Tuesday, July 31, 2007

La Push weekend

After RAMROD Lavinia and I took a 3 day weekend and headed to La Push, WA. La Push is located on Northern coast of Washington, east of Forks (which is on 101). I had been there as a boy and loved the beaches. My Panamanian wife had not met a WA Beach that she would even call a beach but she really like La Push. We had a cabin right on the beach and had a great weekend.

I posted some pictures in our Zenfolio account.
http://jemoran.zenfolio.com/p124865038/
You can see the view from our cabin and some pictures along the beach.

My Mom & Dad were there along with my Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Palmer from Salt Lake City. It was great seeing them and just having a chance to relax. I recommend La Push to anyone looking for a fun weekend get away. I can't wait to take Sheppito there.

American Sports living in glass houses

Nice commentary on the fact that cycling is at least trying to clean up their sport
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=hill/070731&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab2pos1

RAMROD 2007 – Jeff’s Trip Report

RAMROD 2007
Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day is what this stands for. It is the most epic one-day Washington state ride of all time. The Redmond Cycling Club has been putting this ride on for many years.

The Facts:
143 miles
11,000 feet of climbing
3 separate climbs
875+ riders
1 day

The Jeff Facts:
Very few base miles in 2007
2 rides of 100 miles in 2007
Riding with good friend Joan Studley
Previous RAMROD 2004 experience was good but very tiring, heat was an issue
Ride up Stevens Pass in May 2007 did not go well
Confidence level was in the worry zone
Ego still upset at lack of current uphill climbing speeds

How did the day start?
3:00am the alarm goes off and I groan and roll out of bed. Now I’m sure you are saying “Jeff, 3am? WTF?” and I would agree with your sentiment, but Joan and I decided that we would try to arrive in Enumclaw at 5am in order to start by 5:30am. The goal was to ride early so we could avoid as much of the heat of the day. I rode RAMROD in 2004 and left at 7:30am. I was sorry about that all day as I suffered immensely in the heat that day. For us the heat hit around 85 degrees. Joan and I drove to Enumclaw in the dark, parked, got ready and started riding at 5:30am.

It was a cool morning, around 60 degrees and a bit muggy when we started. We basically jumped out on Highway 410 and started our ride to Sunrise. The ride to Sunrise is 57 miles and takes us to 6400 feet of elevation. The entire 57 miles were pretty much up hill. We warmed up well and rode conservatively. It was funny to see packs of riders blow by us in various pacelines. Joan and I were just glad to ride our ride and not try to pace ourselves into the red zone.

The Climb to Sunrise
Some where around mile 40 or so we turned off Highway 410 and headed up to Sunrise. We climbed and climbed, staying together mostly even though Joan was a bit ahead of me. I like to say that Joan has 1 speed and it’s the same on the flat, uphill and downhill. We rode together, passing a few and getting passed by others. Around mile 48 we got to a rest stop. Thinking we only had about 1 mile to go to the top we passed it and kept going. I let Joan dance ahead thinking I’d see her in a minute. Well, 2 miles later and a steeper grade made me realize we calculated wrong. I pulled over to drink and eat something really quick and then headed back out feeling better having eaten a GU packet (a nice sugary gel pack). I had another 5 miles of up to. My pace was pretty slow and my Ego was being his usual drama queen self in being upset with me, but I gave him a rude gesture and told him to shut up. I pedaled on.

A lot goes through my head as I make a slow steady climb. Things like “did I put the garage down when I left?” “Should my knee hurt like that?” “Can my hamstring be played like a banjo when it is this tight?” “Where the heck is Joan?” “I know why the pro’s dope in races” “I sure wish my cliff bar was a shot of testosterone.” And so on. I always say that there is no hiding on the hillside. When you climb it is hard to get any help. It’s just you and some times it is truly revealing. For me, using my mental strength to get through the doubt is the best challenge.

I rode up and got to a scenic look out point and as I turned around Mt Rainier was right there. BAM! What a site to behold. It helped pick up the tempo and I cruised into Sunrise at a startling 6400 feet. Joan was there and we got some more water and ate. At this point we had ridden 55 miles and it took us 4:30 hours.

We headed out of Sunrise and back down to 410. It was 15 miles of downhill. I rode fairly slowly. I like to think I have good descending skills. The key is to ride controlled but relaxed. You don’t want to waste energy going downhill. Let gravity work for you. Well gravity is friends with my 185 pound frame, but just gets frustrated trying to push Joan downhill with her 105 pound frame. So I would zip ahead and the brake/slow to let her catch up. I wanted to keep her in sight in case of a flat. I’m notorious for leaving you behind when I’m in the lead. We cruised on down and back out to 410 and headed 10 miles to the next turn off for the next climb. We had a nice downhill ride to the road to Crystal Ski Lodge and were there before we knew it.

