Posted by: mercieb | May 30, 2009

Interesting Encounters with Cars

Four way stop. A convertible Porche with the top down driven by a guy on the phone. We came to the stop at the same moment. He looked the opposite direction of me and proceeded to roll the stop. In fact, I don’t think he even touched his brakes.

As I passed behind him, I said, “Nice stop.” He flipped me off.

Now, normally I wouldn’t have done anything because I’m not the confrontational type but the flippancy with which he threw his middle finger into the air made my hackles stand up. I made a U-turn and got back to the intersection just in time to see where he turned. I rolled up on him just as he was getting out of the car.

Me – “Hey man, flipping people off is not very nice.”
Dude – “What you said wasn’t very nice, either.”
Me – “All I said was, ‘nice stop’ after you rolled it. How does that warrant the finger?”
Dude – “Bicycles roll stops all the time.”
Me – “Well, I don’t and flipping me off was pretty out of line regardless.”
Dude –  Walking into his house, “Whatever. Have a nice a day.”

This conversation happened while he was still on the phone and I can only imagine what the person on the other end of the line thought. I felt like I was in 4th grade. “You suck.” “No, you suck.” “No, YOU suck.” etc, etc.

Pretty lame.

Posted by: mercieb | May 28, 2009

24 Hours of Fun, Fun, Fun

This last weekend was the 24 Hours Round the Clock in Spokane, WA. For those not familiar, this is a 24 hour mountain bike race. uBRDO Team Project (uTP) supported 3 teams and it was a production of epic proportions. We left Kirkland with 4 pop-up tents, 4 coolers, 4-6ft tables, 9 bikes, a giant box of bike parts, and the rest of the van was filled with the miscellany we would need for 2 days of MTB racing. 

Things were a little crazy trying to get out of town but we eventually made our destination at 5:30 am Friday morning after driving all night and getting an hour of sleep in the van in a rest stop. Not an ideal way to start the weekend.

Setting up camp was a blur in our delirium and trying beat the heat didn’t help matters. It was about 30 degrees hotter in Spokane than we are used to on the west side of the Cascades. We did manage to put together an impressive camp for the team that was dubbed “The Condo.” Friday was pretty low key with everybody making their way in throughout the day. We got everybody signed in, got our race volunteers squared away, started drinking and then went as a group to pre-ride the course.

Chaos ensued as our very buzzed riders were having a grand time checking out the course but ended up totally freaking out the other riders not on our team. Which seemed funny because I would have figured everybody had at least a few beers in them by that point. Apparently, not so… and too bad for them. It was fun.

We ended up getting pretty good sleep that night and all woke up ready to go Saturday morning. After a huge breakfast at a nearby European pancake house (the potato pancakes were to die for) the first riders got kitted up and made ready to race. I was a big ball of nervous jitters (no, not too much coffee). I was to do the starting lap, which included a La Mans style start. We had to rack our bikes, head to the start line and wait for the gun to go off. Then it was a 600m run up a hill, back down to our bikes and then ride back up the hill. The run was only 3 1/2 minutes or so, but I have never been so happy to get on my bike. Running in bike shoes and helmet is pretty lame. I’m told this is the traditional way to start a 24 hour race…

Being on a 5 person ladies team was fantastic. We had about 4 hours between laps and we did great. “C” was pulling down our fastest laps, “A” was hauling ass after not even touching her bike since CX season, “CH” was consistently solid, and “L” was a breath of fresh air. She came ready to race and she certainly did that with her consistent performance throughout the race.

The best part was the team dynamic. No bickering, no weird ‘girl’ stuff, and no drama. Just great attitudes, a willingness to keep at it, and a desire to have fun and race hard. I came back from my night lap at about 2 am and slept from about 230-5 am. I woke up wondering if we were still racing and sure enough the girls had kept at it during the middle of the night. As I prepared for my 7 am lap, I wondered how my legs would feel after so little sleep and being stuck in the heat the day before. As it turned out they felt pretty darn good and I put in 1:16 lap. Not my fastest but certainly not the slowest either.

