Cyclocross Season Awaits

Cyclocross season is so close, you can almost smell it. What does 'cross smell like? Mud, wet leaves, with a hint of pain. Bottle it and market to the masses. Order now, operators are standing by.

A few months back, we picked up a used 'cross bike for Ian. We figured over the summer, some road rides and a little dirt action to get used to it, the 'cross rig being very different from his mountain bike. As with the best laid plans of mice and men - especially busy men who really dig mountain biking - the plan went awry. Spiffy little 'cross bike was barely ridden.

Over the last few days, we've initiated the official "You better get used to 'cross bike quick" plan, to ramp up the familiarity. We've hit the local school yard to practice cornering on grass with 700c tires and discover how bumpy things are without a suspension fork. Ian looks good on the bike, no problem at all. I explained once again how drop 'bars offer multiple hand positions. He's the most comfortable in the drops. Ah, to have a 12 year old spine once again...

Ian is looking forward to the 'cross season. His previous two seasons were racing unattached on a mountain bike. This season; teammates, full team kit and real 'cross bike. Should be a fun experience. Stay tuned. Same blog time. Same blog channel.

Some yard practice under the belt. Ian prefers to dismount/remount on the right side. Whatever works. Also first season racing with clipless pedals. He's a clipless pro now, after a few months of mountain biking with 'em.

DIY practice barriers courtesy of this article, just finished 'em tonight. Under $20 and about 15 minutes of work. Ian gives 'em a quick test. Basketball shorts not recommended for 'cross. Baggy shorts/saddle interface equals wacky dismount action. Give it a try. You won't thank me.

Project Hakkalugi is progressing, with Pile-O-Parts ordered online and arriving daily. Only thing left to arrive is the rear derailleur, ETA tomorrow. We can rebuild it, we have the technology. I'll then have my commuter/cyclocross weapon (ha!) rolling again. Little voice inside is also suggesting racing 'cross myself. I'm trying to shut it up. It won't listen.

With that, now time for the injured and battered - courtesy of riding with me - report...

Daughter Amy's broken arm, now sporting a bright pink cast, is doing okay. Cast now covered with signatures from well wishers. As you may recall, broke her arm with slow speed tip over, during a family ride. Wacky. Playing Wii appears to not be a problem.

Additional fun fact: Amy's orthopedic doctor is a bike racer. I think we're in good hands.

Ian's schoolmate and basketball teammate, Austin, who broke his wrist a few weeks ago - yes, riding with me - sports a purple cast. His scheduled to be removed soon. Said he'd like to ride with us again, didn't scare him off. Whew, glad to hear that.

Additional fun fact: Austin's dad is Ian's basketball coach. Hope we're not on the, you-know-what, list...

Both kids reported to school today with casts and stories of how I tried to kill 'em with bikes. Who will be the next victim? Heh, heh. Lucky for me, I also ride with the Principle, so no one is safe (insert maniacal laugh here)....

All joking aside, I feel bad both of 'em were hurt riding with me. A rare chain of events. Hopefully, many future years of nothing but bumps and bruises - the usual routine. Both kids wish to ride again. A bit down the road - memories of xrays and casts long gone - replaced by two wheeled grins and fun times. Maybe they'll even race 'cross one day.

With that, another blog post pushed out the Internet. Why do I keep doing this? I don't know. I like it. Thanks for reading.


Well, I did it.  I had my first coupon-ing experience.  Whew, what a lot more work than I had initially thought.  On TV those women do seem a little neurotic and very organized and I am neither...well... ... ...but boy oh boy you do have to be disciplined and sit down with limited interruptions (hard with a toddler and 4 year old).  I've tried to attempt to coupon, but got overwhelmed and threw the Sunday inserts away, but with the help with two of my girlfriends via email they literally walked me through it.  Today, I went to CVS, Target and HEB and got $90 worth of stuff for around $50.  There were a few hiccups along the way where I didn't match them up correctly but all in all, I'm pretty proud.  Amber and Rachel were impressed that I did so well on my first trip - yay!  True, I only bought food for dinner for one night but I will have enough paper towels to last me a month, can do 64 loads of laundry and 30 loads of dishes and have enough Pringles to last my kids at least 30 lunches...Once I get in the swing of things, I hope to figure out how to incorporate more meals out of this.  I think Kyle was glad that I was bringing something "to the table" other than dinner :)  Unfortunately this weekend there will be no coupons in the Sunday paper, I can't believe I even know this...will update in the future and hopefully it will be a picture of my receipt with a $5.00 charge only :)

Claes and Coosje in California Jumping!

