Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Favorite Mistake

Have you ever done something by mistake then thought to yourself “that was so cool there’s no way I’m  going to admit that was a mistake”?  Through history some awesome things have been invented by accident.  Oh yeah there’s the microwave oven and penicillin but I’m talking about really cool stuff like chocolate chip cookies. 

A while ago while getting a haircut I was treated to one of these wonderful mistakes when I heard the words “OH NO!” said with a fearful pause.  When your hair stylist says the words “OH NO!” you would also like to the rest of the sentence to follow immediately such as:

OH NO!, you are such a great guy there will no charge for the hair cut today
OH NO, I read your blog the other day and forgot to leave a comment
OH NO, there’s no need to tip me

Those would all be very acceptable closures to the OH NO sentence but this time it was just ended by a long…….. pause then a look of panic. 

To make matters worse this was said after taking the first swipe off of the top of my head with a pair of electric clippers. 

I normally get my hair cut on top with a good old number 3 electric clipper attachment which is around ¼ of an inch then some tapering on the sides.  Well, this time instead of a number 3 on top it was a number 1.  Yep, the shortest of the short attachments.  This attachment is so small it almost doesn’t qualify as an attachment.  That was the reason for the OH NO!!! At this point there was no turning back so it was the number 1 all the way.  This experience reminded me of when I was 5 and got my head shaved in the summer.  If my memory is correct I cried after that hair cut but this time I was brave and didn’t even outwardly shed any tears.

The first couple of days after my new hair cut I wore a hat around.  Not because I was embarrassed but because my head was freezing.  It took a couple of days to get used to but I’m very happy to report that I really like the new and improved super short hair length.  Here are some reasons why super short hair is the way to go.

  • Short hair is way more aerodynamic – in fact it might allow me to average an additional .01 mph on the bike.
  • No more helmet hair
  • Gives me a good excuse to wear a cycling hat when I ride
  • My hair brush budget got slashed down to 0
  • Good hair day, bad hair day….. it’s all the same
  • It hides the stray grey blonde hairs that seem to be coming from nowhere

So to date, short hair is my most favorite mistake.  I’m sticking with it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Three Bears Ride

Went for a ride this morning.  I obviously don't have the cold weather riding down yet this year.  I was too cold, too warm, and just right, repeat....

Even though I couldn't get the my temperature right it still put a smile on my face.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Autumn Riding

Last week I went for a ride with Jenny and my oldest son. Rides in the fall rock because these is nothing to train for and the leafs crunching under your tires are a great sensation. We rode to the town next to ours and had some pie. Yum....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2011 Seattle to Portland (STP) Ride Report

In keeping with tradition below is my ride report for the 2011 version of the Seattle to Portland bike ride. This year I made the 204 mile journey in one day again but I rode it with some friends which was a great experience. This post is broken into short bullet points to aid those of us who have short attention spans.

