Sunday, March 22, 2015

When farm animals attack

The first thing I'll say is that I'm ok. The 2nd thing I'll say is that my Mt bike isn't. And the third thing I'll say is that it could have been SO much worse.

OK. Now that I have your interest, I'll tell you what happened...but you'll have to bear with me, cuz I can be quite long winded sometimes getting to the point.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cold, but with a quite reasonable projected high temp of 72 for the day. My plan was for me to go on a solo Mt bike ride. My MTB partner of late (Mike) was going down to Fontana to the US Cup MTB race today (this is the same race series that Cannondale is giving away a new MTB every race, and Fatty was the FIRST winner). This weekend is the 2nd race of that series. But I digress. I was going to go back to Sierra Madre Ridge and give it a go for the long haul. I tried it about a month ago and it rained on me (and I slid out on a mucky corner pretty close to my car and then had to put my bike (and me) back in my car all icky sticky (still have mud in there from that). There was a perfect forecast for this long out and back ride...not too hot, not too cold. The rain was weeks ago so the road (the entire ride is a dirt road) should be in pretty good shape.

I left home a bit after 8am full of hope and excitement at the long hard ride I had waiting for me (I like rides like this). Got to the start point and ready to ride, turned on my GPS and my SPOT unit, and lit out for the long climb about 9:05am. It was still chilly but warming up quick. This ride is pretty much a 2 hour plus climb, with just a few descents sprinkled in for good measure. If I make it all the way to my projected turn-arund point it will be 22 miles out, and about 5000' of climbing (with another few thousand on the way back). The road is a rather typical ridge road...it winds it's way up the spine of the Sierra Madre ridge from Hwy 166, going past Miranda Pines (a popular camping spot) and keeps on going. IF you have camping gear you can take this ridge system in a long arc for about a hundred and fifty miles, coming out clear over by Lake Cachuma. Todays ride would only take me to the Bates Canyon road intersection (which is the next dirt-road intersection that takes you back to rt 166).

All was well...I was feeling great and the weather was perfect. I did have a headwind already, but that is somewhat welcome as it keeps you cool as you constantly climb (and it turns out I set my best time so far on the initial 9 mile climb up to Miranda Pines today). Once you pass Miranda Pines you keep climbing, and you can see the ridge ahead of you, climbing up and up. I had only seen 1 vehicle thus far (it's a somewhat popular 4wd road, and also the street legal off-road motorcycle touring thing is big up here too), so it was a very light traffic day. That is fine with me...I've begun doing more MT biking lately as I've almost been killed (not kidding) on my road bike 3 times in the last 6 months...and thought I'd give that a break. Not sure what it is around here that makes it so scary for the road bike....but it is.

It was just about mile 14 of my climb when on a slight downhill curvy section I came around a corner and there were some cows in the road. Specifically, they were trotting along on the right side of the road, going in the same direction I was. From the time I saw them I only had a few seconds to formulate a plan. Should I stop? (then what?) Do I keep going and pass them? That seemed like the best option at the time. So I kept rolling towards them. Not sure how many there were, I'm guessing about 5 or 6 (I only had a brief look at them). All I really saw was the last cow. It was massive. ROUND. Not oval shaped like a regular cow. HUGE. And trotting along as tail-end-Charlie. He was on the right side, and I was passing on the left. All was right with the world.

As I came up on him (her? I have no idea, but there were no horns is all I really know) I saw it's head turn and look at me as I approached. No big deal...the cow looked at me. Suddenly the cow changed direction right as I was alongside ready to pour on the gas. In the blink of an eye this massive cow veered 90 degrees and launched at me, and hit me like a rodeo bull taking out the clown. One moment I'm on my bike, the very next instant I'm flying thru the air off the left side of the road (which is the steep downhill side). I saw the bull turn and charge but there was nowhere to go. Just to the side of the road was a quite thick impenetrable wall of bushes. Impenetrable if you go at them horizontal, but not if you fly over them. That cow must have knocked me at least 10 to 15' down the hill, where I landed in more bushes on my back (I think..all I know is my face didn't get scratched up thankfully, and my back did....so that's my deduction).

In that brief moment I was flying thru the air (after being hit REALLY HARD by the cow) all I could think was "this is bad". As I landed, the thick bushes broke my fall and then kept me from falling/rolling another 100 yards or more down the steep embankment. My next thought was "is the cow chasing me down the bank?" That thought really scared me, as it was quite steep and I did NOT want a GINORMOUS cow rolling over me down this steep hillside. Thankfully there was no more cow. As I stood up in the broken bushes, my next thought was "where is my shoe?" The cow hit me on my right side, and my right shoe was missing...I was standing in the dirt and broken bush/sticks with just the sock. I fought my way out of the bush and crawled my way back-up the bank, moving over to the right where I could see an opening to the road. I peeked over to my left and thankfully the mean cow and his friends were gone. I was alone.

