7/30/07

Off to the races...

...balloon races that is.

Every summer during the National Balloon Classic here in Indianola, I am reminded each morning and evening that I need to make sure the following year I am away on vacation. Not because of these beautiful vessels in the sky, but because my dogs go bonkers barking at them.

This morning had this scene over our house between 7:30 - 8:00 am:

BalloonRace

I stepped out and snapped a few shots like I do every year. There must have been nearly 100 balloons in the air stretched out all the way from the Balloon Launching Field to our house. The destination was just about a 1/2 mile from our house on the west side of town. It took enough time for all balloons to fly over and land to drive my labs crazy. Of course, they see balloons over Indianola all the time year round thanks to the number of balloonists that live here in town.

Here's another shot:

BalloonRace2

I was golfing last night with my son and his friend. Just as we were finishing up the final 3 holes around 7 pm, the balloons for the Sunday evening launch took off. It was a really beautiful sight from the golf course as the hundreds of balloons took off for the evening's race. If you haven't been down to see one of these events, it's worth a few hours to see one. The National Classic started on Friday, and my dogs are pretty much hoarse on Monday morning from all their barking at the sky.

Remind me next year to take my dogs away or buy barking shock collars for the week. ;-)

7/28/07

TDF does not disappoint...

I have to say that this has been one of the most exciting runnings of the Tour de France since I've been watching it. I started watching in 1995 when we moved overseas. One of the few television channels we got in our apartment was called EUROSPORT. We had CNBC and BBC for English channels in Austria, and the rest of our programming was in German, Italian and French.

EUROSPORT showed a lot of bike racing, not just the TDF. Every tour was carried with all stages and no commercials. Soccer, Olympics, skiing, motor racing, curling, ice skating, and cycling were pretty much the standard fare. No basketball. No football. No baseball. Lots of soccer. Lots of Formula I and lots of cycling. We went to France in the summer of 2003 for the TDF and ended up seeing 3 days of it among the three weeks we were vacationing across France. After a few days, we gave up on the reality of struggling to get to the course many hours early and hanging out all day just to see the peloton race by in a matter of 3 - 5 seconds. That's about all you get out on the course unless you are on one of the steeper mountain grades. Just a few seconds of visual, but lots of good wine to drink while you wait. ;-) We pretty much stayed in B & B's for three weeks and had no reservations. Surprisingly so, we never had any difficulty getting a room or two (our kids were with us) wherever we went in France. It is quite a sight to see all of the trucks, vans, cars and TDF equipment that parks in the overnight town and heads out the next morning. A big mass of people that travels with the TDF, but not enough to fill up all of the hotels, pensions and B&B's in the larger overnight towns.

After moving back to the states in 2003, we had OLN on our Mediacom Cable package which picked up coverage of the TDF due to the success Lance Armstrong was having and the interest he created in the US to follow professional road cycling. Now Versus covers it using the same crew as OLN used.

The 1998 Tour of Shame version of the Tour de France was pretty exciting for all the drug related scandals, but I think 2007 is equally if not more exciting thanks to the past 10 days. That always leaves a close battle between those who were not kicked out of the tour to battle for the yellow. Going into tomorrow's final stage, only 31 seconds separates 1st place from 3rd place. Wow! That could even make tomorrow a little more exciting if Evans and his team decide to do some final sprinting on the old Champs and break tradition of not attacking the leader. With times this close between 1st and 3rd, I am hoping there are some attacks and challenges to end this most exciting 2007 TDF.

Update:

Not much excitement for the GC on the final day. They finished 1, 2, 3 with no attacks. My prediction of possible winners for the 2007 TDF included Kloeden, Rasmussen, Contador, Evans and Vino. Unfortunately, 3 got knocked out of the race for the well publicized reasons. Oh well...my dark horse candidate of Evans came in second and my pick of AC as a possible winner based on his climbing abilities came to fruition. I don't think we've seen climbers like Contador and Rasmussen since the days of Pantani. Of course, Pantani was surrounding by doping and Rasmussen missed 4 scheduled random drug tests this year, but I'd like to think at least AC is clean. If he is, this is one of the best climbers we have seen in the TDF in nearly 20 years. Pantani was better than both Contador and Rasmussen, but they are both better climbers than Lance Armstrong and if they can get their time trial abilities sorted out a bit better and stay clean and away from accusations (like be around to answer your telephone, email, Blackberry, iPhone, etc...to not miss random tests and let your team know where you are at all times) - I think these two could battle it out for the next few years in the TDF.

