Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday Ride - Garmin test

I've adopted the little Garmin eTrex Jackie got a couple of years ago during her short-lived fascination with geocashing. Maybe she'll get the bug again, so for now I'll just say we have joint custody. Anyway, I put in my first test Sunday while battling some stiff crosswind on the roadie.

I did the route I've worked out that goes around Easter Lake, back by the Great Ape Trust and then on to "beautiful" Avon Lake, to Carisle, down Summerset Trail to Indianola. As an interesting aside - the Ape Trust is a research center where they are doing some fascinating work with Bonobos and Orangutans. I would take a picture of it, but there's some SERIOUS security around this place complete with a manned guard station out front. I'm afraid they might send some Kung Fu trained War Apes out to attack me all-guerrilla warfare style (credit to Jackie for that joke). So this link will have to suffice. A lot of their research is around cognition and language development. Who wudda thunk it, there's some pretty cool stuff happening right in my "backyard". Dem monkeys es purdy smart.

Back to the ride - All-in-all it was about 42 miles roundtrip - I think. The Garmin said 46.2, but I think I forgot to reset the trip odometer, so we'll see next time. I really need to get my bike computer back to running. I'm looking into getting an upgraded map program for it so I can have the elevation (or lack there of) profile. Easter Lake would be an interesting profile for sure.

As it is this route is good for one thing only - base miles. The Summerset trail gradually climbs a little going into Indianola but it is really flat and straight without much interesting to look at, save these cows, or more accurately (thanks Country Joe) bull.

Hey dar Bull.

On my way back this guy was eyeballing me at the Carisle Casey's while he was getting gas and I was getting ready to go in for some much needed Reece's Peanut Butter Cup fuel. You always seem to get a lot of looks while in your cycling gear. In the store he says, "You need a beer after a ride like that." "Yeah, but I need electrolytes" was all I could croak out in my weakened state. You never know what someone is thinking, but apparently this was a nice guy.I assume, too often, its one of those "the road isn't big enough kinda guys". I told him, as my penance, to "have a good one" on my way out of the store. Man, that was clever.

I've decided I really don't like this route, its just too boring and ugly. I think a much better ride would be to take the mountain bike around Easter Lake, ride the dirt roads between there and Summerset and then the singletrack at Banner and back. I bet that would be 30-35 miles or so on dirt, much better. Check it

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Trail Work and Riding on Katie's Birthday

Twelve years ago today Kaitlyn Ann came into this world and forever changed our lives for the better. Recently she decided to spend the morning of her twelfth anniversary with her dad and a bunch of other mountain biking trail rats cutting in new trail at Banner Lakes State Park.

Being the only girl and kid there didn't phase her as she grabbed the loppers (or "choppers" as she insisted on calling them) and set to showing various flora who was boss. She triumphed over all manner of sticks, twigs and branches before finally running out of gas about 2.5 hours into the assault.

We decided to retreat to the Indianola McDonalds for McFlurries and fries but on the walk out Katie spied a rather steep hill. "I can climb that" she declared and in a flash she was standing at the top. After returning to Banner full of greesy McD's we got the bikes out and went to ride the previously established beginner loop on the south side of the park. Unfortunately there was too much deadfall covering the trail. I asked Katie if she wanted to ride the paved trail connected to the park or head to Easter Lake for a little more dirt under the tires. She immediately opted for the dirt - ata girl.

When we got to Easter we saw 2 of Katie's friends doing the all-too-common panhandling thing on the side of the road for East Side Softball. Katie wanted to go say "hi" and (I think) demonstrate she is a bad biker chick. The girls had the worst sign I have ever seen. They said the had only raised $3. Normally I don't support the straight-up begging approach (in fact it really irks me) but since these were Katie's friends and their sign was sooo pathetic I doubled their take for the day by donating $3. They were unable to provide a receipt for my donation, but I did request they utilize my contribution to get a better sign. Here's our rigs at Easter. I tried to get a picture of Katie and I standing together but I didn't get the timer on the camera right. Katie was in no mood for a re shoot because she "had to pee". She was also none-too-happy that we had to ride up a big hill to get back to the car. The McFlurry and fry fuel had clearly run out. After the needed bathroom break Katie said all she wanted was to take a shower. Well, she almost made it. I noticed that I hadn't heard any water running even though she had headed upstairs awhile ago.