I made my way over to my bike which was lying right on the edge of the road by the bushes (that I flew over).  By this time I was taking stock of my situation...was I hurt? I was sure scratched up. My right hip hurt (I believe that's where the cow hit me, but it's all just a blur actually). My right upper inside calf had a nice long chunk of scraped skin (which had a nice long lump under the entire thing). That might have happened as I abruptly was crushed into my bike and then off/over the bushes...I have no idea what part of me hit what on the way. My right ankle hurt a lot and was missing some skin too...and turns out my right heel is all black & blue. That must have happened when the cow literally popped me out of my shoe with it's blindside linebacker hit. I wouldn't have thought it possible to come out of the shoe...it's strapped on pretty good...but I did. And thankfully the shoe was lying right there by the bike.

So now I've done a quick damage control report on my body...I'm ok in the big scheme of things (LUCKY!). So now what about the bike? Initial scan it looked fine. OK, not really. BOTH wheels were taco'd BAD. Apparently the mean cow trounced on not one but BOTH of them. And it seems my beautiful Shimano XTR tubeless wheels (which have withstood 11 years and countless miles of abuse) gave it up quick when a HUGE cow stomped on them. I had no camera with me or I would have taken a picture. I've never seen 2 wheels that folded over.

It was then that I freaked out some and started screaming at the cow. "THANK YOU VERY MUCH BROWN COW!" "DID YOU REALLY HAVE TO DESTROY MY  BIKE YOU STUPID COW?" (and a few other things along that line). But it fell on deaf ears, as he was gone. And I was 14 miles from my car. With a badly broken bike. And no phone (not that it would do any good up here). I did have my SPOT unit though (Satellite POsition Tracker)...and it was running. So Jeannie could pop up my map-page and see my GPS positions every 10 minutes any time she wanted. Some of the features of the SPOT units (along with sending out your GPS position anywhere on the globe every 10 minutes where it can be seen by anybody with the link to your map page) is the 4 "message" buttons. 3 of them are programmable by me. And by "programmable", I mean I can set up a specific email message to up to 10 people, and when I push that button the satellite will see my signal and send that email to the people I selected. The first one I have setup for "I'm at the half-way point and am now headed back". The 2nd one is "I'm done for the day and  safe and sound" which I send at the end of my ride/hike/whatever.

The 3rd one is a bit more in depth. It's my personal "emergency" button. To push this button I have to lift up a little flap and press/hold for about 5 seconds. There's no way on earth to accidentally press this button. This one I have never used before. It says something like "I'm OK, but something has happened and I'm going to be late." I envisioned using this one in the event that my bike ever breaks and I'm on foot. Like today. The 4th one is the actual satellite 911 call (anywhere in the world). Once I pry up the cover and  push this button, it sends my name and location to the same satellite center that receives emergency messages from ships and such. They then notify the proper authorities wherever in the world you are of who you are, and exactly WHERE you are (by GPS coordinates) and that you need help.I hope to never need that button. But today I did need my personal emergency button. I had done rough calculations and figured it would take at LEAST 4 hours for me to walk those 14 miles. So I lifted that flap and pushed the button. And resumed carrying my bike. Switching shoulders, holding it in both hands, it was killing me. There was NO WAY I was going to be able to carry my bike to my car. Should I leave it and go? ABANDON my bike? NOT A CHANCE! Not when I'm able anyway...and I was able. I just had to figure out a way to get home.

So I stopped walking and using the "2 rocks propping up the wheel with the badly bent part in the middle of them" method I stomped and stomped my broken wheels into somewhat more of a circle shape from the taco shape. I was hoping to roll my bike down the mountain. Being tubeless wheels/tires, the tires were blown out of the beads and totally flat as the rims were actually sheared in two where the cow stomped them. Multiple spokes were blown out and dangling around, and I had to wrap them around other spokes to keep them from grabbing the brakes each turn around. With the broken out spokes and totally sheared rims, there was zero chance of actually sitting on my bike and coasting for even a little bit. So I pushed on. And stopped again and again to TRY to get the darn wheels to roll thru the frame. They would roll 3/4 of a turn, then catch and drag a few feet, then roll another 3/4 turn. I did it that for a mile or so and stopped AGAIN. Waked some more, and stopped AGAIN. Finally I got both of them to sort-of roll past the frame...as long as I maintained constant pressure on the handlebars and pushed (downhill)...though it was wearing away the frame annodizaton where the rear tire was badly rubbing on the frame...but it was either that or carry it...or abandon it (not an option). Note: the front fork has lots more room for the tire to be WAY out of round and still roll...it's the rear that was my problem for that first few miles).

So I walked. Somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour after I sent the "I'm ok but I'll be late cuz something happened" emergency SPOT alert, I thought to re-check my SPOT Unit and make sure it's still in "Track mode" (where it sends my position every 10 minutes). No it wasn't. The little covered personal emergency light was still on. Seems it had been sending this message over and over apparently (I didn't know that, as I've never used this button before).

