Saturday, June 30, 2007

New toy for Chad

Fedex man dropped off my new toy. 1978 Nishiki Superbe frameset. Nice lugs, pretty light for a steel frame. I'm sort of on a quest to see if Jan Heine's (of Bicycle Quarterly) view of more flexible frames holds for me. Modern carbon fiber or aluminum frames are adverstised as being 'stiffer' so that more of the rider's power is transferred to the rear wheel. Jan thinks that more flexible frames can lead to some synergy between the rider and bicycle, whereby the rider is able to produce more power.

I think this will be the last steel frame for me because I've tried a good variety. I've owned or do own the following: 1990ish Bianchi Campione D'Italia, 1973 Raleigh Professional, 1986 Trek 310, 2002 Serotta CIII, and 2005 Jamis Aurora. These bikes cover the gamut from standard diameter to oversized tubing (Serotta and Jamis) and frame very thin gauge (Serotta) to very heavy gauge (Jamis). So far the Serotta (not surprisingly) is the nicest, but I'm excited to test out the Nishiki. Reaper ride, here I come.

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No bike races for a while for me. My hobby for the meantime is watching the baby swallows outside our front window. This pic isn't so flattering -- they are ugly right now -- but they're a blast to watch when mommy or daddy bring some bugs.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Morning Glory

Is there anything Tarik doesn't know?(besides the German postal symbol) The very next morning this flower appeared. But Marianne's right, too, because it's a weed to me. Uninvited, it nefariously took over my garden. I'll probably be tearing most of these out to leave breathing room for my few remaining intentional plants.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What does my garden grow?

I planted two kinds of herbs and three or four kinds of flowers in our garden. Lots of little plants came up. It seemed like more little plants than I had planted seeds for. Hmmm. Then, as the plants became identifiable, I found that I could not identify the prevalent one as anything I had planted.

So, please, friends, my question for you is:

What is it?

I've faithfully weeded, thinned and watered these. It's obviously a climber, so I've just given it something to climb.
If I've been cultivating a weed, please tell me quickly -- before I pay the neighbor kids to water it while we're on vacation.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Race #4 TP to TA

TP to TA: a lost cause. Not a good day for me. Due to some combination of minimal sleep, 2 1/2 hour pre-race drive, and high altitude (generally over 9500 ft), I did not feel good and didn't have my usual energy. I got dropped on the first surge and rode most of the 66 miles by myself. I was the last finisher, but I did finish. Here's me soloing to the finish looking and feeling bad.

One of the perks of going to the race was a free cone of Taos Cow ice cream. Yummy!

My Los Alamosian friend Kyle also did the race (he looks a lot better than me in this pic at the gorge), his dad Kirk did the citizens' race on his very sharp 1973 Raleigh International, and Jill and Chrissy (Kyle's wife) helped pass out water bottles to racers (they look a lot better than us -- but that is often the case). More boasting about Kirk -- his lowest gear is 42/24 -- those experienced guys are tough! After the race, we stopped at the Rio Grande gorge and later had luninner at Embudo Station with Garry and Karlene. Then one more round of ice cream at dairy queen. After that, I was feeling pretty decent.

We spent the night at Kirk's house in WR -- he made waffles for us for breakfast, served on warm plates. Mmmmm. We went to our former church in the morning. We went to one of the 4 restaurants that are open on Sundays in LA with some friends, those that haven't fled the town yet. Our townhouse is in the good care of Alan and is still available for a really good price. All reasonable offers considered. 20 minute drive to a ski resort, walking distance to nearly all LA restaurants, nice hardwood floor. Might be tough to get a job, but the lab should hire in a couple years. Until then, live the rock'n'roll lifestyle.

One final note. Kirk showed us a video made by his nephew (something like that) for school that might be on youtube sometime. He rode a unicyle down two short sets of stairs. Kids, don't try that until you're 12.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vegetable transportation device

Here's where I was while Chad was climbing Heartbreak Hill. I was drinking tea and eating a pineapple scone.

On Saturday we visited the Army surplus store, and now I've got these stylish panniers (that's bicycle for saddle bags). This is what they look like loaded with fruits and vegetables and library books.

And, since several friends have asked lately, here's what was in the box from Los Poblanos this week: celery, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, spinach, radishes, lettuce, peaches, baby squash, onions and an avocado (the bread is an optional add-on). At $25, I doubt if it's cheaper than grocery store produce. It's organic. I like that some of it's local, and nothing comes from farther away than CA. And I like the weekly lesson on what's in season now, and the inspiration to cook and eat different stuff. Last week I visited the "Farmer's Market" (it's a store, not a market) at the corner of Eubank and Cloudview for the first time. Their produce looked yummy. Anyone got other recommendations for produce in Abq?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Race #3 Sandia Crest

Thanks to my recent category upgrade, I joined the fellas and 2 women in the cat 3-4 race. The slight difference between it and the other races is a mere 30 miles, which includes the aptly named Heartbreak Hill. The race length is 62 miles with somewhere around 5000 feet of climbing. To make things a little harder, I got a cold (in summer, how ???) in the middle of the week and didn't feel very good until Saturday.