The Climb to Crystal Ski Lodge
This climb was about 10 miles long and we climbed up 1800 feet if I calculated it right. The first part was steep and the road was not as smooth as the Sunrise road. The road was a great forest road with the thick brush and trees lining the road as we pedaled along. Joan and I stopped once to eat and stretch. That much time climbing will tighten up your back a bit. My hammy was chattering at me a bit too. But soon we were off and climbing again. The scenery was fun and we were passing people at a steady rate. I would say “On your left…. Really slowly, but on your left” and we would pass with the authority of a turtle in the fast lane, but pass we would.

This was the one climb that we were pretty exposed to the sun the whole climb and I sure felt it. The heat is rough on me, being a NW bred boy. I don’t seem to be able to, how you say… ah yes “cool down” adequately. Now my pregnant Panamanian wife on the hottest day of the summer asked for a blanket while we were watching TV because she was cold, which I passed to her while sitting in my shorts in front of a fan drinking cold water and sweating in areas that I didn’t know possible. Least to say I was not keen on the hot sun, but our goal of leaving early worked out because this was the second climb and not the first one so I was feeling okay.

Through out training Joan pretty much led me uphill and I was happy to oblige. On this climb I led her up the whole way. Not sure if it meant I was feeling good or she was feeling poor or if she knew that my Ego needed a win and she let me lead. Probably the later I’m sure. We wheeled into the Ski Lodge area and took a rest. We had some yummy treats and set off again. The downhill we were cautious about because the road was pretty beat up. For some reason DOT thought it was necessary to stripe the road that day. So we had to pass on the left a couple of large DOT trucks while not colliding with riders coming up. We got back to 410 and headed to the next climb. At this point we had ridden about 90 miles and climbed close to 8500 feet from our calculations. Our time was looking good and the hope of finishing in 10:00 hours of ride time seemed doable. We were feeling encouraged and pretty fresh.

Now I’m asked if I ride with an iPod and I will say that I do not. I love my iPod but on the bike I need to be able to hear. Plus, as Joan will testify to I bring my own music with me and am often humming or singing a tune as we ride along, much to her displeasure I’m sure. I recall the following songs going through my mind and over my lips as we cruised along.
Get Up – Van Halen
Downslide – Green Pjamas
Patience – Guns & Roses
Super Unknown – Soundgarden

Wind: Friend or Foe?
Back on 410 my old nemesis “Mr. Wind” was in our face. Now Mr. Wind and I share a love hate relationship. When he’s at my back I love him like a high school sweetheart. When he’s in my face I hate him with a power that is great. He was in our face and even with the slightly downhill gradient it made pushing along 410 pretty hard. Joan sat in my draft, because out of the two of us I offer the most, let’s just acknowledge it and move on. We have 10 miles to the next turn off from 410 before another 10 mile climb which would get us close to the elusive 11,000 feet of climbing mark. The wind took a bit of our luster out and when we made our turn onto Fire Service Road 70 we stopped to eat a bit and then headed out. We were getting tired, but felt that if the climb was a nice steady one like the last one we’d be fine. Now I should point out that many riders just sailed by this climb and headed home.

The Last Climb 12%
Now when I’m riding and I don’t know what lies ahead on the road I’m left to guess. As we were riding this 10 mile climb the first 2 miles were pretty flat. It was another forested area that was pretty but offered no vista points at all to reward you for the effort. I’m thinking to myself… “8 miles to go, still need to start climbing, I think we are in for a surprise.” The road started up at 3 miles and was steep but manageable. Then we saw it. A sign on the road indicating 12% grades ahead. Now a 12% grade is just down right steep. The Tour de France will race up slopes like this and TV just doesn’t do it justice. On the climb I felt like I was going to fall over backwards. There are two ways I can take a climb like this, (1) out of the saddle or (2) staying seated. Out of the saddle my heart rate would have surely spiked and I was still trying to conserve my energy as we had 35 miles to go still. So I stayed seated and just knuckled down and let years of soccer and cycling thigh muscles get me over the hill. We crested the hill to be rewarded with a 12% grade downhill and another climb back up to the rest area, meaning we would climb out of this rest area back up 12% before heading down. A nice twist to the end of the day.

We took a short rest and I will say that we were both pretty whooped by the last climb. We headed out and climbed up the 12% again and then raced down to 410. The ride down the 12% was a bit too steep to be fun in my opinion because the road was pretty bad. I saw riders taking more risk then I felt comfortable. A true sign of how conservatively I was riding that day.

The last 23
After coming off the last hill we were once again on 410. We rode out at a good pace. The previous headwind seemed to die down a bit, but was still there. The gradient was also slightly downhill. We cruised along at a good pace with me leading and Joan behind. It felt good to lead because on my previous RAMROD ride (2004) I was the one on the back just suffering like a dog. I felt as if I was putting back into the 410 karma pool. We zipped along at a nice clip and rolled back into Enumclaw. At mile 140 of 143 I looked at Joan and admitted that I really had zero left in the tank and was glad we were almost done.

