Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Commuting on the Other Side of the Road

Bleriot and I are here in Histon, just north of Cambridge UK. I successfully commuted today. Scary! The Other Side of the Road issues are going to take getting used to. Plus the buses do not give anywhere NEAR the amount of passing space that a TriMet bus would. Of course, the main street in Histon is 1.5 lanes wide, with on-street parking :-)

Nice scenery, though!
Scene from today's commute

Thanks to Jason for the borrow of his Timbuk2 messenger bag, so I could haul laptop and stuff around - didn't want to pack the rack and briefcase pannier.

Travel notes: international travel still gets 2 bags free. So, still no charge, as Bleriot packed is within allowable weight and size limits (including the Brooks saddle and generator wheel!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gitane does Heavy Lifting

I'm off for a business trip, so Gitane had to haul a lot of stuff home today. Plus stopping at Best Buy (needed a new teeny laptop mouse), the bank, and Freddies en route. This meant riding on the gravel stretch home, with relatively fresh gravel. Slow and easy. But, dang, that pannier was heavy!

On the plus side, I'm shifting gears more often in the rear. I have yet to touch the front shifter. I'll remember how to use downtube shifters eventually.

I am apparently ready to ride my bike, do computer stuff, take a swim, and knit, but I have yet to pack any actual clothing...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gitane Goes to Work Again

I'm off on a business trip next week, far away, and Bleriot is going with. It being Bike Commute Challenge month; I have to keep commuting. So I packed it up last night, and am commuting on Gitane this week.

Fellow cyclist co-worker wanted a complete run-down of the bike after work. He thought it looked pretty cool (I share this thought).

Of course, he was first distracted by my OyVelo jersey, which reaches new heights of...something.

Riding to Heaven

With detours to the summit of Larch Mountain and Multnomah Falls.


Nat, Cecil, and I set out from Cecil's house to meet Diane at Edgefield. Brief delays - Nat was Out of Uniform and rode home to change, and then I got a flat on 148th.

I had no extra clothing. Cecil kept offering me some, but I declined. It was going to be 90 in Portland, no way was it going to be cold descending Larch Mtn.

Looking east from Womens' Forum State Park

A nice climb up to the summit of Larch - I kept even with Diane. Riding bikes of roughly the same curb weight helps :-)

Diane climbing Larch Mountain

Nat and Cecil beat us up there. Nat occupied himself stripping the huckleberry bushes around the parking lot while Cecil visited the lookout. Diane and I arrived and headed up to check out the view from the lookout; Nat followed right after.

Nat and Diane at the Larch Mountain Lookout
Woman at the lookout: "so, we are at 4000+ feet. How many of those did you ride up?" Me: "all of them."

me with Mt Hood in the background

A few more huckleberries later, we descended, some of us much faster than others. Not chilly at all! I found everyone at Women's Forum, where Diane headed back to Edgefield, and Cecil dangled the promise of ice cream if we rode to Multnomah Falls. And a tailwind on the return.

So, off to the Falls, with extremely interesting wind shear just below Crown Point. Cecil came back to make sure I hadn't been blown away.

Then off to the Falls, which seemed to take no time at all. Clearly I've ridden that stretch a few times this year (this will be time number 4).

Ice cream, of course.

Then heading back, where we stopped at Heaven for documentation. As Cecil says, every cyclist in the area knows this, and the Forest Service just made it official.

Heaven - yeah that's where we rode today

Columbia River Scenic Highway

Then back up to Crown Point (red vines and trying not to be blown over the edge), then down to Edgefield, via Bell Rd and Mershon Rd (turning left to avoid the climb).

Most recent picture looking east from Crown Point

Sweet potato french fries, ice tea and Arnold Palmers, preparing for the last 15 miles of urban riding. At least there would be a tailwind.

A break for sweet potato fries and ice tea at Edgefield

The sun was low and in our eyes. Riding on Division was very challenging. I was so happy to turn off onto 50th. Trees! Shade!