July 9th 2011

  • Woke up at 2:15am
  • Wondered what the heck I was doing up this early
  • Put on all my cycling battle gear
  • Gave my pedals one last clean out with wd40 then lubed them up really good in hopes that they wouldn’t creek for 200 miles – didn’t work
  • Rode half a mile down the road to blockbuster where I would be picked up at 2:55am
  • Stood around in the parking lot next to my bike putting on sunscreen while the street sweeper guy stared at me. Hmmm….. 3am, standing in the dark putting on sunscreen standing next to a bike. Why was he staring at me?
  • Ride showed up and loaded up my bike. Street sweeper still staring at us
  • Finished applying sunscreen, ate a pre-ride PB&J, and took some precautionary vitamin I while we drove to Husky Stadium
  • Stood around in the parking lot nervously stretching while waiting for Mark and Brad to show up
  • Brad and Mark show up a couple of minutes later and we are ready to roll.
  • Since we go to the same church we decided to have a prayer before we took off. (Couldn’t hurt – Could help) Looking at each other we were all wearing our helmets but decided since they had holes in them we didn’t need to remove them.
  • Looked for lightning bolts after finishing prayer but none struck.
  • Took our first pedal strokes at 4am - ahhh
  • Almost took a wrong turn half a mile down the road but someone yelled out to us in the dark correcting our route. Thanks who ever you are.
  • Rode along Lake Washington and watched the sun come up. Could tell it was going to be a great day.
  • Once on the sun came up we established some groundrules for our paceline (5 minute pulls and try to keep it around 18 mph - That one didn’t last for long but it was a nice thought)
  • Pacelined until the first rest stop in Kent at REI headquarters
  • Just like last year the REI rest stop was stacked with tons of food, toilets, and pumping loud music but this year there was a disco Elvis there to greet you as you arrived. Nothing gets me more pumped to ride 200 miles than a disco Elvis with sideburns. Thank you, thank you very much.
  • While I was at the rest stop I posted to my facebook where we were and how things were going. My post was sent to Jenny’s phone and woke her up. Oops, sorry about that. She was in a hotel room in Chehalis getting ready to finish up the STP with some of her friends.
  • Regrouped into a paceline and rode to Puyallup feeling really good. Ray hit a pothole so big and it bounced his water bottle right out of its cage. We all went back to get it then talked to someone who just broke his collar bone hitting the same pothole. Not a good way to end your STP
  • Started climbing the Puyallup hill and spotted someone on a time trial bike equipped with a rear disc wheel and sporting a aero helmet riding along too. Brad slowed down to take a picture of him. 200 miles on a time trial bike? Ouch.
  • At the top of the hill I threw my STP Tyvek jacket in the garbage because it had done its job and I didn’t want to carry it for another 150 miles. (Don’t worry I chose the ugliest one I own. Orange, yellow and brown from 2009 but reminded me of the 70s a lot. In fact, I should have just given it to Elvis 20 miles back. He probably would have liked it.
  • Started following Brad in the paceline and notice that his back wheel was not straight. After a couple of minutes his back wheel started to click. He pulled over noticed that he had broken a spoke. To go with this he also broke a cleat about 2 miles earlier. Now that’s some bad luck. Arrg.
  • Got to the next rest stop and Brad asked to borrow a spoke wrench and bought a new cleat at the aid station. After 5 minutes he had attached his new cleat and trued up his wheel minus one spoke. I decided that Brad wasn’t just another cyclist but a super hero at that point.
  • Everyone put their heads down and pacelined it for the next 40 miles until we got to Centralia (Mile 100). The 18mph ground rule had been thrown out the window long ago and we were steadily averaging 20.
  • Got to the halfway point rest stop and was greeted with a congratulatory Creamcycle ice cream bar. That was like heaven on a stick after drinking luke warm Gatorade all morning.
  • Everyone didn’t make just one trip to the bathroom while at this rest stop but two. Very productive.
  • On the way out of town we stopped for a light next to an overly lifted 4X4 truck equipped with a BBQ in the back. The driver started “asking” us at the top of his lungs if we thought we didn’t have to stop for red lights and if we thought it was OK to run stop signs. I was the only one in the group who made eye contact because I was staring at him wondering if he really wanted an answer from us or if he was just venting because he was in a hurry to get home to watch NASCAR and we were slowing him down. I pointed at the red light that we were ALL stopped at and told him that he was preaching to the choir and it was all of the other cyclist he should be mad at. While I was saying this I was also simultaneously counting in my head how many stop signs that I had already run that morning. It must have been at least 40 but hey I yelled “clear” while I ran each of those stop signs so all 10,000 of my STP buddies could also run the same stop sign safely too. My preaching to the choir comment obviously ticked Mr 4 X 4 off because hit the gas and sped off leaving a huge cloud of fumes behind.
  • Started into the 40 mile rolling hill section and quickly realized that I was riding with a group of mountain goats. Ouch. 20+ mph uphill in a paceline? Ouch. Not being much of a climber I knew I was in trouble. I did hang on but my pulls were very anemic. Sorry guys.
  • Pulled into the next rest stop with two high school age kids playing some CCR on a guitar and drums. As we walked out of the bathroom and made our way to our bikes saw a guy sprinting for the bathrooms with fear in his eyes. Little did he realize that there were at least 10 people in front of him trying to get into the same bathroom. I really hoped the people in line had some mercy and let him go to the front.
  • Headed up and over the Longview bridge in a huge line of cyclist with logging trucks passing close by us. With no way to pass it was kind of nice to climb without hammering it up the hill. Screamed down the other side of the bridge and flew past the Welcome to Oregon sign. That felt good.
  • Started thinking about the ice cold Coke I was going to drink when I got to the last rest stop. It’s amazing how a coke can motivate you for miles of riding
  • Finally pulled into the last official rest stop and bought my celebratory Coke. It was awesome. Sat on the lawn for a bit resting and enjoying my coke. Talked to Jenny on the phone and it sounded like they were going to beat us to the finish line. Way to go.
  • With about 15 miles to go I was cooked. The last couple of hills that we encountered I just couldn’t keep up with my mountain goat friends so I let them go. I now know what if feels like to get dropped on the alpe d'huez with nothing left in the tank. It’s both humiliating and a huge relief at the same time. I was kind of hoping that I could just soft pedal it into Portland enjoying the sights but alas my buddies sat up and waited for me.
  • I put my head down once again and told my legs to shut up and caught back up to my riding buddies.
  • As we crossed a bridge into Portland I could see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood all at the same time. It was quite a sight.
  • The next 6 miles or so were a parade through downtown Portland. It really is amazing how many miles of bike lanes there are in Portland. They rock.
  • As we pulled into the finish line I was greeted by Jenny who had finished 30 minutes ahead of me and the kids. They presented me with a Lion again but this time is was even bigger.
  • Got a huge hug from Jenny but when I tried to give the kids a big sweaty hug they declined for some reason.

