Thursday, August 28, 2008

Road trippin

Road trippin, originally uploaded by Buckshot77.

Road trip to Memphis today to pick up the girls. We're headed to Little Rock tomorrow. Only 600 miles on the clock for today.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The hundy man can

Sunday marked my 4th gravel century of the year, affectionately nicknamed "The dirty hundy". We had a small, but dedicated crew on hand for this installment, Steve "Mechanical" Fuller, Scott "Bike Iowa" Sumpter, Tom "Griz" Anderson, and myself "Buckshot". At least we all had some interesting nicknames. Although, I must profess I coined Fuller's name just on this ride due to his seemingly endless mechanicals that while they don't necessarily sideline him, they definitely make his rides interesting to say the least.

We rolled out from Steve's house at pretty much 7 sharp. It was just cool enough that I was happy to have arm warmers thrown on and breifly thought my full finger gloves wouldn't have been a bad idea either. We met Tom just a couple miles outside of town as he rolled up from his place. While we weren't killing it by any means in the morning, we kept a nice strong pace going along. I liked the idea of going without a route, which was our plan, but in reality, to truly get a hundred miles in and make a good time of it, I think a little more planning might be better.

Our adventure racing for the day came shortly after our breakfast stop. We turned onto a road with a large "Road Closed to through traffic" sign. Hmm, since we're not typically considered traffic by most motorists, I guess the sign doesn't apply to us.

At the bottom of a decent hill, we found a bridge under construction. Well, from where we were standing it looked like they had the deck boards layed out so we headed out across. Funny, the deck stopped about halfway across leaving us to cross exposed girders. At least we had a steel cable to keep us upright and in reality it added quite a bit of fun to the ride.

About 25 miles in we made a quick Casey's stop for a donut and a quick hop off the bike and then we were off again. We rolled on towards Lynden where we were thinking of grabbing some food for lunch and quickly realized there wasn't anything to be had. Panora seemed like a good option and was only 6 miles by the Racoon River Valley Trail. We somehow streched it into 10+ miles of gravel with some sketchy descending on a highway shoulder and a nasty hill climb up the other side. It was this hill climb that I broke my self induced suffering of planning to big ring it all day. After roughly a half mile in the middle ring, I hopped back into it and kept it the rest of the day. It actually worked pretty well on the hills as it forced me to work up them to keep my cadence at a certain level and mostly put me up in front of the rest of the group.

By the time we rolled into Panora and hit PJ's for lunch I was due. Luckily? there was a pretty hefty crowd in line and we spent over an hour basking in the shade enjoying a nice breeze. Apparently the burgers came back to haunt Scott and Tom, but Steve and I really didn't have any problems. After lunch I felt pretty good for about 10 miles and then the long term effects started setting in.

I was really getting down on power and hurting even though I rolled off the front of the group. I was riding my own pace, but still felt pretty slow. Tom apparently felt even worse and sent the other two ahead while I waited at the next turn for them. After seemingly forever we rolled into Adel with about 80 miles on the clock. We spent some time here soaking in some rest and shade in the city park while Tom rolled back up to meet us.

We criss crossed highway 6 to make sure we had enough miles of gravel to qualify the ride and then hopped on the bike trail to get Scott back in time for his debut on Kim West's radio show. We made one more breif stop by Tom's place we headed back to Steve's. Tom followed us for a bit to get the rest of his miles in for the day and we cleared 100 on the way to Steve's. All in all it was a good day in the saddle, but I was really feeling the effects of it. I am hoping I'll have some time next year to not only work on my short, hard efforts, but to also expand my long distance riding as well.

Ignorance is...

Bliss? Actually, I'm beginning to this ignorance is really just ignorance. After all the hullaballoo last week with Miranda's dad passing away from a combination of lung cancer and pneumonia, you'd think it might have some impact on his relatives. According to my wife who is now staying with some of those relatives, it was hard to choose a place to stay once their hotel time ran out. The reason being, everyone smokes!

