Sunday, December 21, 2008

Midnight Street Snowboarding

For cycling as in most sports it’s important to cross train. I don’t do much in the way of cross training these days but last Saturday night I found the perfect cross training sport. The only problem is opportunities for this sport only come once every 5 years or so.

Last Saturday night after I finished up a trainer ride I looked out the window and it was snowing really hard AGAIN. Even though I’m really getting tired of the snow I’ve also have been waiting for these conditions ever since we moved into our current house 5 years ago. It was the prefect storm.

The streets had a good coating of ice from a week of snow and by midnight there were 4 heavenly inches of powder on top of that ice. Yep, the perfect conditions for Midnight Street Snowboarding!

I was like a giddy kid waiting for my son to get home from a date so we could do some boarding. He got home at midnight and by 12:15 we headed over to the park for a first trial run. That one went well so we ventured out on the streets. We started with short hills and worked our way up to one of the steepest streets in the city. It was the most fun I’ve had snowboarding in a long time.

Here' s a shot of my son getting ready to do some boarding in the park.

A shot of the top of one of the steepest streets in our city. Notice the lack of any tire tracks. Just fresh powder.

Finally, a short video clip of my son boarding down a medium size street. It was a little hard to keep up with him while holding a camera, trying to avoid man hole covers and snowboarding all at the same time.

This is my idea of cross training. Good times!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deserted Tropical Island Picks

Since Tuesday night it’s been snowing off and on so the snow accumulations are really starting to grow at our place. The Pacific Northwest basically comes to a standstill when it snows so I’ve been working from home since Wednesday morning.

I’m really starting to get cabin fever because the only time I’ve left the house since Wednesday was for a quick trip to Mecca for some refreshment.

Since I’ve spent so much time in cooped up in one place I’ve thought a lot of the Deserted Tropical Island game that people play. If you aren’t familiar with it here’s how you play. You imagine that you are stuck on a deserted tropical island all by yourself and there’s no way to get off. Basically, it’s a Gilligan’s Island without the Professor or Maryanne. Now that the situation is established you come up with a list of things you could live with for the rest of time on this deserted island. Namely, 3 CDs and 3 DVDs. This obviously takes into account that you will somehow have electricity on your island and are equipped with a TV, DVD, and CD player. OK, maybe the Professor is with you on the island.

The first list is a tough one. I love music, so coming up with a list of only 3 CDs for the rest of time was excruciating.

Bob Marley – Legend
Jackson Browne – Solo Acoustic Vol 2
Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs

First of all, you just can’t go wrong with Bob Marley and the Legend CD has all of the classics on it. Spending time on a deserted tropical island wouldn’t be complete without some Reggae music and Bob is the master of all Reggae. That was the easiest of the three CDs.

Next, the Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic CD is just plain good. I could listen to that CD over and over for years and not get tired of it. Thus, it should work just fine for my new tropical home.

Finally, Death Cab for Cutie. This was a tough one for me. My son bought this CD recently and I’ve listened to it a lot on my iPod. It’s a leap of faith to put this on the list over Rush – Moving Pictures because that one’s a certified classic in my mind but I’m going with some youth for my last pick.

Now for the DVDs. As you can see I’m a sucker for cheap slapstick humor.

Happy Gilmore
Tommy Boy
The Office Season 2

The first two choices are no brainers for me. I’m giggling right now just thinking about Adam Sandler duking it out with Bob Barker or The deer waking up in the back seat of David Spade and Chris Farley’s car. You just can’t go wrong with either of these movies. I could watch these movies over and over and not get tired of them.

My third choice is cheating a little because it’s comes with multiple discs but I don’t think there is an official set of rules for this game so I’m bending them. Basically, The Office rocks. This TV show just makes me laugh. It reminds me of people at work only in a really exaggerated way.

There you have it. My Deserted Tropical Island picks. It’s not an easy game to play but very fun. You should give this some thought and let me know what your picks would be. Of course, it’s OK to agree with my selections.

By the way, I watched on the news yesterday morning someone trying to get up a hill that had chains on their car. He was shooting at least 4 inches of sparks behind his car. That was some good entertainment. It happens every year never fail.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going Green Ideas

Recently I read an article about how a rock concert was powered by people riding exercise bikes hooked up to generators. There were literally 6 people riding exercise bikes in the back of the concert that powered the amps, lights and PA system.

