Monday, May 30, 2011

Little Pine Mt

On Saturday I did a nice mountain bike ride to a place called Little Pine Mountain. It was a grueling two and a half hour climb up a fire-road. This is the same ride I did last Memorial Day, and I crashed (HARD) which is rather rare for me. I've been jonesing to get back there and give it another go, and the opportunity was here so I took it.

I didn't wreck  thankfully, though it was QUITE WINDY as it has been for seemingly ages here. But it wasn't too cold back in the canyons, I didn't hit the big winds until I climbed up high. I saw a few mt bikers early on and that was it. This area is off limits to the usual myriads of off-road vehicles that usually populate it due to the water level at the crossing still being too high for vehicles. I crossed that at the very beginning carrying my bike and shoes/socks. It's down to about 14 inches or so now, but will still be closed a few more weeks until it gets down to about 8 inches I was told. After the crossing it's a short road-ride to the upper campground which was completely uninhabited right now, which is quite a sight for Memorial Day Weekend. It was SO quiet, it seemed like I was on another planet.
From the very start the road goes up up up.

At 11 miles is the turnoff for the Little Pine peak, and is also the connector trail that crosses over to the Santa Cruz trail. I passed this point and rode up for another 3 miles until I was fairly close to where my crash happened last year.
My turnaround point at the far right going around the point
The views back here are stunning, it's just SO remote. And things are still somewhat green due to all our rains and the near lack of any hot weather to date this year. AND, as an added bonus, the fireroad is in great shape due to the fact that the quads and dirt bikes haven't been allowed here all year. Any other time I'd be constantly greeted by the roaring sound of the quads and dirt bikes doing what they do best: roosting the road, shooting up plumes of dirt and dust with a simple twist of their wrist cracking open the throttles on their exhaust spewing noise machines. If you get the notion that I don't care for them, you are right. They devastate the trails and pollute the environment something fierce. Also they scare any wildlife away to the next county. But we must share the trails, and I support their right to choose their method of fun.

After I took the connector trail to the Santa Cruz trail I realized this piece of singletrack was a definite black-diamond piece of riding. I'm not averse to technical riding, actually I LOVE this kind of stuff....but this was technical AND scary, especially in the first mile.
Coming over the top of Little Pine headed for the Santa Cruz trail, looking down to the start of the ride.

The trail works it's way along the side of a very steep mountain (the one I just came around and over) and it's very narrow and quite overgrown at this time.
This is a NOT scary section. You can see the trail ahead on the ridge, and soon after that it starts to switchback down the face and it gets quite uhm, er, cheek-clenching fun.

It's the kind of trail that if I were to make a single mistake and my front wheel were to go off the trail, it would result in a long and horrible tumble down the mountain. In fact, it would most likely require a helicopter rescue to get someone out of here if you were hurt. I don't see any other way they could get to you and get you out. The basic premise here is DON'T CRASH.

The trail was a bit wider here, but the penalty for a mistake would be very high.

  I took lots of pictures but they just don't do justice to the scary-factor of this section, but they do show the beauty of Santa Barbara County back-country.
I just love this panorama. I need to go camping back here someday.

The scary factor doesn't stop the mt fact, maybe because of it's difficulty they are drawn here...both groups I came across today were going to come down this very trail. I'd surely never bring someone on this trail that wasn't a very good mt biker.
Looking back up at the mountain I came over (the peak left of center). The ridge trail goes down to the left  edge of the picture, and then works it's way down/across this entire ridge to the right. AWESOME!

By the time I got back to my car it ended up being four and a half hours of actual pedal time, almost five and a half hours elapsed time as I stopped to take a lot of pictures and also chat with the other mt bikers en-route. It was a great day and I didn't crash....thus wiping the slate clean on this trail. I believe that makes us even.

And so. Memorial day is upon us. I had hoped to go for another ride today but elected to have lunch with Jeannie and her friends, and also do some 'clothes' shopping (ACK!) That my friends is the topic of my NEXT post, I won't go any further here. Have a WONDERFUL DAY!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The beginning of summer (or not) we are: the unofficial beginning of summer. The end of the school season is at hand, high school graduations are taking place all over the country, hats are being tossed high, and it's just a great time of year. Who doesn't look forward to the beginning of SUMMER?