James was a lifelong smoker and didn't escape the clutches of cancer so you can't really say it was a surprise. However, you'd think those around him might do well to recognize that maybe the grim reaper isn't hiding too far around the bend considering he was just shy of 50 when he passed. Add in the biggest insult to it in the fact that his son (Miranda's half brother) and his wife are expecting and both still smoke like crazy. They visited us early this year and had promised emphatically that they'd both be going cold turkey as soon as they found out they were pregnant. OK, fine, so how come at 6 months along you're still smelling like an ash tray and smoking like a fiend? Some people.

In all actuality, I could care less if you want to smoke, but I certainly can think you're a little unwise for doing so. I guess I'd have thought that Jame's death might have hit a little closer to home for them, but I'd be wrong. Ahh well. Ignorance is just ignorance.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Memory lane

Part of my night was spent looking through our wedding pictures to email down to Miranda. She wanted some of her dad and brother at our wedding to print off for the memorial service being held today.

We've been married 8 years. Wow, the things that have changed in that relatively short period of time. I saw so many faces of people that we've fallen out of touch with. Some by our choice, some by their choice, and some by happenstance. What's harder to swallow is that there were a number of people in there that had passed on since then. I can think of at least 3 just off the top of my head. Looking back, I'm really glad we had all the people we did to celebrate with us. Sure, I've got a few more friends now that would have been awesome to party with, but for the most part, I'm pretty happy about who we shared that experience with.

One particular oddity is our wedding partner. We both chose people that we'd been friends with a reasonable amount of time and felt like we would continue on as good friends with. We had 6 people as attendants. All 6 have either fallen out of touch completely or we talk to maybe a few times a year. Strange in my book for sure.

Something else that struck me was how people changed in the past 8 years. Take my parents for example. I know my mom made a concerted effort to lose some weight for the wedding and she looks good in the pictures. I'd hazard a guess that an average of 10+ pounds has been added on per year since then. I'm worried about her for sure. My dad looks great in the pictures. He has a sparkle in his eye and looks like he feels good. Some pretty serious accidents have changed his life since and I'm sure he struggles daily just to get through without too much pain and it's really taken a toll. I'm worried about him too. From there you get into other family and it seems a number have gained weight since. I know I've really got some hair loss going on which sucks.

Back when we got married, our plan was to celebrate our anniversary every year by digging out our pictures and savoring the memories. We have only done this a couple of times. I'm starting to think we should pick that back up before those memories fade out. Anyone else out there strive to hang on to memories of some of the best times of your life?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The inevitable happened. Miranda's dad passed on this morning. While I don't feel like we truly knew him that well as he was only involved in her life for the past 10 years (he and her mom divorced when she was 2 and he stayed out of her life), I know she'll still mourn and miss him. He is the first person I've known personally in my adult life to pass on from cancer. In his case, it goes to show, that you really can't reckon with the odds of being a lifelong smoker and getting lung cancer. I'm glad I kicked that habit long, long ago.

I guess I'm bummed for a number of reasons. I feel bad that my wife lost someone close to her. I feel bad that I'm not there with her and provide a shoulder to lean on. I feel bad that our daughter won't have a chance to know one of her grandpas.

There are at least a few things I'm happy about. I'm glad that Miranda's mom was able to go with her and Corley. I'm sure it helps a lot to have her there. I'm happy that they got down there in time on Tuesday to spend some time with him while he was conscious. I'm happy that Corley and he were able to meet and exchange words whether or not she'll ever remember it.

I'm left wondering a few things as well. I wonder if we'll stay in touch with that side of the family now that our direct link is gone. I wonder what effect this will have on Miranda. I wonder how much and when we'll tell Corley about her grandpa.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Nothing really significant about this number with the exception of it's the number of hours I spent on the clock yesterday. Not too shabby other than being a salaried position means I get paid for a whopping 8 of those hours. You can definitely bet, I'll be mentally tracking them for flex time repayment though. Of course that's not the whole story as we were up at 3:45 yesterday in the AM to get Miranda, Corley, and Miranda's mom off to the airport to hit the flight to Memphis. They made it down just fine and miraculously, everything that was booked online seemed to go off without much of a hitch at all.

