Subaru and NZ

Lots of stuff came together in a hurry in the last two days:

We have been saving and waiting for a higher milage AWD to come out an finally decided to go ahead and get a 2010 Subaru Outback. It is a 4cylinder CVT model that should get 30ish miles to gallon at this altitude. Woooo. We are selling elena's jetta wagon and considering what to do with the golf, but we are considering going down to one car. Maybe. We shall see.

Secondly, through some miracle I was actually able to use my frequent flier miles to get us to New Zealand in October. Somehow I managed to accumulate an ungodly shitpile of British Airways miles thanks to a number of trips on BA and AA over the last decade and some credit card miles, I have tried to use them repeatedly but never was able to. I am still in shock they became useful. So SS worlds here we come. I actually got up at 4 this morning to register, but it looks like registration is still open. So Aida, Elena and I will be bound for Aukland in 11 months or so. We should get there a couple of days before the race and then have 10 days to mess around NZ. Woooooooooooooo! So now I need to figure out what to do with the family in NZ an how to get around and where to rent a baby trailer and a bike for elena, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. But we gots time to figure it! WOooooooooooooooooo!


Twin double-triple plate crown

Slow week this week, so I will fill with some links from the internet. Tune in next week for a review of a bike product, and the yearly mileage summary and wrap up and maybe a mini-training race report if I am not too lazy!
So here goes.
From the mostly Not Safe for work flickrstream of Coop:

(click image for safe for work source)

That appears to be an early pierce-arrow motorized cycle. With a spectacular springer fork. I love the weird stages between bicycles and early motorcycles. This is essentially a beefy schwinn whizzer with a much more dangerous looking motor placement. I took the liberty of blowing up the crowns:



Woke up

Got out of bed
Shoveled a couple of inches off the driveway while the coffee brewed.
Had some breakfast.
Hopped on the bike.
The last day

Rode in to work slowly.
Got covered in snow.
And with this
And completed 100% bike commuting days on the year.
I think the last time I drove to the office was april 2008.


Cross season Summary

First part of the season. Drinking beer from a cross crusade pint glass (thanks my portland pal andrew):
Extent of cyclocross season

middle part:
Not racing cross

End part:
Aida and I watching all the cross videos posted on mud and cowbells:
Watching the tiny cyclocross racers

Aida really enjoyed this one:

So that is year two since 1996 that I skipped cross season. I shall return.


Vegas trip - Red Rock Loop - sort of

I have been doing a righteously crappy job in race and travel reporting this year. Maybe I will catch up a bit over Christmas break, or maybe I will just sleep in, but here is what I did the week after Thanksgiving. Business trip to Vegas. Here is the good part:

Ok, I hate Vegas. I have fond memories from the years 1998-2000 or so attending interbike and staying at a hotel on the strip, but boy is it kind of nasty when there is no interbike to distract me. I apologize to everyone who I have scoffed at when they complain about Vegas and interbike being in Vegas. It does suck. My bad. You were right. I think interbike anywhere for me would be fine, but I now agree that interbike anywhere but vegas is finer. Although, I might enjoy interbike in Vegas more than interbike in Anaheim (without a car). But I was not there for interbike, I was there for a work meeting, so Vegas, you suck.

My hotel was just one megablock from the strip, across the street from a golf course. I packed my bike friday and my running shoes with the plan to do some after meeting riding at night and also a big ride planned the day after the meeting, and perhaps some running on the golf course at night. Turns out the golf course was surrounded by, no joke, something like 20 foot fences. Probably to keep dinosaurs out. They successfully eliminated any chance of me running though. So the running shoes stayed packed.

It took about 20 minutes to walk the megablock from my hotel to the strip. It was not a pleasant walk. The good news is that there was a cool monorail going to the strip from just outside my hotel. The bad news is that the monorail costs 5 dollars PER RIDE. While probably more pleasant than walking in vegas, this fails the public transportation model. You can get from Fremont to San Francisco for 5 bucks on BART, no way less than a mile of walking is worth a 5 dollar trip. Unless it comes with a 42 ounce steak. I did go to the strip one night and got stuck in the worlds biggest most empty mall. Glargh. But anyway, lets talk about what i did do and what was fun.

As part of the meeting, I did get to ride in a very cool and very expensive restored landcruiser on a tour of yucca mountain. This was fun, but it takes forever to get there. Which is good. because that is probably where you want to store waste. Forever away.