And hey, if you haven't been to Fatty's today, check it out. I'm FAMOUS for a brief moment of time. I didn't expect him to post this, I did it just as a joke cuz I know he is a VERY funny man and can surely take a joke. (oh, and Angie, I just saw your comment at Fatty's, picking up my bet with Greg on the purple tights/tu-tu.....thank you so much...that is very funny!! However, IF you were to win this bet, just know that he will be riding WITH us the entire 100 miles wearing said purple tights and pink humorous as that will be!)
And now for a tiny bit of unpleasantness....I thought I should go ahead and post to let you all know that just this morning I got the results of my eye-blob biopsy (I had it done on Tuesday afternoon). I talked to the Dr. this morning, and he said the pathology came back as a basal cell carcinoma. He was quite surprised, as he was fairly confident it was going to turn out to be a "Glandular mass" of some sort (whatever that is). He says however that it's NOT the scary kind that can spread everywhere and kill you (WHEW!).... this one is the kind that will just keep growing and it needs to be removed.
It's on my lower left eyelid, right at/on the eyelashes. He said that the prognosis after removal is excellent, they just need to make sure they get it all. I go in next Friday for my pre-surgery appointment where he will go over everything. Jeannie researched it online today and told me that they will probably have to take most of the lower eyelid, and then do some sort of reconstructive surgery (but in 5 or 6 months it will look like nothing happened). I know that I WON'T be going online looking at the pictures....that would be too much information I'm sure.
I'm thankful that it isn't anything more serious, but obviously I'm still just a tiny bit nervous about the taking part of my eyelid part. 
Otherwise, all is well .....and as I said, it could be SO MUCH worse. I thought the biopsy was scary enough (he had to inject the eyelid w/ lidocane, and after that got numb he he snipped away the bigger part of the blob with little cutters)...the only real problem was that I was staring at the procedure at quite close range...(and hearing the snipping was a bit unnerving too I might add)...but all in all he said it was quite routine, and Jeannie says this surgery I'm going to have is also quite routine. I'm assuming (hoping/praying) that they put me out for this so I don't have to watch and listen.....but it will be what it will be. Both my Mom and Dad have had their eyes done (new lenses put in and such), and Jeannie has had Lasik (also pretty scary, but pretty cool to watch on my part), so I guess can't be too much of a baby. 
I'll keep everybody updated as I learn more. I'm just wondering if I can get a cool 'pirate' eyepatch for my recovery? Maybe a black one that has the skull and crossbones on it in white? I'd look like a real badass riding my bike in that for sure!

We leave on our cruise in less than 2 weeks (we will be gone from the 10th thru the 23rd of June on the Alaska cruise....we fly to Anchorage and finally end up in Vancouver...this has been planned/paid for many months ago), so I hope to have this done after we get back. 
OK..enough on that...hope everybody is ready for a GREAT long memorial day weekend. Somewhere out there it IS actually the unofficial opening of summer, but it sure isn't here. We have been cold with HOWLING WINDS for the last two plus months (going on three months!)...which is much longer than usual. Our 'normal' high wind period starts around mid March and ends mid to late April, sometimes early May. We've had a smattering of nice days making us think our normal weather was back, but no. It could end ANY DAY now and go back to our 'normal' winds...but our holiday weekend forecast is for the winds to be over 20mph. I'm REALLY tired of that...but much like my little upcoming surgery, it COULD be SO much worse (as it is for MANY people). 
And how about the REST of the country's weather? I can't fathom all the people in Missouri and Oklahoma (and everywhere else that is getting hammered by tornadoes). THAT would be SO horrible. So I guess I won't complain TOO loud...we've still got it made in the big scheme of things. (Theresa, if you are still out there, aren't you in MO somewhere?? Hopefully you and yours are fine...drop a comment sometime to let us know how you've been and that you're ok!) 
We don't have much planned for the weekend, but I hope to do some biking (SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE!) Actually I hope to ride both Saturday AND Monday, and Sunday we will be going to the Arroyo Grande Strawberry Festival (just about 15 miles up the 101 freeway from us). Of course it's going to be low 60's and windy...but we will make the best of it. Hopefully you all will have a WONDERFUL Memorial Day Weekend yourselves. 
And don't forget the reason for the holiday....paying homage to our heroes that made this country what it is (was?). I saw on the news this morning the Army was placing flags on every grave at Arlington, as they have every year since sometime in the 40's. I've been there a few times and feel quite choked up, looking at the unimaginable number of headstones so perfectly placed. The cost for our great country's freedom has been (and continues to be) OH so very high. And watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers fills me with pride each time I see it. If you haven't ever had the chance to witness that, well, you're missing something really special. 
OK...with that I'll sign off. Have a great weekend and be safe!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thousand Oaks final stage, Sunday