I had given “C” the option of waiting for me to do another lap so she could get some more rest. When I came in she had a huge smile on her face, said she felt great and was ready to go. I handed her the timing chip and away she went. About the time I was starting to get ready to do another lap (an hour or so later) we got a call from “C”. She had crashed and the medics were advising her to abandon the race. She had punctured her knee cap and couldn’t move her leg for a few moments. She told Scotty she thought she might be able to continue on. We made the decision for her and I grabbed my bike and headed out to restart the lap. At this point we were solidly in second place and had been since the very first lap the day before. But with me restarting the lap we were getting bumped down to 3rd.

I spent that whole lap calculating how many laps the 3rd place team had done (assuming they hadn’t dropped out) and when I would need to come back through the timing tent to be able to do an extra lap to beat them. We had to start the last lap before noon and I was mentally preparing for my 6th lap. To my surprise, “A” was waiting for me at the timing tent ready to take the timing chip and rally the course one last time. She came back 1:17 later with a smile on her face.

We had done it. We had successfully completed our first ever 24 hour race, we stepped up when things went awry and overcame what would have been a looming 3rd place finish. 18 laps for a total of 270 miles got us 2nd place.

Now it’s not all about winning. Heck, we didn’t win. But we did great even though none of us had any idea what we were doing. All of uTP was pretty wiped after the race. The boys ended the race in 8th place after 2 really hard crashes in the first rotation of laps. The 2 man team was DFL and gave up about 6 hours into the race. They slept a solid 8 hours that night. Hilarious.

It sure was a lot of fun and I’m thinking about making a solo run at it the next time around. Sounds crazy but I think I could do it. The course was long enough that even after 5 laps I didn’t have it totally figured out.

Posted by: mercieb | May 6, 2009

New Gadgets

Just discovered something called the “FURminator.” Ridiculous name, amazing product. No, it’s not a new thing for the likes of Scotty… It’s a brush for the dog and in about 10 minutes I combed enough hair out of her to make a new dog. Neat. Now I all I need is something called the “MUDliminator.”

C’mon Google.

Posted by: mercieb | May 4, 2009

Just Ride

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what has become my life adventure in cycling. I’ve come along from the days when I didn’t own a car, was really poor, and what I considered fun on a day off as a trip over the Golden Gate bridge to Mt. Tam on my 1992 fully rigid M300 Cannondale. Man, those were the days. I used to just take off. Sandwiches and water loaded into the pack, my walk-man with a fresh set of batteries, and a sense of adventure. I would be gone all day, sometimes not making it home until after dark.

These days when I look back on all the riding we have done over the years, I think it would be neat to go back and ride all those places again. Would it be hard? Would Moro Canyon be as technical and scary as I remember it? Perhaps not. Now that we have been in the same place for an extended period of time, I have lots of opportunity reflect on trails that used to be difficult and made me nervous once upon a time.

Take Tiger for example. The first time I rode the Preston RR Trail, I had to hike my bike through a mile of major blow down. Picture taking your bike and flinging it as high and as far as you can over the downed trees. Then imagine crawling through the innards of the trees to go retrieve your bike. Do that about 100 times. Then when you finally reach the other side of the blow-down, you are met with the wettest trail you have ever seen. A literal river using the trail to get down the hill. It was an adventure I’m not likely to ever forget, but that trail gets easier every year. Is it me or the trail? There has been a lot of trail work done in the last couple of years up there.

Brian and I used to ride St. Ed’s from time to time. Half the fun was getting really lost but now we know those trails like the the back of our hands and it has turned into a place to take the dog riding instead of taking ourselves for a ride. Being on the constant hunt for new, more exciting trail systems seems to be the order of the day. Whistler is the next obvious choice for the excitement upgrade. It requires a new bike and a whole new set of gear, but that’s a small price to pay for adventure.