Corley was able to actually get back into the ICU for a short time to visit her grandpa. She'd never met him before and we really felt it needed to happen since this will probably be the only chance she'll ever get whether she remembers it or not. We were really worried she wouldn't be let back since the rule is you have to be 14 or older to be in the ICU, but some serious talking to the nurses got her a free pass for a little bit. I'm sure they're well aware of the situation too...

It still looks like I'll be headed off to pick them up at the end of next week. While I used to love road tripping, I'm not sure I'm looking forward to 10 hours on the road to pick up what will probably be a pretty somber wife and daughter. I'll probably be answering phone calls most of the time anyway as the jobsite is really heating up with things to start putting in place.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Upside down

Well, that's how things in my world were turned last night anyway. As I talked about last week, we got the news that one of my best friends was handed a nasty diagnosis. While they still don't have the pathology back, she's doing a great job of being a fighter and vowing to do whatever it takes. She makes me proud.

On to last night. I'm just finishing up in the shower since I decided to ride to work and then out to meet Miranda and Corley for dinner in Johnston before heading home. The phone rings and we're wondering who would be calling at 8:30 considering everyone who knows us is well aware that Corley is supposed to be in bed by then. That could only leave a wrong number or bad news. Bad news never gives a crap when it calls.

Miranda's biological dad in Tennessee hasn't been doing well. He was slapped with a lung cancer diagnosis early this year. He's been through his chemo and other treatments and seemed to be slightly on the mend. Well, we hadn't talked to him for a couple weeks and apparently he's not been doing as well as we thought. Now he's in the hospital with what appears to be Pneumonia and to top it off, it looks like there are some more masses showing up on scans they're running. Considering his all ready weakened state, and that he's a lifelong smoker, we're not expecting much of an outcome. We were planning a visit along with a stop to see our other friend in October since things will calm down at work for me. Now it's something of a race against time.

Considering Corley has never met this grandpa, we figured it's now or never. So late into the night plans were laid, plane tickets were bought, and a trip was formed. Miranda and Corley are headed out early tomorrow while I stay behind and try to get as much work through the pipe as possible in the next week and a half. Then, if the plan doesn't change, I'll be driving down to Tennessee to meet up with them before we swing back through Arkansas for a couple days to see our other friends. Not really the best timing for everything, but then again when is it?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Breaking the barrier

I rode my bike into work today. Wait, today's a Sunday. Yup, that's right, working another Sunday. The sad thing is, it's partially of my own accord. Sure, I'm busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, but I spend too much of my day to day time at work fucking off and reading the internets. I'm starting to suspect I may have a touch of an addiction problem. No, seriously. I chide myself pretty hard for doing it, yet I have a real problem stopping to actually get started on work stuff.

Such is life. In any case, I finally broke a barrier that had alluded me to date. I've long been looking for that magical under 30 minute commute time. The weather was perfect, there was a lack of traffic, and I felt pretty good, so I hit it. I really didn't feel like I killed myself on the way in by any means, but I kept a nice steady working pace that put me in to work about 20 seconds under the magic 30 minute mark. I was pretty surprised when I checked the stats on my garmin to see I'd finally done it. What's even more interesting is that other than some mountain biking and a good hard ride on Monday night, I really haven't done anything remotely like training for months. I'm glad I can maintain at least some good aerobic fitness during my time off even if it's not really race readiness.

I'm really looking forward to October. I figure by then, things will have calmed down enough that I can really think about getting away on vacation for a bit. I'm tossing around the idea of joining Squirrel to go up to Gnome Fest in a couple weeks. It sounds like fun even though I have no idea what it's necessarily all about. I could definitely use a weekend off by myself to decompress and let my hair down. I just don't know if it's the best idea to take it right now... Anyone else been up to the fest?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The fair

