Tuesday, July 27, 2010

6 Hour Vacation

I went home Sunday to do a whirlwind tour of the hometown. The list of things I tackled:
Played fetch with the dogs.
Went canoeing with dad and the dogs.
Saw a couple of old friends- ate a fudgicle at their place, just like old times :)
Did some trap shooting with Dad.
Saw my old boss and went to dinner with her and her husband.

Dad and the Dogs

Carmel and Penny

Penny, Carmel, Dad

Sue and Dad got me this canvas jacket as an early birthday present. It was probably the best thing about me while trap shooting; I was verrrry rusty. I think I only 'winged' a few, and didn't really nail any. As I recall I used to be a lot better (i.e. Not so terrible), but I guess that'll happen when you're out of practice for about five years. Won't be hitting the tournaments anytime soon, that's for sure.

Trap Shooting

Here's dad releasing a few dozen clay pigeons into the wild (most of them make it).


It was a wonderful trip. The drive was good; there were lots of sulfur butterflies fluttering around and filling the median, which made me happy. I've got a soft spot for these common and rather unimpressive butterflies. Unfortunately, a handful of them frolicked right on into the path of the car... cringe.

There's something nice about going home that I'm just starting to realize. I realize, too, that is by no means a unique theory, but here it is. There's something really great about visiting your hometown. The people there know you as few people can. My hometown homies (hey parents, hey boss, hey old buddies!) remember when I had braces, when I got my truck stuck in the driveway, how I dragged everyone to post prom, and what a blissfully ignorant dork I was. Before I was making life decisions and deciding who I wanted to be, I was just... me. And I like that there are people who remember that person. I'm an adult now, living in 'the city' and I've got all sorts of things that describe and define me, but the church ladies and the high school teachers and friends' parents see right through all that. And I love it.


For the third year in a row, we hosted the La Grange team from California/Mexico. Stu, Victor and Roberto stayed with us for about a week. Poor guys, we've got no air conditioning and it was so, so hot in the apartment during the day, when they were trying to do some recovering. Maybe next year they'll get lucky and land some rich Shorewood retirees. But they were good guests and I consider us to be 'cool' hosts, and we found ways to fit them in- case in point:
(The wine is ours, the bananas are theirs.)

We had a good time as always. We went to a few of the races, and did some fun stuff in between. Two nights of cooking out- one night turned into quite the gathering in the alley.

Roberto and Victor

Somebody brought a margarita maker to Downer Ave.

Margherita Machine

Beware this man, seen creeping around Shorewood with his creepstache.

Mike's Creepstache

We convinced the guys to get on a bike for fun one night, and went to El Rey for some tacos. Victor and Roberto had a great time with the Pugsley.

Cale, Victor, Roberto

A third year in the books!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Levis Trow 100

I don't even want to write about the Levis Trow 100 because that means I have to remember it. It wasn't pretty. First off, I'll tell you about the laps: seven to complete the 100 miles. Each lap was about 15 miles, with a little over 1300 feet of climbing. There were a few miles of flowy singletrack at the beginning to get the legs warmed up, then it went right into the good stuff. Mostly singletrack, bumpy, technical... challenging.

On the first lap I felt pretty great. I was cruising along at my 12 hour pace and doing well on the technical stuff. I was very pleased to do all of Toad Road, and backwards from how I've run it before. Backwards it's really interesting and just the right amount of difficulty for me right now. In the beginning of this lap, I was passed by a guy on the closest competing duo. However, I settled into my race pace and focused. A little over halfway through, I caught up and passed the guy.

Between the first and second laps, while Cale was out, I was really sleepy and tried to get in a nap. I was feeling a little gloomy, because the anticipation was gone, replaced by dread. I was talking with the guy who I was racing against and we agreed that we were most certainly in for it. The course was merciless and bumpy, and it was hot out. The second lap, there's not much to say for it. I was slower, tired, and walking some of the technical stuff, mostly obstacles that needed strength to climb up and over. It was pretty pathetic and I found out later that I had lost about four minutes to second place, though we were still ahead by a minute or two.