Gina and Kristi (you may remember them from this post) jump for two Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen works in California. Binoculars (1991) in Venice, and Toppling Ladder with Spilling Paint (1986) at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Gina is on a "Claes and Coosje world tour" which you can read about HERE. Awesome as always, ladies!

Paradise Valley - Woodinville Wonder

I got two tickets to Paradise. Pack your bikes, we'll leave tonight...

Excuse the cheesy wordplay on the Eddie Money song. Eddie Money? Yeah - that Eddie Money. We did visit paradise however, this version located in the wilds of Woodinville. This little gem located only 12 miles from home - and I've never visited until today. What a find.

Son Ian's last day of summer today, school starts tomorrow. He ain't too happy about that. Daughter Amy however, is looking forward to it. Must be a boy verses girl thing. I suggested a late afternoon mountain bike ride to cheer him up. He was cranky about hitting St Ed/Big Finn area yet again - our neighborhood woods. I was cranky about the prospect of loading up the car and driving somewhere. We've been meaning to try out Paradise Valley, so he won - loaded up the car and headed out. Short drive later, we're ready to ride.

By sheer coincidence, while unloading the car - Tom and Scott - Old Guy Ride regulars pull in the lot. Their pal Doug also in for the fun, aboard a new Ibis Mojo HD. Damn nice. Wound up being a group ride with Scott acting as ride leader. Paradise Valley is a pinball maze of singletrack, so having a knowledgeable guide show us around for the first time was a bonus. Scott also raced expert class XC back in the day, and he's still plenty quick. Additional fun fact: His son Max is a junior world champion longboarder. Cool, eh?

Paradise Valley wound up being a surprise - the place is a total blast. Tight 'N' Twisty singletrack, full of roots for added technical fun. It's basically flat, no real climbs, but some Ups 'N' Downs. The occasional wooden structure to spice things up. The Roots-O-Plenty reminded me of my East Coast roots (pun intended. Ha!). There's not a lot of mileage, but the technical aspect more then makes up for it. Brain needs to be engaged for most of the sections. It was dry today, technical level would jump up a few notches when wet. Nothing like working your way over a maze of wet roots. Yes please.

Ride wound up being huge fun, due to the terrain and unexpected biker pal tour guides. Fantastic. I brought a camera and never took one picture. Call me lame. Too busy riding. Trust me, it's pretty cool. I'll grab some pics next time. There will definitely be a next time. Place is too much fun and really close to home. Score !

Viva le Tour !

Fantastic documentary on the 1962 Tour de France. I can't understand one word of it, but one of the best cycling films I've ever seen.

Grab a snack, pull up a chair, watch all 19 minutes and see if you don't agree.

Neuvation Cycling

Even though my bike shop days were a few decades ago, I still remain very interested in the bicycle industry. I read various websites, still know a few folks in the industry, and look behind the products and enjoy peeking around the curtain to see how it all works.

As we all know, the Internet has changed how we live and purchase items, or at least gives us another option. The bicycle industry is not excluded from this fact of modern life. If you know what you're looking for, there's numerous opportunities to save serious dough by purchasing parts or complete bicycles online.

In some bicycle culture eyes, this a bad thing, since it cuts out the local shop. I have mixed feelings about this at times, though many bicycle purchases I've made on eBay come from a brick and mortar shop also selling online. Smart shops will be a hybrid of in person and online sales - my opinion anyway. You can't fix bicycles over the Internet. The online option also doesn't work for everyone. A local knowledgeable shop will always be a good thing.

Except for a few rare exceptions - building wheels and straightening frames - I maintain all my bikes. I have a fair amount of experience and knowledge, so the online option works well for me. On top of that, I just can no longer afford to spend huge dough on bikes. Raising a family will do that. Almost all my bike related purchases are now online, including complete bikes.

Globalization has also changed everything. If you think someone at Trek, Specialized, or Cannondale is constructing your frame here in the United States, think again. Trek still makes some of the higher end Madone models in Wisconsin - otherwise, it's a pretty safe bet any bike on the shop floor is made in Asia. For sure, you're paying for the design expertise, especially for something like a suspended mountain bike. For road and hardtail mountain bikes, all the angles of various manufactures are pretty damn close.

Also when you look into it, there's a limited number of factories in Taiwan and China churning out frames by contract. With that, there will be some design knowledge transfer over to the folks actually constructing the frames - meaning their stock production frames should be nothing to scoff at - and available for a cheaper price.