As required by all true Iowegian's, we dutifully made our way to the State Fair on Wednesday afternoon. We waited to hit the half price after 5 deal so we could at least save the rest of our money for overpriced food. Just inside the main gate on Grand we were visually assaulted by a new food vendor called "Butcher Boy's" or something along those lines with a rather large and garish stand. Now to call something garish at the fair when flanked by typically equal displays of disproportionate enthusiasm is really something. Yet, these guys definitely pulled out all the stops. Unable to resist the charms of a bright new food vendor, our quartet wandered over to the stand and proceeded to order a couple steak sammiches along with a chicken one as well. Being the glutton that I am, I loaded mine to the hilt with pretty much every condiment and topping available. My cohorts showed a bit more restraint and chose more delicately. Now, maybe I was just damn hungry, but I thought even for the $7 entry fee, it was a pretty decent sandwich especially considering being at the fair. Miranda and my mom disagreed to the quality and both left a fair amount uneaten, ah well, their loss.

After finding a place to finish off the meals, I went in search of something else to quench my food lust. I opted for a couple of crab rangoon which was definitely a new adventure for me in fair food. They actually were pretty kick ass and I even managed to share. Once we'd eaten our fill, it was off to find something for Corley to do. Apparently, Miranda had heard about an activity for the kids called little hands on the farm. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about this one sucking ass, but thankfully I was wrong. Corley had a blast going through the various stations in her little smock and acting like she was a regular joe farmer.

She even earned some "money" for her hard work which she was able to turn in at the store before leaving and bought some animal crackers. Funny enough as we looked around for something good for her to spend her money on, we were surrounded by a sea of junk food. And we wonder why Americans have a problem with obesity...

After the farm journey we wandered through the animal center and got to watch a number of newborn farm animals including some just hatched chicks from Ostriches and Chickens. Pretty cool. It was now time for a little more food and a quick break for the feet so we headed up to catch the opening few songs of the Jason Brown free concert. Corley was a hit with the older couple seated in front of us as she danced and twirled to the music. Our last stop for the night was to hit the photo exhibit. This is probably the only real reason I hit the fair every year. I love checking out all the cool pictures people take and are on display. If you've never seen them, make sure to get up to the cultural building on top of the hill and check them out.

Now we walk. We always get dropped off at the gate or within a block or two by Miranda's parents and then walk back to their place roughly 6 blocks away when we're done. Typically we spend a lot more time at the fair so the walk is something of a death trudge, but with a short night and beautiful weather, it was actually damn nice this year. What a great way to kill off an evening.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Some days it pays to work here

This is my boss' new toy. He tired of his Porsche so he sold it a month or so back and has been on the prowl for a new car. Luckily, I'm one of the few car guys in the office so he's been checking over his choices with me. I wasn't quite sold on this particular car, but he had to have it.

As I was on my way out to run a couple pieces of material to a jobsite this morning on the scoot, I asked him if he'd brought it in today as I hadn't seen it yet. The answer was, here are the keys and let me tell you how to run the paddle shifter. See, it does occasionally pay to work here. Wow, that car is fun. I'm almost glad I can't afford something like that as it will go from zero to arrest me in no time flat. I only squawked the tires a couple times as the traction control was on and I didn't take the time to play with the sport setting to check out the super fast shifting options. Definitely a fun toy, but man, you still can't take it out on a track day without putting in a roll bar which is the main reason I was trying to talk him into something different.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Some creative writing

I've been thinking about posting some of my misc writing that I've done over the years. For the most part, this stuff is pretty personal and related to things that are happening in my life when I write them. I've got one that as you can see is pretty pissed off. For some reason, the mood strikes me as a good time to post it. Enjoy or not, it's up to you. Let me know if you want to see anything else.

Rage 9/18/02

A rage burning in the night seeking the heat wanting to fight. I hate the truth for it is damming bring the earth down upon my ears, shattering the peace and making me cease. You don’t need to bother and I don’t need to be, could there any truer words be? It doesn’t make a difference to you if I’m live or dead you all ready damned me to hell breaking my heart making me bleed red. The hatred starts to rise bringing with it all the flames of the past and the fires of burned desires. You can’t fathom the pain beating my head in vain, I hurt the one who loves me most and it isn’t you. I am dead and live not living but merely surviving. There is an empty soul in front of you, floating without value, living without cause. More pain than anyone deserves only earned by that who loves most deeply. Hatred spawned of love, pain born of caring, no more is this world worth the sharing. Rip into my flesh and kill me inside burning with rage and the anger to hide. You’ve beat me into submission, no longer on a mission I now hate to think what might have been. Rage, it’s cage, spewing my guts upon the stage. You feed the fire make hatred my desire for you I rage.

