Monday, September 29, 2008

Sharon's First

Welcome to "Love Your Bike" season. Or as I affectinately call it, Century Season. This is my favorite time of the year, soon to be taken over by windy and dark season, which is NOT a favored time.
We dragged poor Sharon up to Hartwood for her "maiden voyage." Considering the fact that we took her out on a 50 mile ride a few weeks ago, and that was her longest ever ride at the time, 100 miles was going to be a stretch. Not to worry though, we told her that she could do it, and we were sure she could. All we had to do was hold her back and keep her from killing everyone in the first 50 miles!
Sunday was humid. Think Equatorial humidity. Spontaneous shower stuff. Roads wet all day stuff. The kind of day when you know that you should use chamois cream, but since the shorts were already wet by the time we left the parking lot, you didn't want to add to the moisture wet.
(Shoulda used the cream...) We always blow off the first stop and by the second I knew that it was going to be a crotch rot kind of day. Wet shorts are just bad all over... Wet roads that kick up all kinds of slimy nastiness are just bad. Not drinking because its just too wet is bad.
In the end we lollygagged most of the ride, averaged 17.2 mph, and finished strong. The bubbly poured and no one died. A good sink bath got off most of the nasties, and a healthy dose of Badger Balm should take care of the lack of skin down there (I hope).
Funniest site of the day... the girl on the Specialized with one water bottle but 10 Gu's taped to her top bar... They do have food at centuries. How you could choke down that much Gu in a day is beyond me. Doing it on ONE bottle of water...? We passed her about a dozen times, and slowly that Gu stash disappeared. She must have an iron lined gut.
Congrats Sharon on your first century, you da woman!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Svein takes silver!

I first saw Svein Tuft when he came down to little old Richmond to race the US Open race. I had hip surgery the day before, but was bound and determined to make it to the start line to cheer everyone on. So Cliff got me as close as he could, and we hobbled me over some 7 blocks.

It was cold. It snowed. April in Virginia, who would have thunk it... The race started late as the TV helicopters couldn't fly in the storm, and poor cyclists were freezing to death in Williamsburg.

Out of nowhere comes the tuff man from Canada... up Libby Hill on the nastiest cobblestones you've ever seen, over and over and over again. What made everyone love him? When they said that he was from Canada and was used to riding in that kind of weather... Svein looked shocked and said that heck no, he wasn't!

So I started following this guy, watching him have great results all the time. Tour of Missouri, Pan Am Games... he seems to do well everywhere. And now his team is folding so its seriously cool that he pulled a silver medal out of his bag and will hopefully get a gig on a big team.

Kudos to the Tuff guy from Canada from the Richmond Chicks! Way to go!

Dan Nicholson on VA Currents Tonight

Cycor's own Dan the man is on Virginia Currents tonight, so check out your local PBS station for the time- usually 8 pm!
Dan is of course a former paraolympic world record holder, Paraolympic gold medalist and national champion. He has moved from the flood zone of the City of Richmond out to Waynesboro where he is now retired from racing and back working at Home Depot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Second Coming

There were rumors all spring, then when summer was coming around you could feel a steady pounding of the drums. Today Tom Demerly put out an all points bulletin that Cervello was going to make a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

And here she is, the second coming... The new P4! (make appropriate oooh, ahh noises that we have all been trained on at baby showers...)

Yeah, I know that Cervello said that there wasn't a P4 in the works. Like they were really going to ruin this years P3 sales. Now all the people who bought those so last year P3's are going to have to ditch their bikes and get the P4. Its a steal, $6800 with Sram Red. Buy two, they go fast! (literally)

Funny thing about the ultimate go fast bikes though... most people can't ride them and would be better off on a much cheaper P2c. Yeah, you've seen them... they're the ones who have extra spacers under the bars and still can't maintain an aero position for long. They have to get up and stretch and try to uncontort their necks. All that stretching makes them go slow. Extra spacers throw off the handling of the bike. The P2C is a great bike, but in the quest for the "best" it gets overlooked.

Nice to have your 3rd best bike be the best bike for most people, huh?

So if any of you get one of these latest and greatest bikes, say in a size 51, and you find that it doesn't quite fit you, let me know. I'm such a nice person that I'll take it off your hands, and won't even charge you!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chi Hauling

It helps if you are going to drive out and back 1000 miles in a weekend to have a buddy along. Lucky for me, I have J. Who else would come over, ride at 0 dark 30 on the first sub- 50 degree morning of the year, and then pile into the Queen cab for a road trip to Depressionville, Ky with me?