A few pictures of us on the ride were taken:
Jeff
http://www.photoreflect.com/scripts/prsm.dll?eventthumbs?event=07Q6008B01&start=352

Joan behind the mountain
http://www.photoreflect.com/scripts/prsm.dll?eventorder?photo=07Q6008B010311&start=0&album=0&adjust=-1


143 miles and 11,000 feet of climbing, what’s next?
I’m happy to say my cycling goal for the year is over. I’m now going to ramp it back down to bike commuting and the occasional weekend ride here and there. With Sheppito on his way I have plenty to keep me busy at home. Joan has a European bicycle adventure in September before she ramps down and gets ready for school starting (MBA) in January.

I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me to do well on the ride. I really appreciate it. Thanks to Lavinia for helping me find time to train for unflappable support. I really want to thank Joan for riding with me. Having a buddy along for the ride makes it that much more fun. It was great to train with her this year. I never doubted she get up and down the mountain and she did really well.

That’s all for now.

On your left,
Jeff

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

RAMROD 2007

Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day

That is the ride I'll be on tomorrow. I'm headed to bed soon because we start early. Of course I'll post on the day, but below is a course profile for what I'll face.



Joan will pick me up at (gulp!) 3:30am so we can head down to Rainier and be riding around 5:30am. The thought is to avoid the heat of the day, which I encountered last time I rode RAMROD, and if you recall affected me a lot back in May when I rode up Stevens Pass. So a nice cool morning. Still 3:30am is an ugly early time, I mean you can still taste the toothpaste from the night before.

I'm predicting it will take us 10 hours. If we are doing well, it will be less. Just depends on the average speed. I think the descents will see us being careful because of traffic and the change in the course, so we'll probably be lower on average speed. Regardless, it is going to be a beautiful ride.

I'm off to bed. I'll be thinking of all the clean riders in the Tour (what a mess that has become). Wish us luck.

On your left,

Jeff

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Et Tu Vino? Say it isn't so

I feel like my high school girlfriend just dumped me all over again

http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/details/articles/12910.0.html

Vinokourov tests positive and his entire team has withdrawn from the Tour. I’ve been rooting for this guy day in and day out. Damn it Vino! I can say this though, I put my faith in the Tour de France doping controls and told myself I would believe innocent until proven guilty. Although I’m let down my faith remains the same and the controls found some one cheating. I can move on. Damn it Vino, this just sucks. It’s like finding out that during Rudy’s tenure with Notre Dame he abused puppies.

I quote my good friend Lisa who said “sounds like someone needs to appoint Jack Bauer as the new Drug Czar of cycling.” If this were to happen there would definitely be some changes because Jack is the man. Jack would also race the each ride and probably win by sheer intimidation.

Addendum: This post is from Christian VandeVeld of the CSC team responding to Vino's doping charge. His read on the situation was soothing. I hope it helps.

http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/diaries/articles/12927.0.html

Tour rest day and a reflection

You know you get all addicted to getting up and watching the Tour de France and they have the balls to give them a rest day. I mean really... what is that about. Wimps. Sigh, so on a rest day you just have to reflect on what you've enjoyed so far.

Top things I have loved about the Tour de France so far:
  1. The lack of organization in the peloton. After years with Lance directing things it is chaos at times.
  2. That Columbians know how to climb, good for you Soler.
  3. The professionalism that Levi displays after each stage in his interviews and the way he shows it on the hills when he rides.
  4. The revelation that is Alberto Contador.
  5. Robbie McEwen's come from behind after a crash to take the win on Stage 2. Truly amazing.
  6. Vino's determination and guts as he rides with stiches in both knees and an elbow. If he doesn't inspire you, then you are simply a stone.
  7. VeloNews TV's Chris Horner Diaries. Truly a gift to the fans. I highly recommend them.
  8. How fans still come out to root on everyone that rides by.
  9. My time with Paul & Phil and how Sheppito probably now thinks that Daddy has a British accent.
  10. When a rider crosses the line with hands in the air and a look of thanks, relief, amazement and love for the sport.

Monday, July 23, 2007

RAMROD 2004 Remembered

This week with my buddy Joan I will be riding RAMROD. RAMROD = Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day. That equals 150+ miles and over 10k feet of climbing. I rode this ride in 2004 and I wanted to post my blog-like post from back then. It's a long post, but it is a good read. Enjoy.