Me and the really fun vehicle:
FJ40 Icon thingy. In the wilds of NV

Me and the yucca mountain:

The next day I tried to get up really early and ride from my hotel to the Red Rock Canyon loop and back before my 12:45 flight back home. I splurged on a 6 am room service breakfast so I would be well fueled and ready to go by 6:30 at the absolute latest. I got up got ready to go, ate my expensive egg and coffee breakfast, checked the temperature outside and it was 28 degrees at 6:30 with a low sun. Crap. I am used to cold, but I was not packing my subfreezing kit with me, so I waited about twenty minutes. The sun was still barely up, but it was a balmy 30, so I hopped on the fixie friday and went on my merry way. I was staying near the convention center and to get to the main east west bike route (Alta) I pretty much needed to head the wrong way for a bit and then loop north around the strip through downtown and back west on Alta.

Fortunately I had had some email correspondence with Bob from Hawaii from the bike friday list and he gave me some heads up on the route and a link to his map-my-ride map of his route when he rode the loop a few weeks before I did. I also had the chance to stop by a bike shop an pick up a las vegas cycling map and plot out my route. Unfortunately the map considered this a bike route:
That is South Maryland Parkway, three lanes each way with no apparent shoulder due to the fact that they pretty much oil sealed every road in Vegas recently and there were no visible traffic lines anywhere. But hey, look at the photo bigger, see there on the right? Hawaiian food at the Walgreens! Bob would have been pleased. Probably...

Not a great route, but not a big deal at 7 AM. What was kind of a pain were all the traffic lights that take minutes to get through. It took a long time to get to downtown and across the highway and headed west. Alta pretty much starts on the west side of Highway 15 and has a bike lane all the way out to Red Rock Canyon. Just as Alta starts you pass by YAEGB (yet another excellent Gehry building), the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health:
Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

Alta pretty much climbs steadily from downtown out to Red Rock Canyon, it was a slow cold grind on the way out there. It took about an hour for my fingers to warm up as the climbing kicked up a bit. There were at least 4 sections of road construction that required taking a lane amid Los Angeles quality SUV assholes. There were also a fair number of construction signs planted in the middle of the bike lane. Sometimes they were facing the other way. I assume your experiences may vary greatly, but I did not particularly enjoy the ride out on Alta. It is something like 11 miles of stop and go traffic with lots of construction. Feh. Probably would have been fine sans construction, but it was there. After an hour and a half of riding I finally felt like I was on the outskirts of the city:
Outside of vegas

But there are no outskirts in Vegas really, just varying densities of sprawl. If the economy ever kicks up again, I am pretty sure it will be sprawl right up to the Red Rock Canyon loop. There were lots of subdivisions sketched out in the desert awaiting houses. Anyhow, I think it took about 2 hours for me to get to the visitors center from my hotel via this route. Probably 22 miles or so. Once I got across 15 i was riding pretty hard to try to get to the loop and through it so I could get back to the hotel, pack the bike, shower and get to the airport. Alas. Reality kicked in. I had no time to do the route.

So enjoy pictures of me getting to the Red Rock sign:

Near Red Rocks:

Look mini-joshua trees, lower reaches of higher altitude mojave desert is soooo cute:

I stopped at the really nice new visitor center, got a post card, ate a bar, refilled my bottles and headed for home. My camera ran out of batteries so no pics of the visitors center, but it was nice. It took 1 hour and 15 minuted to get back to the hotel. All told it was 3 and a half hours elapsed time. It would have probably have been comfortable if I had 5 or 5.5 hours to spare for the round trip, but it was too darn cold and it took too long to get out there. Red Rock Canyon, you and I have unfinished business. In retrospect, if I had a rental car, it would have been wiser to drive out there, do the loop and bike some of the scenic highways outside of town, like this one heading away from town from the Canyon loop:
and then just pack up and drive to the airport and go home. Or just take a later flight. Or something. If you are planning to do this loop and you have a choice, I recommend staying at a hotel at the north end of the strip on the west side, or downtown, that will save you some very gratuitous lights and city riding. It was about 44 miles round trip as i did it. That was one of my longest rides of the year, so I am pretty happy I did what I did. I enjoyed it. I hope you learned something. I bet no one is still reading. Here are the rest of the photos from my trip.


Pool is now open

First there was some of this:
First real snow ride of the year

And then a lot of this:
Snow Day

And then not so successful,

But now we are back at this

I like to ski.

This is the best early season XC skiing we have had in my time here in los alamos. As always check out more Los Alamos nordic ski action at the southwest nordic ski club blog


Cat 3

Thanks to Jeff Potter over at OYB, check out some nice scans of CAT3 the one and probably only road cycling based comic. I think I have issue 2 tucked in a drawer somewhere in my parents house in NJ:
Check it here

Jeff runs a nice publishing business with a lot of great DIY cycling and paddling and outdoorsman titles, I used to subscribe to his zine, out your backdoor, back in my formative cycling years. Good stuff. check out http://outyourbackdoor.com if you have not already. Gets the old school moscaline seal of approval.