Cranking one out in anger

Man, yesterday just hit me like a load. By the end of the day I wanted nothing more than to wear my ass out on the bike. I headed back to my roots and hit up the Monday night Bike World ride. This was one of my staples when I started riding last year. It's always a fun ride and the pace is usually pretty mellow. With that in mind I grabbed the cross bike so I could ensure some good work while still keeping a nice pace with the group. As it turns out, I brought a knife to a gun fight.

We took off at 6 with 3 guys on road bikes and me. Tom and Courtney were the usual suspects that I typically can keep pace with pretty readily on the road bike and we had a new guy from Drake named Chris (I think) that turned out to be a strong rider as well. We blasted down the trail out to the mile long bridge and then took turns pulling a paceline. We rerouted and headed north and west to Granger before turning down to catch the Raccoon River Trail in Waukee and bringing that back towards Des Moines. I was feeling good for most of the ride, but definitely working hard to keep up with the group and sitting in a little more than the others.

As we made the turn towards Waukee, there was a single biker about a 1/2 mile up the road from us. We turned up the screws a bit and slowly started reeling him in. After close to 5 miles we finally caught and passed him outside of Waukee. He seemed surprised by a group of guys in a straggly paceline included a cross bike considering he was riding his aero bars and had on a Copper Creek Tri jersey. Coming into Waukee I finally cracked and fell off the back at the town sprint. Mercifully, they let up and I strung onto the back once more.

We slowed the pace down considerably and I weeble wobbled my way to Rock Bottom where it was time for a beer. Not a moment too soon if I say so myself. After refreshing on the beer, Chris and I headed back towards the shop since I had parked there and he'd ridden over from Drake. Tom and Courtney stayed to enjoy their spoils of burgers and sides and another beer or two. We rolled back in the dark and I was enjoying the evening air even though I was completely gassed. My legs were protesting the hills, but I still kept turning them over at a decent pace. Almost 50 miles for a weeknight ride on a cross bike definitely had me worn out and my mind was blank. Just how I wanted it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

IMBCS #7 Lake Ahquabi "Mob the Quab"

Sunday rolled around too damn early as I was still trying to recoup from a bit of a late night at the Knoxville Nationals. Actually, it was a really early night for that particular venue considering I was home and in bed by 12:30. In any case, Sunday was forecast to be a near perfect day for a race. A high of around 80, sunny, and perfect. For once the forecasters were right. It was a perfect day for a race.

I loaded my plethora of gear as I prefer to go prepared for anything rather than nothing. I rolled in and was signed up and ready for my pre-ride by 10:45. I got just a bit of flack signing up for the beginner's class again. I was really torn about what to sign up for as I wanted to ride more than a lap, but at the same time I wasn't ready to step up to the big kid's table and ride with the sport guys. I'm sure I could have held my own and finished just fine, but the reality is, I'm a beginner, so why not enjoy the only time I'll ever be classed as such. I headed out with my buddy Keith for the pre-ride.

Almost as soon as the pedals started turning, I knew it was going to be a struggle to get any kind of power out of my legs. Granted, I hadn't chased down an gels or anything other than a Clif bar for breakfast, but still, a severe lack of training does not make a bike racer. As Keith rode pretty effortlessly along, I bungeed back and forth keeping contact with him, but working a little harder than I wanted to just to keep up. There were a couple new climbs that we hadn't done on the Wednesday ride since the course hadn't been marked and a section of ups and downs in the last mile that were surely going to suck some power out of you right at the end. The best addition though was the screaming asphalt downhill at the very end that shot you out towards the finish line near 30 mph.