On Sunday I met up with Greg at his LBS and we proceeded on up the 101 into Thousand Oaks. Roads were already blocked off as the race was underway. We ended up parking in a housing area, along with many thousands of our closest friends. And a quick walk of a few blocks and we were THERE. I don't know who is doing all this work, but a lot of work it is. Setting up EVERYTHING...barricades, stage, tents, etc. It looks like a lot of work. Anyway, we wandered around and found a good spot right on the barricades about 35meters in front of the finish banner. Set up our chairs and then we wandered the tents seeing what kind of schwag we could 'harvest'. Not a good year for harvesting schwag I can tell you. I guess it gets slimmer and slimmer each year.

Here's the finish line as seen from the back-side. We were setup on the left about 35m on the other side of the banner.

As we were walking in I saw Phil &Paul in front of the podium. They weren't that far from me and I stopped to dig out my camera. Greg kept walking and I immediatly lost him. I held up my camera, waving my left hand and shouted "Hey Paul!", and I snapped my picture (I was looking up at my camera screen just to see that it was actually pointed in their direction. It wasn't until I got home and downloaded all my pictures that I could see Paul waved back, having NO IDEA on earth who he was waving at. VERY COOL!

After getting bored with the non-schwagging vendors we headed back to claim our turf on the line. There was a small group of people right in front of us (they were there already when we set our chairs up) and were quite friendly to chat with as we passed the time. And soon enough, they were a-comin'. You could sort of hear the announcing, but it was so echo'ie and garbled that it was almost entirely unintelligible to me. But you could see the helicopter when they were getting close, and then the cars start to come thru.

Thankfully, whoever designed the course figured we wanted more than one quick pass. We got FIVE! They did 5 laps of the circuit, which was 4.9 miles, and each one took just over 10 minutes. The 4 man breakaway was the first to pass, and it was almost 3 minutes when the peleton came by in their chase. Next time around that gap had been cut in half. Next lap was down half again (down to around 30 seconds). Each passing was accompanied by everybody screaming, whistling, clanging their bells  and using whatever other noise-makers they had. It was total mayhem and was awesome. There's just something magical about having over a hundred guys go WHOOSHING by on their bikes at a pretty decent clip.

Here's my view of the sprint finish, with Mathew Goss for HTC holding on for the win over Sagan of Liquigas.

And here's Team Shack cruising to the line, and Horner's already starting to celebrate!

After the finish 2 Shack riders came right to where we were standing. Helpers lifted one side of the barricades so they could escape the course and make their way to the team bus. Here is my pics of Jason McCartney and Ben King.

They (a few guys in uniforms) wouldn't let us lowlife PUBLIC into the podium area until AFTER they had already awarded Chris his yellow jersey. But we finally were allowed to swarm into the general area and saw the awarding of the rest of the jerseys.
Here's all the jersey winners together.

And then Garmin Cervelo was called up for winning the Team competition.

Part of their award was they were EACH given a magnum of champagne. MISTAKE!
I don't think the podium girls signed on for THIS!

After the champagne war was over the final podium was called.

