how great biking is.  Remember we all wanted one when we were kids!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I spat on my front tire

This story has no point. 

So I’m just riding along today playing hooky from work and going to a yoga class.  Actually, my employer provides the yoga class—two bucks per class.  You can’t pass up a bargain like that. 

So it’s not really hooky if my employer provides the class for me, but calling it hooky introduces some intrigue to an otherwise boring story.  And since I’ve already told you this story goes nowhere I’ve got to do something to spice it up.  Look, nobody’s making you read this.  So when you get to the end and you’re disappointed don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I write about things I think about when I ride my bike.  This is one of those things. 

So anyway, I’m just riding along to yoga class when, for no explainable reason, I do something I haven’t done in twenty years. 
Diamond back viper
I spat on my front tire. 

When I was younger I used to cruise around on my BMX bike—it was a polished chrome Diamond Back Viper and it was AWESOME—to the 7-Eleven for a Big-Gulp, to Go-fer Foods for a pack of Big League Chew, to baseball practice, to the gravel pit, wherever really, I didn’t care.  I just liked to ride my bike.  

And sometimes I liked to spit on my front tire.  I did this often enough that I remember it some twenty years later. 

I liked to watch the spittle hit the front tire and fling forward from the rotation of the wheel.  I thought it was a cool thing to do in 1984.   

OK, I’m not afraid to admit it.  I still think it’s cool in 2008.   

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Help me interpret Maria's dream

The next entry in Maria’s journal is a dream she had.  I present it here in its entirety.   

Dream- Scary, fearful.

I was at home and all of a sudden some cats started appearing in my house, I had been wanting a cat so I thought it was meant to be how one just shoed up but then a hole bunch more started showing up and 2 of them had these weird plastic homing devices on their heads and one cat had 6 ears, then I knew something was not right, then all of a sudden this malicious old couple showed up and they were trying to play games with me to spook me just for fun.  I kept trying to do everything to get rid of them, they kept reappearing, finally I got rid of them, then a different one appeared, I somehow got rid of him, I went to Lonnie for help on how to get rid of him he told me just focus on becoming a wolf and showing them your teeth and that you are not giving into fear and chase them away. 

[She notes in the margin:  They are just energy balls, they can’t hurt me False evidence appearing real.]

Then I was in this office building where Marcel and Darla worked.  Darla left a free pass for me to come see a show I went and decided to lie down for a minute and woke up the next morning with people—1 guy looking at me funny. 

So what does it mean?  Send your interpretation in a comment.  The best commenter wins a long sleeve Diet Mountain Dew T-shirt. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Scenes from my commute

Some pictures I’ve taken while commuting over the last few days. 

Now is one of two periods every year (spring equinox is the other) when the sun aligns perfectly with Salt Lake’s east/west running streets, making cyclists even harder to see.  Use extra caution—all of you. 

Climate change is scary

Climate change is scary-better ride a bike.


Shoes are turning up in the power lines in Salt Lake’s west side again. 


There’s a new shared lane for bikes and cars in downtown SLC.  Great idea, but does it send the message to motorists that bikes only belong in lanes painted green?  Can't bikes use the full lane everywhere (except freeways)?  Click here to read more about the new shared lanes.


Another creak led to discovery of another crack in another Paragon.  I’m 2 for 2 on cracking bikes at 12 Hours of Sundance. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Enter Jorge

When we last left Maria she was pleading with God to send her a man.  Not just any man, but “a man that is honest, and loyal and romantic and beautiful and kind and…”

Today we read that her prayer was answered.  Unfortunately we’ll never know exactly how it was answered because a page has been torn out from the spiral notebook.   I suspect they met in a bar. 

What we do know for is that she met a man named Jorge, and that they have moved in together.  The entry is dated October 13, just six weeks after she spent her Labor Day partying on Ecstasy in Hollywood, when she decided she was ready for a boyfriend.  The relationship is getting off to a rocky start. 

I am trying to figure out how to fix things with Jorge, What do I say?

I want to talk to you about that stupid question I asked you the other morning about seeing your car Monday afternoon down the street when you said you were across town with your daughter. 