*******************
Standard Disclaimer: This is not to be taken as a comprehensive report. This is just the view from one man's eyeballs. Any similarities to real people, places or events is purely coincidental ... and actually would be a little surprising. I will undoubtedly get events, names, numbers, teams, chronologies, places, distances, grades, standings, rankings, altitudes, speeds, injuries and ailments confused and mixed up. It's not impossible that I will mistake myself for someone else. I am often wrong. Do not sue me, you will be disappointed. Furthermore, there will likely be forehead-smacking spelling errors, egregious grammatical mistakes, baffling liberties taken with sentence structure and jaw-dropping punctuation mishaps. My commas will be where you'd least expect them. By reading this, you will lose more than you gain. However, if you are at work and are looking to kill time ... read on, friend....

RAMROD 2004 - The Facts:
July 29, 2004
153 mile bicycle ride around Mt. Rainier
10,000 feet of climbing involved
ouch

Where to start really? I guess I could set the table of this tale by telling you all that I have not been training for this event very well in the past month and a half. I have the usual list of excuses. If you'd like that list because of concern for me, or just want it on hand to re-use when you need, let me know and I'll send it off to you. I've been riding, but nothing more than 3.5 hours and nothing longer than 80 miles. So I was a bit nervous for the ride. I guess the tale really starts at 3am July 29th. That is when I dragged my sorry excuse for a hill climbing body out of bed, ate breakfast and headed out to meet the gang at the park n' ride at 4am. Yawn! I mean, you can still taste the toothpaste that early in the morning. I'm convinced that there are prisons that use this a form of punishment. Regardless, we were all there. A little tired but ready for the day. Fellow Aurora Cycling Club team mates Paul and Druska had organized everyone and the promise of a BBQ after was a highlight of the 4am conversations. We caravanned down to Enumclaw H.S., checked in and got ready to go. My coach, Bridget Dutra, was volunteering and gave last minute instructions and props to me.

I think we headed out around 7:30am (not to sure). The majority of the riders had already left, some as early as 5am. I strolled out a bit earlier than the rest of our gang because I knew that I needed to warm up slowly or I'd never make it. So off I went at a nice steady pace. Eventually the hydration efforts caught up to me and I stopped for a Bob Roll "nature break" and sure enough the group caught up to me just then. The gang was moving pretty quickly and David Malkin and I dropped back to help get Gary and Teresa back to the group. So along we went in a little pack. From Enumclaw it was about 32 miles to Eatonville and then at 58 miles we entered the park. Most of the riding had been fairly flat with some rollers. I'll admit to feeling a little tired at this point. Not yet worried, but tired. The thought of a 100 miles remaining was a thought that I shunned like my dogs do the idea of a bath. At the park entrance I ran into several other friends on the ride, fellow Bike Alliance board members Gary Strauss and David McLean. I was ahead of the Aurora gang, and I was really still trying to figure out how when I set off into the park. I was setting no personal records for speed here.

I've done some scenic riding, but I admit that the climb up to Paradise is one of the most beautiful that I've encountered. Being a NW native, that's right born and bred in Rainier's shadow, I have a sense of awe when it comes to this mountain. As I began climbing the grade was not too bad and my legs felt pretty good. My problem was that I had no idea how many miles it was to Paradise. As I check the trip sheet today I see it was 20 miles. I about 2/3's of the way up my body said "um... we done yet?" and it clicked into the last gear that I was reserving. As I struggled along I had some serious doubts in my head. "Would I be able to make?" "Would I walk after I get to the top?" "What is the Gross National Product of Panama?" "If you turn your lights on in your car and your driving the speed of light does anything happen?" All of these thoughts went through my brain as I tried to focus on anything but the pain in my legs. I think I actually heard a chipmunk laughing at all of us on the mountain. I'll admit that several riders passed me as many times as I passed others. The pain going up the hill was broken up by majestic views of Rainier.

I wondered if I was bonking at this point. I ate some more as I rode and kept hydrating, but I was a little nervous. I kept looking for the broom wagon to put me out of my misery, but it was the same misery I saw on everyone else's face as I meekly eeked out "on your left" and passed with the authority of a turtle. I felt like pulling over and throwing in the towel actually. The thing that kept me going, other than a rather irrational sense of pride in my hill climbing abilities, was the thought of spending the rest of the day in the van. I get terribly car sick and shuddered at the thought of it. As I rode I passed the dude who plays croquet around Mt. Rainier. I saw him running the same route we were on carrying a croquet mallet. Not sure if this is an Olympic sport, but this dude is a lock if it is. Things that make me laugh when I ride always help me out. Seeing this dude lifted me for a good 2 miles.

I got to the top of Paradise and was wondering where my ticker-tape parade and party festivities that my mind had promised my body had gone to. Alas, a lone water stop and no shade was all I was offered. But I didn't care, I got some water, ate some more, ate some more and then laid down on the hot pavement tempting my body to not rise again. Reluctantly I did. Just in time to see David Malkin crest the hill with a shit eating grin on his face. Mister self-proclaimed KOM himself. He had just beat Gary Mann up the hill by 22 seconds. The joy I felt was stifled by a desire to throttle him, but I smiled and high-fived and felt glad that some one had taught that hill a lesson.

