Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hail, October!

October. Oh, man OCTOBER! As I was heading home on my bike today, I decided once and for all that October is clearly the best month of the year. Challengers: June, July and December. But October is the best.


  • The weather. It's positively dumb right now. Cool mornings and evenings, just-right temps during the day. No humidity. And when it's cold, it's usually not cold-cold. (Although I should note that the first year I ran the Trek Store, the mid-October breast cancer awareness ride featured snow and sleet.)
  • The bike racing. Cyclocross. Just one hour of power. Much shorter training sessions, too. I can go to a CX race and not blow the entire day. Well, I can still blow the entire day but I don't HAVE to. 
  • The beer. Sam Adams Octoberfest might be my favorite beer. We're almost done with a case of it (I've had it for a while) and I might get another.
  • Apple cider. And caramel apples. Duh. 
  • The baseball. Nevermind. 
  • The fall colors are OK, too. It looks awesome out there.
  • Peppermint Stick ice cream should be here VERY SOON.
Of course, on the other side of all of this is November. Bleak, barren, starting-to-get-cold November. Or, depending on the current weather pattern, actually cold November. And snowy. But still bleak and barren. I think the color of the sky in November is pretty much always gray. 

And then we have darkness for three months. 

So yeah, October. Go soak it up while you can. Time's a wasting. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reflections on cars

If I could pull it off, I'd ride my bike most places.

I mean, I ride a lot now, but it would be better to ride it all the time. I say this despite owning a car that provides great entertainment (and I suppose transportation) value. But with kids and work schedules and school schedules, it's not possible to do it all the time. Not yet, at least.

We had a fun week in cars here. Well, actually it was the end of last week and a little bit of this week. And it wasn't really that much fun. So, basically, we had car troubles.

Chris' car is a 2008 Toyota Rav4. It's been the workhorse for the past few years and has over 100,000 miles on it. It's not fancy, but it's reliable and solid and biggish and it's fine. She left the dome light on overnight on (last) Wednesday, which made for an entertaining Thursday morning. In short, we tried to jump it, but ended up sending her off with the kids and leaving me to ride to work.

We got one of those portable battery pack jump starter things that night and tried to get it going. That did not work. We bought that in hopes of avoiding the need to have it towed, but ended up having to tow it anyway. That was Friday, when I drove everybody to where they needed to be, called a tow truck and rolled in late to work. (That reminds me ... I need to take that battery charger thing back.)

On Tuesday, I took Chris' car to the Toyota dealership to have some recall work done. They gave me a 2013 Camry SE. That's the "sporty" one, though driving it still reminded you it was a Camry. Anyway, because they were aiming at racecar styling, I drove it like one. It was less exciting than you'd think ... because it's a Camry.

By Tuesday night, everything was back to normal. We spent a good deal of money making our cars go, much like many people do every year. I feel like we should ride bikes more, because I've never paid $120 to tow a bike. Nor have I paid $100 for a battery (but I bet that's coming someday with electronic shifting).

Anyway, ride bikes more or you'll get ebola probably.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Satisfaction and temptation

Matt Steele took this photo. See the rest of the album here.

When I mapped out my cyclocross season a couple of months ago, this weekend was going to be the end of it — with the exception of Frosty Cross at the end of November. Daylight is waning, the school year is well underway and training time is at a minimum. And I'm just kinda tired of the routine right now.

That said, I raced pretty well this weekend. That doesn't mean I was anywhere near the top of the results — because that's not possible for a guy with my limited abilities. Not against our 1/2 field. But I felt good and I made moves and I raced people and felt good about my race and efforts at the end of both days.

And the good vibes from the weekend are causing an internal struggle. I'm supposed to be backing off a little, but I feel more like charging ahead full gas and seeing what I can make of the next six or seven weeks. I'm still planning on ending everything (for real!) at Frosty Cross, but maybe there will be a bit more to it between now and then.

