Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seattle Weather Complain-O-Meter

The weather in Seattle is not like weather in the rest of the country. It is true that it does not rain here every day. A rumor that we keep alive to keep you all from moving to the west side of the state and driving up our home prices and clogging our streets (because we are equally incapable of creating a public transit and bicycle infrastructure but that is another post). It is very gray most of the year, which drives our depression induced drug dependency up for sure. Over all though our weather can be summed up with one word, "Mild." It's never too cold, too wet, too hot, too gray or too of anything. And that is where the problem is.

When weather goes beyond the "mild" category Seattlites complain... a lot.

This winter it was freaking cold for months and I thought my fellow Seattle residents were going to drink a big vat of frozen slushy kool-aid and slip off to the big sleep it was so oppressive. Then the rain came back and the gray came. We were happy again (except for this with seasonal depression of course, but at least they were not cold). Then we had a remarkable stretch of weather without rain. A rare occurrence in Seattle. We found a way to complain about that too. "My grass is dying," "My plants are dry" "Air quality sucks" "My allergies are being exacerbated," etc, etc.

All this leads to this week. Seattle is experiencing hot weather. We are in the 90's. Everyone is hot, hot, hot. Our houses won't cool down, parts of our bodies that shouldn't sweat are sweating. I've watered myself more than the lawn recently and I am just spanky clean as I take 3 showers a day. Jack's room was like 90 degrees last night when he went to bed and it only cooled to 77 degrees, but was back to 80 before we left the house.

The reason that Seattle does not do well with extreme weather, especially heat, is that the city is not set up for it. Very few homes in Seattle have AC, or pools, or shade for that matter. The electric company must be freaking out right now as each house is running 3-5 fans to stay cool 24/7. This is Lavi's complaint. Sure it is hot in Panama, but they have AC and you won't catch a Panamanian moving fast in the heat in order to stay cool.

All this ranting (yes I'm one of those Seattlites that doesn't enjoy extreme temperature or weather) leads to explaining the Seattle Complain-O-Meter.

When ever some one from Seattle complains about the weather, if you live outside of the western part of the state you can add/subtract about 10 degrees from what was stated to fully understand how we feel. Another test that people outside Seattle can use is to know that Seattlites are only happy when weather is between 65-75 degrees. Above below we'll find a way to complain and let you know.

Example, if I were to tell my cousin Katie "It is so hot in Seattle I'm dying. It's like 92 degrees here!" She would then add 10 degrees to know that 92 degrees to me is like 102 degrees to her. Then she could say "that is hot Jeff. I hope you find a way to stay cool" while thinking (Wimp, I go to Cornhusker games when it is 110 in the Stadium and yell at the top of my lungs for 4 hours).

So I guess all I can say is that it is hot. I'm sticky. I'm tired. I want a strong rain cloud to come sit on my city for a few days then go back to being 75.

Stay cool,
Jeff

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Team Radio Shack

If you were betting on who would sponsor Lance Armstrong's cycling team next year, I'll counter wager that no one suspected Radio Shack as the title sponsor. ESPN scooped my favorite site velonews.com on this one, and like a proud cycling geek I actually noticed that (sad really).

Team RadioShack - Be interesting to see what the jerseys look like.

A bit of back story is that Vino (caught using blood doping and EPO at the Tour in 2007) is coming back to Team Astana so any team member that does not own a postal address in Kazakstan is most likely leaving. Team Manager Johan Bruynel and Armstrong are for sure with Team RadioShack. I hope to hear signings of Levi and Horner along with some other great work horses.

Now I admit that I go to Radio Shack when I need that hard to find battery or transistor, or when I want bad customer service for something that should be easy to find. I think of them as a sponsor much like I do when I hear about the 80's 7-11 team. Seems like a silly sponsor. But all that changes now that they are backing Lance. I'll do all my shopping there as the Lance-Legions are opt to do.

I think there could have been other sponsors in the wings wanting to throw their support behind the out of retirement, showing that age doesn't matter, cycling master. There were rumors of Trek or Nike-Livestrong alliances, but I think Lance is right to keep Livestrong as a foundation where money goes to cancer research.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

He's on my mind

With work being busy, Jack needing attention and love, the Tour de France being on it is still July 22nd and the anniversary of Tim's passing and, thus, he'll be on my mind today.

I'm not going to post much about it. Every year this day sneaks up on me even though I see it coming (how's that for strange). Dealing with the passing of a friend or family is never easy and I'm still wondering when the day will become easier.

I miss Tim every day. I'll simply say that I love him and miss him.

Peace,
Jeff

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jens Voight

I have a few cycling heroes. Lance obviously we all know and love. George Hincapie shares much respect and I've already posted about my man-crush on Chris Horner. I have other favorites that I've rooted for over the years Fabian Cancellera, Thor Hushovd, Eric Zabel, Christian Vandevelde to name a few.

