Thoughts

Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sales Rush


Up until last week I think that I can safely say that I’ve never sold anything to anyone, except maybe a few low dollar ebay and craigslist transactions.  As it stands today I’ve sold four pairs of my G1 pants: two at Veloce Velo and two at Huband Bespoke.  I have to say it’s quite a rush.
I know that the numbers are small, but dang it sure does feel good to think that a few people have enough belief in what I’m doing to reach into their pockets and pull out their wallets.  That, to me, is a big compliment.

It’s one thing to sell something that someone else had developed; it’s another thing entirely to sell something that you developed, that you brought to the market.  I feel a sense of pride in knowing that had I not started Greenlite Heavy Industries and had I not persisted in my efforts to make an awesome, American made urban cycling pant neither the G1 nor the 3Quarter pant would be on the market.  They simply wouldn’t exist.  Pride in creation.
Bringing you own stuff, your own dreams, to market is angst writ large.  It is nothing but stress, self-doubt and constant worry.  Did I make the right decision?  Should I have done it this way?  Should I have done it that way?  Should I have even done it at all?  The little victory of a sale erases all that angst.  I’m on the right track here.  Yes it’s going to take time, but I’m on the path that leads me to where I want to go.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Be On Good Terms

I cruised through the Worn to be Wild exhibition at the Experience Music Project here in Seattle; it’s an exploration into the history of the American leather jacket.  The jackets that had been customized by their owners were what I liked best.  I prefer clothing that reflects the personality and passions of the owner.  Whether they were WWII A-2 bomber jackets, biker cuts or punk rocker wear these jackets were more than simple outerwear, they were a leather canvas on which the owner displayed his/her thoughts, associations and accomplishments.

I especially liked this rocker jacket from the 90’s Seattle punk/grunge scene:

 
Go placidly
Amid the
Noise and
Haste
And remember what peace
There may be in silence
As far as possible
Without surrender be
On good terms with
All persons

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Heart and Soul
When I told my family and friends that I was going to start up an American made clothing line they either smiled and remained silent, or simply came out and told me that my idea was “crazy,” “na├»ve” or, in one case, “stupid.”  Convention says that in order to make a profit in the clothing industry you need to import large production runs from overseas factories.  “You make your money on the volume,” they say.  I view this as a race to the bottom.  It’s making money by squeezing another thirty cents per garment out nameless workers.  I’m not into that.  Instead I’m into putting my heart into clothing that has soul.

Consider the guy in his small Portland one-man hand built bike factory.  He’s putting his heart into his work, it’s not a paycheck for him; it’s a way of life.  Can you argue that his frame will somehow perform better than what rolls off the line at a Taiwanese factory?  In most cases I’d say no.  But that hand built frame has something that the factory bike does not have, and that something is soul.

Soul is real.

While driving to Park City last August I listened to Keith Richards’ autobiography – it was good, I didn’t like him badmouthing everyone save Charlie Watts, but it was good – and somewhere towards the end he compared the Fats Domino version of Ain’t That a Shame to the version recorded by Pat Boone.  Pat Boone, Richards notes, is arguably the better singer, and his production quality is far superior, but his recording falls flat; it’s too commercial, too ready for prime time, it just didn’t have soul.

This is what I’m talking about.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ape Shit

So I was riding my bike over to Pioneer Square yesterday when I rolled up to the intersection of Rainier and Dearborn; I look across the street and spot these two idiots beating the crap out of each other.  They’re high school age, sixteen or seventeen.  I’m there at the red light and my immediate reaction is “oh crap I’ll have to step in.”  But I’m conflicted.  On the one hand why should I risk near certain injury trying to interfere with two morons who are intent on breaking each other’s noses, but on the other hand I can’t just ride by and do nothing as some dickwad stomps another dickwad’s head into the pavement.

So I start figuring a plan – the dummy without a shirt looks like he’s getting the upper hand, I guess I’ll have to go after him.  I figure first I try the yelling thing and if that don’t work I’ll have to bearhug the dingbat, throw him down and sit on his head.  But then I’m thinking what about the friend of my enemy is my enemy and they both go after my ass.  That could be a problem.   The shirtless guy definitely didn’t have a gun, and I figured the guy getting his butt kicked didn’t have a gun either, or else he would have pulled it, but what about a knife.  Do street fighters carry knives anymore?  Did they ever?  Hell I don’t know.  The light turns green and I’m about to go in when I hear the siren of a motorcycle cop – what a relief.

The cop pulls up and says over his speaker “okay boys break it up.”  The two guys ignore him, and keep at it.  It took the cop a good minute to even get off his bike.

Watching a real fist fight between two crazy motherfuckers who grew up fighting and aren’t a bit timid about getting rowdy certainly is educational.  They were full on one hundred percent committed.  Even when the cop got in the middle, the dude who was getting his ass knocked around was back on his feet and trying to get back at it.  Never once have I seen a real fist fight depicted in a movie.  A real fight is a hair grabbing, shirt tearing air swinging free for all, it ain’t no John Wayne bare-knuckle match or some karate dog stuff, it’s just about going total ape shit.



I’m a big believer in evolution: I believe that the most successful human beings – those who passed on their genes - possessed the healthiest tastes and traits.  I think that one of those traits is the need to go ape shit every once in awhile.  You don’t have to get into a fist fight to go ape shit, I think simply putting yourself into an uncomfortable, stressful physical situation accomplishes the same thing.  Despite cars, escalators, elevators and Lay-z-boys we humans are fundamentally physical beings.  If you occasionally don’t get outside and push yourself to your physical and mental limits you aren’t living a healthy life.  We need that stuff.  Well at least I need that stuff.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chasing a Buckle

Is it worth it?

It’s crazy how an idea creeps into my head and once in I can’t seem to get it out.  On Saturday I met a friend who, this summer, is riding the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in Leadville Colorado.  Now, all of a sudden, I want to race Leadville.  If you finish the 100 mile, high altitude course in under twelve hours you are awarded a rodeo-style belt buckle.  I want me one of those buckles.

Leadville is an odd choice for me considering my newfound attitude of being a racer rather than a participant.  In a Cat 4 road race or criterium I am out there actively racing, going head to head, but at Leadville I’d be back to my old ways of simply being in the “race” to “finish.”  The Leadville 100 does set a fairly high water mark of demanding that you finish in a respectable time to get the buckle, so I guess that helps.

Not too many years ago a body could just send in their registration form, pay the entry fee and race the Leadville 100 (you may notice that I’m not going to use the corporate sponsored so-called official name of the race), but now you have to either qualify or win a lottery.  I’ll have to enroll in law school to actually figure out all the legalize regarding entry to the race, but suffice it to say that if you don’t win the lottery or place first in a qualifying race it’s pretty dang complicated.  Looking at Leadville would put me back into this whole trying to qualify chasing your tail crap that I experienced via Ironman – the more things change the more they stay the same.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stott 30

So here I am out looking for a full suspension mountain bike.  It never ends does it.

Yesterday I joined three teammates: Matt, Peter and Monica, at the Stottlemeyer 30 mile mountain bike race.  Holy crap 30 miles on a mountain bike is a bitch.  Here in the moist, heavily wooded Western Washington region the trails are tough man.  Hairpin switchbacks, tight trees and the roots, the freaking roots.  It’s just bam bam bam the entire time.

