Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Training Progress

Well, I haven't written in a while because I've been busy with work and training. Between the two, it seems like I don't have a spare minute in any part of my day. Not that that necessarily means life is stressful... just full. Anyhow, since the weather's getting a little nicer, Cale and I have been putting in three and four hour bike rides. We were out for seven hours one day after planning on a three hour ride with friends. Two friends fell by the wayside, but the third got dragged along for the whole thing, and he's not even a cyclist! Or wasn't, rather. I think spending that much time out on a bike ride flips some sort of switch. Without further boring monochromatic words, here are some coloured pictures:

The original five,
Andy, Cale, Katy, Pete, Jamie

and the remaining three.
Pete, Cale, me

On that ride (nice weather!).
Jamie, Cale, Pete

On a recovery ride after lifting at the gym.

On a ride this past Sunday, first Cale...
Cale and Sunset- awww.

and then me and the Blue.

Earlier on in the year.
I love the colors in this photo.

This past weekend, Cale and Pete and I went down to John Muir to help with trailbuilding. Some weekends it's just trail maintenance. Whassat? you ask. Well, it's basically fixing up problem spots; maybe a log in a logover has rotted and needs to be replaced, or maybe a rut has formed. We did a little maintenance on a piece on the way out to the focus of the weekend. Here, the water wasn't running down the hill and off of the trail right, and was causing a puddle on the 'inside' of the trail. We effectively shaved off the 'outside' of the trail, making it lower and promoting healthy runoff. (Healthy runoff? Sounds strange.)

The First Piece

But after that quick job, we journeyed onward to where they had marked off the new trail. We spent the next few hours moving rocks, building up parts of the trail and just grooming other parts. Here's a before shot of a corner:

Corner Before

and here's the after:

Corner After

I guess it's kind of hard to tell what you're looking at (and I won't bore my three loyal readers with more pictures of dirt), but basically the rocks in the first picture were stacked up like a wall to build up the outside of the corner, to keep people from sliding out while barreling down the hill or some such thing. Building walls is fun! You don't need much more of a reason, I don't think.

Well, so we did that for most of the morning, then headed out to get a sandwich at the ever delicious general store. Ah, a good, tiring morning. How about a three hour road ride? Yeah, how about it! We pretty much just headed out in a good looking direction and went from there. Cale had his GPS to guide us. Here we are, stopped in Whitewater on the way back as we deliberate whether or not to make the ride longer.

Rerouting via GPS

Almost done, we stopped for some fresh water, dumping out the dregs of Cytomax in our bottles.

Pete and the Flowing Well

On the way back we all raced in some sprints between telephone poles, and I've gotta say, I felt pretty good. All of this training, it seems, is starting to pay off. I'm just gonna go ahead and be 'that person' and say that I got my wattage up to 947. A few months ago, I was trying very hard for high numbers (during the honeymoon phase with the Power Tap) and hitting the 700's consistently, so I think that this is a Real Measurable Difference and not a quirk.

In the end, numbers are just numbers. However, hitting 947 was surprising and felt darn good... and that does matter. I hate to admit it, but confidence boosts are important to me. It gets me excited to race, and who doesn't love feeling great about themselves, or feeling that sense of accomplishment? Seeing some results makes me feel like training is worth it, and that I might be able to do some good things this season.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Work and Play

Well, it's been a whole pay period of two weeks (and one Monday, but who's counting?):

So to recap, for those of you who aren't familiar with my every move, I interned at SRAM just out of college for about nine(?) months or so. After that, I started freelancing for Hayes from home. Usually when people freelance, they get multiple jobs from here and there to keep themselves busy, but I had enough work from Hayes to make it my One and Only :) Anyhow, I worked from home for almost an entire year, which was kind of a shock to realize.

Well, I liked working from home. No commute, no dress code and all the comforts (and the refrigerator right there!) of home. Hanging out with the cat, listening to music, watching an episode of 30 Rock during a break, etc. Also, now I'm realizing that I never really had to coordinate anything, like when to leave for work, what materials I'd need to bring in (kit and shoes to change into for a ride, or a book/sketchbook for reference), what to pack for lunch. Now I actually have to prepare for my day. It was nice while it lasted, you might say.

My first day at Hayes was a little bit of a shock to my system. Toward the end of the day, I was tired from waking up early, and I practically shed a tear for how good I never realized I had it. When you work for yourself, there's no training, no protocol to go through, no rules or prescribed way of doing things. Le Sigh.

Lest you think I don't like being a corporate warrior, let me tell you about the stuff I do like. I like having people around to bounce ideas off of. It's a lot easier to get feedback and revise designs. I like getting little projects from different people- it makes me feel really productive to get lots of projects done while working on or waiting for feedback on larger ones. Already I've learned a lot more about the products and the company, and I've met a lot of cool people.