This is a pretty cool concept but if people run with this idea this could change the face of a lot of events. Here are some things that could change.

The New and Improved Tour de France:
Rather than riding through the alps the new format would simply have teams hooked up to generators. Each stage would consist of teams hooked up to trainers and generators and the first team to power a small French village would take the stage win for the day. This gives new meaning to the amount of watts a rider produces. Riders like big Thor Hushovd would have a huge advantage with this format. Check out the tree trunk power producing legs on this guy.

I could also see events powered by huge blocks of riders. Here’s a potential headline gone wrong. “Super bowl called off at half time due to bonking generator riders” Apparently, the Super Bowl organizers neglected to provide Gatorade and Power Bars to the riders and by half time they just plain ran out of gas. The organizers called this mishap a Gatorade malfunction.

This could also mean a new set of chores for the kids. In addition to cleaning the kitchen after dinner or mowing the lawn on the weekend kids could also be assigned to put in some generator rides to power the house. I can just hear it now. “Mom, I rode yesterday, Tommy never has to ride. It’s just not fair.”

I’m all for going green but this may not be a good idea after all. Never mind.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sorry, We're Closed

Here in the Pacific Northwest we pride ourselves on the fact that life continues whether it’s raining or not. We play baseball, ride our bikes, mow our lawns, go for walks, and even wash our cars in the rain here. If it can be done in good weather we also do it in the rain. I guess you could say that we are hearty rain goers.

If there is one thing we are totally scared of around here though. SNOW!!!! On Saturday night it snowed a couple of inches and the kids had a blast playing in it. By the next morning the snow was pretty well trampled down everywhere and the roads were bare and dry. Just to be on the safe side Church was cancelled for the day. What?

Last night it snowed another couple of inches and now school has been cancelled for the day. You would think a blizzard had hit our fair city or something because when it snows everyone stays at home until it melts.

I’ve been watching the news this morning and they have sent news anchors out all over the place to find some snow to talk about. The best they could find was a couple of inches of build up on some bushes next to the wet roadway. There’s some great entertainment value to watching the “Winter Storm Watch of 08” coverage on TV. It’s cracking me up.

I haven’t seen it yet this storm but every time it snows there are people who insist on putting chains on their tires just to be on the safe side. So they end up driving on the bare roads throwing sparks everywhere behind them. It’s quite the sight.

Normally, a person would have to pay for entertainment like this but today it’s free.

On the positive side, I’m sure the kids will love the day off to play in the snow. I also get a free pass to work from home because it’s way too dangerous to drive into work. Any time I get a free pass to work from home I’m taking it whether I can make it in to work or not.

So, if you’re planning on traveling to the Pacific Northwest today don’t bother. We’re closed for the day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Tunes

In keeping with the holiday spirit the good people at Specialized have put together a Christmas song played entirely on bicycle parts. This is pretty impressive. When I work on my bike it doesn’t sound anything like this. The link below takes you to the web page which has the song. All you have to do is click on the picture and the song starts.

In addition to bike riding my other hobby is playing the guitar. I’m not very good but I really enjoy playing. A couple of weeks ago we went to a concert of an amazing guitar player named Trace Bundy. He’s one of the better acoustic guitar players I’ve ever seen and he’s hilarious. Here’s a link to him playing Carol of the Bells. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ridin In The Rain

I had the day off on Friday and since Jenny was tied up with some things she had to do I talked myself into going for a ride. Normally, I don’t need to talk myself into going for a ride but it’s was 41 degrees and raining. Not ideal conditions for a ride but I was itching to get out so I thought I’d brave the conditions, put on some rain battle gear and give it a shot. I really hate being cold so I added two pairs of thermals to my normal riding attire for the day.

Jenny was also nice enough to give me a Christmas gift early. She bought me a head wrap to cover my ears and when she saw the conditions that I was going to ride in she let me open it up early. What a saint.

When I got to the trail head I wasn’t surprised that there wasn’t anyone else around. As I got on my bike and peddled away it was kind of nice to have the trail to myself. I did have to stop several times to make adjustments to my clip on back fender to get it just right but once I got things nailed down the ride was actually really nice.

