Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Tour - Rock On


As I'm riding to work today, while sitting at red light in downtown Seattle - this woman to left of me standing on the sidewalk, waiting to cross the street - sees me in my full Euro Geek regalia and yells out "When does the Tour de France start?"

As the light changes, I yell back "July 3rd, Saturday". And with that, she punches the air and yells out "Rock on !!"

Yes, rock on indeed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bike Snob NYC - The Book


If you've done any bike blogging poking around, you've no doubt have heard of Bike Snob NYC. He sort of a rock star in the bike blogging world. Almost every bike related blog in Internet Land seems to have a link to his site. Everyone of his posts gets a crazy amount of comments. I can only imagine what his stats are, he must get thousands of hits a day.

There's a reason why the dude is so popular - he's damn good at what he does. And just what does he do? Pokes fun at the bike world or culture if you will, without coming across as a jerk. Why is that? Because he's one of us, and gets this bicycle related goofy world we all live in - well, people that ride anyway. I don't check out his blog daily, but do a fair amount - he's great - and if you've never checked out his blog, I suggest you give it a shot. He also writes a slightly watered down version of his humor for Bicycling magazine, as well as articles for Outside and other publications.

Who's he? Part of the schtick was nobody knew his real identity - face never photographed and nothing signed - he was just Bike Snob NYC. With the increased popularity, that cover has been blown. Bike Snob's real name is Eben Weiss. So there you have it.

Besides his blog with almost daily posts, he recently came out with a book, called strangely enough - Bike Snob. Well, the full title is Bike Snob, Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning The World Of Cycling. Yeah, that's a mouthful - try saying it three times fast with a mouthful of Clif Bar. Good luck.

I planned to buy a copy or bug my local library in scoring a few copies to loan. However, lucky for me, my coworker and fellow riding pal, Brian, had already scored a copy and loaned me his to peruse. And peruse I did.

First off, right off the bat, this is the best bike book I've ever read. The chase has now been cut. Bike Snob's style of humor and writing, his knowledge of bike and pop culture, all work for me. Maybe it's my east coast roots that dig it, or I've been riding so long that I get everything he's talking about - or making fun of. In any case, I got a kick out the book - the whole deal.

In the book, he varies from the history of the bicycle, his own background in cycling, to describing all the various subsets of bicyclists - messengers, roadies, mountain bikers, commuters, and of course his favorite crowd to pick on - hipster fixie riders. Some of this goes behind bikes and he has great eye to dissect the human condition and how it creates it's own rules and uniforms for various subcultures - with a funny bend on everything. All with an easy to read style, like you and some friends making fun of stuff. And that kind of goofy fun pushes all my mental buttons the right way.

As you can obviously tell, I dug this book a lot. Not many books actually make me smile or laugh out loud while reading - this one did. Would a non-cyclist enjoy this book? Maybe not. If you're a cyclist that knows the culture a bit, appreciates sarcastic humor, and can poke fun at yourself at being a cyclist - you'll dig it as well.

I give it a two fingerless bike gloves thumbs up.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ampco Sucks - Sorta.....


I drove to work on Monday, since I still felt a little pummeled from the race on Saturday. I usually bike commute most of the week, but drive a day or two for various reasons - like from being pummeled in mountain bike race.

I work in downtown Seattle, which means you gotta pay to park - no way around it. This new high rise apartment building opened a up a few months ago, about two blocks from work, complete with spiffy new underground parking. Since it's new and looking to attract customers, they offer a cheap rate - $8 for 10 hours of parking. Yeah, that's cheap for downtown Seattle. I've parked there a few times over the last few months.

Monday, I get stuck at work for a bit, and run over the paid 10 hours. When I get to my car, parking lot dude just got done sticking a ticket under the wiper. I'm 35 minutes over the paid time.

I try to reason with the guy - stuck at work, only 30 minutes over, gimmie a break - no go. Expired is expired. I'm annoyed, toss the ticket into the car and leave. I've been tagged with this maybe twice in 10 years of working downtown - usually something like a $20 fine.

While sitting at a light on the way home, I check out the ticket. $71 for this little round of "expired". Okay, I was late - but a $71 fine for being 35 minutes late on a $8 parking deal, seems a little insane to me. I'm hacked.

When I get home, call the number on the ticket to complain. I get a voice mail box that takes my info and claims it will return my call within 3 business days. I call again the next day and leave another message. Nothing ranting, just stating that $71 seems a little steep. I predict a return call never to happen.

