Monday, December 27, 2010

Water damage

If you ever wondered what the ceiling of your family room looked like after the dry wall was removed, well here it is.

We had the following valve break in the upstairs bath and pour water into the lower levels of the house.

The piece on the right is the valve stem. The handle (left) broke off and allowed the water to stream into the bath for several hours while we were absent from the house.

What does this have with biking? Not much except that I need to be here at the house to meet repair contractors which takes me away from my usual training rides. It is a good thing that this event happened during the off season.

By the way, we have changed all of the plastic valves in the house to metal. Hopefully this will not happen again.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Paradise Valley Mudder

The following is an amazing action shot of Ben and his dog Flower. Flower is in mid-stride, airborne and it appears that her ears are being used as canards providing lift above the water. It rained all night long prior to this Sunday ride so the trail is completely awash.

Thanks to Ben for allowing me to post this wonderful image.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cross Timing

Just in case you were wondering how Seattle Cyclocross handles the event timing, here is a brief description from Dave Wamsley.
Our goal with the RFID is to track laps and lap times, not to determine who beat who at the line.  As a general rule if a bike is overlapping another bike at the finish it needs to be reviewed.  We operate the camera at every race to confirm finishes.   I wouldn't count on accuracy beyond  .5 seconds with the Tags and Reader from what I am seeing.  
Cross isn't a timed event.  The times are provided for analysis and training purposes so riders can see how they compare to their peers that are not in their line of sight during the race.
 The times at the races this year are not from the RFID but from our old 10 key system. When keying the finish of a race the protocol is to key all the riders first, then hit the timing plunger the appropriate number of times.
 If one or two riders are finishing we hit the plunger right as there wheel crosses the line.  If multiple riders approach the line at the same time ...lets say 8 in this example, we key all 8 riders in the proper order and then hit the timer 8 times.  Thus times may be off by more than a second or two.   In a stage race all of the riders would have the same finishing time.  I guess we should opt for that method as it would be much easier to hit that group of 8 with the same time.  
 Seattle Cyclocross does an amazing job of getting all the placings correct and published.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carnation, WA ride

It was 38 degrees when I left the house and headed for the rendezvous point under the I-90 bridge. The streets were wet but it was not raining. Here is the route.

It started to rain just as we entered Redmond and then rained all the way home. I did not eat enough during the ride and consequently I bonked upon reaching Newcastle. Stopping at the Starbucks replenished my sugar stores so I could make it home to a warm shower.

Friday, December 10, 2010

End of Cross Season

After an intense period of training and racing, it is time to ride and enjoy the scenery. When riding around Lake Washington, there are many parks and beaches to explore.

Newcastle Beach Park shows its winter facade of linear tree rows and bare limbs. During the day, very few people frequent the park. 

Sometimes, as was the case last Sunday, a chance meeting of team members results in a great ride. We rode around Mercer Island and the north end of Lake Washington. It is always a joy to ride with folks who have bike handling skills you can trust, especially Ben, who has a wonderfully smooth cadence. Ben also brings a spark of life to the party because you never know which route he will take. You just get into a rhythm and before you know it, the miles have flown by. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010


It is below freezing outside which means black ice on the roads. But even at this point in winter, Rainer comes forth with the following:

Me? Sit inside and pedal?
Fool me once.....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Seattle CX Season Finale

It was just above freezing and lightly raining when we arrived at the Evergreen Fairgrounds to contest the Seattle Cyclocross season finale. I got checked in and then pre-rode the course. The finish line, steep hill side area, and pit zone were changed from last year. The ditch crossing that gave everyone a problem last year was easy but the steep descent plus single barrier on the hill side caused many a crash this Sunday.

Here is Eva washing out the front end and going down.

And here is Chris taking a tumble.

When the whistle blew for our start, I was in the wrong gear and lost some time. After I got things going I looked up and saw Steve B. out in front and killing it. Greg H. and the crew were in hot pursuit. I put my diesel engine into gear and started to pull the field back to me.

As the race continued I passed Steve B. and then George.

 I came up behind Richard D. but then blundered my way through the steep hill side and lost contact.

Check out that top hat that Cosmic is wearing! Awesome!

Here are Steve B. and Amos G. going through the barrier. 

Note Don's flat tire. He made a great effort to run to the pits for his "B" bike.

Every time I went through this puddle I filled my right shoe full of cold water. 

I pulled some time back when racing on the gravel road and before the finish area but the race ended before I could make any more gains.

Finishers for Sunday's race (Cat 4 men 55+):

1st - Greg H.
2nd - Richard D.
3rd - BikeSea

Finishers for the overall Seattle CX series (Cat 4 men 55+):

1st - George S.
2nd - BikeSea
3rd - Steve B.

I'm the proud recipient of a silver cow bell for the Seattle Cyclocross Championship Series. Last year I was just off the podium in 4th place.

A huge thank you goes to the entire crew of Seattle Cyclocross for putting on the 2010 Championship Series.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Special Day

It was 33 degrees and lightly snowing when I did my pre-ride around the course at Sprinker Park. This was a long course with muddy corners, short uphill sand pit, short steep run-ups, tricky off camber corner near the back of the course and a long run to the finish with a 90 degree bend just before the line. At the start, I was shaking with cold and was glad to get going. My plan was to try and stay with the leaders but that did not work out because I was cold and stiff. As I warmed up on the course, I started passing people.....then more......then people I had never passed before. The course was rather flat so I got in the big ring and hammered my way around the back side of the course. On the last lap, the only person in front of me from my group fell on the tricky off camber corner near the back fence. I just missed running into him and then kept on trucking. On the stretch to the finish, I did not look back but I knew that someone was very close behind me. I just put my head down and hammered. I came into the last turn very hot, just made the turn and then sprinted for the line. At the finish I was able to hold Richard off for the win. 