I rode for a good 10 miles but then I encountered a park ranger standing in the middle of the trail with his white truck. I rode up to him wondering what was going on and he told me that the rest of the trail was closed because they were mowing. Nothing really gets called off in the northwest because of the rain, not even mowing.

Before I spoke with the Ranger I was wondering just how far I should go before I turning back. I guess he answered my question for me. I was actually glad I had to turn around because the rain was starting to soak through my jacket and I could feel the water leaking into my cycling shoes.

Since I was riding I really wasn’t cold but I was starting to get uncomfortable. By the time I got back my feet and arms were completely drenched but it was a great ride. It turned out to be more of an adventure to see how far I could go before getting completely waterlogged than just another bike ride. I actually had a great time. I obviously need to make some adjustments to my gear but I’m interested to see how far I can make it the next time I go for a rain ride.

Equipment adjustments/additions
- Find something to cover my feet with
- Water proof my wind breaker – generic scotch guard should do the trick
- Find some light water proof gloves

I ended up covering my Garmin 305 with a zip lock bag because I wasn’t sure if it was water resistant. I looked at it’s specs and I guess it is water resistant but I’m going to keep the baggie on it just in case.
Last summer I took a great picture of my bike laying on a dock during a nice summer evening ride. As I rode passed that same dock I thought I’d take a winter time picture. Here’s the same shot in different seasons. Rain riding is fun but nothing really beats summer riding.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Years ago a couple of our kids hid in one of their rooms on a Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours busily working on some project. This was usually cause for some kind of disastrous science experiment but when they emerged they had a Christmas present for Jenny and huge smiles on their faces. Needless to say they were super excited for Jenny to open up their present because they had made it themselves without any help.

On Christmas morning Jenny opened their present and it turned out to be a package full of cotton balls and Q-tips. For some reason Jenny knew exactly what to do with these things, she threw them in the air and shouted Merry Christmas. Who would have thought it? She did exactly what they expected her to do. Their present was a hit. From then on it’s been a tradition in our family that everyone has to make at least one present for each other no matter how cheesy it is. The kids usually hate this but it ends up being the one present they’re the most excited to give out. Don’t get me wrong, we give other gifts to each other but every year we wrack our brains and come up with something that we can make for each other.

One year I made the kids the ultimate gift that I thought I’d never be able to top. I went down to the dollar store and bought them each a toilet brush. When I got home, I got out some pens and ribbons and customized each of the brushes with their names and added cool bows to them. Who wouldn’t like a customized toilet brush with your name on it to use when it’s your turn to wash bathrooms on Saturday. Oh, good times! There’s still a couple of those gems around the house somewhere. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Well this year somehow I think I’ve topped the toilet brush gift. A couple of weeks ago a lady in our group showed some of her friends how to make a duct tape tote bag. Anything made from duct tape is cool right? When I heard about this tote bag, the light bulb went off and I knew what I could make for my presents this year. Duct tape gifts! They are very useful and as an added benefit if you are stranded somewhere and in need of a repair you could actually pull apart your duct tape item and make the repair right on the spot.

Since I wasn’t quite sure how to make the bags I begged my co-worker to teach me how to make them. So, she took pity on me and over a couple of lunch breaks we sneaked into a conference room and worked these some duct tape masterpieces. Check out this bag. The technical name for this bag is actually a tote because I would never own up to actually making a purse even if it’s made out of duct tape. This one is for my younger daughter and I also made an orange and black one for my older daughter.

Since I’m going with the duct tape theme this year I also came up with the idea of making duct tape wallets for my sons. It was really pretty simple. All I did was use my own wallet as a guide and a couple of hours later it was done. Check it out, they even have pockets for cards. Dang, these are so cool I might want one of these wallets too. I can hardly wait to give these duct tape masterpieces to my kids. For some reason I’m thinking the kids will like these a lot more than the custom toilet brushes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Am I Getting Old?

The other night my kids were sitting around the computer giggling. This sight made me just a little nervous. They asked me to come over because they were going to test if I was truly old. Of course I told them there was no way I was old and I could pass any test they gave me. Bring it on!

Then they went to a website and played a sound file which they told me that kids could hear but “old people” couldn’t. As they played the sound file I stood there in silence. I couldn’t hear a thing. They all laughed and laughed and laughed. I thought they were joking but they really could hear this file and I couldn’t. Finally, they turned up the volume all the way and I could hear the sound if I stood directly in front of the speakers.