When I went to check on her this is what I found. Bam! Down for the count. She is sound asleep. All in all it was a great father-daughter morning. This is the stuff that money just can't buy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Misson: Ride to My Dad's - Part 1

On the way home from my dad's on Easter I started wondering how difficult it would be to find a good route to ride to his house. Looking into it I quickly realized the Chichaqua Valley trail goes right through Valeria which is only a few miles from his house.
The last bit will be on gravel which isn't a treat on the roadie, but its not really worth it to ride a mtb for all that pavement.
Now, to get to the CV trailhead. I hadn't rode the Gay Lea Wilson trail in Pleasant Hill and Altuna before, so I scoped that out today and added some scouting the road connecting mid-Altuna and CV.
Sometimes its hard to tell just from Google Earth what is what, so you just gotta go out and see it for yourself. I knew I would need to exit the trail and head north in mid-Altuna, but I didn't really like the route I took up 1st Avenue. There was too much big truck traffic and its just a one lane each way with no real shoulder and no sidewalk. One jerkface trucker actually forced me off the road a little bit. If I had took more time to plan this ride I would never have gone that way. Next time I will go further east and avoid the traffic and that monterous bridge over I80. Here is the connector I did (A-B) and the one I'll do next time (C-D).

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The GLW trailhead is on Scott Avenue, so the Mission's Part 2 may be working out something to get me from my house to there, but I've already tried scoping out a route from mi casa to the northeast because the roads around Runnels are very hilly, twisty and scenic. There's really not a good way to get over the Raccoon River other than going out on the 65 bypass and I ain't really feelin' the big nasty highway stuff. I'll hatch that part of my plan later or I'll just start in Pleasant Hill.
It was really WINDY today. They said 15-20 mph, with gusts up to 30, but it felt like it was consistently stronger than that. At times I felt like I was leaning the bike 5 degrees or so into the CROSSWIND, especially on the road between the trailheads. Amazingly the WIND wasn't too bad on the GLW. It didn't seem all that well protected, but I guess it was. Its not a scenic route, but its not completely flat and straight like a lot of multi-use trail, so that is appreciated. It has a little off-shoot that goes around the Copper Creek "lake" . Its kinda cool that it winds around behind a strip mall that has a Legends (Tommy like chicken wingy)

Hey, look Gooses, the ice is almost melted.

On a ped bridge near the Altuna Y. It was very WINDY up here.

It looks like dirt, but its actually sawdust - good thing I'm not allergic or anything.

There must be a joke here, somewhere.
Eureka, I found it.

This was a flood pond in the corner of a farm field right by the CV trailhead. I took the picture because there was actually whitecaps on the water. Did I mention it was WINDY?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

So, there are these hand painted eggs.....and people run for them.

The scene is Easter Lake Beach area, about 8:30 a.m., somewhere around 35 degrees. About 100 (?) runners show up to the lightly promoted 2nd annual Run for the Egg. It was a nice little event sponsored by Polk County Conservation, Fitness Sports and 97.3 the Hawk. Among the sites to be seen at the start were boxes of free Casey's doughnuts set out by the registration booth. Strangely, they had been lightly abused. It seems the runners would rather not have a sugary, fried stone sitting in their gullet for 5 miles. Even given the circumstances, it is truly odd to see boxes of free doughnuts go mostly undisturbed in a large group of people.

It was Joe and I first-ever race. Here's our game faces. The Third Musketeer, Sarah, is not pictured as she wandered of to the bathroom.....we thought she might be trying to not been seen with the newbies.

Everyone was competing for one of these bad boys. Ostrich (1st), Emu (2nd) and Rhea (3rd). For those of you that actually don't know what a Rhea is - its a little Emu-like bird (thanks Wiki). I think it tastes like chicken.

I had no delusions of Egg grandeur, so I thought I'd better get some pictures. Next year, my year (yeah, except probably not).

Speaking of chickens, yep there was a big chicken on-site with a life-size egg companion. My wife was trying to determine which one came first. We thought this was a great chance to answer one of the traditional riddles of life. I proposed a 1 on 1 race but alas, this mystery was not to be solved.

Here's the route. I'm very familiar with the course because I spend a lot of time on my mountain bike out there. That was to be my secret weapon.

I actually saw a snow flurry or two float by right at the start. Jackie caught the starting gun. She's such an action photographer.

