Monday, December 29, 2008

Four bits gets you time in the racks


Every journey starts with the first step.   Today I was given the green light to start riding again, with the caveat that I may have to taper back activities to balance pain management.  Music to my ears.

So, at 3:35:07 pm PST on Monday December 29th, 2008, I started on my road back from injury and preparation for the 2009 season.  The result was a massive 35 minute effort at 36 watts, with a HR of 85 BPM!  EPIC!

I'd love to report that the ride was 100% pain free, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.  My range of motion is still a bit limited due to the swelling, and those first dozen or so slow revolutions really didn't feel too happy when my knee was at the top of its pedal stroke.  However, over time it became less and less uncomfortable and I was able to increase my cadence a bit. 

It wasn't much, but it's the start.


(Kudos to those of you who make the connection with the title!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

76 hour check in


My ass and the couch were like the roommate you don't really like the last 76 hours.  You tolerate each other because you have no place better to be, but you'd really rather be someplace else.  The good news is that I'm up and mobile now, and limping down the road to recovery. 

My surgery was scheduled for a 2pm check-in on Tuesday, but at about 11:30 I got a call from the day-surgery group saying they had a few cancellations due to the weather and wanted to know if I could come in early.  I told them we'd be there in 45minutes.

At 12:15 I give my name, DOB, and what procedure I was having done to the lady at the front desk.  This information will be repeated probably a dozen times over the next hour and a half.  The lady who takes all my medical information, the nurse who preps my knee, the nurse who does my IV, the nurse who wheels me into the pre-op room, my Orthoped, the OR nurse, the anesthesiologist.... I'm sure there are a few that I forgot.

I try to relax during the prep-process.  Traci and I chat about what we'll do for dinner later tonight and wonder when my folks will be arriving.  Finally they are ready for me in the OR.  Traci walks with the gurney until we reach the waiting area.  I give her a cheery "see you in a bit" and she smiles.  We both have horrible poker faces.

The OR waiting area is cold.  Much colder than the rest of the hospital.  There is one other gentleman in the room with me, but he looks very much uncomfortable and sleepy.   I pass the time by staring at the dots in the ceiling panel, then I remember I did the same exact thing the last time I was waiting for a knee surgery.  My Orthoped comes and, does the final review of my chart and takes his pen and writes "YES" on my left knee.  It itches.

After about 10 minutes, and a few visits from the other members of  the surgical team, I'm wheeled into the OR.  This room is even colder then the previous room.  Fortunately they have a few warm blankets for me to be wrapped in when I move myself over to the table.  The team moves efficiently getting me situated in place and they begin to strap my arms down and ......................

I wake up in the recovery room and the first though was "WTF died in my mouth."  Anesthesia gasses have a horrid taste to them and heeding the advice of the anesthesiologist, I take some big breaths of air and cough out the remaining crud in my system.  A women named Lisa, who supposedly had a fairly detailed conversation with about 10 minutes earlier, is there next to me. 

The deep breaths of air are doing their thing to clear the fog from my head and body, and in no time I'm back in my room with Traci.  My nurse asks me if I could stomach some juice and food, and comes back with some cranberry juice and a bite size muffin.  This is the first food I've had in 18 hours and it vanishes in seconds.  She comes back with a small menu and I order some hash browns, and a bagel with cream cheese. 

While we wait I get the quick run down from Traci about the surgery.  They weren't able to repair the meniscus due to the extent of the damage.  "Tears within tears" was the phrase used.  My guess is that this was due to the initial injury in 06 with the Barton Park injury on top of it.  My food arrives and I dive in.

My orthoped arrives as I'm pushing the empty tray from in front of me.  Happy, but still hungry.  He shows me the before and after photos:


In the top photo, the white mass with the "F"  on it is my femur (thighbone).  You should be able to see the entire bottom of the bone in a knee that doesn't have an injury like this.  It is obstructed by my meniscus, which had torn up, flipped over on itself and became caught behind the femur.  The two lines are pointing to two additional tears within the main tear.  Hence, no repair.  The second photo shows my ACL, which was surgically replaced in January of '03.  The weird looking blob on the left was a tissue mass (it is not a tumah!) that grew that wasn't causing an issues, but didn't need to be there, so it too was removed.

The end result was this:


This is basically the same photo as the first, just shot a bit more to the inside of the knee to see where the meniscus was removed and how the tear went under the femur.

So with that news I was given a small list of PT exercises to do, and some instructions on what to take when, and how much.  I see him again on Monday for my follow up.

This surgery was relatively minor compared to my two ACL reconstructions.  I've been hobbling around without a crutch since the first day and I'm already allowed to take the compression legging off.  I'm just happy its finally over and hope to be doing some light spinning by the first of the year. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before the knife.


Mother nature is funny.  After not having much in the way of snow in the greater PDX area for a number of years, we get a bunch pooped on us all at once.  Ah well.

Traci and I have spent much of the past week hanging at the house, cleaning and prepping for the holiday, and shoveling snow off our driveway.  We haven't gone out much because we didn't need to and I'd rather not drive if I didn't have to.

This morning however, I had to drive.  I was to have my pre-op surgery appointment with my Orthoped at 8:30.  So at 7am I get up and look outside.. its snowing.. again. 

We get in the car and make the short trip into downtown Hillsboro.  The roads are mostly empty and what vehicles that are out there have chains and are mainly trucks.  We feel out of place in the Mini without chains.  At 8am we get to the doctors park and there isn't anyone in the parking lot and the building looks dark.  We circle the block a few times (getting stuck once in the process but managing to get out with the help of a few bystanders.) Calls to the office go unanswered so we head home.

Once home, it takes us 30 minutes to get the car back into the garage.  I don't plan on going back out today.  I finally get in touch with the doctors office and was informed that yes, there were people there at 8am and if I didn't come in for the pre-op, I couldn't go in for surgery tomorrow.

Wow, nice ultimatum.

So back out into the snow I go, but this time on foot.  It takes me about 40 minutes to walk the 3 miles.  Its cold and quiet and really fairly peaceful.

Knee0002I meet with my surgeon and went over his findings in the MRI.   The circled areas in the first photo are the left side meniscus in my left knee.  The distinct dark triangles are the meniscus which is in good condition.



This second photo is the right side of my left knee.  Notice the circle on the left.  The triangle doesn't have a distinct point to it.  He called it "blunted".  The circle on the right shows more issues.  The dark slop (my words) on the left side of the triangle is what he identified as the part that should be attached to the right side, which has folded over on itself.  He believes this injury will be a good candidate for a repair rather then a removal of the torn area.  I had figured this was coming, but the confirmation from him was still a big blow.

I talked with him about recovery and rehab and I was happy to hear the "8 weeks non weight bearing" wasn't going to be the case.  Bed rest for 3 days and no twisting, jumping, running, or deep knee bends for at least 3 months.  Unfortunately cycling is also out of the picture with the exception of light gears and no-resistance spinning until March, so my 2009 road season is shot it seems.

I think that hurts more than the injury.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Year in review, provided early by inability to ride any more this season.


So my racing season technically ended at Barlow when I blew out my knee. Since that time, I've been on the bike a few times just doing easy rides in preparation for my surgery that was supposed to be on the 11th. Well yesterday morning I received a phone call from my Orthopedic surgeon. Seems they did a "second review" of my MRI films and discovered what's called a "bucket handle tear" of the meniscus. In addition to that, I've got fragments floating around in the joint. This is a bit more serious than the previously diagnosed injury and requires a more involved surgery which needs an assistant. As a result, my surgery has been moved to the 23rd. In addition, because I've got debris floating around the Doctor put the kibosh on being on the bike.

So, yesterday officially put the end to my 2008 season! Instead of jumping on the trainer for a light spin while my wife busted ass in her workout, I pulled up my WKO+ data and mulled over my season.

Season started Jan 29th, 2008 and ended December 2nd, 2008

3690 Miles logged in WKO. Figuring in rides that I did without my PT, I'm going to estimate I rode about 4200 miles this year.

Total wattage in kJ recorded: 120816 or 34kWh which is about enough to power my entire house for 3 days.

Total time in the saddle: 9 days 38 minutes, 48 seconds. As a bonus, most of it I got to spend with my wonderful wife and teammates.

Weight at start of season, 190lbs. Weight at end of season 186lbs. Average riding weight during season 184lbs. Low of season 179lbs (amazing what 11 hours in the saddle in 105 degree heat will do to you the next day.)

Longest day in saddle: 9.5 hours spanning 115 miles (also high single day mileage for the year.) Was a very odd day as we were doing Ride Marshalling for the Portland LIVESTRONG Challenge. The first 85 or so miles we averaged close to 19mph, but we ended up escorting a few struggling riders in the last portion of the ride which took a really long time. To add to it, the temp hit close to 105 in the afternoon. Even drinking 2 bottles an hour I was dehydrated the next day.