96 miles and change. An Excellent Day for a ride.

All pics here

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Visit from My Cousin Chuck - Sociology and Geek Alert

So, my cousin Chuck was visiting these last few days. He's actually my dad's first cousin, and about 14 years older than me.

He was in town to give a talk at a national emergency preparedness professionals convention. You know, homeland security, police, fire, emergency responders, etc.

His talk was about Twitter and how emergency responders might consider taking advantage of it. For example, there was an earthquake in California, and a woman tweeted (I'm learning all these new terms; I'm not a user) about 9 seconds after it happened. The information traveled all over for some time before the officials confirmed there had been an earthquake.

We had a family dinner Tuesday night, and with 8 science/technology types in attendance, the talk was exceptionally and wonderfully geeky. Except perhaps for my mom. I can safely say that, because she does not read this blog. If she says something, I will know she has read it :-)

But what was interesting to me, as a user experience professional (in case any of you ever wondered what I did for a living), was my parents' reaction. My dad is a retired engineer, and is not technologically obsolete. But he has it in his head that social networking things are bad, because anyone can post an untruth, and elderly readers in Florida will take it as gospel and pass it on, and... you get the idea.

Plus, one needs a data plan on one's phone to take advantage of this, and he and my mom were not wanting that. It actually sounded like they felt they should just get it for free... "well, our phones don't HAVE that".

Chuck's comment (and mine, and Fitz's and Brian's) was that - no one is forcing you to get this. No one is forcing you to buy it. You don't have to use it. BUT there are many people that ARE using it, and, should there be an emergency, is there a way we can exploit this for the good?

Still not sure it registered. I mentioned that social networking (youTube, blogs, etc) just IS, it is not inherently good or bad. My father's position was that it could be used for bad, and therefore should be, oh, I don't know - regulated.

Not sure where this is going, but it was in interesting journey inside the heads of folks on both sides of a technology divide.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cascade Lakes 200

As part of my ongoing quest for that R-12, I needed a September ride. Fitz wanted to check out a golf resort near Bend... "You know, if we go THIS weekend, I can ride while you are playing golf!"

either Devils or Sparks Lake

It looked like I'd be riding all by myself (yes, there were other riders signed up, but I'm usually close to being the Lanterne Rouge), but then Friend Diane thought she'd do it too! Yay! We haven't ridden together much in awhile, so this would be great!

Off to Bend on Friday. Fitz was going to have to get up at 4:30am with me on Saturday, drive the 15 miles into Bend to drop me off, and then pick me up afterward. It seemed ok to him.

So there we were just around 5:30am, looking for Sawyer Park on O.B. Riley Road. (I want to know who O.B. Riley was). We did find it, although the sign is near invisible in the pitch-dark. For that matter, so was the park. Good thing I had a light on my helmet :-) It was pretty darn chilly, too - knee warmers, wool armwarmers, windbreaker, wool gloves over the shortfingers.

Diane showed up right afterwards, we found Scott (It was really, really dark!), had the pre-ride route rap, and set out just after 6am in the, well, dim. We were a huge group; 5 riders.

We all rode through Bend proper. Bend is much, much bigger than it was in the late 70's. I'm surprised every time we go there how much it has grown.

Then out onto Century Drive, heading up (and that IS the operative word) to the Sunriver cutoff. Diane: "It says chain-up area. Are we really going to start climbing now?" It was pretty much a grind on up, with parts of less steep. The other three riders pulled on ahead; we did not see them for the rest of the ride. Heck, some of them might have been in Portland by the time we finished...

Top of the first climb

Made it to the first control; located the sign with the answer. Ate something. I had taken off the wool gloves. I was warm, but we were about to head downhill, so I kept the jacket on. My feet were slowly freezing, but I figured that would reverse itself eventually.