I somewhat enjoy the drive. It's about 20 minutes, and mostly traffic jam free. On the days there are traffic jams, I take earlier exits and drive through the city. I get to listen to the radio and hear the news from NPR. I'm sure I'll really like the commute by bike. I've been driving because I don't have a computer at work yet (It's been ordered and is on its way) and riding that far with that much weight on your back gets old. Plus, it's been a lil' chilly. Brr!

Overall, it's pretty cool. I like feeling useful to the office, and I enjoy my coworkers. (Even if I do have to keep one finger on the speed dial for HR to report inappropriate comments.) And I've got some pretty cool projects to work on. I can't really complain... I guess I've got it pretty good. I might be a member of the small percentage that really enjoys their job. How did that happen? Sometimes I think I lead a charmed life, and I wonder what I did to deserve it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Full-Time Employment

(Not to be confused with funemployment.) So, big news that some of you may not know, I went from freelancing for Hayes to becoming a full-time employee. That means that I no longer work from home but up at Hayes Bicycle Group up in Mequon, and in a snappy little cubicle!

Office! Cubicle!

Yesterday was my first day, and it was sadly much like a first day of a new class. All sorts of exciting paperwork for a few solid hours. And I was starving! After about a year of padding over to the fridge and eating whenever I wanted, four whole hours, foodless?! Luckily all was well in the afternoon (after LUNCH!), HR released me and I got to move into my desk and work a little bit.

Well, more later! Also in the news, training is coming along after a few weeks of rebellion.

Monday, March 9, 2009


The WORS handbook is apparently arriving at mountain bike lovers' doors across this great state. Right about the middle is an ad that I did for Hayes Bicycle Group featuring Sun Ringlé Black Flag wheels, the Manitou R7 and Hayes Disc Brakes Stroker Grams.


As projects go, it went pretty quickly once I got the idea. First I thought blocks of color at an angle to kind of clearly separate the products and make the layout dynamic, then I thought of adding photos from last year's WORS season. This is where I needed help, though. I didn't do any WORS races and had no personal photos to work with. I turned to the good people of Flickr to see if I could come up with something.

There were many, many photos to choose from, but I had my heart set on a few particular ones, so I set about asking for permission to use them. The top photo (in grey) is Amy Dykema's (velogrrl on Flickr) photo of a race getting started, I believe at Sheboygan. The middle (feat. Velocorapture/Claire) and bottom photos belong to John Wrycza- check out his 'Best of WORS' on Picasa. I can't thank these two photographers enough! They took the time to help me with this project and the ad definitely wouldn't be the same without their photos. Can you imagine? Just those shiny old Hayes Bicycle Group Products? ...Uh-oh, I think I just complimented my way into a corner. Time to call Hayes and apologize before the media storm hits :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Frick Yes! aka Heck Yeah!

Just as I had suspected, glow in the dark is fracking blowing up. I know, it's always been kinda cool, and it's been getting cooler for a little while, but for once, I feel like I was ahead of the trend with the glow in the dark Pegasus t-shirts.

Remember, this shirt was done weeeeeks ago, toward the beginning of what I like thinking of as the GITD curve. I believe the apex is yet to arrive. Let's take a moment while I wrap myself in my warm belief that I have finally anticipated a big trend. Aaaahhhh... ok:

Now, behold, Oury's come out with some glow in the dark grips (as seen on mtnbikeriders.com)

What's that 'pat pat pat' sound you hear? Well, that'd be me, patting myself on the back while telling my reflection how great I look for good measure.


I think I've gotten so used to worrying about something and feeling bad about not doing/finishing something, that when there isn't something hanging over me, I feel usettled and search my mind for the thing I'm missing. So in other words, life is going pretty well right now, and it's making me nervous.

Oh, but I've definitely been avoiding training. There's definitely that hanging over my head. Phwew. Something to feel guilty about.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Friday (Catching up, now!)

On Friday, we slept in a bit and then went to spring Nick out of work around noon.

Picking Nick up from work.


We picked him up in Mark's car, which he loaned us for the trip- have I mentioned this before? It warrants saying again, though, that this car was a lifesaver. It was big enough to fit all of us in, and it had enough trays on the roof rack for four bikes. If we had rented a car, we would have been pressed to get four people and four bikes anywhere in two cars, even. It was also super fun to drive :) With our trips to L.A. and running around, we wound up putting nearly a thousand miles on it over our vacation. I feel pretty bad about that. If I ever have a first-born, Mark's got first dibs.

I can't remember what mountain we biked up, but I'll tell you it felt like a substantial one. I think the total elevation was a little over 6,000 feet. We spent almost two hours climbing and 45 min descending. Here the guys are at the bottom of the climb:

Beginning of the Climb

I didn't really know what to expect and was cranky from the pace to the base. It wasn't anything terribly fast, but Nick was fresh and pushing the pace a little. When I don't know what to expect but anticipate a big effort, I get really stingy and miserly with my energy (good for long rides, bad for races, right?). I was glad when we parted ways at the bottom. The guys took off and I was free to settle in at my own pace. Thus began about two hours of this:

Bottom of the hour+ climb.