Levi, Chris and Tommy D with his son

And then they had THEIR champagne war. At least Tommy handed off their child before they hosed each other. How often do you get to stand in front of a bunch of cheering fans and spray ginormous bottles of champagne all over each other? It's on my bucket list (along with winning a major bike race).

And this my signing-off self photo, which pretty much summs up the entire week.
It is finished. The 2011 ToC is in the history books.

Friday, May 20, 2011


What a day we had. Greg and I went down to Los Olivos (it's the turn-around point in the TT course) and were on our bikes by about 8:30am. Oh wait...I meant to say that I was sick and couldn't make it to work today. Cough cough. Hack. Wheeze. Groan. Vomit. (sorry...that last one might be over the top).

And being as I WAS so very sick, I figured I might as well enjoy the race. Even feeling so poorly, I was able to ride the course into Solvang, where the bike valet wasn't yet open. We had carried small packs with walking shoes, so we changed shoes and ditched most of the extra layer and wandered thru thru the madness of the ToC expo for an hour. About 10 we decided we should get back on the course before they close it, and made our way back to Los Olivos. There we picked up our folding chairs and a tasty sandwich from a deli, and made our way (still on bikes) up onto the Ballard Canyon climb where I go for every Solvang TT. We set up shop on the full switchback about a third of the way up, which was a bit farther down the hill than I usually go. I was thinking to avoid some of the crowd, and it was a good call. The upper part of the hill was pretty chaotic by the time the Pro men started to come thru.

Here is our little piece of land we staked out. I then chalked up the road. Where else would we sit but HORNER KORNER? That's our little camp under the tree in deep shade...Greg is sitting in his chair reading cycling mags, and the bikes are sitting against the fence.

Suffice to say it was just a blast as always to have each and every rider come by one at a time, spreading out the fun of watching a pro bike race into hours instead of moments. The weather really came thru for us too...sunny and warm...probably around mid 70's where we were sitting. Actually, it was kind of HOT, being as we had no breeze at all, and I had moved my chair out of it's original position under a gigantic oak tree as the riders were also in that shade when I tried to photo them. So I moved into the sun and cooked for the entire duration of the mens TT.

Big Hair Superfan made his way up the hill early on, and he's quite a character. A superhero costume with a gigantic afro. And crazy sunglasses.

 Greg and I with Big Hair Superfan. I'm on the left in my Fatty jersey.

But the best spectator of all was "horn guy"'ve all seen him....the guy who has a football hemlet with Elk antlers on them and runs alongside Levi and select other riders as they crest some big climb? Typically he's wearing a LEVI jersey (reputedly he's a friend of Levi's also from Montana). Today he made his way up the climb wearing a NEW helmet: it had Big Horn Sheep horns on it! And he was carrying the 'elk horn' helmet...both looked fairly heavy.

Horn-guy walking up the hill in his NEW (at least to me) Big-Horn-Sheep helmet

 Here's Horn-guy waiting for Levi in his 'original' elk-horn helmet

Here are a few pics of some of 'my fav's:

The Z-man Dave Zabriske, WINNER of the 2011 ToC TT!

Taylor Phinney in his Stars & Stripes kit (I've got my autographed Z-man pic wearing HIS S&S kit from the TT a few years back hanging on the wall, thanks Jannan!) 

Big George Hincapie putting the hurt to the hill

Andy Schleck, (the NEXT winner of the TDF?)

And finally, the shot I waited ALL day for, my man Chris Horner. Yes, THIS is my shot of Chris. I call it an EXTREME CLOSEUP!

Of ALL the riders who came by today, not ONE of them took the outside line thru the switchback (where I was set-up with my chair and camera/tripod). Until the LAST rider that is...Sure...the ONE shot I desperately wanted. He almost ran over my feet for crying out loud! Sorry Chris if I slowed you down by being in your way. Maybe he was so excited about seeing "Horner Korner" that he wasn't watching where he was going. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Sure glad I didn't make the news as THE GUY who wiped out Horner in the TT!