I have to say that I didn’t find the race all the physically exhausting; physiologically I was ready, but what I wasn’t ready for was the cramps and the mental fatigue.  Cramps seem endemic to endurance mountain biking events, perhaps because it’s because of the quick changes in cadence or perhaps it’s because you have to continually alter the amount of power you apply to the pedals: you can go from powering over a root, to spinning up a hill to standing over the seat on a descent all in less than a minute.  It tears your legs up.  The entire second lap was a fight against thigh and calf cramps.  I just couldn't push that hard withouot risking a sieze up.

About two miles into the second 15 mile lap I went over the handlebars and rang my bell right good.  I rode in a fog for about thirty minutes and I really had to concentrate on keeping my focus lest I go over the front again.  On long road rides, you can zone out for awhile and just let the miles go by, but on this mountain biking thing you have to be continually sharp, always on edge.  It really taxes your brain.

Stottlemeyer also offered a 60 mile, four lap, option.  Talk about a mind fuck.  That would just beat your mind and your body to smithereens.  I met a friend of mine, Tom, at the Edmonds ferry terminal; he and a couple of buddies were doing the 60.  They had won the lottery for the Leadville 100 and were using this as a training day.  I wonder how the terrain of Leadville would compare to Western Washington.  The Colorado altitude would certainly screw you, but it looks to me like most of Leadville is devoid of trees and thus you won’t have the brutal switchbacks and roots.  I’d like to get out there and ride some of that course just to see how the other half lives.

Friday, May 18, 2012

You Gotta Believe


Jumped back on the bike last night after nearly a week off to race the Seward Park Crit Series.  I’ve been rolling up for the 5:30 race, which is directed at beginners, because it fits so well with my schedule and because I think I can compete quite well with the 5:30 guys.  In other words I think that I can actually place, if not win, a race or two.  I ended up with a sixth or seventh place finish last night, but it was a rough ride.

I suppose as my experience level has increased I’ve become less and less tolerant of insane, inattentive and downright dangerous riding.  Of the thirty or so guys and gals who lined up at 5:30 there were three who I trusted.

Standing up and throwing your bike backwards on a short hill in a tight pack, riding with your hands on the top bars during a crit or wondering all over the road while taking pulls on a water bottle during a 30 minute race that’s all nuts.  I guess I’m becoming a bit of a snob, but I guess a bit of snobbery is justified when your health is contingent upon the skills and awareness of those around you.  From now on it’s the 6:00 race for me.

On the other hand, I actually raced yesterday to win.  I doubt that anyone has ever won a bike race by accident (unless there was a huge accident).  If you are going to win, you have to go out with the goal of winning.  You have to roll up to the starting line, look around and say to yourself, “I’m as good as or better than anyone here.”  If you want results you have to believe in yourself.

Tomorrow I head across Puget Sound to race the Stottlemeyer 30 mile mountain bike event.  This will be my first endurance event since the 2008 Ironman.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NYC 5


Our final day in Manhattan was a rainy one.  NYC is dreary in the rain and boy did it rain.  I had to stop into a luggage store near Times Square to buy an umbrella.  The jacket that I am currently designing would have come in handy.

Subway at 23rd
I spent the late morning and early afternoon in the Garment District.  One thing about me is that I hate to look ignorant; I naturally tend to act like I know what is going on even when I don’t.  I decided to try a new tack at Mood Fabrics: instead of pretending to be an old hat I threw up my arms at a salesman and admitted that I’m out of my element and in need of some help.  The guy’s name was Noel and he walked me through everything that I needed to do.  I ended up with the edging and ribbon that I needed and also took home some good swatches.

Bummer about the rain in New York is that every coffee shop is filled to the brim with like-minded people seeking shelter from the storm.  After attempting to squeeze into a couple of Starbucks (Starbucks, by the way, has completely conquered New York) I ended up walking through Macy’s trying to dry off.  After seeing the cool boutiques in Soho Macy’s was a bit boring: racks of the same old stuff.

I went into a number of trim shops but found nothing that I couldn’t just order online, so I jumped on the subway at 34th and headed downtown to get a coffee at Eataly.  The subway system is kind of like a rabbit hole: you go in looking at one type of landscape and come out in an entirely foreign one.  Every time I emerged from the subway stairs I had to take a five or ten seconds to orient myself.  When I came up at 23rd, near Eataly, I popped out into a deluge, I mean a regular Typhoon, and it took me a bit longer than usual to figure out which way to go.  Unfortunately several hundred other New Yorkers and tourists had the same idea and Eataly was jam packed with dripping customers.  I did manage to get a coffee, which I drank standing up.

I met Melony back at the Ace hotel.  The lobby of the Ace is a happening spot to be sure.  It has free internet and serves food, so it seems like all the hip guys and gals stop by there to download.  The dimly lit space is perpetually awash in a fluorescent glow.  Mel and I finally found space on a couch and we whiled away an hour eating a sandwich and looking at our Windows phones.  Our plane left JFK at 7:00 and we grabbed a cab at about 3:45.  Nearly two hours later, after a scenic trip through Queens and some lessons in aggressive driving techniques, we walked into JFK.  The plane was delayed because the pilot had also been stuck in traffic.

Oh before I forget, just as we were driving into JFK I spotted the nose cone of the space shuttle Enterprise peering out of her temporary hanger.  As an aerospace engineer this was the icing on the cake of a great trip.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NYC 4



This dapper guy rolled up with a parrot on his shoulder
Forgot to mention that yesterday we strolled up Madison Ave checking out the high end shopping.  Went into Barneys; wow that was sobering.  They had a pair of $60 pants in there that some designer had “distressed” and was selling for $600.  I don’t quite understand the concept of “distressing,” which could also be called “wearing out.”  Why pay extra for worn out clothes.  Pants should be distressed by the owner, how else will they reflect the owner’s personality.

We cut across Central Park at 72nd and popped out in the West side at the Strawberry Fields Memorial, which honors John Lennon who was shot 32 years ago just across the street at the Dakota Hotel.  We went to the Dakota but there was no plaque or any other sign of what happened there in 1980.  Maybe the owners don’t want to be known as the place where John Lennon was killed.

Last night we returned to Eataly for a light dinner.  I love that place.

Today I’m off for the Garment District looking for zippers and fabric.

Monday, May 14, 2012

NYC 3



East Village Still Life
We had a big day yesterday exploring Soho and TriBeCa.  I learned that Soho stands for “south of Houston St (not pronounced like Sam Houston but like how-ston).  We explored a lot of cool boutique shops and had some tacos at a little Mexican place.  After Soho we walked past NYU and over to Greenwich Village.  Mel’s co-worker had recommended a restaurant called The Spice Market.  Man did we walk and walk.  I right when I called it quits I saw that the place was just across the street.  Thank God for that as I was about ready to blow a gasket.  I don’t know how those NYU students get anything done with all the action going on around there.