7/26/07

Has "Ed" permeated all endeavors?"

Let me tell you a story about a guy I will call "Ed".

I'll call him Ed because that's his real name. I entered college in the fall of 1979 as did Ed and we both found ourselves in the college band (Wind Ensemble was the official fancy name). I played tuba and Ed played percussion in the college band. I was 6'3" and weighed about 165 dripping wet with my clothes on my back. Ed was 6'2" and weighed about 140 pounds with his backpack and all of his college books on his back. We're talking slimmer than slim and the most prominent features I can remember of Ed at that time were his wire rimmed glasses and his front teeth (let's just say money was saved on fixing any alignment issues in the dental department). An image of Ed comes to mind that had him standing in the percussion section with his arms folded over his chest holding his snare drum sticks waiting for his next musical entrance. At times, the snare drum sticks looked like they had more girth than Ed's arms.

Fast forward through the 4 years of undergraduate college and a weekly transformation of Ed took place. The wire rimmmed glasses were dumped. The haircut became less 70's and more in style. And the snare drum sticks began to look tiny. Why? Ed was adding muscle like a freak of nature. He went from 140 pounds to 220 pounds and became an amazing physical specimen. He began winning martial arts tournaments and Ed turned from a shy young man into an angry opinionated man. He beat the drum louder and stronger in his senior year than in his freshman year. Hmmmmmm..... We in the general population knew little of steroids at the time, but Ed knew all about them. They certainly had infiltrated themselves into the collegiate ranks in sports as athletes looked for short cuts and ways to distance themselves from fellow competitors. Ed had embarked on a weight lifting program as a freshman with the help of members of the college football team and they hooked him up with "nutritional help" to speed up the process. Ah, Ed. Ah - all of the Eds and Joes and Jims and Bobs and Mikes that pursued their advantage in such a manner.

That was the late 70's early 80's.

Fast forward to today. I don't know what ever became of Ed. Although we were college classmates, we were not close and I lost contact after graduation. Was it worth it for Ed? Did the marital arts tournaments bring him his needed glory? Did his new physical presence put him ahead of the competition for finding a mate? I don't know. Only Ed can answer that. The quest to get ahead or get an edge using a shortcut permeates our society.

The obvious headlines this week are the enhancements being detected in the Tour de France and major league baseball. But it certainly doesn't stop there. A good read of the excellent book "You're okay, it's just a bruise" details the level of enhancement that was being used in the 80's in professional football in the Raiders organization. And the Tour de France has a long history of cheating, doping, trying to outdistance the competitors with an "edge". Be it hopping on a train with your bike and jumping off in the next town to get in front of other riders, taking drugs, transfusions, etc... . The history of the tour is riddled with cheating for the entire time the TDF has existed. It's found in professional mountain biking as well. We can't just blame cycling.

Parents send their kids to camps (sports, music, drama, science, math, etc....) in hopes they will improve and "get ahead of the competition" to increase their odds of having an edge over somebody else. To make the team in high school. To get the lead in the play or musical. To get a scholarship in college. To have a chance for a great career. To win. To be better. To stand out. To rise to the top. Obviously, not all of this is ill conceived because the majority of participants are simply trying to improve and rise to the top of their game or craft. What has happened is that there are plenty who view it with a cutting angle that if given the chance to "cheat" to get ahead, some would jump at the chance if given the opportunity. Have the really weighed the risk and reward ratios to make the most informed decision?

Ah, if it sounds to good to be true - it probably is and will eventually be found out as time progresses.

Has Ed permeated all endeavors? Has anyone really won the Tour de France in the past 50 years without searching for ways to gain an edge? No. We would all like to think that there have been riders who have won that gained an edge without going over to the dark side of doing it by cheating, but it appears the rules have allowed room for enhancement up to a point. Ditto in other sports as well.