Oh, FUN downhill! The pavement was perfect, and there were no cars at all. Not a one. Wheeeeeee! It then leveled out, and we came to the cue sheet: "turn left on FR 40". FR 40 was a TURN to the right, with a sign. The main road continued. I thought we should stay on the main road, because I knew we were headed for Sunriver, and then would parallel US97 to LaPine. Diane was dubious. We started out, and then stopped and called Scott. The intersection has been majorly reconstructed - it used to be a turn and now it isn't. So.

Diane heading down past the Sunriver turnoff

Onward to Sunriver, then right to head for LaPine. CO 5 used this route. Lots more houses on it now! Rode on into LaPine, and out to the intersection with US97. We stopped at the coffee shop on the corner to get out cards signed. While we were faffing around outside, an older guy asked about the ride - "way to go, girls" he said. He might have been older than us :-) A patron in the shop pronounced us "crazy". Sure. Everyone has their own crazy, that's what I say. You know, some people buy lots of shoes.

My feet finally warmed up about then. Took off the jacket. Ate a sandwich.

Mountain views near LaPine

South on US97 for a block then west, heading through meadows back into the forested area, where we would spend the rest of the day. We eventually found ourselves headed through the Pringle Falls Experimental Forest. I now see that the trees really weren't mutants.

Pringle Falls Experimental Forest

Aftermath of a forest fire

Diane on Burgess Rd

Then onto Century Drive (aka Cascade Lakes Highway), heading off to Crane Prairie Resort. The road had been fairly flat heading out from LaPine, until we turned onto the road to the resort. Stairstep up. Then down, got passed by a couple of vehicles, and into the resort. Oh, the lake was amazing! Located the store - the first aisle is bait, then people food. Cold drink, creamsicle, candy bar for on the road. Got our cards signed, then sat on the shady porch overlooking the lake and enjoyed the food. It had warmed up quite a bit by now.

Lake at Crane Praire from the porch

Off again on FR 4270, rolling along onto FR 40, crossing the Deschutes River a few times. Lots of cars parked there - all fisherman.

Deschutes River from FR 40

Then onto the Cascade Lakes Highway, headed for Elk Lake Resort. Rolling up for the most part. We passed the Lava Lake turnoff, and elected to skip it and waste time at one stop, rather than two. We had plenty of water and food; no reason to stop, really. More stairstep climbing, and eventually, Elk Lake. This is a big sailing resort, with a store, restaurant, and boat rental. We got water and Gatorade, had our cards signed (the guy knew just what to do, and there were only 3 other riders on the ride!), and sat outside and drank the water and Gatorade that didn't fit into our bottles, and I ate another sandwich.

Elk Lake resort

To this point (92 miles) I had eaten bowl of cereal and fruit for breakfast, cup of coffee, two sandwiches, a banana, a creamsicle, a bottle of cranberry juice and half a Payday bar. I'm starting to think now that perhaps that was not enough.

Elk Lake resort

Lava by the side of the road

Back out to the road, then right, which would take us all the way back to Bend. Except we still had to climb up to the Mt Bachelor base area (elev 6300 ft). The stairstep climbs up to Sparks Lake were steep. Actually, it got less steep just before Sparks Lake, and I was thinking "this isn't so bad". I did have nice views of Devils Lake and Sparks Lake.

Sparks Lake

Then, after Sparks Lake... It was hot, too. I kept having to pull over and rest. It was annoying. 4mph is a speed, really. I just could not go any faster. (insert comment about warp engines)

My phone bleeped; Fitz was wanting to know where I was. Well, I was at 100 miles, and figured I'd be heading downhill by now! I told him I thought I could see the top of the climb, and it was pretty much all downhill from there.

I found Diane at what we thought would be the top. Nooooooooooooooooo. About 5 more miles of it. Climb. Stop. Climb. Stop. The conversations in my head were pretty defeating, but another part was going can't. stop. now. get. your. butt. up. that. hill.

FINALLY, the Mt Bachelor base area, and a great leveling off of the grade. The actual downhill starts at the Sunrise base area.

