Monday, August 1, 2011

The Flats

It's circuit race season! Every year, HB puts on 3 circuit races, one in Silvana up in the Skagit Flats, one in Gig Harbor near AJ's house, and one in Carnation. These races are always fun, because almost everyone volunteers at them, so we usually have upwards of a dozen guys racing, instead of our usual 10. The Skagit Flats race in 2009 was the first time I felt like I was racing in the 1-2 field instead of just riding and being dumbfounded, so it holds a special place in my heart. That year, Lang even gave me a pair of elite team socks that he stole from Sam. It was a pretty touching moment.

Anyway, now it's 2011, which means there are thousands of b&w and sepia-toned photos of mundane moments during the day circulating on the internet. Let's look at what happened while we volunteered during the early races!

(Winger, sweeping the S out of a corner. Photo Ian Terry)

(Winger mit Radio. Photo

("Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby." "Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full." Photo IT)

(Ian about to hand me what I thought was a love note as I drove past Trestle 2. It turned out to be an ad from the back pages of The Stranger. Photo IT)

(Winger's Mellow Yellow tire. "You can't beat free." Photo

Thanks to Ian Terry and Langer for riding with me in the my support car Volvo (#swaggerwagon). In the afternoon, we got to shed our reflective vests and walkie-talkies and suit up for some h-core racing of our own. It was a weird one, with a 13-man group going on the 2nd of 8 laps containing me, Steve, Ian Terry and the newly upgraded Nick ZZZ. We all had heavy legs, but they came around in the end just in time for the last lap, when we took turns attacking, setting up the sprint perfectly for me and Steve to go 1-2. Steve pulled the ol' sit-up-when-he-was-sure-his-teammate-was-gonna-win routine, which was confusing, because he was sprinting a LOT faster than me until the last 20 meters.

(Steve, carefully dosing his effort. Photo Amara Boursaw Edwards)

(aw shet bru! that was piiiiiiifect!)

So major booyah on HB winning races. Also, as a result, I got a Cat 1 stamp on my license, so now I get to have my ass handed to me at bigger races, which should help with the issue of my rapidly-inflating ego.

Also in the world of HB, two of our fallen riders, Chris Parrish and Dan Bechtold, are well on the road to recovery and should be racing soon! Get well boys!!!!!

(Chris tucking into a recovery muffin. Muffins contain nutrients that promote the growth of new skull tissue.)

(Dan showing some hip in an obligatory collar-bone-trainer-riding photo.)

Get healthy, get fast!!!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Running Around Racing v.2

Finally back in Seattle! I just got done traveling for a week and some to Cascade and the Northwest Regional Youth Development Camp in Forest Grove. It was a killer week with approx. infinity new experiences and friends made. First, a photo recap of Cascade. We'll start where we left off, after the first stage that I unwittingly won. Here's one from the TT where I lost my yellow shirt.

(explanation: my pre-tt food is a handful of Sourpatch Kids)

Per usual, I have tons of excuses for not winning the TT. First of all, I had no Skrillex to listen to. Second of all, they didn't give me a yellow skinsuit to race in! Instead of riding with the strength of 10 men, I was riding with the strength of one Colin, which was not enough, and I dropped a bunch of places. Next!

(making a face at Davis Shepherd. what face exactly? see below.)

(this face! explanation: pre-crit food is chewing tobacco.)

(3rd in the crit = more beer! plus, no castelli belly = PRO! photo

I was real pleased with the crit, partially for the special performance sprint I made in order to get close to the gold-sequined dress-wearing podium girls, and partially for the four bonus seconds I netted in the process. I also got a peanut butter prime!

Sunday, I did listen to Skrillex before the race, and look what happened:

(I think I'm at the "k" in "Fuck yah!")

Definitely the best weekend I've had on a bike in a long time, especially in terms of luck. Some of my teammates have had it real bad this year, breaking collar bones and fracturing skulls, so I'm quick to count my blessings, but this weekend, everything really came into place in a way that it didn't at several other potentially good races this year. After the last stage, I also moved up to 2nd GC. 24 bonus seconds over the course of the weekend. Pro!

Before heading out of town, I made sure to hit up Thump Coffee:

(sipping the 'spro at Thump, the very shop where my blog was born a year ago!!!)

