Wednesday, April 30, 2008

They're out there...

I don't usually read letters to the editor because I find that there are an awful lot of wack jobs out there, and their posts either disturb me, scare me, or piss me off. This one was emailed to me, and it just happens to be about a road that is on just about every bike route in the area.

The scary thing? This is a common sentiment. "Lets throw things at cyclists because its OUR road." Either that, or "I saw a cyclist do (fill in the blank here." Ok, I'll bite. Go to the intersection of Pump and Broad St, and I bet in a ten minute time frame we can count over 1000 traffic infractions- most involving running a red light. Then we'll compare your "I saw a cyclist" with 1000 car violations in 10 minutes. I don't even drive in that area because its so bad.

Funny, I don't threaten to do bodily harm to people in cars for making a driving error. I bet the people who threaten to do harm to cyclists don't think the same about all the people in cars at Pump and Broad.

Attention All Public Road Bicyclists (Behind You, at 6MPH)
Reply to: pers-640604946@craigslist.orgDate: 2008-04-13, 8:52AM EDTI do not understand the logic of your riding on a public thoroughfare that does not have a designated bicycle lane, especially on narrow, curvy two lane country backroads. Yesterday there were seven of you, on Ashcake Road, and you weren't even clusterfucked. had to space yourselves out. Two here, a car lengths worth of space, then another one. A half a car lengths space, then another two, so on, and so forth. This is a frequently used road for truckers and dump trucks to get between Rockville and Ashland. The curves are many and close together. There isn't a whole lot of straight road for them to pick up speed and get around your leg-shaving speedo wearing stupid asses. It took twenty minutes to go three miles. Yes, I am aware that there is the whole "share the road" thing. The moron that pushed that through is probably a biker homo, too. Nevertheless, there are roads that make a little lane alllllll for you. Maybe when some unsuspecting auto driver comes around one of those curves and nails your ass you will have some common sense knocked into you and you'll stay off the roads not built for you to leisurely gallavant about the countryside in the middle of the road. This is assuming that afterwards you aren't maimed for life or killed, not that you wouldn't rightly deserve it for being a complete and total retard for putting yourself in harms way. Being the awesome and good samaritan that I am, I am going to help you cure your bad case of the dumbass, AND save other drivers from seeing the carnage of your mangled bloody body in the roadway after being hit from someone that couldn't stop in time. I encourage other drivers to do the same. I am going to go to a sporting goods store and buy a case of golfballs, which will be sitting in the front seat of my vehicle. The next time I come across one of you mental midgets playing in the street, I am going to roll down the window and start chucking them at you. Hopefully once I get past you, all I will see are your tires and feet sticking up in the air from some bushes. If the golf balls don't work, maybe a nice fat sack of potatoes will. Or better air horn. LOL that would be GREAT!!! GET OFF THE ROAD!!!!

There are an awful lot of people who are very unhappy out there. Maybe what they really need is a BIKE to work off some of that frustration and angst!

Tuesday night rides

We had a great Rostello girls night at the Tuesday night world championships, both J and Katie made it out. J is so funny, when she pulls you can just hear her laugh as the moaning and groaning starts about the fact that no one can draft off her. Everyone loves it when I go to the front- not so much with J!

I was really sorry to hear that Mark North and James had a little inky dink out on the road. Somehow James always seems to find a soft spot to land, in this case it was on poor Mark. Word this morning is that Mark is ok, but was howling in the shower. After my recent contra temps in the mountains I can sure appreciate what that feels like. James was of course fine after his cushy landing.

After the adventures we headed over to Jason's Deli. Is there anywhere else where you can eat well, organic, for less? I love Chipotle, but the calorie counts there can do a knock out on you. Vegetarian Vegetable soup (yum) and a great salad bar and I'm a happy camper. Of course the organic flat bread on the salad bar has got to go. You can get addicted to that stuff. Cliff is a big fan of the red beans and rice . Good cheap eats. Its a keeper.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bob rules the world

Jenn sent me some more cool pics of Bob ruling the roost at Langley. Not a bad life for a little guy who was lined up to be snuffed at the shelter, huh.