Saturday Burrito Run

Took the Hunter 24" out for the "long way" to burritos through the canyon and the Bridges trail.

Burrito Run via the Canyon
It was snowing off and on, but the trails were dry enough that I washed out the front wheel enough times to scare myself a bit. I fell a few times, but am no worse for the wear. Most of the crashes came on the way home, fortunately no burritos were harmed. My right crank arm is falling off though. Dammit. It is a splined Truvative one that I bought used and cheap from the out of business LBS, I wish I knew the splines were munged before I bought the new BB to go with it. Anyone got any good recommendations for good cheap singlespeed/BMX cranks that would look good with this bike? I have a few big bike projects in the works and would prefer to save money for those.

I did see this awesome riser bar modification on a Huffy Commuter

The Huffy Scorcher (commuter)

It appears they come with racks and fenders and costs 159 at Target/Amazon. Not an endorsement mind you, but it is about time there were somewhat logical bikes at Box stores. No unnecessary suspension! I am cautiously optimistic that this is a good thing. Lots of people could use a commuter bike like this. It fills the niche for the people who walk in to a bike shop and walk right out when they see that the cheapest bike is 350-450 dollars. Anyone twirled one around the parking lot? Is it as solid as it looks? Or is it typical department store crap? I suspect the later, but again, a great leap forward in dept store bikes!

Finally I sat down to enjoy the burrito with an espresso. When the chili looks like it is glowing, you know it is good.
Saturday Early Late Mid Morning Burrito


More rusted apocalypse teeth

Pavement groover teeth I think:
4 rusted teeth!
three found last week on the truck route, and one near the back gate. so weird. I was completely flummoxed when I found the first one. delighted when I found the second and figured out what they were, but now I am confused that they are calling out to me. What do they want?


Sunday Hauling Profile Again

On the way out, boxes for recycling
Todays load part one

And riding
To the recycling center

On the way back the new barrow
Todays load part two

And riding
To home

Riding the barrow

4 miles round trip. Who is a good bike? Yes you are big dummy. Oh such a good bike. Yes you are. So good.
previously on Sunday Hauling Profile


Saturday Video Fun

Everyone and their uncle has linked to one of these videos or another, but has anyone linked to them both in the same post? At moscaline we go the extra step for blog gold.

Dock Ellis and the no-hitter on acid:

I have no problem with McGuire and Bonds in the hall of fame, despite their drug use, but maybe the veterans committee can elect Dock Ellis so there is there is no question that drugs have been a part of MLB for a long time.

Anyhow, in a completely unrelated note, can I wear tight jeans while racing?

Actually if those guys race a single race this year, they will race more cross than me thus far this year. This may be the second year in the last 14 where I skip cross season, we shall see...

Finally, everyone in the world has seen the Danny MacAskill video right? Here is him selling out to the man. Good for him:

I hope he sleeps in piles of money.


I did it..

for science
For the science



Wink256 and the Une Van Suid-Afrika

Be still!

Wink256 takes a short break from tormenting me.


Rolling and rolling

Some ditchside rolling in the livermore valley.


More training



Happy Halloween

Elena's doing.

See reverse


Curbfinding mixtes

On the way to work, late on monday morning, made even later by the appearance of a pretty sweet 5 speed Gitane mixte. Surprisingly light, true twin laterals, white pedals and grips on a baby blue frame. Should polish up OK if I can get the shifty bits working ok.
Curb find Gitane

Had to take it home, adding 20 minutes or so to my already tardy commute, a good morning to be riding the BD. The week before, I had the good luck to score a curbfind red metal tricycle for Aida. Looks to be working fine but for one missing pedal. An easy fix with some wood. It is Curbside pickup week (month as they have not come yet) where all of los alamos cleans their garages and the city eventually picks up the stuff at the curb. I also scored some tomato cages. I resisted various nordic tracks and a few odd garden carts that looked to have somewhat interesting wheels. I am trying to focus my hoarding to bikes only. So far, pretty good.

You may have noticed Snow. That was the second snow ride of the winter on monday. We had the first freeze in town in Los Alamos on 9/23 this year with a pretty good snow up on top of the ski hill, but none in town, but then a nice warm october until last week there was this mess:
Winter bike back in service
and this week, well, this
Snowy commute 2

I actually broke out the studded tired twenty last week. This week was a couple inches of rollable soft snow, compared to the icy snowy mess last week. Here is to a good winter.


Public service announcement

I invented orangina at the pizza collective

Not my brother

Thank you.