After the racing, I booked out of Bend to Forest Grove. I got the sweet opportunity to coach at one of USAC's regional youth development camps, this one in Forest Grove, Oregon. Jim Anderson runs this one, now in its third year with 36 riders. Jim has been involved with racing, race promotion, and rider development for a long time, and he's also a real nice guy and super easy to work with. The camp was Sunday-Friday, with lots of riding, lecturing, eating, and track stands. The kids were great, the other coaches were great, and the dorms were especially great. I spotted this gem of a warning above the toilet in my bathroom:

(what the hell am I supposed to brush my teeth with now?)

(turns out I <3 Willamette Valley)

(Jim talking to the group on day 1)

(the riders on the last day in their new German National Team kits)

(sitting in, getting ready to attack the S out of these kids)

(riding with Phil and Butch, about to motor-pace that guy)

That week was effing rad. Special thanks to this song:

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Lemme cut to the chase:

I won the first stage of Cascade!!!! Booyah! I just got back from the TT, where I managed 9th place, :58 down on the winner. Now I'm 7th GC, which is okay, because I didn't really want to have to defend the jersey anyway. Womp Womp!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm On the Map!

Ok world, big news in the world of bubblewrap bartape. Recently, not only did three different people tell me that they had read my blog, but one of them even critiqued it! I'll get to the critique in just a moment, but first let me say that I think the "traffic sources" function on blogs is pretty funny. Just look at my top-4 sources of Google traffic this month.

(Jamie, stop googling yourself and go take a nap.)

I'm proud to say that people searching for my blog marginally outnumber people looking for actual bubble wrap.

Okay, on to the critique. Avid readers may remember that back in February, I posted a little post about a TT I did down in Oregon. In it, I mentioned that Tom Broderick's tubular gluing advice gave me such confidence in my tires that I dove into a corner faster than I should have and ended up getting slapped with a 30-second penalty for crossing some cones set up by the officials. Well, when I was talking to Tom the other day, he called me out for giving him and his employer bad press! I had two reactions. 1) "Oh snap! The joke was that it wasn't his advice, but my illegal cornering tendencies, that were the problem," and 2) "Oh SNAPPZ!!!! Tom Broderick reads my blog and thinks that it could influence customers! YEEEAAAH!!!! I'VE HIT THE BIG TIME!!!"

I tried to contain my bulging pride at the second realization, and promised a redaction if further review merited it. After all, I appreciate that Tom wants to maintain his reputation as a stone cold human-bicycle interface:

And not something less confidence-inspiring:

(photos courtesy of

Well, even if it isn't really funny, I'm leaving the original post up, but here's a clarification: Tom Broderick isn't a bad mechanic. He isn't a mediocre mechanic. He's a pretty effing good mechanic.

For instance, I once brought Tom my busted up Zipp Predator track disc wheel made in 1990, and he fixed the hub using strange, arcane techniques after he got an email from Zipp basically telling him to forget about it.

Another example: did you know that he has a small metal plaque declaring that he is Shimano Di2 certified? It is proudly displayed under the glass next to some track hubs, so that when you ask if it's for sale, (I assume) he can kick back in an armchair, cross his hands behind his head, and say, "Son, that's not something you buy, it's something you earn," eliciting a sort of sudden awe and respect not unlike this:

(obviously, I'm Coop and Tom is Gene)

As an oft-penniless racer, I'm always searching for clever ways of getting more out of my equipment to save money, and when I've got a puzzler, and I've exhausted Sheldon Brown's website, Tom is the first person I'll bother with my issues. So Tom, thank you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Circle Racing, Hand Holding, and the Limitations of my Volvo

Circle racing! Two weeks ago, racing got rained out, turning what would have been a high octane, h-core night of 45-50mph racing into a guilt-ridden trip to the beer garden followed by a penitent Saturday A.M. coffee shop ride, captured for the first time by National Geographic photographers in my last blog post.

Not this time! Cloudless skies the last two weeks meant I got to hit the BG trail on my track bike, getting my competitive juices flowing on the way to the track by racing anyone who so much as looked at me the wrong way. Last Friday, I learned that I was waaay behind in terms of my weekday Seattle racing from Joe Holmes. Joe had been competing against a pretty formidable field in the relatively unknown Seattle Stage Race. Here's a link to the race website.

That night, we got to do some scratch racing and some miss-n-out-ing, with me, Joe, Logan, and Waz ready to go. We set things up well: Joe lulled the field into a false sense of security before the race by talking about how bad his legs felt, and he also created a smart diversion on the 2nd lap by dropping his chain, allowing Logan to attack. I thought I had a good moment to jump up to Logan about halfway through the 15-lap scratch, but ended up just chasing Logan back because I didn't go fast enough. Oops!