I should have been irrelevant and not payed attention to because that was the past, it was before you told me that you want to move forward with me.  Also it was none of my business. 

I think what hit me was the past, I have been cheated on and hurt really badly and when you told me you were across town with your daughter and I saw your car here it was like the past slapping me in the face…

…when I heard the words come out of my mouth, I felt so stupid and I knew it was just coming from my repeated past and it has nothing to do with you…I do trust you and I do believe you will make me happy and I know I don’t have to worry about you hurting me… 

There’s even more foreshadowing in the entry dated October 15:

Are things moving to fast or have they?  Everything felt so right with me and Jorge.  They still feel right…

Apparently she shares the same belief as Dick Cheney in that the more you repeat something the more you start to believe it.  That’s right Maria, keep telling yourself things are right with you and Jorge and soon you’ll have yourself convinced. 

…I guess I am just scared of things changing…

Changing from what?  You haven’t known this guy six weeks.

…I was so convinced that he is “the one” for me that I have been telling him really private things and expecting him to share with me too so we can get to know each other deeply...

Jorge deserves a medal for putting up with this crap just six weeks into a relationship. 

He has been irritated with me because I keep asking him questions about his past, he keeps saying “we have our whole lives.”

…It seems like the only time we really talk on a deep level is when we are drinking…

I won’t make fun of that statement, because

1) its too easy; and

2) Ryan and I have our deepest conversations when we’re traveling to and from a bike ride.  We only talk about Mountain Dew while we’re in the saddle. 

…I really want this to work, I do believe we are meant to be together.  I worry about the drinking factor though, he drinks all the time…

I’d drink too if I lived with a woman like Maria.

…and that was one thing I really wanted to stop doing because I love being clear, I love being able to get up in the morning and feel good and do adventurous things, not sleep all day feeling sick…

Again, Maria, if that’s what you love, then you really should get a bicycle.  I do adventurous things on my bike every day and I wake up feeling good every morning. 

…I have fun with him when we drink, we just take it to the extreme and it’s not healthy…

Mags has said the same thing about my cycling addiction.  

…I really want us to be happy together and I don’t want my past, my fears to get in the way,  I need to remember that he didn’t hurt me, he didn’t do anything to make me suspicious or think I need to be defensive.  I need to give him the chance to prove to me that he will never hurt me.  I believe he will respect me, be loyal, communicate with me.  I want to trust him. 

I want to trust him too, but can I?

October 16

Jorge called me from work last night at 10:30 saying he was going to do his check out and hang out w/ his friends for a little bit then he would see me at home. 

Next time:  What Maria Dreams about. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Doing the Dew at 12 Hours of Sundance

I’m never going to live this down. 

It all started about three years ago.  I had just gotten my first real job.  One of my co-workers was a goateed (goatees are the mullet of the new millennium) geologist (I would say quirky geologist, but that would be redundant) named Ryan who said he liked to ride bikes.  One day Ryan suggested we go for a ride. 

We arranged to meet at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.  I arrived there first and was horrified when Ryan showed up.  He was driving a 4WD truck (albeit foreign made) with what looked like oversized tires, he had a tricked out 'fool' suspension bike in the back, I think he was listening to a Meat Loaf album, and his goatee was bigger and bushier than ever. 

“Oh no” I thought, “The last thing I need is to get mixed up with the Mountain Dew crowd.”

Fortunately I was wrong about Ryan—mostly.  He’s not a weekend warrior-adrenaline junkie who pounds Mountain Dews by the six pack and subsists solely on Cheetos and Sour Patch Kids.  He’s actually a thoughtful, intelligent and sensitive guy.  He can speak an entire sentence without using the word “Dude”.  He may also be a public radio contributor.   

Ever since I told Ryan about that first impression I had we’ve been accusing each other of a Mountain Dew addiction.  We even have an ongoing competition to see who can do the most awesome maneuvers on our bikes.  Anytime one of us, for example, catches some air or drifts our back tire, we have to appeal for points by letting out a whoop, shout, yee-haw, or some other primal scream becoming of a highly caffeinated soda drinker.  If our buddies who witnessed it concur that it was indeed a “kick ass” move, we are awarded one Mountain Dew point.  Anybody who gains a six point lead over his competitors wins a six pack of Mountain Dew.  To this day nobody has ever won the prize, because we won't keep track of our scores.  If I ever did win the six pack of Mountain Dew I’d accidentally leave it in Ryan’s truck. 

