Monday, February 28, 2011

Critical Mass Attempted Murder




Various versions of this clip are circulating around the Bike Blog-O-Sphere. Apparently, during a Critical Mass ride in Brazil last Friday, some crazed motorist plows through the bike procession. Totally insane. Be warned, the footage is a bit graphic. Especially if you're a cyclist.

Agree or disagree with Critical Mass rides, nothing warrants this type of response. The person driving the car, who left the scene, should be charged with attempted murder. From the reports I've read, amazingly no one was killed, but a few were seriously injured.

No real positive way to end this post. I just hope the people fully recover from their injuries, and the freak driving the car gets fully charged with something as serious as the offense.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Welcome to the Team





A few weeks back, while attending the Washington High School Cycling League meeting, I spoke to someone who recommended a cycling team for Ian to join. His kids were members and raced on their Junior team. I collected some email info and later inquired about it. One thing lead to another and now Ian is officially racing for JL Velo, the cycling team of Northwest Velo. He'll be part of the Junior team and focus on mountain bike and 'cross racing for the season. Pretty cool, eh?



We hit our first team meeting on Saturday. Probably 100+ folks in attendance. Don't quote me on the numbers, but around 100 adult racers and 30 or so Juniors racing for the club. Plus assorted parents and other folk to assist. Most of the people are road racers, with some track and cyclocross mixed in. I'm sure some mountain bike racing tossed in as well. The people running the Junior team are open to getting more of the kids racing mountain bike events.

Ian has next to no road experience and rides in the dirt 99% of the time. We have no plans to road race, but we'll hit some of the road training rides. I'll get him a 'cross bike soon, mount road tires and go with that. As mentioned, the focus for us is dirt related riding and racing.

During the meeting, some of the team sponsors attended and said a few words. The main sponsor is JL Velo, who design and manufacture cycling and other active clothes - right here in the good ol' USA. Other sponsors include REMAX, Raleigh, Redline, Clif Bar, Center Cycle, Recycled Cycles, Home Benefit IQ, FSA, Eastside Medicine, Vittoria, Nuun, Northwave, American Classic, Lill Monster Motion Pictures, Shannon Escrow Inc, and Jen Hersman LMP. Quite the list, hope I didn't leave anyone out and provided the correct links. It's great these folks put their time and money into promoting bike racing.

We met a lot of nice folks at the meeting, ate some pizza, and even won some freebies during the raffle. Ian also picked up his team jersey and to an 11 year old, a very big deal. Fun to watch. A team ride was announced for the next day, Juniors included, at Duthie - where Ian and I have ridden a few times and raced once. Oh yeah, sign us up. Ride time at 9:00 AM, so I loaded up the car Saturday night.

Sunday morning rolled around pretty quick. Ian waking me up at 7:00 AM, ready to roll. I know he's psyched for something when that happens. Spiffy new team jersey laid out for the first official wearing. Weather was so so, 34 degrees and light rain. With the recent snow, thought we were in for a push fest through the slush. Luckily, I was proved wrong. The rain held off and the conditions were a blast.



The gang meets at nearby elementary school lot, then rides a short distance to the mountain bike park. Duthie is a killer spot to take kids. All the short loops start and end the same place, plus the trails are one way only. Impossible to get lost. Oh yeah, plus it's incredibly fun with singletrack, constructed berms, and wooden stunt structures. Highly recommended. Click here for a previous tour.



Ian talks with a few new teammates during a break in the action. The other kids are wearing last years kit, with previous sponsor First Rate Mortgage. Totally fantastic to see Ian riding with some like minded kids his own age. I've attempted to round up some riding pals for Ian via his mainstream sports teams and school pals, with little to no luck. Many kids these days don't ride bikes at all. Very nice to expose Ian to a team deal that revolves around bikes for a change. For everyone else on the ride, just another team gig. For Ian and I, something more then that - it's all new and pretty cool. We've been to our share of races over the last few years, this team element should add yet another positive twist to the whole experience. I think so anyway.



Yup, pretty dang cool to witness.