After Horner had gone by I spotted Horn-guy coming down the hill with the throngs of people, and he now had on a "Horner" jersey....(he had his Levi Jersey on when he went up). VERY sneaky of him...hedging his bet. I was totally rooting for Chris to hold his lead and shouted myself hoarse when he went by (that and shouting in horror/fear that I was about to take him out sitting in my chair). Greg did a time check after Levi passed, and it was 2:40 when Horner zoomed by. I was pretty stoked that he had only lost 40 seconds at this point, as pretty much all the climbing was past and it was only about 7 miles to the finish (the remaining road is a really fast section). So I was hoping he'd be fast enough to hold the lead, and he DID! WAY TO GO CHRIS!!!

I had to switch camera's right as the last 15 riders were due. Go figure, I was HOPING my new little 14mp LUMIX camera (actually bought it for last years ToC) would last the day, and it ALMOST did. Anyway, I brought my old 8mp Canon as a backup, lucky for me. Maybe next time I will SKIP the first 50 or so riders so-as to be sure it will last thru the end (I took pics of EVERY RIDER that went by, checking them off in order so I could number the pics w/ names afterwards, just like I do every year). So once again I have a nice little file of riders pictures. And that about wrapped up the day. I was very sad that Jens Voigt had dropped out, I didn't even know he was hurt! Also quite sad that Fabian didn't show up this just can't have too many pics of Fabian. Oh well...that's racing.

And now I must touch upon the sad subject (Tyler Hamilton's big new confession). Bobke mentioned something about it last night, but I hadn't heard about it yet. I peeked online (just after I posted this) and saw the articles and video, but decided not to go there. Floyd nearly ruined things for me last what, now it's Tylers turn?? I peeked in again just a bit ago and of course, it's huge news. But again, I refuse to go there. I'll read up on things later. For now, we've got a bike race, and a dang good one! I won't be at the stage tomorrow to Mt.'s just too far of a drive for me, and I've got things to do at home (including getting out for a road ride myself). But I hope to go down to Thousand Oaks on Sunday and watch the circuits and the finish. And I will be sending Chris all my energy to hang in there and win this thing. Tomorrow will be the big tell though...if he can hang on to the top of Mt Baldy (and better yet, pull away from the competitors nipping at his heels) like he did on Sierra Rd, then he is THE MAN. Well, he is THE MAN no matter what. But it would be so very sweet for him to win this.

OK, it's late and I'm tired (and a bit crispy...sitting in the sun all day sucks your energy. I only stayed in the shade until the riders started coming by, then I had to move into the sun to get pics). I'm just thankful we had a great day, and I didn't hear of anybody getting hurt. Just a great day of racing. I'll post some rider pics tomorrow when I get a chance.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Bob Roll was in town again tonight, and my brother Greg and I were fortunate enough to see him speak. It's a low-brow affair...the local bike shop (Main Street Cycles in Santa Maria) has him come and speak to a small crowd every year that the ToC has gone thru the Central Coast. The owner is a friend and Bob 'rolls' thru town on his way down from Paso Robles to Solvang and gives us lucky few a chat. He is SO FREAKING AWESOME in's like the zany Bob Roll you get glimpses of on tv except on crack! He is just amazing...his voices, stories....I can't think of any cycling personality I'd rather listen to tell stories!

Here he is sitting in the 'throne' in the center of the shop...and I can tell you, the stories are 'rolling'! He talked to us for well over an hour, telling stories, answering questions, and many times his answers to questions slid right into more stories. It was just an amazing evening, and the bike shop even supplied beer and snacks!! My brother Greg drove up from Simi Valley (a little over 2 hour drive) for the chance, and he wasn't disappointed. Tomorrow we head down to Solvang and plan to pre-ride the TT course. We will be riding from the half-way point, and plan to stop in Solvang and schmooze around some, then finish the course before they shut it down (probably sometime around 10am). After we get back to our cars we will load up our gear and ride to the Ballard Canyon climb, stake out a piece of property, and await the riders. It will be a GRAND day! How often to you have a chance to not only see the pro's, but to see them one at a time? I'm really glad the tour came back thru our neck of the woods this year.