I would love, one day, to go back and ride Slickrock in Moab. The first and only time I did that was on that M300 Cannondale and it was outfitted with full touring racks. I had never been mountain biking before (not really anyway) and I had no idea what I was doing. My guide, bless his heart, was gentle, encouraging, and gave me lots of pointers on what to do. How easy or hard would it be now? 

Along this same line of reasoning, I’m racing XC again and having a ball. So far this season, I have 2 wins under my belt and that effectively doubles my number of wins for my entire racing career. Now, is my class getting slower or am I that much faster this year? It’s hard to say. I know it’s a lot of fun but the girls this year just don’t seem to have the same kill instinct I have seen in some past years of racing. It is a different group after all. In my defense of sandbagging, I did overhear a few of the girls on course chatting with each other. I hope they were having a great time… I know I did.

Perhaps it’s experience, perhaps it’s fitness, perhaps it’s sheer dementia. I don’t know. I wonder what it will all look like with another 10 years of riding experience. I hope to keep learning and getting better at it and maybe I can make it back to all those places to see what they look, feel and ride like then. 

Posted by: mercieb | November 24, 2008

‘Cross Update

I said I’d let you know how the next few ‘cross races went and if I had been bitten by the bug yet… My second race was a total disaster. We showed up 15 minutes before my start time and I barely had enough time to get dressed, let alone warm up. Not a good idea… I ended up 13th out of 14. Not an encouraging result. Worse is that I truly hated it. I was shouting curses through one part of the course (apparently that didn’t go over too well because I’m still hearing about it – you know there are little kids out there) but I did finish and can say I’m 13th in the state of Washington in the Cat 4 group. Like I said, not a great result.

This last race was a whole other story. The course was a bike handlers dream and those with out the skills really struggled. I, however, actually managed to have a good time. Cutting girls off in the bermed turns and choosing the inside lines instead of the outside lines to make quick work of the twisty course was a lot of fun. I didn’t feel like I was going to die the whole time and since I skipped breakfast, I didn’t feel like throwing up for the first 2 laps. All in all, a pretty good race. Not to mention I came in 5th place out of almost 30 girls. A better result… Of course it’s 5th place in the Cat 4’s. Certainly nothing to write home about.

There are only 2 more races we have planned to attend, so the season will be over before I have the chance to completely fall head over heels for ‘cross. From here we get to start thinking about the mountain bike season. Fun.
Posted by: mercieb | November 10, 2008

SSCXWC

A crazy day at the raceway… Portland shows again how to put on a ‘cross race. A good time was had by all. I’m sure the free flowing PBR sponsored by The Bike Gallery helped. No tally yet on how many kegs were emptied, but the beer delivery guy was busy all day. The Foam Pit, courtesy of the Yakima Gang, was way too much fun; probably more for the spectators than the riders…

Rough(beer)garden battles the killer windmill and wins… this lap…


Speed Suit. Speed Dog



Posted by: mercieb | November 3, 2008

I’m a Little Cross

I have a bad habit of trying new things. When I turned 30, I decided I’d try racing mountain bikes. It was great and I have spent almost every summer since then racing my mt. bike.

Sunday was my first ever cyclocross race. 30 minutes of sprinting in the mud. It rained and it was cold and we were all a mess. Doc asked me if I had a great time. I think my response was something like, “It was miserable.” Then he asked me again… I changed my response this time to, “Yeah! It was the best thing ever.” It wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

I have to wonder about people who LOVE ‘cross. Here are the things I’ve come up with so far that is wrong with this silly discipline:

1. If I wanted to go to the park, I’d leave my bike in the car.
2. Freezing to death is not my first choice in ways to expire.
3. Getting off the bike and running is silly.
4. 30 minute race? Why bother?
5. Slogging through 4 inches of mud for 1/4 mile is no way to spend a nice Sunday.
6. Spraying the mud off your legs and backside with a cold hose after the race is truly awful.

