Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Upcoming: 2014 Tour de Tryptophan

Hey all, still haven't figured out that post-Thanksgiving Day ride, or want a better option than the same old loop thing, consider the Tour de Tryptophan at the famous Fullerton Loop. This year's cause will benefit Brad 'Moose' Rasmussen, a fellow cyclist who suffered a spinal injury while riding the Big Bear Bike Park in July. Rasmussen has limited movement right now, but is determined to walk and ride again. Coming out and contributing to his medical expenses would be a step in the right direction.

The 'ride' begins at 11am on Friday and goes till noon on Saturday. You are free to ride as many, or as few laps (11.5 miles per) as you want. Heck, you don't even have to ride. Apparently the record is officially held by sixty year old Jim Cooke - 18 laps, which equals out to 207 miles.

There are many place to 'enter' the Fullerton Loop, but the ride's official start location is the upper parking lot at the Courthouse, on Berkeley Avenue, west of Harbor Blvd. Donations gratefully accepted.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rasta Beater, Man

Behold, the humble college beater bike. Hand-painted, sticker-adorned, saddle-askewed, often as not ill-maintained and of questionable dependability. It serves without reward, an old dry chain, a flat rear tire, loose cranks, wobbly wheels, brakes that may or may not work, and mis-matched pedals, its life is not one of glamour. Quick sprints across campus (Zeus willing) in the morning and afternoon, then unceremoniously dumped with a hundred similar others, onto an outdoor bike rack. There it waits through the cold of the night, the heat of the day, rain, maybe even snow. 

What a life.

They carry their riders to make, and meet, new friends. They may carry their riders to start a life in tandem with a significant other. In to town for food and drink. Out to the stadium to watch the game. The carry their riders to a brighter future. What more could you ask, what more could you want.

What a life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Blues: No Excuses

There I was, an amazing Southern California Sunday morning. I had done a quick loop up into a local canyon, exhaling all unnecessary thoughts from my mind. I was at one with my bike, on a good road. Stopping at the local farmers' market where I was going to meet the wife, I broke out the jersey pocket camera just in case something presented itself. Someone came into view up the street, riding down towards me, with a lengthy pole or something sticking out from both sides of the bike. Hmm, I thought, what the heck is that, before my attention turned a different direction. Just in time, I remembered to check back, and saw this woman, foot all ensconced, and a crutch carried lengthwise across a front basket. She parked her bike, locked it at a rack and hobbled off to take care of some shopping. No excuses. If she can ride...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

2014 CXLA, Day One: Katerina Nash

Since the beginning of the cyclocross season around here, some two months ago, I have been noting the mastery of Amanda Nauman over her competition. Each weekend she has raced in SoCal, she has ridden her closest rivals right off her wheel. Each time the Elite Women have lined up, the ending has been something like a foregone conclusion.

So then, what are we to make of the victory by Katerina Nash in the Elite Women's race at today's CXLA?

Nash's win was one of absolute conquest. Her race combined sure handling with sheer power and allowed her Nash to finish a nearly comfortable minute up on 2nd placed Amanda Miller, with Courtenay McFadden a full minute further back. Nicole Duke and Emily Kachorek rounded out the podium. It was a strong field, and a tough, challenging, course, and Nash owned both.

Katerina Nash

Coming in for bacon

never mind the racing - the Great CXLA stare-down

double rooster-tail in the sand by Brannan Fix (Boo Bicycles/Training Peaks) who would finish second in the U23 race behind Liam Dunn (Clif Bar Development Team)

The CXLA weekend has become a big deal, probably the biggest on the SoCal cyclocross calendar. UCI sanctioning brings added prestige, as well as points, and thus the field of competitors includes a greater percentage of higher calibre racers who come in from all across the country. It was cool to notice so many people from NorCal who travelled down to challenge the southland's best. And that, though I can't pinpoint the reason why, brings me to the topic of bacon and why anyone would think it a good idea to hold little strips of greasy pork (actually, I think it was turkey) out to the maws of passing cyclists. Would you hand feed raw steak to a hungry lion? A MilkBone to a strange pit bull? Not likely. Bacon to an energy-starved cyclocross racer would seem to fall into the same category. Well, I never saw either of the brave souls (or would that be foolish souls) at the medic tent having fingers sewn back into place, so I guess everything worked out.