New best place to eat on the east coast... Tamarack. That's the WVA arts tourist trap where WVA artisans show off their wares at incredibly inflated prices... The saving grace? The Greenbrier has a food court there, and you can eat real high quality stuff for very little $$. I've been to the Greenbrier, they sure don't price the food there the way they do at Tamarack! Broiled trout, roast potatoes, green beans, all for $9 and change. J got salmon. It was the best we ate all weekend, not to mention the cheapest.

We make it to Winchester, Ky and its pretty obvious that hard times have hit that town. The hotel next to our hotel had the EFIS siding delaminated and littering the parking lot. We were sure we were in the WRONG place. Our Holiday Inn was next door and J and I watched people go in and out of the "abandoned" hotel's rear doors all night. It was surreal. The only place in town we would eat at was a Applebees, and it was maybe 1/3 full on a Saturday night. I got fajitas, and the guac and salsa were FROZEN. Obviously, people don't eat out much in Winchester.

Coming home was interesting to say the least. I haul a trailer about once in a blue moon. I can do it, I just don't often have call to. So pulling a trailer full of my Dad's riding lawn mower, generator, and other equipment was interesting. Add that I have a small truck, and had to go over big mountains...

So J and I decided that when the economy really tanks I'm going to start a new business... Chi Hauling. In J's words, " Karen is going to market a new trailer-hauling school - it's called "chi hauling". It's based on the principal that everything "flows" or moves forward. It entails NO backing up because that would be terrible karma that would set the world off its axis, so all one needs to do is move ahead, smoothly, "flowingly", and serenely. She's even determined that if the insurance industry gets too bad, she and Cliff can become a long-haul team. She'll drive forward, and if the need ever arose to go in reverse (and that would be VERY RARE), that would be Cliff's job.... ;)"

We made it. No backing up. 3 tanks of gas home, only 2 out. (Of course we couldn't run the a/c coming home, either.) We got the trailer dumped off at U haul with 3 minutes to spare.

Life is good. All is right with the universe, by not backing up, the ocean's will still flow. I couldn't do much to stop the debacle in Congress, but we'll work on that for the next trip.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Enter the Twilight Zone

I don't watch a lot of tv. I have a satellite so I can get VS so that I can watch bike racing. Guess what, VS hasn't shown a lot of bike racing, and they don't show cross over the winter. With the economy in the toilet, why have satellite? So when my trees grew enough to block the signal, I decided to ditch the dish.

Except, as a 10 year customer, DISH really didn't want to loose me...

So they sent out a little man to check my satellite. My only caveat since they do 1/2 day scheduling, the little man had to call me before coming. Heck, if I'm going to miss a 1/2 day of work, a call might actually allow me to not be tied to the house. Yeah, no call, and no signal.

End of story? Afraid not. DISH was sure that their "Area Manager" could fix this problem and they'd be happy to send him out on a Saturday. Again, 1/2 day schedule, he would be there between 12 and 5. Again, I requested a call first. No problem.

Again, no call. And if that guy was an area manager... I'm Sara Palin- lipstick and all. He barely spoke English, I had to loan him a ladder, and when I asked him about the call, he told me they don't do that. He asked me why he was there, and then told me that I had too tall trees and would have to cut them all down. Then he left, but not before telling me that if I got a real expensive package, I could have signal. No thanks.

So last night I get a call from this snarky woman who wants to reschedule my appointment since I wasn't home when their guy came out... What? Yes, she had it on her list, that I wasn't home. I told her that I was home, described the "area manager," his vehicle, what he did at my house, and the fact that I had to loan him a ladder as he was not prepared. Then I told her that, and yes, he didn't call before coming out.

Oh, they don't call... she does. When the guy is about to leave his last job, he calls her and she calls. Every time. I asked her what number she called me at... she didn't know. But she logs it. I asked her if she had her log. Yes, she did. So what number was on the log. There wasn't one... So if there wasn't a number, how did she call me? Well she didn't think that that mattered... Oh, and if you didn't reach me, is that why you put that I wasn't home, even though I spent 30 minutes with the "area manager?"

To make it even more funny, this "area manager" was supposed to make sure my service was cancelled. My dish was deactivated when the first guy came out. Did he stop my billing? Nope.

So now I can drive over to Cliff's to watch the one or two more races VS shows this year. And I'll save 50 bucks a month. That's almost a tank of gas. Almost...