Bob is pretty bummed these days. He only gets to go to these "Bob Parties" that other people call races when the weather is cool. Bringing dogs to hot events is just wrong, but Bob cant understand why I don't bring A/C with me.
Bob has a new little buddy that we're going to be healing up and then finding a home for. As always, when its the end of hunting season, dud hunters get dropped off to fend for themselves. last year we found a great home for "Elvis", and this year the project is "Snoop Dawg." Snoop is a young male Walker Hound, as sweet and lovable as they come. I don't think he's ever been hunted, as he shows absolutely no interest in hunting, is very respectful of the cat, and content to just walk along with us. I'll have photos up as soon as his numerous boo boo's heal, and if you think a good ole' boy could fit in your life, give us a shout! He is a really nice guy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

When things go splat...

Face it, I'm what we shall call "vertically challenged." Oh, I can climb, kind-a, sorta, as long as you aren't comparing me to anyone who races bikes. It's just one of those things, hills are not my friend.

So every year the C'ville club puts on this little race up Wintergreen designed to make me remember that the stuff I climb in my neck of the woods is not like the stuff they climb in theirs. I get it. You guys win! But like an idiot, I keep trying. I think I was dropped on my head multiple times as a child. I know I was way back when when I showed jumpers...

This morning I dragged Cliff to go ride in the mountains with me. It's really not fair, he actually can climb, and for some strange reason, really likes it. He does not like having to chide me into getting my butt up mountains, though. He did it, he got me up to the top. It took a lot of encouragement, a little bit of threatening, and maybe a stick or two, but I made it.

Then we relaxed at the Shell station, where believe it or not, gas is 10 cents cheaper than near my house. We had a coke and debated on how cold it was going to be going down the mountain. Colder than a well digger's butt won out. 57 degrees and descending while you are wet is just not fun.

Ok, so enter problem two with the fact that I don't live and don't ride in the mountains... descending. Nope, not like at home. Those nasty switchbacks will get you, and yep, they did. Coming down the steepest part, with badly cramped hands is not a good thing. Exit stage left, into what Cliff called the "Evil Knievel" move - over a 3' bank which luckily had me hit a small gravel road... HARD. But, that kept me from a nice free flight, so I'm happy for a bit of gravel.

Not so happy with the bent handle bars, the rocks in the shorts, the dinger of a head hit, road rash out the wazoo, but happy to be not still airborne. Yowza. I'm going to have to do something special to make up for the 10 years Cliff lost watching it, the poor lady in the car behind me is on her own. After doing the mental body check... yes, head is here, arms work, legs, yep... we were able to get her on her way. Poor thing. Bet she talks about it at dinner...

Cleaned up, napped up, and ready to go next Saturday... as long as I can ride the bus down! (oh, and while I was waiting for the "team car" a string of people went by, including Dee Dee who looks amazing. You go girl!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

So you want to be an Olympian

The latest installment in Katherine's quest to get to the Olympics is on line...

The Prozac Moment

Last night we grouped for the A+ ride out of Glen Allen. Life is good, pollen is extreme, and except for being unbelievably tired, it just doesn't get better...

Ride starts, everyone is being good, riding nicely in a pace line. About 4-5 miles out, on a narrow, unstripped road, a motorcyclist approaches... He zooms up as the lead guy on the pace line has just pulled off. So a single file line, with one rider drops off. So the motorcyclist starts SCREAMING "Single file!!!!! You are breaking the law!!!" There was some other stuff in there too, but just suffice it to say, it was a looney alert moment. Lead rider tells him to go home and re-read the law, that in Virginia, you can ride two abreast. So our mentally not stable friend zooms off again, about 60 mph...

Phew, one encounter down! Not! Next intersection he is there screaming again! No kidding! "That's a stop sign, you all have to stop!" (and more) I'm telling you, this is a white coats coming to get you kind of moment. This from a guy who came three abreast to yell at us, busted the speed limit by at least 20 mph, who was now blocking an intersection... was on his high horse about our behaviour? Which at that point was exemplary?

Ever have days like that? You know when half the cards fall out of your deck??? This stuff doesn't happen all that often on my rides. It sure made for some interesting conversation in the paceline. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had pulled a gun, and at the intersection many of the riders were pulling their own heat... cell phones.

So be careful out there, there are people out there who are having a really bad day who are just itching to share it with you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

J in the Newz

Damn she's fast... see the guy waaaay back there, that was 2nd place overall.