It’s not just Mountain Dew.  An especially awesome maneuver warrants a Code Red Mountain Dew, because it is the only equal in awesomeness.  Ryan was the proud recipient of Diet Mountain Dew T-shirt I won as a raffle prize.   He’s since tricked me into taking it back.  Another time I caught him trying to hang an extreme sports calendar in my cubicle.  It depicted all the great gravity powered, caffeine fueled extreme sports. Truly awesome.

Other energy drinks are fair game too.  We were especially tickled to see that the Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Race Series at Solitude was sponsored by Full Throttle.   Ryan and I now have matching Full Throttle T-shirts. That’s some serious awesomeness. 

But I digress.  You want to know about my race at Sundance.  Aaron Stites and I teamed up to defend our title in the duo men category.  You may recall that last year we got rained out before we finished the full twelve hours. 

Saturday’s weather was much drier.  In fact it was perfect; sunny with temperatures in the high seventies.  Aaron and I had agreed to alternate seven mile laps, and give each other longer breaks by doing two consecutive laps twice during the race. Photo 3

The race started well.  By our third lap we had taken the lead, thanks to Chris’s clumsy crash in the first lap.   Chris went down, but he wasn’t out. He reeled me in before I finished the third lap.  He put a 2 minute gap on me before he handed it off to his wife KC.  Yeah, that’s right, we were getting beat by a girl, but she could probably ride circles around you too.

Aaron kept the pressure on KC.  He passed her in our fourth lap, but I couldn’t hold Chris off in the fifth lap.  Did I mention they were on singlespeeds with rigid forks?  I pointed out to Chris that I was hauling all those extra gears that were slowing me down, and asked him what his excuse was.  He responded by dropping me like an emo kid at a punk show. 

Sticking to our strategy, I stayed on for our sixth lap, assuming Aaron would do laps seven and eight.  When I came in he said he didn’t know if he had the legs for two laps.  At least I think that’s what he said, but since I didn’t completely understand him I didn’t know how long my break would be.  Would I have 40 minutes, or 80 minutes?  If I could get a longer break I could eat some more substantial food and get a deeper rest.  But since I didn’t know, I had to be ready in 40 minutes. 

When Aaron came through he said he couldn’t do two laps yet, but would do it later when it cooled off.  That hurt me.  My lap times increased by a minute or two over the next four laps.  I think my slowest lap was almost 45 minutes. New Folder 025

By late afternoon we came to the conclusion that we only had time for three more laps.  Josh and Matt had passed us, and we were holding on for third place overall.  I was feeling deflated.  Before I set out on our 16th lap (my ninth of the day) I made a few changes to my rest routine.  First, I ate a big piece of watermelon that my mom had brought me.  Nothing ever tasted so good.  I washed it down with a cup of miso soup while my mom massaged my legs with some menthol gel.  A couple minutes before Aaron was expected to show up, Mags said—in jest—that I should drink some caffeine. 

“I’d drink a Coke.” I said, not expecting to get one.  But Rich, who was doing a marvelous job manning the pit zone for four teams, offered me an ice cold bottle of mountain dew. 

I took a few swigs—or should I say I slammed it down?—and headed out for my next lap. 

I wish I could say it was the watermelon, or the massage, or the soup, but it just doesn’t add up.  I’m afraid to admit that the Mountain Dew made me feel exactly like the dudes in the commercials.  I was unstoppable.  I did my first sub-forty minute lap since that morning.  When I came back to the finish area Aaron wasn’t expecting me so early and we kind of futzed our transition. 

I went back, had more watermelon, ate an energy gel and washed it down with more Mountain Dew.  My next lap, my tenth of the day, and surely our last of the race, was one of my fastest of the day.  Somewhere around 37 minutes.  We made up a little time on Josh and Matt, but couldn’t catch them. 