Two years


Happy anniversary!



Another dead pro cyclist and football/ mountaineering = dumber than I thought

I thought about what, if anything, I wanted to say about Frank Vandenbroucke, but don't need to now, via the end of this boulder report postI found this article: this excellent article by Lionel Birnie. Go read it. Mostly what I wanted to say was this part:

While not for a moment suggesting that Tom Boonen is on the same path as Vandenbroucke, it is impossible to avoid the early-warning signs. Like Pantani, Vandenbroucke's descent seemed steady and unstoppable. Once on the downward spiral the brief rallies were only temporary.

It is pretty clear that VDB was on a path that was difficult to get off, ditto pantani. I think I had my say about boonen here. There is a riders union, there is a pretty strong governing organization in the UCI, get with it before it is too late, when your star riders are dying alone in hotel rooms, you have a problem that is bigger than Operation puerto and Astana's trash, especially if this continues.

In somewhat related news. There is a typical Malcom Gladwell article in last weeks new yorker on football and dogfighting. No, it does not talk about how pro football players engage in dogfighting, but in a typical Gladwellian overreach he says football and dogfighting are pretty much the same. Why? Because football players, especially ones that get hit hard often and get concussions, get permanent brain damage at extremely young ages and this leads to very early onset dementia. And dogfighting is a similarly cruel sport where the "athletes" die or kill on the game floor. See? Exactly the same. I think this would have been an excellent article without conflating dogfighting with football. He rightly takes the NFL and football in general to task for the whole "warrior/playin hurt" mentality. There are some disturbing stories of severe brain damage in teenagers and college football players as well as some impressively dismal instrumented helmet experiments showing magnitudes of head deceleration. The article is typical Gladwell in excellent research and writing, but I think he is stretching further and further with his conclusions of late. I pretty much hate football, don't watch it, don't even pay attention anymore, but if you like it go read the article, the medical evidence is pretty damning without the dogfighting equation. So there you go football fans, your sport is really frying the brains of your heroes.

Switching sports again, there was a remarkably similar article (minus the dogfighting BS) in Outside this month on brain damage in climbers, mountain climbers that is. Bottom line is that high altitude sickness seems to be a symptom of permanent brain damage, well maybe not quite a symptom, but perhaps they often occur at the same time. The article claims that seasoned pros climb slow and are well trained to avoid this. But people who blitz 14'ers in two days when they live at sea level, well, maybe they are doing some serious damage. Kind of a bummer. How bad is this brain damage? I have no idea, this article, unlike the football one, has no stories of 45 year old climbers dying from early onset dementia caused problems. But since I know lots of people who do this kind of thing (or similar like race Leadville with no high altitude training/acclimatization), uh, slow down guys, if it hurts your brain, it ain't good. There are some interviews with guides who seems to have pretty much fried their cognitive skills doing lots of fast high altitude ascents in short periods of times. I am a bit skeptical of Outsides claim that climber hero Conrad Anker does not have this problem because he is really careful and well trained. I would have liked to see some of the big name climbers get MRI's to show that they are so well trained that they have no brain damage, but my guess is that these guys were once dumb amateurs who fried their brains as well, before they knew better. Anyhow, the most striking point is that they had evidence of people who climbed too fast and had done some damage at a "mere" 14,000 feet. The author, in true outside magazine style, attempted to cause visible (to MRI) brain damage by summiting Mt. Rainier too fast (with his son no less) but alas, he was turned back by weather before making the costly point.

So there you go, cycling has problems, but really they pale in comparison to what is going on in football, that's what I am trying to say, they still have not even begun to look at the steroids/hgh problem in football. Remember if skinny cyclists and relatively tiny baseball players are pickling themselves in drugs to stay competitive, what makes you think your football player don't do the same. To tie it all together, I will say that the climbing and brain damage is a bit of a related downer, but I think it really applies more to weekend warriors blitzing climbs with no altitude prep, and idiots who climb Everest and the like sans supplemental oxygen, but they are dumb to begin with. In conclusion, if it hurts real bad, it probably is not good for you. So stop it. Unless it is fun. Then think about it for a bit...

Postcript: my secret theory is that racing hard in endurance sports kills brain cells too. No way that going that far into oxygen debt is good for you. I think it is probably the best/healthiest way to kill your brain cells though. Stupid football


Sunday Hauling Profile

100+lbs of bullshit and coffeegrounds:
100 lbs of bullshit and some coffee grounds

Pumpkins and pumpkins and both pumpkinandbaby:
Pumpkins bound for home

Elena takes a pull on the BD

Her Pumpkin

New Cat beds:
Loaded with Cat Beds