We now interrupt this ride report for (insert circus music) - Unicycles! Yes, a gaggle of off-road unicycle types invaded Duthie during our visit. I don't quite get the attraction, but hey, who am I to judge. They're outside on trails, getting some air, exercise, thrills and spills - just like us - minus one wheel. Plus, no chain to clean. Maybe they're on to something. Then again, uh - maybe not.



Conditions today turned out to be blast. Totally reminded me of my East Coast roots. Super slick, but fun. Huge fun. I'm rusty on snow skills, but didn't fall once today. To compensate, I did score a flat however. The kid pictured, super friendly nice kid, powers through the slippery white fun. Man, we met so many people over the last two days, I'm still lost on names.



Blurry shot of Ian in action. This was his first full on snow ride and he did great, despite crashing multiple times. Later in the day, showed me all the bruises on his hips and thighs. Ouch.



This be Garth Billstin, the dude who runs the whole team. We chatted a bit, and from his speech at the meeting, appears to be a talented nice guy. The organization seems to be well regarded with some quality folks involved. I've offered to assist with the Junior team if needed, will ride with them for sure. Ian and I offered to show 'em our local woods and act as tour guides. Even though I race occasionally, Ian is on the team as the official racer. I'm there for support. I honestly really dig seeing kids get out there to ride and race.



One of the adult racers on the ride today. Riding the super old school.....



.....'80s Specialized Stumpjumper. Complete with super long stem, Biopace chainrings, chainstay mounted U-brake, and pink pump. Sweet! Old school me got a huge kick out of this. I talked with the guy for a bit; CAT 3 road and track dude, rarely rides dirt - hence the old iron.


All in all, a memorable weekend. Ian and I had a great time on the ride. Wound up being about three hours in the snow, Ian did well and enjoyed it. On the way home, we did our usual post Duthie burrito and taco chow down at Chipotle in Issaquah. Well deserved after the ride to replace some burned off calories (burp).

We'll see where this team deal takes us; hope to learn a few things, meet some folks, and have some fun. So far, so good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grant Petersen Interview


While cruising the bike Blog-O-Sphere today, discovered a great interview with Grant Petersen of Rivendell fame. Of course as many people know, Grant also headed up the much loved, and now missed, Bridgestone USA. I was a big Bridgestone fan during their heyday, complete with a MB-Zip, RB-1, and MB-3 hanging in the garage as proof.

Most of Grant's Rivendell models I think are great, but not fully up my alley. Well, except maybe the Roadeo, that I could see owning. Super nice bike. I visit the Rivendell website often, have saved all the paper catalogs and Rivendell Readers, and read the current versions online. The Rivendell voice is very different from the mainstream bike culture and always refreshing to hear, even if you don't agree with it all. It's great stuff.

So yeah, I'm a bit of fan and appreciate what they do and contribute to the bike world. I was a BOB member back in the day and remember receiving the first Rivendell items in the mail, thinking how cool it was that Grant was launching his own company. Now 15 or so years later, they're still rolling and doing their own thing. This story goes beyond bikes; its also about starting and running a small company with your own vision on how things should be. And in this quick profit, please the masses world we live in - something to be commended.

You can read the interview here. Enjoy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy President's Day




Work called off today in order to partake in official President's Days festivities. And no better way to honor our forefathers then with a mountain bike ride. Well, I think so anyway. Anyone care to argue?

School officially called off as well, so my favorite riding partner hit the local woods with me. Riding partner whined a bit about wanting to hit Duthie instead, but I wanted something close by. No loading of the car or driving required, so St Ed/Big Finn Hill was it. Temps in the 40s and sprinkle of rain as we pedaled through suburbia towards the woods.

To mix things up, I declared today "Backwards Day" and we rode some of our familiar sections in the opposite direction. We need do that more often, since we tend to ride the trails in same sequence, since I think they flow best that way. The change was good though, made some of the old trails feel new again.

While buzzing around, ran into Glen, who I've ridden with a few times during the Saturday morning "Old Guy Ride". He noticed the barricades Ian and I constructed this weekend in the attempt to stop some corner cutting. When I mentioned we constructed 'em, he gave us the thumbs up. That was cool. I also ran into a guy riding a sweet Ibis Mojo and we chatted for a bit. He rides with his two sons, now 19 and 20 years old. Said riding brought him and his sons closer together.