We were third overall, second in the duo men category.  We did 18 laps, 10 for me and 8 for Aaron.  I wonder what would have happened if I’d started drinking Mountain Dew earlier.  There’s always next year. 

Come on Ryan, don’t you think I deserve a sixer of Dew? 


Friday, September 12, 2008

Maria wants a bicycle

The next pages in Maria’s journal initially appear to be a mundane list of things to do, with tasks like going to the dollar store, faxing a letter, etc.  But knowing that Maria is a healer, it’s intriguing to see that she also needs to buy more white candles, presumably so she can do more exorcisms.  She also lists getting two 2”x2” photos taken.  That’s the size and quantity needed to apply for a passport.  Is she planning an escape?  That also explains why she needs to call the Health Department.  Or does it?  Maybe she’s having some other tests done…

But if she’s trying to get away, why does she have the phone number for, and an interview date with a Ms. Hoe (I’m not making that name up!) who manages a local big-box store?  Is she going to get a job before she makes her escape?

Finally, because she’s beautiful and independent, she lists that’s she’s got to get her nails done.  That’s important for giving proper neck massages.  

The next page in the spiral bound notebook has been torn out.  It could mean nothing, but it could also speak volumes, because the next entry lets us add even more names to our list of Maria’s love interests.  We’ll pick up the story there.

I am sitting here in my new apartment in Santa Fe, Depressed and feeling somewhat alone, disappointed and unsure of what will be fore me here.  I have been drinking since I got here, not everyday but 2 binges…

Maybe that explains the page torn from the book; she doesn’t remember what she did that day, so she doesn’t want us to know either. 

…and that worrys me.  I want to be that strong secure confident person I was this last whole year and better, why am I here?  What am I to do here in Santa Fe?

Maria, the foreshadowing you’ve done already tells us readers that you’re here to meet a man.   Are you sure you’re not a trained writer?

I met a guy the first night I was here…

She certainly doesn't waste any time, does she? 

…Roger, and started really liking him.  It was strange, he was very affectionate very fast but then told me he is still in love with his ex.  He was calling me everyday and than all of a sudden 2 days and I don’t hear from him.  What happened?  This is part of why I am feeling so depressed, insecure, is it something I do to turn guys off?

Is it possible to put any more foreshadowing into a story?

…Am I boring?

Boring? My readership is up 20% since I started sharing your story, Maria. 

…How can I be more confident and less needy? 

If it hasn’t happened to you already, this is where it will get very painful to read.

…I really want a man now, I am ready to be in a relationship, a real loving honest good exciting relationship with a man who loves me.  I want a man who puts me first, who is always thinking of ways to make me happy…

Me. Me. Me.    Maybe, just maybe, this is why she has trouble having meaningful relationships. 

Next she puts into words exactly how many of us feel about our bicycles:  

…I want a man who is strong and sensitive, I want a man who wants to take care of me and dance with me and excite me and be adventurous with me.  I want a man who every time he sees me he gets butterflies in his stomach… 

My bicycle does all of that for me.  Maybe what Maria really needs is a bike.  But for now its back to the same recurring, painful pattern:

I want a man who makes me feel special, I want a man who accepts me and is proud of me, I want a man who loves that I am a healer and believes in me.  I want...

I won’t make your read it all.  She ends with this prayer:

I want this man now, I am ready, dear God, please bring me this man to love.  Thank you. 

Next time:   Maria’s prayer gets answered.  Or does it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Maria, the healer of Santa Fe

Our healer friend Maria tells a compelling story.  The foreshadowing, if this were a fictional account, is over the top.  If only she had taken the time to go back and read some of her own entries.  

Maria recently moved to Santa Fe from Miami.  She never says why.  She struggles with insecurity while yearning for the same things we all yearn for: companionship and stability.  Frankly, Maria wants a man.  She just goes about getting one in her own way.  

We’ll pick up the story on Labor Day Weekend 2006.    

I arrived Friday eve to the Mondrian on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, I stayed with Alena and her boyfriend Larry.  Saturday night was the big event we went to Spundae to see Edgar V and other DJs with Alena’s brother, his girlfriend Chelsea, Rob, her parents and many more.  I saw Edgar come in and ran up to him, he was happy and so surprised to see me we hung out for a couple hours talking…

Let’s keep a tally of Maria’s love interests in this entry.  I think we can start our list with Edgar.  