I have Jeannie on the email distribution for my emergency email, but also my brother Greg and his wife Marla. I have them on it just in case Jeannie is working (or busy) and doesn't see the email that I'll be "late" (they both have fancy cell phones that get email...and we don't). Well...that part worked like a charm. Marla got the email(s) and called Greg, who was out on his usual solo Saturday Century road-ride. So here's Marla getting email after email (the same one) that something happened and I'm going to be late. And she was obviously worried (THANKS Marla! I can't tell you how much I appreciate how much you both care, and the trouble I put you through yesterday...Greg was ready to jump in his car and make the 3 hour drive north to help out even). So NOW I know that once I hit EITHER of the emergency buttons, they don't stop sending their emergency message (either my pre-programmed email OR the actually 911 distress call) until either my SPOT lithium batteries go dead, OR I Turn it off. When I saw that it wasn't in track mode (after what I thought was somewhere around 1/2 to 1 hour), I turned it off and back on again, and then put it back in "track mode" and continued my long mosey towards my car. So Marla had called Greg, who had called Jeannie alerting her to my predicament, and Greg even suggested that she call my local bike shop (Main Street Cycles) and see if they know anybody who can find out if I'm ok. So Jeannie sent an email with my SPOT map web-page link to the bike shop where Bob (the main man down at Main Street Cycles) looked at it and knew exactly where I was, and he suggested that she call the  Forest Service (at that point my SPOT wasn't yet back in Track mode).

As I was blissfully unaware of brew-ha-ha I had begun back home, I continued my solo hike with my broken bike. Walk walk walk. And walk some more. I was holding a steady pace around 3.5mph (which is pretty slow, considering that I climbed up this road at about 4.5 to 5mph). Re-doing my math over and over in my head I was figuring I could get to my car around 4 to 4:30pm. However, I was thinking SURELY a truck would come by and give me a ride down. And I was right...about an hour into my LONG hike a truck came by. I was pushing my wobbling bike down the right side of the road when I heard him come up behind me...so I held out my left hand with my palm open for him to slow down. He didn't. Didn't pay me even the slightest attention. He pulled as far to the left as he could (the dirt road isn't that wide) to get around me, and just drove right on by. I couldn't believe it! What planet must he have been from to not even open his passenger window and ask if everything was alright? I'm in the middle of nowhere, pushing a badly broken bike, with my hand out for help and looking back at him. Did I miss something? Should I have JUMPED OUT in the middle of the road to stop him? (I wasn't hurt, but I could have REALLY have used a ride). He didn't even look back at me as he drove away. I was aghast. And forlorn. And even quite MIFFED! I still had 11 miles to walk! Wow...thanks a LOT buddy! I'm scratching YOU from my Christmas Card list, you can count on THAT! (when I finally get home that is).

And so I kept on walking. And back home, Jeannie had noticed that my position was updating again now that I put my SPOT back in "Track" mode...so she knew I was moving. Slowly...but moving. She accurately  guessed my bike was broken and I was walking...so she wasn't too worried. If it came to it I could push the 911 button at any time and get rescued....but she knows me and I won't do that unless I have to. But Greg and Marla were still worried...(they didn't have the map page showing I was moving again...all they both had is the gazillion emails...which turns out to be 11 looking at my SPOT page this morning). Greg figured I must be hurt. So the phone calls between Southern California and Santa Maria were fast and furious...all while I was on a lovely Saturday stroll with my Mt bike. I had LOTS of time to think things over as I walked. I still can't really come up with any way to change what happened...the cows were suddenly there and I didn't have a lot of choice....things happened quick. Though I have to admit that I never expected the rodeo-bull attack. I thought cows were mostly afraid of us.

It took me about 4-1/2 hours to walk the entire 14 miles. And that was the best pace I could hold. Which isn't too bad really...backpacking it takes us all day to go 14 miles. And all I had to do is push my busted bike. Downhill (mostly). And still it sucked. Turns out Mt biking shoes aren't really equipped for hiking. I have some blisters on my feet in a few places (and my right big toe had pushed right thru my sock, and has a nice hot-spot there for sure too)...but that's all of small consequence in the big scheme of things.

Here's some shots of my broken wheels:

These first two shots are the front. Keep in mind looking at this 2nd shot that I had to stop 5 or 6 times to stomp the rim into shape so it would roll thru the fork (the front was easier as it has a wider gap to roll thru).


 And here's the rear. The 2nd shot shows clearly where he stomped it...and it appears he got this one TWICE, as it's cracked in half like the front just the other side of the broken off valve stem (as you can see in the first pic). They're a total write-off, I doubt very much I can even get replacement rims (though I'l look into it). The spokes are all special order, and I have to assume they all are stressed...once you break one they all are weakened. At a minimum I'd need to replace 2 spokes on each wheel and the rims. Considering I HOPE To be getting a new mt bike SOMEDAY (a Ripley 29'er is my dream), I don't see putting any money back into these. They were sure nice while they lasted tho (Jeannie got me these wheels 10 years ago for my Christmas, New Years, Ground-Hogs Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day and Thanksgiving gift (they weren't cheap).
 