(me, probably chasing Logan down in a jealous rage. Dennis Crane is a badass photograhper!!)

We collected our bearings after the race, and got ready for the miss-n-out, where I had a much more plush job. I led in the pole lane with Logan on my wheel for as long as I could, until I got le tired from riding 32-second laps and he was left to fend for himself. Quotes from miss-n-out:

Logan, lap 2: "Go!"
Logan, lap 10: "Colin, GO!"
Jamie, lap 11: "Dance, monkey!"
Me, lap 12: "I'm Effed!"

Then we waited for 2 hours until our last race, a 30-lap scratch with a few primes. This time, I waited until after Logan came back to attack, jumping up to a group with Jamie, Matti Herz and Zach Jones about 10 laps in. We rolled it okay and kept a half-lap lead to the finish. I tried to stay relatively fresh, and unleashed a pretty underwhelming all-in attack with 2 to go. Despite having no gas, it was the only way I could see beating Jamie, who kicked his illness and is back looking strong. He took the sprint, and I edged Zach out for 2nd.

That was fun, but yesterday was even better: hand holding night! I talked Grant Boursaw into being my partner on the basis that we're about the same size. Grant replied that I'm a little fatter, but he'd still be my partner.

There was decent turnout, with 10 teams for the 5x8 points race. We figured if we were gonna win, it would be by staying with Jamie and Ian and beating them in the sprints. We did okay for the first half of the race, by which time we and KR had lapped most of the field, but shortly thereafter, we got caught up behind some traffic during an exchange and Jamie got a gap on us. Waah! It was pretty effing crucial to get back up to them, and I managed to close the gap to Ian's wheel at one point, but I got to him right as Jamie came in and attacked straight away. Their gap sat at around 50 meters for the rest of the race, so we wound up 2nd. But look how cute we looked doing it! Thanks to Amara Boursaw for the airbrushing.

(Grant: "I have no upper body, sooo.....")

(Shortly before the ruh-roh.)

(Joe shouted "KatJAAAAA!!" with every exchange.)

Okay on to my volvo.

I'll be clear: I really like this car. Without racks of any kind, this car has "successfully" carried two riders and all their gear to a stage race. One of them was Steve, which saved us 5-10 cubic feet of packing space over the average human*, but the Volvo was still impressive.

That said, there are attributes of this car that force you to drive in a certain way. First, it doesn't like to go above 68mph for more than a minute at a time. 68mph is its jam, and it can hold that speed all day, but above that, it gets cranky. This means that long trips usually take a little longer in my car. My response is to mitigate the low maximum by driving 68mph at all times, rather than engaging in the reckless inefficiency of accelerating and decelerating depending on the speed limit, much like an Ironman triathlete who chooses to go slowly for 10-20 hours on account of a lack of ability to go fast for any shorter period of time.

Second, my car's low top speed is accompanied by a lack of "spark" or "jump." Uphill on-ramps make me sweat. However, I see this as a blessing in disguise, as it forces me to hit on-ramps (and hills) with as much speed as I can safely carry through them. While other cars have the luxury of slowly navigating clover-leaves and then accelerating on the straight, I am forced to lean hard into turns while flooring it to avoid scrubbing any precious speed. Again, I'm proud of the efficiency, but it's not always so easy. Often, I'm railing my way through a turn because I know there's a 200m section at 1% coming up, and I come up on a car who's never even thought about the dire consequences of me not carrying speed through the turn. Like seeing a 1984 Volvo DL in his rear-view mirror didn't even carry any significance. Times like these, I either double down, merging early across the double-white, or I touch the brakes, which will take a few minutes to recover from.

Sometimes, it's not other drivers that mess with my strategy, it's the roads themselves. When it comes to passing on two-lane roads, my advantage is on technical sections, not on straights or uphills. The problem is that you only get passing sections on straight roads with lots of visibility, which means that the cars you want to pass might actually be going only 1mph under the speed limit, instead of the 10 under that is common whenever there is a 45 degree bend in the road. So most of the time, I ride behind a long line of drivers unable to navigate anything other than a straight line, then when the solid yellow goes to ticked, everyone accelerates to the point that I can't pass. Catch-22 kind of situation.

*Steve is little.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Colin and Jake's Great Adventure

Okay, here's a little prelude for you: Jaker and I simul-tweeting in Wenatchee.

(The tweet heard round the world / house!!)