Another cool bike
Today we went out and had coffee at Eatily.  The name sounds a bit goofy but man it is out of this world.  I’ve been to a place a like it – I think it was in London – and it is simply an Italian gourmet food fest.  It’s down by the Flatiron Building.  After that we took the subway south to the East Village.  Mel had a line on a place called the Caracas Arepa Bar.  Arepas, I have learned are a Venezuelan sandwich with meat and veggis tucked into a corn meal flat bread.  In addition to a each getting an Arepa we got some guacamole served with plantain chips and a second plantain dish served with white cheese and a cinnamon dipping sauce.  I also tried a Michelada which is a beer based cocktail with soy sauce, Tabasco, Worchester sauce and lemon.  Pretty crazy but it tasted okay.

After finishing our late lunch we walked back over to Soho where I bought a hat that I had my eye on yesterday.  We then walked back to the East Village to check out a cool bike shop called Chari and Co.  Now we are off for dinner.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

NYC Part 2



Great bike lanes in Manhattan
Just back for the first annual Mike McGuffin 10K around Central Park.  Excepting for two miles of stumbling behind my friend Stephanie following a bike ride I haven’t run since June of 2010, so it was a bit of a struggle to get going.  Once I got loosened up I got moving along okay.  It is another beautiful day here in Manhattan: sunny low eighties.  The Park was crowded with runners, walkers and bikers of all shapes and sizes; a good way to start your day.
Yesterday we went to see Porgy and Bess on Broadway, somehow we ended up with third row seating.  We were so close that we could tell if an actor had double-knotted their shoes.  It was a good show.  Don’t know how those actors turn it on every night, and twice on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

So many people here.  Also so many cops.  Melony was observing that the NYC Police are like lifeguards at a beach: they just kind of hang around looking over the crowd making sure things are moving along okay.  I can also see that the NYC Police aren’t too big on PT.  Interestingly enough I’ve seen nearly zero homeless or otherwise lost people.  Wonder why that is.

Yesterday we ate at Bobby Flay’s restaurant Costa Mesa, went to Porgy and Bess, walked through Hell’s Kitchen, went to the Central Library, Grand Central Station, Madison Square Garden (Rangers were playing) and then up to 57th near Central Park for Pizza at Angelos.  As we were exiting the Theater District I bumped into Woodie Harrelson.  He was wearing a black suit and blue tennis shoes.

Wish I had my bike.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

NYC

The only way to travel in Manhattan is via bicycle.  The island is flat as a pool table - at least as viewed with Seattle eyes - and is completely jugged up with gridlock traffic.  I was mentioning to my wife that I was itching to get on a bike and she said "are you nuts!  These drivers are crazy!" 

I liked this dude's Cinelli fixie
"Oh to the contrary" I replied, this place is so locked up that a car can't even get over 15 mph, this is so much safer than riding out on the 60 mph roads back home where a 16 year-old will take you out with one text message.  My friend Jeff experienced just such a "love tap" from a newly minted driver last week.

Manhattan is fun and full of excitement but I'm feeling a bit claustrophobic.  People and concrete on all sides.  It's hard to tell whether the sky is blue or gray.  We went to a show on Broadway last night - One Man Two Guvnors - it was a wonderful production, but coming out into Times Square at 11:00 we waded into a sea of humanity.  Kids, babies, old dames in wheelchairs, you name it we saw it.  Overwhelming for a couple of Mercer Island hicks.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Soul

Soul: some got it, some don’t.  How do you get it?  Can you get it?  Chrissie Hynde’s got it, Lady Gaga – not so much.  Bob Dylan’s always had it, Justin Bieber never will.  Companies can have soul; Pigoretti bicycles, they got soul, but Trek, whatever soul they once had is long gone.


Close up of a Pigoretti
Trek makes some of the finest bicycles on the planet, but they don’t turn my head the way that a heavier, less performance orientated Pigoretti does.  What does the Pigoretti have that the Trek doesn’t.  I think it can be summed up in one word: aesthetic.  Dario Pigoretti knows that the bicycle is more than a mere machine, that it is an extension of the rider; this knowledge enables him to make highly functional yet beautiful machines.  The engineers at Trek, on the other hand, distill out any and all beauty.  The result is a cold, sterile, highly functional, yet soulless machine.

I want my Greenlite products to be both functional and beautiful, but still that isn’t enough.  I want my products to have soul.  I know the guys who make my products, they work with a lot of skill and a lot of heart.  Are my products as good as what comes out of an Asian factory?  Yes.  Are they better?  No.  Those technically perfect garments that fill shipping containers are crisp, clean and unblemished, but they have no soul.  No heart was put into them.  When I design something I use equally my heart and my head.  I think this makes all the difference.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Be More Masai


In her book Out of Africa Karen von Blixen-Fenecke notes that the Masai weren’t taken as slaves or imprisoned because in captivity these tough nomadic warriors simply withered and died.  Those Masai were some tough buggers, they lived on blood and milk and were lean mean fight’n machines.  All things considered living under the yoke would have probably been physically easier, but the Masai would in no way compromise, they wouldn’t trade freedom for comfort.
Comfort seems to be the goal of our modern society, and with that comfort comes a modern sort of slavery.  Very few Americans live the life of financial independence: we owe bankers, we owe oil companies, we owe the auto shop, we owe the gas and electric companies; so long as you owe you ain’t free.  I owe, I know I owe – same as near everybody, but getting out on that bike gives me a chance to thumb my nose at the bankers and oil company execs, the jerks who make their own rules and laugh at how they got all us suckers buy the short hairs.  Yes I’m out in the rain.  Yes I’m out in the cold.  Yes I’m out in the wind, but I say bring it on.

Being out in the elements, huffing and puffing, sweating reminds me that I’m alive and free – sort of.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

There's Always Tomorrow


The nice thing about bike racing is that there is always another race.  My previous sporting endeavor – long course triathlon – focused on one or possibly two big races a year, what were called your “A” races.  Sure you did some “B” and “C” races but the big daddy, the big Kahuna was “A” race; that was the one that mattered.  Problem with putting all of your eggs in one basket is what if your basket gets a hole in it.  To put it less metaphorically, what if you get sick on race day, what if you’re injured, what if unseasonably hot, unseasonably cold, unseasonable windy – your race is shot.  So much for that year.
I raced my bike twice last week – a crit and a mountain bike race – this week I’ll race a crit and a road race.  If on Thursday (Seward Park Criterium Series) and feel sick, tired, sore, or if I go out too hard and blow up or otherwise get dropped, who cares, there’s another race, another chance at redemption at Saturday’s Vance Creek Road Race.

The fact that there is always another race opens you up to experimentation, it permits you to take risks.  Who cares if I blow up, hell at least I tried and in a couple of days I’ll have the chance to put my tire on the start line and try again.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet 14


I rode my cross bike, complete with knobby tires, into town yesterday.  Round trip it’s a little over 20 miles.  I knew that I would be racing in the evening and consequently kept the pace easy.  I also didn’t want to get all sweaty prior to my meeting, so I kept the pace below 14mph, and simply rolled along enjoying my time on the bike.
This is what I call riding under the “sweat threshold” or ST.  Most of my bike riding involves some sort of training, so either I’m hammering hard or hammering kind of hard.  Either way I’m pushing the flats and attacking the hills.  I’m so deep into this mindset that when it’s time to slow down and take it easy I really have to focus; a few minutes of inattention and I’m huffing and puffing my way back up to 20 mph.