If you can remember waaaay back at the beginning of the post I mentioned how things could have been SO MUCH worse. Here's what I thought about during my forced march. IF the up-hill had been on the left side (where I was) and the downhill-side of the mountain on the right side (when the cow was trotting along just before he attacked)...I think I might not be so happy right now. As it was, he FLUNG me down the mountain and out of his sight. Done and gone, threat eliminated. IF it had been the uphill bank instead that he smashed me into, I'm afraid he would most likely would have come at me over and over again, pummeling me into mush...as I would have not been able to get out of his sight. I'm only guessing he (she) was at LEAST 1000lbs (2000lbs? I have no idea what a LARGE cow weighs...this one was about as big as I've ever seen. It was MASSIVE. And it was brown. With no horns (now there's a small miracle...horns would have been OH so much worse). That's all I know about this particular cow. And that it apparently REALLY doesn't like being passed. Who knew cows suffered from road rage?

Another thing I'm thankful for: the bushes I landed in when I fell from the sky. THANK YOU BUSHES! It could just as easily been a tree, or rocks, or anything else that's substantially less cushionny than a breakable bush which saved me from tumbling down the mountain-side. Also I was quite thankful to find my shoe. It could have been almost anywhere. It could have 'catapulted' it way off down the mountain-side as I was walloped off of my bike, where I might never have found it. THAT would have sucked. The 14 mile walk was bad enough with BOTH shoes (did I mention how STIFF cycling shoes are, and how uncomfortable they truly are for hiking?) And the final thing I was REALLY thankful for: that I was not really HURT. Gosh, I could have been hurt SO BAD. That cow stomped on my bike after bashing me, and my fancy expensive wheels crumpled like paper. I'm guessing my leg bones would have stood up about the same if he had a chance to stomp them (or my body and all those necessary things like kidneys, and my liver, and all those other soft bits hidden inside). And then I would have needed that emergency rescue. Did I mention that an emergency rescue can be EXPENSIVE? Like IF they need a helicopter, it can easily go over 10 grand? I think I'd rather walk for a few hours in my stiff shoes, thank you very much.

OH...and finally...as I was down to about a quarter mile or less to go, another truck came by. Yep...that's my luck. This one stopped of course, but I could see I was very close to my car at this point, so I thanked them and kept walking...and in about 5 minutes or so I was at my car...done. OH MY GOSH my car has NEVER looked so nice! 

It's now Sunday morning, and I'm sitting here (safe) in the house taking stock of my injuries...I notice my right hip hurts some. I think that MUST be where that monster slammed me. My entire right leg is pretty scratched and scuffed up, mostly on the inside, and missing skin here and there...and the ankle hurts a fair bit too and is also missing some nice chunks of skin. But the most complaining at this point is coming from my LEFT knee. It was nicely swollen this morning and I'm really hobbling around. I have absolutely NO IDEA what happened there. Maybe it's just not very pleased with my 14 mile fast hike in hard bike-shoes...but I'm quite thankful that it didn't feel like that yesterday. That 14 miles would be a MUCH longer hike today, IF I could even bear it. I did pop an 800mg Motrin last night and again this morning after I got up...and I've been sitting with my coffee and an ice pack on it all morning. But all in all I guess I'm really lucky. That cow could have really hurt me, or even killed me I guess. So yeah... I'm banged/bruised/scuffed up...no big deal. I'll live to ride another day, which is about all I can really ask for. But yes, the irony of me getting the smak-down by a giant cow while Mt biking isn't lost on me. Yep...Mt biking is WAY safer than road biking. Looking back, my decision to TRY to pass the cows wasn't too bright. Maybe I'll go have a nice Carls Jr. Six Dollar burger today for lunch. That's about as much redemption as I'm likely to get on that big-boy. And tomorrow I'll work on my bike. I pray I can get it working for my Sunnyvale trip next Monday (I'm heading up for 3 weeks starting the 30th). The Mt biking is WORLD CLASS up there...and I've never yet seen a cow on the trails.

Or maybe I should just take up stamp collecting? (thanks for that tip Mike! Never heard of anybody getting hurt stamp collecting!)


I found a picture online of what MY cow looked like  (the only diff that I can see is mine
had gold eyes.

And today (Weds) my "friends" at work sent me this picture...they titled it "Matt-a-dor"
Ha ha, that's pretty darn funny! Only my bull was WAY bigger. But I don't mind the NOT having horns.


And here's 3 still shots I cut out of my video from Saturday's mtb ride showing the Mt lion running across the road in front of me. Wicked cool AND scary at the same time!








18 comments:

  1. Wow!

    Matt, leave it to you to have this happen. As you have just found out, cows can be startled very easily and can move faster than you think! It's best to let a cow know you are there and trying to sneak by slowly from behind was your mistake. Best to get around them fast if you must and with a wide birth. It was most likely a bull as they are protective and aggressive. Probably around 1500+ lbs.

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  2. Close Encounters of the Cow Kind: you are soooo lucky Matt, it could have been a wild squirel or something like that. The SPOT emails really got our attention, unfortuantly no one had every thought throught what to do if we recieved an emergency message before. Next time you need to make sure you carry a few extra emergency items in your camelbak just in case the cow comes back. like ketcup and a bun and matches ()BBQ time!)

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  3. OMG! Oh Matt, so glad it wasn't worse! Maybe you should go to the Drs for a check to make sure nothing is broken?