I burnt off about 28,856 calories riding this year, or 53.4 Big Mac's. Since I don't think I could eat one, we can go in pints of Guinness which is much more appropriate for my blog. At approximately 200 calories a pint, I burnt off enough calories for 144.2 pints!

Highest mileage month for me was June, however the hardest month for me in terms of TSS/mile was actually February. I'll hedge a bet this was due to a large amount of indoor interval training during the month and still building my fitness.

Highest recorded HR was 190BPM which was right after a massive attack at PIR where I averaged 640 watts for a minute.

Highest recorded speed was 51.2 mph, which was on the descent off of Bald Peak Road during the LIVESTRONG Challenge.

From a power curve standpoint I made some very good strides in some areas and highlighted the weakness I'll probably be working on next year:

Mean Max Power: (Max historical wattage shown at any time.  First set of numbers was taken as of Feb 20th, 2008.  Second set taken yesterday.)


Time Wattage w/kg  
1s 1039 12.36  
5s 873 10.38  
10s 714 8.49  
20s 534 6.35  
30s 460 5.47  
1m 391 4.65  
5m 289 3.44  
10m 256 3.04  
60m 211 2.51  
120m 198 2.35  
1s 1375 16.35 336w
5s 1315 15.64 442w
10s 1196 14.22 482w
20s 928 11.04 394w
30s 844 10.04 384w
1m 640 7.61 249w
5m 343 4.08 54w
10m 314 3.73 58w
60m 256 3.04 45w
120m 216 2.57 18w

Pretty easy to see that I saw my biggest improvements in my top-end.  I was both able to make "hotter burning machines" (higher total power output) but longer ones as well.

I set out this year with very few specific goals, but a number of general ones. Here is a quick review:

"Steady weight" below 180 during the season - FAIL! I defined steady weight as the number your weight fluxuates around over time. For me it was 184, so I didn't hit the goal but I was definitely lighter this year than I was in years past and I felt better climbing this year.

Race more - WIN! I did 2 road and 2 cross races in '07. This year I did 14 road races (including my first TT and Crit), 1 track race, and 8 cross events.

Upgrade to Cat4 - WIN! I received my upgrade in April after taking 7th in Piece of Cake and added to my wins at PIR in '07.

Progress towards Cat3 - WIN! After I upgraded, I had a very good April and May out at PIR and an okay crit at Sunset. Hopefully I'll be on the bike to race some of the "Spring Classics".

Dairy Creek team ride and not get dropped - WIN! This road always seems to kick my ass when we ride it with the team. A few times this year I was with the group when we hit the end and was even able to mix it up once or twice.

Participate in TTT - FAIL! Second year running. I will be in it this year (pending knee).

Participate in time trials - EPIC FAIL! I did one… ONE.

Race at Velodrome - FAIL! I did one mass start race this year and it scared the shit out of me.

Be competitive in Men's C's at Cross - Meh - I'll give this one 50%. I missed out on two races during crusades that would have fit me very well (PIR/Hillsboro) and I was in the top 10 at Barlow before I f'd myself up. Alpenrose I was one place out of the points, one Kermesse I took 4th and the other I crashed out of after flatting both tires. I think with a bit more preparation in August and September (i.e. not trying to plan a cross race in 34 days) I'll be much better off next year and will be able to move up into the B's.

Have fun - WIN! I enjoyed racing this year and made some really good friends that I look forward to racing with and against next year if all goes well.

All in all, it was a good year for the bike and I. I learned a lot on the bike, growing as a rider, racer, and teammate. I learned a lot about the bike, thanks to the patience of teammate who was very generous with his time, and I'm now able to do most of my mechanical adjustments and rebuilds at home. Finally, I got to witness first hand the inner workings of organizing, promoting, and running a race which I hope to be able to leverage again in 2009.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Surgery Scheduled...


... finally.  I guess one of the drawbacks of seeing a top rated orthopedic surgeon is that, well he's a top rated orthopedic surgeon and takes a while to get into his schedule.

So, on 12/11 I head into the hospital to have the meniscus in my left knee cleaned out.  It's an outpatient surgery, and recovery is 3 days bed rest then 1 to 4 weeks of light duty based on my swelling and pain tolerance.  Almost 6 and a half weeks after Barton I'll finally be on my road to recovery.  It was almost 7 and a half weeks...

I originally scheduled the surgery for 12/18.  You see, 12/11 also happens to be my wife's birthday.  Every year we've been married, we've taken her birthday off, gone to Noah's bagels for breakfast and then done a bunch of Christmas shopping.  It's a fun tradition, and I hesitated to break it or make her birthday crappy by being in a hospital.

When I told her I selected the 18th over the 11th, her reply was "get it done sooner."  I think she's tired of me being a gimp around the house. ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

I want to ride my bicycle...


Ha, ha!  Now you have that song stuck in your head.

Friday, I had a really bad day.  My knee was really achy all night so I didn't sleep very well.  As a result, I was grumpy and tired.  After running a quick errand before lunch, I went to Longbottoms to grab lunch and ran into the PV crew who was just returning from a glorious Friday morning ride.   I ate my lunch and listened to their banter.  I was mad at my knee.

The weather was more than you could ask for this time of year.  Sunny, crisp, cool, little to no breeze.  It's the type of weather that makes you don wool arm and leg warmers with your kit, and maybe pack a light wind vest.

It reminded me much of my youth and the cycling I did in the North East.

I grew up in Andover, Massachusetts.  The school system was such that upon entering your freshman year in High School, you knew half your graduating class for 2 years, a quarter of it for 8 and a good chuck of it since you were pre-school.  Add into it the mix of a huge youth soccer program and friendships were formed at a very early age.  One such friendship was formed with a pair whom I just recently got back in touch with through the magic of this new fangled "internets" and Facebook.

Jim and I became friends through soccer, which his dad and my dad co-coached youth teams together for years and formed a friendship.  Brian and Jim were classmates and friends from school, and eventually Brian and I became friends through Jim and a variety of other activities.  Through much of our grade school and middle school years, the three of us hung out frequently on weekends and in arranged after school get together's.  As we grew older, the introduction to one key thing added a whole new dimension to the adventures we could have.  Transportation!

The bike was the first mode of transportation the three of us would consistently have access too.  No longer would we need to wait for a parent to get home in order to go to one or another's house.  Many a autumn or spring afternoon or entire summer day would be spent on our bikes riding where ever our legs took us.  No hill was too steep, no road too busy for us to travel on, no distance was too far to ride (as long as it was in town limits).  We rode hard and fast, and traded nuggets of cycling wisdom learned from watching the TDF on Wide World of Sports during July.

Jim:  "Guys, we should ride in a peloton."

Brian and I:  "What's that?"

Jim:  "It's when you ride in a group and the people up front do the work and the rest don't have to!"

Brian and I: "Sweet! We can do that with the three of us!"

Ah, the naiveté of youth.

We'd watch American Flyer to the point where we'd recite dialog during our rides pretending to launch attacks too early or sprinting away from dogs, all of whom were named "Eddy".  I clearly remember my first experience with a "lead out train" ending in a narrowly avoided disaster.   I can still see Jim flying through the air after high siding his bike, walking away with nothing more than skinned hands and knees.   (We learned that day that when you corner at high speeds you want your inside pedal up.)

Brian and I undertook one of the most memorable events of my life together.  In the spring of 1990, we participated in the "Commonwealth Classic" which was a 2-day 150mile bike tour to benefit the American Diabetes Association (pretty ironic that 5 years later I was diagnosed with Type 1 eh?).  Brian and I were the two youngest participants and finished with the lead group of ten riders on the second day.  It was on that ride that I learned pace line skills, and how to point out debris in the road.  Simple lessons for skills that I take for granted these days.  The people we grouped up with were impressed with our strength and eagerness, but admonished us on our safety.  I remember being called out for pulling out of a pace line and not looking back to see if there was traffic coming from behind.  Again, the naiveté of youth.

It was many of these memories that drew me to cycling in my youth, and drew me back for good in the recent years.  It was with those fond memories that I geared up Saturday morning and tested the knee out.  I'm happy to report the knee was okay with letting me ride, and the body was happy to have the opportunity.  I went slow on the flats, and glacial up small rises in the road, but I felt better on the bike than off.  What mattered the most was I was riding my bike, the sun was warm, and the air crisp and cool.

I had a smile on my face the rest of the weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday Random Collection


MRI 11am tomorrow, with Orthoped follow-up next Wednesday.  So in roughly one week I should know the full extent of the injury, when I can get in for surgery, and when rehab can start.  My left quad and hamstring have visibly atrophied.