Sonya's Twisted Tire Tale

From Sonya:
The first 3 pictures are from Tom’s camera, we didn’t get a picture of Jenn or Paula all muddy because Tom’s camera got wet and stopped working…then here is a picture of Tom from a different camera…you can tell he had 4 laps instead of Kat’s and my one lap because his mud is 4X thicker!

Contes Richmond Store Manager and Rostello Chick,
Kathleen Herndon

Kathleen Herndon & Sonya Gagnon Tom Richeson 1rst Mens Master
Beginner women 2 and 1!!

I am so proud of Jenn (Roman- Graphics Goddess) for finishing. Tom has mountain bike raced for many years, and he said that was absolutely the worst race he has ever done in his life, so Jenn I hope you feel great about that.

Tom on our team also placed first in his expert 40+ category. And John Gonyo from our team placed 1st in the fixed gear category.

We had lots of wins/places so I thought we might win the team cup but we didn’t!

Oh baby, it was a mudfest! You couldn't even recognize people or their jerseys after the race. Will definitely share some pictures when they come in! I was worried about the roots, but turns out the mud was more slippery. Every corner fishtailing or wiping out. I face planted or rolled about 3 times, and had to get off numerous times to push the bike up hills.

What was really weird for everyone is that almost everyone lost their brakes- all that grit in the mud was like sandpaper. My brake pad on the front are completely worn down and need to be replaced, Tom had disk brakes and his pads were completely worn out and down to bare metal. You could hear all the brakes shrieking through the woods. After my race I stood near a hill and watched racers go by- some were even dragging their feet to slow down on the hills. It was outrageous.

The airport reports we got 3.3 inches of rain!!!

I was behind one woman in my category for almost ½ of the race, trying to catch her. She ended up stopping at the top of a hill, I don’t know why but I got past her then. Then at some point in the last part of the 2nd half I heard someone behind me, it turned out to be Kat! She was on my wheel the rest of the race, and we sprinted at the end across the field, me winning by a slim 7 seconds!!! Good job Kat!

I must say at some point when I got used to it, it was kind of fun playing out there in the mud and rain. If it was cold it would have been miserable, but the splashes of water when going through mud puddles actually became refreshing.

Thanks Sonya for the Guest Blog and report. I'm awful Glad that I race on the road!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Of course you'd have to play that to the Blue Oyster Cult Classic...
Found it by a link on someone else's blog.
Funny thing is, I had that lovely bottle just right there... And apparently put in the wrong straw. So the old saying so close and yet so far was never more apt. The fluid was right there, and I just couldn't get to it... Thank God for gum!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The weeks results

First off, a big, huge, wide smile to Joanie Benoit Samuelson for her amazing 2:49:08 at the Olympic Trials. Thats a new US 50+ record. Joanie rocks the world!

And a big thanks to my bud J, who was on-line watching the fuzzy video stream and calling to give me the updates of the Trials race. It was almost as good as being there to hear her call that Magdalena Lewy was going away, Deena catches her, then the epic battle for 3rd. This is going to be an awsome team. J was in tears when she called to tell me that the top 3 girls were on the line waiting for Joanie. Class acts, all around.

And a big kudo to J! Off she sneaks up to Leonardtown for yet another 5k run win OVERALL. She told me that when she put a surge on the guys at mile one, and when no one could answer that she knew she had it in the bag and decided to play with them a bit, and ran just ahead of them to wear the pants off them. Then she takes off and trashes them.... Thats my girl! J will rip your legs off and smile at you!

And onto the epic stuff at the Twisted Tire Mtn bike race... what more can you say other than it was the worst conditions that anyone can put to paper. Epic is the word that I've heard most. Sonya continued her winning ways by winning the Beginner women with our Kat Herndon 7 seconds chasing for 2nd. Jenn Roman, or Graphic Goddess, proved that yes, a roadie could ride in the slop and finished, even though she had her doubts! Tom Ricardson won the Expert 40+ and Jon Gonyo won the single speed. I cant wait to see the pictures to see if I can identify any of my team mates! I can certainly say that I am glad I wasn't there. If for no other reason than the cost of bike repair would have been beyond me! (I heard that brakes and deraileurs were pretty much trashed after 1 lap.)

I've gotten an email from Ann and she seems in pretty good spirits. Women bike racers are TOUGH!

What Really Matters...