…Alena and I decided to take ecstasy, her brother and everyone else we were with took it too... 

Chelsea's parent's took ecstasy with their daughter?

...We had a blast.  After the club we went to an after party at their DJ friend Ilia’s house.  I danced so much it was great I was intensely attracted to Avian.  I gave him a neck massage and after he held my hands for a while and kissed me very close to my mouth.  

Now we can add Avian to the list;

…I was having so much fun dancing and when Alena left and I sat next to Rob who reminded me a little of Damien, I really liked him, I thought he like me too…

We’d better add Damien to the top of our list, and Rob to the bottom of the list.  Maybe she’ll get somewhere with Rob.  He seems like a nice guy.  Oh wait…

…and then he said he was going upstairs to the computer, I didn’t understand.  I said “don’t leave me” And he didn’t even turn around, was he really high or did he just not want to be with me?  What did I do or say wrong?  I felt like I was being a pain in the butt.  I felt really bad after I was sitting there with him.  I hope I didn’t hurt his feelings.  I don’t want to be the annoying bossy all about me won’t shut up about Miami girl anymore.  I want to be more independent, not needy or co-dependent.  It’s not attractive.  People always think I am fun and hot and cool until my insecurity kicks in.  That’s fear, I don’t need fear, I am beautiful and independent, I think maybe this happened to make me realize that I really am ready for a boyfriend, feeling that connection, passion and intense chemistry made me want a boyfriend.  

Beautiful and independent huh?  Is that, and getting rejected by three different men in one night, what it takes to be ready for a boyfriend?  Will she become secure?  Will she find a man?  

Tune in next time for more adventures of Maria, the healer of Santa Fe.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chilies and Voyeurs


I’m spending this week in Santa Fe for some high altitude training before the 12 Hours of Sundance this Saturday.  Well, I’m really here on business, but I did arrange to borrow a bike so I could see the city without depending on a car, fighting traffic, paying for parking, burning foreign oil,…It's my way of supporting the troops. 

Riding through downtown Santa Fe, I came to the conclusion that it’s a nice little city with a big tourism problem.  There were gift shops peddling Indian jewelry, Chinese-made fridge magnets, and authentic New Mexican salsa made in Ohio.  Oh, there were over-priced art galleries galore.  The only thing missing from this tourist trap were boutique shops selling ‘homemade’ fudge.  I did find some spectacular New Mexican food, but it wasn’t near the plaza downtown.  It was on the ugly drag leading into the city at a place called Tortilla Flats.  The Steinbeck lover in me made me go there.  The chili rellenos made me never want to leave. 

Roasting chiliesAfter pedaling around to take in the centuries-old architecture, I decided to sample some of the more recent history of Santa Fe.  What better way is there to acquaint oneself with a city than to visit its thrift stores and see what the denizens throw out?

I was browsing the used book section, hoping to find a New Mexican cookbook to tell me what to do with the twenty pounds of roasted chilies I bought earlier in the day, when I came across a spiral notebook.  I’ve seen spiral-bound cookbooks before, so I thought I had hit the jackpot. 

I had, in fact, hit the jackpot.  It wasn’t a cookbook, but it did contain the recipe for delicious reading. 

It was the journal of a woman named Maria. 

JournalGo ahead and call me a voyeur, but honestly, do you think you could pass up the chance to read someone’s diary?  Don't make me remind you that you are reading my blog, which is basically just an online diary. 

I happily handed over the 59 cents the Goodwill wanted for my priceless treasure and rushed back to my room to see what nuggets it held.  I wasn’t disappointed.

The first page outlines what appears to be an exorcism for somebody named Larry.  I present it below exactly as Maria wrote it:

1.    Light 1 white candle.  3 or more people holding hands in the center of the room.  3 clearing breaths. 

2.    Prayer:  Call in spirit guides of entities, ask that they surround them in love + Light and carry them home.  Now feel that.  Be aware.  Feel them go (circled).  Thank you for going home.  Ask all guides of everyone present to be there and participate—pause—(feel their presence). 