Amazingly, I do get a call later in the day (now that would a fun job, eh?). After a short conversation, the dude on the other end lowers the fine to $35. Still a rip off, but a smaller rip off, if you will. Man, working downtown is fun.

I'm glad I bike commute most of the time. Nothing sticks it to the man like bike commuting - all free, all good, and no $71 charge to park for an extra 35 minutes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Race Day at Duthie Hill


Yesterday was officially declared race day. Ian and I did battle at the kickoff race for the spanking new Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park. First race ever held at this very fun facility, so maybe we're now part of history - mountain bike history that is.

We hit Duthie Hill last weekend for some exploring and trail recon for the race. After seeing the trails, we were looking forward to racing on 'em, and so we did.

The race was part of the Subway Washington Games and benefited the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance - some of the folks who put Duthie Hill Park on the map. They deserve some support after all the work they do, keeping local mountain bikers happy.

Ian's race kicked off at 9:00 AM, good and early. We were out of the house with enough time to allow for the usual pre-race festivities - breakfast, drive over, unload bikes, register and warm up a bit. Weather was in the 50s and damp, with a few sprinkles thrown in, but no real rain. Great racing weather, but maybe not so great for spectating.

Ian turns 11 next month, so he raced in the Junior Boys 11 - 14 age bracket for this race - first time with the "big boys". I also didn't follow behind, as I have for the last two seasons of racing in the 10 and Under class. Ah, they grow up so fast.

Boys and girls, aged 11 - 14, scheduled to race 5 miles, two 2.5 mile laps. The younger kids, 10 and under, do half that - so one lap at 2.5 miles. After scoping the place out last weekend, I had no reservations about sending Ian out to race on his own. Impossible to get lost and easy to reach in case of flat or crash. I popped his cell phone in the Camelback for emergency use. No real worries, but of course I was a little nervous while he was out there.



Ian stares me down from the center of the start line. Nice turnout of kids for this race, always great to see, since they're the future of this sport. Kid on Ian's left, Scott, is insanely fast for an 11 year old. We know Scott from the Indie Series over the previous two seasons. Not to spoil the ending, but he easily won this race as well - no contest.



I recognized this kid, Aaron, from the Indie Series as well.



A few racers from the Boys 10 and Under class. Kid in green rounds the last corner for the win.



Scott powers his way to a win in the 11-14 class. Looking good.



Young girl hitting the course with the boys. Always cool to see girls racing, sport needs more of 'em.



Ian out on the course. Go Ian go.



Ian comes around for the last lap. The new bike I built up for him has been working out super - even better then I expected.



Post race drink, courtesy of free PowerAde given away at the race. Ian finished back of the pack in this race, something like 14th place of 16 racers. He's only been on the bike a few times this spring, so a little out of practice. Plus, both his shoelaces came untied during the race, requiring a stop to untangle and tie 'em back up - whoops. I honestly could care less what place he scores, as long he had fun, didn't get hurt, and it remains a positive experience. After the race, he asked when is the next one - so all is good in Race Land.

Short video clip of Ian in action. I've had hit and miss results of posting video directly to Blogger, so giving Vimeo a shot. Take a gander.....


Untitled from Dan O on Vimeo.



Later in the afternoon, I was scheduled to race in the Mens 45+ Sport class. Race is a relative term, at least when I'm on the course. I'm slow - not being modest here - if I can finish anywhere in the middle of the pack, I'm doing better then usual. I've been dragging for weeks with work, home and other family festivities - combined with riding quite a bit. I'm just not recovering or resting enough. Simple fact. Oh, and I'm getting old - can't forget that.

While I was warming up, I knew I was in trouble. I had nada, zilch, absolutely nothing in my legs. It's gonna be a long afternoon. I could have bailed, but went for it anyway and headed to the start line. We were scheduled for three 5 mile laps - so 15 miles total. Start line official mentioned they would stop recording times after 2 hours. Lucky for me, that little bit of info stuck in my defective brain for later use. On the start line, about 16 guys in the 45+ class, with another few in the 55+ class to leave with us - but scored separately. Behind us, Sport class women ready to rock after a minute interval.

Boom, well maybe a shuffled boom, and we all pull away from the line. I'm already off the back as we complete the gravel road drag race to the singletrack entrance. I catch up in the singletrack section and hang on to the pack for a short distance - remember passing one dude - then I'm dropped for good. Race now turns into a solitary time trial grind through the woods. I see no one except for a few women racers who catch and pass me later in the race. On my last lap, some Expert level dudes come up behind, warming up for their race. They politely hang back, until I let 'em pass - with them thanking me and offering encouragement.