And I worry. I have a 14 year old impressionable son who is in the weight room on a daily basis with other athletes training for sports. He can rattle off to me exactly how much each person can bench press, squat, etc... with too much enthusiasm for my tastes. We'll be driving down the street and he'll say "Oh, there's Joe Green and Dad, he can bench 195 and squat 290 already". A conversation happens on a daily basis like this. I'm not sure what to do as a parent, but I am trying to encourage him not to get so fixated on that. I also bring up on a daily basis that you have to put in the hard work and not ever cheat to get ahead. I fear Ed has permeated society too much that the urge to get ahead jeopardizes everyone's control to do it in a legitimate, safe and legal manner. It's been around for decades, so I doubt it will go away in a quick manner. Remember the big doping scandal of the Tour de France in the 90's? Hey, here we are a decade later and nothing has changed. The same Eds are searching for an edge.

As a parent, I will continue to educate my kids and hope for the best. Sounds funny to say as I pop the SportLegs before a race, run tubeless tires, pound out intervals and avoid ice cream, chips, white bread and pasta in an effort to gain an "edge" in finishing midpack of a mountain bike sport category race. At least I've stared in the mirror and seen what is there - or rather, what isn't there in my genetic case - and enjoy the challenge of improving what I do have to work with in a legitimate manner. And my kids see that and my hope is they will respect it and do likewise without searching for shortcuts and cheating.

That being said, congratulations to the Indianola High School baseball team for making it to the state tournament this year. Last night's game was a great pitching duel between two of the finest pitchers in Iowa. The final score of 2-0 doesn't really reflect what a good game it was. Indianola had 2 guys on base with only 1 out in the final inning and just could not get a hit to score. That's baseball and the boys did themselves proud - in a legitimate manner! Well done for the season and the first trip to state in 38 years. Beating Valley and Lincoln to get there were highlights of the season. Single game elimination in baseball sucks, but it is what it is.

7/24/07

Rest Week is Over...

My wife managed to talk me into some paved trail riding with her on Saturday and Sunday. After a rest week, that's about all I could handle to get the blood flowing again.

She wanted to try her "old" upright bike instead of the recumbent to see if her back could take it. I asked why and she said it was mainly because she wanted to go faster than the recumbent allows her to go on the climbs. Ah...speed. We all love it - whether we are on a paved trail for a recreational ride or in a race.

I took her 1989 Trek Antelope 820 off of the wall hooks and gave it a dusting and tune up. The frame, fork, seatpost and headset are the only original items left of this bike. I long ago upgraded everything on it with pavement riding only in mind. Before our ride on Saturday, I swapped out her old saddle for a sprung Brooks women's saddle I had in storage and aired up the WTB slick tires to 80 psi.

Here's the 26" wheeled rigid hybrid critter in all of its glory:

TrekAntelope820

Those old step through frames are not a thing of great beauty, but she likes how it rides and she was a heck of a lot faster on it than her recumbent.

I spent the morning at the Iowa Heart Center in West Des Moines doing some scheduled tests. My G.P. sent me there to have some testing done to rule out any early heart disease now that I am 45. I have been having some chest and left arm discomfort since January of this year and wanted it to be checked out so I can sleep better at night. Both of my biological parents have a history of heart disease, so these two tests were performed this morning on me to determine if my life style is fighting my genetics.

A very attractive young lady in a very tight white shirt shaved my chest and hooked me up to the EKG equipment before I got on the treadmill. Then she informed me she would be taking me up to a heart rate of 175. After her hands were on my chest and abdomen while doing the shaving, let me tell you - my heart rate felt like I was already at 175!!!!! Wow...

Anyway, it took about 16 minutes, but we finally got me up to 174 which was good enough for the EKG testing. It wasn't enough to have any lactic acid build up in the legs as I was running, but she and I figured we had the EKG we needed - so why continue with the test. Between that and another test they performed to measure calcium in my heart, we should know if I have any signs of early blockage like my biological parents did. The Doc will be calling me tomorrow with results.

Hopefully, I can get the clearance to launch into some intervals again.

7/21/07

News Flash: "Bush Has Colonoscopy...

...and the Doctors found that he indeed was full of _ _ _ _!"