Sometimes you just have to take a step back from this whole bike racing thing and decide what really matters. Saturday was going to be 85 degrees and sunny. My house is falling apart and my garden had to go in or there would be no veggies this summer. Saturday I stayed home and did chores, planted the garden, and rode with a friend to boost her confidence and sold my Merlin to her. It was a good day, and I got a lot accomplished.

Now Sunday was just going to suck from the get go. It was going to pour rain, and there were reports of tornadoes, hail and all kinds of fun stuff. I called J and told her she was forbidden to race. Jenn, Sonya and Kat were going to do the Twisted Tire Mtn Bike race at Poor Farm and I told Jenn to think of it as an adventure. I had promised Gilbert that I'd help officiate some of the races at Todd Stadium, so I had to go to Newport News for the crit.

The races I officiated went off without a hitch. No crashes, some flats, but everything was fine.

Next I left to warm up for the combined cat 1-3, 40+, cat 4 race. James insisted on rubbing nasty stuff on my legs to keep them warm (and acted like a magnet for all the grit and dirt.) We lined up and everything was fine. The whole race, everything was fine. I felt better than I have in years and I can honestly say that the hip is about as strong as it is going to be.

We were primed on the 2nd to the last lap. Then came the bell lap and I was exactly where I wanted to be, and felt fabulous. Going into the last corner, I saw two riders rub, correct and then another rider try to make a hole where there wasn't one. Then it happened...

Ann Hardy
BJ & Maria- the best of the best 40+
Ann and BJ go down! Its funny how sometimes things like that just happen in freeze frame. Ann high sided and her head hit HARD, twice, Bj spun in front of me and surprise, surprise, I bunny hopped her. Then I turned around and came back. F' the race. Those were my friends on the ground. I waited until some people came up and rode to the line to tell Gilbert to call the rescue squad. (and then everyone thought I crashed since I came up to the line so late, nope, no crashes for Karen.)
Last I heard BJ has a broken collar bone, and stitches in her knee. Ann was lucid for a little bit, then couldn't remember how she got to the race. So off she went for a cat scan. I can tell you, her head hit, hard. These two are some of the best riders in Virginia. Having this happen to them was sobering to say the least.
If there isn't room, you can not try to make room. Yeah, its racing, but its amateur racing. It really isn't worth putting your fellow riders in the hospital. Even if you think you want to be a cat 1.
I finally made it home about 5, went to Cliff's and fell asleep. You have to put this stuff in perspective. Family, friends, first. Bike racing second. Crashing out your buds so you can win(and then dont), zero.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Honey Wagon

I live in a rural area. I like it that way, and drove the real estate people crazy until I found just the right place. You know, somewhere out in the country, where I could roll down my driveway and ride 100 miles in a couple directions with no problems. Rural is good.

One of the "issues" with living in a rural area is that twice a year, George's boys fly by my house with the "honey wagons." George leases almost all the farm land in Goochland, and its thanks to him, and the horse people that my county stays rural. Farm land needs to be fertilized. George also has a dairy operation, and a sewage lagoon where he stores "honey." Twice a year, he siphons up that gold and puts it in spreaders and off his little Mexicans go to dump it on the fields for spring planting.

I've used manure tea in the garden and the plants love it. Me as a cyclist, not so much.

Riding from my house for the next week or two is a toxic nightmare. Tuesday and Wednesday I was coming back in with the wind blowing across the fields... I'm sure that I'm going to have a raging case of systemic e coli. Between the crap on the roads from spillage, and the dried particulate blown all over me... yuck. First thing I did when I got home was strip and toss the kit in the washing machine, hop in the shower, and do the Neil Med sinus wash routine.

My new friend Col. Sharon Leary, now at Ft Lee, and fresh back from Iraq thinks this is hysterically funny. When she was in Iraq she had the same problem, but it was human waste from open and broken sewers. Either way, its just bad.

Its only two or three weeks a year, to live in such a great place. I'll take it. But if you see me riding with a mask on, don't laugh!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

'50 at 50

That's the goal, to run 2:50 at age 50 at the women's Olympic trials this Sunday in Boston.

For who? My hero, Joan Benoit Samuelson. Olympic Gold medalist in the marathon waay back in 1984 on a scorching hot day, Joanie is going to retire from marathoning in the city where her marathon career started. Joanie may be an Olympic Gold medalist, but she is a rock star to a whole generation of women who got into running because Joanie showed us that we too could do it.