    Couple questions - was this private property you were riding thru? You didn't see a human with the cows? I'm assuming this means they had broken out (you could sue the owner if you are so inclined). Not all breeds are the same temperament-wise & in fact, cows of the same breed can have different "personalities" too but I can give you SOME info (as a former farm girl). The cow you describe as "ROUND" could have been a pregnant female (right time of year & you NEVER want to mess with one of them!). Horns do not mean 'male' as both female & male can have them. The farmer may have just de-horned his entire herd for safety. My dad always taught me not to 'come up from behind' the cows or horses, especially if on something "mechanical" (like a bike, scooter, etc) as they feel threatened & will "lash out" (i.e. charge, chase, bite or kick). Something my mother failed to adhere to her detriment - when I was about 9-10, she was driving the two of us home from one of my Drs appts in the late afternoon. We were about 3-4 miles from our home farm on the county road. In this particular area, the road was narrow & 2 cars could not be abreast - one would have to move at least halfway onto the grass to let the other car pass. We come around a bend & we see about 10-12 cows about 30 feet ahead - they had "gotten out" (that's the vernacular used in my neck of the woods, not "escaped", not "runaway", but "gotten out") from one of the farms along the road. Instead of waiting for the cows to, er, 'mooooooove' (sorry :) ) on down to road to a wider area, my mom decides she can't wait & edges our big ole Buick into the herd - they separate onto the two sides of the road. She then blows the horn & keeps going slowly. I had TOLD her to wait & NOT to blow the horn but she wouldn't listen. Well, as we were about 2/3 of the way thru, one of the cows on my side starts kicking the crap out of the car. Then another joined in. One of the cows threw its shoulder into the outside mirror on my side & almost knocked it off. The car got thru the bunch in another 15-20 seconds or so but there was MAJOR damage to the car. My mom wanted me to LIE to my Dad about it! As IF! I had TOLD her to wait or let me get out to herd the cows down the road to the next lane opening (only about 100 feet away) but nooooooo. My dad was pissed.

    Anyhoo, some cows are just nasty, others are so laid back you'd think they were SoCal surfer dudes in previous lives. ;) My Dad bred our Herefords (a breed of beef cattle) to be non-aggressive. Any calf that looked to not have that "personality" was sent, er "packing" before they got to adulthood. One of our family friends did the opposite & his cows (dairy) were MEAN!

    I've always worried about you & anyone else here who bikes a lot but I have to admit I never even thought about you coming into contact with runaway cows (dogs, snakes, even mt lions, yes). Guess I just didn't envision CA as "cow country" which is really stupid now that I think about it. I'm sorry about your bike but am happy the cow kicked IT more than you!

    And now YOU know - there's a REASON farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. :)

    And did you ever see the Disney movie 'Lady & the Tramp'? Remember when all the farm animals "communicated" around the area? How far AWAY is Sunnyvale? I'm joking! Our cows never "chatted" beyond our neighboring farms... I think. :) :)

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  4. Looking back, I really didn't have the opportunity to do anything but try to pass...it all happened so fast...I was moving along pretty good, come around the corner and there they were...I doubt very much that I could have even stopped if I wanted to...if I had even tried it would involve skidding tires, which would probably really freak them out (and then I'd be at a complete stop and a MUCH easier target...not that it mattered...this one had a really great tracking/intercept program as he hit me spot-on)....I truly thought I could just blaze by them...but that big boy/mamma changed direction real-quick and in a hurry...and that was that. I recall seeing the head turn, and by then I was almost past at that point...but out of the corner of my eye (I was looking ahead) I saw the direction change and thought "OH SHI"...and that's about all I could even think before the blast...I remember the crushing hit to the body and I was flying thru the air, then crashing down into the bushes. Stunned...freaked out...all at the same time. Never would have thought something like this would happen in a zillion year.

    And no, it wasn't private property...it was a public road (dirt)...I believe it's under the control of the Forest Service...(maybe I should call them? I don't even know who to call). I have no proof...no pictures or video or anything, just my busted wheels (and this morning I see I have a nice dent in the frame on the right side....not sure if it's a show-stopper or not at this point). I've seen dried cow-pies on the road before, but not sure if they are 'allowed' to be there or if they had just "gotten out"...I'd guess the latter. I have to guess that one might even attack a passing truck (there's no place for them to go...it's a ridge-road, and no nice pull-outs for them...so even a passing motorcycle or car/truck would scare them pretty good).

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  5. That's crazy Matt. I have passed by cows before on rides up here in northern Californian I would have never though one would attack me. I think I will approach that situation a bit differently after hearing your story. I have a fine collection of old 26 inch wheels you can have as many as you want. When are you up in Sunnyvale again?

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    1. Hey Dave....I'm heading up to Sunnyvale on Monday for 3 weeks (woo-HOO!) I put my original set of wheels back on the bike for now, and other than replacing the rear shift cable (the beast snapped it off going into the derailleur somehow) and a nice dent in the downtube, the frame looks fine...(so I don't think I need any of your wheels, but thanks for the offer...and I'll keep that in mind). Hope to ride w/ you guys a few times over the next few weeks! Shame I missed Carlos tho....bad timing!