Here's Greg and I with Bobke after the 'talk'. He is just such a class act! It's really hard to describe how awesome this little event is, but if you EVER get the chance to hear him speak, don't miss it! NOTHING gets you in the mood for cycling like Bobke! (except maybe P&P...tho Bobke gives you some serious inside scoop on those guys and every time I will hear any of them on the telly I will be chuckling to myself).

Well, I need to pack up my gear for the morning and need to get Rolling (HA!). I will have my fingers crossed for Chris Horner to hold his lead over Levi (tho I am also rooting for Levi). But I REALLY would love to see him pull off the win this year.  Gotta run. Keep the rubber side down, and RIDE LIKE THE WIND CHRIS!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TOC(R) starts today....or will it?

That Other Cycling (Race)....HA! Sometimes I crack myself up!'s 11:30am on RACE DAY as I type, and the riders aren't riding. Guess it's a bad day up at Tahoe...VN reports the stage will be shortened and maybe starting around 1:30pm, but looking at tweets from riders and others, they are thinking it's a day off. Would they do that? (cancel the entire opening stage?) Not sure what they will do if there's still snow and ice on the roads...sure can't ride bikes in it....unless they do something entirely new and make a MTB stage out of THAT would be something! Kind of like adding the cobbles into last years Tour, only better! The mechanics would really be busy...road bikes, TT bikes, and MTB bikes. I like it...who do I write to with my idea?

I am still in denial that Fabian won't be here this year...he's ALWAYS here! What's up with that? Anybody hear anything about this? And Frank too...what's going on w/ Leopard-Trek? Andy's here....I'd have thought sure Fabian and Frank would come with Andy. I don't know what kind of form Andy's truly in just now, but it seems a race he should be contesting for the win to me. Garmin Cervelo surely came to win...their team is loaded to the gills! And Radio Shack is looking pretty good too. And don't discount BMC w/ Big George...will THIS finally be his last year? I sure hope he doesn't crash out...I really want another picture of him during Friday's Solvang TT (and yes, I'll be there...most likely on the short climb up Ballard Canyon as in prior years).

On a a plus note, Bob Roll, (AKA Bobke) will be coming to speak in Santa Maria this Thursday evening as he has in years past the night before the Solvang TT. He's awesome to listen to on the air, and even more-so in person. He's showing up at one of our local bike shops, same as the prior years. The venue is small and the crowd is large. It'll be standing room only, and barely that. I'll make sure I get there early again to stake out a small piece of property.

And I know that this little local race will be dominating my cycling radar screen for the next week and a half, but HEY HEY HEY! How about Contador lighting it up on the slopes of Mt Etna in the Giro today? WOW! He storms into the pink jersey on a mountaintop finish...and all the while awaiting word from the CAS if he will be suspended (for up to TWO YEARS!). WHAT IF he goes ahead and wins this race, and is then sanctioned/disqualified by the CAS? What an ugly mess that would be for cycling. I have to wonder if they (the CAS) won't be taking all this into account as they make their decision. The Giro organizers would be FURIOUS if he were sanctioned for something that happened last year after being allowed to start, and I can only guess that they are quaking in their boots at this possibility. I see some real ugly politics ahead for sure in this debacle. This will surely be a topic to discuss over at Rant's.

OK...I'm off to do some housework and then will check back in to see if today's ToC stage indeed will start. Of course I'm watching it all online (still no VS on the satellite...won't get that until early July). I need to mow, and hopefully it's getting dry (it RAINED some this morning...most likely part of the same storm system that hit Tahoe). Happy Sunday!

Game ON (I hope!)

1:26pm UPDATE appears today's stage has been canceled due to the weather. Holy cats...the opening stage canceled! Not a very good omen for this years race. Good thing the race is in May for better weather! Sheesh! This must be quite disappointing for AMGEN...and a lot of money spent for a non-stage. Though it can't be can't hold a race on icy roads and risk all the riders. We've already seen enough tragedy in this sport for a while. Good call (and gutsy!) by the organizers.