Now most women probably don't remember that up until 1984 there was no women's marathon. In fact, the women's competition stopped at 3000 meters because everyone was sure that our parts were going to fall out if we ran 10 steps further than that. Imagine, all of a sudden a whole pile of vaginas laying on the track. It's crazy, but the conventional wisdom was that distance running could do irreparable harm to a woman's reproductive organs.

So the Women's Distance Festivals were born in protest. I'm sure you've seen them, and maybe have even run them. They were designed to show the IOC that there was an interest world wide in women's distance running. So next time you lace up your shoes at your local WDF and wonder why women need their own race, now you know.

And these WDF races were the catalyst to getting the women's marathon in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. Little Joan Benoit blew the lid off her celebrated rivals and stole the show on a smoggy, hot LA kind of day. Her American record of 2:21:21, set at Chicago, lasted a lifetime until the new rock star, Deena Kastor finally broke it at London. Joanie wondered why it had taken so long! That time would still win most of the major marathons in the world today.

At age 50 Joanie is going to run her last women's Olympic trials. She has qualified for all of them, run 4 of them (babies do get in the way.) I cant imagine any of the top 50 year old men in this country doing the same. But what is best about her isn't that she can do it, its the style in which she does it, humble and inspiring.

If you have read her book, Running for Women, she tells it like it is. Like how when she first started running, she was so slow and so embarrassed that when a car would pass her, she'd look down like she was looking at flowers or something. I've done that. Knowing that Joanie did it, too, makes it ok. We all have to start somewhere, just like Joanie.

And just like Joanie, we all have to end somewhere. Not end running, but end competition. I wish that I could have gone out with a bang like Joanie. '50 at 50. She's my hero. God speed Joanie!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Full Bottle Ride

AKA the Tuesday Night World Championships!

I hadn't done the Tuesday night Nuchols Rd ride in a long time... the behavior of people on the "B" ride had gotten so bad that I just couldnt stand to be out there. Between the one guy who continuously threw GU packets on the ground, to another who decided to push his way into a pace line, to the guy on the single speed with no brakes who would float in and out of pace lines ... it got to be too much.

But last night I was back. Pulling into the Y, the A++ ride was getting ready to leave. It looked just like the 40+ race at any of the local crits, Natures Path, Natures Pearl, JRVS, Carytown Bikes... and everyone was pulling wheel bags out of their cars. Yes, indeed, this is a Zipp Speed Weaponry kind of ride.

Thats ok, I was going to do the A+ ride. 21 mph average vs. 24 mph average. We rolled out with about 15 riders who were all capable of 21 mph, so it looked like it was going to be a good ride.

Hah! Mixed in the group were people who got to the Y late and missed the A++ ride. By the time we hit 5 miles we were picking up the carnage from said A++ ride. So very quickly, our ride became the A++ ride. Fine with me, but the real difference between the ride is the niceties of the 10 second rule at stop signs on the A+ ride which unfortunately also flew out of the window. I left my computer at home on purpose, but you could see from the strain on some of the faces that life was getting seriously tough for people. When I looked at water bottles... all full.

Half way out the expected happened. The cell phone rang. I knew it was going to happen, work doesn't end for me when I leave the building. Three phone calls later and I knew that I was on my own. Lucky for me, I live out in that neck of the woods and was able to just ride the hills and then head on home. Dead tired, but happy.

Cliff came by to drop off my clothes and told me that right after I had to take the call that the carnage got serious. People were still coming in after he had been back, changed, got a coke and was pulling out of the lot. And they all had full water bottles.

Tuesday night world championships, yep, they're baaaackkk.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Its all racin'

Ok, so maybe this isn't real visible, but Kevin took a great shot of Bobdog at Langley, as always, you can check out his great photos at

Bob had a fabulous time on Sunday. As the best little team dog ever, he did his absolute best to be on his Sunday manners. Susan was holding him for awhile until he got dog napped by my friends at Fat Frogs who tickled him, snacked him, walked him and generally coo'd and ooh'd over him ALL DAY. Thanks Jeannie for keeping my little buddy in such high style.

And for those of you who were captivated by Bob... Braden has a little pom girl who he is trying to find a home for. He tells me she is the cat's meow, and I bet she would make your team a great mascot as well. Contact me and I'll help with the arrangements if you are interested.