For now, I need more coffee. And maybe some ibuprofen. My body is reminding me of its advancing age this morning.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Just about there

My abbreviated cyclocross season effectively ends this weekend. I'm inexplicably signed up for both days of racing in Bellevue, but after that ... well, that's almost it. I'm going to race Frosty Cross in Le Mars at the end of November, most likely.

Dealing with darkness both before work and after work, the desire to get outside and rip around is waning. I did pretty well this week, but that was a rarity. And riding the trainer? Man, it's too nice for that.

Plus, I've really been looking forward to the long, steady, easy fall rides on the road. Just go ride for a few hours, maybe hit a climb or two hard. Ultimately, just go crank out some miles. I need some of those rides right now.

But first, two more days of pain in Bellevue. It looks like Mark has a good course built, so I'm looking forward to that. And Sunday, it might rain and turn out to be pretty cyclocrossy. Seems like a good way to go out for the year.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Another year older

For most people cycling dreams start out young. You spend a bit of time in the driveway, and then the sidewalk, and then down the street and then pretty soon you're all the way across town. Sometimes you make the next big move and decide to give it a real shot:

If it's meant to be, you get to keep on riding, and sometimes you even get to travel the world. 

The weather is not always great, however. Actually, sometimes making a bike go fast requires a lot of time in crap weather. 

Sometimes you ride really well and have all the answers.

Sometimes you have no answers and you hate bikes afterward.

Hardware happens sometimes. That's super nice.

Happy birthday, Brady. Let's get some coffee sometime.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Flux capacitor

Think back to the technology of 2000 for a moment. As a point of reference, iTunes was not a thing yet (2001). Nor was the iPod (later in 2001). The iPhone? That was 2007, and though it was only 7 years ago, that first phone is now an antique.

So, back to 2000. I've been driving that particular moment in time for a little more than 10 years. It looks like this:
It came with hubcaps, but a couple of them fell off in 2008 or so. Chris took off the rest of them, and it's been like this ever since. Even with the hubcaps, though, it's not a terribly attractive car. But that's OK, because I didn't purchase it to be attractive. I wanted reasonably cheap, reliable and ... well, actually that's it. The interior is the kind of dull, Toyota Camry gray you'd expect in a car of this vintage, though it came standard with a power drivers seat and a CD/cassette combo stereo system. Nice!

It also has 15-year-old safety features. The steering wheel whines when making sharp turns. There's a  persistent clunk from the left front wheel well, and I'm fairly certain there's an exhaust leak of some sort (but if you re-circulate the cabin air, you can't smell it so it's all good).

Those issues are now somebody else's problem. I have a time machine.

Much like digital technology has advanced rapidly, so, too, has the state of the automobile. Example: This guy's headlights turn on when the wipers are activated. Also, this car has no key. It has a fob that  merely needs to be in the vehicle to make it start. And the driver's side door handle is touch sensitive.

The inside is pretty much just a spaceship.
It syncs with my phone. It plays music over Bluetooth. It shows real-time miles per gallon (currently averaging 29 and change, by the way). It's pretty ridiculous.

I realize completely that all of this stuff may well have been in place years ago. But I've been driving an old Camry for the last decade. I'll probably be amazed for a while.

A plug: If you want a Honda, go to O'Daniel and ask for Dan Baker. It was probably about as painless as a car purchase can be.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kind of all over the place

Oh, man. Look how smooth and relaxed that looks. Nice definition on the legs. Oh, this guy has it DIALED.

Michael Dixon took that photo during warmups on Saturday in Norfolk. Everything seems calm in warmups. Easy hopping of the barriers and smooth remounts and super-clean lines through everything. The reality is always different when you're super-stressed with a pegged heart rate and you're dying because it's 1,000 degrees and nobody seems to have remembered how to do a beer hand-up.

Here's what that looks like:

You can thank Jon Downey for that photo. And I can thank him for hosting a race and putting in a good deal of time and effort, along with his Elkhorn Valley Cycling crew.

It was a fun time in Norfolk and I'm glad I was able to get up there and pin on a number again. I need some work on a few things, but for now I'm just going to look at that top photo and be totally complacent.