PIR had to be some of the most fun I've had in a long, long time.  Kudos to all of the SSWC riders, especially any of them who enjoyed our beer at the off camber run down / up at the far east side of the course.  I really missed being able to race.

The cold Traci and I had is going away.  Last night was the first non-NyQuil night in a few days.

This granny smith apple I'm eating is very good.

Sunset Cycles / CycleOne gets a big public thank you arranging use of the fitting I won back in August at the Sunset Crit.  I hope to be back next year!

I finally got my NAS speaking to my PS3. Go go streaming movies!  Now I just have to convince someone to come over to my house and help me run at CAT5E cable in the crawl space since I'm not that mobile.  I have beer!

Beer transition!  The '07 "Top Sail" Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Porter I cracked open at PIR  has to be one of the very best beers I've ever had.  The Abyss was also very good, but I don't know if its worth the supposed $40 it is currently selling for on eBay.  I also heard the 2006 Rogue Russian Imperial in its monolithic gray ceramic swing-top was also very good.  I think Sal, Amit, and Cuz drank the vast majority of it. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Medical update...


Few bits of news on the medical front.  Got back from the orthopedic surgeon.  No damage to the bones and he doesn't think there is any damage to my ACL or MCL in my knee, which is good.  He does however, feel there is a fairly significant tear in my medial meniscus due to decent amount of swelling I still have 5 days post injury. 

So, MRI is next on the docket... I wanted that to be first on the docket, but insurance being insurance I have to jump through hoops to get what I need.  Paperwork must be filed and fumbled over before I can get the MRI, then the follow-up appointment to find out what is wrong and figure out what to do about it.

bleh... I just want to start rehab now.  I miss being active and its only been 5 days.

On another note, about 10 minutes ago I connected my "Guardian Real-Time Continues Glucose Monitor".  As a number of you know, I'm a type 1 diabetic, which means my body can't produce insulin to turn food into glucose so my body can, well .. live.  I wear an insulin pump, which can often be witnessed when I'm on my bike. (It's the bulge on my lower back that people mistake for a radio.)

The insulin pump was the first major step for me in the control of my diabetes, as it allowed me to quickly and easily adjust my insulin intake based off of my activity load.  Before the pump, I'd almost always crash a few hours after a long ride.  Now, it can set back the background insulin levels during my ride and have no issues.

The best thing a diabetic can do is have control of their blood sugars.  For a normal person, their blood sugars run between 90 and 100.  A diabetics will range all over the place depending on their control what they've had to eat, how stressed they are, if they are sick, if they are being physically active... Hopefully you get the picture.  For the vast majority of diabetics, 4-6 times a day we stick our fingers and test our blood with these small devices.  We can't do anything without them... until recently.

The real time monitor I know wear tests my blood sugars every 5 minutes.  Two hundred and forty four times a day.  In addition, it wirelessly transmits the data to my insulin pump, tracks it, and alerts me if my blood sugar is below or above set thresholds or if its noticing a rapid upwards or downwards trend.

Bicycling Magazine last month had a great article on Team Type 1, which is a domestic cycling team.  Many of the guys on the team have Type 1 diabetes, and every member of the team rides with a CGM.  They've found that with the information on the body's blood sugar, they can accurate track and predict when riders need fuel and when they need to eat to maintain top performance.    The team doctor went on to say that he expects in the next 5-10 years a CGM will be the training tool for competitive cyclists.

I look forward to seeing the data, making adjustments to my training and diet, and flat out living better now that I have my CGM.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Barton, thy name is CARNAGE


I was excited for today's race.  I had heard mythical stories of the battleground known as Barton Park.  Legend states it was one of the most brutal courses of the season... fast and technically challenging due to its potential for soupy mud and loose packed gravel.

Loose packed gravel? MY KRYPTONITE! ...*gurgle*.

Truthfully, I was looking forward to the race.  The forecast called for rain to hit the area all weekend, and sure enough at 9pm last night it was raining so hard outside I thought the washing machine was running longer than normal.  The only other muddy race this season was Alpenrose, and I had scored my best result of the year there.

The car is packed and ready to go the night before.  We roll out and arrive at Barton Park just before 7:45 with Greg right behind us.  The heart and soul of PVCX, Sal and Heidi, are there already unloading their truck.

We make quick work of the 2 team tents and bike stands.  Our newest teammate Daryl sets up the changing tent, and my friend from college Nick shows up to participate in his very first bike race ever.  Yeah... I'm that type of friend.  "Dude, you should total come race Barton Park!  It's close to your house!"

We sign in and I get to see that my 2 weeks of back of the pack starting have paid off with a first line draw.  Things are lining up for a good race.

We pre-ride, and I talk with Nick about the different things to think about.  He's laughing and having a great time, excited for the race.  Traci shoots off in front of us and we see her minutes later off her bike.  She took a spill in the mogul section and bleeding from a few scrapes and scratches.  We give her a few moments to collect herself and we proceed on, waiting to see what Barton throws at us next.

We arrive near the finish before a crazy off camber descent followed by a massive run-up.  I have a spring in my step as crest the top and remount, noting the short distance before the finish.  Around the hairpin and... you've got to be kidding me.  The biggest drop I've seen in a cross race is staring me in the face.  I ride through it tentatively, overshooting the exit of the corner and riding up a small portion of the gravel bank.   I'll definitely have to figure that out to do well today. 

We arrive at the team tent and get Nick setup to go.  I want to go see him start, but I'm not yet dress for my race.  Traci heads up with him and I methodically begin my pre-race routine. 15 minutes later the first Beginner racers come down the off camber descent.  We cheer for Glen has he comes past, smiles and all.  A short bit later Nick comes through and shouts to us that he totally ate it at the bottom of the huge drop.  He proceeded to get up, take a bow and get back on his bike.  Nick in a nutshell.  The sky clears and the sun comes out.  We laugh as Heidi is grumpy, wanting it to pour.

Our race lines up, and I slide in next to Murray from TV and introduce myself to Matt from Team S&M about 3 rows deep on the right side.  Matt and I rode together for a good portion of the costume race, and he was the only person who accepted a fish stick from me willingly.

The whistle blows and I get a good jump, slotting myself in the top 5 right away.  The riders ahead of me are good bike handlers and strong riders. We quickly start putting distance into the field and by the time we get to the pavement section through the RV parking we've distanced a good portion of the field.  I stay in the top 5 through the first lap, finding good lines over the majority of the course. 

My strategy is simple since my fitness isn't where it needs to be in order to stay competitive... Hang on as long as you can and minimize mistakes.  Crush the run-up's.

Half way through lap 2 on rider has opened a gap on my group and a pair of riders has caught us from the back.  The group rides as a long chain through the back gravel track and over the pavement.  I use the time to recover.  The mogul section inevitably spreads the group out every lap as the first riders into the section slow the ones trailing them.  I try to make a move before we get to that section, but everyone seems to have the same idea.  I back off allowing the others to fight for lines and slow incase I have to dismount quickly.  The lack of aggression puts me at the back of the chasing group of 7 but keeps my heart rate in check.  I hope it pays dividends later.

Lap 3 and 4 play out mostly the same, and other than hitting every single yellow cone on the off camber descent on Lap 3, I'm riding well.  I'm caught by a few strong riders from behind, but make up some places from riders in front of me who are tiring.  Every pass by the team tent is met with a huge cheer.  Dave from Ironclad is keeping tabs on my place, calling it out as I pass their tent.

The race is going well coming into the bell lap.  I make a move during the run up and pass a pair of guys on the inside.  Disaster strikes as I try to remount.  I miss my saddle, the bike out of position as my leg swings over.  I try to catch my balance and just as my weight loads onto my foot, my knee buckles. 

I hear a crunch.

I feel a pop.

Pain shoots through my body.

I cry out. 

A spectator gasps to my right.

The crowd seems to grow quiet in my world.  I don't hear the announcer, the ringing of the final lap bell has gone mute.

I limp step a few times, and manage to get mounted.  I can barely bend my knee making it difficult to clip in.  I wobbly cross the finish line trying not to take out the two riders who I had just passed going wide through the corner.  I'm still not clipped in and the descent is coming up much quicker than my glacial speed should possibly allow.

I finally feel the cleat engage mere meters before the drop.  I barely make it down the hill upright.  I crawl past the team tent, another rider passes me.  The pedals don't want to turn over.  I ride the next sections slowly, happy for the gap I had worked for.  I'm dreading the incline section before the concrete barrier.

I approach it slow, another pair of riders pass me both muscling up over the hill out of the saddle.  I can barely twist my leg to unclip, limp-stepping up the hill.  I remount and ride the short distance to the concrete.

"You wreck?"  Murray rolls up next to me as we approach the wall.