We command that you now leave. 

Only those energies that are appropriate connected participating in Larry’s highest good, joy, good health, growth, are welcome here.  All others cannot enter here.  be allowed in this house

Now that your are gone and never to return this house is now protecting Larry from all that is not at his highest good

This house is now filled with light and joy for ever more. 

Call in his guides help him to know that nothing can harm him in any way, no fear.  His energy field if free of all energies that don’t belong to his process.  Crown (circled).  Solar Plexus (circled). 

Stay tuned for more exciting events in the life of Maria, including partying on Ecstasy in Hollywood, her unexplained move to Santa Fe, and her plea to God to send her a man “who loves that I am a healer and believes in me.” 

My dear Maria, I believe in you.  I believe you have healed me of my boredom. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

AMC Stage 3: Dark Hollow


I rode much of stage 2 within sight of Pua Sawicki.  She was riding strong and was on her way to the overall victory.  So it should tell you something that I rode much of stage 3 within sight of Heather Irmiger, who finished second to Pua in the last two stages and was the fifth woman overall.  That’s Heather in pink in the photo above.  You can see me just behind her, coming through the trees.  

The morning of the race I had no motivation to race.  I forced myself to eat breakfast.  I couldn’t believe that I had to go out and do another 48 miles of racing when what I really wanted to do was stay in bed.  When I got on my bike and rode to the start, I was strictly in survival mode. 

The course was two laps around the NORBA course.  I had heard that the descent down Dark Hollow was very technical and very long.  That kind of news doesn’t sit well with a poor downhiller like me.  But before I got to the descent, I had to nearly to the top of Brian Head Peak—twice—just to make sure I was good and tired before starting down the treacherous descent. 

That’s where I started riding with Heather.  I think she was in survival mode too.  She told me her hardtail was beating her up, which made me feel even slower because she passed me on our first time down Dark Hollow.  But I was glad she had passed me because otherwise she would have seen me walk down a few of the sections that were too much for me.  It was the most technical descent I have ever raced down.  

I caught and passed Heather on the second lap.  That’s when she looked like she was just trying to survive.  By the time I got to the Dark Hollow descent again I was so tired that I was riding over the sections that I had walked down the first time.  I think my exhaustion was suppressing my fear of flying over the handlebars, and somehow it worked because I was able to clean the whole descent without getting off. 

My time for Stage 3 was 4:51; my second lap was 12 minutes slower than the first lap.  My overall time was 13:44, good enough for 18th place overall at 2:45 behind Jeremiah Bishop, the overall winner.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

AMC Stage 2: The Peak

Stage 2

They called Stage 2 ‘The Peak’ because they intended us to climb to the top of Brian Head Peak, 11,307 ft above sea level, during the race.  But first we had to ride for about 45 miles on rocky dirt roads.   The roads seemed so long that climbing to the peak seemed more of an afterthought—that is until I actually started climbing it. 

I started out a bit more conservatively this time, in hopes of others in front of me blowing up after such a long stage the day before.   We climbed up a paved road for a while, then turned onto a dirt road and climbed some more.  In fact, we got within a few hundred feet of the peak, only to turn onto some single track and roll into a very long descent.   You may find it hard to believe, but I actually caught and passed some of my competitors on this descent.  That doesn’t happen to me very often. 

The first feed zone was at the bottom of the descent, Mags hadn’t arrived yet so I pushed on without filling my bottles.  I wanted to stay with a guy that was riding well and had been working with me.  Eventually we put together a group of five riders, including Pua Sawicki, the eventual winner of the pro women.  We all worked together for the next 20 to 25 miles.  Well, we all did except this one guy from Ohio.  I never saw him take a pull.  He’s either a chump or a smarter racer than me, because he finished the stage four minutes in front of me. 

I got dropped by the group when the roads turned uphill again.  I was feeling a bit deflated by the final feed zone—my body, not my tires this time—and we still had a huge climb in front of us. 

I put my head down and focused on pedaling circles.  I could see Greg Gibson in front of me, and I nearly had him reeled in three different times before he would stand up and put a little time into me. 

