Friday, March 29, 2013

Coach 'R' Me - Team in Progress

Things a bit slow on the ol' blog front, been swamped at work and home.  So, life itself not exactly slow.  Actually a bit of overload, this earning a paycheck shtick a bit overrated.  I'll be your tour guide - please keep running on the treadmill - you'll eventually catch the carrot.

On a more enjoyable front...

My student league mountain bike team has ramped into full on operational mode.  Practice rides twice a week, with a few now in the books, all with good attendance. Quite the gaggle of junior high boys, as only teenage old boys can be.  Fun stuff.  Team continues to grow, now up to 14 kids - amazing.  Most of this via emails I've sent and word of mouth.  If we actually approached local schools and advertised a bit, think we'd be swamped and short on adults in no time.  There's definitely a demand for this type of program and/or people have no idea, then think it's a cool idea when discovered.

No way I could do this myself.  Local woman racer Marne acting as assistant coach, along with her husband Shawn.  I've also recruited some old school riding pals to the mix, including Tom - with his grandson now joining the team - fantastic.  We also partner with the high school team, and share adult resources.  One day a week, we have combo practice with the high school gang.  Big group ride for the first half, then let the fast high school kids loose for the second half.  Great seeing all these kids ride together.

Dragged out the little point 'n' shoot camera for one practice, complete with blurry photos as proof.  I'll eventually figure out how to carry the Nikon D7000, take pictures, coach, and ride all at once. Or maybe not...

I've discovered most 13-14 year boys attention span for pre-ride yapping by adults, to be about 30 seconds.  I've since included riding instruction mid-ride, which seems to work better.  Here we session some log roll overs, Tom providing guidance, while Zane gives it a go. 

My son Ian, who's ridden these trails a zillion times over the years, naps while hitting familiar logs.  With all his previous riding and racing experience, I let him lead some of the rides - a good experience for him.  And to not play favorites, also have other students lead.  Some of the kids seem timid to do so, others jump right in front.  Different personalities and riding experience at play.

All the kids ride really well and we put in a solid two hour ride, with stops for instruction and to regroup.  Now that I'm familiar with their individual riding skill and abilities, we let the faster kids jump ahead a bit and wait at the next trail intersection.  We'll also instruct and spot some of the less experience riders on technical sections.

One student walked the log section pictured above for a few practices, not quite ready for it.  No problem.  On the last practice ride, he didn't stop and rolled right over it.  I was leading and could hear him yell, "That's the first time I did that!"  Awesome.  Mixed in with this, some of the kids can preload and jump the logs already.  Need to keep both sides balanced and entertained.  A learning experience for me as well.

Tom giving some body positioning on the bike advice; Jack giving it a go, while teammates look on.  Tom also leads beginner mountain bike rides for the Evergreen Alliance.  Pretty cool to have him involved with the team, and a good lesson on how to spend your "retirement" years. 

So far, a few weeks into the program - seems to be going okay.  The kids appear to enjoy it, I'm learning plenty, and super appreciate the other adults involved - I'm super lucky to have 'em assist.  On the agenda, team pizza night at local bike shop, and first league race of the season. Yowza.

Much more hastily written posts and blurry photos to follow.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Help the Bender Family

Local cycling family hits some serious trouble, so cycling community pulling together to assist.  The Bender family - Mark and Sarah and their four boys - well known here in the Seattle area.  I'm not personal friends with the folks, but have chatted with them over the years at various races.  My son Ian has raced with their two older boys many times.  Sarah also coaches one of the student league mountain bike teams.  Very nice people indeed, a cool cycling family.

Apparently, while vacationing in Hawaii to celebrate their 15th anniversary, Mark suffered a serious spinal cord injury while body surfing.  They hope to have him stabilized enough to fly home in two weeks or so.  Serious stuff.  People now assisting with financial issues via fund raisers...

Doma Coffee Company donating profits on sales through April 30th.  Order online here.

Donations via their church here.

Facebook info here.

Life can change instantly, a reminder to never take anything for granted.  Super nice folks, buy some coffee - do some good - or donate direct. On my agenda for sure.

To put some faces to the names, dug through some of my pics.  That's Sarah above from a 'cross race this season.

Ian sandwiched between the Bender boys, Titus and Gidean.  Mountain bike race a few years ago.

Gidean putting the hammer down a few 'cross seasons ago.

I'm sure the Benders will pull through this.  There's a few thousand cycling family members pitching in to help.  Heal quick.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time Measured in Shoes

Being the dad of a fast growing 13 year old Rider 'N' Racer, we've been through a few pairs of clipless shoes - as displayed above - in chronological order.  Not exactly a cheap proposition.  Spin the wheel and take your chances, on how long each pair will last.  Sometimes his feet seem to grow overnight, if not sooner.