"Twisted my knee..." I say as we hit the barrier together.  He gets over quickly and is off.  I step down cautiously making sure to land on my right leg and carefully remount.  I use the flat fast sections to minimize the damage. Keeping the others in site.  It works for a while until the first technical right hand corner.  Instinct has me trying to put weight on the outside pedal, my knee veto's the idea violently causing my rear wheel to fishtail.  Another rider passes me.

We hit the pavement section for the last time and a small group of riders are just in front of me. I latch on to the back of them and try to stay close through the camp grounds.  A quick glance back shows a huge gap before the next riders.  My race is now in front of me.

We hit the gravel before the moguls.  I downshift to the small ring for the first time all day hoping to be able to spin over the bumps.  "PAIN IS ONLY TEMPORARY" I hear Bob from Tireless Velo yell at me as I make my way through the trees.  I can only imagine the look on my face spurred the comment.  I hope he got a photo.

I exit the moguls having lost precious momentum and witness a large gap in front of me.  I can hear a rider behind me coming through the moguls.  I was much slower than I had hoped.

I try and power my way through the soup around the bridge with one leg, my front tire acting more like a plow than a wheel at times.  The off camber run up is horrifically painful.

The final ride on the ridge is in desperation.  I ride in the drops, right leg pulling and pushing with the grudgingly moving in useless circles.   I roll through the off camber descent and look towards the Beast in front of me.  The Beast has left me wounded and crippled, knowing that I have to challenge it once more to be done.  The crowd lining the hill is in a frenzy, urging rider after rider to slay the Beast of Barton.

I dismount and shoulder my bike, digging in for the last surge.  I look for solid footholds for my left foot, and drive hard off my right. Over and over I repeat the dance, gaining moment, gaining speed.  I hear friends and teammates urging me on.  With a final lunge I crest the hill and see a group of riders just in front of me.  I forgo the remount and half limp, half sprint to the right, twisting my body to avoid a swerving rider.

I catch every one of them and stumble across the line.  I barely making it to the sideline before I lean heavily on my bike.  My knee has seized up and I can't put any weight on it.

Murray and some other finishers are there.  I quickly explain what happened and ask for the medic.  Bonnie is at my side helping me to the ground a moment later.

The examination is quick and relatively painless.  Knee injuries are not new to me, having replaced ACL's in both knees.  I suspect I have re-injured a previous cartilage tear which made me give up volleyball in '06. 

Bonnie would get little rest on this day of carnage.  Our team would work with her to triage a rider who took a serious header on the off camber descent.  A bit later I hear Kenji went down with a broken collarbone.  Another of our teammates Sierra goes down on her first or second lap with what ends up being a broken collarbone.  Bonnie wasn't even able to complete her examination of her right away as she was summoned to the bottom of the huge hill due to another major crash.

Traci decided to forgo the race and I think he decision was a good one.  She will be able to do battle next week at PIR and the week after at Hillsboro.  My future is up in the air right now.  Rest, ice, compression, elevation, and Advil will be my mantra for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Random Bits, Bytes, Bites, and Beer


I sit in front of my home computer, the drone of multiple hard drives moving my DVD collection to my new Terabyte NAS. 

<Homer>Mmmmm streaming digital media.</Homer> 

If all works well, I should be able to see the NAS from our PS3, and play all my old non HD media through it.  Added bonus, its all in IPod format.. woot!

raven_madSitting next to my computer is a glass of Bridgeport Big Brews "Raven Mad" Imperial Porter which I believe was released this week.  This is another in Bridgeport's line of beers which included HopCzar and my favorite Summer beer this year, Stumptown Tart.  The Raven Mad Imperial is another in a line of beers that was aged in bourbon barrels.  I'm not sure if this is a new trend or not as I have a few different beers in in my stash that are bourbon barrel aged, but I'm definitely digging the subtle vanilla and caramel flavors that mellow out the coffee flavor you often get from a Porter.  I'll probably pick up a few more bottles of this and bring it to PIR or Hillsboro Crusade.  As an added bonus, the label is in 3D featuring a screaming face and a dark raven... just in time for Halloween!

Last weekend at Astoria saw the delivery of the two bottles of Black Butte XX that I had aging since June when it was released.  XX was released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Deschutes Brewery.  The beer was aged in whiskey barrels and had additional coffee and cocoa nibs which gave it a flavor very distinct from the traditional BB Porter.  While I didn't care for it, the team enjoyed it immensely.  Rumor has it Sal hoarded the second bottle while muttering "my precious..." although he could have been saying "my pressure..." and talking about his tire setup.

Speaking of Astoria, I forgot a shout out to the folks over at Tireless Velo.  These cats are always seem to have a hotdog or burger for me when I come by to say hello.  For all I know they could be the ones that fall on the ground, but damn they be tasty.   Huge thanks to their crew and their generosity.

Slotting in at #123043 in the top 1 Billion reasons why my wife kicks Itsa Mario!ass, the following story... We were over at New Seasons after work to pick up a few things for dinner, and I see this pile of onions with a sign sticking out of them.   I point them out to Traci, and her instant reply is "Itsa Mario!" is a perfectly mimicked Nintendo voice.  Not only did she correctly identify the reference I was shooting for (which is cool because she's only be following racing for the past year or so) she tied in her inner gamer geek.  She rides, she races, she's a bad ass, and she's a gamer geek.  WIN.

This was too damn cool the pass up.  I love the irony that the original cast of the Budweiser "Wassap" video's come back and make a pro-Obama spot.  (If you've been in a cave for a while, Cindy McCain's money came from Anheuser Busch.)

You voted yet?  No?  Go do it Slacktard...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Astoria 2 Day Spectacular


What a weekend!  The races for me this week took a backseat to the all out team comradery PV was showing during the weekend.  Highlights of the weekend included:

  • Friday evening get together at the Cannery Cafe for some really good food, and a purple monkey.
  • Stopping by Molly's pad, walking upstairs saying "I think the door is up here" only to walk directly into their living room.
  • Having a horrific race on Saturday, then drinking a lot of beer.
  • Having a great race on Sunday, despite being in full costume.
  • Super long wait for food / drink at Rogue due to how slammed they were. 
  • Britt Millard sacrificing her race to help a fallen racer from Team O, and Team O giving her serious shout-outs for the help.  Class acts all around.
  • Watching the 22oz fridge at Rogue turn into a self service bar.
  • Sal's bread run.
  • Traci's Hash run.. complete with shots of Ouzo.
  • Heidi's bottomless bag of Stone Russian Imperials.
  • Bigwheel ride's with Sal.
  • Couzens getting TOTALLY SCREWED.
  • Two words: "Fishstick Grenade".
  • Kenji's pink foaming giggle juice.
  • Brad Ross actually turning down a free beer I tried to give him at the end of the A race on Sunday.

As Traci and I drove home via route 30, we both had big grins on our faces.  We might not have raced the best races of the season, but I don't think we could have planned a more entertaining weekend.

Barton should be interesting.  :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



I've had a couple days to recoup from Rainer.  Lets just say, I don't climb well to start with, and this course had a ton of vertical in it.  Add too it a bit of under the weather feeling on Saturday and an overall lack of training, and Sunday turns into a 45 minute session in trying not to barf a lung.

Race started out okay.   B-Rat and Jeff Henderson were both in my cat this week again.  The new start gate system worked pretty well and it was refreshing not have to show up the start line 30 minutes early.  My number was mid pack and due to the course layout I was top 30 by the time we started heading downhill.   My hole shots this year have been decent and I caught up to Brian when we got to the team tent.  The two of us worked to pick folks off during the next half of the lap.  Brian unfortunately dumped on the left hand corner entering the woods (the one with the blackberries) and I was lucky enough to get around the carnage. 

Approaching "The Hill" I saw the lead riders just starting to crest the top when I hit the transition at the bottom.  Slower traffic was in the right line so I attempted to move left and had my front tire suddenly go out from under me.  My nemesis loose gravel strikes again!  I hit the deck fairly hard, and take the brunt of the impact on my right knee.  My race for the front ended there.

To add insult to injury,  Murray from Tireless Velo was following my line and attempted to run me over in my moment of vulnerability.  We don't have any video footage, but I'm pretty sure he was cackling gleefully as it happened.  I actually have a distinct tire tread abrasion / bruise on my right hip from the assault.

The crash and collision took the wind out of my sails, and I hoofed it up the hill as there wasn't any way I'd be able to mount and get moving again where I was.  I saw B-Rat and Jeff pass me shortly after I got back on the bike.  Murray was lucky enough to recover from the crash (I think he went down too) and caught back up to me at the end of the first lap.  We caught back up after the finish and had a good laugh over the incident.

The next 4 laps were pretty much hell.  Nicely summed up in this photo by Heidi Swift.  My legs hurt, my lungs hurt, my knee was bleeding and starting to swell.  You know, all the types of things that make cross great. 