(aside - this is the bike leg for the Pole Pedal Paddle relay race held in Bend every year. Co-worker Einar was scaring me about it, long before I ever even told him about this event. "Parts of it are technical, you know". Yeah, if you descend like Wacko Boy, Wacko Boy Junior, or Cecil.)

I kept my speed around 30, and the shoulder was entirely adequate. There was one uphill bit just east of the Sunriver turnoff. Funny, I do not remember a corresponding downhill on the way out that morning! Definitely fun! I found Diane at one of the chain removal turn-offs. As we were about 10 miles out, I called Fitz to let him know, so he'd be there at the end.

The grade dropped off, and we actually had to pedal from time to time, but were still easily holding around 20. Then into Bend, through the greatly-gentrified old downtown, and out to the park. We finished just before 7pm.

Scott and Fitz were waiting; Scott with a cooler of V-8 and other things and bags of chips. End of ride formalities, a can of V-8, then Fitz and I had to take off, or we'd miss dinner. Otherwise I would have stuck around a bit longer.

Thanks Scott, for organizing this one!


All the pics here

Thursday, September 4, 2008

We've Been Invaded...

By the cutest little disease vectors ever. Baby mice. I counted three of them wandering around downstairs this evening. We've got traps set, but they are so tiny and light that they can sit on the trap, eat the peanut butter, and nothing happens. Sigh.

Last night, Fitz caught three of them by hand (with gloves on!), and tossed them out in the yard. I'm still not sure that he didn't catch the same one three times.

I had an hour long phone/computer meeting this evening with a co-worker in India, so I finally put some peanut butter and crackers in a jar, and lay it on its side on the floor by my chair, and eventually, one came over and investigated. Bingo. I did contemplate taking it into work and releasing it on the campus there, but finally walked out to the street and down a bit and let it out, along with the peanut butter cracker.

At least two more to go. Plus closing off where they are getting in. Are we having fun yet?

(to all the helpful suggestions that will follow: Fitz is violently opposed to getting a cat. He won't even let me BORROW a cat - one has been offered. But thank you for that suggestion. I'd like a cat, except they come with cat hair, which does not stay attached)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Portland to Coast 2008

Trekking Tekkies at the finish

The Trekking Tekkies did even better than last year! Mike and Tatyana suckered me into training earlier this year (early June instead of late July), and before I knew what was happening, I was doing 10 mile relatively flat walks "not fast" (yeah, not fast for THEM) and 7 miles hilly walks. I'd have to walk the other days with the fitness walkers just to recover :-)

But the high points:
We completed the event in 23:21:58, with an average pace of 10:59
We came in 5th OVERALL (400 teams)
We came in 1st in Corporate Open Walking by about 2:40 over the next fastest team.

All this from a group of 12 relatively ordinary cubicle-dwellers. Well, okay, perhaps one of them is a few sandwiches short of a picnic in terms of her view on endurance events.

I would say our improved performance comes from two places - whenever we have to replace a teammate, we upgrade. And we are getting a bit more serious about training. Heart rate monitors have been purchased. Some folks walk half marathons. More are walking year-round. No one says "I went out dancing the night after we finished the race."

Plus our van decorations get fancier every year. :-)

Van 2 at the fairgrounds

Van 2 (mine, and my VAN as well) planned on a 1:30 meet-up and pack, to meet Van 1 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. Van 1 reported they were 10 minutes ahead of projections.

(If, for one minute, you think this is pulled off without a lot of logistics, planning, and a slick spreadsheet, you should have another thought)

Mike, Ian, and Tony at the fairgrounds

We found them easily - in previous years teams started in waves every 15 minutes until 10am. This year, we had a 10am start (fastest teams start last), but there were no starts after 7am. A three-hour gap. We walked the first 12 legs without really seeing any other teams than the 24 we started with. I passed a couple of slow walkers on my leg (I'm #11), but that was it.