The pre-ride was done, the other classes were off and one of our group of beginners (2 ladies and 3 guys) made a bet for the first person to pass a sport rider would earn themselves a quick $5. Then we were off 2 minutes down from the sport riders and 7 minutes behind the experts. I hit the trail in 3rd place just trying to keep my head in the game early and not go out too hard. The leader was new to strictly mountain biking, but was an adventure racer. He had some strength and speed on the flat easy terrain, but myself and Kurt passed him pretty handily on the first rough downhill. The downhills were definitely rough as evidenced by the amount of water bottles distributed along the side of the trail.

A couple miles into the lap I slowly passed Kurt and he latched onto my wheel as I'd been riding his since the start. Considering he beat me last week, I was wondering if I'd have enough gas to stay in front. I slowly eked out a gap on the second big climb of the day which was a steep gravel and shale covered climb that was fun for at least one lap. I kept pushing my pace since I knew he wasn't far behind and tried to stay mindful of my heart rate. While I didn't spend as much time above 190 this race as in Boone, I still kept it hovering in the mid 180's for the entire lap.

The double track was nice and flowy allowing for passing with ease. A simple "on your left" was really all that was needed to pass people. Only one slight miscue found me digging myself out of the bushes. Strangely enough, it was on an easy spot. I went to cross a gravel wash at the bottom of the railroad tie hill and my front tire washed out sending me through the boundary tape and into the bushes. I jumped back up trying not to lose much time, but now I was at the bottom of a hill with no momentum so only one thing to do and that was run up the hill. I used to think I would be faster running some spots than riding, but now I'm not quite so sure as it really sucked running that hill. Now we hit the quick hitting ups and downs on the course as we'd climb part way up the hill before descending almost to lake level before turning right back up. A few of these and then we climbed to the top of the park to hit the screaming descent on the asphalt trail that was almost as rough as the doubletrack. I let out a big whoop all the way down the hill as I was having a blast and crossed the line first in the beginner's category.

While I was happy with the result, I got just a minor bit of flack for running as a beginner after all was said and done. I guess as Brian said, I may have taken to it like a duck to water, but in all the fact is, I've been riding bikes for a year and a half, and mountain bikes for 8 months. Now I'm not sure if it smarted that they got passed by a beginner that had a 2 minute start deficit (hey it was easy for me to go all out since I only had 1 lap to run) or what, but it's not like I'm out there scoring money for placing in the beginners class. Shoot, at Boone we didn't even have prizes, but I still had a great time. We all have to start somewhere, but I guess I don't see what's so wrong with keeping myself in check for a couple races and gaining some more skills so I don't run into issues when I move up. Personally, I'd rather not fall off my bike and hold someone else up or worse yet, have someone get hurt because of a bad move on my part.

What do you in the blog reading world think? Should I stay beginner for another race or two (all that's left if I can even make it to the races) or should I move up to sport now just to say I did it?

Just a big fuck you

Wow, I was all jacked up to write some fun filled words about this weekend. I had a great weekend even if it was jam packed with activity. Maybe I'll write up something separate about that later. I came in this morning and was perusing my favorite sites before starting to clean up my plethora of emails sitting here in my inbox. I finally got to the emails and noticed I had a couple from one of my friends. Hmm, a bit strange considering she usually only emails me a single picture or humorous story type thing once in a while.

I opened the first email and my stomach did a fucking backflip. Pretty much a couple words summed up the entire email: hospital, brain, tumors. Yup, the one friend I actually talk to and keep up with from high school has fucking tumors on her brain. Most likely they're cancerous, they're telling her they're inoperable, and oh ya, they've got a 2 year old little boy. I can't imagine what they're going through and I wish I could do something to help. At this point, all I can do is offer up my thoughts and wait to see if there's anything I can do.

We were all ready planning to visit them this fall, but now the trip takes on an unnecessary sense of urgency and who knows if she'll even be up for company at that point. Makes all my bitching about work and typical little life things in general seem pretty fucking weak at this point. Sorry about all the swearing in this post, but it's summing up how pissed I am about this. Bad shit happens to good people and man does it suck!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ahquabi pre-ride

Hopefully I'm not giving away any trade secrets for the upcoming race weekend, but Brian and I went down to pre-ride the trails at Ahquabi last night. He had ridden down there a number of times so I let him be my indian scout. Add in that work was dragging me down and I needed to turn some pedals in anger and all was good.