The road came to a saddle, which I had convinced myself was the top, but we turned onto some single track and continued climbing.  Ten minutes later I was sure we were at the peak, because we stared heading downhill.  Nope, the trail turned uphill again.  I was demoralized. 

There were at least four false summits, and I wanted more than anything to be done climbing.  Finally we came to the dirt road we had climbed up at the start of the race.  I thought I was done, and that all that was left was returning on the road the way we had come.  The course marshal at the junction had something else in mind for me.  This was where the real climb to the peak began.  Oh the humanity!

Somehow I managed to get to the top.  It was more willpower than cycling strength.  Thinking I was finished, and mentally I was, I started to relax.  Little did I know that the last five-odd miles to the finish were down the Super D course.  Have I mentioned that I’m not a great downhiller?  Especially when I’ve got 50 miles behind me for the day?

After the race, my time was 4:04—forty minutes behind the stage winner, all I wanted to do was sit.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat, I couldn’t sleep.  I really had no desire to move.  I just wanted to sit. 

How was I going to do this for one more day?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AMC Stage 1: The Rim

Me and Tinker

Stage 1 of the American Mountain Classic was a 53 mile point-to-point race.  It was entirely above 9,000 ft, and much of it was above 10,000 ft.  It started with a short descent down a dirt road that was so dusty I couldn’t see the ground five feet in front of me.  The road turned uphill for a while, which cleared some of the dust, but didn’t make the riding any easier.  Then it turned downhill again. 

It was a long downhill.  And fast.  The picture above is of me keeping the pace with Tinker Juarez, (he's on my right in the green and black) which, admittedly, didn’t last long.  Twice on that descent I whacked rocks hidden in the dust with my back wheel.  One of those rocks jettisoned one of my water bottles.  It was twenty miles before the first feed zone.  I was a bottle behind for the rest of the stage—always just a little thirsty. 

Next we stared climbing to the rim on some single track.  I stared to feel my back rim clunk against smaller and smaller rocks.  Then it was making a thud with every downed tree branch I crossed.  I was getting a flat, but thought I could ride it until I got to the feed zone.  Then I came to a switchback. 

The tire nearly rolled off the rim.  I stopped to air it up; thinking my sealant inside would plug the leak easily.  Instead my Big-Air valve broke the barrel screw off of the stem on my wheel.  I would have to replace it with a tube. 

I installed my tube and started to air it up, but in the process broke the barrel screw off of that valve stem too.  I searched through the weeds where it landed but never found it.  I needed yet another tube. 

About that time Aaron, my teammate, came by.  He gave me his Big-Air canister and his spare tube—he was going to have to ride on faith to the next feed zone.  I installed his tube and tried to air it up, but the valve stem was too short to protrude out of my deep dish Reynolds wheels.  I didn’t know who to curse; the wheels or me for leaving my valve extender back at the room.  I wasted the entire Big-Air trying to get air into the tube. And failed. 

I stood there looking helpless for a while.  Its funny how many racers will ride by and ask if I had everything I needed, but would keep on riding when I said “No, I could us a pump and another tube.”  Finally, and this was at least twenty minutes after I initially stopped, one guy actually stopped and gave me his spare tube and a pump. 

I promised him I would catch him and return the pump and he was on his way.  I was on my way too, after a couple minutes spent installing a third tube and pumping with his tiny pump.  I spent the next 40 miles chasing down my group.  Oh, and I whacked my helmet on another low-hanging tree, but Reed Wycoff wasn't behind me to tease me this time. 

I caught and passed a few of the elite men, but I was over an hour behind the winner.  My time was 4:48, but for the record, the guys I was riding with when I flatted finished in about 4:15.  Could my flat have cost me half an hour?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clean as a whistle

Today's post was supposed to be about Stage 1 of the AMC, but I had a unique experience on my way in to work today.  

Bicycle commuters face lots of hazards.  From inattentive drivers to inclement weather, from poorly placed storm drains and broken glass on the roads to disgruntled lawnmower drivers, I thought I had seen it all in my thirteen years of commuting by bicycle.  But today I had new experience to add to the list. 

