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?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coffee-related interactions in Baker City, Oregon

First off, we won Elkhorn!!!!

(is that Castelli? it looks a little baggy in the gut region.)

Lang rode ultra strong all weekend, taking second on stages 1, 2, and 4, and defended the eff out of his lead on the last day. He also knew that "races are won in the hotel," so he made sure to nap a lot and visualize success.

(Lang rivaled Jake MacArthur ['09] as a gracious and entertaining bedfellow)

This is the second year I've gotten to ride for a teammate's successful defense of the coveted fuchsia jersey, and Lang's impressive work definitely earned him this award in my book:

(Winning this award makes one a total babe magnet. By 'babe' I mean 'guy in van.')

The racing on Sunday was strange with such a small field, and the winner's time was 16 minutes slower than last year. HB was calm cool collect the whole time, and we all played a role, with Schmitz getting in the early move, Winger and Tyler spending 30 miles on the front to keep things in check leading to Dooley Mt, and me setting tempo and covering moves on the hill before Lang burst out of his HB vest to reveal a blinding pink display of attacking that left a proud tear in my eye as it dropped me. Winger knew it was going to be a hard day, so here's a pic of his breakfast at the previously mentioned Oregon Trail Restaurant.

(go on, Winger, I see you breathing heavy as hell.)

After the race, we still had a 20 mile ride back to town, and me and Lang still wanted to roll some more distance in the big ring, so we did a little 2-man TT threshold work back to Baker City, where Wingfield (who had been sitting on) jumped us for the town line sprint. I'm pretty sure it's the longest I've ridden in a day.

(a ride like that makes you want to unload your skeleton with vibration.)

Okay, enough about the racing, on to coffee talk. Faithful readers will know that this year has seen me increase my coffee consumption by quite a bit. Last year, coffee was something reserved only for daytime races, but that's all changed for this year. I've gone from an espresso man to a litre-of-drip daily man. My reasoning is that as training volume increases, calorie consumption increases, vitamin consumption increases, and coffee should be no different. I'm training a few hours more per week on average this year than last, so I'm drinking a few more gallons of coffee per week in response.

In Baker City, I experienced coffee from two locations. First was the Oregon Trail Restaurant. As I said before, the coffee was technically coffee: it came in a pot, was served in a mug, was brown, hot, and referred to as coffee. However, like a true addict, as I drank this coffee and realized it wasn't giving me my fix, I began to get angry at those around me, blaming them for my lack of buzz. Why didn't that waitress realize what she was serving? Why didn't my teammates suggest going to a different coffee shop before coming to breakfast? Where the hell was Tiny Alan with his Whisperlite and MokaExpress?

After breakfast each day, I would pace nervously around the hotel room, itching myself and giving terse responses to questions. Eventually, I set out in search of more caffeine and found this.

(yeah I need you to cater some espresso for a nearby venue: my mouf)

Boom! The menu listed a single shot as $2, a double as $2.50. Since manipulative behavior is another hallmark of substance addiction, I decided I'd pull the old bait-and-switch on the barista, asking for a single shot then surprisedly noticing that the machine pulls two shots at once, and come on, you aren't really going to throw out that second shot are you? Give me it! But this lady was having none of it. She said I'd have to pony up the extra 50c if I wanted the second shot. Torn between getting a little extra jolt and maintaining some sense of control over the situation, I stuck with the single shot.

The next day, I headed down to the same shop with Tyler before the TT with an even more nefarious plot in mind: try and get two single shots for the price of a double. Here's the transcript:

Me: Hi again!
Barista: uh-huh.
Me: I'd like a double espresso, split in two cups.
Barista: You mean two single shots.
Me: No, it's a subtle difference--make a double shot, then split it into two equally sized portions.
Barista: What are you saying?
Me: I'd like two singles, but I'd like to pay $2.50 for them like it's a double.
Barista: If you want two cups, you have to pay for them.
Me: Ok, I'll take a double in one cup.
Barista: *begrudgingly pours double shot
Me: *snatches dixie cup from water carafe station and manually splits shots before her eyes.

Presto! I just produced two shots of espresso for the price of...two shots of espresso, and all I had to do was stunt the US economy by $1.50! See, these are the little tricks I'm reduced to as a coffee dependent racer living on a limited income. If you see me show up at a race without a rear brake caliper and I seem especially peppy, you know where it went.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Elkhorn! Somehow, the completely unpredictable weather and ambivalent locals of Baker City have charmed me back for this race for the third year running. Quick Elkhorn Redux.

2009: My first 1-2 stage race! Piled into Daifuku's MLR (Mobile Living Room) with Adrian and Jake MacArthur, packed a 1-bedroom vacation rental with 8 racers, got made fun of for wearing these to bed, got dropped on the first hill on stage 1, couldn't chase back on, started right after Steve Fisher in the TT, caught up to him and chatted about this and that, beat the eff out of Steve for the town line sprint during the TT, got penalized 30 seconds for drafting off Steve, survived the crit, and drilled it on the front of the final stage for Adrian, who both won the race and went faster through a corner in the aerobars than anyone I've ever seen:

(me: "'ees fast as!")