Or this one: "Now he knows what it is like to have a forced invasion and find nothing."

LOL! Heard that on the radio this AM when the alarm went off. Ah....to be in public life and have every move you make commented on by the comedians, pundits and naysayers.

I'm getting back on the bike again today after a rest and recovery week. I've been doing about 20 minutes of easy riding each day around the neighborhood the past few days, but today I toss my leg over the bike and get in a 20 mile ride with the wife once the Tour de France TT is over in a few minutes.

Eating food again and keeping it in me. Yummy! About time...

The Doctor ran some blood tests and everything looks good - except my cholesterol level was not as good as it should be. Total Cholesterol level should read 200 or less to qualify as "Desirable". I came in just a few points over that. So I guess I am not as "Desirable" as I should be. ;-)

My good cholesterol level of HDL was just find and dandy, but my bad cholesterol level of LDL needs to be just a tad lower. Not bad, but it looks like I need to increase fiber, fruits and veggies. Everything else in my diet and exercise is pretty spot on for keeping good levels. I know these things can fluctuate rather quickly, as each year my physical comes up with numbers hovering in the "Desirable" range and sometimes a few points over the 200 point level. Regardless, I'm fighting family history here and have been very careful to lead a different lifestyle to keep problems at bay.

Glad I didn't have a colonoscopy this week...

7/19/07

Stomach Bug Be GONE!

....enough is enough already! 7 pounds I've lost since my Porcelain God rituals began last Friday. I finally hauled what was left of my _ss into see the Doc yesterday. The nurse weighed me in while I was in dress shoes, dress slacks, long sleeve shirt, keys in my pockets, cell phone in pocket, etc... - total weight 186 pounds! What? I'd be happy with that weight butt naked, but with all my stuff on? Too much weight loss for one week even though I know most of it is water and will come right back once the leak in the dam gets plugged.

The Doc took one look at me and read the checklist:

"Abdominal Pain?"

Check

"Diarrhea?"

Check

"Fever?"

Check

"Cold Sores?"

Check

"Loss of Appetite?"

Check

"Fatigue?"

Check

"Yup. We've been seeing a lot of that in the past couple of weeks. Seems to be some kind of nasty stomach bug going around."

Gee, thanks Doc. Now what can you do for me?

Basically he told me to slowly get some broth, toast, yogurt into me and take it easy for a couple more days as this bug was about a 7 day wild ride. Okay, today is day 7 and I have had enough of this crappola (literally). Dehydration sucks. Night fever sucks. Leg cramps suck. Not eating sucks. Charmin toilet paper sucks (at this point it feels like sandpaper to me).

On top of that, I have been working all week. We are holding the Orpheus Music Festival this week at Simpson and I have been teaching 7 voice lessons a day. I hope none of the kids catch this nasty, nasty from me.

Ahhh....I smell the chicken broth cooking in the kitchen now. Here's to some Soup Du Jour.

7/18/07

Saying Goodbye...

Tragic news came to all of us today for a fellow colleague in my business.

Jerry Hadley's life ended today due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound with an air rifle. It's hard for me to imagine this happening because he always seemed to have everything going for him. Condolences to his wife Cheryll and to his boys, Ryan and Nathan. I don't think words begin to describe how we all feel at this moment.

Farewell, Jerry. We'll all miss you and your wonderful singing voice...

Jerry Hadley

7/17/07

Iowa Games Race Report...

Saturday morning was the Iowa Games Mountain Bike Race held at Peterson Pits north of Ames. I did not get to do a pre-ride on Friday due to too many soccer matches to attend in Ames (my daughter's team took the Bronze Medal), so I arrived early enough to pre-ride before the race on Saturday.

I had one primary goal for this race based on the prior 24 hours - survive it without dehydration! I picked up some kind of a stomach bug on Friday morning that meant anything I ate or drank would not stay in me (I'm still having the problem and considering going to a doctor today). After a rough night on Friday night with the Porcelain God, I got up early Saturday morning and went to Walgreens to get Pepto, Immodium and liquids.