By this time everyone looked haggard. Most of the solo guys were looking ROUGH, and some had pulled themselves out after three or four laps. I really wanted to call it quits at two laps, because I didn't want to suffer more. I was losing coordination, too, and didn't want to wreck. I talked to the other duo teams (there were four others) and came up with gentleman's agreement. Three teams were all in favor of calling it quits and going to the nearby lake to take a swim. Don't think this agreement was a way of wussing out. Do you realize how hard it is to track down the members of all these teams and get everyone to agree to the terms? It's one of the most complicated ways of wussing out, I'll tell you that. Finally there was just one more team to strike a bargain with!... and they weren't feeling it. They had come from a ways away and wanted to suffer, suffer, suffer on the trails. LE SIGH.

So we kept at it.

Between laps two and three, I drank a lot of water to ensure I didn't become dehydrated. The third lap was... worse than I thought it could be. Due to all the water, bladder and stomach bounced as one through the first few miles of trail. Ooohhh, it was miserable. I kept waiting for a second wind but it never, ever came. The 25 mile group was out on the trails now, too, and I was getting passed like mad. Unfortunately, I also got passed by second place and watched him go with no hope of keeping it a close race for Cale's last lap.

I ended the lap by limping in with a guy I found on the side of the trail, resting. I think he was a solo rider. It helped to have someone in front to set the pace; though it was slow, it was steady. We talked a little, too. I wasn't out of breath, just exhausted. It was funny, you could look at racers and quickly tell which were in the 100 miler. When you ran into one on the trail, you'd most likely exchange some encouraging words. That's not too unusual, but during this race you could tell people meant it. You saw some miserable looking racer with haunted eyes clawing out just a few more miles, and you knew that's what your face looked like, too. Traumatic.

One of the better things to come out of the day was the winning combo of Hammer Gel and Triscuit crackers. I can't handle a mouth full of the Hammer Gel texture, so I snuck it in as a jam.


I saved the best for last, though. Holly got me these new gloves! As a warning, the grippy material on the palms gets really slippery when wet. During the third lap it rained, and I so desperately wanted to shift with my thumb, but it kept slipping off. I could shift only when I concentrated during a smooth section. Note: don't wear these gloves when it's wet out. Wear them at all other times, though.

Shocker Gloves

Cale and I camped for a second night, and that night our camp was not so lucky. A big storm blew through and our already ailing race tent kicked the bucket. (This is not how it's supposed to look.)


We gave some of the legs to someone whose tent had a faulty leg or two, and we intend to scrap the rest. After Saturday's performance I'm considering scrapping my own legs, too. I'm not sure what it was... I know it was a very hard course and the heat was taking its toll, but I felt like I was more pathetic than was warranted. I think the lack of sleep due to the hot apartment and my recent cold may have been behind it. Or perhaps a mysterious lack of fitness. We may never know.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A stick does not a trophy make.

I don't have any cool activities to report, since I've been sick with a sucky summer cold for a few days, but the cat's been busy. With cat-tivities. Ah hah hah. Sleeping on top of the bureau, in the bathroom (coolest in there) and sneaking into the closet for naps. I guess that doesn't really sound 'busy' to most people, but I think there's something industrious about ferreting out all these new places to snooze. He's on a mission.

Recently he got outside for a while, out one of the open windows. He came flying back in through the window, bounced off the bed and skidded to a stop on the rug, where he dropped a stick he had been carrying in his teeth.

The Stick Hunter

What a soft indoor cat. I didn't want to hurt his feelings by revealing that I have had proper outdoor cats who have brought me live shrews. Maybe someday I will be so lucky again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Don't Turn Your Back

About a year ago a few of us went on a ride at Kettles. We were out on the trails and Cale and I were most of the way up the hill and I heard Jeff (behind me) shout "Give me a push, Chris!" ...crashing noise... "What the hell!?" Apparently Jeff, asking for a little push to help him up the hill had been misunderstood by Chris, who gave him a push over.