Here I am with the main pack about 15 miles into the race. Note that everyone looks like they can ride very fast. Your eyes are not deceiving you. A group of 6 formed a breakaway early in the canyon. My friend Chris along with 2 Los Alamosians were in it. Fun for them! My hope was to stick with the main group at least until Heartbreak Hill, a hill that has grades of about 20% but is mercifully only 1/4 mile long. I did stick with the group until the hill, and then climbed it at the same pace as two other guys. By working together, we and two others were able to get back to the main pack. I hung on for dear life near the back until about 2 miles before the Crest hill began.

For the race, I carried a banana, a package of choc covered raisins, 1 1/2 peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and 3 water bottles. Two bottles with water and one with gatorade. I finished the gatorade and 1 1/2 water bottles by the start of the Crest, so I assumed that just one more water bottle would be good for me. I grabbed a bottle with a yellow fluid in it from a kind boy in the feed zone and tossed my empty bottles. The Crest climb is only 12 miles, so I thought this would be more than enough. I also thought that the road wasn't very steep.

Riding nearly as fast as one can for 50 miles tends to change one's perspective, but sadly one doesn't always realize it at the time. My legs were very tired at the bottom, so I made the good decision to stop trying to ride with the two guys I was with for the flat miles before the climb. I assumed that my legs would eventually feel pretty good if I took it easy at the bottom. After all, there's plenty of time during a 12 mile, 3000 foot climb to make up time. I did have plenty of time, but my legs never came around.

For about 5 miles, a NMVS rider was about 100 yards ahead of me, with the distance s l o w l y shrinking. I finally caught him at the first steep section after the ski hill, but he was able to ride with me the whole way. Probably on a normal day, he'd be a lot of fun to hang out with. On this day, his main topic of conversation was how foolish it was to spend $30 to do the race. Though we had lots of time, we didn't talk much. Mostly, I was looking at the ground 3 inches in front of my wheel. I also was wishing that I had grabbed another water bottle. I believe you can find the yellow drink at a local store under the label Citrus Nastiness.

Then, there was the 1K to go sign. In a more forgiving race, this is where the pace really picks up. This day, I felt that they meant that there was 1 mile to go. When the finish line was finally in sight, I could hear him upshift to start the "sprint". I did the same, but could not keep up. The battle for 19th place was lost. Good job, Mike!

For those mathematically inclined, here's the word problem of the day. On Heartbreak hill, I was using a 39/29 gear ratio. I estimate that my cadence (pedaling revolutions per minute) was about 30. Assume that my wheel diameter was 27 inches. How fast was I riding? By the way, please don't tell me the answer -- not good for my pride.

Here are my pre-race strategic counselors on the night before the race. Thanks for the encouragement! Sadly, Mrs. Polkadot couldn't join us. Get well soon!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Rollin' on the Turquoise Trail

For Memorial Day weekend, we rolled like tumbleweed up the Turquoise Trail (Hwy 14) to Santa Fe.
It's a sixty-some mile trip. We took a day to get there, a day to hang out in Santa Fe, and a day to come back. You gain about 3,000 feet in elevation, so going Santa Fe should be the more difficult direction, but it turned out we had a nice tailwind for the last third of it. And we had a nice headwind for about half of the return trip, so it felt harder coming back.

The place to stop for lunch on the Turquoise Trail is the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid. Madrid (stress on the first syllable) used to be a mining town, then a ghost town, then it was resettled in 1970 as an artists' community. More recently, it was the setting for the Disney movie "Wild Hogs." As it happened, Chad and I rode through Madrid last year during the filming. Our first clue that something was up was when we encountered the scariest looking biker gang we'd ever seen riding toward us as we approached Madrid. I smiled and nodded in greeting, but got just blank stares from the scary bikers. Later we discovered that these were the "Del Fuegos" of the movie, rehearsing. I guess it would've been out of character for them to give a friendly wave to a couple of bicycle tourists. Once in town, we could see that the place was hoppin'. At first we thought it was because of the "Madrid Chile Festival" advertised by large banners over the street. But no one seemed to be actually selling or eating chile. Finally we got the story from the lady who runs the general store. The movie crew had been in town for six months by this time, and the locals were hoping to be rid of them soon.

This is Chad last summer in front of a "Madrid Chile Festival" banner -- there's no such thing.

On the Plaza in Santa Fe.

Detour to the south end of town to watch "Pirates of the Caribbean 3" (fun to watch, but the plot was baffling).

Headed home.