I headed off from Paradise, waving a good-bye to my lady Rainier and a kind word of thanks to the spirit of the mountain for allowing me to pass mostly unharmed and with my pride intact. The next section was a little 7 mile downhill that made the Up worth it. I never pedalled once and hit 40 mph in a conservative descent. After that I rode along and encountered another little hill that saw us all string out along the road and question our common sense. The same chaps kept passing me, it was a bit defeating, but I told myself that if I rested as long as they did I would be feeling better. Yea that was the ticket. As I stopped for water at the top along came Pete (who was scamrodding with us that day) and he really got my confidence back up. He talked me through the rest of the course and I set out along side him down and out of the park. The descents on this ride are great. I really recommend them to anyone looking for a challenge and/or practice.

Soon as we left the park we turned left (at mile marker 99) and headed up Cayuss pass. I let Pete ride on ahead of me and just set at my own pace. I was riding about 8mph in my lowest gear at the bottom of the hill. Stopped for water once, going through 3 bottles in the 10 mile climb, and once again to reapply the sunscreen to the nose and cheeks and little rest. The switch backs are long. I would look up to see about 20-40 people in front of me just chugging up the hill. The whole way up I kept thinking to myself about Lance Armstrong. Watching the Tour had inspired me so much. I swear if I had seen him on the side of the road I would have kicked him in the nut for inspiring me to such lunacy. Somewhere deep inside I heard a voice screaming at me saying "dig, dig, dig!" and I did just that. I gritted my teeth and rode that last mile a little faster (hardly detectable though) and got to the top with a huge sense of accomplishment. Pete was there to greet me and right behind me rolled up Dave and Gary. Dave tried to deliver his best Virenque salute at the top. When Gary arrived he said in perfect Phil Ligget fashion "the rubber band has snapped." As we all collected ourselves, ate and hydrated I knew that we had another screaming down hill ahead.

Off we went, the worst of the worst behind us. While Dave climbed superbly today he descended, and I quote him, like a kite. My heavy frame didn't have much of a problem as I concentrated on keeping Gary and Pete in my sights. We stopped at the deli rest stop at the bottom for some more nourishment. After this we headed out for the last 30 miles. I guess it's common knowledge that a head wind would await us. So Gary organized us into a good little pace line and we back tempo work to get out of there. I will say that you will never see KOM Virenque working in the pace line for his Quick Step boys, but David did just that. I couldn't pull as long as the other three, but Gary just told me to do what I could and his encouragement kept my spirits up. As we cruised along I began to dread my times at the front, but wanted to do my share. We hurled past others on the road like they were standing still.

Now, at this point my body was asking for an audience with my brain. It went like this:
Body: Um.. brain.. why are you asking us to work so hard after a riding all that?
Brain: because it's more efficient you fool.
Body: I see.
Brain: anything else?
Body: Yes. We'd like to give you notice that we are now on strike.

And with that I pooped off the back of our pace line. I was definitely in "a spot of bother" and not looking forward to the remaining 15 miles to go on my own. But as I some how raised my head and saw Dave and Gary waving me up. Gary dropped back and caught me back up. I felt bad and said as much and Gary just laughed and said, "no worries, we needed to slow down." I think we all had a good laugh there and continued on for some time.

It was at this point that I wrote a song about Dave & Gary... it goes like this...
Dave and Gary are my good buddies
They climb hills real fast
They kept me from bonking
That's why I like them the best
Everyone now, you know the words!
(use your best Cartman voice for good effect)

Last was a little left hand turn and we cruised through part of the Mutual of Enumclaw course down hill and back to the high school. They ripped off my finish tag when we crossed the line. I'd love to tell you I did some kind of little sky salute, but I was just trying to hold myself on the bike. As I got back to the car my whole body hurt, even my bones. It was a weird sensation. They had showers available to us, after which I almost felt human again. The ride was great. I really pushed myself to a new level. I'm not anxious to do it again soon though, mind you. My father is arranging an intervention if I should continue with this kind of crazy talk in the future. (contact him if you'd like to get in on that action)

Back at the car the BBQ was starting up. Luca's pasta salad was a huge hit (so yummy) as was the fresh veggies and chips and BBQ chicken, with ribs and salmon to come. I need to thank Paul and Druska for organizing this.

I will say without hesitation that RAMROD was the toughest ride I've ever done. I suspect I would not say that if I had trained for it specifically. Still it was the longest I ever been in the saddle (10 hours), the longest mileage I've ever done (153) and the most climbing in one day (10,000 feet). Personally I think the rest stops could be better supplied, but all in all it was a well run event as well. Lastly, I would not have had as much fun (yes it was fun) on this ride without my fellow team mates there. In fact, I think I may have actually quit had I been by myself. It just strengthens what I already knew, that we have a team of great individuals.