I coast across the finish line and hear Candi cheer me on from the OBRA table.  Its awesome to hear people do that even when you are far far out of the placing... especially when you are suffering.

A short stop at the medical tent to clean out the wound, a change of clothes, a waffle, and some coffee round out the morning.

The afternoon I get to spend as a raving lunatic screaming my lungs out for the rest of my friends.  What a way to spend a Sunday. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

File this under "W"


As in "WTF?"  Monday, Traci and I were at Freddy's to do some grocery shopping.  We went through the beer isle to see if they had any of the Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest Ale she's been wanting to try.   As we walked past the collection of beer's we normally wouldn't bother looking at,  Two types of crap in one can!Traci stopped in horror said something to the extent of "Dear Lord no...."

I'm sorry, but who in their right minds would mix beer and clam infused tomato juice.   I mean, for starters, who decided that clam infused tomato juice would be a great drink to bottle and sell in the first place?  I guess its possible that it tastes good, but there is also the possibility that NASCAR is fun to watch.  

Ironically enough while I was waiting to take a photo of the monstrosity a pair of guys, one of whom had a NASCAR jacket were perusing the beer section.  He walked away with the "Bud Light" version. It has salt AND lime flavor!

I'm fairly bias when it comes to this topic though.  I'm very allergic to shellfish, and I refuse to drink any beer that crappy.  I guess if I had to drink Budweizer though, I'd go for this one.  The anaphylactic shock my system would go into from the shellfish would put me out of my misery pretty quickly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reality on the grounds of Insanity, Pain in HD


I'll let you decide which one is more real!

Yesterday was Crusade #2 and a brand new course down in WIllsonville.  The event was held in a subdivision that is being built up on the grounds of the old state mental hospital.

The course seemed more like a short track mountain bike course than a cross course.  A single run up, a trio of barriers, but beyond that the course was 100% rideable once you got out of traffic.  Course was super technical as well.  I'm happy that it didn't rain as the dirt section would have been almost impossible to navigate if wet.

The course was brutal to tires.  I think I saw more people with flats in this race than I saw at Krugers, PotP, and Alpenrose combined. The one-two combination of bumpy terrain and very very hard surfaces complete with broken chunks of concrete and bits of metal everywhere (yes, there were pieces of flashing on the course during warm) beat the tar out of people and equipment alike.

The event was huge just like last week.  My field had 145 people who finished in it this week opposed to 121 last week.  Results for me were not as good this week, although I felt great the first lap and a half.  I need to not go out and do 50miles on my fixie the day before.

Mounts and dismounts felt good, so good I ripped my jeans during warmup.  Bike handling was a bit sketchy with all the loose gravel sections.  I don't like loose gravel.  Loose gravel and I have a bad history.    This race was a serious gut check for a lot of people it seemed.  Anyone who made it to the finish should be complemented on their insanity, and anyone who had to go to the medical tent to pick gravel out of their hip is a stronger person than I.

At the end of the day, a lot of us got a hard as hell workout and a few cuts and bruises to show for it.   Afterwards we ate some great food and drank a lot of beer. 

Domo!Speaking of beer, the homebrews were a big hit.  Sal said the Purple Haze was like "drinking cake".  Kenji was the recipient of the other bottle of Purple Haze and went giggling off into the women's field with his bottle spewing pink foam everywhere.  When next I saw him he was channeling his inner Mr. Roboto in a killer Super Relax kit.   Heidi went from the running machine to chilling in the tub after taking on pretty much an entire bottle of my Russian Imperial.

Before Beer After Beer






Last update on PotP until next year most likely. 

Burk Webb from Portland Velo came out to Pain on the Peak last month and filmed this masterpiece.  The video below just doesn't do justice to Burk's creation and filming ability.  I get goose bumps every time I watch this in HD.

Huge thanks to Burk for the surprise.  Beer for you!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Something's wrong. Something's amiss.


A silly line from one of my all time favorite movies.  Kudos to those of you who correctly identify it (shouldn't be too hard to find out if you are any good with a search engine.)  Anyway.. the tag line for this blog is "Bikes, Beer, Bedlam"...  I've been pretty heavy on the bikes and bedlam portion since my first post back in May, but really light on the beer (but not lite/light beer).  With the Cross season underway, its time to talk about what I feel is one of the four corners of Cross.  (The others being Mud, Cowbells, and Insanity.)  That's right... its time to talk beer!

This time of year is truly a boon for beer lovers in the PacNW.  Many of the local micro breweries in the area are putting out "Oktoberfest" or fall seasonal beers in addition to some extra special Fresh Hop beers that came out about 3 to 4 weeks ago.

For me, this is the time of year where my personal tastes shift away from lighter summer beers like IPA's and Hefs and more towards the monster dark beers that were released earlier in the year and have had the opportunity to bottle age for the past 4-6 months.  But that doesn't mean the only beers I'm drinking are porters and stouts!

The first homebrew I took possession of this year was a co-creation Purple Haze in the wort chiller.  Check out that color!between myself and my co-worker James.  This beer was based off of the McMenamin's "Ruby" recipe, however instead of the traditional raspberries, we went with Oregon Marion Berries!   We made a 5 gallon batch and used a whopping 10lbs of berries for the flavor.   My hands were stained for 2 days after making this beer!Purple Haze

The beer sat in the ferment for 2 weeks then went to the bottles on 8/11/08.  No pectin or additional sugars were added, and we didn't filter the beer.  The result was a very tart, hazy beer that tasted remarkably like Bridgeport Big Brew's "Stumptown Tart".   OG was 1.055 with a final of 1.020, giving us a ABV of 4.67%.  Definitely less potent than Stumptown Tart which weighed in at around 8.5%, but still nice to drink.  Very limited supplies will be found at the PV tent during the upcoming Cross races for sample for friends of the Aggregate Cyclist.  Membership has its privileges.

Unnamed RussianThe second homebrew I took possession of was actually the first beer I worked on this year.  I made reference to it back in June, although it was brewed on Memorial Day weekend.  This beer was a co-creation between myself a good friend of mine Todd.  Todd is the biggest reason I've gotten into some really good beers over the year and where my budding interest in homebrew comes from.  We made two 5 gallon batches in one day, both taking about 2.5 hours to complete.  Much beer was drank to create this beer.  Thus the circle of beer.  Here is the skinny on this fat beer.

Russian #1
Brewed: May 25 2008
Bottled: Oct 5th 2008
Original Gravity: 1.112
Final Gravity: 1.034
Grains: Roasted Barley Chocolate Malt, Carafa
Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer, Golding
Yeast: White Labs WPL001 - California Ale
ABV: 10.6%
IBU: 33
Cal per serving (22oz): 702

Russian #2
Brewed: May 25 2008
Bottled: Oct 5th 2008
Original Gravity: 1.116
Final Gravity: 1.036
Grains: Roasted Barley Chocolate Malt, Carafa
Hops: Chinook, Northern Brewer, Golding
Yeast: White Labs WPL001 - California Ale
ABV: 10.9%
IBU: 31
Cal per serving (22oz): 728

At 728 Calories per bottle, its the perfect recovery drink for that hard Cross effort!

I haven't had enough side by side to distinguish any difference between the two batches.  I assume that if there is, it will be fairly subtle and quickly crushed by the ABV.  What I did notice that its a very, very complex beer, with good grain, coffee and chocolate flavors.  But unlike many other stouts that I've had in the past, this one has a bit of bitterness to it from the hops still.  It should be interesting to see if this mellows out over the upcoming weeks.  This beer will make its debut this weekend at the PV tent and will be put up against old faithful, AKA Stone's Russian Imperial...

Stone's Russian ImperialAt the tail end of Cross season last year, I happened to find out that Heidipants over at The Everyday Athlete is totally in love with this stuff.  I gladly shared the last few bottles I thought I had with at the following races. 

Then this April, one glorious afternoon I turn the corner at New Seasons and see a freaking stack of cases on the corner.. and they were on sale.  I stole this from Heidi's blog.  I'm sure I can pay her off with some beer.I'm sure New Season's had a run on Russian Imperial over the next few days as Heidi and I probably purchased close to a dozen cases of this beer between the two of us.   At around 10.5% ABV for this year's batch, and a historically high acceptance among people I drink beer with, I have high hopes that my creation stacks up well with Stone's long running brew.

I have a few other special beer's I've been saving.. and I'll make sure to review them when they see the light of day.  In the meantime, I'll let you drool over this lineup...

Ultimate Cross Lineup

I have a lot of beer at my house.

In closing, a beer tip and two quick outs... Tip: if you get a chance to hit a McMenamins soon, their Seasonal Scarecrow ESB is pretty damn good.  Nice flavorful grain mixture with the aftertaste like eating a nice soft pretzel.  mmmm... liquid pretzel.