OK, I give up. I guess I really am old. If this hearing loss came from years of listening to loud music it was worth every last minute.

Here’s the website they were listening to the sound file on. Just click on the play button to see if you are old too. Hopefully, you’ll hear a very high pitched sound. If you don’t hear anything don’t worry you’re in good company.

Good luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Dry Saturday Ride

Last Saturday I woke up and peaked outside the window checking to see how hard it was raining. To my surprise it wasn’t raining at all. Bonus! With that, I gathered up all of my cycling gear, made a PB&H, threw my bike in the back of car and headed over to the Centennial trail. Normally, I would just start from home and ride over to the trail but I haven’t done much training lately so I was looking to minimize on the cycling punishment. There’s a big hill in between my house and the trail. I’ll save that punishment for January when the real training begins.

Once I got to the trail I was glad I skipped the hill from the house. It was like I had some kryptonite in my back pocket. My legs just didn’t have much go in them. I guess I’ve been doing way too much eating and not enough riding. After a while the kryptonite must have dropped out of my pocket because my legs came back to life.

I still felt like I was pedaling squares as opposed to a smooth circles but I had enough energy to enjoy myself. Most people on the trail were all smiles because there just aren’t many days this time of year that are dry. As I got to the end of the trail I noticed 30 or so people running that had on matching shirts. As I passed them I noticed that their shirts said Army on the back. They all seemed like they were dragging and there wasn’t much spring in their step. When I turned around at the end of the trail and passed them coming back I noticed that not one of them had a smile on their face. It was a pretty grim sight. I guess that’s the difference between doing something you enjoy and completing a requirement. Being all you can be didn’t look like much for the day.

On the way back I got into the zone of deep thought as I pedaled along so I didn’t even notice some fellow cyclists as they passed me. They probably said “Onyerlef” but I just didn’t hear it. That startled me back into reality so I decided to do some tagging along. I was able to do some pretty good drafting without being right behind them for a while. All of the sudden I started hearing music and they pulled over. One of them got a phone call and the party was over. I was on my own again for the rest of the ride.

All in all, it was great to ride without the rain. I’m planning on another ride this weekend if the weather holds. The forecast is calling for snow of all things but I’m crossing my fingers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What I've Learned from Cycling

Have you ever asked yourself if all of the knowledge and techniques that you’ve learned through cycling could ever be translated to other areas of your life? This might be surprising but I use techniques and skills that I’ve learned in cycling to help me get through church almost every Sunday.

The church I attend meets for a 3 hour block on Sunday mornings. If three hours of Church at one time isn’t an endurance event I’m not sure what is. Don’t get me wrong, I benefit from it but it’s a long time to sit in one place with only two breaks.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. When I go for a long distance ride I’ve found that it’s important to change my grip on the handlebars quite often. This prevents my hands from going numb. When I’m sitting in church it’s important to change the way I’m sitting quite often. The routine is:
* Sit straight up
* Bend over with elbows on knees
* Sit back up again and put arm around wife
* Cross your legs with left foot up
* Cross your legs with right foot up
* Repeat.

If I follow this routine this keeps my rear end from going to sleep and it probably entertains the people sitting behind me.

2. When I ride centuries I configure my cycle computer to not show the distance on the first screen. I’ve found if I don’t do this I constantly look at how many miles I’ve ridden and calculate how many I’ve got left. This ends up ruining the ride for me.

The second hour of Church is Sunday School and depending on the topic this could be a mind numbingly long hour. In fact, if it’s possible for a clock to seem like it’s going backwards this would be the one hour of the week it actually does. Here’s my solution. If I force myself to not look at the clock on the wall every 3 minutes the time goes by a lot faster and sometimes the lesson is enjoyable. Sometimes!

3. In cycling I’ve learned it’s important to hydrate regularly and to take advantage of rest stops where available. At church this is my silver bullet. If I’m really struggling with a tired rear end or I just can’t concentrate I get up and walk down the hall to get a drink. I don’t use the option very often but it’s a life saver.

