Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Big Loser

I stepped on the scale in the bathroom this morning and got a little shock. For probably the first time in six years I saw a weight under 180 pounds. Wow. I'm usually pretty hard on myself and have cronic self esteem issues but even I have to say, "attaboy!" to myself. That's down from 205 pounds last June. And considering the below chart is geared toward an average build (in other words, NOT a cyclist or other athlete with more muscle mass than average leading to excess weight) I'm feeling damn good about it. And muscle mass issues aside, I have officially earned an "I told you so" to deliver to my doctor.

As an aside my average racing weight as a senior racer (that's a person between 19 and 35 in bike-racer lingo) was 155 to 163. Hard to believe I was ever that skinny! I doubt I'll get back down there and still have a life but getting to and maintaining 170 to 175 looks damn realistic. I never would have guessed that a year ago!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Strange times...

This has easily been the strangest week of the year. Between car repairs, chicken surgery, a new dog in the house, a new dog in the house popping his stiches and getting rushed to the ER, yet another dog getting rescued on the road this morning, more car repairs, SNOW, ice, more snow and now being sick on top of it. It's just been a weird week.

But last night Jasper and I were hanging out (while Kris took "Grover" the new dog to the ER for new stiches) and it went like this (keep in mind he is five years and a day old).

Jasper: Dad?
Dad: Hmmm?
J: What does, T-O
long pause
J: Wait a minute.
Jasper thinks hard
J: G---L---E-T spell?
Dad: Ummm. Toglet?
J: No! It spells chocolate!
Dad: Wow. That was amazing.

One of the greatest joys of being a parent are those wonderful little moments when your son figures out how to spell chocolate out of thin air. Amazing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chicken Surgery!

Kris told me not to blog this since she thought an animal rights group might attack but no one reads this blog so here it goes...

Back in September-ish we acquired two little chicks. Jasper named them Alicia and Diego (after the cartoon).

Well it turned out Alicia is a rooster and Diego is a hen so they are now known as Alex and Diega.

Kris, always the animal empathist, noticed that Diega's crop was getting bigger and bigger and hard like a rock. She did some interwebbing and figured out that poor Diega had an impacted crop. After some further interwebbing, it seemed that we were going to either have to pay up to $500 for surgery to unimpact the crop or we were going to have to be the surgeons.

I don't like eggs enough to spend $500 and neither does Kris so we put Jasper to bed, prepared the table and went to work. I had to do the actual cutting but Kris did most of the rest of the work. It was pretty rough at first and I thought Kris wasn't going to make it. Luckily she rebounded and it was me who sat there woozy for the next TWO HOURS while we pulled about a baseball size pile of straw out of her crop tweezer by tweezer.

Ah the life of a gentleman farmer. Fun! No?

Diega is recovering very nicely. The wound and stitches look great (Kris did the stitches). And Kris is a great nurse. Diega is living in our kitchen for now on a diet of yogurt and mushy bread. Hopefully this doesn't happen again or Diega is going to be dinner!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

LARPD Cyclocross 12/13/08

I'm going to keep this to a race report and philosophize later. The C race was 30 minutes as usual. The course was almost exactly the same as the last except with much less barriers (boo) and a set of stairs included. The stairs suck since things get bottlenecked and you can't gain any positions. Seems kind of pointless, really. Bring the barriers back! That said. The stairs kicked my ass!

I started much easier and on the outside this time and found it to be a much lower adreneline experience. After the first three turns and into the first barriers I was passing instead of being passed. By the end of the first lap I was racing with three other guys and that was about it. By halfway through the second lap, there weren't anymore changes in position though I had a guy in my sights for the next two and a half laps to the finish I just couldn't close the gap. I was having a really hard time recovering and just having a hard time riding hard and pushing and going at max in general.

I was actually feeling kind of crappy and a little discouraged at the end since it seemed I was pretty severely in the back marker brigade. I stopped at the truck, put on leg warmers, grabbed my wallet and set out for about an hour cool down ride (after a quick stop at the 7 for a pow bar).