I only race occasionally, so you almost forget how painful it is. Yeah, it's fun - in a sick twisted way - but make no mistake, it hurts. If you've never raced, but think your "training rides" are hard, it's not the same until you pin on a number and really race. Trust me on that. Give it a try.

The Duthie Hill course was big fun - lots of singletrack, a few short steep climbs, and a gravel road or two. There's really no rest though, even on the descents, due to the technical singletrack. By the third lap, I felt like pummeled dog food and couldn't wait to finish. By now I was crawling a stupid, slow pace. Finish line, where are you?

As I was limping along in survival mode, overheard the race announcer through the woods, mentioning someone crossing the line at one hour and something minutes. I glance at my watch and resolve to finish before the two hour cut off, fried legs and burning lower back be damned.

I crank it up a bit and rail the last singletrack section, then pop out into the clearing and cross the line in one hour and forty seven minutes. A pitifully slow time, but a personal victory for me. Out of the twelve 45+ Sport racers posted on the results, I come in 12th place. Lame, I know.

I don't know how many DNF'd or missed the cut off - maybe none. In any case, for how crappy I felt, I'm glad I finished and pushed it a bit at the end - even in my toasted state. I'm not complaining and still looking forward to the next race. Yeah, I guess I'm loopy. Pay $30 to get pummeled and come in dead last. And I wanna do it again - soon.



Race featured some great singletrack. Here I'm sampling a section and pondering why I race.



Cruising around for yet another lap of fun, frolicking and pain.


Video proof of me in action. Ian pulling off a nice job manning the camera......


Duthie Hill Race from Dan O on Vimeo.


As a side note, the 29er experiment continues, and the new Sette Razzo 29er worked great on the course. The stinging lower back did remind me however, that a hardtail it is, despite the 29 inch rear wheel. Overall, it felt just fine, thank you. The RockShox Reba SL fork works fantastic. The Kenda Small Block 8 tires continue to impress. With that tread pattern, you'd think they would slide everywhere, not the case - and they roll really well. The Razzo, complete bike at $1200 is a screaming deal.

One last video clip. Some Expert level dudes rocking a sketchy section of singletrack. Pictures lie a bit - it's steeper then it looks.....



Duthie Hill Race - Expert Class from Dan O on Vimeo.


Overall, even though Ian and I both got our asses kicked - we had a great time. Stopping at our favorite Mexican place on the way home was an added bonus. Awesome father/son day out.

Also have to mention how well this race was run. Everything went off on time, race results posted in minutes. Race fee included a t-shirt, PowerAde, Clif Bars, and bottled water. Medals for the kid racers, no matter what place they scored. Food and beer also available for purchase. Great job all around.



Like father, like son. Cool, eh?


And with that - adios. Thanks for reading. Now go find a race to enter and create your own story.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park


Last Sunday Ian and I decided to check out the new mountain bike park at Duthie Hill, located nearby in Issaquah. After several years of getting something like this launched and completed, the official opening ceremony was a few months ago. I've read a bit about the place and wanted to see it for myself. It also sounded like a fun spot to take Ian for an afternoon, weather was perfect, so off we go.

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance partnered with King County, and I'm sure a bunch of other like minded folks, to get this 120 acre park approved and ready for riders. In the '90s I was pretty involved with the BBTC (Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club), the earlier version of Evergreen. It's great to see a new wave of people keeping the flag flying and pulling off projects like this.

Okay, enough history - what's it like? Think new school freeride jumps, wooden structures - some elevated, some ground level - mixed with mountain bike in mind designed trails. Trails are marked like ski runs, easy to advanced. All the wooden stunts have bypass trails if you're not so inclined to get air, or don't enjoy riding a skinny piece of wood a few feet in the air.

Here's another cool aspect - the trails are one way only. You can bomb 'em full speed with no fear of someone coming the other way. Oh yeah, the trails also have man made berms that allow for some really fun swoopy turns. There's also jumps built into the trails, but they can be rolled over as well - air not required.



Open area in middle of park contains some practice skinny logs, a wooden jump, and seems to be the hang out spot. The trails all start and finish from the open area - great design. A trail from the parking lot, that also includes a 600 foot wooden section, brings you to the center of it all. They packed a lot of action in 120 acres. The trails themselves are short, but can be linked together for more mileage. If you rode all the perimeter trails, about a 5 mile loop.



