Friday, May 31, 2013

A free-form Ode to the wind

Oh wind, how I hate thee.
You blow. And blow. And BLOW!
You are unseen. I curse you aloud to no avail.
You show no mercy as you affect nearly all with equal vigor.
Your ambivalence to my suffering is only equaled
by your complete and utter contempt for my weakness.
I hide behind stronger riders, but you are onto my
game and shift to a crosswind and relentlessly hammer me still.
I was on travel when you were supposed to arrive and ply your
unending force upon the Central Coast, all for my 'benefit'.
But you saw I wasn't there to torment, so you waited.
And waited.
Upon my return you quickly showed your anger at my feeble
attempt to avoid your annual visit.
I've tried to apologize, but you show no sign of acceptance.
The entire Central Coast suffers at my indescretion.
Even the Tour of California got a taste of your power.
Jens Voigt alone was strong enough to challenge your utter dominance.
He is my hero. He USED you to win. I know this must anger you greatly.
I am delighted at your impotence to slow the great Jens.
Or maybe you are not angered by his sheer willpower in the face of your greatness.
Maybe you acknowledge those rare individuals who are able to laugh in your face.
You reward them with victory. To beat you IS victory. Not many are capable.
I am not. I bow to your greatness. And your evilness. You rule my life.
Sometimes you are not blowing into my face.
Which is rare, and then you quickly show your Devilish nature.
I change direction, and so do you. I can never win.

Yet I am a winner every time I ride.
I defeat you even when I am crushed.
I anxiously await your lessening to 'normal' levels,
but you continue to punish me.
You own me. I am your slave.
You still win.

Oh wind, how I love thee.
Riding with a tailwind is the best thing EVER!
With a simple change of direction you shift from being the Devil to the breath of GOD.
For as long as I keep you on my back, I ride with pure unadulterated JOY.
If only I could ride all the way to the southern tip of South America.
This is your only weakness. And I KNOW it. But you KNOW that I KNOW it.
I revel that you have a weakness.
But you quickly shift your weakness into your strength.
You change directions on a whim, enhancing your dominance.
I cry UNCLE!But you do not relent.

Please, oh PLEASE! GO, and ply your evil self upon others for a while.
I humbly beg you.
Leave me alone.

(for my answer I hear just the howling of the wind).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tour of California

Yes, it's that time of my FAVORITE times of the year. The time when the pro peleton comes to MY backyard to play.

Today they rode from Santa Barbara up and over San Marcos Pass on route 154, through Los Olivos (a mere 7 miles from the base of the awesome Figueroa Mountain), up Foxen Canyon, then Palmer Cyn Road to Dominion Blvd to Clark Ave (which is where the broadcast coverage started), down Clark and over hwy 101 and into Santa Maria, downhill thru Old Orcutt to Hwy 1 where they then go north thru Guadalupe, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, and finally finish in Avila Beach.

And I didn't see a SECOND of it in person. They rode by my house by less than TWO MILES (the intersection of Clark and Bradley is where I turn  off of Clark to get home from any rides that go to the east). I ride Foxen Canyon ALL THE TIME! It's truly my backyard for road riding.

Along with missing pretty much the entire ToC (thus far, and sadly the rest of it too), I'm also missing the Giro. I have NBC Sports AND BEIN networks, and my DVR is faithfully recording the daily broadcast of the Giro and the ToC, and I've seen VERY LITTLE of either. In fact, tonight after I got home from work I watched my FIRST bits of the's stage. The reason I'm missing all the bike racing is that after I got home from my Sunnyvale trip (5 weeks) I immediately started working at our payload processing center as we were preparing to receive our bread and butter spacecraft to process for launch.

That spacecraft was delivered to us last weekend, and it arrived into our processing center on Monday. Alas, I'm suddenly working 12 hour shifts nearly every day. 4am to 4pm. I have to get up around 1:50am to get out of the house no later than 2:45am, so I can be at the base around 3:15am, so I can put out my LIVESTRONG fundraising goodies at 2 of our buildings. Yes, even through 12 hour days I will keep my fundraising alive. Then after that I can get to the processing center by 3:45am for the start of my 4am shift (we arrive 15 minutes early so we can get to wherever we need to be...typically we have people 'on-station' somewhere in the cleanroom with the spacecraft, and we need to be able to get dressed out in our bunny-suits and relieve them so they can get out by roughly 4am, and 12 hours later they (hopefully) repay the favor.