So while my super baller teammates were busy curbstomping bike races in the deep south, I was left to my own devices in Seattle, where there was a huge amount of racing on the calendar...NOT!! I tried to go circle racing at the track on Friday, but it got rained out like a little league baseball game and I was forced to ride my track bike, brakeless, back home, past confused fixee riders who didn't know what to make of my fixeeee+lycra getup. Most of them settled on a facial expression that conveyed a sort of blasé potential respect, though that seems to be a sort of catchall for fixee riderz.

The circle racing rain-out is a funny sight. One moment, Evan Schmitt is up in the announcer's booth, playing something like the Star Wars Imperial March and describing the impending races in a grandiose voice; everyone is silently willing the sky not to open up; and pacelines and accelerations trace their way around the track. Then, an official blows a whistle, the music cuts off with a record-scratching sound, and everyone trudges across the moistening infield grass back to their cars, detouring when they are beckoned to the beer garden for a free drink. Like I said, I got my riding in to and from the track, but look what I saw the next morning!

(Track racers making up for last night!)

As you can see, I was a total creeper while taking this picture, but that's just because I wanted to preserve the natural habitat of these riders. I assume that the riders are drinking 16oz cups of espresso, but one can't be sure that their opaque cups instead contain something less reputable--like a big mocha, or worse, a breve--that would require several hours of riding just to avoid calorie surplus. I'm hopeful though, because the only solid food in sight is a banana.

Anyhow, with the only other race this weekend being the Frostbite TT, I decided to drive over to Wenatchee to visit ex-teammate and possible bff Jake MacArthur.

(I couldn't quite capture Jake's HB t-shirt and cap in this pic. Does he want to be my teammate???)

Jake was house-sitting for at least three animals. Let me introduce you to Kaiser (r) and Obi (l):

And to Annabelle:

Kaiser was full of nervous energy, and after he expressed himself by jumping up and scratching me, I asked whether he had some kind of anxiety disorder. Jake said "I think he's just a dog." So wise! Annabelle, by contrast, was relaxed, and was an expert conversational purr-er, growing louder and louder if you purred at her.

Jake and I rode to Leavenworth on Saturday! He was loading his bottles up with a mystery substance that I asked about. Jake responded with the 2nd funniest quote of the weekend.

"Haven't you ever heard of Lance Armstrong powder?"

("Okay enough pictures Colin, let's rally.")

(Samesies! Kawaiiiiiii.)

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-themed tourist town 20 miles from Wenatchee. It isn't really Bavarian, but that didn't bother the swaths of aimless tourists that occupied the town when we made a coffee stop there.

On Sunday, we got up early and went for a long one. Stemitt Creek, Mission Ridge, and Badger Mountain. Booyah!!

This was, of course, after some coffee at the bux.

(Praise? Oh, puh-leeease. Don't flatter yourself.)

I also managed to coax my friend Lauren out of her Forest Service responsibilities to come work on her tanlines with us, although she had a different idea of what that means.

(Jake in his ugly ass kit, Lauren with her 'geometrically unique' tanlines.)

("I have a seven year plan to complete an Ironman." "Uh, I'm pretty sure they only take like 10 hours.")

When I saw her get-up from afar, I was afraid that she had tracked down a onesie similar to the one I proudly wore when I competed in my only foray into multisport.

(Not pictured: gold pumas, dignity.)

But her's was not nearly as absurd. Jaker even found us some gravel to ride/pee on!

(2nd pee of the day. Way to hydrate, Jaker!!)

(Wenatchee Heights. Is Jake trying for 3rd pee of the day?)

(Pedestrian bridge to E. Wenatchee)

(descending Badger Mountain)

(Pepsi. This upped my QOL by about 5x at the end of the ride.)

After a little nap time, me and Jaker had some more espresso and some pie, then some tacos and coconut drank, then I crashed some kind of Lewis and Clark festival at Confluence Park where Lauren had procured a golden ticket to the coveted BBQ pork tent. I offered up an apple to her and I carried her foldable chairs in hopes of getting some baked potato and pork and 'slaw. It worked, and we ate it while observing the silent gliding of the canoes amidst the floating park benches.

(Horrible planning.)

Reminded me of this.

(Near Bellingham, Dec 2006)

While I like the park benches, I think the hydrant has funnier connotations. Another thing I saw that was like something else I had seen was this.

(Spiral staircase en route to Goldbar, WA)

Compare to this, seen in the central valley in CA:

(Me: "WTF is that?" Phil: "Oh, that's a snail car." Me: "Oh.")

Now all my teammates are coming back and we're gonna race crits super hard this weekend! Who could ask for more?