My first ever bicycle WIN.

I'm riding on the grass and the fellow to starboard, fell on the tricky corner.

Sand pit.

Here comes Richard.

After returning home, I started cleaning the bike and discovered that I had a dragging brake. Oh fine! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

MFG Woodland Park Cross

Here comes the cat 4 45+ group over the hill about 20 seconds after the start. Chris L. is in the center and he got 3rd place. 

The final MFG race of the year was all about hills, forest, wet grass, leaf litter and muddy corners. The MFG promoters combined the 55+ cat 3 and cat 4 men into the same race so the competition was fast. I got 5th place out of 24 with three cat 3 racers and one cat 4 racer higher in the standings.  I felt stronger and faster than last year and my bike handling skills have gotten better. There were numerous times where I was sliding both the front and rear wheels through the slimy corners and did not fall.

Here is a short clip of Dan finishing his race.

I certainly hope that MFG can continue to use this venue every year.

Now if I can only continue this good performance through the next several weeks. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Maris Farms Cross

Last year the Maris Farms course had a pumpkin patch mud bog so deep that I could not steer the bike, so on the first lap I drove into the bog at speed and promptly fell over into the mud. This year, because of all the rain, the organizers changed the course, deleting the old bog but included two smaller ones that forced you off the bike and into running mode. The remaining course was slippery grass and steep unrideable hills.

Peanut butter mud with pumpkin patch behind.

Notice that I'm going around the outside of the turn to find better traction.

A run-up after the barriers.

The devil was making me do this....

To make the course even more fun, it started to rain.

The following pictures show Emily going through the mud pit on the other side of the course.

Other riders commented:

Brendan - "I loved that part compared to the sharp rocks 10 feet later that sliced my tubulars open! Nice suspense not knowing if your shoes would come up with your feet."

Sharon - "That last step on the last lap, I was beginning to feel like a mastodon in the tar pits!"

After all of this was over, I went to the board and found that I got third place. I was shocked! (third place is a very good result for me) I was working so hard that during the race, I did not have presents of mind to know how I was doing. A cross race can push you until all you see is your own tunnel of effort.

Muddy bike.

I did, however slip back to third place in the overall Seattle Cyclocross standings in the cat 4 55+ category because Steve B got second place in this race. He now has a 3 point advantage on me. We have two more races left in the season to determine the final standings.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Great weather

For the past three days the weather in Seattle has been cool but very sunny. It has been a delight for bike riding.

The fall season brings a burst of orange, yellow and brown colors throughout the neighborhood.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November sunshine

It is fantastic to have such a great day of riding in November. I took the rain bike down to Renton, out the Cedar River trail to the Hobart cut off, into Issaquah and then back to the house via Newport.

After the ride I went down the hill to see Tom Peterson's new bike shop. I did have a chance to talk to Tom and he said he initially got 27th at the Vuelta but two racers with faster times have been disqualified due to drugs so he is now sitting 25th. He also said that another 5 above him were probably on drugs as they were having crazy super human results during some of the stages. Sad to see that the world's elite peloton is still having drug problems.

On the good side, it is great to have such a good racer in our community. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fort Steilacoom Cyclocross

And off they go....

The first half of the race was on wet grass with lots of muddy turns. I fell once during one of these turns but snapped back up and continued. The back side of the course consisted of single track, climbing, loose gravel roads, hair pin turns around trees, and one stretch of pavement.

Around the barn and into the barriers.

More tight turns in the grass....

And the sprint for the finish. The fellow in front of me started in the 45+ group so I'm not racing against him.

The race was well organized, the course was well marked and it was a beautiful day for racing. My bike was a muddy mess after the race. After it rained most of the night, we were all were surprised to find the course in good condition.

Halloween Cross in Seattle

This morning at 9:15 AM the first Seattle CX race started at Steilacoom. Among the regular dressed participants were the following:

After raining most of the night, the morning sun pushed the clouds aside creating a cold but beautiful day.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Davis, CA

40 Years ago my wife and I graduated from UC Davis. At that time, the campus only had 8,000 students. Now it has 30,000+ students. On our way home from San Francisco we decided to stop and bicycle around Davis, CA and see what we could remember. After 40 years, there have been so many changes that there is not much to remember. The Quad is still there...

And Putah Creek.....(but largely expanded). There is a large new arboretum on the west side of the campus.

And several lecture buildings are still there but the dorms have all changed.

The city of Davis is flat with plenty of bike lanes and the car drivers are easy to deal with. Because the entire city is so flat, there are many cruiser and one speed bikes. We enjoyed seeing the campus but between our fading memories and the physical changes to the campus, we did not recognize very many things.

Burlingame trip

We drove down to Burlingame, CA to see Grandmother and while I was there I rode the foldie bike along San Francisco Bay. I started just south of the international airport and rode south until Foster City. They have completed the trail around Coyote Point so now the entire trail is protected from car traffic.....very nice.

I was poking along minding my own business when another rider passed me. Since I don't know the area, I decided to tag along hoping that he would show me the trail. But instead, he tried to rub me off his back wheel. The foldie bike does not look fast but it can move right along. Needless to say, he could not ride me off his wheel and I enjoyed the challenge.

The following picture is taken with the iphone so I could not zoom in to show you the pelican perched on the rail watching for fish. Except for a strong north wind, the weather was beautiful.

Try this on for road furniture. The following image shows the arch of a small suspension bridge which crosses one of the many canals. The supports are in the middle of the trail.

Burlingame is a nice area for shops and restaurants but the streets are busy and the drivers are not very friendly toward bikers.

Later that evening, it started to rain. The above image shows a rainy Burlingame train station. Just blocks from here are some of the best Italian restaurants anyone could hope for.