Each pair tell a story and reflect the era used, especially for the short time span spent spinning in circles.  From left to right, the evolution of a cyclist and growing young man...

Specialized, euro size 40, purchased from my pals at Bicycles West.  Closeout deal from the Seattle Bike Expo back in 2011.  Agree or not, going clipless is a sign of becoming a serious cyclist, Ian moving away from sneakers and platform pedals.  Like most kids being a sponge at learning new things, appeared to master 'em in a matter of minutes.  Pretty cool for 11 years old.  More amazing, about a year worth of use outta 'em.  Plenty of fun rides and races via SPD connection to the pedals.

Northwave Sparta, euro size 41.5, team deal bargain from 2012.  Shoes worked well, though after a few months of use, not enough room for growing feet.  Various rides and races - mountain bike and cyclocross - powered through the Northwave soles.

Northwave Striker, euro size 42, team deal again - bought both pair of Northwave shoes at the same time.  Smart move. "Dad, my shoes don't fit", and quickly pull out the stored pair.  These in bad ass, look at me I'm pro, white.  Unfortunately, only worn a few times due to a riding slump and yet even bigger feet.  Maybe two fun rides and one 'cross race.

Pearl Izumi, euro size 46, from local REI.  After discovering the latest pair of Northwave shoes not longer fit the bill, uh, feet - a scramble to find something before the first student league mountain bike practice.  Now worn a whopping two times, while riding today, Ian mentioned they're already feeling a little tight.

It never ends...

Seattle Bike Expo 2013

March in Seattle means Bike Expo, the annual pilgrimage to stare at all things bike and kick off the season.  Attended solo this year, no other family members seemed too interested today.  I was also scheduled to assist the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance booth for a two hour shift, to yap about the Student League to anyone interested.

Left the house a bit late, only allowing a quick run through of the show before my 4:00 - 6:00 PM booth duty - the end of the expo day.  Spent most of my quick tour in the classic bike show area...

Pretty good supply of vintage bikes to gawk at.  Classic Bike Show sign to help the confused, wandering around lost searching for carbon fiber and electronic shifting.

Old school wheel covers.

Lots of purty painted metal tubing, down tube shifters and toe clips.

No nonsense looking '81 Albert Eisentraut.  Very nice.

Old school Masi.

Eddy Merckx in Team 7-11 colors.  I always wanted one of these.

This company, Drillium Revival, redoing the drill out everything craze from years ago.

Stepped outside to take in the amazing weather and incredible view.  Seattle rocks.

333fab make some sweet looking bikes.  If I was in the market for custom, they would be on my list of contenders.

Crazy cool electric assist utility rig.  This would be a fun replacement for the second car.

On One had a booth, displaying their direct order bikes, available via Internet.  Here, carbon 26er with decent build for $1700 or so.  Killer deal.

And their carbon 29er, ready to roll for $1800 or so.  Wow.

Nice sunset on the way out.

Smart dude heading home.  I drove instead, not quite the same.

Quick post 'n' pics from the day.  I had good time manning the booth with folks from Evergreen and talking with people about the student league. Cool program to get more kids on bikes.  And that's always a good thing.  With that, I'm signing off...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Say Hello to the Team

As I alluded to a few posts back, I jumped in feet first getting involved with a mountain bike student league - program part of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.  Attended a coaching conference in January, recruiting kids over the last few weeks, along with related planning and communication.  Well, today it all officially kicked off with our first team practice.  Welcome to the team.  Plenty of Rain 'N' Mud included at no extra charge.

Ten kids total on the team (so far), photo proof above.  Woman in orange is Marne, local woman racer assisting with coaching - cool - and glad to have her help and knowledge.  All these kids in junior high, that means 7th - 8th grade for this area.  Most of 'em appear to have previous mountain biking experience.  Scotty, one of Ian's basketball teammates and pretty new to this mountain bike gig also aboard.  Fantastic!

Ian and I actually rode with Scotty and his dad, Larry, last Sunday - this being Larry's first ever dirt ride - piloting my vintage Fat Chance on loan. Guess they dug it, since Scotty checked out practice today and signed on right afterwards.

Practice was a mix of introductions, a brake skill drill, then a shared ride for 40 minutes or so.    Misty rain and wet trails greeted all.  Kids rode great, no problems.  Should be a cool little adventure we're all starting here.  Much more to follow...