A huge huge thanks to both James and Todd for their guidance, enthusiasm and equipment space for the two homebrews, in addition to the awesome beers you have shared over the past 2 years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A kick in the cross


Unless you were locked away someplace, you probably know that Sunday was the first event of the Cross Crusade series taking place up at the Alpenrose Dairy here in Portland.  The turnout was nothing short of epic, with close to 1300 riders doing battle on course condition that changed a huge amount over 24hrs.  I've spent so much time reading the accounts of others that I neglected to post my own!

My weekend started Saturday morning with the maiden voyage of my new Redline 9-2-5 fixie winter bike.  There are a few things I need to tweak on it, like getting a shorter stem with a bit of a drop, and a smaller rear cog, but overall I'm pleased with the new investment.  It should provide good training and reduced wear and tear on my Felt.

After a quick bite to eat, Traci and I loaded up the car with the cross rigs and went to the Dairy to get our numbers and do some pre-course scouting.  We met a few of our teammates there, got our numbers and jumped on the bikes.  The first few laps were a bit chaotic as the course wasn't 100% setup, but after a short bit the course became more and more clear to us.  We did a bit more scouting and felt very comfortable with how things were going to play out the next morning.

We drive home, pack the Mini with most of what we'll need and layout the things that don't get packed for a quick departure the next morning.  I crawl into bed and fall asleep listening to the rain falling on our glass patio table-top outside.

The morning comes earlier than I'd like, and it takes me a while to get moving.  By the time I get food into me, Traci is already dressed and packing the day's needed snacks.  The weather report has completely changed over the last 12 hours and the partly sunny skies that were forecasted turn into periodic rain.  Perfect Cross weather.

Eventually I get geared up, we get the car packed quickly and leave for Alpenrose.  Our timing is divine as 10 PV folks arrive in the space of 5 minutes.  The second 20x10 is erected next to the first giving us the PV Palace.  Trainers drop down under the front tent on the course while chairs, coolers, and gear end up in the back.  Kender and Sal dub this the "Mullet Configuration". Business up front, party in the back.

Once we get settled, I gear up for one last course checkout, mainly to see the section on the north side of the velodrome.  I'm happy for the additional barrier placed before the run-up to the velodrome ring.  It will force everyone off their bike and I won't have to deal with people attempting to ride it in front of me and crashing.  After a quick stop at the Ironclad tent to say hello and get some air for rear tire I make my way back to the tent and start my warm-up.

About 15 minutes into my warm-up I see a familiar face up on the road.  My buddy from HS and college, Josh Hanselman from Team 343 spots me after I yell to him and come to find out we are both riding in the same division today.  Good times!

With about 20mins to go, I test the blood sugar (woo dialed in), eat a ShotBlok, and make my way up to the start gate with Josh, Jeff and B-Rat.  We run into Joel from Team O and the 5 of us park ourselves about 5 rows deep on the left edge of the start chute.  After announcements I take a last swing of water from Traci, hand her my coat and clip in.  

The whistle blows and almost immediately there is a wreck in the first row directly in front of me.  Two Yakima riders tangle up and one goes down, I navigate through the carnage and manage to see a broken steertube in the mix.  I feel for the guy.  After flatting during the 25mph "neutral roll out" in my first race of the season, and flatting during the hole shot of the first Krugers, I know how frustrating it is to pay $25 to race for under a minute.

My start is pretty decent considering the wreck.  I'm in the top 30 going into the first two corners, and have a great line entering the gravel.  I make up a huge chunk of ground on the first decent riding the right line instead of following the herd on the left side.  I see Jeff out in front about 30m from me.  My plan was to work for him as much as possible since he was in contention for an up-cat.  His hole shot put him in a great position so the amount of work I can do is limited right off the get go.  I stick on the tail end of the chasing pack for a good portion of the race, losing ground in the meadow out-and-back, but gaining it in all the technical sections.

I keep track of Jeff ahead of me and yell for him every time our paths cross on the switch backs, making the mental note that he's putting distance in me every lap.  The only person I let past me without a fight is Ron.

My sole wreck of the day comes on lap 4 in the hairpin before the velodrome run up and it was fairly unspectacular.  I entered the corner too early and fall on my left side, even thought I had my left foot out of the pedal. The impact knocked my left brake hood askew making rear breaking fairly difficult for the remainder of the race. 

My race becomes one of survival at this point.  There are some stronger riders behind me and I see Josh moving up in the pack, joyfully taunting me every time we switchback on each other.  He gets within 5m of me a few times on the last lap before he bites it going into a corner and looses ground.  My fight becomes solely to keep those behind me at bay as the traffic in front of me is out of reach. 

A guy in a full Nike kit on a mountain bike and I battle it out the last half lap with the two of us swapping position half a dozen times between the our teams tent and the finish.  I pass him before the rock barrier and dismount and hear him bunny-bash-hop over the rocks.  He passes me as I remount and I chase him into the winding turns before the run-up.  He's more controlled into the corners but I'm faster out of them.  The final pass happens on the run up when I channel my inner mountain goat and sprint past him on the inside.  I ride the corner entering the velodrome cautiously as the wood is slick with mud now.  I get some breathing room on the final set of barriers and ride hard through the finish.  The post race euphoria quickly sets in.

I make it back to the tent, get cleaned off and swap roles with Traci, playing domestique for teammates who earlier helped me out.  Traci puts her game face on, ear buds in, and gets lost in her pre-race thoughts.  The role reversal takes over the tent at one point.  The ladies lined up 5 across on the trainers in their kits, with the men hovering around grabbing water bottles and fixing numbers.

Nervous excitement fills me as I get to watch Traci race her first full blow Cross race.  She starts well and rides strong through the course, finishing mid field and scoring some beer in the process.  I'm hoarse by the time she's finished.  The remainder of the afternoon is a haze of packing, cleaning, and attempting to stay awake past 9pm.  I'm beat, and its just week #1...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My better half...


My wife amazes me.  She surprises me with her resiliency, creativity, and chew iron spit nails toughness while managing to be the most graceful and beautiful person I've ever met.  I've often joked that we were bound to be married after I bested her in unarmed combat.

She's a tough woman... I knew this going into our relationship back in high school.  She had the well earned reputation of beating up the boys who teased her because of her bad temper and red hair.  One of her favorite stories involved her drilling a guy in the solar plexus before an assembly leaving him wheezing quietly in a corner for the next hour.  My favorite memory involved her being on the receiving end of a cheap clothesline tackle in a boys v. girls football game resulting in her getting up with a split lip, spitting out a mouthful of blood, and saying "nice hit" while walking back to the huddle.  Of course, she laid the the guy out on the next play.

This year is her first year racing cross, a sport known for its ability to chew up the strongest of road riders and turn them into mid pack participants.  It takes strength, skill, the willingness to eat it and bike handling skills to avoid doing so in order to be successful and competitive. 

At the tail end of last season we purchased her CX bike, a sleek black Origin8 FoxTrot.  For 8 months it sat in the garage waiting patiently for the air to get crisp and the daylight hours to get shorter.  For the mud and rain and grime and cowbells.  August it finally got its call up.  Krugers and the Alpenrose CX clinics were the time for the two of them to bond with another hidden partner of the cross season... the ground. 

Nothing can really prep you for that first inevitable crash, or the myriad of scrapes, cuts, and colors that your body ends up displaying in the days after training or racing.  It's part of the package to go along with the cowbells, beer, and wool socks.  Try as you might, you inevitably lose some of that new to the sport eagerness and confidence after those nasty tumbles.

I know she's hurting and questioning her abilities, frustrated that it isn't coming naturally.  I remind her that there isn't anything natural about jumping off a bike, hopping over barriers and jumping back on.  I remind her we all crash.  I remind her we all hurt.  It's the competitor in her, and I'd rather her have those doubts and work to conquer them than be someone who has no desire to excel. 

My wife, as have almost all cross riders, has wrecked countless times in the past few weeks.  Sunday she took a tumble into a briar patch that had us picking stickers out of her kit for five minutes and admiring the goose egg that was forming on her hip.  Her comment?  "That's going to be a sweet bruise..."

How can you not love that?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pain on the Peak Wrap


Wow, it's over.   The biggest single point of focus of my life for the past 39 days is over and done with.  I'm still working on a few small odd's and ends, but for all intents and purposes I'm finding that I have a lot more free time in my day right now.

If 40 days ago you had told me "you will be organizing the first cross event of the season", I probably would have laughed at you.  Scratch that... I know I would have laughed at you.  But for some strange reason that is exactly what ended up happening after speaking with Roger over at Sunset Cycles after his criterium.

But mark my words, the event only happened due to a lot of folks, especially my teammates, stepping up and saying "what do you need me to do" then executing on it. 