Monday, September 15, 2008

End of Summer Crit

Kudos to Sharon- who said, "We shall have a race, and it shall benefit the soldiers and their families on Ft Lee. And so in the course of a day, it did come to pass... and this race went off pretty much without a hitch. No one crashed, and every one had a great time in that odd way that bike racing can be called a great time. There was drama, there was suffering, and there was a whole lot of sunburn from the 95 degree September day.

And Karen declared... it was good.

Money was raised, prizes were won and Ruth shouted encouragement until she could shout no more.

People who don't even race bikes came out to help. Cliff was everywhere, and did everything, as always. Jeanne Minnix designed the coveted tshirts, Poppa Ben course marshaled, SanDee course marshaled and helped at registration. Even the Best Buy ladies got in the act helping to hydrate heat stricken racers- including the Divine Miss K.

How does a great race happen? It takes a village. For all the people who went out of their way to step up to the plate, we thank you. To Chip Goble at Natures Path who always supplies us with yummy bars, we thank you. To Carolyn, Chip's Mother- who makes sure we get the bars, we thank you. Best Buy, General Dynamics, SRA International, and Hammer Nutrition, we absolutely love and applaud you. Chik fil a and Dominos gave free coupons. Area merchants gave primes to some fast racers.

Team mates like Bill Battle who step up to the plate and always ask, "what do you need? What can I do?" Julie who pulled triple duty, ran and won a 5k race in Fredericksburg, broke the land speed record and did super work in both the 40+ and cat 1-3 races to ensure that we won the women's team BAR, Steve who came out and raced and worked in the midst of a family crisis, Greg and SanDee who stayed to volunteer despite having storm damage from Gustav, Katie, Trent,Sonya, Tom and James who were always where they needed to be... we wouldn't do this without you. You always pull thru. Every job is important.
Steve Coehlo

Thank you everyone who worked, raced, and helped us raise money to support the troops who selflessly sacrifice so much to keep this the land of the free.

We cant wait to do it again next year!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The week before rush

We are 3 days out from our benefit race at Ft Lee. Col. Sharon said, we will do this, and so we did.

I have no idea why you can plan for everything to the smallest detail, but the week before, the craziness starts. The mad dash for straw bales after a drought. (Hay bales would have been impossible to find.) Hammer didn't get our confirmation order, but graciously Fed Ex'ed the product to us when we could show them that yes, we did it email it. (and the stuff should be on my porch tonight) Missing boxes of shirts, and the EBAY effect of people wanting to be the very last person to enter.

Do you know what all that does to your blood pressure? Sky high. Sharon, bless her heart, took most of the week off to handle all this. Good thing...

She sent email after email telling people that if they don't pre-reg by Thursday afternoon, getting on the base is a pain. Pre-reg, and she'd leave a list with the gate guards. Thursday evening, she was getting emails from people begging to get on the list.

The cool things: The tshirts that Jeanne Minnix designed for us are in and as usual she did a fab job. Chik fil a gave a ton of free coupons, Dominos has given free pizza coupons, and our friends at Natures Path again came thru with yummy bars. If nothing else, we are the club that does bike races where you get nice swag bags. Just like a tri, without the tri cost.

So kudos to Col. Sharon, who's can do attitude never ceases to impress me. When other people say they are going to do things, and don't, Sharon ALWAYS pulls thru. Good on you, girl.

And to all those people, in my club and not... who so graciously called and emailed to help. Thank you. It is so refreshing to have people ask what they can do to help. All of you, make racing better.

Monday, September 8, 2008


So Sunday, we're out on a great ride, and we stop at this little, itty-bitty country store. Think tiny. And there we are, resplendent in our flashy team kits and bikes...
And what does J and Sharon do? Burp off. To make it more fun, J walks over to throw away a coke bottle as this little old man was topping off his gas tank, and cranks out one of the loudest burps you've ever heard. I swear it would have set off a Richter scale as well. The little man, kind of fell back against his car and looked at J with new found respect, or horror. I'm not sure which.
Who would have thought that all that gas could come out of someone as small as J... I"m not worthy. I'm not worthy.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lifesaving X 2

My dogs love the water. This summer it has been so dry that they can literally run lengthwise down the South Anna River. George, in particular, is hard to keep out of the river and creek.

After 6" of rain today, no one is running down the river. The river is up more than 6', and is almost out of the banks. The happy little creek beside it is likewise full and rolling.

So, there I am on the phone with Col. Sharon, getting regaled by the latest nonsense on the VAcycling list about our race next week, when I spy, out of my little eye, George about to jump in the river. So I dropped the phone, kicked off the shoes, and yelled as he went in, and went under.