Today there was a familiar scene as Cale and I looked back to see Jeff in the dirt and Chris in close proximity. Chris claims nothing happened, but I'm not so sure. Notice him looming sinisterly over Jeff. Notice, too, that when the photo is turned 90 degrees to the right, it looks like Jeff's doing a cool trick.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Buy some decals. C'mooonnn!

Sales Pitch:

Cale and I bought a vinyl cutter to enhance our lives. And it has. Colors are brighter and food has more flavor. But as with all things, it's never truly wonderful until you share. Let us share this opportunity with you. We can make and sell you many wonderful decals. Wonderful decals that will offset the cost of the vinyl cutter. Seriously, let's get to cuttin'. We have black, white, pink, red and blue, and if you want a different color, we can get it for you.

Team decals for your cars/toolboxes/etc?

Personal decals to make you look PRO.

Up to two feet wide and as long as you'd like (the vinyl comes on a roll).
My car's decal.

This one's 2x3'
Cale's car's decal.

Replacement decals... how about that? Working in the industry, there's a chance I could get the original artwork for you.
Fisher Decals

Awesomeify your bike. Wheels are pretty easy to make an accurate decal for.
Tim Machine

Ok I've said my piece, let the orders roll in.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cat Fancier

It's been a while since I've fed the Snips fanatics on the blog, so here's something for you guys. These were taken by Jeremy Pettis, a classmate of mine from MIAD. You'll note he took these photos with an Argus C4, and not an iPhone app made to look like a cool old camera photo. Yep, it's the real deal.

Katy's Cat

Slug Hunger

Thanks Jeremy :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July

I'm going to count Thursday as part of the weekend, since the Fourth of July weekend spreads onto the following Monday. On Thursday Cale and I went to the Beatdown ride. It was my first time, but I knew I was in for it. It has a reputation of being one of the fastest group rides around (though the Gun Show takes top honor, as I hear it). The average speed of the ride was 24mph, including stops and such. It was about 40 miles long, and I hung on until the last few miles, when the speed ramped up. Luckily, my tire was going flat right about then. Why luckily, you ask? Well, clearly that's why I couldn't keep up. Thank goodness for excuses, am I right? Here's a photo of most of the pack, starting out.

Beatdown Ride

On Friday night we met Cale's parents and his youngest brother up in Port Washington for a fish fry. We got there a little early and walked around the port. When you only get a few months of great weather, you've got to savor each perfect evening.

Port Washington - Cale

On Saturday morning we met Holly and some friends for a ride at Kettles.

Kettles - Holly

I was cool for about half of it, then I was dragging. After the Beatdown, and after the stress of racing the weekend before at the WORS race, I just wanted to go slow. The trails were great, though, and the new stuff is settling in nicely. There was a new feature, as well. Why they decided to make an effigy mound, I don't know, but I support the decision.

Kettles - Cale on Emma

We went to Summerfest in the evening, because Cale had free tickets. Oh, what a circus. We listened to Modest Mouse for a while, then wandered around and did some more people watching. Gettin' rowdy.


To recover, we did lunch the next day at Cale's parents' house on Sunday, complete with repose in the grass.



Sunday evening was the 4th, and Russell's Crappy Bike Ride, of course. We get out the weirdest/crappiest bikes we can, meet at Russell's, bike over to the fairgrounds to watch the fireworks from the stands, then go to get ice cream at Gille's. This year there were over 70 people when we rolled out, including one foreign exchange student, which was a first. A storm was brewing, but we made it to the fairgrounds without incident. The fireworks took what seemed like forever to start, but from the top of the bleachers, you can see dozens of fireworks displays, all the way from Port Washington to New Berlin. Where to start on photos from this?

I went to thrift stores on Friday after work to find something suitably patriotic to wear and decorate my bike with. Anything more American than cutoff jean short overalls? I thought not.

Crappy Bike Ride - me

I picked up a wreath for my bike, too. We had some blue Bike Bins to match, too.
Crappy Bike Ride - my bike

Crappy Bike Ride - Mike

Crappy Bike Ride

Crappy Bike Ride

Crappy Bike Ride