Biker Bj at Conquer the Canal. See more photos at her website...

Saturday was an interesting day. The course at Conquer the Canal is on the old Rt 17 going southwest. Guess the wind direction... directly north east. So there was a bad head wind going out, but I swear nothing to help you coming back in. That is the most beautiful time trial course around, so there were no complaints from this corner.

I came down in a carfull of Schaeffers... if you don't think that gas prices have affected bike racing, your mind would have been changed if you had seen us. 4 of us in a Subaru, 3 bikes 6 sets of wheels, a cooler, only one trainer(because that's all we could fit), 2 chairs, and clothes. I was pretty sure I was going to have to hang onto the tailgate. It costs me $50 round trip in the truck so this was a big bonus in the pocket book.

The 40+ women's race again was tough. You hate to concede defeat before the line, but the BJ/Maria competition is a bit of a stretch for me right now. I could see BJ in the distance blowing some of the cat 4 chicks off the road, and at the turn around Maria went by me like a freight train. I kept her at about 100 meters the whole way back, but it cost a lot, as I barfed crossing the line. Yes, you can really say that "I left it all out there on the course."

It's competition like this that forces you to become a stronger rider. It's probably going to kill me, but I'm tryin'. James had to boogie out as soon as I crossed the line, but I ended up 3rd and BJ nipped Maria this time by a fraction of a second. Criminy, that's amazing.

Kudo's to my team mate Gregg Gammon on his first ever crit at Langley. That's him in the team kit flying around the course with the guys less than half his age. I was so proud of him, hanging in the pack looking chilly the whole time. And bigger kudos to Steve, man, that was the best I've ever seen you ride! And to Sean who I think was 6th? in the cat 4 race? Great riding.

Special thanks to all the Fat Frog guys and gals who kept me from throwing up again before the start of the track race. Gilbert rode a warm up with me and let me know that my front wheel was loose, and then his guys fixed it for me. Saved one opportunity to crash, and then good ole' George and Danielle talked me thru the first track race jitters. And they were all right, I had a blast. It was MUCH safer out there on the track with no brakes than in the crits, trust me. I hung with the guys, probably finished mid-pack and had a great time. As soon as I take that instrument of torture off the bike that Felt calls a seat, I'll be back.

The women's crit promised to be wild and woolie and it lived up to it's billing. Combining cat 1-3, cat 4, and 40+ in one field, with a couple cat 1 riders and several who want to be cat 1 riders... it was wild. I hate sit in and wait racing, but no breaks were getting away all day. And I knew, that that was not going to change for our race. So I told the girls to be calm, grab a safe wheel and try to be in the top 1/3. There were tons of feints at breaks but everything was shut down immediately. So we went round and round, managed to get thru with no crashes, but from my guys on the side-line the amount of cussing in the field probably hit a new record.

Girls, if you are going to race, you have got to train with other people. You have got to learn to ride in a pack. You simply can not just go where you want with no regard to the other racers. Its dangerous. And you will get cussed at. And your mother will blush at what can come out of the mouth of really nice women...

At the end... heck, I'm not even sure who won. I had to collect Bob and hit the road. I heard I was 4th in the 40 plus... That's about all I know. And I was 4th because J sacrificed herself and pulled me outside the field for a lap and a half and deposited me with 50 meters to go. So I may have to work on the ole' sprint ability with a free ride like that. Oh, well, its just racin'. And fun as hell at that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Last night J and I went to the Virginia Historical Society for a great lecture by Charles Mann, the author of 1491. As beautiful a day as it was, I just don't have the oomph to go out and hammer another ride (not that I've done any hammering lately), and really need to let the ole' bod rest so I can get rid of the virus that is wiping me out. So even though J's hubby, Mr. Negative Splits thought we were crazy, we went to the lecture.
Its sad that in a 300 seat auditorium (which was pretty packed) that J and I were the youngest people in the room. Doesn't anyone care about history anymore? The lectures and exhibits that the Historical Society put on are first rate.
Anyway, the topic of the lecture was the Triangle Trade. Except not like you were taught in school. This one started with sugar cane, and the "new" concept of plantations, slavery, and trade created by the various Muslim empires. That trade was taken over by Christian traders and empires, and perfected by the Spanish. Then the English got jealous over the money that Spain was getting, not to mention silk from China on the back side of the trade of silver to China in exchange for silk and spice.
Which is how China got maize and sweet potatoes from South America. Sweet potatoes and maize allowed rice eating Chinese to survive when the Japanese invaded and the Chinese pulled back from the coast lines and into the mountains. You cant grow rice in mountains, but you can grow these crops. Of course that law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head, and the terracing of land in the mountains caused erosion and a whole host of other problems.
Ditto for the Americas, Conquistadors and colonists brought trade goods to the native people, but also brought disease and slavery(not to mention the whole land and resources grab thing...). Its strange to think that malaria actually came to the Americas from England, and malaria was the reason why Africans were prized in this county for slaves. Huh. I knew England had malaria, but really didn't put two and two together. When the native population is 95% wiped out, its hard to use them as workers...
So if you ever get a chance to head over to the Historical Society, I highly recommend it. And I recommend Charles Mann's book. I got thru about two chapters last night, and for a big history tome, its a good read. Who knows, you too may pick up a thing or two.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things are looking "UP"