Then I went in after him, and went under. Good thing I took all those life saving courses, huh? I got him to the bank, but couldn't get purchase on its muddy surface, and was able to haul him up to Cliff as I started downstream. Cliff was able to get a foot hold and get a hand to me, and popped me out.

So who was stupider, me or the dog... I'm not going to let one of my guys drown, but you have to respect the force of water. Geez, no wonder people drown after tropical storms, that water was powerful. I don't kayak without a buddy, and never without a vest and a helmet, and here I jump in wearing 20 lbs of cotton jeans and shirt.

Alls well that ends well. Now its time for a nice, hot bath, and a glass of wine.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Whole Check

When I'm finally crowned Queen of the Universe, one of the first things I'm going to do is make all repair guys USE cell phones to call customers to let them know when they are going to arrive. This "I"ll be there between 12 and 5, unless I'm late" stuff is no longer acceptable. My satellite is out, and that's what I got. After taking 1/2 day off work, they can't fix it. In the meantime, I got to wait at home in a snit because I couldn't get out on the bike, and I had to take vacation time to wait.

So what do I do when I get aggravated? I clean. Tropical Storm coming? On the roof with me to clean the gutters. Then I dismantled the vacuum cleaner to unclog all the dog hair. By the time the guys got there I was sure someone was going to die.

Who? Me. My head was so stuffed up that I could no longer breathe from all the dust. Which meant that after they left that I still couldn't get out and ride.

So, I went to the new Whole Foods. It's like Disneyland for adults. I probably wont buy groceries there, but all those food bars, with salads, soups, seafood, smoked meat (really...), and the best looking pizza that I've seen in a long time. Oh, and then there was a wine bar. I could move in. Like today.

Too bad that the paycheck doesn't stretch quite far enough to actually do that. Cool store, great customer service. Good prices on some stuff, the moon on others. After a nice hard bike ride though, this is going to be the go to place. We can all go and stink up the place and everyone can get exactly what they want.

Next to open... Trader Joes a block away. For as much as I hate Short Pump... it may just be my new favorite area.

Now if all these great customer service oriented companies could just teach the repair guys what customer service is...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lessons from Bull Durham

The Divine Miss J is wicked fast. Both on a bike and on her own two little feetsies.
Saturday she again won this race up near Leonardtown, and as always the local reporters were all over her to get the story. Saturday was nasty. It was hot, and soupy. Not great running conditons. And our Miss J, being the honest person that she is, told it like it was. Geez, you can almost hear the Grusome Growler in her as you read!
Ok, so here is today's lesson. If you ever win a race, and have the great joy of having to respond to a reporter while you are still anoxic, you must take a page from Bull Durham, or track and field sprinters, whichever...
1. Thank God. Today God made my feet very fast, and I thank him for giving me the gifts to have such a divine ability to fly down the road. For it is thru his gifts that I am the supreme being that I am. (and by implication, you are a looser, probably because you squashed a turtle in another life.)
2. Thank the city... We are so blessed that (name of city here) has graced us with such a beautiful venue to have this event. The people have been so gracious to me and I cant wait to come back with bus loads full of tourists with full pockets of cash to spread around to all the businesses!
3. Thank your sponsors. Don't they sponsor you to get their name in print? Want them to do it again? I wouldnt be here without all the help from the best bike/running shop in the world, (name inserted here) They have literally made me what I am today. (and by implication, would make a looser like everyone else fast, too)
I'm going to be working hard on J. Next time I fully expect to see a prime Nascar quote out of her.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A life well lived

Every once in awhile you read something that kind of sets you back a bit. I was surfing at lunch and came across this:

When it is my time to go, I hope that I have a life as full as Barbara Warren. Criminy, war survivor, film star, Ironman, winner of RAAM (2 person), and the list goes on and on and on and on. This was a lady who had no moss clinging to her.

Barbara was competing in the Santa Barbara Triathlon when she had a bike crash which left her paralyzed. When it became obvious that the condition was permanent, she asked to be taken off the ventilator and died with her family around her.

I didn't know her. You probably didn't know her. But Luke, there was a disturbance in the Force. Another great one has passed.

I hope when it's my time to go, that I can look back on such a life and know that I did everything that I ever wanted to do, and that I left such a legacy behind. And I hope that if I'm ever in a pickle like Barbara, that my family and friends will let me go and not leave me trapped in a shell.