I started taking all the medication about 8 am and by 9 my stomach was behaving well enough to drive up to Ames. I knew there was a rest stop on I-35 north of Des Moines if I need to make an emergency landing. I managed to choke down some cereal and a small cup of coffee along with tons of water. I swallowed some Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte tablets to replace what I had lost the night before.

Endurolytes

I actually felt pretty good once I got up to Peterson Pits and started moving around. The weather was beautiful and the course was set up well for the race. Hats off to the Iowa Games folks and volunteers for doing such a great job. I chatted with a few folks and headed out for a lap to warm up. I forced myself to drink a bottle of some sports drink I had picked up at the store. It was some brand I had never heard of, but I grabbed what I could at the time. Much to my chagrin, the flavor was grapefruit which I absolutely hate. Oh well, at least it was cold and wet.

Last year, this event became a "joint" event between the Iowa Games and the IMBCS as it took the place of another IMBCS race that got canceled. There were not as many participants this year and I figure last year drew more racers because it counted for the IMBCS points. Regardless, I enjoyed it so much last year I came back this year to do the race again. I lined up at the start along with the 36 other sport category racers behind a guy who was moaning and complaining about having to wear a helmet during the race. He was arguing with the race director about it and not understanding why he needed to wear a lid during the race. Go figure?

Off we went and I was getting some grinding noises from my drivetrain, so I just put the chain on the big ring and left it there for the remainder of the race. I headed into the singletrack about the middle of the pack and at the first bottleneck, here comes Mr. I Don't Want to Wear a Helmet passing on the left not knowing that the race decorum usually is you keep in line at a bottleneck the way you entered it - or at least that's the way it always seems to function to me. Everybody got the first twisty turn sorted out and off we went through the first section. It took about 1/2 of the first lap to get everyone strung out enough that there were no more serious bottlenecks.

Mr. I Don't Want to Wear a Helmet went down hard shortly after entering the singletrack after crossing the bridge. I bit my tongue not to say "good thing you were wearing a lid" as I rode by. The next two in front of me didn't clear the little steep and short hill coming out of the poison ivy twisty turns and that meant I had to dismount. Plenty of passing opportunities on this course, and I worked my way up through the field when I could during the remainder of lap 1.

Lap 2 found me riding along with fellow Team 14 members Aaron Bieker and Matt Scotton. We chatted off and on and I kept asking if either of them had seen our team manager Paul Varnum. No, nobody had seen him. I kept looking up ahead to see if I could spot him, but no Paul. Matt and I pretty much rode together for most of lap 2. We finished the lap riding behind Ron Degeest who was mashing some huge gear with a cadence of about 60 rpm. Where the heck was Paul? I told Matt that Paul must be riding like gangbusters because I felt I was riding hard enough to have caught him by this point in the race based on prior races this year. Hmmmmmm....

We started lap 3 together and closed the gap on some riders in front of us and passed them. Matt and I passed Ron Degeest and we heard him yelp and crash going up a hill behind us. After we crossed the bridge I turned it up a notch or two and took off. I was going to burn whatever matches I had left on this lap figuring I wouldn't dehydrate now. I came flying through a sandy corner and found Amanda Miller picking herself up off of the ground to get back on her bike. I nearly biffed it trying to avoid hitting her. Still no sighting of Paul anywhere. There were about 4 riders in front of me and I mashed hard to close the gap. I was hoping to do it quickly so I could recover in time for a sprint to the line. I couldn't close the gap in time to recover before the final sprint. I was hoping to pick off at least one or two in a final sprint, but everyone in that group turned on the jet engines and I had nothing left to pass any of them. So I crossed the line a bike length back of that group which included the 1st Place female sport rider, Sandy Kessler. And there stood Paul Varnum at the finish line. He had already showered, shaved, dressed and had lunch by the time I crossed the line. Great race, Paul! Congrats on your 2nd Place finish.

Looks like I was 5th out of the 12 that raced in my division of 40-49 year old males and out of all 37 that raced in the various sport divisions, I was 15th. It was a fun race with the course presenting unique challenges that I enjoyed. (I hope none of that horse manure got up on the lid of my waterbottle....)