Yeah, I'd have to agree with that. Bombing around the woods on bikes with your kids qualifies as excellent father/son (or daughter) time. No argument there.

Ian and I had a blast today. Rode fast in some sections, cruised in others, and stopped to goof around. As usual, a Clif Bar stop was mandatory. Mmm....chocolate. We took some time to play with the camera as well...



Local woods contains this fun switchback climb, or descent, depending on the direction. Here, Ian grinds his way up towards the top. Its not all that long, but pretty steep, with a few tight turns. Throw in the occasional log crossing to bump up the technical factor a notch.



Round 'N' Round we go. Camera angle makes Ian's bike look extra small. Yes, those are 26" wheels. Ian usually pulls this climb off without a dab. Great job. Not bad for 11 years old, eh?



video

Ian plays camera man while I climb. Enjoy the tour, I'll be your guide. Music courtesy of some fellow riding pals band. Bicycling types tend to be kinda cool. But hey, I'm kinda biased, so don't trust me.



It's not mountain biking without a little blood.



Spring comes early to the Pacific Northwest, budding trees as proof. A sign of good things to come. Warmer days, drier weather and faster trails. Yes please.


Back to the work grind tomorrow. Someone has to make the doughnuts. I guess that be me. Adios.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How Lame It Is


Welcome to one of my pet peeves - a biking related peeve anyway - people who cut corners on trails. Tight twisty singletrack is one of the joys of mountain biking. Cutting the corner to straighten the path is just plain dumb. It widens the trail, causes erosion, and decreases riding skills.

Dude (or Dudette), if you don't have the technical ability to carve the corner, slow down for two seconds and give it a shot. Trust me, its a gas, you'll dig it. The local trails aren't really all that long, why shorten the experience? There's plenty of straighter sections of singletrack, why screw up the fun twisty sections?

Son Ian and I were out in the local woods yesterday on foot, checking some of his Geocaches and doing a little hiking. While out there, we barricaded a few switchbacks with piles of logs and branches to stop corner cutting on one sweet section of singletrack. We've done this before and it sometimes lasts a few days, other times a few weeks. We went overboard this time, hoping the more time it takes to deconstruct 'em, the less of chance of riders wanting to stop and move 'em.

We constructed a few of these, about an hour work in total. I know they'll disappear eventually, just curious to see how long these heavier duty versions last. Spin the wheel, place your bets.



While buzzing the local woods on my 29er the other day, came across a backhoe crunching though the woods. There's been rumors of a new fire station being constructed in the park - a county park - even though there's two fire stations nearby. Once I saw the backhoe figured it was a done deal. Here Ian stands on one of the trails, checking out the backhoe tracks.



Apparently the fire station deal hasn't been fully approved and/or mentioned to the local neighbors. This sign has since appeared. Interesting. I'll try and check out the meeting mentioned to get the full story.



This notice was posted at the trailhead as well. People don't seem too happy about the situation and I'd rather not see the station go in. I've been riding these woods for over 20 years and hate to see any of it disappear. It's a great resource that's close to Seattle. I'm damn lucky to live within riding distance from my house. Would a fire station and parking lot kill it? No, not really - but would still hate to see a chunk of woods torn out.

We'll see what happens. In the meantime, and in the future, family and I will enjoy the woods as usual.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Potato Packing and Wood Chopping



Vacation day today to assist with a field trip with my son's 5th grade class. We all headed down to Kent to visit Northwest Harvest, a non-profit outfit that supplies various food banks with free food. Sort of a distribution center for donated and purchased food to assist people in need. Teacher thought it would be a good experience in community service and to experience a little work as well. I'd agree. The kids and parents who tagged along boxed up a few thousand pounds of potatoes. A lot of potatoes moved in three hours - a lot of potatoes indeed. The kids had fun however, a good all around experience for everyone - me included.

After the potato packin' morning, thought I'd sneak in a quick road ride. Carbon Ibis is still not rideable, fender friendly steel Ibis was sporting a flat - so I grabbed the 29er instead for a super messy mountain bike ride. Tons of rain and high winds yesterday, so the trails were fairly muddy. Still good to get out. While out, discovered a back hoe chopping away in my local woods. Rumors of a new fire station appear to be true. Weird, since two other fire stations are close by. Apparently, they plan to combine the two smaller stations into this new one. Doesn't make sense to me. Oh well, shouldn't affect the riding area much.

