Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ready For Winter. Not.

I've been coveting a pair of Acme pants ever since John's glowing review. I've made at least a half a dozen trips to REI throughout our long and crappy winter. But oy, the price tag.

I was there on different business tonight, but I always window shop that rack. And whatta ya know . . . they're on sale. Clearance-type prices, too. And on the same rack, also on sale, REI Mistral pants. Both are made of Schoeller fabric - heavier on the Acme, lighter on the Mistral. I bought one of each. If you've ever wanted either of these, get your ass down there . . . quantities are limited.

Kind of hard to get excited about these now, but next fall I'll get into my box of winter cycling shit, and having forgotten I bought these, it'll be like Christmas morning.

Now that I have a couple pair of righteous winter pants, I've pretty much guaranteed an end to the cold weather. No big deal. Glad to help you guys out. If you really want to thank me, say it with beer. (Don't you think that expression would look good inside a Hallmark card?)

Playing The Field

Tonight I am coming to grips with the fact that I am lower than soap scum. A look in the mirror reveals that I treat bikes with zero respect. For instance . . .

The Monkey and I have been through all kinds of hell this winter. Hundreds of miles through every kind of garbage condition. You might hear this on a typical day in January:

Pat: "Wanna go, Monkey? It's super nasty out. Maybe we should stay in."
Monkey: "I don't care, I'm all about you. Let's ride!"
Pat: "I love you, Monkey."
Monkey: "I love you more!"

I really, truly thought I loved the Monkey above all other bikes. As soon as I thought winter was ending (even though it turns out this is the year of the everlasting winter), I splurged on some Schwalbe Big Apple tires to convert my bestest winter bike to my bestest spring bike. They even have reflective sidewalls. So cool:

Well, I hate myself for even saying this, but even with the new tires, the Monkey is, ummm . . . . a little . . . well, uhhh . . . overweight big-boned.

To make matters worse, the light, skinny, sexy bike has been in touch. I've tried to ignore the flirtation. But I'm weak and I've spent the last couple of nights with it. Bathing it. And dorking it out with a basket. We have a connection that I have never experienced with any other bike. I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it. I think this bike might be the one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sweet Dreams?

Some shit is weighing on me and I've been having trouble sleeping. Staring at the ceiling at two-in-the-morning sucks.

So I've devised a strategy: I mounted the Paselas on the cross bike wheels tonight. The new Big Apples are already on the Monkey.

I'm thinking about smoooooth, sweeeeet rides. Ahhhhh . . . Yeah, baby! ZZZZzzzz z . . .

It's what I will be focusing on in the wee hours. I hope it's kind of like dreaming about getting a massage. (Not that kind of massage.)

I'll let you know if it works.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tour of Walla Walla Wrap Up

We're home and unloaded, and I'm totally beat, barely able to walk and wondering why I would ever do this to myself in the name of recreation. Patty wonders why she would ever tag along with such a stressed-out psycho for a "fun weekend getaway", or whether she ever will again.

Three hard races over two days is way beyond my powers of recovery at this point in my life, and if somebody could get my boss' number and call in dead for me tomorrow, that would be super.

The last race of the weekend was today's road race, which was 58 miles and nearly killed me. It started off fine - 11 miles with the pack, pretty much what I expected. Then I got shelled of the back - also pretty much what I expected. Then I eventually got hooked up with a few other riders at the pace I wanted to ride - pretty much what I had hoped for.

But then, with about 12 miles to go, I disintegrated. Blew up. It was a long ride back. Bike racing is a tough sport. I got passed by the field behind me. But I was determined to finish and I did. So that's cool.

I'm not unhappy or disappointed with the weekend - it was great to be a part such a prestigious race and my expectations were realistic. If it's not the best run multi-day race in the state, it's gotta be a close second. That's why it draws the best bike racing talent from the region. Results aren't online yet, but in my field of 100, I was 83rd in the TT and 63rd in the crit. My finish in the RR can't be good. But like I said, it was very cool to be an also-ran in this major event.

The officials are amazing. Some from Spokane that I can list off the top of my head are Julie Kelsey, Marla Emde, Tom Miller and Sarah Wilson. Top-notch officials with worlds of experience came over from the west side. Then there is an army of volunteers. Literally. Huge thanks to everyone - organizers, officials, sponsors, volunteers, residents - who pitch in to make this phenomenal race happen!

We had camera 'challenges' and didn't capture what I would have liked. Walla Walla is just gorgeous this time of year and the race is something to behold, and especially on that backdrop. But here are a few random shots . . .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Walla Walla Downtown Crit

The 2nd Saturday event at the Tour of Walla Walla is the downtown criterium. It starts late afternoon and extends into the evening. The last few fields are competing after dark.