Ian rides one of the practice skinny log sections in the center open area. Fun stuff to goof around on and develop better balance skills. No risk either, since you're only a few inches off the ground. If you screw up, just ride off. Yeah, pretty easy. Try this 5 feet off the ground however - another universe.




Well designed practice jump area. Start low and move up. Here Ian gets his feet wet on the lower level.



The trails themselves wind through lush Pacific Northwest forest. Tight, twisty and swoopy. We hit all but the advanced trails for our first visit. A few we rocked multiple times, including Boot Camp, that has fun bermed out corning sections. Ian was rocking that day, riding really well. Following him through those sections almost brings a tear to my eye. I gotta get a helmet cam!

Besides the few blurry shots posted, I didn't take many pictures - was too busy riding. I wanted to grab a few shots of the freeride types railing some of the larger advanced jumps and drop offs. Maybe next time. Being XC guy myself, interesting to watch these dudes grab some serious hang time. Not my style though, due to lack of air talent and general like of intact collarbones.

We did grab a little video however. For some reason, Blogger is displaying the video previews as minature Black Holes of Doom. Click on 'em, trust me - they're there.....


video
Ian nails one of the longer log sections. Nice!



video
Dad, that be me, shows how not to do it. I did nail it on the second try, but screwing up is always more fun to watch - no?


Overall, a pretty damn cool place to visit. Place was hopping, but not overcrowded. Everyone from full armored freeride types, to dads riding with Docker shorts and tipped backed helmets. Ancient rigid rigs to downhill bikes. Build it and they will come. The best part was loads of kids riding. Great to see. The most amount of kids I've ever seen riding in one spot. Awesome.

Part of old school XC geek me wants to recoil at the thought of riding in a park - a contained area designed for mountain biking. Wooden stunts, constructed berms, ski labeled trails, it all seems so contrived and a little too thought out.

Well Bunky, after spending a few hours there, get those thoughts out of your helmeted head - 'cause it's all good and a blast to ride. Especially for kids. Kudos to all for putting this place together. We'll be back for sure - and soon.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Trips for Kids

Son Ian and I did something a little different today. We volunteered to assist with a Trips for Kids ride at our local riding area, St Edward State Park. Trips for Kids is a non-profit group that allows kids who may not have a chance to try mountain biking, out for an afternoon on loaner bikes. Everything needed for a day out is included - from bikes, to gear, to Clif Bars.

I've known of this organization for a few years and wanted to see what they're about. Last season I attempted to sign up for a day, but the dates never seemed to jive with my schedule. Today it finally worked out. I also thought it would be a good experience for Ian, since for a 10 year old, he's a pretty experienced rider. I thought he'd be a good role model, enjoy riding with other kids, and learn something from the experience as well.

Trips for Kids partners with the Cascade bicycle club, our huge local club - actually the largest bicycle club in the U.S. So when Ian and I rolled into the park at 9:30 AM, that's who met us - nice guy Eric from Cascade. After introductions and some chit chat, while waiting for the kids to arrive, we helped unload bikes, pump up tires, check quick releases, and test ride a few bikes for safety sake.



Yup, Cascade is a big club, complete with own van - says so right on the side.



Loaner bikes lined up and ready to roll. All decent mid to lower priced quality rigs, donated from various sources.


With the bikes all ready to roll, we waited for the kids to arrive. And waited, and waited. They finally arrived about an hour late, but no big deal. Turns out the chaperone, a nice woman in her 20s or so, took a bus from downtown Seattle to the park, then walked about 20 minutes to where we were located - with 9 kids in tow. A bit of a trek. The kids were also a bit older then I expected, all teenage boys, high school aged - from some organization located in the Central District of Seattle. This organization gets the kids out on camping trips and other outdoor activities. Pretty cool. This was their first ever mountain bike ride.

During the introductions, discovered they were all originally from China or Vietnam. Seemed to be nice, polite kids - but certainly teenaged boys for sure. Also discovered some of them haven't been on a bike - any kind of bike - for a few years. This should be an interesting afternoon....

Eric the ride leader, gave 'em all the info to get started - trail rules and safety reminders. Eric and I assisted in getting helmets securely fastened, gloves on, bikes matched to riders and seat heights adjusted. After a quick brake and shifting lesson, we all roll to a large field to practice shifting. The group rolls in a circle, with tips being offered by Eric and I. They all seem to get the idea - sort of. After a few laps, time for some singletrack action and we head for the woods.