We didn't hit the course until close to 7 and since there were no markings really up yet, we just had the base description to go by on figuring out where the course might go. Since we parked up top, we got to hit a wickedly fun little descent that has railroad ties laid across it to form "steps". It's also covered with fine gravel and a wash down one side to add some interest. Once we hit the bottom loop around the lake it was awesome wide double track with small little rollers up and down. Across the first bridge is a nice little steep power climb that isn't too technical other than just being steep. I rolled slowly up it the first lap and didn't have too many issues. There are a couple mudholes of no real concern on the back part of the course. Just enough to flip some stuff up on you at speed. On the back side there are a couple of really fun little descents as well. Once we got to the campground, we weren't sure where the trail was going to go as there is supposed to be some looping around the catch basins. We rode that area, but nothing of much consequence was up there.

For the second lap I wanted to up the pace and see what kind of flow I could get going. The wide paths really inspire some fast riding, but there are a few turns that you could easily get in over your head due to various washes and sandy spots. about the most technical thing you have to worry about is washes and ruts sporadically spread through the course. Other than that it's a fast fast track. Sure, it's not true singletrack in the middle of the woods, but it's definitely fun in it's own way.

There are a couple miscellaneous climbs that could be thrown in depending on the final routing, but still nothing like what I experienced on the beginner portion of Boone. Unless it happens to rain which would change things up pretty good, I'd hope for expert at 4 laps, sport 3 laps, and 2 laps for us beginners. Hopefully I'll see a few of you on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The scooter diet

I've found an unexpected bonus while riding my scooter on a regular basis. I've actually been able to ride quite a bit in the past 2 weeks which has been nice. I'm over 500 miles in the month since I bought it.

The unexpected bonus is that about 75% of the drive-thru order sensors apparently don't pick up enough of my bike to trip the alert. So, I set at the order sign yelling at the speaker like a moron. Apparently those things are only turned on when the buzzer goes off inside and I haven't had one come on yet, but I still retain hope! In any case, for the most part, I just drive off in disgust and figure I'll get my meal elsewhere which means at home or eating the food I actually brought to work. As it's mostly more nutritious and less fatty than the drive-thru stuff, I'm eating a bit healthier. See, double bonus. Try the scooter diet.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekend recovery

After 2 weeks without a full day off work, I took my medecine this weekend and made sure to play hard. Maybe a bit too hard. I'm just not feeling it at all today. It's damn near lunch and I haven't accomplished much except sitting here looking like I'm doing something. Ahh well, maybe I'll get my mid-afternoon boost and kick some ass yet before heading home.

Of course I spent the day at the races yesterday as you can read all about in the post directly below this one. Rewind to Friday and I decided to take advantage of some time and ride my bike to work. After work, I headed out to meet Miranda at some friend's house in Indianola. A scant 31 miles later and I was there. At least I had a change of clothes though as I'm sure I wouldn't have been too pleasant to be around had I remained in my bike clothes. We whiled away the evening with some burgers, beers, balloons, and watching the kids chase each other around their massive swingset. Good times indeed. Unfortunately it seems these friends might be moving back to Chicagoland in the relatively near future. We'll be sad to see them go for sure.

Saturday was a bit of a mad dash around as we were to meet some friends out at Adventureland for a day of fun in the sun. I was up and about early having to run and grab some new tires for the bike to try on Sunday and to get a much needed haircut. As per our standard operating procedure, we were about a half hour late getting on the road.

I'm ready to go daddy!

Adventureland was absolutely boiling with people. We made the best of it hitting as many rides as we could with Corley before she was to be picked up for a night at Grandmas. She had a blast and in turn, we had a lot of fun taking her. It's still hard to justify $62 for the two of us to get in the gate, so we'll be doing some thinking about it next year and hopefully score some discounted tickets. After we dropped Corley with Grandma (we literally handed her over the security fence in the parking lot!) we met up with our friends and their boys. We hung out doing a few rides the rest of the afternoon and then we boogied early leaving them to close down the park.