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  6. Mark in BremertonMarch 24, 2015 at 8:57 PM

    Your photo is of a BULL. Either way, serious beef! As you said, you're lucky. I'll take dogs any day.

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  7. Spartacus was in a crash today at the E3 (?) race, BROKE some vertebrae & now his Classics season is over! Crap! Wonder if 'cows on the lam' were involved. ;)

    I know, I know, it's NOT funny but I & all of Fabian's fans are heartbroken. And see Matt, your 'bovine experience' could have been worse. How are you feeling today? Hope you're healing up nicely. I wonder if the area farmers are allowed to let their cows graze on that Forest Service property - have you contacted the FS to find out?

    Also, I'm not sure what breed that is, but it's definitely for beef & not a dairy cow. (Well, THAT pic is a bull, but I meant the breed is not for dairy). :)


    The fact that you have no photos of the road, cows involved, or the crash show one & all you are not a Millennial! If you were, you'd have snaps of yourself flying thru the air. :)

    And I've been meaning to ask you - did you keep tabs on the weather/temps of your possible retirement locales? And I was surprised when you mentioned Costa Rica & Belize - didn't know you were interested in living outside the US. How will you get your doggies back & forth? Have you thought about an RV so you could move around each year trying out new areas? Would be easier moving around with the doggies too. Or one of those trendy 'Tiny Houses' on wheels. I have to admit, I do NOT understand the tiny house thing except for saving money. My 1st house, a 2 floor, 2 bedroom townhouse with no basement was TINY & within 4 years, it drove me NUTS! To each their own, though! :)

    Have you been to Belize? I've only seen it on TV, mostly on 'House Hunters International'. My boss visited there about 2 months ago & said the resort-tourist areas were nice but right after those areas end, it was very poor & seemed very unsafe.

    Anyhoo, have to get going. Would love an update from Rae, Barbara & long-lost Janann! You-hoooo, we MISS you!

    And fingers crossed but I THINK the threat of snow & ice is DONE for the season in our area! WHOO-HOOOOOOO! Have a great weekend everyone!

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    1. Hey Susie... I saw on Velo News that Fabian crashed and his Classics season is over before it really began. THAT SUCKS! And I hear Boonen won't be a threat either. WOW...what a break for the others, but how sad for cycling.

      And somehow during the drudgery of winter, I forgot to keep tabs on the temps in my retirement options this winter (though it might have been skewed...sounds like this was an ABBY-NORMAL winter for most everybody). Oh well...there's always next winter.

      Sure hope you (and everybody else) is DONE with winter...it's been a long one for ya'll, that's for sure!

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  8. Oh, how could I forget! Did you see that you-know-who "testified" to WADA about how Lance..well, guess. Just guess. Guessguessguessguessguess! Yessireebub, that Lance "destroyed her & Frankie's lives". 1st of all, WHY is SHE talking to WADA & not her HUSBAND, who was the actual pro cyclist? And I guess we imagined all those years that Frankie worked for OLN/Versus for the Tour. Plus, most Euro teams didn't give a crap about LA, even during his Tour winning years, you think THEY would have shied away from hiring Frankie because LA "told" them to? Are you KIDDING?! This is such bullshit. And speaking of "RUINED LIVES", Armstrong qualifies FAR more than the Andreus! The fact that Lance allegedly only called her an 'obsessed bitch' all these years shows huge RESTRAINT in my opinion. ;)

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  9. Went looking for MY cow (bull) on yesterday's MTB ride...back to Sierra Madre Ridge. Only we went up Bates Rd, which intersects Sierra Madre Ridge at what WAS to be my turn-around point last Saturday, before I got Bull-smacked that is. Anyway, no cows...but I DID see a Mt lion! As we were coming back to the intersection to head back down, he ran right across the road in front of me, maybe about 30 yards away. And I had my video cam with me AND running! Due to the wide-angle view it looks like he's a mile away...I assure you I had a very clear view and he was pretty big...only the 2nd one I've ever seen. Pretty cool and scary at the same time (Mike was behind me a minute or so). Here's a link to my cut-out 7 second video I posted on youtube: http://youtu.be/qvdpPvvCzzo

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  10. So SUSIE! Your Lady-Terps made it to the FINAL FOUR! How very exciting! And all they have to do to make it to the final is beat UCON...(that's a tall order)...however the LT's didn't get there by accident and I think they have a real shot. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for them. As for the mens brackets...wow...3 of the 4 #1 seeds are in the final 4. Can't recall that happening before. Typically more than 1 of the 4 get knocked out by this time. Hang onto your hats...it's pretty exciting stuff!

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    1. Thanks Matt! My fingers are crossed too! I don't watch much women's basketball but did keep tabs all year on both the men's & women's MD bb teams as they were doing well, especially the "Lady Terps". The MD women are a #1 seed but they aren't expected to beat behemoth UCONN. But hey, upsets happen! FEAR THE TURTLE!

      As for the men, I just hope ANYONE beats KY; the epitome of what is wrong with men's college basketball these days. I can't stand Calipari & his program is the nadir of the 'One & Done' joke. Notre Dame ALMOST beat them so it's definitely possible!