To my Volunteers (and if I missed any of you, I'm sorry!):

Alex Gonzalez - I'm sorry you got stuck down in no-man's land most of the morning.  Thanks for being a trooper and helping set the tone for those coming into the venue.

Sasha “Give me something I can throw at my mom” Lacey – I’m glad you were able to make it out despite the family being in town!

Site admins Carlo Delumpa and Martin Obando - Thank you for dealing with my "I need it done NOW" attitude late at night.  I owe you big time.

Greg "Dr Tooth" Hartman - One of the first to jump onboard the sponsorship wagon.  Thank you so so much for your support and work with the neighbors of Whitmore.  You are the total team player!

Heidipants - You said it best.. I'm f'ing nuts.  I'll get you next time my pretty, and your little bike too! I’m so glad your schedule worked so you could attend the event and race!

Javad "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay" Simenson -  Course engineer extraordinaire! The sound of the chainsaw struck fear into the hearts and minds of the competitors, and a few OBRA staff. ;)

Matt “The Human Bean” James – You were with us in spirit. Thank you so much for your sponsorship.

B-Rat - Crashing doesn't hurt as much in CX!  You were there for all the work details, and on board from day one.  Thank you for taking the time to learn how to score at Krugers so we had more manpower at the start / finish.  Please let Sokhemry know the snacks she provided for us were TO DIE FOR. :)

Dave "I'm a ninja" Leahy - AMAZING photography down in the woods.  I seriously didn't know you were around until Ty told me.  Big thanks for offering your services!

Jason and Jody - Dawn to dusk you guys where on top of things!  Jody, thank you so much for working the reg both all day long.  Jason, you had the brutal job of being out at the corner in the afternoon after being out in the field all morning… ouch.  Thanks for being a trooper!

Jeff “Only You Can Prevent Venue Fires” Henderson - thank you for owning probably the most worrisome job we had listed and taking it to heart.  Fire was truly a huge danger up there and I'm glad we didn't any issues.

David Elder - I had no clue you were going to be here until you showed up.  Thank you for coming when Traci called.  Your sign run made a huge difference in the morning when we found people were heading the wrong way.

Todd “Stiffarm” Rosier – I appreciate all of your advice and feedback about the course in the days leading up to it.. even if you did shove me into the bushes (we have it on film!)

Sherry “I AM NOT A STALKER” Schwenderlauf - The ray of sunshine in the bowl of dust. My morning venue greeter with the cheerful attitude setting the tone for the day. Thank you so much for all of your help. Next year you race foo-sho!

Dan "Straight-Bar" Dittmer -  Dominating performance in the first cross race this year!  Big thanks for spelling the folks at the venue entrance in the afternoon and pitching in where ever we needed help!

Brion Barnett- I'm glad you were able to make it out!  Hope you didn't get too much sun over the course of the day as we had you out in the field. Turns out you were parked on top of a yellow jackets nest originally ;)

Chris "WTF did I get myself into" Johnston - How's that for an introduction as to how PV does things?  You haven't even worn the PV colors in anger yet, but jumped right in and helped out with learning how to score at Krugers, and ran with the clipboard most of the day at PotP.  Welcome to the team!

John "Mr. Diplomat" Ohnstad - Thank you so much for talking with the neighbors on the road and being great ambassador for PV and Cycling.   I could have used two of you!

Steve “Doombringer” Brown - I’m only going to call you that now because you are going to wreck the competition this year. As always, you bring the support in ways I couldn’t even consider asking for. Thank you for being such a supporter of Portland Velo.

Jeff “Please shoot me” Ballantine - We had you running everywhere over the course of the day, and you decided to race.  How's that for cross training? :p

Ron “Mr Coffee” Babcock – Ron, I bet the folks at Krugers were wishing you had raced on Saturday rather than busting Fire Duty all day. Thank you for working with Matt J to pick up the coffee in the morning. I seriously needed it!

Linda "Queen of the Clipboard" Jellison - My Slave Driver.. er I mean Volunteer Coordinator.  Another who has yet to turn the pedals in anger for PV, but willing to dedicate so much time and effort into the event making it the success that it was.  The press release got us a lot of hits and publicity, and was a brilliant idea.

Mike “Anyone have some sunscreen” Snelson - How long did you spend out in that parking field? Another person with fairly unglamorous jobs that did them without complaint. Thank you!

Russ Sperin – I’m surprised you came back for more after doing the pre-ride on Wednesday, but I’m so glad you did. Thank you for all your help with course setup and your willingness to come out whenever we had a work day.

Amit "The Zohan" Kobrowski - I hate you for talking to Roger about this.... okay I don't hate you.  I appreciate you coming to me through out the day asking "anything need done?"  I don't think there was a single time that I had nothing for you.

Sean Thielen – More people with boring jobs! I hope you didn’t regret making the decision to race last minute. Thank you for coming out!

Matt "Give me that, it belongs to OBRA" Couzens - My equipment monkey!  Very rarely does a first time race happen w/o something being lost.  Everything we signed out was brought back and checked in.  Thank you for your diligence and help with course setup / teardown.

Course Guru Greg Magnus.. I could *not* have done this without you.  Thank you for all your help on the Friday prior to the event.  Would have been a lonely and unproductive morning.  I hope you finally got Mason clean. ;)

Bob Bigwood – Quietly helping behind the scenes. Thanks again for the help with the PVC piping and an ear that I could vent to.

Paul “King of all things Registration” Formiller - You planned and smooth lined something that could have been a total clusterf*ck. Thank you for running the show with that and getting all of the registration type stuff owned and printed out.

Jeremy Schultz - I don't know how many times I came by saying "10 more minutes till we can get you a sub".  Thanks for holding down the registration / money duties for almost the entire day.

Mitch Lee -  Quick changes from Mr. "I feel bad I can't make it" to "Dude, I'm here for you what do you need?" to "I'm going to go pwn the Master B's field."  You seemed to be everywhere at once filling in where we needed people.  I'm starting to think the key to your success is that you are actually identical quadruplets.

Ty “DS” Lambert – Ty, you put this group of amazing, dynamic, and helpful people together, and let them become complete lunatics. Thank you for putting faith in me and the team to get this done, and running with your photography idea.

Mike “Breaker Breaker” Kender – Your humorous nature knows no bounds.  Don't.  Ever. Change. 

Doc Johnson - I'm sorry your race didn't go well.. You probably wore yourself out on Friday making that sweet course change.  "BIG JOHNSON'S BEND" will forever be part of PotP lore, as will the fact that your equipment and work tools are spread out over 10 PV members houses. :p

Marc Altman -  Out of the box thinking leads to an out of this world trophy.  Thank you for owning this and running with it!

Alex Kroman - Hopefully you weren't on the receiving end of the fury generated by my non-stop requests to Kristin.  I appreciate your willingness to help out with the web stuff when we were struggling to get traction on it!

Rob “Dude I’m Here” King – Like an ace closer from the bullpen, the fresh body near the end of day were super helpful to have.

Print and Graphic Mastah Sal Bondi – Layout and design of our publicity, investigating and scheduling printing, course design, course setup, course teardown, promotions, and raced… you had your fingers in everything. Thank you for your very valuable time!

Graphic Goddess and Webmistress Kristin Wille - You had sketches and strawmen and mockups done in a blink of an eye. Your logo design captured the heart and soul of the event and we received so many comments about how professional our web site looked.  You were the person who was the unfortunate recipient of the most "hey, I thought of one more thing" emails.  Holy crap I can't believe you are still talking to me.

Traci-  my partner in crime for life and queen of all things I wasn't working on. You made this race the success it was.

To all the racers, and spectators.  Thank you so much for coming and making the event a truly epic way to kick of the 2008 CX season.

Time for me to actually get on the bike and ride....

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labors of Love


September already... the time where the air has just a bit of a chill to it in the mornings and evenings and occasionally you catch that whiff of the Fall season on a light breeze.  September is a month of changes.  Back to school for some, baseball shifts to college football for others.  For cyclists we start making choices between the long fingered gloves, embrocation, and arm/knee warmers...   We debate if we are over or underdressed, to hit the road, or bust out the CX bike.

This Labor Day weekend, I actually rode 3 days in a row for the first time in almost a month.  I've been so stupidly busy with Pain on the Peak that most of the other things I love doing have fallen by the wayside.   At least according to my TrainingPeaks Performance Mgmt Chart I had a good taper!