Then, parts are parts - Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo - no matter what frame they're hung on. So, in sense you're paying for Paint 'N' Stickers. I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture. I've joked with friends, if I ever started a bike company - would call it Paint 'N' Stickers. Imagine that on the downtube. Wise ass I am. Even so, I'm also not downplaying shops or bike companies that truly contribute something special to the world of cycling.

With that long winded introduction, there's a few companies out on the 'net I've been following, including Neuvation. Started by John Neugent, with a few decades of industry experiece, and based out of San Luis Obispo - a small operation that started off selling high end wheelsets direct online. They've since moved into carrying frames and complete bikes at big savings. He's basically the designer, manufacturer, and online bike shop - all rolled into one. An interesting concept. To blur the line a bit, they also have a showroom/shop in California. I find the whole set up interesting, since you're dealing with a small operation with a known person behind it, yet they can sell to a global audience.

Neuvation's website is pretty low key - okay, lame - I said it. Besides that fact, it works, and I dig his no nonsense approach to debunking the marketing Smoke 'N' Mirrors of the industry. It reminds me a bit of Grant Petersen and by that, compliment intended.

The Neuvation business model in his own words....

John Neugent Interview from MovePress, LLC on Vimeo.

Neuvation carries numerous wheelset options - from alloy to high end carbon. I know a few folks running Neuvation wheels without issues and recommend 'em.

Complete bikes - carbon and aluminum framed - along with multiple Neuvation branded wheels, stems, saddles and other parts. All delivered to your door.

This pretty sweet 'cross model available. I dig the bare aluminum, minimal graphics look. The money savings could also allow a second set of wheels - tubulars even.

Interesting review of their FC100 model...

When it comes down to it, bikes are tools. Pretty damn cool, artistic tools at times, but you still gotta pedal the thing. If you're looking for a race quality bike at savings, places like Neuvation can't be beat. While I covet some bikes due to the race heritage, cool factor and other aspects - what Neuvation is doing interests me also. It's a bit punk rock without even trying to be, no?

If you sign up on their site, you'll receive the Neuvation "Deal of the Day" email. Worth it just for the insight and humor about the bike industry. A few examples (click to enlarge)...

No matter what side of the fence you fall on - local shop business only or the Internet - take a gander at Neuvation. I think most people straddle the fence and purchase depending on the situation. Nothing wrong with having options and developing new avenues - even for the bicycle industry.

One From the Archives!

Have you seen our One From the Archives series on Facebook and Twitter (via Twitpic) yet? That's where we share some of our favorite jumps from years past. Here is an example:

A young artist from Washington, DC jumps for his art class! Original post from March 2009 is here.

Above the Clouds

"Above the crowds above the clouds
where the sounds are original
infinite skills create miracles
warrior spiritual
Above the clouds raining down
Holdin in down." GangStarr

The Digital Photography Book - Book Review

I've been dabbling with photography once again, courtesy of a new digital SLR camera. I've always taken pictures with the old Point 'N' Shoot, various examples sprinkled throughout this very blog. Most being just snapshot quality and that was the intent - telling a story - nothing fancy.

I'm attempting to bump it up a bit, also an excuse to get the ol' brain working on something besides bikes. Decades ago I goofed around with the 35mm format, so I'm not completely starting from scratch, though I'm just the amateur hack. The digital SLR also allows action photos, something seriously lacking shooting with the Point 'N' Shoot.

Along with the new camera - 50th birthday present from my wife (nice, eh?) - I've read a pile of photography related books. Out of the pile, this one, loaned to me by a fellow coworker bike/photo/gear-head pal, stands out: The Digital Photography Book, by Scott Kelby.

At first glance appears to be super beginner oriented, dig in a bit and that's not the case. This book is chock full of great tips written in a laid back, humorous, super easy to understand format. I read it cover to cover, then flipped through a few times since. I picked up and learned a few things every time.

Once I return the book to its rightful owner, may pick up a copy for myself. I've also discovered there's a second and third volume available. That will also be on the agenda. If you mess around a with photography at all, well worth checking into.

Nice job Scott Kelby...


Maybe it's because it's been over 100 degrees for the past 3 months and hasn't rained for nearly 4 but I am really missing home!  I miss my family and friends and seasons, glorious seasons and even with a 5.8 Earthquake yesterday and Hurricane Irene swirling nearby if I could, I would be zapped home in an instant.   