But among them all one individual separates himself from the others, Jens Voight. He is one of the best cycling advocates out there. Also addressing safety issues in the press. But more importantly he lets his legs do the talking in the races. He is one of those riders that is strong for the team and can win in a break away. Seems every grand tour features a text book Jens Voight break away win. Love that.

In this year's Tour he had a very bad spill yesterday. Video links are below. They made me wince so let that be your warning. The good news is that he only suffered a broken cheekbone and a bruised (very) chest and a lot of facial road rash.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY6ljmQfvjI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd5k8TaAJk8

This just proves how tough Jens is. Just like Chuck Norris, here are some little known Jen’s facts.
  • Jens rides a bike with two wheels at the Tour de France only because his unicycle has been banned.
  • When Jens is on a break away, the podium girls swoon because to podium kiss Jens is magical.
  • Carbon Fiber is manufacturer from the strength purities gained from Jens Voights sweat.
  • When Jens bridges the gap he actually builds a bridge for the peloton to ride on.
  • When Jens crashed in stage 16 he made the mountain cry.
  • When Jens has the leaders in his sight the peloton has to increase speed.
  • Jens quads are considered a national treasure in Germany.
  • Jens made Vin Dissel cry by flexing his left calf.
  • Jens did not lose consciousness, God just had some questions to ask.
  • When Jens is in the breakaway, the referee car can draft behind him, which makes the tour "green."
  • Jens rides a bit heavier to be fair to skinny climbing freaks as mandated by the UCI
  • Jens' cheek bone only broke because they had just re-paved the road with adamantium
  • When Jens “stomps on the pedals” Chuck Norris’ fists fly out of them.
  • When Jens is not predicted to win a stage where a break away would succeed, he pities the fool.
  • Jens once split an atom while riding in the big ring. The atom's parts were found in Luxemburg and were called Schlecks by those that discovered them.
  • Jens' older brother is Old Man Devillier
  • Lance has one testicle. It’s on loan from Jens.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Please hear my cycling confessional

Cylcing Fathers

It has been many moons since my last cycling confession. In that time I have always attempted to follow the examples that you all have set. Be nice to others when passing, encourage your fellow cyclist, enable others to join in my passion, spread the word of cycling to the world outside of France, let my legs do the talking and never suck wheel.

Today I had a moment of weakness and for that I seek forgiveness. I am not proud as I type these words in confession. Today I yelled at another cyclist.

The worst form of fighting to me is fighting within one's family. Today I did just that and I'm not proud.

As most sinners I will tell a tale that seems to justify my sin, but I'm here seeking forgiveness from the masters of cycling karma because I know that I have wronged your tradition.

My tale is of my bike ride to work. I'm on a trail used by cyclists and pedestrians and it flows past my office. As we approached the trail was busy. Walkers, cyclists and a dude taking pictures of himself and his bike. I slowed as I approached a rider that I needed to pass. Not wanting to pass until it was safe. When it was clear I said "on your...." and I was cut off by a rider behind me coming too fast saying "left". He passed me as I was passing the other cyclist and with a pedestrian approaching us on the other side. It was unsafe. And it freaking angered me like when Father Hinault was punched during a Tour stage. And like him, I'm sorry to say I attacked.

It was here that I had my moment of weakness. Perhaps it was because of how unsafe he was and I felt the role of teacher when I yelled "Dude! Unsafe. I was passing!" "You don't pass two riders at the same time from the back!" Perhaps I was responding to the fact that the jerk was riding a touring bike with clip on aero bars, a t-shirt and a backpack and trying to get in the drops on an urban trail when I said "way to be a safety advocate!" or maybe it was because he just blew us off as his heart race pegged trying to ride away from me as I continued to call him "jacka**!" in Spanish. Maybe it was the fact that I encounter fellow s0-be-called cyclists like him every time I ride. The ones that pass unsafely, that disregard road rules, that think just because they bought aero bars for their 26 pound bike that it makes them like Cancellara, or that watching the Tour means they have to ride like it. Perhaps I was remembering that when I shook my head, pulled off to work and called him one last name as he waved me off.

My adrenaline was surging for all the wrong reasons and I knew I was wrong. I was wrong to take the bait. I should have slowed and checked the guy we passed to make sure I had not wronged him, that the innocents (so called by me) were safe. I should have taken the high road.

I should have looked at my Livestrong band and thought What Would Lance Do. But had I done that I would have ridden him down, stared him in the face and then attacked to the point to make him cry over German strudel and beer. Probably no better than what I did already.

I am truly sorry for my behavior and I ask the cycling world all over to forgive. For penance I will faithfully watch the Tour de France, I will do hill repeats on my touring bike, speed work outs pulling Jack and I'll wear jeans once when I ride. I hope that my sin may be forgiven.