I’m sure there are a lot of other techniques I could be using but these seem to get me by in a pinch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yesterday I was tagged by a fellow blogger named Jeff. He’s got a great blog about running and cycling. The topic that I’ve been tagged with is to tell you 8 things about myself that you probably didn’t already know. Here’s my list.

1. When I was a kid I was a super picky eater and I really didn’t like candy very much. In fact, my parents would buy me a candy bar as a treat when we would go on trips and they would later find it with one bite taken out of them and left in the back seat. I do remember eating paste in Kindergarten though and liking it. This fact embarrasses my family which cracks me up.

2. I’m not a good bleeder. I’ve donated blood twice in my life and both times I came close to passing out. I must have looked awful because both times the nurse came over to me 30 seconds after I started and told me to lie down and put my feet up before I passed out. Needless to say, I don’t donate blood anymore. The last time I had to do a blood test I started to black out and had to put my head on the table for a couple of minutes before I could get up and drive myself home. The blood sample was only about 2 oz. This definitely isn’t one of my super powers.

3. I can name just about any classic rock song within 3 seconds of hearing it. I can also name the artist and year it came out. I try not to yell this information out every time I hear a song but it’s hard not to. This is one of my super powers. It’s a useless superpower but a superpower just the same.

4. I’ve dislocated my knees 4 times. Not wanting to play favorites I’ve dislocated both knees twice.

5. Jenny and I paid more for a pair of bikes than we ever have on any piece of furniture. The funny thing about it is I’m just fine with that. In fact, I like that priority.

6. I love tie dye shirts. I currently own 3 of them and it ticks me off when one wears out and I have to throw it away. It feels a lot like parting with an old friend. If I could find a tie dye cycling jersey that would be the closest thing to cycling heaven that I can think of.

7. I got an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters degree from Oregon State University. These schools are probably on the complete opposite ends of the conservative/liberal spectrum. Both were great schools but very different. I took religion classes at one and learned how to tie dye shirts at the other. I’ll let you decide where I learned what.

8. My dream vacation is to ride my bike from Seattle down the pacific coast to San Francisco.

OK, I think I’ve now fulfilled my tag commitment. Now I’m supposed to tag 8 other people but I’m not quite sure who to stick this on. So, I’m going to let you tag yourself. If you take this responsibility of tagging yourself please leave a comment so I can check out your tag post. This could be fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Trip To Mecca

For most kids the first word that they say is something like mama or dada or bottle. You won’t believe this but my first word was Coke. I guess I was a focused kid who knew what I wanted and it was a Coke. I always remember coke being in the fridge when I was a kid and man it was gooooood. It was like the nectar of the Gods. Oh to be a kid and drink full calorie Coke and not gain weight. Those were the days.

Well, these days I still enjoy an occasional coke but it's diet now. Converting from regular coke to diet coke wasn’t a pretty process. It took quite some time to get use to drinking diet but I’ve finally acquired the taste for it.

A couple of months ago we discovered the Holy Grail of coke machines in our fair city of Marysville. At the local coke distributor they have soda machines outside of the plant which has 12 oz cans of Coke products for………..
drum roll please………..
One thin quarter!!!
Making a trip to this soda machine is like making a trip to Coke Mecca. The word has definitely got out about Coke Mecca because I’ve never been there when someone else hasn’t pulled up to get a soda. There’s a constant stream of people buying sodas. In fact if you get there after 6 at night both machines are usually sold out.

When we take a trip to Mecca it’s really a roller coaster of emotions. As you drive up to the machines the first thing you do is look at the red letters under the coin drop. If it says Sold Out you attempt to hold back the tears as you make the long drive home in a dejected state. If it says Ice Cold Drinks there are sodas left and you’re in business. The next step is to grab your quarter and try not to do an obnoxious happy dance in the parking lot on your way to the machine.

You can’t go wrong with a Diet Coke or a Coke Zero but my personal favorite is Diet Coke with Lime. Diet Coke with Lime is the best but they don’t actually have a button for this flavor. What they do have is a mystery flavor button. This button is for the left over sodas that probably fell off trucks at the plant. If you’re really lucky and press the mystery button a bright shinny Diet Coke with Lime will pop out of the machine. It’s a lot like hitting the Coke lottery.

So if you’re ever in Marysville just ask anyone for directions to Mecca and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. Remember to bring plenty of Quarters with you.