So many commuters seem to think that they have to change out of sweaty clothes once they get to wherever they are going, but I figure if I can stay under the ST I’ll arrive dry and ready to go.  I’ll admit that here in hilly Seattle riding under the ST is a bit of a challenge, but with a little concentration it’s totally possible.
Riding 14 mph versus 20 mph only amounts to a time difference of 13 minutes over a 10 mile ride.

I suspect that many folks are put off bike commuting –and bike travel in general – because they mistakenly believe that there is this big complicated rigmarole associated with two-wheeled travel.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Yesterday I rode 10 miles into the heart of Seattle under a light drizzle wearing the Gent’s Pants I’m developing for my company – Greenlite Heavy Industries – a polo shirt, an REI vest and a Pendleton wool shirt.  I was comfortable, kept under the ST and arrived at my meeting invigorated yet sweat free.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Triple Bottom Line


Yesterday I was listening to my local NPR station and the guest brought up something she called the “Triple Bottom Line.”  She was referring to businesses that focus on three elements of success:
            Financial
            Social
            Environmental

It was good to hear someone put something that I’ve been thinking about into legible, concise terminology.  My new company – Greenlite Heavy Industries – definitely has a triple bottom line.

The art of business is to stay in business, and thus positive cash flow should be the primary goal, but it shouldn’t be the only goal.  Making money is a suitable goal, but it doesn’t have to be the mission of a company.  I started Greenlite with the mission of getting more people to lead more active lives.  Human beings were designed to be active, without daily activity our minds and our bodies atrophy; stagnant minds and bodies are ripe pickings for the drug companies.  Drugs neither make us healthier nor happier.  Stimulation of mind and body is the social goal of Greenlite Heavy Industries.

I see the automobile as a scourge.  It is the root of all of America’s recent, current and pending wars.  Why was Bin Laden pissed at the U.S?  He was very clear on this point: he was fighting against American troops on Saudi soil, what he in his religiosity considered heathens on sacred soil.  Why were American troops there?  To guard American oil interests.  It’s not complicated.  Oil is the source of unimaginable environmental destruction – 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico how do you get your mind wrapped around that?  The energy industry (i.e. oil companies) have almost unrivaled political power in this nation.  Making any significant strides in alternative energy is impossible due to the political power of big oil.  The automobile has made the United States of America stagnant, sad, stupid slaves.  Without the internal combustion engine we are powerless.

The best alternative energy source available to mankind is food.  Why is the assumption that in order to get from here to there one should exert no physical effort so prevalent?  Cars should be used for long trips, walking or bicycles should be used for short trips.  The environmental goal of Greenlite is to get more people out of their cars and onto their feet and onto their pedals.

I want Greenlite Heavy Industries to be a force for good in my community, in my nation and in my world.  In order to do this I think that I have to write down and continually reflect upon my purpose in starting this endeavor.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Freedom


I’m a real rule follower, the sign says “Don’t Walk” I don’t walk; green means go, red means stop.  I’ve been this way my entire life, and so I guess this is why I look for ways and places to separate myself from the rules, to do my own thing.  At first it was through mountaineering that I discovered the freedom of a world sans rules.  I instinctively avoided, I dare say even ran away from, guided or otherwise organized climbing groups.  Instead I found my “boys” and we did our own thing.  We went out in bad weather, we had no “team leader” and we left at home most of the ten essentials.  This was anathema to many “Mountaineers” who saw climbing as akin to a military expedition; we did our best to steer clear of the Mountaineers.

Now my freedom is found on the bike.  Much of my training is done solo, and I simply put on my kit, pump up my tires and get out there and ride.  On my bike I make my own decisions.  Yesterday I had to ride on the Burke-Gilman bike trail, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon and the trail was thick with every manner of cyclist, runner, jogger, walker, roller and crawler.  I slowed down, took my time, kept my cool, this was, after all, the first time in six months that I’d ridden in short sleeves – why get all uptight.  Near the University of Washington I got in behind a quintet of “serious” bikers: they were adorned with all manner of blinking lights, fluttering ribbons and orange slow moving vehicle insignias. 

I was stuck behind the recumbent guy who was droning on about the “tough centuries” when we came to a stop sign at a point where the trail crossed a street.  As we slowed I pulled up alongside the lead rider, and as we approached the intersection an oncoming car slowed and came to a stop, I gave the driver a wave and rolled through the intersection and continued on my way.  From behind I hear “oh I guess you don’t have to stop.”

I ride in a team kit and I take my role as a spokesperson for the sponsors seriously.  I acknowledge drivers who show a little courtesy, I wave to every passing cyclist, and I even pull over if I feel that I have a driver trapped in behind me, I never flip off or yell at inattentive drivers I just let it roll off.  So consequently I didn’t give the old gal the middle finger salute, nor did I turn around to explain to her that the driver had stopped, he and I had made eye contact, and that the smartest thing to do in that situation was to accept the courtesy and continue on my way.

I’m sure at this moment in time she is probably writing her own blog post about that crazy “racer” who flew past her riding reckless and irresponsibly.   “Why doesn’t he just follow the rules!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Worn out Jeans - Only $300


I got a chuckle out of this hang tag, which I found on a pair of two hundred plus dollar jeans. How exactly does "each hole and rip" remind you "of a different story" when each hole and rip was made on a machine in some Asian factory. Jeans certainly do weave a tapestry telling the adventures and mishaps of their owner, but faking that "character," worse yet charging you one to two hundred bucks for that faked character, I say no thanks.
Currently I am searching out that perfect denim for my next project - urban cycling jeans. The denim will be raw and you can bet that they won't be "characterized."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cool Ride

Saw this slick ride shining in the sun at the Volunteer Park Crit last Saturday. I've never heard of a David James bicycle. The city bars and eighteen gears made this one unique ride. I missed getting a shot of a vintage silver and maroon Davidson.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pride

A creative display of pride in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Back in Gear

I raced last Thursday and Saturday both with very encouraging results. After the Independence Valley Road Race debacle of two weeks ago I was questioning whether or not to even enter another bicycle race, luckily I seem to be back on track and at least able to hang with the group. On Thursday I raced the first of the weekly Seward Park Crits and on Saturday I raced the much more serious and deep fielded crit at Volunteer Park. Volunteer Park was my first foray into the Masters grouping; it was a thirty five plus Masters so I was still maybe ten years older than many in the field, but still I felt somewhat like I was with my peers – or at least my generation.

Saturday morning I weighed in at one hundred and sixty nine pounds, that’s probably the first time since my expedition to Manaslu – ten years ago - that I tipped the scales at under one seventy. I seemed to have cut a little of the extra weight around the edges and it certainly has helped me improve my cycling ability. Now I know why all these cyclists are so weight obsessive.