2010: Part of a motley crew of aimless racers, until Sam decided to ditch Nature Vally and flew out the morning of our departure! Decided on the Oregon Trail Motel option, begrudgingly at first, until we learned of the breakfast voucher offer (source of much confusion). Tiny Alan provoked the ire of our surly, 5'4", pigtailed waitress by conspicuously smuggling his flavorful, dark coffee into the diner* , the standard procedure of which was to serve only a thin, brown, transparent liquid (albeit in limitless quantities). I gave Sam a reverse leadout in the crit, helping him close gaps through each of the unbelievably slick corners while Steve Fisher went OTF, natch. Sam took runner up to his other half, Chris Hong**.

*prepared with his Whisperlite and a Moka Express in the motel parking lot each morning
**I mean someone half his size.

2011: So far, everything has gone smoothly, save for continued confusion about the meaning of the Motel's breakfast voucher. More on that when I can upload a pic of it. That's part of the problem. The voucher uses ambiguous language, but by the time we've bumbled our way through our order, they've taken our vouchers and we can't figure them out.

(Spinning on the TT course)

Right now, we're sitting in the hotel before the crit. Lang rode his way into the leader's jersey in the TT this morning (wtf?), so we got some work to do. BOOYAH!!

(Today we are looking for the best possible result, which is to bed the leader's jersey.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Agony of defeat!

Dear readers. Sorry about the delay. I've been busy living vicariously through Ian Crane's blog, and when it's come to thinking about my own exploits, I just wasn't to be flexed with.

Recently, after my third bout of sickness in a month, I decided to hit the reset button. Wenatchee reassured me that racing can be fun even if you don't have good legs, but nevertheless, I was feeling very rundown, and riding didn't feel as exciting as it ought to for an optimistic bike rider like me. To give an idea of how I felt after the 'chee, take a look at this picture of our host's garage freezer, home to what was once a proud selection of carbonated beverages:


There's an obvi silver lining to this situation: coke ice cubes!!!!! Ian, don't even TRY to claim this as a new get-rich quick scheme. I'm on this one. Now ice doesn't water down your coke as it melts! Just shake up some coke, drop it in the freezer, wait a few weeks, then eagerly shove your sweaty phalanges into the frosty pile of cokecubes and aluminum shrapnel that now fills your freezer (patent pending).

So anyhow, my legs were cracked like the thin walls of a coke can. I put my bikes aside and focused on other things, like visiting friends in Walla Walla, where I saw this sight at Whitman's commencement ceremony:

(a dog that is only comfortable when surrounded by people legs)

Then I traveled to Hawai'i with my family!

(Pretty much an average day)

Craig Undem connected me with his bike shop owner friend Donnie in Pa'ia, who outfitted me with a Scott Speedster (vroom!) bike for a few days. I had taken some advice from the real Joe Holmes and stopped worrying about riding as training, so I just took the steed out and rode it how I felt. Well here's what I felt like doing:

(Hwy 30 on the way to Wailuku)

(Iced Toddy stop, natch. Early starts are crucial on Maui to avoid high temperatures and wind.)

(Northwest shore of Maui. One-lane switchbacks for about 20 miles.)

That's the elevation profile for the Pa'ia to Haleakala ride. 35-miles, nbd. The bros at the shop were all LOLing at me for my late (10:00am) start, but I wasn't concerned. I could ride 35 miles in like an hour if I really wanted to, so I headed out with a bottle of water and a Snickers (Rich McClung style). 3:30 later, I arrived at the summit of Haleakala, having almost finished my bottle of water! Here, I was treated to one of many fellow-tourist interactions that made me sigh heavy.

Morbidly Obese Ohio Resident 1: "Zomg did you ride your bike here? Are you training to ride with Lance Armstrong??"

Ok, pedestrian enough, what else have you got?

Morbidly Obese Ohio Resident 2: "We were going to go check out the Olivine Pools on the West end of the island, but then we heard that it was a 0.25-mile hike, so we decided to take the 2-hour drive to the top of Haleakala instead."

Ok, now we're getting somewhere. Part of what I noticed about tourism on Maui, and I think this applies to tourists everywhere, is that accessibility can be a toxic feature of any destination in a heavily-toured area. The crowdedness of a given Maui location seemed in direct correlation to the quality of the pavement that led to it. It's true that Haleakala provides a killer view of the island on a clear day. It's also true that the Olivine Pools (and their surroundings) are other-worldly and breathtakingly gorgeous. However, the 10-minute hike that separates an automotively-encapsulated tourist from the Olivine Pools acts as such an effective barrier to entry that the roster of visitors to Haleakala probably outnumbers that of the Olivine Pools 10-to-1. I was a tourist, too, but I feel like when exploring a new place, you ought to do a little work, and sometimes the work itself is what makes the destination satisfying.

Aaaanyway, that was self-indulgent.

After ruminating on subjects such as these, Joe Holmes called me and told me I was to ride Mt. Hood with the Elite Team. Ruh-Roh!! I told him okay, but that my legs would be rusty, if well-rested. I decided to get my competitive juices going again at the airport on the way home, although I was defeated in my first competition back by a flock of pilots, who pro-cut us in the security line, crit start style.

(Delta CHOP!)

In my next post, I'll tell you all about how my ill-preparation for Hood treated me.