After work I stop by my 2 buildings and gather my profits for the day, take stock of what I'm short of (so that I can bring it by in the morning on my way back to work), and finally head home. I typically get home around 5:30pm...spend some time with Jeannie and the babies, eat some dinner, and to bed by 7:30pm. Thus is my life for the next few months (until it launches).

OK..enough on my work-life. About today's race....GOSH! WAY TO GO JENS! Of all the days to MISS being at the finish of a race right in my home-area, THIS was the worst! Tyler was 2nd, Thor was third...WHAT A PODIUM!!! I'm DYING that I missed it! I had planned on catching the race in at least 3 locations and most likely 4. I could have seen them as they turned the corner from 154 onto Foxen Cyn, then again as they turned from Foxen to Palmer Cyn, then again as they go down Clark Ave under hwy 135, and again in Guadalupe at the sprint point (each of these intersections give me an escape road for easy access in my car to zoom to the next viewing area). In the inaugural ToC 5 or 6 years ago (won by Floyd Landis if you recall) they did almost this very route going the other way. My brother Greg came up and we caught the sprint in Guadalupe, missed them by seconds on Clark Ave, and we then were able to catch them as they came down from San Marcos Pass on Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara.

Also if you've seen the telecast of today's stage, you saw after they passed thru Orcutt onto Hwy 1 a little tid-bit of our famous winds. This is the road where they first started riding in echelon formation, and where the peleton broke apart separating the GC guys from the yellow jersey. Of note to me was how badly Phil Liggett pronounces so many things. He and Paul don't know how to pronounce the finish city (Avila Beach, pronounced "Av-il-la", but they kept saying "Av-oo-la" (makes me crazy to hear that over and over), also the sprint city of Guadalupe (pronounced "Guad-a-loop-ey", where they constantly dropped off the "ey" at the end). They need to hire someone local wherever they go to help them say the local names right. There were others in the broadcast, but I can't remember them just now....but if they were mangling this much in my little area, it makes me wonder about all the broadcasts they do of places I've never heard of. But that's was still nice to hear's the first race this season  that I've heard the full OLN/VS/NBCSPTS broadcast crew...ahhhhh!And Bobke had funny commercials too! Well, sort of funny. Hopefully they do full on crazy at the TDF.

Back to the local winds. Pro-Peleton, welcome to MY world! I deal with that wind on a daily basis! 15-20 mph is pretty normal. And it DOES shift directions quickly...which is what happened to them. It was almost a direct headwind as they were going north on hwy-1, and suddenly it shifted to a head/crosswind. That's when the alert Radio Shack and BMC squads quickly split the field. I've ridden all the roads they did from the junction of hwy 154 and Foxen Canyon to just a few miles from the finish (never yet ridden into Avila Beach). I rode a part of them just last Saturday, when we were up in the Arroyo Grande area. I do wish they'd consider re-doing this stage someday, only alter it to finish right here in Santa Maria/Orcutt...that way they could add in Figueroa Mt (it's an HC climb...10 miles up, 10 miles down, 3500'), and they have roughly the same overall miles for the day. It would be a GREAT ride for them, and many teams still come to our area in the winter and train on Figueroa Mt. And Santa Maria would offer an awesome many places to do it at, and easy access into/out of the city via Hwy 101 and 135. Avila Beach is a HORRIBLE location for a finish. Horrible for the spectators anyway...even if I had the afternoon off I doubt very much I would have made it in for the finish, unless I gave up seeing all those spots and just went straight there in the morning. There's basicly one way in, one way out. I can guarantee it was a NIGHMARE for the spectators.

But such is life. I MISSED the race of the year (for me). And alas, I must now get to bed. It's already after 8pm suddenly, meaning that I'll only get about 5 and a half hours of sleep IF I can get into bed in mere-moments, and actually fall asleep quickly.

Enjoy the rest of the race! I won't..I might not even get to see the stages, will probably have to read about them on Velo News. How sad is that?


And good-night!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Home again

Live is good again. Well, mostly....I am back home after a LONG 5 weeks in a hotel up in Sunnyvale. The babies were almost as happy to see me as I was to see them! However, Jeannie flew out on Thursday morning, and I drove home Thursday night. She had her girls-vacation planned for over a year now...they are living it up in New Orleans as I type (and having a wonderful time...imagine that!).