Every now and again you just have to do something out of the comfort zone. So last year I bought a track bike. Enter my new Felt "Up". So this year, when I can I'm going to enter the B races with Fat Frogs Danielle, and fully expect to get my ass handed to me by Danielle's hubby, Gilbert. I'm still a little Leary of this whole "better pedal or crash" thing, and I've already learned that coasting over a bump can be very bad for you. Now I'm terrified of sprinting, least I forget and get to play superman in front of an appreciative crowd! Like I said, out of my comfort zone, but I'm game. (or stupid...)
At lunch today I took UP down to the James River for a ride along the Pony Pasture Rapids. Criminy, what a beautiful day. 75 degrees, a light breeze, and everything in the world is in bloom. Red Hawks flying, Canada geese building nests, painted turtles by the thousands sunning themselves on rocks, and more kayakers than you could shake a stick at. And all of that is inside the City of Richmond. It really is one of the most amazing places on earth.
And there I was, riding back and forth on Riverside Dr, just about as happy as you could be with your clothes on. Things are definitely looking "UP."
** If you happen to live in Goochland or Henrico Counties... Walter Stosch and the transportation powers that be are going to have a meeting on May 8th, from 6-8 at the Twin Hickory Library to discuss "Transportation in the Next Decade." Now that sounds like a great meeting for cyclists to be out, now doesn't it? I've already emailed him and told him to expect a full house. Please dont let me down!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A bit to close up

Most of my rides have some sort of critter element to them. This is my favorite time of the year when all the little beasties are doing what beasties do, from courtship dances of turkeys, to newborn calves, to high end colts and fillies, to llamas by the dozens. Its also nesting time for birds, big and small. And sometimes, those big birds don't much care to have you around, know what I mean?

Last night I went out on the tt bike to work the kinks out after having a bad two weeks with whatever viral infection I have that won't go away. It was tough, but it always is. Windy, grey typical Ireland weather. Of course, Ireland is green and with the persistent drought we can really use this stuff.

On the way back in, I hear a whooshing sound and glance up just in time to see a huge horned owl swooping down on me. I guess I got too close to a nest spot and he was going to scare me off. Trust me, it worked! These guys are beautiful, but a wee bit intimidating at close range. So I may have to alter my course a little bit until the babies are out on their own. I'd just as soon not see those talons that closely!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

li'l Belgians

I can always count on J to show up when I propose stupid things. You know, like screw the rain, lets ride anyway. Really get in the Flanders spirit and all that stuff. So 7:30 on the dot, J is at my door and off we go.
Only... the wicked bad weather really never came. It drizzled, and every once in a while it let loose a bit, but for the most part... it was just wet. Oh, and humid. Really humid. At 55 degrees we were both actually pretty toasty in all our heavy winter finest.
In fact, everything was going along swimmingly until the other problem with wet weather decided to rear its ugly head. Yeah, that one... flats. I had my crap weather tires on, and just assumed that since I never get flats, that of course I wouldnt get a flat. Smart, huh?

So I had the wrong tubes, and while we had co2 canisters, I forgot the holder. So there we were, way out in nowheresville and I had to call the team car. Hey, Cliff, come get us! When I hung up, J looked at me and said, "You didnt ask him to bring a pump." Of course not, silly! He'll be coming in the van which has everything you'd ever need to get thru a nuclear holocaust in it. Uh-huh. He was sure that he was picking up two drowned rats, so he took everythign out of the van to get us and all the stuff in... Some days are just like that.