I have changed up my diet a bit. No more oatmeal for breakfast, and as little bread, pasta, white rice and potatoes as possible. I suppose it’s kind of a paleo approach, which I think is super valid. Two hundred thousand years of evolution can’t be all that wrong. I’m eating a lot more vegetables, a bit more fruit and a bit less meat – though I am by no means moving towards a vegetarian diet. As far as I can see, athletes need protein, and protein from lean meat – grass fed, free range – is the best source.

I think I can push my way down to one sixty five.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Young and Carefree


I'm halfway through Laurent Fignon's autobio - We Were Young and Carefree. I first started watching the Tour in 1989 and was excited to be able to "talk the tour" with a couple of racers in the office. Fignon seemed like kind of a jerk, but he seemed less of a jerk than LeMond, so I rooted for Laurent. the 89 ended with a time trail and this was the year that LeMond rolled up to the starting ramp with a bike sporting a pair of rule stretching traithlon-style handlebars. He made up nearly a minute on Fignon and won the Tour by eight seconds.

In his book Fignon refers to LeMond and one of cycling's great followers. Ouch.

The book is full of excuses and pages of how so and so done him wrong, but it's a good read. I particularly liked this passage, seems pressient for today's "video kids:"

And when I got on my bike, the call of the wild infected me with blasts of emotion. I had the feeling that I cold conquer anything, and I would, even though I didn’t know how or why; I would be dragged along merely by the yearning for it, like an explorer in new territory. Our minds were probably less restrained than those of our children. Living in virtual worlds has become their daily bread. As for us, the state on things meant that we were rooted in real life. And that is the magic of cycling: the simple forward motion from the power in your legs treats you to great bursts of freedom. Your legs and nothing more. That’s the little miracle that is the bike, where man and machine conjoin. It’s a unique invention. The union of a man with himself.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Limiters Part Deux


After putting some thought into what was keeping me out of the pack during cycling road races I came up with the following list of what athletes call “limiters:”

Strength-to-weight ratio
Aerobic fitness
Mental toughness

I’ve already addressed strength-to-weight ratio, so today I’ll just drone on about the heart and mind.

I’ve participated in endurance sports for about twenty five years now, and tough I never won any races – or even came close – I did develop a fairly good idea of how to complete the distance in a competitive fashion. An endurance event is anything lasting over two hours and thus issues such as nutrition, hydration and body maintenance come into play. Cat 4 criteriums, time trials, cyclocross races and short course mountain bike events last only thirty to forty minutes and even the longer road races rarely last more than two hours, so this bike racing is putting me in a new realm.

Finishing an endurance event, especially ultra marathons, and Ironman events, is contingent upon: nutrition/hydration, body maintenance, and fitness, in that order. Your body is like an automobile in that even a Ferrari conks out if you don’t put gasoline in it and it goes pretty dang slow if you don’t inflate the tires. Nutrition/hydration is the body’s gasoline; you don’t feed the machine it stops moving. Body maintenance (eliminating/reducing blistering, chaffing, GI distress) is like driving on flat tires, you may continue down the road, but it’s going to be a slow, uncomfortable trip. The point is that when it comes to completing endurance events fitness isn’t the paramount concern; some folks may say I’m crazy, but time and time again I’ve seen properly prepared folks trot past some super fit dude as he lays collapsed in the parking strip awaiting an ambulance.

When it comes to bicycle racing I’m learning that it’s all about supreme aerobic fitness and the ability to briefly tolerate extreme misery. Even in Ironman I never felt like my heart was going to explode, the pain of long races is more associated with bodily discomfort: an aching back, aching knees, sore feet, bad stomach, but in bike racing, at least for me, it’s all about overcoming the sensation that you’re about to go into cardiac arrest. I think a good way to improve my high end aerobic fitness is to engage in more short/explosive efforts and reduce the number of moderately paced “bike rides.” Up until now most of my training has simply been getting on my bike and riding it around for a couple of hours. From now on it’s going to be more hills and more time on the trainer.

Increasing my high end aerobic fitness will, I think, have the side benefit of increasing my mental toughness. I’m quite used to enduring long periods of low level pain, but I need to work on my ability to tough out short periods of high end suffering in order to avoid getting dropped off the back and left for dead.

Got in 22 miles yesterday, which now puts me at 625 miles for the year. Tuesday and today were trainer days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Limiters


Back when I was a triathlete I learned a new word: “limiter.” It means that thing which is holding you back, slowing you down. In other words the aspect you have to improve upon in order to race faster. After Saturday’s dismal showing at my first Cat 4 road race I’ve determined that I have three limiters:

Strength-to-weight ratio
Aerobic fitness
Mental toughness

When compared to other bicycle racers I’m fairly strong, but at five nine, one hundred and seventy five pounds I’m also a bit heavy for a bike rider, so from a strength-to-weight ratio point of view I think I come out a bit on the low side. My weight issue isn’t as cut and dried as simply losing a spare tire; the extra ten to fifteen pounds that I have on my competition doesn’t come from belly fat but instead from upper body muscle. I’m a far cry from a body builder, but compared to most of my cycling competition I’m carrying a lot of muscle.

My doctor said that I was totally crazy for wanting to lose muscle in order to decrease my body mass for cycling. I’m forty six years old and after forty it’s hard enough to just maintain muscle mass much less build more, and here I am wanting to sacrifice what I have. This is one of those fitness versus health issues. I’ve written in the past that racing Ironman made me realize that being super fit doesn’t equal being super healthy. I’m in this athletic stuff primarily for my health
I think I can safely lose five to eight pounds, that would put me down into the one sixties; if I can get there without sacrificing strength I think I’ll be that tiny bit more competitive. Bicycle races are won and lost by tiny bits.

Rode the trainer while watching a Sufferfest video, so no miles to report.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Viscious

Rode the Independence Valley Road Race on Saturday – my first Cat 4 road race. I was taken to school – to say the least.

After a prolonged roll out and a bike pile-up, we turned left and started up a seven to eight percent grade. My plan was to push as far ahead as possible and then do the “pack slide” hoping to grab a hold of the rear of the pack by the summit. I held my own for about a half mile but then I just lost it, I couldn’t hold on. I crested the hill alone and started a breakneck descent hoping to catch the wheel of a small straggler group but everyone was gone, save a few dots down the road.
My goal now was to not get passed by the Cat 5’s. I passed an Apex guy and then nearly caught a Cycle U rider on the second hill. Near the top of the final hill I saw the dreaded flashing yellow light of the Cat 5 lead vehicle; I pulled over and let the group pass. The Masters caught me just shy of the end of the first lap.
I was totally out the race, so I turned off the course and headed for the car. I did a thirty minute cool down then waited for my teammates to show. A humiliating day to say the least.

This bike racing thing is so different than any other adult-orientated athletic event. The other “races” I’ve participated in: running road races, trail runs, triathlons are all about you doing your own thing, going as fast as you can, but basically just making it to the finish line. I put quotations around the word “races” in that sentence because now that I look back on it I never really raced. They weren’t races they were “events.” Cycling is a race.

Bicycle racing is all about some guy or some small group of guys trying to completely destroy you. All weakness is completely held up to the light for the world to see. It’s a viscous sport man. I’m going to have to harden up.