But all is sure is good to be home. Yesterday I went on the Saturday morning Main Street Cycles crew group ride...and it was good. I think there were about 12 or 13 at the start....a few ladies too. And to be quite honest, I'm near the very lower end of the cycling fitness in that crew (yes, including the ladies). However it's quite fun to ride with a group when I'm in over my head...I think it helps me get better fast when Typically after about 25 miles there is a break-stop, and then some of the crew turns around for home while the rest go on to whatever the final destination for the day is. THIS is when it gets fun. At this point the pace changes. It goes from a relaxing 'keep the group together' pace to a much zippier one when the strong guys and gals put some hammer down and keep it that way. This is when I slip quickly to the back and hang on for dear life.

Though I'm doing something right as I'm obviously getting stronger (as I didn't have too much trouble hanging on yesterday...but I was pretty whipped at the end of our 65miles). That said, keep in mind that I didn't take one single turn up front...not that it was needed. There were 3 guys who spent nearly the entire day up there...and as strong as they are it suits them...that's how they get a good ride with a weaker group. Boy are they strong. One of them is built JUST like He who must not be named...just dances on the pedals on the climbs with a high cadence...his name is Johnathon, and to look at him off the bike you'd have no idea. Then there is Doug...who looks like a sprinter...huge ripped legs...he can spend the entire day up front yakking with whoever is up there with him (and he did). Also there was Keith...he's not quite up there with Johnathon and Doug, but he takes a lot of pulls on the front, and that's a whole lot more than I can do. Not there this ride was Jeremy...he's active duty Army, but he rides a lot like Tom Boonen. POWER is his middle name I think. He descends like a DEMON, and wins any sprint points that come up. Then there is Doug's wife Patty. Wow is all I can say. She took 3rd in her division at the recent Sea Otter up in Monterrey (I'm pretty sure she's about my age)...I've seen her go up to the front and take full-turns with the guys during some prolonged high-speed pace-line work...she is a complete animal, yet nice as can be.

All in all it was a nice day on the roads, and we went on some ones that I've never been on before. Gee...all these last few years I've been doing all my weekend rides solo...what was I thinking? And today (being as I'm still a bachelor at the moment, as Jeannie doesn't come home until Thursday) I figured what the hay, and went Mt biking. My legs felt pretty tired, but I slipped in my usual full-ride of Montana de Oro State Park. Had a good day overall...some new personal bests (according to Strava)...and my overall time for the entire ride was only minutes off of my best. So I'm progressing nicely....and in less than 2 months I'll be up on Davis for the annual LIVESTRONG weekend. Greg is going to DESTROY me I'm he did the final big century for the spring....Breathless Agony. He ended up with 122 miles with 12,195' of climbing, and his moving time was just under 8 hours. THAT is some serious riding, and he set oodles of personal records for the day. He is an animal for sure...I know I'll be working to hold his wheel up in Davis, that's for sure. I just would like to make it farther with the fast group than I did last year (which I will).

OK. Enough on that. Tomorrow starts the Giro! (and btw, thanks Cathy for the notice that it's televised daily on the BEIN network...SWEET! I've got the DVR set for it). Sheesh...I still haven't watched my 3 races I recorded while I was gone...not that I don't already know who the winners were (GO FABIAN!)...I will need to see when I can slip in some time for that. I know I've been somewhat busy since I got home. Lots of little things to do after being gone so long.

The babies are doing good...PG is doing GREAT on 3 legs...and the hair is mostly covering all the shaved areas and looks a whole lot better. Sweet Pea has an open spot thru the skin (looks rather nasty) where one of the tumors was can see pink muscle/stuff under it..however it's getting smaller by the day and the vet says to let her take care of it...she's doing a good job (she also gets an antibiotic twice a day to keep down any critters that would try to get inside). Hopefully inside of a week it will seal up entirely...until then I worry...infection would be bad.

And so...all is well at the homefront...I see by the news that there are still areas getting SNOW...that would really stink. I HATE WINTER! Boy was that groundhog WRONG WRONG WRONG! Must have been a rookie. But so it goes...that's what you get when you listen to a groundhog for weather predictions.

Have a GREAT week!

And VIVA le Giro!