The nice thing about the adventure was that we were able to bully him into joining us out on the road. His condition, that we head down to Goochland Courthouse and stop at the new Music Cafe. On the way, we got to see a bunch of wild turkeys doing the courtship thing which was seriously cool. Big Gobble-gooble was none too happy when Cliff started calling back to his chicks! Life in the country does have its advantages.

The other cool thing was this new Music Cafe. Bluegrass on Thursdays $5 cover. Other bands during the week and for a change, decent food in that part of town. I'm hooked.

Tommorrow we have our chicks skills clinic and I hope the beach chicks can make it up. While our weather was none too bad today, I understand the beach really got Belgian weather. (we could have used some of that rain.) After the skills clinic, I'll be doing the bike clean routine. I dont know why there are so many dried worms in my drivetrain, but there are. Yuck.

Friday, April 4, 2008


I'm a proud Colony employee, and there are some things my company does that just really turn me on. 150% charitable matching is one, but the wellness programs are a big hit with me as well. Face it, when you look at your co-workers, quite a few of them could use a wee bit of movement now couldn't they...

So Colony has a $40 a month gym benefit and really pushes people to do things. Several times a year they pick a running/walking race and push for teams to sign up. Colony pays for the entry fees and matches the contributions to the cause. I know in the San Antonio office they do MS rides as well, but so far I haven't been able to get that going in Richmond. It will happen.

The latest challenge? An 8 week Walking Challenge. Office against office, dept against dept. You get the idea. Everyone signs up on a team, and gets a cheap pedometer. I've dropped mine so many times that I'm surprised that it shows any numbers.

Oh, is this competion F'd. There is this cute thing called "activity converted to steps." Yep, biking to walking. So one night, I converted mine and got more step points from one ride than my whole team did for the day. I ran it up the flagpole and the powers that be say, yep, thats how it works. For someone who comes in early in the morning and pretty much doesnt move from my desk until I leave the biking will be a blessing. As long as I don't get stabbed by some of the more competitive people around here.... A 5 hour training ride... equals 60,000 steps. For a company thats pushing people to try to do 10,000 a day... Wow.

Ok, so what do you win... a water bottle, a trophy and the everlasting thanks from the company. Looking around at how many of my co-workers who have had gastric bypass surgery and then gained much of the weight back, I can understand the thanks part.

So if your company doesnt have a good program, maybe you should suggest one. A little spirit of competition now and again is a good thing. As long as a cyclist doing 4 and 5 hour training rides doesnt screw the competition!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Odds and Ends

One of the great things about living on the great bike way, aka Goochland... is that I get to see everyone at some point in time go by the bay window. Last night, as I'm coming home from work I passed my doc, Matt Marchal, out on his bike. I pulled into the drive, and he turned around to come check up on the voice. Yep, still don't got one.

You gotta love a doc that makes house calls on his bike. And I'm telling everyone today what he really meant when he talked to me last night. In essence he told me to SHUT UP. Of course Matt is too nice to say it like that, but thats what he meant. Shut up and the voice will get better, keep straining to get a "nails on chalkboard sound" out and it wont. So... I've had to tell everyone at work to either bring those great markers that make you high and write on my board, or end me emails. My "people" are going to tell everyone to communicate with me by email. I have my doubts, but maybe by Monday this will work.

If not, I'm going to have to learn more appropriate sign language. The stuff I know is just not appropriate for the office...

Surprisingly, I got out on the bike for the first time in a week, and had a GREAT ride. Trying to make noise is exhausting, biking is fun. So the ride was killer. Maybe thats the key to biking better, stop riding. (maybe not) I did get to see all the cool stuff I've missed being off the bike for a week, like the new calves, new baby goats, and how amazing the winter wheat looks now, even without much rain. All that almost makes pollen worth it.

This Saturday and Sunday is the Italian Festival on Buford Rd. $2 gets you in, and the money goes to restoring some of the historic local churches. Best of all, one of the big supporters/vendors will be our Fiorucci Foods sponsor. So plan on heading out for a bit of carbo recovery after Saturdays Monument Ave 10k (also the US men's 10k Nat'l championships.)