Saturday was a club ride, and the first time I had been on my bike since the wreck the previous week.  The team decided to head a different direction from the club and make a final jaunt out to Timber for the season.  This is one of our favorite routes and always has a good deal of fireworks going off during the course of the ride.  I felt just okay, and did my best to hang with the team.  Unfortunately during the climb up Route 6 after Cedar Canyon, someone mentioned my rear tire looked a bit squishy.  Sure enough, I was starting to get a flat.  Ultra thin piece of wire had worked its way into the tire and had nicked the tube.  To add insult to injury, I tube I grabbed that morning to restock my saddle bag was of the short stem variety and couldn't made it through the rim.

Fortunately, one of the other guys who had dropped off the pace earlier rolled up and had a patch kit.  While I was able to get the tire inflated, I'm always hesitant about riding on a patched tube so I decided to turn back and try and meet up with Traci's group.  I lucked out once again and caught them at the start of Dairy Creek, and rolled back into town with them.

That afternoon we ran to Performance and bought a ton of tubes for both road and CX, along with some Hutchinson Bulldog CX tires that I've been lusting for and unable to find anywhere.  They had 6, and I ended up buying 4 of them.  I also replaced my saddle bag after getting made fun of for having duct tape holding together my old one.

Sunday, I went up to Leif Erikson with Ron to do a bit of a recovery / CX ride.  It was a good opportunity to break in  new tires, in addition to checking the seat position / fit of the new saddle I put on.  I also wanted some hours on the CX bike to build more confidence in how it handled after my wreck.  This was my first time on the trail and I can understand why its a big hit with CX riders. Ron took it easy on me and even made sure to flat at the very end of the ride when I stopped to say hi to a few Ironclad/PSU guys at the trailhead.  To make it that much more of an authentic CX ride, it rained on us.

This morning was my introduction to the Monday Morning Vertical Reality ride, which has been a PV staple ride for years.  The ride leaves out of the Grand Central baking in Multnomah Village at 9am and does about 35 miles with ~3500 feet of climbing in it.  I've always wanted to do this ride, but my schedule just never allows for it.  I was a bit concerned on how the legs would do on the third day of riding, but I felt surprisingly good and hung with the lead group for the duration of the ride, which had Springer and a couple of strong dudes from Tireless Velo in it.  Considering I'm not much of a climber, I'll take this as a moral victory.  Traci was also out on this morning with us and had a wonderful ride with Doug and Mitch Gold.  Big kudos to those two for hanging out with her and giving her a ton of encouragement as she comes back from the knee issues she dealt with this season.

>>--CX UPDATE-->

The CX chariot is doing well.  The new tires work like a champ and my set of KORE brakes should be arriving at Veloce this week.  I'll get those setup and my bar's re-wrapped and I should be good to go for the next Farm Crit at Krugers.  I'm debating switching over to an Ultegra setup rather than the SRAM Rival one I'm on, but I'm not sold either way yet. 

I swapped out the saddle I had for a Fizik Arion TT saddle I had laying around on a whim.  Sometimes whim's end up being strokes of genius!  The TT saddle has a lot more padding at the nose which made for a much more comfortable ride. 

Picked up a  pair of Ironclad's IMPACT gloves from Dave of Team Ironclad.  If you are looking for a new set of CX gloves, go get these now.  They eat up vibration like a fat kid eats cake.  BikeTiresDirect is running a special on them right now.  (Glad to see those guys up and running again after the fire.)

The CX body (me) is doing okay.  The road rash and bruises have mostly healed up and the stitches come out tomorrow, but I have some definite issues with the right shoulder.  I can't lift things with an overhand grip, which engages the muscles of front and top of the shoulder, very effectively.  After speaking with a few of the doctors in the club, I might have a minor shoulder separation or potentially damage to my rotator cuff.  Suck.  Since I have an appointment tomorrow to get the stitches removed, I'll see what they have to say.

The CX race, is progressing along well.   The team has been absolutely busting their asses on top of the work they already do for a living to get this done for the CX community.  Promotional material is going out to all the local shops and being posted where lots of cycling eyeballs will see it.  We've been beating down doors and picked up a few new prize sponsors which will be announced later this week, and will be adding a Women's Masters 40+ category into the mix as well.  We did our second venue walk through last week and started with the "macro adjustments" to the course.  This adjustments were made courtesy of a bulldozer.  Yes a bulldozer.  No I'm not lying, I have proof.  We took a number of video's of the venue so if you'd like to see what's in store for you, check em out!  There is also a really cheezy MS paint hacked venue map here.

Lastly, to cap off this labor day weekend, we'll talk about beer.  I have two homebrews in the works.  One is called "Purple Haze" which is a Marion Berry ale, not to be confused with McMenamins beer of the same name which uses boysenberry, or a raspberry wheat ale done by Abita.  It's been bottled and should be ready to drink by end of September.  (I should mention that McMenamins Purple Haze is available right now for a short period of time.)  My Russian Imperial was given two thumbs up by the guys over at Main Street Brewing and will be bottled soon.  Depending on the bottle tactic my friend Todd wants to use, it may be ready to go very soon or need some bottle aging time.  I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008



I raced a few cross events last season and had my share of spills.  I've managed to topple on my road bike a few times as well, almost always a slow speeds and in really embarrassing ways.  Like on the very first ride I did with clip pedals.  I started in too low of a gear, got no forward momentum going up hill while managing to hook the back of my chamois on the nose of my seat almost pulling my bike shorts off while falling over next to a school bus filled with kids coming home from school.

Yeah that was a good one.

Anyway, nothing really to write home about crash wise until this weekend.  A number of us PV folks decided to go out and race at Krugers to get prepped for cross season with a bit of Kermesse action.  The course was fast and hard.  Hard as in pee blood and liquefy your organs hard.  I managed to survive a bunch of warm up laps only to flat my rear tire during the hole shot.  Joy.  A "quick change" (fail) of rear tire only put me a good 2 minutes off the back of the pack and far out of contention, so I decided after some convincing from my teammates to get back out and do the work and get the practice in.

So for 4 laps I rode by myself, trying to remember the lines I took that were good and avoid the ones that made me question why got back on the bike after my mechanical.  I managed to catch a few folks after a bit and I felt like I was turning decent lap times.  I used the laps as more of a mental check list of things I needed to do to my Veloforma CX1 before the season kicked into high gear... shorter stem, re-wrap handle bars, tighten down left shifter assembly, lower seat.. *BAM* .. remove seat from colon... check out some new brakes..

I eventually was passed by the trio of leaders from the B's who started about a minute ahead of us, just before I finished lap 4.  I traveled through the S/F to begin lap 5 and lined myself up cut the apex of the first right turn.

Some accidents happen in slow motion, others happen so quick you don't know what hit you.  One moment you are riding along, and the next the bike is out from under you and you are trying to carve a trench in the ground with your chin. 

I laid face ground in the dirt and did a system reboot.  Legs.. check.. hands.. check.. teeth.. check.. didn't hear any cracks on impact.. face hurts a lot but I can move.  Off in the distance I hear "dude, you need to get out of the way, there are racers coming."  I'm dimly aware of the comment, and some part of my brain wants to tell him that the racers should be able to see a prone guy on the ground in pain and go around him, but I do my best to push myself up on my hands and knees.

Blood is running down on the rocks and dirt below me.  The guy who called out the warning is now off going to get the medic.  Another nice gal who saw me wipe out has come to the corner and picked up my bike.  She grimaces when she sees me.  I take off my helmet and my glasses, neither of which end up being damaged.  The nice gal and I walk back up course towards the medic who's on her way towards us.

I get to know Bonnie pretty well over the next few minutes, even if I forget her name the first time she tells me.  (I'm horrible with names to start with.)  She goes over the standard questions to check for concussions and I'm able to answer them all.  I see Traci heading towards me with a "what did you do to yourself" look on her face.  Bonnie informs me I'm going to need some stitchesyeah i'm really white... on my chin, and probably should get a tetanus shot as well.  The other PV boys come by and check in on me before they head over to the start of their race. They make fun of my face.  Bonnie finishes cleaning me up, puts some steri-strips on the wound, and finally wraps some cling bandage around my head to hold it in place. 

It's the next hot thing in headwear don't you think? 

The remainder of the day was spent waiting at the ER to get the stitches and tetanus shot rather than drinking beer with the team.  Oh well.  The team did very well taking home a trio of category wins.  Grats to Paul (Mstr C), Ron (Mstr A), and Kristin (Women's B).

Pain on the Peak is coming along well.  Everyone is pulling some serious hours to get this thing rolling for the OBRA CX community, so come out and enjoy what's going to be an amazing event.  Luciano Bailey will be the VOICE OF PAIN for the event. :)

Pre-registration is open for those who want to save a few bucks.  The updated web site will be online shortly once the code has been pushed.  We've also got a number of announcements coming over the next few days.   Starting off with a bang, KEEN Footware has ponied up a free pair of shoes for all category winners, plus five additional pairs to raffle off at the end of the day.  That's twenty pairs of shoes in all!  How cool is that?