The Karate Monkey with the XR large volume tubeless tires seemed to work well in all the sand and horse manure out on the trail. Tires floated right through the sand and for the most part, I really didn't feel the need to pick a line in the sand as the tires plowed right through the stuff. I just had to be careful not to over steer.

My bike looking all dusty post race...

KMPostIowaGames2

7/13/07

Running Tubeless XR's for Saturday...

UPS arrived yesterday with a couple of sets of rim strips for converting my American Classic non-disc wheels and my Salsa Delgado Disc rims to tubeless. I wanted to run the Karate Monkey on Saturday at the Iowa Games race and running the larger volume XR's gives me some more cushion on the rigid bike. Not wanting to deal with thorns and flats, converting to tubeless seemed warranted.

So, here are the shots of the project.

Flipping the wheel pancakes and sealing the sidewalls on the buckets...

XRTubeless


All ready to go....

KMTubeless

I'm heading up to Ames in a few minutes for two soccer matches that my daughter has and will bring the bike to pre-ride the Pits.

7/11/07

On the Road Again...

I went in to work for about 4 hours this morning just to get caught up at the office and make some $$$.

After a much needed 2 days of rest and recovery from the bike, I took an easy 30 miler on the road today. Tossed in 5 reps of 1 minute on, 1 minute off near the end and finished with 3 reps of hill sprint intervals just to prime the legs. All of that on a very small bowl of Grape Nuts that I had this morning while watching the TDF.

I spent the late afternoon transplanting chunks of grass from a section near the house we are landscaping and placing those chunks in doggie pee and pooh destroyed holes in our front yard. I will finish all the transplanting tomorrow and our front yard will once again return to its neighborhood luster. It's amazing what 2 labs can do to a front yard. Usually, I plant seed in the spots in the spring after the winter destruction the dogs do, but this year I never got around to planting. So the transplanting project is underway...

Finished the day off by attending the Des Moines Metro Opera's production of Otello. Wow! It was well done and well sung. Shakespeare wrote some heavy duty plays and Verdi did an excellent job of transcribing Othello for the opera stage. Great stuff!

7/9/07

Bike of the Month!

I saw this from BillyMTB and decided it was worthy of "Bike of the Month". A 19 pound SS Soma Juice outfitted with Stans NoTube 355 Rims and Crow tires, a Pace carbon fork and sleek looking component package. If I ever went SS, something like this would be in the cards.

Bike Beauty:

JuiceSSCrowsAngle

And a side shot of the Juice:
JuiceSSCrowsSide

I did a lot of high cadence, easier gear riding this past week during my recovery week. I rode Saturday and Sunday on the trails at Ashworth in the heat. Pretty much a jungle in there at the moment with all the undergrowth which makes it hard to see an approaching rider, but they are in excellent shape with all the work everyone has be doing in there. Great work everyone! Squirrel, you are amazing with all the dedicated work you do out there. In fact, if you don't mind, I will borrow a link to one of your pictures to show the Jester Tree. The Jester Tree was one big old fallen tree that looked to be nearly 4 feet in diameter that I'm sure took some serious Lumberjack effort to cut through with appropriate testosterone hardware.

There is a lot of sand on the one loop behind the railroad tracks which was good practice for the Peterson Pits sand areas. Some of the riverbank got washed away in the flood along the Racoon, but a new singletrack is forming to replace what was lost. I only saw two other riders out in the heat proving how crazy I was to ride at 3:30 pm...

7/7/07

My Coaching Career is OVER! (All-Stars Bust)

Time for a baseball update.

This was my last year to be able to coach my son who is 14. I've coached Little League baseball on and off the past 6 years since he was in the Minors at age 9. Next year he will begin playing high school baseball with "real" coaches and not just volunteer fathers. Since our team was one of the top two teams in our Little League this season, I was asked to be the assistant coach for the Indianola Little League Junior team (13-14 year olds) this year.

We held about 4 or 5 practices and headed into the tournament this week with no expectations since we were fielding a team of mainly 13 year olds (most of the better 14 year olds did not play Little League this year since they were on AAU team). We got creamed on Thursday by Fort Des Moines by a score of 11-1 (ten run rule in the 5th inning). We had to win today against Beaverdale to advance to the next level of the tournament. A loss meant the season was over, so I was hungry for the win and the kids showed up ready to play as well.