"All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears.  We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea--whether it is to sail or to watch it--we are going back from whence we came."JFK

Muffin Tin Mondays

I saw this on a blog about how to make it more fun for your kids to eat.  I need all the help I can to make my boys eat the RIGHT stuff.  There are days where they both will be done eating within 3 minutes of me putting their plates out and then there are other days when there is more food on my walls and floor than in their bellies.  This actually worked!  Kingston ate everything without a peep and Coltrane (I just put 3 of the baking cups on his high chair tray) finished one cup of food and would hold it up when it was empty etc etc etc!  Genius idea, now I will go and stock my pantry with all kinds of fun baking cups for the boys and start filling them with new foods that they will hopefully at least TRY.  Well, that's my hope anyway, and can we talk about clean-up?! Awesome.

Rescue 301

Today as the boys and I were getting out of my car at the HEB, we heard sirens coming down the road.  This of course excited my boys, Kingston because of the commotion and because he knows all about fire trucks and firemen and Coltrane because it was a truck, one of his favorite things.  I watched as all the cars slowly pulled over to leave a clear path so that the two firetrucks would have an open and direct path to get to where they needed to go.  We stood watching for longer than needed as most people walked right past us to get their carts.  Finally, Kingston said, "Mommy, are we just going to stand here all day?". Whoops, I did it again, zoned out, must be the lack of sleep for the past 5 years :)

For some reason I couldn't get the scene out of my mind, it was only 2 fire trucks moving down the street as cars neatly and calmly moved to the side, sheesh!  (I need a nap) but it was very re-assuring to see that people no matter what will get out of the way when they know that someone is in need of help.

In life there are wounds and accidents and fires and boo-boos on the inside as well that need to be healed, tamed and taken care of.  I'm lucky to have my family steadfastly driving the unseen rescue vehicles to my side even if they just remind me of my own resilience.

*They come rushing too even if at times it's just because I need to know how to poach an egg or clean up Coltrane's poop from the carpet.

Starts Good - Ends Bad

Took a few days off last week, bit of a "Staycation" to spend time with the family and just generally not be at work - always a good thing. As expected, did some mountain biking, various rides - solo, with son Ian, hit the "Old Guy Ride" once, and one full family ride...

Family ride location was Iron Horse State Park, outside of North Bend, that includes a gravel rail trail. Trail extends all the way to Idaho, our plan was a bit less adventurous - just cruise a bit to match the speed and interest of wife Lori and seven year old daughter Amy.

Racer Boy Ian complained the ride would be too slow, but once the wheels hit the trail, he acted as the ride leader and matched the slow pace. Ian and I have ridden here before, when he was younger, so he was familiar with the route.

The female half of the clan enjoyed the ride, though it all ended a trip to the ER - more on that later...

The John Wayne Pioneer Trail runs through Iron Horse State Park and continues through Washington into Idaho. Basically all flat and hard packed gravel. Mountain and cyclocross bikes work best. The trail parallels I-90 for quite a bit, though far enough way to feel like a remote ride through the woods. Farther down the trail is a two mile long tunnel, lights required for that adventure. Not on the agenda for the day, just a cruise with many stops to look around.

One for the old school Bridgestone fans; wife Lori's almost mint 1991 MB-3. Cool old bike and perfect for gravel trail running.

The Sette Razzo 29er takes a breather. I've been riding this bike for over a year now and still dig it. The 29er hardtail matches my old school XC riding style. The SRAM drivetrain is holding up well, as are the wheels. Tires are ready to be replaced, rear is pretty worn. I'll probably use the Kenda Small Block 8 tires again, they work better then expected everywhere, considering intended for hard pack use. I've gone though one set of Avid brake pads so far, and my only slight complaint - brake squeal at times. I plan to replace the semi-metallic pads for organic soon, to see if that cures it. Otherwise, the Razzo rocks and is a complete killer deal.

Trestle stop requires tossing large rocks into the water below. Ian demonstrates.

Trail side scenery.

Ragnar appears to have been a stop when the railroad was active. Now just notes an empty field with a few piles of scrap wood. Book your stay soon...

Rattlesnake Lake sits next to Iron Horse State Park. Very scenic stop for swimming and fishing.

Another view of Rattlesnake Lake. We're lucky to live in such a scenic part of the country.

After a four mile super easy cruise on the trail, we stopped at Rattlesnake Lake to goof around a bit. Warm weather, sun was setting, kids splashed around a bit. A nice family day out. Plan was to head to Mazama the following day to get away for awhile, wife confirming our reservations via cell phone while the kids waded around in the lake. That all was about to change...