      Hey, did you see that Riis got FIRED from "his" team? I almost laughed as EVERYONE had to see that would happen - Tinkoff & Riis are like chalk & cheese, fireworks & snow drifts. Will be interesting to see how AC does in the Giro & TDF now, plus the fact that he's once again trying to ride/win them back to back I thought was crazy from the beginning & believe Tinkoff probably "convinced" him (i.e. forced him perhaps with inside knowledge of PED use?) to do it. Wonder if Riis will start up his own team again one day. I think I read a couple years ago that he was tired of all the constant stress from trying to continually find sponsors & that's why he sold the team to Tinkoff in the 1st place.

      Your boy Sagan is on the hot seat now as Tinkoff expects him to WIN no matter what. Did no one else notice that Sagan did not exactly set the peloton on fire LAST year & yet Tinkoff gave him that huge new contract?

      And hey, that MOUNTAIN LION! I wrote earlier that has always been one of my worries for you out there in the CA mts but geeze, maybe the bull & "kitty" are SIGNS to stay OUT of that area!

      Well, hope you're able to watch Flanders. It's not on any channel I get & I don't think it's on Universal Sports either. That's my FAVE Classics race so I am mighty grumpy that once again I don't get to see even taped coverage.

      Have a good weekend & be alert for the next animal/reptile/insect confrontation! :)

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  11. Yo Susie...you got your wish! Wisconsin BEAT Kentucky! OMG! I think this is the final pair that I'd have hoped for IF I had even bothered to fill out a bracket (I go with my 'wish' rather than logic and typically do very poorly picking winners). And not that I want to see either of these teams lose, bit I hope it's Wisconsin who wins it all! VERY JAZZED that both Kentucky AND Mich. State are out!

    Didn't see ANY critters on my mt bike ride yesterday...it was completely uneventful, other than the Central Coast Spring WINDS.

    And as for the Tour of Flanders...wow! Kristoff first, Terpstra 2nd and Van Avermaet third....what an awesome (and YOUNG) podium! We'll never know how Tom or Fabian would have fared darn it...but these 3 guys are certainly the heir's apparent in the classics. I only wish I could have watched it...but no. I won't be seeing much racing this year I'm afraid....probably just the Tour. Not even sure I'll be here when the Tour of CA rolls thru town, passing thru on MY home roads! I was planning on taking the day off and catching the peleton in at least 3 places, but as my Sunnyvale trip was postponed until May, I MIGHT be up there. THAT would suck...I've been planning the day around the TOC rolling thru for months now...so I'll just have to wait and see how everything plays out. I recall being up in Sunnyvale last year and missing out when they rolled thru (that was when it was SO unbelievably hot if I recall). But I did catch them on the stage up Mt Diablo (which was also brutally hot). So last year wasn't a total loss.

    And finally, HAPPY EASTER to the Asylum! Hope the Easter Bunny dropped tons of tasty treats your way!

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  12. Hey Matt - I'm thrilled that Wisc beat KY but I guess I'm just not "allowed" to have a perfect weekend as the Lady Terps got trounced by UConn. Next year!

    I know you were probably rooting for Wisc last night in the championship game but I've been rooting for Duke & Carolina since 1986 whenever they didn't play against MD, so Duke is like FAMILY to me. Well, 3rd cousins twice removed. ;) However, since Wisc beat hated KY & Duke was so filled up with the dreaded one & done Freshmen this year, I found myself kinda rooting for them too! They looked like they would run away with it there in the 2nd half when the 2 Duke big guys were in foul trouble & had to sit & Duke got down by 9. But nope, that unheralded (white) freshman kid comes in & sparks Duke! All & all, I thought it was a pretty good championship game!

    I do feel bad for the Wisc guys though. Especially the senior, that guy they call the Tank. Hope he makes it in the NBA - he looked pretty good to me!

    Wish I could have seen Flanders! Do you still get the NBC-Sports channel? They will be showing taped coverage of Paris-Roubaix on MONDAY night - starting 7:00 pm, eastern time. Not sure what time it will be shown on west coast. What with all the Euro soccer, Nascar , Indy car, & hockey, just wasn't "enough room" to actually broadcast it same day. Harumph!

    Today I saw the INSANE run-up area to the Finish in Pais Vasco & there were POLES in the street! Which of course, several riders crashed right into & are injured severely. Unbelievable! Not only are the race organizers at fault, but I blame the UCI - they should ENSURE that all the world-level races have safe roads!

    I also saw taped footage of 2 of the Shimano neutral cars wiping out riders in Flanders. The one car swerved right into a rider & knocked him clean off the bike as he was trying to zoom past the bunch, like that damn car in the TDF a few years back. In the other incident, one car crashed into the back of a team car which then hurt the rider that was riding next to it (& I think they were talking with). I've always been amazed there aren't more car-rider incidents in cycling races but figured the car drivers somehow train to prevent them. Guess these new guys didn't get the training! Personally, I think there are TOO MANY teams in many of the races & too many cars!

    Until your last comment, I thought you were already up in Sunnyvale! And shoot, now you won't be able to see ToC in your backyard?! Crap! Are any of the stages near Sunnyvale this year?