Eric takes the lead, with my son Ian right behind him. I ride sweep behind all the riders. Within 5 seconds of hitting the trail, kid in front me literally hit the trail, courtesy of front disk brake induced endo. Ouch. He gets up, dusts himself off and appears to be okay. A pretty good fall. Bike landed hard enough on the WTB saddle to completely bend the seat rails. Yikes. Welcome to mountain biking kid. I pull off a cave man repair on the saddle by bending it back into place by hand - not perfect, but good enough to continue riding. We catch back up to the group in no time.

We ride at a slow pace though a few of St Ed's trails. I continue to ride sweep, with Endo Kid in front of me, and I offer riding advice as needed. I've spent way too much time on a bike, past and present, so witnessing older kids starting from ground zero on the mountain bike learning curve, was a bit of shock. No real clue on shifting, getting weight off the saddle, what lines to take - or anything experienced riders do without even thinking about it. Interesting to see, but a little painful as well.

We stop and regroup often, Eric giving advice and challenging the riders to ride over a small log and other obstacles. The kids who were shy and apprehensive were starting to loosen up and have fun. They're doing well enough, that we elect to skip the lunch break, additional drills session, and continue to ride a bit farther. We head down the trail for further adventure.

While climbing up a short steep section, Endo Kid launches his rear derailleur into the spokes. I tell him to stop before too much damage occurs. I check out the tangled mess - sweet. I get the chain back in place, then notice the very bent derailleur hanger. Having nothing to lose, I bend it back out by hand, expecting it to snap off - amazingly it doesn't. Even more amazing, it shifts correctly afterwards. Yes, I am the master cave man mechanic. Tools not required.



Bikes lay in bushes, while we search for cell phone that popped out of one kid's pocket. A trail walker found it and all was well. A teenager without a cell phone? Not for long. Where are the pictures of the actual kids? Not allowed to take any, rules and regulations and all. I think the world has become a little too paranoid - no? In any case, no pictures allowed, so none taken.



The ride continued with no more additional endos, exploding derailleurs, or escaping cell phones. Eric challenged the new riders to complete a short wooden plank section, and one kid pulled it off. Well, Ian did as well - but he's had a little practice. I blew it with all eyes on me riding sweep - whoops. Yes, I am the expert.

The last Eric challenge was a short uphill complete with small log crossing. One kid cleaned it, only the 4th newbie ever to clear in all of Eric's trips. Not bad. I pumped up Endo Kid with all my alleged tips and even set him off in the right gear. He came oh so close to also cleaning it. Nice smile on his face made up for it though. Ian also cleaned it, showing some of the older kids how it was done - making bike geek dad proud. Nice job.

We all shared the last short climb back to official Cascade van, and the new riders dismounted their trusty loaner steeds. At the end of the ride, Eric held a "cookie circle", where we all sat in, uh...circle - just like the name indicates. As the bag of cookies went around, everyone had to mention what they were most proud of, and what was the most exciting part of the day.

Various answers ranging to being proud of actually sweating, to climbing a hill, to clearing logs. Many said the most exciting part was going fast down hills. Yup, that's pretty universal - welcome to the club. Many thanked us for the experience - that was cool.

While the gang retraced their 20 minute walk to catch the bus back to Seattle, Ian and I helped load bikes and other gear. I removed the damaged saddle from Endo Kid's bike, soon to be sent to the nearest dumpster. Also taped a note on the 'bars to replace the derailleur hanger ASAP. Don't want a busted seat rail or snapped hanger to ruin the next kid's ride. After some more nice conversation with Eric, Ian and I jumped on our bikes for the short ride home - mission accomplished.

Would I volunteer again? Sure, it was fun - but you need some real patience. Compared to a normal mountain bike ride, you're crawling along with many stops to kill the flow. Add in mechanical mishaps, crashes, giving pointers, and all the other guidance required - you're going to dig doing this or not. As I mentioned, it was pretty amazing to see these kids arrive with such little riding skill. But it was also very fun to see the improvement in all the riders, even with such a short ride.

With a few more rides, they would improve even more and maybe even become actual riders. If an afternoon out cruising the trails gave any of 'em the riding bug - that would be great.

Even if that never happens, but they still think back to this afternoon as a fun experience - it's all good and worth the time. Plus, you can't help but to learn some things yourself in such a shared experience. It goes beyond bikes and that's perhaps the best part.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Legends Inspire

I caught this story on the VeloNews site - one of my favorite sites and print magazine as well - race report on the Tamarancho Dirt Classic, recently held in Marin County, the birthplace of mountain biking as we know it today.

I've never heard of this race, but certainly some of the people who competed you've heard of - well, if you're an old school mountain biker like me - you have for sure. Hit VeloNews for the full story. I really enjoyed it, so took the liberty of posting a few pictures here....