I took off a little faster than I originally thought I would. I figured the more people I could pass before we got to the sloppy, icy dirt (mud) trail the better. This turned out to be a good idea as Sarah later said she lost her shoe, twice, in the well-trampled mud bog. I told Jackie and the kids to expect me back at the finish somewhere around the 1-1.5 hour mark, so they headed back to our nearby home. Things went pretty well out on the course, knowing the route really was a huge help. There were a couple of hills that were killer, but plenty of downhills mixed in too. I thought my tendency to push the envelope on my bike might lead me into actually wiping out in a muddy corner somewhere, but I made it around without incident. Jackie said she saw me starting the last mile or-so from our deck. She rushed the kids into the car and booked to the finish line. Apparently my substantial speed was still too much to handle because she had to dispatch Katie with the camera to capture my finish while she parked the car.

Good job on the shutter Katie. If it looks like I'm tired its because I am. In my eggcitement (yes, I went there) to be done I forgot to look at the clock. Later I was able to determine my time was about 52 minutes. The starting gun picture was taken at 9:03 and the finish picture was snapped at 9:55, how's that for some forensic timing? Fitness Sports lists 3rd place in my age group was 48 minutes, so I'm pretty happy with my result. It was nice that Jackie made the extra effort to be there at the finish, I really appreciated seeing the friendly faces and getting the congratulations.
A scant few minutes later Joe comes rolling up. He said he turned it up a notch when he saw the clock nearing the 1 hour mark. Although I didn't notice the speed boost, he did come in under an hour. Apparently he got passed by the chick-in-the-skirt you can see running in his slipstream, but he punched up some freaky-fresh Timbaland on the MP3 player and that was all she wrote for skirt chick, good job Joe. Sarah came rolling along a little while later. She wasn't happy. Getting squished in the mud, losing a shoe and having trouble with her feet going numb didn't make for a good run. I definitely think she is going to take it out on me during the Dam to Dam (why did I agree to do that again?)

After the race we all headed back to mi casa for burgers, dogs and chicken on the grill. We watched the Twister Sisters eek out a close one down at Wells Fargo. It was a great end to a great day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Managing Expectations

Ok, so I've decided to give this blog thing a try.

So now I face my first post, my initial impression, the inaugural comment...Man, I can already feel the pressure building. I know I should try to be interesting, informative, funny, introspective, compelling and all that good stuff, but I think that is shooting a bit high. I guess I will just pick two or three from the list each time. I'll try to let you know what I'm going for (but not really) to make it easier.

Still, I worry I could actually create some expectations with my blog ("my blog" even sounds wierd). For example, I remember in junior high I wrote some funny (at least I thought it was funny) little quip on the board of my Government teacher's blackboard. I entitled it "Thought of the Day". I got a pretty good laugh from the class as I recall - a fine reward indeed. Unfortunately, I didn't see the backlash coming. From then on Mr. Government Teacherman challenged me to keep it up - daily. After all, he said, "it is the Thought of the Day".

As you might guess, this became old real fast. I would come into class and go straight to my seat, uncharacteristically trying to keep a low profile. He'd say, "Brian, where's our thought of the day? How can we get through our day without your amazing insightfulness?" and other stuff like that. Trying to keep up, I even went to the library (once I found it) and checked out a book of quotations. I think (more like I know) I put more effort into this self-volunteered assignment (for zero credit) than I did for anything else in that class. Oh yes, using my beloved sarcasm back on me was well played, Teacherman.

Could he have known this (wildly successful) method of behavior modification would, much later in life, give me pause about creating a blog? I don't think so. How could he have foreseen the proliferation of the internet? Especially given the fact he was drunk most of the time. So, here's to you Crazy-Drunk-Creepy-but-Likeable-Government-Teacherman, you taught me the nail that sticks out is the one that gets pounded down. Hey, that would've made a good Thought of the Day. Man, I wish I would've thought of that about 24 years ago.

So, anywho.....if you don't expect too much you won't be disappointed. I will, most likely, fill this little piece of cyberspace with streams of consciousness and variably interesting accounts of my life and times. I'm sure to add some incredibly pro-Brian slanted commentary as well.

In all seriousness, I just hope my blog will be a way to better connect with family and friends. I guess I could've just said that instead of all that stuff above, but what fun would that have been?