Thanks for reading,
Jeff

p.s. One last thought that I had was "that someone ought to teach those ostriches a lesson" knowwhatimean Joey?

Still addicted to the Tour

I'm still watching the Tour every day. It has been very entertaining, with lots of drama on and off the road. Off the Road the yellow jersey holder Rassmussen is surround by allegations of doping and poor professionalism dealing with the anti-doping controls:
http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/news/articles/12851.0.html
http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/news/articles/12863.0.html

I've decided that I have to believe in the doping controls that the Tour de France uses. I have to believe that they can catch the cheaters. If not, then I'm just fooling myself. I can't blame a rider(s) of cheating just because I question their results. The controls have to work. I do question some still, but for the sport I have to have a little faith.

That said, the drama on the road is great. Vino won the time trial and finally gained some time back on this rivals only to suffer the next day uphill and lose 28 minutes. His tour is over, but hats off to him for winning today's stage and giving us all something to cheer about. Alberto Contador is the new darling of the race and if he won it would be good for the Tour.

I can't wait for the outcome of this race!

Called Out

Well, the gauntlet has been thrown hasn't it and I'll respond! Knowing Jeff it's a fingerless, palm padded, Pearl Izumi gauntlet, but a gauntlet nonetheless (that's a fun word, just say it over and over again, …. gauntlet, gauntlet … gauntlet!)

So to fill in for Jeff hmmmmm… Okay here goes…

Over in Europe guys in tight shorts fell down…. No that's not right. :) Let's try something different. (honestly, is there anything more fun (and easy) then making fun of Jeff?) :)

Well, I guess I should elude on what's happening over here. Things are pretty crazy. I'm prepping for a trip to Cali next week. At one point I'm going to be driving a pickup truck on this trip (no, not fuel cell powered). Never been a truck guy, so if you're going to be on I-5 between Oakland and Sacramento next week WATCH OUT!!!!!! I have to pick up a large piece of test equipment and move it over to where we can run some tests with it. Reminds me of the time I had to drive a Uhaul truck with a $60,000 dollar Porosimeter (device used to figure out porosity, go figure) from MT. View to Berkeley, CA. That was a hair raiser. Seriously, it was "one up, all up." When you hear 60K boucing up and down in the back of a POS Uhaul, that'll make ya sweat. Driving that Uhaul was the first time I put forth the philosophy of "nuts to it, everyone else on the road is just going to have to watch out for ME!."

Additionally, as Jeff mention we've been training for a marathon. There have been no official sign ups yet, but we did 12 miles this past Sunday in just shy of two hours. Not bad for asthma boy. I've actually been getting up at ungodly hours of the morning in order to run since it is so hot here in the afternoon/evening. We were forced to run at 7PM once last week and at the end of 3 miles I would have been drier if I had been swimming. It was so disgusting. I'm enjoying the training so far. I have rare instances where I can see myself actually doing the whole race. We'll see though. My hesitancy helps with my training.

So, in an effort to get a little more response on this blog, (and since I'll be running on my own next week with just my iPod like device and not my awesome and encouraging girlfriend who slows down for me) I pose the following question, what music do you have when you run/bike/yoga whatever? Responses are relegated to one song from Van Halen per singer.

Later,
Mark "picking up that gauntlet!" Moran

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yo Jeff, why you no post man?

Jeff working in San Jose, CA this week. No time for posting, barely time to read about Tour de France. Jeff want to be home with Lavinia and Sheppito. Jeff wish brother Mark would post during these times to give family good reading material. Jeff wonder what Mark doing these days. He hear Mark is running 10 miles and finds it funny. Jeff go back to work now.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sheppito kicked me

I felt Sheppito move for the first time this weekend. Lavinia and I were hanging out and I was “hugging” the belly and talking to him. I had my face resting on Lavi’s belly. I was just listening, trying to hear a heart beat which the books say is possible at 27 weeks. I was listening and listening and the guy wound up and kicked his daddy right in the face.

 

Now, I’m not going to take that as an omen for how Sheppito will misbehave and defy me, but it made us both laugh, which caused him to kick some more, all of which I felt.

 

 

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ouch!

Today's stage 5 of the TdF had lots of drama and a lot of pain. I'm not talking the spot of bother kind of pain you see riders in when they go up hill, but the "I fell down and hurt myself" kinda pain. Andreas Kloden fell and hurt his tailbone, hopefully it is just a bruise. Alexander Vinokourov (Vino) fell and really messed himself up. He was paced back by his entire team, minus the hurting Kloden, and eventually dropped his entire team to only lose 40 or so seconds. It was pretty amazing to see him racing along, ripped shorts showing a deep wine colored bruise, a bloody arm and elbow and the determination of a champion.