Your faithful cycling servant
and on your left,

Jeff

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jack's Spanish

People ask of Jack is speaking Spanish. My response is that he is
barely speaking let alone a particular language.

He does have two words he says often:
Leche - milk
Aquí - here

He also responds to a lot more in Spanish. An example is, "te gusta?"
which means do you like.

It is very cute to see when he is using English vs Spanish.

Funny Bike Read

My co-worker Dave knows me so well. He forwarded me this funny read that I just had to post about. It is a "A few things from a bike shop" that every cyclist should chuckle at.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jack and the train station

Every day on the way to and from Jack's daycare classroom we have to
pass the "train table.". We never seem to make it by the table without
a 5 minute play time. If the staff find thus table suddenly out of
reach of the children on a 5 foot high table you might know who did it
(grin).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bicycle Camping

This week Adobe had a shutdown. Lavinia and I were "forced" to take a week of vacation. Among problems in this economy ours is definitely a good one to have. So with the week off and Lavi's Mom in town I was able to sneak out for two days. I planned a bicycle camping trip to Whidbey Island. The idea was simple, load up the bicycle with what I needed, leave the house and ride to the campground, then back the next day. Just enjoy the easy pace and have some fun.

In preparation for the ride I did a good amount of research. I quickly realized that some past camping purchases were perfect for what I needed, but others would not be ideal. Kent Peterson is some one I know. He is a bit of a NW Cycling Idol. His blog is very
well read and he post some very useful information. His post on cycling camping gave me some great insight into what I could use.

Going into the gear planning part of the ride I wanted to ride as lightly as possible. My new Salsa Casserroll alreayd weighs in at 24 pounds. I wanted to keep the load light. I knew that my 4 pound tent was not ideal. I ended up going with a bivy sack from REI and a new therma-rest pad because they were highly functional and light. I rode with two panniers and a compression sack on my rack. In one pannier I had my house, sleeping bag, bivy sack, therma-rest pad, cycling coat (in case of rain too, but dual use to keep warm at night and lay over bivy sack in case of a heavy dew or light rain), plus some cycling tights (again to sleep in or ride with if needed). The other pannnier was misc really. I carried in it toiletries, food both on and off the bike, first aid, tools, tubes, patch kit, and a camera. I also threw in a small bag that carried my wallet and
phone. The compression sack carried my clothes, light weight pants, wool socks, cycling clothes for day two, warm light weight shirt, etc. All in all, the 3 bags together weighed in at 23 pounds. Not bad. I re-packed like 10x times and each time I tried to take something out or re-pack it in a smaller container to save weight and space.

Here's the bike fully loaded:

My friends Joey, Aron and Chad joined me for the ride. We were aiming to ride to Whidbey Island and had two choices as a destination, South Whidbey State Park or Fort Ebey State Park. Fort Ebey was about 25 more miles beyond South Whidbey. We left from my house at 8am on Monday and headed for the ferry. The only agreed upon bummer of the ride was that we had to ride 23 miles to the ferry terminal, so about half of our day was "in the city" and it would have been nice to do more miles on the island.

We had a good ride to the ferry and caught hte 11am. It was only a 20 minute crossing. We decided to have lunch in Langley and then get back on route. We had lunch at Cafe Langley, it was quite yummy. A quick stop at the store and we were riding again.

Whidbey Island is a hilly ride. Lots of steep uphills and downhills, so it was slow going with the weight of the bikes. Still, couldn't ask for better weather. The ride was fun, lots of great scenery and the locals were really nice as we rode along.

We ended up staying at South Whidbey Island State Park for the night. We rolled in there at 3pm and decided it was enough for the day. Thinking of the return ride and wanting to have something in the tank. I rolled out the bivy sack and pad, got it all set up. Then it was time to get cleaned up and get some food. We boiled some water, snacked on some goodies and had a few beers we picked up at the store (Note to self, tequila in a flask would be lighter to travel with). We wound up just chatting the night away. As we all climbed into our sleeping bags we just fell silent and then just fell asleep.






I played with the title of this post a lot. Kent Peterson had a post on bicycle camping that I found very good and he called it "A little closer to fine." I thought that was good, but not being a huge Indigo Girls fan I passed. I thought about calling the post "Closer to Kent" but felt the play on words would be too much and I didn't want to make the guy blush. In the end I stuck with simple and descriptive, but some other names came up during the trip.

- The windy roads of Whidbey
- The adventures of Poleicus
- Bike Camping, the new frontier

Anyway, to sum up it all up I have to say I had a great time. I look forward to a chance to get out on the road again and ride at the speed of "whenever" very soon.

On your left (whenever),
Jeff