I tried to get my morale back up during my ride and sort of succeded and by the time I was heading back I was concentrating on what a horribly uncomfortable road-ride my mt. bike delivers right up my seat more than anything else. Quick change to regular clothes in the parking lot and a jog over to check the results followed. I immediately looked to the very bottom of the list of 35 (same as last week) names and didn't see mine. "Uh oh, they missed me" I thought as I scanned up the list. But there I was at 22nd place. Mind you 22 out of 35 kind of sucks but that was pretty good improvement from the last race so it turned my frown around pretty good and I'm feeling good.

Well, my brain is good. Last night I started getting the tell-tale lymph node soarness and, sure enough, I woke up this morning with a sore throat and big-time congestion. That explains the legs-of-clay I had yesterday, at least. I hope this thing clears up before next Saturday's race.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Crotch is Where the Bike Goes

Last Saturday I showed up for a local race team's weekly ride prepared to introduce myself and then spend the next few hours glued to wheels and doing everything in my power to NOT GET DROPPED. To my disappointment (and dare I admit relief?) there was some sort of hitch in the thing since I was at the announced time and place yet found myself solo. So I had a good three hour ride alone with my thoughts and a few nice views (courtesy of a break in the fog at the top of Patterson Pass).

Then on Tuesday I tossed my Mt. Bike into the truck, dropped my son off at school and rode the Pleasanton Ridge for about three thousand feet of dirt climbing over a two hour ride. Unlike the previous Saturday, I was more than happy to ride solo and it was a sunny day and I had a blast even though I stalled out on four or five of the steeper climbs and had to finish them on foot.

I will probably try to do maybe three or four road races next year but it's really going to be all about the mountain bike racing I think. Mt. Biking is more fun for me. It's SO much less pretentious than the road. You can enter a race and not have to end up hating yourself for wasting so much time and money and family energy only to end up "off the back." And the swag is almost always better.

Now. Is that enough of a commitment to blow a very large amount of cash on a new mountain bike???
That's an Ibis Tranny, by the way.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mark Pendleton

I went to Mark Pendleton's memorial service on Saturday. I don't know if I went as a cyclist or a new friend. I suppose the decision to support the family in the funeral home over the decision to ride in the memorial ride answers that question. Fact is, I hadn't even ridden with Mark yet, despite hours we spent talking bikes and racing. Mark was the foreman electrician on the installation of the new solar panels and off-grid electrical system on my house. His work was very good and, as I've learned since, typically perfectionistic. He worked on my house the day he was taken from us.

After the memorial service I drove up the road, parked, changed into my own cycling gear and went for my own personal memorial ride. I rode up the climb of McEwen road and then down to the site of his death. There I stood on the side of the road for a few minutes. I don't tend to make ceremony of my praying but I did there on the solemn road with no traffic. I hope there's a reason for the loss of this enthusiastic, kind man. I prayed that there be some sort of grand design behind the way he was killed. I think the tendency is to make people greater after their passing but Mark really was a sincerely nice guy who would not hesitate to encourage or do something that would surprise me with his ability to put away his pride for the good of the job as a whole. He was a guy I really considered "buena gente." We shared quite a few laughs over the weeks he worked at my house and all my memories of him are either working hard or smiling and laughing.

I'm not sure why I'm blogging this. It feels strange. Grief is a strange personal thing and I've been searching deep inside. I think the combination of having a new friend taken away and seeing someone with whom I related to so much as a father, worker and cyclist struck down has just been difficult. I'm just sad.

And I'm angry. Very angry. I'm angry that someone did this. I'm angry to share a world with people so heartless. I'm angry at Mark for trying to squeeze in a ride so close to dark -even though I've done the same damn dangerous and stupid thing myself too many times to count. I'm angry at myself for leaving dark feelings in the air at home despite my best intentions.

Probably the most important thing to do from this is try to learn and maybe honor the person who's lost by bettering ourselves or appreciating what we do have. I'm trying.