It was too bad it happened right as the Peloton was really going fast and gaining time on the break away. Had that not happened I think they would have respected Vino and slowed down. I doubt he sees it as a snub. He's a pro and that is just the way it is some times.

A fun stage. I once fell on a training ride and separated my shoulder. It was near downtown Seattle on the Myrtle Edwards trail along the waterfront. It was wet out and I hit a slick spot and went down. I got up and reset myself and was like, huh... I'm okay. Then I reached for my bike and the pain of my shoulder slapped me. I had to walk out the bike and after doing so for a minute I got on the bike and soft pedalled out. After that point I soft pedalled home. Probably not the smartest, but I can now say I do have a little experience in getting back on the bike and riding. Granted my only challenge was the traffic on 15th NW and the hill up 8th Ave, so I wasn't racing at break kneck speeds.

Hats off to Vino today. I hope those that fell are still in and can continue the race. I'm having a lot of fun watching.
Cheers
Jeff

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Win like a Champion

My daily obsession with the Tour de France continues. Stage 3 yesterday was 4 hours of snoozing and ended with 20 minutes of edge of your seat action... well at least to me. The riders were tired from the previous 3 days, the head winds were punishing all day and many riders were sore from the crash the day before. One rider we were worried about was the Yellow Jersey holder Fabian Cancellera.
A few riders snuck away into the wind and stayed out all day. They held off the Peloton all the way to the end. The Peloton timed their catch too late. The teams of the Sprinters wanted to set up their guys for a classic flat stage sprint finish. Well everyone missed timed it. Everyone except the Yellow Jersey holder.

Cancellera launched himself at about 600m to go and went sailing by the lead 4 escapees and just took the win ahead of the late changering Peloton led by the sprinting teams. The Yellow Jersey defended the jersey well and rode like a champion. Never did CSC plan this scenario, but what a finish. Bravo Cancellera.

Today's stage, Stage 4 has another escape right now and Juan Antonio Flecha is in the group. I'm rooting for him because he has a wicked celebration (Flecha = Arrow).


Cheers
Jeff

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dave Z's interviews

When watching Dave Zabriske’s interviews I feel like I’m watching an old 1980’s MTV interview with the members of “Frankie Goes to Hollywood.” I like watching Dave race, but he’s got such a smug smart ass attitude you can’t tell how genuine he is. Then again, if I’m about to race I probably don’t want to bother with interviews either. Oh who am I fooling, I would love it. (grin).

 

http://www.velonews.com/vntv/?Art_ID=1106

 

Monday, July 9, 2007

Thoughts While in Seattle

Hey all,

Thought I'd post a quick little something. As Jeff mentioned (if you were able to stay awake through any of the cycle ranting) I was home last week for a very nice visit. Ah a week of bliss. The weather was phenomenal. It was great to see Ann and Tom. I had a very good time. I had a few thoughts on my trip. Some more simple ("I have to use the restroom") to the more complex ("should I use an Arrhenius fit for the reaction mechanism of methane?") A few more examples :

-Staying at Jeff and Lavi's is great. There's complimentary Spidey comics!
-Mmmmmmmmmm Mom's homemade chocolate cake
-This town is missing something… a certain Siobhan-like quality
-Hey, Midwesteners also laugh when Seattleites complain about 78 degree weather.
-Larry makes a mean soy-dog. Whoa that's spicy mustard!
-Dear Lord this seminar paper is boring! (yes, I did work on it a little while there, what?!?!)
-Ann sure is hitting me a lot less…. time for another short joke.
-Optimus on the big screen. I'm so excited!
-Neil does have light furniture.
-Alaskan Amber, it truly is ambrosia
-At least Cathy will come East to visit, what's the problem with the rest of 'em?
-Busting up sod is tough. I'm glad I stayed in school.
-Huh, Mom doesn't look that old
-Deron's married, wow, he's like a grown up now.
-I miss my family and friends a lot.

Thanks to everyone for everything through out my visit. I hope to see you all again in September.

Back to work. Gotta go reestablish that I'm actually necessary after being gone for a week :)

Later,

Mark "body in the East, heart in the West" Moran

Happy Birthday Mom

This past Saturday was Mom's birthday. Lavinia and I had the family over to the house to celebrate. In her usual ways Lavinia whipped up a great meal for everyone cooking up steak, chicken and stuffed portabella mushroom for Mark.

Mom received some wonderful gifts, but the best I like to think was having the whole family in town to celebrate. With Mark living away we don't get that opportunity on birthday's too often.

I'll post some pictures later for everyone to see. Mark's visit was great and I was glad he stayed at our house while Ann & Tom were at Mom & Dad's. We had some good time together. I sure do miss my brother and I really appreciate the effort he makes to come and visit all the time. I think being away he now understands Lavinia's home sickness and need to be home.