I got sprayed by one of these:


It was parked at the side of the road as I came by.  The driver started up the sprayer at just the right time to get me.  I got drenched. 

I don’t know what those street sweepers spray on the roads, but I can assure you it doesn’t taste like plain water.  I appreciate that they’re cleaning all the debris off the shoulders of the road where I ride, but must they do it during the morning commute?

Stay tuned for my report on Stage 1 of the AMC…

Monday, August 25, 2008

American Mountain Classic: Prologue


I felt a twinge of fear signing up for a race against Jeremiah Bishop, Manny Prado, and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, so when we lined up for the prologue on Thursday I set myself up on the back row where I had a good view of the real pros up front.  I hadn’t seen the course, and only had a general idea of how long it was.  There were thirty of us so my only expectation was to not finish 30th. 

From the start, which was down a paved road, I was amazed at the pace set by the front row.  All I could do was put my head down and try to draft them.  They didn’t let up when the race turned onto a gravel road, but I could see a left turn onto some single track coming quickly.  I had to unlock my front shock but first had to conquer my fear of taking my hand off the handlebars and reaching for the lockout at that speed.

All I remember about the next twenty minutes was how much my lungs hurt.  I think the course was twisty with lots of rocks and roots.  Oh, and I nicked my helmet on a low hanging tree branch, and was teased by Reed Wycoff about it from behind. 

I crossed the finish line in 17th place with a time of 23:19, three minutes behind the winner.  I realized the obvious, that I wouldn’t be able to compete with the guys who do this for a living, but I also realized that I had no reason to fear the rest of them. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Evanston, the AMC and Wingnuts in San Francisco

The Wolverine Ridge Race in Evanston, Wyoming was nearly two weeks ago.  It was mostly uneventful for me, except that I felt good the whole time, and managed to stay upright and keep the air in both my tires. One memorable instant did occur on the first lap, on the long steep, straight, powdery climb, when I actually caught up to, and passed Bart G.  It was the deepest into a race that I had ever been in front of that perennial winner.  Apparently, he had left his climbing legs in Canada.  Riding in front of him was just an instant though, well two minutes maybe, because he blew past me as soon as the trail turned downhill and I never saw him again.  I gotta learn to descend. 

Speaking of descending, I signed myself up for the American Mountain Classic this weekend.  That means for the next four days I’ll be lining up with Jeremiah Bishop, Ryan Trebon, JHK and, rumor has it, Tinker Juarez.  With a group like that, you can expect to see my name descending rapidly to the bottom of the GC standings.  But how am I ever going to learn to race with the pros if I don’t race with the pros?  Go ahead, call me a wing nut. 

Speaking of wingnuts, Vince called my attention to this article in Today’s Wall Street Journal.  Apparently some nut in San Francisco is saying that allotting more street space to cyclists could cause more traffic jams, more idling and more pollution.  He’s stymied the City’s construction of bike lanes for two years by demanding an environmental impact analysis before they begin. I’ll surprise many of you by agreeing with him that crowding cars into fewer lanes can result in more pollution since they’re spending more time idling and getting nowhere, but he’s taking a very shortsighted perspective and thus is missing the point.  That’s why I call him a wingnut. 

Motorists have been subsidized by governments for over half a century.  We’ve built roads, parking lots, and entire communities that made it easy to get around by car; all at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists.  It was an incentive to get people to buy cars, and it worked.  (It worked really well for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler for a very long time.) Now we have a better understanding of the symptoms of car addiction—pollution, stress, obesity—so we as a society need to make driving less convenient.  We need to provide some disincentives to driving cars.  Traffic congestion is a natural disincentive.  Parking fees and toll roads are good ideas too, and they’re easy to implement.  Short of rationing gasoline like we did during WWII, taking road space away from motorists and giving it to cyclists may be the best way yet to make driving less convenient.  It’s not an “attempt by the anti-car fanatics to screw up our traffic on behalf of the bicycle fantasy”, as the wingnut from San Francisco so succinctly put it.  Building bicycle lanes in our cities is a sound use of public policy to steer behavior in a healthier, more sustainable direction.