Night topped off watching my 7 year old daughter get an award for a writing project she did. That was cool.

No photographic proof of anything today. I was camera lame. So be it...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Misc Rambling and Pondering

Busy week topped off with a busy weekend, such is modern life. Son Ian's school project, due on Monday, big rush to finish over the weekend. Of course, he had about two weeks to get this done, with much prodding from us - finally complete. My wife deserves a medal for the assistance put in on this. I entertained daughter Amy while all this was going on, to redirect the attention machine to a new target. Mix in the occasional kid fight and time crunch meltdown, man - being parents is the occasional Barrel-O-Fun. There really should be some kind of warning labels put on these little humans at times. Any parent reading this is now nodding head with silly grin on their face.



Before the school project kicked in full steam, Ian had a basketball game on Saturday. Season is winding down and the kids have only won one game so far. They're playing well, but just seem to lose by a few points every game. The two coaches who run the team are good guys with their own boys on the team as well. After the game, the team met at Dairy Queen for ice cream, treat from the coaches, from a previous game where the team scored more rebounds then the opposing team. Cool way to put a positive spin on things. Ian is really enjoying playing, even with the losses, and has improved quite a bit from last year - his first ever season.



My cousin Patti, all of one day short of being 39 years old, died of Lupus this week back in New Jersey. I haven't seen her since she was maybe 10 years old, so many years ago, but through Facebook over the last year or so - got to know her a bit through her posts. She seemed to be a character with a great sense of humor. About two weeks ago, she was in critical condition in the hospital, but then recovered enough to go home. Pretty weird to see Facebook updates from someone at 4:30 PM, then find out she died suddenly the next day. Now her Facebook wall is full of people posting memories and condolences. This wired world we live in can be beneficial, but a little strange as well. You get to sort of know people, but not really. Having it all end at 38 years old is way too early in anyone's book. Also a reminder for us still here, that this little ride we're all on, doesn't really last all that long.

Sunday morning, we notice a police car at our neighbor's house. Neighbor, good friend of ours for 20+ years, talking to a woman officer and looking around their backyard. A bit strange here in our suburban neck of the woods. After the police car pulls away, neighbor gives us a call to fill us in. While walking the dog this morning, noticed the shed in his backyard was open. He looks inside to find a jacket, gloves, flashlight, and what appears to be some kind of drugs on the floor. He's thinking prowler, so called the cops. Turns out, unbeknownst to us, a stolen car was stopped a few streets away, really early this morning. The dude jumps out of the car and runs, through some backyards, then down our street. Police had K9 units on our street looking for him, but he got away. We all slept through the whole thing. They had no idea the guy had hidden in my neighbor's shed until he called later in the morning. Creepy. Hopefully, he was eventually caught. Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do when they come for you...






Even with hidden criminals, losing basketball games, pondering your own mortality, and looming school projects - Ian and I escaped for a quick mountain bike ride late Sunday afternoon. A man has to have his priorities straight, no? The best way to clear your head is in the woods on a mountain bike, no doubt about that. Especially riding with your 11 year old son.

When we returned home, I cracked Ian up with the idea of calling my neighbor - tell him we saw some weird dude in the woods, asking directions to his shed. Told us he left in a hurry, was a little lost, and wanted to pick up his jacket, gloves and flashlight.

Hey, nothing better then laughing at this crazy stuff. My cousin Patti probably would have agreed. Ride on or do whatever your thing is - do it now - while you can.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Official Blurry Proof

Easy Saturday cruise through the local woods. Typical Northwest weather - that after living here 22 years - feels as things should be. 45 degrees, wet and a bit misty, but no actual rain. Muddy trail conditions, but not a quagmire, just enough liquid dirt to require a thorough post ride hosing off.

Played around with the cheap cell phone camera to capture a few images of the day. The camera is so crappy, sometimes produces interesting shots. Well, interesting to some. To others, just some blurry images and examples of poor photography. Crappy is in the eye of the beholder.







With any luck, I'll get out again tomorrow and repeat the process. That's the plan anyway...