Joe Breeze, mountain bike pioneer and one of the dudes who helped kick off the whole mountain bike scene. From making custom frames, to racing Repack, to starting his own bike company, to pushing the bicycle transportation agenda. I don't know exactly how old Joe is, but he's certainly not a kid anymore. Here, Joe is styling in the Masters class aboard one of his latest mountain bikes. Joe Breeze is someone I'd dig sharing a ride or a meal with - always comes across as the super nice guy in any interview that I've come across. Combine that with what he's contributed to the bike world, would be some cool conversation for sure.



Ned Overend, what can you say? A living legend. Here, Ned pounds it out in the Pro class at 55 years old. That my friends is pretty freaking incredible. To be competitive at the Pro level at 55 is just plain unbelievable. Plus, again - another super nice dude. Awesome. A true legend and role model for cycling.



Otis Guy rocking the bar ends in the Masters class. Otis is another mountain bike pioneer from the early days of mountain biking. His custom frames for that crazy Softride beam stand out in my mind, from "Back in the day". He still makes custom frames as well as being a fireman. Dude, check out those arms. Is he a mountain bike racer or a boxer?


Reading about these guys still racing and riding made my day. It also inspires me to some extent. If these guys can still crank it at this level, at their age, I can drag my sorry ass out of bed to ride to work, plus suffer in the occasional mountain bike race - all in the name of fun. It's also a reminder that cycling is a lifetime sport. Oh, and what a life it is.

Ride on.....and race on.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This is Flow




After my last post, the longboard skateboarding deal is still on my mind. Check out this nicely edited video of a long, fast, stylish cruise. No death metal soundtrack or jumping tricks required. Make no mistake though, this dude is flying. Notice the sliding technique for corning. Man, that's cool.

Alright, we'll return to our normal bicycle programing tomorrow.....

Friday, June 4, 2010

Longboard Commute



Riding to work yesterday morning on the Burke-Gilman trail, I caught up to this skateboarder dude I've chatted with before - but it's been awhile. I slowed down and said hello once again as we cruised down the trail together. I asked him a few questions about his board, a longboard, since it was different then the previous board I've spotted him on. Super friendly guy, and you can see the passion and hear the enthusiasm as he describes his equipment and what he's doing.

And what exactly is he doing? Commuting to work via skateboard, 13 miles each way. That's right, 26 mile round trip. He's also not just paddling along, he's pumping the board side to side to generate movement. Pretty damn cool. Most cyclists just blow by the guy, without batting an eye. Not me, I can't help but to get a buzz just watching him do his thing.

If you think pumping a skateboard 13 miles to work is a little nuts, he also does the STP bike ride every year on a longboard. That's Seattle to Portland for you non Pacific Northwest types. That's 200 miles, pumping a skateboard for 12 hours a day, for 2 days. Crazy, but awesome. Before you shake your head wondering why, plenty of people also wonder why you'd ride a bike for 200 miles, or to work for that matter. Different strokes for different folks.

The dude's name is James Peters and he's also 40+ years old. Being, uh, 40+ myself, I get a big kick out of people "my age" still doing their thing - cycling, skating, skiing, running, surfing - whatever. There's something cool and very inspiring about that, 'cause as anybody in that age bracket knows - it's really easy to let other aspects of life squeeze that out of the picture, but we don't let that happen - 'cause it's part of who we are.

James also has a website, called Pavedwave, that focuses on the longboard and pumping scene. Interesting Seattle Times article on him posted there, along with some great videos. Even if you don't skate, check it out. If you catch him on the Burke-Gilman trail, slow down and say hello, then watch his technique up close.

Part of my interest in what he's doing is from my own dabbling with skateboards. As a kid in the '70s I skateboarded a bit, along with some friends. These were the days of Tony Alva and the Dogtown crew. The images of them skating pools in tube socks and Rector pads are burned into my brain, from the pages of Skateboarder magazine. For an excellent documentary on that era, check out Dogtown and Z Boys. Well worth the couch time.

Later, like 30 years later, I picked up a Sector 9 Longboard and occasionally goof around on it - as do my kids. Nothing serious, skater I'm not. Still, it's fun to play around on it.

In any case, whatever your "thing" is, people like James Peters keep it alive - and that energy spills over to keeping cycling alive for me - my "thing". As I pedaled away from James that morning, I felt even more psyched about riding to work then usual, just from our little chat session. And that kind of energy is priceless.