I sucked worse at the crit than I did at the TT. I got spit out the back of the pack. But I didn't get pulled. See, when you are riding your bike way slower than the other fellas, the guys who run the race might tell you that your race is done and would you please get off the course. I expected this would happen and it didn't. So I finished. And when you know that no big victories are coming your way, you have to celebrate the small ones. Yay.

Downtown crits are totally cool. Easier to pull off in smaller towns, but still no small feat. Spokane has done it and could do it again, but it takes an experienced, organized, well-connected group to pull it off. You don't just wish it. I'm not sure that it's the best focus for Spokane's cycling event talent and resources.

That said, it's a spectacle. Lame internet pics and videos can't do it justice, but here's a taste of the start of one of the races:

Nightime action photos are so beyond my photographic capability. This is the best I could do:

There's a lot of Spokane and Cd'A riders down here doing impressive stuff. A lot of them I don't really know but admire - different league. But some are those I have raced with and I understand the outstanding work they did today:

Alan Jacob
Taylor Pilant
Renee Compton
Shawn Letson

Great job, you guys.

Tomorrow we go road racing.

Nursing My Time Trial Wounds

No, Patty & Alan are not toasting my success. I finished 83rd. In a
field of 100. Ouch. I need to get going on a new strategy ASAP if I'm
gonna win this thing. Or maybe my time would be better spent working
on excuses.

Hmm. Too late to lose weight. Problem with this race is that there's
no "old guy" fields so I'm racing with guys half my age (yeah I'm
likin this excuse). So I'm countering the effects with a glass of
liquid youth. Also enhances my looks and makes me extremely brave.
What's not to like.

Tour of Walla Walla Time Trial

Went okay, I think. Don't have the results yet. Max HR hit 183, going
up the only hill on the course. Too high but I was able to dial it
back before totally blowing up.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chaos and Three Blessings

This was gonna be a busy week anyway - the season's first Twilight Series race on Tuesday, then the Tour of Walla Walla this coming weekend. Which meant already way too much to do. So I dialed it up a notch yesterday with a car wreck.

Most importantly, nobody hurt. Blessing #1.

Exchanging insurance information was extremely inconvenient . . . I needed that time to figure out the logistics of getting to the races as I watched a lake of radiator fluid forming under my truck and realized that it wasn't going anywhere for a while.

I'd been on my way to have dinner with my parents. I called to say that I wasn't gonna make it. My Dad offered to loan me his truck. Blessing #2. (My Dad, not the truck.) And his generosity was why I was able to race in the Twilight Race tonight.

It's also why I was able get to to Joe's Sporting Goods' going-out-of business-sale on my lunch hour to pick up some hardware that I will need to get the bikes to Walla Walla. Sale prices helped a bunch. Blessing #3? Naw, just good luck.

Today was my birthday. After I got home way late tonight after all the craziness of the last coupla days, Patty had a pizza ready for me. Blessing #3. (My wife, not the pizza.)

So many times I wonder about all this bike stuff and the fact that I wouldn't have been in a wreck if I wasn't on my way to get my oil changed and my truck washed so I could drive to WW for a bike race and the crazy passion that makes an old guy like me me go to a big state race where I am so totally gonna get killed but will still be so happy to throw down anyway and how Patty must be so bewildered about my neurosis but will support me anyway when I finish last and how we all live extra dangerous lives because our love of bikes compels us to mix it up with cars and SUVs and how all the money we spend on equipment is way way more than what we save on gas and health clubs and how we spend so much time and energy making it possible to ride and then spending the time and energy that's left over convincing other people that they can experience the great adventure of this simple machine . . .

. . . but I never seriously wonder. I just know.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Unsuitable For Framing

Giving your sponsors a team photo is a cool tradition.

This is not the right photo.

(And red is obviously not the right color for team shorts.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

You Can't Take It With You, Right?

Secret Screaming-Fast Craigslist TT Bike - $800
Pedals for the Secret Screaming-Fast Bike - $100
Secret Screaming-Fast eBay TT Helmet - $75
New Screaming-Fast Shifter Cables - $16
Only Getting Passed By One Other Screaming-Fast Rider - Priceless

(There's a commercial here somewhere.)

So yeah, the time trial went pretty well. The road race? Mmmm, not so much. So I'm not talking about it. Stupid road race. But all in all, I'm tired and happy after a really fun day of roaring around with a bunch of bike nuts on the roads south of town.

Thanks to Baddlands for all the effort you guys put into making this an awesome weekend of racing.