Rode 83 miles since Thursday putting my total at 603 miles.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Get Up Stand Up

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that spring has sprung here in the Northwest but we are, finally, getting some outdoor riding weather. Rode the Budu West Side Racing Series Mountain Bike race at Fort Stellacoom park on Sunday. That was a good race, albeit a bit chilly. I took second in the beginner class behind my teammate Jason. I don’t feel like a sandbagger out there as I’m not really blowing the competition away; it seems like there is always some guy pushing my wheel. Including warm-up I logged 11 miles. Monday I logged 12 miles running errands, Tuesday I got in 27 miles, Wednesday 32 and yesterday I went with Steph and Gina for 46 good miles. That’s 128 so far for the week which make a total of 498 miles. I think I missed a couple of days there. Oh yeah I rode into Seattle on Friday to meet with the Matt and Mikoyo of Georgetown Sewing that was 22 miles. So I’m at 520.

I was driving along doing my chauffer thing yesterday when Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up came on the radio. I’d never listened to the words before – you can’t fool all the people all the time...

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!

Preacher man, don't tell me,
Heaven is under the earth.
I know you don't know
What life is really worth.
It's not all that glitters is gold;
'Alf the story has never been told:
So now you see the light, eh!
Stand up for your rights. come on!

Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up: don't give up the fight!

Most people think,
Great god will come from the skies,
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high.
But if you know what life is worth,
You will look for yours on earth:
And now you see the light,
You stand up for your rights. jah!

Get up, stand up! (jah, jah! )
Stand up for your rights! (oh-hoo! )
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up! )
Don't give up the fight! (life is your right! )
Get up, stand up! (so we can't give up the fight! )
Stand up for your rights! (lord, lord! )
Get up, stand up! (keep on struggling on! )
Don't give up the fight! (yeah! )

We sick an' tired of-a your ism-skism game -
Dyin' 'n' goin' to heaven in-a Jesus' name, lord.
We know when we understand:
Almighty god is a living man.
You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.
So now we see the light (what you gonna do?),
We gonna stand up for our rights! (yeah, yeah, yeah! )

So you better:
Get up, stand up! (in the morning! git it up! )
Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights! )
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! (don't give it up, don't give it up! )
Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up! )
Stand up for your rights! (get up, stand up! )
Get up, stand up! (... )
Don't give up the fight! (get up, stand up! )
Get up, stand up! (... )
Stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight! /fadeout/

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Universal Dimension

The recent killing of sixteen civilians in Afghanistan got me thinking about these words by the Dali Lama:

…because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others’ happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility and so on. It is these which provide happiness both for ourselves and for others.

The kicker here is that our every action has a universal dimension. We don’t live in a vacuum; everything that we do, every decision that we make has a downstream affect. That affect can be positive or it can be negative. It seems like the “I want mine now and screw everyone else” attitude has become prevalent in American society.
The “Trumpification” of our society, wherein a privileged few take take take, yet give nothing is unsustainable.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cool

I just ran across this great picture. A great shot of a cool guy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Main Street

Seattle is in one of its rainy moods. Cold and wet for as long as the forecasters can see. Right now it’s 38 and raining; it looks like another trainer day.

I’m reading Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, a surprisingly timely tale despite the fact that it was published in 1920 and details the life in a small Minnesota town just prior, during and after the First World War. Lewis really attacks the “why can’t you just be happy with the way that things are” mentality of small town conservatism.

“It has not yet been recorded that any human being has gained a very large or permanent contentment from mediation upon the fact the he is better off than others.”

- Sinclair Lewis
Mainstreet

Monday, March 12, 2012

Malaise


The flu (mine- proceeded by my daughter’s) and cruddy weather have kept me indoors and on the trainer. All that sitt’n and spin’n gives one time to think.

Today I watched a documentary on the Amish as I was peddling along. It got me to thinking about how out of control the typical modern American life has become. The day after a tornado rips down an Amish barn a clean-up crew of neighbors, family and friends arrives on the scene. Two weeks later the cows have a new home – a job is in need of getting done, and the community simply pitches in a does it. Compare that to the typical Joe down the road who lost his garage in the same storm. After he finally squeezes a few bucks out of the insurance company he has to gather bids, find contractors – maybe they show, maybe they don’t and twelve months later, if he’s lucky, he has a place to put that four wheel contraption, which he probably knows very little about how to repair and maintain.

It’s no wonder that so many Americans are so pissed off. We speak incessantly on irreparable phones which we have no idea of how, when, where or by whom they were made. We depend totally on automobiles that burn an unsustainable resource while at the same time maintaining a healthy ignorance of the internal combustion engine. Our jobs are tenuous, our homes leveraged, our bank accounts drained. How many Americans can grow a carrot much less raise a cow? We have no control over our everyday lives - this produces malaise - malaise ignites anger.

I think many Americans are waking up to the fact that the bank owns their house, their car, their four-wheeler, their snowmobile. They see that they are a single paycheck away from losing the entire house of cards. The next step is to look for someone to blame. Lord knows they can’t look in a mirror. Blame the President, the immigrants, the gays, the feminists; the blowhards have no shortage of places to point their chubby little fingers. Many are happy to follow that index finger, so long as it doesn’t point to them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Soaring Eagle Mountain Bike Race


I rode my first mountain bike race on Sunday. I was a bit nervous as my technical skills are fairly low end and I didn’t want to be the gaper on the trail clogging up the system. I’ve never raced trail before, so entering as a “beginner” seemed legit. The race started at nine; at eight thirty I decided to go for a warmer upper.
I rode out onto the race course with no idea of how long it would take me to get back to the start line. At about eight fifty I was getting pretty nervous. Luckily a couple of minutes later I spotted a herd of colorful riders. I pulled up as the race director called beginner forty plus to the start line.

My teammate Jason lined up in front, I eased in behind him. They were running the forties and fifties together and the field behind me was substantial. I didn’t survey the crowd too closely for fear that I’d have a natural tendency to self seed myself a little further back. I figured I’d line up near the front, push hard and if folks need to get around me well they’ll just have to work at it.

The opening sprint was run on a soupy road, but after about a hundred yards we turned left and descended some groomed single track. Jason and four or five other guys were gone down the hill while I tried to stay aboard my trusty Yeti. I could feel the pack pushing hard at my back. I started asking “what the hell did I get myself into?”

With every descent comes an ascent and the climb back out of the ravine revealed that while I wasn’t the most technically savvy, I was quite a bit stronger than most of the field. The climb, coupled with some rolling terrain allowed me to separate from the pack and to push my way forward. Some guys were cool about letting me get by, others made me work for it.

I started the second lap behind a Cycle U rider, he was more skilled but I think I could compete with him from a strength standpoint, so just tried to keep him in my sights on the downhill and pushed it as hard as I could on only flat portion. He went down at a log jump and I seized the opportunity to get around him. A few minutes later I found myself behind another rider who was going maybe ninety five percent of my pace. I was pushing hard to get around him, but he didn’t give an inch. I wanted to put some distance between myself and the Cycle U guy and this hold-up was starting to get aggravating.