Back home we had a little time to ourselves and did what all good couples should be doing when they find themselves in that situation. Connections were made and smiles were popping all around ;) After we cleaned up and tidied the house a bit, we buzzed off to a nice relaxed dinner at our favorite restaurant- Mezzodis. Our friends came back from the park around 9 as they were staying the night to hit up the mountain bike race the next day as well. He and I thrashed on our bikes till about 10, we shot the breeze until 11 and then it was off to bed again.

I need a weekend to recoup from my weekend!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Boone or how I learned to climb

7 oaks rec area in Boone seems to be the one course in Iowa that is spoken about in hushed tones. You here whispers of it in dark corners and people tend to be at a lack of words when you try to directly question them about it. The moons aligned this weekend and I was able to take some time to find my way to Boone for my first mountain bike race.

With the perfect storm of my lack of training, the fact that Boone seems to be regarded as extremely difficult, and my first off road race, I decided beginner was the way to go. Call me a sandbagger if you will, but we all have to start somewhere. I pre-rode about 80% of the course and realized that even on the beginner loop, I was going to be in for some hard work. Talking over with the race organizer's, it was a question of whether we should do 2 or 3 laps and I felt to get our money's worth we should do 3 since the pre-ride took less than 20 minutes.

6 of us towed the line for a sprint up the gravel road and into the singletrack before hitting a pretty gnarly and rutted descent before we made a 180 to start the real portion of the beginner loop. Apparently all the gravel riding this winter paid off as I drilled it from the start and made it to the singletrack with a small gap on the rest of the field. Coming into the section I pre-rode, I felt a little more confident and kept my pace high. I cleared all but one obstacle on the first lap and came out with somewhere around a 30-45 second lead over 2nd place. I may have went out a shade too hard as I was starting to feel it coming into the 2nd lap.

I unravelled on this lap. I was just gassed enough that I could make it up to the obstacles, but not clean them. I fell, I flipped and I rolled somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or 6 times on this lap. I lost my entire lead and let two guys by. Damn. By the end of the lap, I had caught back and passed one of the guys, but the leader was now long gone. Towards the end of the lap I started feeling some pinching in my left shoe. I wasn't sure what it was and it didn't feel very good, but what can you do? I kept the pace as pushed as I could and was starting to regret that I had voiced my opinion that we needed to do 3 laps.

By the start of the 3rd lap, I was in 2nd, but not by much. I had one guy breathing down my neck and I wasn't sure how many more were behind him. I knew I didn't have much left in the tank so I decided early on that I'd be much quicker jumping off the bike and running the obstacles I knew I would have trouble cleaning versus trying them and falling. This would be what saved my goose. I was faster than the guy behind me on the riding portions and he was having to run the same areas I was so I wasn't losing ground. I finally put some time back in the bank and just focused on drilling the rest of the lap without hammering a tree or any other equally gnarly fates that you might find at 7 Oaks. All in all I made it to the finish line in 2nd place and I think less than a minute behind the first place rider.

Some fun facts and stats for just the beginner portion of the ride can be found here. Probably my favorite stat is that I reset my max heart rate to 197. On the final lap I was way beyond gone and heard my computer beeping at me. I looked down to see it wasn't just my head telling me that I was about to go beyond the point of no return. My previous best was 195 BPM and I had set my max at 196 figuring that was a pretty safe figure. Now I just need to figure out how I can get those numbers down to more manageable levels. Any tips?

Alas, with mountain biking, podiums apparently are shunned as we gathered around to here the awards. A number of the death squad members had a pretty good day. They rolled all the way through the expert, single speed, and sport classes, but nary a mention was made about the beginners. Hey, I know we're the little guys, but a shade of recognition would have been cool. All in all a good day to race.

Oh, and about the title, I still don't know how to climb... I just happened to get a lot more practice at it today.