A couple days ago I mentioned that riders should expect an abundance of tight and twisting turns, likening the course to the slithering locks of Medusa. If anything, that may have been an understatement. As I look back through the photos from the day, and notice all the blood at knees and elbows, it is clear that many riders hit the deck in those turns. The medic tent was kept busy from high noon to sunset with minor cleaning and bandaging. Tight turns and a loose surface took people off their bikes in other ways as well. In most cases it took but a single pass before riders realized the quicker way around was to dismount and run.

Access the Flickr album here. In it you will find one hundred thirty-one photos, most of them shots of individual racers this time.

By the way, if anyone found my little, beat up Irish flag and wants to return it to me next race, I'll give you a copy of the 2013 Seasons In the Sun yearbook.

Friday, November 21, 2014

No Dogs on Bicycles

So I was doing a little research at work yesterday; a project I am working on includes a dog park and I needed to find some signs for it.

As I searched through some images on the internet I noticed this one. Only it wasn't quite this one - it was a sign, about the size of a "No Parking" sign, on a steel post. The type of sign you would expect to see at a park. Only it wasn't quite what you would expect to see. I mean, dogs on bicycles? 

My first thought was, "who would put a sign like that in a park?" My second thought was, "where is this place that has a problem with dogs riding bikes?" My third thought concerned the problem of dogs riding bikes. "What is the problem, exactly. Are they careless? Do they bolt off on a tangent unexpectedly in pursuit of squirrels and cats? Is the problem only with the long, floppy ears of basset hounds getting caught in spinning wheels?" "Do the greyhounds go too fast around the younglings and old folks out for a Sunday stroll?" It is a curious thing, and my fourth thought was, "this is a place I want to see." Next I thought, "Curious that there is a similar sign stating 'No Dogs, No Bicycles' - that is just boring." After that, I ran out of thoughts, but recovered a few moments later, just long enough to wonder if I could sneak such a sign past the city planners of Chino Hills.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Medusa Approved

Holy Zeus, it is almost here - CXLA, the only local UCI-caliber cyclocross race on the calendar this year is returning to the Greek Theater. This weekend.

There is a full slate of activities scheduled between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. Golden Saddle Cyclery will be hosting a 'Ride with the Pros' clinic - happy hour at Mohawk Bend - racing - heckling - partying - dinner fandango at Golden Road Brewing - Expo - community cross - doggy cross - kiddie cross - bike swap - a course that will twist and turn more than the slithering locks of Medusa's hair. Check here for the full schedule.

With big points on the line, many of the top racers from the US and Canada will be here. Who will the gods favor? Who will give the finger to those gods, forsake them and risk their anger to go it on their own? Whether Aphrodite shows up or not, I am expecting good things. Show up and see for yourself.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

At Least There is This

What a week it was. Heady concepts were thought on, debated. My son, the philosophical high school student, informed me one evening after work that ours is the only country that does not regularly revise its Constitution. Truth be known, and perhaps due to my upbringing, but I have never questioned the inviolability of our Constitution and certainly cannot recall (though it has been many years in the past) ever debating the point in school. Yet I see the point - times change, and to succeed you must react to those changes. So what happens if change is limited due to outdated constraints?

Later in the week came word of a conference being held at UCLA concerned with the relevance of the teachings of John Muir. In many ways, from what I understand, the Muir debate is much the same - holding certain notions, of preservation, the meaning of wilderness, etc, as timeless standards to be emulated regardless of change in the wider society. 

Being someone of the liberal persuasion, who's biggest dream growing up was to live in the mountains, I can tell you I am more receptive to one, than I am to the other of those debates.

Yes, there has been much to think about lately. Enough to start my head spinning, if I had let it, if I had not been able to get out and ride, ride to this place, this place where only the moment matters:

The beat of a heart, loud in my ears. A crow's three-peate caw, followed by another series a few seconds later and further away. The melodic whistling of an unseen songbird. The tumble of granite pebbles as a lizard causes a small cascade down the nearby cliff face. The familiar side to side rocking of a climber out of the saddle, wheels making a shush - shush - shush in regular rhythmic pattern as he ascends the road. The wind, a hum, as it rushes along the canyon bottom then rises upslope sounding like the drone of a thousand busy bees. The sun, filtering through a canopy of leaves, drifting ever so slightly as I sway on my feet, a curtain of light drawing closure, even if for a few fleeting minutes, on all but this close up place.
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