Our first 6 legs were fun. We'd pull ahead of the walker and wait, standing around, talking pictures, knitting a bit (me), then, as our walker came into view, cheering wildly, misting them with spray bottles, and handing over some water.

Tony walking

Doesn't every race van have baguettes and bruschetta?

Tatyana giving Mike some water

My leg comes as the sun sets, walking just over 4 miles, ending at the Natal Grange. Van 1 passed and waved, on their way to the big exchange. I passed one walker ("you aren't passing me!" "Fraid so"), then as I approached the exchange, I heard footsteps. Fast ones, right behind me. No way was that walker going to pass. And that walker did not pass - I handed off to Deb, and wobbled off to the van.

We then headed off to the next big exchange - Mike drove, and I got changed. Found Van 1, and a few of us walked to the exchange area - it was starting to get very crowded. Collected Deb, did the data handoff (clipboard, stopwatches, USB stick with the updated spreadsheet), and headed off to the next big van exchange/sleeping area. At this point we were driving through many more groups of walkers, so it took longer to get there - less time to sleep :-( Last year, we were ahead of all the walkers, and it was a pretty quick drive.

The roadkill banners on our vans were starting to fill up. By the time we finished, we had passed most of the walking teams.

No tents allowed this year, so sleeping bags and tarps all around. It was chilly and damp, but I was plenty warm, and fell asleep right away. At least until the group next to us decided to have a loud conversation, but we were getting up in 15 minutes anyway.

Van 1 found us - all communication at this point is by walkie-talkie; no cell phone service. We walked to the exchange to get Ian started, then headed off. The first three exchanges were very, very crowded (roadkill-rich zone) - we'd drop the walker and timekeeper off and they'd walk down to the exchange, and we'd do a pickup after. Then it was Tatyana walking, so I got someone else to drive, and changed into my walking gear, and put my contact lenses back in. It was still chilly, but I figured it would warm up. Tatyana zipped along her leg, turning in the fastest pace on any leg for our team.

Got my waterbottle and iPod ready - the second to last leg has no van support, and it is 7.28 miles long. Peaceful, though! But still chilly - my hands were very cold for the first 30 minutes. I started picking off walkers pretty soon. One woman kept pulling even with me, then dropping back, then pulling even. Her form was a bit suspect... Then we started the gradual, yet everlasting climb, and she fell off. {gloat} I saw a guy with a striped shirt a long ways ahead, and set myself to catch him. I never did, but I caught all 16 of the walkers between him and me. The route is a Weyerhauser private road, mostly not paved, through a forested area and then a big clearcut, then another forested area. Once the last forested area is traversed, we pop back onto a road leading to a log scaling station (and the exchange). The surface is smooth and paved, so I could go faster. It goes on for not quite half a mile. Eventually I could see Ian cheering, and found the exchange. You'd think it would be more obvious, but I might be not as observant after 7.28 miles. Found Deb, handed over, and... wobbled back to the van. No coffee truck at this exchange :-( I really wanted some coffee.

Note: a towel draped over the two middle seats makes an excellent privacy screen for changing in the way back.

Leapfrogged Deb into Seaside, and called Van 1. They were on the beach, eating free snacks and drinking coffee. We got great street parking down the road from the Pig and Pancake, and walked to the beach to find everyone. Did a lot of standing around. The announcers somehow did not announce that OUR walker was coming; luckily someone saw her and we all got there in time to finish with her.

Finisher medals, team picture, bought some very bad coffee, waited a bit on the results, then hiked back to Pig and Pancake for breakfast. They got us in relatively quickly. Yummy breakfast, then the drive back.

The coffee was terrible but I liked the delivery system

Tatyana refueling after the race

I made it as far as Camp 18, then someone else had to take over. Tony kindly drove the rest of the way back.

Aftermath: the van is still not washed. We took our team pictures for the company website, with our nifty FIRST PLACE CORPORATE OPEN WALKING plaques. :-) And I went for my first run in 2.5 months, and felt it for the next two days.