Kids dried their feet off and we mounted our bikes for the ride through the parking lots back to the car - maybe 300 yards away. On the slight uphill into the parking lot, car in sight, daughter Amy stalls - then tips over at a standstill - onto her outstretched arm. Ouch, but looked like nothing serious, just a simple fall over. The ensuing crying said otherwise, she said her elbow really hurt. I honestly thought she was just upset and not really injured. I loaded up the car, crying daughter included, then we all headed home.

While eating a very late dinner home, she said it was still hurting. Better get it checked - Lori drove her over to the ER for an x-ray. They arrive home a few hours later with a temporary cast, hairline fracture in the elbow area. Yikes. I was shocked, thought for sure they'd come back with a report of a bruised arm. Not to be, as were our vacation plans.

I felt terrible, even though this was just a goofy slow speed tip over. Second time in a few weeks with someone riding with our group getting injured. This time my little daughter and as most parents know, having something happen to your kids is tough. I'd trade breaking both my elbows in exchange if possible. All part of growing up though, these things happen.

Luckily, with the temporary cast place, no pain and also sleeping fine. She's been a good sport about it. The real cast to be fitted in a few days. Amy said to make sure they have pink casts available. Wacky enough, the orthopedic doctor scheduled to fit the cast also races bikes. The wheels continue to turn. Everybody will ride once again.

A No Timeout Day!

If you were to ask me what day it was, I couldn't tell you.  What I could tell you, was that it was a No Timeout Day!  This hasn't happened in I don't know how long.  Yep, I do put Coltrane in timeout (for a minute) that little bugger knows more than he lets on and Kingston was the same way!  Like most days, I woke up not knowing if it was Monday or Friday, all I knew was that it was WAY too early and this one would be exactly the same as yesterday but vastly different.  Kyle would agree with me if I were to say, same $#!% different day :)  We are in the middle of Training Camp, I say we because it affects all of us... in different ways.  But for some reason, today started off on a different foot.  Yes we were woken up at 5:00 a.m. and yes, once I brought Coltrane into our bed he tossed and turned and then fell asleep as I laid there listening to the sounds of snoring and then Kyle's alarm going off numerous times while a baby foot - albeit a cute baby foot was lodged in between my neck and chin... yet I digress.  Once we were all awake for the day at 7 when Kingston crawled into bed with a stiff Mommy and sprawled out baby we ALL snuggled together, for a good 10 minutes (heaven on earth).  And unlike most mornings where Coltrane is sent to timeout three times and Kingston storms off into his room because he's pouting, NOTHING happened!  We watched the weather ( like I like to do every morning upon waking) and then watched cartoons while I made breakfast.  I even heard giggles and kisses while in the kitchen.  The day panned out accordingly!  Here are a few pictures of our day today.  

In the meantime, the bebe's and I are just trying to enjoy the last of our lazy mornings and days before the hustle and bustle of school etc begin.  And of course missing Daddy...

A makeshift ramp that Kingston made this morning out of books and a fireman helmet.

After the pool, dinner and baths, we made popcorn and had family movie night (Gnomeo and Juliet) minus Papi :(  BUT, Kingston and Coltrane laid together and ate popcorn and water for 15 minutes alone while I cleaned up!  Then, the three of us snuggled together AGAIN (I'm in heaven here) this picture sums it up.  First down!
Second down, the Crazy Trane!
Third down, the Booshie Man!
Touchdown, Netflix and Chardonnay!!!  All that's missing is Kyle :(

When I Grow Up...Kingston at 3 years old

Last May, I asked Kingston who was then 3 years old what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Like every other time, I asked he had the same response:  Daddy, a birthday cake and Spider-Man.  Sounds good to me!

I wish for him to grow up to be like his daddy:  kind, color-blind, handsome, funny, compassionate, driven, patient...

like a birthday cake:  bringing smiles to people's faces, listening to people's wishes, sweet...

like Spider-Man:  agile, brave, courageous, strong, confident, making the World a better place...

"May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young." Bob Dylan

Tom Wesselmann Jumping!

Coco jumps for Tom Wesselmann's Expo Mouth #10 and Pink Vinyl Nude at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  Awesome, Coco!

"At Camp Our Time" - Morning Song

Lyrics by the Camp Our Time Musical Staff, to the tune of "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

"Not Afraid" - Morning Song

Lyrics written by the Camp Our Time staff to the tune of "Not Afraid" by Eminem

Day 10: Junior Campers visit the Falls!