Lavinia and I have enjoyed all the family in town, but we are looking forward to a little break now before her mother arrives. We have 2 weeks and we plan to keep them to ourselves.

Cheers
Jeff

Stage 1 - Amazing Finish

Stage 1 of the Tour was amazing. Lavinia and I were watching together and we saw Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) from Australia won the stage after crashing 13 miles from the finish and hurting his hand and knee. His teammates raced him back to the main field and American Freddy Rodriguez, Robbie's faithful teammate, guided him to the front. Near the front Robbie popped out of the back and beat all the other sprinters handedly.

Lavinia and I were rooting for our favorites and the top contenders, Robbie is always my favorite sprinter. I saw him pop up in the front field and couldn't believe it. As he came through I knew he was going to win. Amazing finish and a great way to start the Tour. Robbie is now in the Green jersey (sprinters jersey) and I hope he holds it again in Paris.
http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/details/articles/12617.0.html

The Cyclsm has begun, the proluge

The Tour de France started on Saturday and I'm delighted. The start this year was in London and it was wonderful. The weather and the London crowds showed that the Tour can rise above the dark side of doping and drugs that have mired it in negativity recently.

Fabian Cancellera won the prologue which was a 7.9km time trial around London. As the riders raced along the historic London roads with some of the most famous back drops London has to offer in places like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, they must have thought they were already in Paris. London is one of the only cities that could even rival Paris as being such a immensely impressive setting for a bike race. Cancellera is the world time trial champion and he showed why in impressive form. American George Hincappie was a respectable 3rd place and the top GC contenders had respectable showings.

Lavinia and I woke early on Saturday to watch the coverage. She enjoys the races and much as I do and I think she has a not so secret crush on Cancellera. She has ever since he won the prologue in 2005. We were both rooting for George Hincappie of the Discovery Channel team, but we enjoyed watching solid efforts from all our favorites. Watching a time trial specialists is very interesting. The good ones are so disciplined in their form, approach and mental strength in the race it is down right impressive and marveling to watch. Think about stretching and tucking yourself into a nice perfect yoga position. Then think about holding that pose for 9 minutes. Then think about holding that pose for 9 minutes and going at 80-90% of your max heart rate anerobically. That gets you close to what a time trialist goes through. They are tucked into a very aerodynamic position and the best ones have the best position.

I really look forward to the Tour every year. I watch the other races through out the year and read velonews.com daily for news and results, but watching the Tour is the highlight. I know my friends think I'm nuts and that watching cycling is dull to them, but unless you cycle or do a sport that is similar in effort it is hard to understand what is so enticing. Understanding what it takes reach these limits, to ride a machine in that way, or to train so hard for such an event helps make watching the coverage more enjoyable. I let my friends have their digs because I think I can understand their amusement (for heaven's sake some of them watch golf, what is that about?), but I'll be in front of the TV every morning watching the Tour for the next 3 weeks.

Finally, listening to the coverage on Vs. from Paul Schwren and Phil Ligget is like having your two favorite relatives visit and tell you stories that keep you on the edege of your seat.

I won a race on my bike once and just having that moment in my life helps me celebrate with each and every winner who comes across the line.

Here's to a great Tour.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Post 4th of July post

The family gathered at Larry & Cathy's house for the 4th of July. Seattle gave us oddly wonderful weather this year. I usually say that summer in Seattle starts on July 5th because up to the 4th it is gray and cloudy, but this year was the best weather I can recall in many years. (side note: Seattlites get very excited about good weather when it hits so please try to understand what a big deal this is. We've all had too many birthdays, holidays, recess breaks and such ruined by bad weather).

Sr. Ann and Uncle Tom were still in town, along with some time guest blogger Mark Moran. Cathy & Larry invited some close friends and we all enjoyed a great BBQ (Dolan has mad skills with the grill) and some wicked croquet games.

Mark said he misses the family gatherings a lot. I understand what he means. Even though I'm here in Seattle I do not take it for granted. I value the time with family. Being with Lavinia and seeing the highs and lows of livng so far from your Mom & Dad and home country I know that I'm a lucky individual indeed. It is something I hope that Sheppito will pick up on. With a Mommy like Lavinia I'm sure he will.

Family & Friends enrich our lives. On the 4th of July I'm happy to live in a country that allows me the freedom to be with them both in health and harmony.

Happy (belated) Holiday,
Jeff

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cough Cough Hack Hack

Jeff dislikes being sick. Jeff does not like being sick on nice sunny days in Seattle either. Jeff likes to ride bike and Jeff can't ride bike when sick. Jeff no ride bike make Jeff mad and cranky. Jeff hoping that being mad, sick and cranky not make him turn all green and muscled, cause then Jeff would smash