Maybe they can move the race into September against the Vuelta and FINALLY we can have some decent weather? Who do I call?

Monday, May 9, 2011


I was quite busy today at work, but was extremely saddened when I did finally manage to sneak a peek at Velo News. It's been quite some time since we've lost a racer during a race. Not long enough mind you, but considering how dangerous the sport truly is, well....I think it's a miracle it doesn't happen more often. Granted they are pro's, and have so many miles on 2 wheels that they have mad bike handling skills. But given the speeds they travel, in the size groups they ride in, and yes, the very roads themselves that can be quite dangerous if something bad happens at an inopportune time.

I think that without exception, every single time I watch a race I'm just amazed at how close they ride to one another with so very few crashes. All I can compare it to is my friends and I when we ride. And I'm telling you, if you were to stick any one of us in the middle of a peleton, well, it would be carnage of the highest order. I doubt that I could go 5 minutes in a fast moving peleton (even IF I were able to keep up with them for that 5 minutes) without my front wheel touching someone's back wheel, and I'd go down just like that. And then watching them on the big scary descents. How very close they will be to the wheel of the guy in front, all the while riding at ludicrous speeds. Every sport has it's risks, that's for sure. But consider the 'uniform' of the pro cyclist and compare it to any other sport. As I said, it's amazing there aren't more serious injuries. The very fact that there are so very few is a testament to how good these athletes are at their craft. Because the cycling kit isn't really any protection at all, other than the helmet will keep your head from slamming directly into the ground, but not much else.

I can't imagine how the rest of the riders feel when they lose one of their own in this fashion. But it must be horrible. Lance lost one of his teammates many years back on a Tour stage, and it's talked about every time they ride that road. I must admit that I didn't know much about Wouter until today. But it sounds like he was on the right track to a great career, and his untimely passing is a real tragedy. And the cruel irony is that he won stage 3 of last years Giro, and this year he died in it. I just don't know how to make sense of that.

I vividly recall my little brother telling me during one quite hairy mt bike ride many years ago that "the price of failure is steep". I think of that line often when I ride. And that little voice in my mind is VERY adept at keeping me honest. Every single time that I ride he's somewhere in the back of my mind, analyzing the risks at hand, and reminding me of that saying when appropriate. And yet there are times when I somehow manage to NOT listen to that voice, and then suddenly realize (as I'm doing forty-something down a terrible road chasing or being chased by my friends) that even something so simple as a flat front tire would be disastrous. And I also admit that cycling wise, I've led a charmed life thus far!

I have no idea where I'm going with this tonight. I'm very sad to not be able to watch any of this, but I'm glad that I won't be seeing this crash. It's one thing to watch a crash when the riders get back up and go. But to see one where someone is truly hurt is not for me. I remember that crash of Jen's Voigt last year in the tour. It very much looked like he was dead, and it was so horrible to see. That he not only lived but was riding again a fairly short time later was just a miracle. And then we can make humor out of it (Did you hear about the dirt that was pushed up when Jens crashed in last years Tour? They named it the Col de Tourmalet).

Here's hoping the rest of the race goes off safely, with few crashes and no serious injuries. And finally, here's a virtual toast to Wouter and all of his comrades in arms. Be safe ladies and gentlemen, and keep the rubber side down.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Well hello again! much going on, seems every time I think about writing a new post something comes up and I don't. No good reasons, just lots of excuses.

The country sure is in some crazy weather lately....rain, water....the Mississippi river flooding so hugely....WOW! And then all the tornadoes (or I guess I should I say TORNADOES!) Our weather right up until today has been typical Central Coast spring: and by that I mean WINDY AS HELL! And rather chilly too. But compared with the rest of the country, I'll not complain too loud. But then today....holy crapsickles, I can't believe it! We set a record high here in Santa hit 90! And light winds too! It was almost unbearable it was so hot! And yet it was quite beautiful too, and I loved every second of it! Ahhh...a warm toasty spring day! Anyway, due to our seemingly ever-whipping winds, it's been Mt biking central for me...haven't been out on the road bike in a month now. Went out on Saturday for a great mt ride...ended up with 44 miles, 5600' of climbing, which took just a bit over 5 hours of actual ride time. I was totally WHIPPED when I finally made it back to the car, but it was a great day. And the WINDS...I was up on a ridgeline and they were flat-out howling, almost driving me off the ridge in spots. And then moments later I'd be in a protected spot and then I'd be too hot. The whole day was like that. It was crazy yet awesome.