Final thoughts:

It was awesome to ride with 4 other guys

I made some really good fiends during the ride (thanks Dan, Mark, Brad, and Ray)

I’m still really ticked at myself for letting up with 15 miles to go. I know I could have ridden harder but my mind got the best of me. Arg… that makes me mad.

I think I’m finished with double centuries. They are lot of fun but the time commitment for training it out of control. I’m sticking with centuries from now on.

The STP still continues to be the best organized ride I’ve been on. It’s a ton of fun and amazing how they can get 10,000 people on bikes safely to Portland.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The New Cycling Business Casual?

Yesterday I went to REI for the STP packet pickup. I actually really look forward to standing in line to pick up bib numbers as it gets me excited for the BIG ride of the year. Anyway, as I was standing there this guy walked in wearing a white shirt and tie looking pretty business like. BUT, he was also wearing cycling shorts! Arrg.... Is this the new cycling business casual?

So, I pretended to send a text from my phone and took a picture so you could enjoy the visual as well. Probably a good thing the picture is fuzzy or you might need to wash your eyes out.

In the words of Happy Gilmore "If I dressed like that I'd have to kick my own rear end"

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Art of Preparation

There’s nothing like going for a bike ride but in my mind a close second is planning for a ride with a route that I’ve never been on before and staging all of my gear in preparation for the journey. 

Training season is in full force now for the Seattle to Portland double century so my training rides are starting to get ridiculously long.  Being that they are so long every second of the wee hours of the morning are critical.  So, I took a page out of the firefighters play book and started meticulously staging my cycle gear so I could throw it all on in a matter of seconds to get out the door.  It kind of makes me feel like I should slide down a fire pole before I slip into my cycling gear in the mornings.  A NASCAR pit crew would be jealous of my clothing application efficiency. 

Here’s the drill for a Saturday morning ride. 

Alarm goes off a 4:30 am
  • Have a full fledged argument with myself…
Self: What was I thinking….
Self: Why am I awake this early on a Saturday….
Self: Maybe the rain is coming down in biblical proportions in which case I would be forced to sleep in…..
Self: OK Mike, roll your rear end out of bed.  You’ll be glad you got up in a couple of hours
  • Finally stumble out of bed and look for a monsoon out the window
  • No luck
  • Stumble to the bathroom where my cycling gear is staged
  • Jump into my cycling gear in 9.2 seconds and apply all applicable lotions and creams.  (if you ride you know what I’m talking about, if not you don’t want to know)
  • Eat a bowl of granola while checking my fantasy baseball team – grumble because my team sucks.
  • Brush teeth
  • Kiss Jenny goodbye
  • Push off for another great training ride/adventure
I love this time of year. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What you missed this morning

This morning I rolled out at 5:30am for a training ride to some light rain which persisted throughout the ride.  Not perfect conditions but it was a good ride anyway.