I’m sure there’s more… Perhaps I will list them next time.

OK! Yes, there will be a next time. I never said I was done racing ‘cross. I just said it was silly.

Posted by: mercieb | October 30, 2008

Blue

I do a lot of driving and with this being election season, I’ve had the opportunity to look at a lot of campaign signs. Yard signs, billboards, bus signs, etc. If it has a flat side, chances are it has a campaign slogan or name on it. It suddenly occurred to me that, for the most part the, Republican’s are using the blue usually reserved for the Democrats. Honestly folks, there’s not a whole lot of red going on out there, which seems a little off. Even the McCain/Palin signs are blue and are terribly hard to read to boot. Who ever hired their marketing firm should be fired.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say the Republicans actually have no interest in winning this election. Aren’t they proud of their red(neck)ness? I suppose the argument could be made for wanting to distance themselves from the current administration, but I can think of a lot of other ways, like not sucking, to do that.

Democrats, get the blue back.

Posted by: mercieb | October 10, 2008

It’s All Clear Now

This morning we have had at least 2 birds fly into the front window of the house. The first one hit really hard and it was a mildly surprising while in the process of waking up.

What the heck?? I haven’t even used any window cleaner on that window. These birds are driving the dog nuts with all the thunking on the window.

Posted by: mercieb | October 7, 2008

I Need a Bailout


I figure I need to chime in on the economic crisis thing… I think maybe we should be outraged. We should probably be outraged about a lot of things but this seems like something we should be really up in arms about. Let’s recap… Ok, so someone gets this bright idea. Let’s give everybody mortgages they can’t afford and while we’re at it, let’s get them neck deep in credit card debt with outrageous APR’s and lines of equity based on the worth of their property that they have no business having in the first place. Let’s tell them it’s all good and they don’t really need to worry about that balloon payment or the highly inflated interest rates that will kick in in 3 or 5 years. We’ll make a lot of money… in fact we’ll be rolling in it. Not just rolling but bathing in it. We’ll have so much money, we’ll use it to wipe our butts because we just have that much.

I don’t know who these people are and I don’t where they are right now, but I think they are laughing a big hearty laugh. Ohh, one little problem… now the banks don’t have enough liquid assets to cover all the foreclosed property. They never wanted that property, they wanted the interest off it. But since the whole country is in deep debt from trying to stay afloat while being pushed under by APR’s, medical bills, credit card payments and geeze, I don’t know, maybe food bills, people simply aren’t paying all that interest. When push comes to shove, food trumps the credit card bill every time.

So the government has to do something to keep the whole shit-wad going. Yeah, $700 billion ought to do it. What? We don’t have $700 billion? Well, then just print some more money. There. Fixed.

Riiiiiggghtttt.

I’m all for helping out “Slow Joe” next door. He got suckered into his mortgage by the schmuck down at the bank. He did not do his homework and he was not being smart when he sign those papers, but does that make it right for the bank to get him in so deep? If that $700 billion were going to pay off all those crappy loans so the general public could keep their houses, I’d say fine. Do it. Print more money. In fact, print all you need to make it work.

However, I am highly opposed to corporate well fare. Bailing these guy’s out every time one of their evil schemes goes awry is getting old. It’s always under the banner of “It’s what’s best for the American Public”. Boooring… Can’t they just say, “Well guy’s, they screwed us again. We have to help them out because they pay our salary in kickbacks through the lobbyists and we owe them big because they are going to hire us to go on a speaking tour for ungodly amounts of money when we retire from office and don’t forget, we need to help them because we are going to find some loop hole in the law to take a lot of money from them for passing laws that screw with the environment and undermine the lowest paid workers so they can save a few bucks here and there.” It’s going to be rad.

Can’t we just get them a bucket and let them do the bailing?

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