After a while, snow started showing up on the side of the road. I tell you what, I can take pictures and share the view, but I was so wishing that I could share the smell of the air with people. All that "Mountain Breeze" laundry detergent is actually imitating a real thing, and that real thing smells delicious. I never knew. It smelled... fragrant? Not quite floral, but almost. There were pine trees, but it didn't quite smell like that, either. It was more than a 'fresh air' scent, too. Mmm. So good. At a town near the top, the guys waited up for me and we all got a little break in. Turns out they had only waited about 5 minutes for me, which I think is not bad. If you'd like to inform me that it's not actually that impressive, keep it to yourself.

This isn't the top, but it's one of the better view points near the top.

Me and Cale

We biked through a forest (of sorts) which had been burned a few years prior. The white, twisted trees were pretty bizarre. It felt like it was a kind of park for the gods on top of the mountain. It was very quiet, and I almost felt like I had stumbled into a private area, or just somewhere that people rarely set foot. (Although there's a road right through it...)

Dead Forest

On the beginning of the way down, we biked past a very pretty lake with a little town nearby.

Lake in the Mountains

The descent was pretty fun. It wasn't like you'd see on a highway/mountain pass, a long straight drop. It was a long, winding road and we had to keep the speed in check for corners. There were wet spots (from melting snow) that could potentially be icy, as well as sand and cars to watch out for. In some shady areas, it did get a little cold, but for the most part, it was pretty comfortable the whole way down. I think we managed a little over 44 mph, though. And we all made it! You'll have to take my word that Cale's taking the picture.

Rewind: Thursday in San Diego

To finish up the rest of my San Diego Trip, I'll flip through some pictures here. On Thursday morning we went for a ride, then in the afternoon we visited the tide pools at Cabrillo State Beach, and then Coronado Island with it's famous hotel, Hotel Del Coronado. Oh, and after all that we went and had dinner with Cale's aunt and uncle and then soaked in their hot tub. It was a fun day, but geez, were we ever packing it in. I thought the highlight of the day was the trip to the tide pools at Cabrillo State Beach. It was really nice to just wander around by the ocean, looking at stuff and soaking up some sun.



This is one of my favorite photos from the day. Lyle took it.

Here's the obligatory shot of the hotel:

Hotel Del Coronado

It was really neat inside. The lobby's ceiling kind of reminded me of a big ship. It was tall with dark stained wood, and you could see the structure and the beams. After we poked around there, we went and had some appetizers at a bar before continuing our journey.

We quickly drove home and grabbed the fish we had caught the day before. I think it probably would have looked like we were ransacking the place. There were three of us running around, yelling back and forth, "Did you get the fish? Don't forget the seasoning!" and "Do you want a sweatshirt?" "Will they have booze?" all the while going from room to room grabbing a case of beer here, a wallet there 'til our hands were full. After the 45 second looting, we drove over to Cale's aunt and uncle's home/mansion to prepare the fish. Cale fixed the fish while Kelly chopped.

Pile of Fish

Here's the fruit (har-har) of Kelly's labor. The oranges, lemons and limes were fresh picked from the back yard, of course. *Jealous*

Chopping Block

After all that tough work of sight seeing and eating, it was time for a soak in the hot tub. I think you should know, Wisconsin, that year-round weather was discussed and you lost. Click on the picture to see the lot of us.

Hottubbin' is not a word.

After this we pretty much stumbled home to bed. Exhausting!

Planning Ahead. Way Ahead.

I won't tell exactly you what I've got planned for Cross Vegas (which is a good part of a year away) but I'd have you know it involves looking very closely at USA Cycling's rules about what exactly can be worn during a cyclocross race...

"1N5. Jerseys must be worn in all races and shall cover the shoulders. Sleeveless jerseys are allowed only in non-international MTB races. Skin suits may not be worn in Pro gravity events per UCI rules. No additional equipment, whether worn over or under a rider's uniform, which has the effect of reducing wind resistance is permitted, except in the case of inclement weather, additional covering designed solely to protect against precipitation or cold may be worn. However, shoe covers are permitted in any conditions.
(a) The rider and uniform must be clean at the beginning of a race. Uniforms may be any color but helmets, shoes, or clothes that are torn, or in disrepair may not be used.
(b) Advertising may appear only on the uniform, including caps, shoes, and helmet of riders who are racing members of sponsored clubs [disqualification for other advertising]. The club's name must appear on the front and back or two sides of the jersey. The name may be abbreviated."

Hmmm, so far, so good...