    Hey, it's about time for some more Sophie pics! She must have grown a ton! Give her some smooches from Aunt Susie (& the other 'girls' too!).

    Gotta go. Be safe on your next ride. Hey, maybe you should get a, um, cowbell to wear around your neck! OR even better - maybe there's an APP for that! :) :)

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  13. Hi y'all. Have been so distracted that although I have been dropping by to read, I haven't commented. Matt, I guess since you are out riding again, you've recovered from your bumps and bruises? Knee is okay?

    Your shot of the mountain lion was impressive! I never saw one in my years hiking out there, although once in the mountains east of San Diego we did see their footprints on the trail, fresh ones that hadn't been there on the way in.

    And yes, Susieb, ranchers are allowed to graze there herds on forest service lands, and have come to think of it as nearly a divine entity given right.

    I am so glad that winter seems to be over. It didn't leave without getting me good this year -- I slipped off the front porch (how I don't know -- one second I was standing there and the next thing I knew I had landed on the rock wall that borders the sidewalk) and broke a bone on my spine and bruised my liver a little. Ouch! So I am on "light duty" at work -- which means I don't have to work next weekend and can watch Paris-Roubaix! I won't wait for NBCSports' broadcast, though, I will watch their livestream. What's a little pain when I can watch cycling to my heart's content?

    Susieb, do you not have internet at home? If you do, do you know that you can watch nearly every race live via Cyclingfans.com or Steephill.com? (Probably all too early for Matt) You are best to have Adblock running, otherwise no problems for me in years of doing this. Also, all the big races are generally on youtube within a day or so. So you can see all 4 hours of de Ronde coverage if you are so inclined.

    I was so hoping that Niki Terpstra could pull off the win last Sunday, and always glad to see a BMC-er podium, but there was no question that Kristoff -- who is on fire! -- was the strongest of the day. And, Susie, did you see Fabian's tweets during the race? He was tweeting for both Trek and as himself. I also enjoyed seeing Tom Boonen's comments during the race on Eurosport.

    I wonder how Cathy is enjoying working for a team with Kristoff and J-Rod?

    Rae

    This is my favorite part of the racing season (really, it rivals the TdF to me) and I am so glad that there are ways for us USians to see the races.

    Matt, you have got to figure out a way to get to the ToC! And do you all realize that the cycling WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS are going to be in RICHMOND VA this year!!!! I have GOT to get there! Matt, don't you need to visit your family in September ;) ;) ;)

    Okay, I've got to get back to learning the new computer system for work. So complicated!

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  14. Wow...a GREAT section by section description of this weekends Paris-Roubaix pave! I won't get to watch it, but if I were I'd print this and have it handy to read about each section as they come to it. AWESOME stuff! What a race this is going to be!

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2015/04/news/cheatsheet-riding-the-paris-roubaix-cobbles_365971

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  15. Hey Rae, so great to hear from you but SO sorry about your injury! I'd been hoping the reason we hadn't heard from you was that you were off on some fantastic TROPICAL vacation or something! Take it easy & heal up fast!

    And no, I don't actually have home internet (or a computer/laptap/ipad or smartphone) so these days I can barely see any cycling. I used to be able to sneak peeks at live footage on cyclingfans or steephill here at work, but you probably don't remember - my company blocked access to those sites last year. I was SO upset that I couldn't see or at least hear the last 10-30K of the TDF stages live last year as I had been able between 2008-2013. I had planned on buying an ipad a few years ago, but the monthly cost of internet is stopping me for now. I MUST keep saving/investing everything I can for the next 6 years (at least) till I get my retirement egg closer to where it needs to be. Basically, I want to double what I have now. Of course, it "ONLY" took me 31 years to accumulate it & I need to double it within the next 10. Argh! Anyhoo, for the past 8-9 years, I've been curtailing everything I can. My big "extravagance" is cable (no HBO or DVR though) & even though I think it is OUTRAGEOUS what Comcast charges, I will not be giving up TV (it's all I have!). However, I am thinking about switching to Verizon FIOS because Comcast REFUSES to give me a good discount.

    I checked Fabian's & Trek Cycling's tweets after you mentioned them. Thanks for the heads-up! :)

    Anybody else interested in the Masters? Man, I LOVE that event. It always looks so GORGEOUS down there, it just makes me happy to watch. Especially this week as we've had 4 straight days of drizzly-rainy-gloomy weather! Unfortunately, just like last year it looks like ONE guy is running away with it which means Sunday will have NO drama. Maybe he'll stub his toe or something tomorrow. At least Tiger is playing pretty well considering his time away. I would love to see Tiger win a major this year or even any tournament just to shut up all those "experts" that say his career is "over". He may not be my fave person, but he was AMAZING to watch for more than a decade.

    SO-PHIE! SO-PHIE! SO-PHIE! Puhleeze, let's see some more pics! :) :) How're you feeling, Matt? All healed up?

    Alrighty, I need to take care of a couple things & then leave a bit early today. Want to get home for my MAGNLOIA ,DOGWOOD, & AZALEA fix! :) Have a great weekend everybody & have fun watching Paris-Roubaix &/or The Masters! :) :)

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