It’s easy to pass someone who is riding considerably slower than yourself, but it’s a bitch to get around someone who is just a little slower: you need a lot more space. Finally I pushed around the guy and rode hard to bury him. Once he was out of sight I was on my own; I didn’t see another rider for the remainder of the race. I crossed the finish line with no idea of how I had placed. It turns out I placed second behind my teammate Jason. My first top ten finish. It looks like I’ll have to try another mountain bike race.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Truth Hurts

“They” call the time trail the race of truth; perhaps this is why “they” also say that the truth hurts.

I kicked off my 2012 bike racing season with the Icebreaker Time Trial down near Black Diamond. I was out of bed at 4:00 AM in order to be at the race site bright and early as I was bringing down a carload of road signs, tents, radios and other miscellaneous race stuff. After helping my teammates set up the course – my team, Cucina Fresca organizes this event – I loitered about a bit and then hopped on the trainer for a good warm-up session.

Warming up for an early season time trial is a bit of a tricky matter as I wanted to get good and hot, but I didn’t want to soak my skin suit in sweat thereby risking a freezing ten mile ride on the course. This was my first experience with the skin suit and I learned that you don’t put on the top half until absolutely the last minute, because once you’re in that thing you’re in it. Fortunately I was able to use short fast bursts on the trainer to elevate my heart rate without becoming too overheated. I popped my bike out of the trainer five minutes before my start time, pulled off my wool tights, put on my helmet and rolled over to the starting queue.

I arrived up with two minutes to spare.

Last year I took off from the start line like I was being chased by zombies; two miles down the road I was up on the bullhorns gasping for air. I vowed not to repeat that mistake. I rolled out at about ninety percent and settled into a good sustainable pace. My strategy was to get to the turnaround in good shape and then turn it on for the return trip. It seemed, and I guess it still does seem, like a good plan: it’s better to gradually get faster instead of gradually getting slower.
Despite getting passed three times – when the second guy came past I glanced at my Garmin, it said 24.9 mph, I mean damn that guy must have been going 27, maybe even, 28 miles an hour. I finished strong and never did spike my heart into that potential cardiac arrest range. I did the ten mile course in 26:02, nearly a minute faster than last year – I’ll take that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weekend Kickoff

Well despite the snowy/rainy weather my bike racing season will officially kick-off on Saturday morning at the IceBreaker Time Trial. I’ve dusted off my TT bike, but have only managed two trainer rides aboard the speed machine. Today I’m pulling the GatorSkins off of my good wheels and putting on some new Continental racing tires. The weather is supposed to improve this afternoon so I hope to get out on the roads for a couple of hours.

I think I’ll also compete in a mountain bike race this Sunday. I’ll enter as a “beginner.” My big concern is getting in the way of other racers. It’s okay to be a neophyte, but you don’t want to be an obstacle or a hazard.

Got my first piece of mail addressed to my new bicycle clothing company: Greenlite Heavy Industries. That’s a good feeling.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A New Totem


I had to go to to the north end of downtown Seattle – near the base of Queen Anne - yesterday in order to pay for some Schoeller fabric which I’d like to try on the bike pants. Schoeller is top of the line stuff, but it’s also very expensive, so I’ll have to make up a pair and see how the cost-benefit analysis works out. Getting to the base of Queen Anne from Mercer Island is no small matter.

Accessing the south end of downtown – near Union Station and Pioneer Square – from Interstate 90 is dead easy but the three miles from Pioneer Square to the Seattle Center is dicey to say the least. When zipping along a busy downtown street I don’t so much worry about the moving cars – perhaps I should be more worried, but I’m comfortable riding in traffic – but parked cars, now those are scary. Some dude is late for a meeting, spots a curbside parking spot, pulls in, throws the car in park and flings open his door: bam I’m on the pavement. It used to be that while riding along a line of parked cars you could look to see if there was someone in the driver’s seat and take evasive action, but now with every car and SUV having tinted windows you can’t see crap. Consequently I ride three to four feet to the left of a string of parked cars, probably angers some drivers, but that’s better than a door in the face.

When I arrived at Seattle center I stopped to check out the new totem pole, which was erected only a day before. It’s a memorial to a local woodcarver who was inadvertently shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. I’m a big fan of Northwest Coast art, and the pole is definitely a nice piece of work.

I rode with the duck fabric urban bicycling pants over my racing knickers. The thermometer was reading high thirties so I rolled up the pants to the knees and pulled on a pair of wool ski socks. I was warm and comfortable. Rode 29 miles, which makes my year total 370 miles.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nice and Easy

I had to go to the post office on Friday, it’s a ten mile round trip, so I decided to take the cross bike for a nice leisurely ride. What a difference it makes riding in street clothes, well my commuter pants really, just cruising along at a nice even twelve miles an hour. Normally I’m out there sweating and cranking as hard as I can, but on Friday I was simply riding along, no sweating, no strain.

Getting around by bicycle doesn’t have to be a sweat drenched arduous affair. You can run or you can walk; so can you ride easy or ride hard. When I was riding to the post office I never broke a sweat even though I was wearing a down coat and had to crank up a big hill. Every time I felt the prickly itch signaling that I’m about to break a sweat I geared down and eased up. It worked every time. Riding slow and taking it easy also brought back my love of cycling. Sometimes I get so caught up in training and racing that I forget how much I actually love cycling.

With all that said I did have to jump on the trainer for a full on training session later in the day.

On Saturday I snuck out for two laps around the island for a total of 27 miles. Sam, Sophia and I had gone out for breakfast at the Sorrento Hotel where I had a three egg omelet; that was mega energy for two quick laps.

Total 2012 mileage is 341.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Uncle


Wednesday, after three days of riding in the rain I finally cried uncle and drove downtown to meet with Matt the clothing designer. I swear it was raining when I left home but only five miles away in downtown Seattle it was nothing but blue.

The pants are exactly what I was looking for. We made this pair out of 10 oz duck, they have a great fit and a unique style – I’ve never seen anything like them. Can’t wait to start putting images up on this blog.

Got home and took the pants for a 14 mile lap of the Island. Today I was short on time so I got in 10 miles of hill riding. Total for the year is 304 miles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Downtown in the Rain

Rode into downtown to talk to clothing designer, Matt, about the bike commuter pants I’m working on. We have some fabric now and I’m super stoked about seeing iteration #3. In and out was 22 miles of steady rain and a brisk wind. It looks like we Seattleites are in for a good long run of gray wet winter weather.

I wore a pair of Ibex knickers, made out of a Schoeler soft shell material, over my team issue thermal team issue thermal knickers. Didn’t stay all that dry. Don’t know if anything short of a rubber suit would have kept me dry.

I pulled out the cross bike yesterday, thinking that it might be a safer ride than my slick-tired road bike. My clip-on fenders were a no go. I think I’ll drop some bucks and pick up a set of fenders for the cross bike, winter here is far from over. I’d also like to get a pair of those Vittoria Randonneurs – in white – that would be cool.

2012 mileage total is now 306.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wind, Rain, Cold

Knocked off 55 miles with the team on Saturday. Wind, rain, and cold – we had all three. We had a stiff wind out of the south and riding across the I-90 Bridge spanning Lake Washington was a touch and go affair. My wheels aren’t all that aero, but I do have bladed spokes and boy howdy was I knocked about by the cross wind. Actually it wasn’t seriously cold and so long as I was peddling I was fairly comfortable.