And then about the Bin Laden thing? Jeez, the we've been looking for the guy for a DECADE now. And to find him living in a mansion just outside the capital city of Pakistan...hmmm. Pretty embarrassing for them I'd think (gee, sorry......we don't know where he is, but we're sure looking hard!) 

And now on to the big leagues...the Giro starts SATURDAY, HOORAY!!! But I won't see a lick of it, either! Well, maybe a few licks, if I can somehow get up on weekends early and watch a little bit online. And then 10 days after THAT, it's the TOUR OF CALIFORNIA! It's almost HERE! I can't believe it's already MAY! Gosh how time flies! This year will be a bit different than most though come ToC time.... not having VS on the satellite will be a bit of a downer for me as I won't be watching the stages for the first time. But I WILL be in (or near actually) Solvang for the TT, and will most likely make the final two stages also. I just can't believe it's here already! I have almost NO formal plans other than to BE there. It's gonna be GREAT!

I had planned on uploading a bunch of pics from my ride Saturday, but somehow I've lost the momentum to get that done. And actually I need some SLEEP! Last night right at 3am we suffered power hits to the house AC. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, however my UPS unit (Uninterrupted Power Supply) for my PC has a beeper that goes off when it senses a loss of the input power. And that wouldn't be a big deal (cuz that's what it's supposed to do) except that it makes the dogs crazy terrified! There's more of a story behind this but suffice to say, poor Sydney is ready to leave when the beeper starts going off. And by leave, I mean leave the house, the property, us. She did it once...climbed the fence and jumped down into the neighbors yard. I still can't believe it didn't kill was a least a 6' drop and she has tiny short front legs. So anyway, I ran to the computer room, shut down the PC and turned off the UPS to shut it up. Too late...damage done. Syd was hiding by the side of the bed, looking for a way out. The other 2 were up and about, freaked out too. So when I came back to bed, I had THREE 50 lb dogs lying ON TOP of me. It took 15 minutes or so but the other 2 finally calmed down and I was able to slide them OFF of me so I could breath...but poor Syd was quaking and shaking like a leaf. I did my best to calm her and such and she finally laid her head right on my neck (hard to breath like that btw). And all I know is that neither she nor I got another wink of sleep right up until my alarm went off, as she was quite agitated and scared. However I just peeked in and she IS sleeping like a baby right now. I'm hoping we can skip tonight's game of 'chew' for a change and just go directly to sleep, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

Wish me luck. And have a GREAT weekend!

5/5/11 update: I forgot to add that if any of you have blogs you frequent that you would like me to add to the blog roll ("blogs I like" is what I called it, on the upper right side of the site) I'd be happy to. So far I have only 3: Fatty's, Jill's n Rants...and I have it setup so I can see the title and date of the last post they did...I really like that! At a quick glance I can see if there's something new for me to check out.  I know Theresa and Camile have sites that I peek in on now and then...(T, you need to get something new going there lady!) Cam has stuff almost daily on her artwork...very cool to browse thru and see what all she's been up to. But I don't want to add anybody's site if they don't want it....just my thoughts here...let me know.

And a further update: tonight I did my first road ride in a MONTH! My last road-ride was April 5th...I checked my logbook. Today was another beautiful day here...light winds (I'd say around 10mph, which is QUITE light for us) and sunny, temps in the mid 70's out on the coast. I think I sunburned my legs in the small band of skin that is usually covered by my mtb shorts but exposed w/ road was that nice out! My mtb'ing has done me well, I was pretty strong and able to hang w/ my friends (in fact, I pulled a good deal of the ride and was able to sprint away when I needed!) OK...gotta run...dinner time!