I’ve been trying out a product called Sport Legs, it seems to do wonders for keeping the legs feeling fresh. Tired legs is something I’ve been battling all winter, perhaps this is a cure, or else maybe I’m just getting in better shape.

My buddy Brian is fond of saying “growing old ain’t for pussies.” True that. As I approach 50 all sorts of weird things seem to be happing: claustrophobia, baldness, and now an intolerance for alcohol. It seems even a single glass of red wine or a bottle of beer will inevitably render a banger of a headache. I hate headaches, maybe I need to start trying hard liquor. I’ve never been much a spirits man; always tasted like gasoline to me.

My yearly bike mileage total is now 284.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

229

Knocked off 45 miles with my friend Kris yesterday. That brings the 2012 total mileage up to 229. Small numbers yet. I need to log a few long rides to get those miles up. I'm leading a team ride this Saturday, that'll give me 60 miles. Cold and wet today I may have to go with the trainer once again. If the weather clears this afternoon I'll break out the TT bike and take a lap of Mercer Island. I'll kick-off my racing season March 3rd at the Icebreaker TT; I should get a few miles on the TT bike beforehand.

Thinking about using my race reimbursement check to buy a Garmin Edge 500.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Zoo Hill

Something to consider

Last year my training method of long moderate rides didn’t seem to be getting me to the finish line any sooner than my competition, so this year I’ve decided to add in some shorter distance high intensity workouts. One of these workouts involves a climb of a particularly nasty hill in these hereabouts known as Zoo Hill. It’s a scenic, yet relentless, climb up Cougar Mountain just east of Seattle.

Yesterday I started out en route to Zoo Hill under marginal skies – I’m so tired of riding on the trainer that I figured a little rain is a fair price to pay for some road miles. When I started uphill the weather was quickly going downhill and as I neared the summit out came the hail. By the time I reached the top it was a full on snow storm. I pulled over into a little bus stop shed, pulled on my rain coat and prepared for the downhill. I almost immediately lost my rear brake to worn out pads and as I whipped through the sleet and hail it felt as though I was riding through a Saharan sandstorm.

I arrived at home with frozen feet and a grimy bike. I can’t believe that racing season starts in two and a half weeks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bike Swap


Sophie and I went to the Cascade Bicycle Club Ski Swap down at Seattle Center on Sunday morning. We arrived an hour after the doors opened and boy was it some kind of crowded mosh pit in there. Cyclists certainly are an eclectic crowd. There are so many little factions and cliques in the cycling world: trendy urban hipsters, all business commuters, focused racers, outrageously shod cross racers, mega-thighed tracksters, busted and broken free riders, old school hard tail mountain bikers, BMX bowl riders, wooly randoneurs, just happy to be here STPer’s; it’s a mixed crowd without a lot of overlap.

I’m hoping that Greenlite Heavy Industries (the bike clothing company co-founded by myself and my friend Bianca) will be able to bridge the gap that divides many of these factions. When I joined the Cucina Fresca Cycling Team last year someone asked me what kind of biking I do, I replied that if it has two wheels I’m game. I stand behind that.

The idea behind Greenlite is to get people out on their bikes. I don’t care how fast you ride, how far you ride, just ride, your life will be the better for it.

After swapping at the swap (actually all we bought was a bracelet made of old bike chain - I was tempted by a celeste green Ciocc) Sophie and I hit Pesos at the base of Queen Anne for some huevos rancheros. I'm still looking for the perfect huevos rancheros place, Greenlake Jakes was the best, but they've been out of business for like fifteen years.

Monday, February 13, 2012


We spent much of the weekend in Tacoma – at a gymnastics meet. I live in Seattle and have passed through Tacoma nigh on one hundred times, but this is only the second time I’ve actually stopped and got out of the car. Downtown Tacoma is actually a very hip, hop happening place – except for the fact that it is completely devoid of people. The folks who make decisions in Tacoma seem to have had a build it and they will come vision.

The downtown has an arts infrastructure like I’ve never seen anywhere else. Art is everywhere. And not I’m not talking about half assed low end stuff, but visionary thoughtful, well-made and well-executed stuff. The University of Washington campus is in the middle of downtown and uses a cool synergy of old and new architecture. Many of the buildings are a blending off old and new construction, and the new stuff wasn’t just cobbled on, but instead was designed with thought and class.

I was there Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday all day and probably saw less than twenty people on the street. There is more life in a morgue. The build it and they will come vision doesn’t seem to be working out as well in Tacoma as it did Northeastern Iowa. The Tacoma folks took a shot, I hope it pays off.

My outdoor bike riding has been foiled by either rain or darkness since last Thursday. Over the past three days I’ve ridden five hours on the trainer. It’s raining again today... Still at 159 miles. I might have to revisit this idea that I’m not counting trainer miles in my yearly total.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Downtown


Had to take a ride into downtown Seattle today. Normally I'm decked out in my Cucina Fresca racing kit but today, since I'm designing urban bike clothing, I decided to go in Levi 501's and a Key hickory stripe logger shirt. The Levi's are new, I bought the rigid fabric this time with the intent of finding out whether or not the shrink to fit claim actually works. My biker thighs just don't fit into regular jeans, so I figured what the heck let's try something new. I read some shrink to fit instructions on the web and the general consensus seems to be to wear them for a good long time before trying the shrink - well 21 miles on a bike in the rain ought to simulate a good long time.
Actually my clothing choices worked out quite well. I wore my team issue winter knickers under the Levis and I layered a heavyweight baselayer and a vest under the cotton hickory shirt. I liked having the button down chest pockets as they gave me a handy secure place for the cell phone, much better than trying to simultaneously ride a bike while fishing a phone out of your pants pocket. I can see why the loggers like those hickory shirts, yes they are cotton, but dang that fabric is warm, I was actually a bit too hot.
Got in 21 miles today bringing the total up to 159 miles.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Grand Ridge

A stunning day here in the Pacific Northwest, I made the best of it by getting out on the Yeti for some mountain biking. Several weeks ago two teammates – Matt and Jason – introduced me to the Grand Ridge, an uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill route leading from Tiger Mountain near Issaquah to the Duthie Hill mountain bike park. I decided that this would be a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.

It was nice to be out by myself. When I last rode the route with Matt and Jason it was all I could do to just make them wait a little while at the top of each rise. It’s good to get out and push it with folks who are technically and physically superior, but it’s also good to get out and sharpen your skills without the guilt of knowing that you’re messing up someone else’s training session.
I don’t get out on the trails enough. Being out in the woods, either alone or with like-minded friends, gives me a kind of primeval recharge. We’re deep into the season of bullshit and it seems like I can’t even turn on the radio without hearing some sort of nonsense that’s even lower and filthier than what I heard the day before. Rick and Newt don’t exist in the woods. Out there it’s just you and what you can do: either you pedaled to the top of the hill or you pushed your bike, either way it’s you and what you did.

All told I only knocked off fourteen miles, but they were hard earned. I started my 2013 mileage tally on February 1; I now stand at 138.