We started my son at pitcher and he was doing great in the first 2 innings. We were ahead 4-1 going into the 3rd and since Beaverdale had lost the night before 25-2 against Fort Des Moines, we figured we would be able to win since it was going our way and our team looked to be "on" today. So we pulled my son and put in another pitcher in the 3rd inning (who did well and threw 70+ pitches the next few innings). The reason for pulling my son was that we needed to save my son for tomorrow and Monday if we advanced with the Little League pitch count rules. The game was pretty exciting with a pair of home runs and a lot of runs scored by both teams.

It came down to the final inning after 3 hours of play. We began the 7th inning ahead 18 - 14 and I told the head coach we had better put my son back in to pitch as our closer and forget about saving him for tomorrow or Monday since a loss would mean there would be no tomorrow or Monday. It's an odd rule, but you are allowed in Junior/Senior League to put a pitcher who has been removed from the mound earlier in the game back in as pitcher if he has stayed in the game at another position (which my son had). In Little League, a lead of 4 runs is nothing as it can go south rather quickly. The head coach didn't listen to me and went with another pitcher who walked the first two guys and then the third hit in two runs. Score 18 - 16.

Once again, I said we needed to move my son to pitcher and close it out. Head coach went with yet another pitcher who walked two and the third guy got a hit. Score was now 19 - 18 and we finally got our three outs. We were up to bat as the home team last and managed to get a guy on 1st and 2nd, but then the next three batters got out via pop up, strike out and ground out - and the game was over. Somehow, as the assistant coach I had no say in anything. Frustrating, but not the end of the world. Plenty of muttering from the parents as the train wreck unfolded...

My Little League coaching days are now officially over and I look forward to watching my son play high school baseball. I enjoyed coaching and have plenty of memories to cherish.

7/1/07

Seven Oaks IMBCS #5 Report...

Kudos to all those that prepared the trail for today's race! It was in perfect shape and the new sections were a nice addition - especially the section to keep us from bouncing across the ski slopes which we did in prior years traversing the hill.

I felt pretty good going into the race and because of it, even though my final place doesn't reflect it, today was somewhat of a breakthrough ride for me.

Shotgun start resulted in the usual mad dash to the singletrack. I knew it would bunch up and create some stop and start areas in that first section of trail - and it did. I had just crossed the first wooden bridge and was about to pass a group of three when something I totally was not expecting happened. I stood up to hammer up the hill and as I mashed down on the pedal, my rear wheel popped out of the dropouts and I came to a rather sudden stop. I wasn't sure what had happened at the time, but I feared I had destroyed the rear hub until I flipped the bike over and saw that the wheel had just popped out.

Now here's a situation I failed to practice while one's heart rate is up in the red zone. The simple act of loosening the QR bolt, getting the chain, derailleur and disc brake rotor all lined up, spreading the dropouts a tad to pop the wheel back into place suddenly became a slow motion act of all thumbs. I could not get the wheel back into place. What should have taken 30 - 45 seconds tops stretched on for an eternity. I figure more than 2 minutes passed by the time I got things into place, tightened up and the bike upright again. I could not get it to go into place and was looking around in desperation as if there was somebody who would help me. Ha! In my switch to tubeless last week, I guess I must not have tightened everything up with the QR thinking I would get to it later once all of the sealing of the tires was completed. I didn't get to it and....well, it cost me today.

I had no choice but to burn some matches to play catch up. Two minutes (or 2+), for me, is a lot of time to make up in a mountain bike race. So off I went trying to inch my way back. The weather was perfect and the trail was pristine. I wasn't really so mad that I had just ruined this race because there is nothing you can do once something like that happens to you out on the course. You just have to take what comes your way and live through it. So I quickly set new goals for today just to get back close enough to gain some points.

After burning a lot of matches, I finally caught up to a couple of riders and that gave me hope that my inching back into place was working. I passed Paul Varnum who asked what had happened and I said "I rode my rear wheel right off the bike!". He probably thought that sounded odd, but it was true! I chugged on ahead trying to burn just enough fuel to run a faster pace than usual, but also stay within my game. Entering the backside of the course, I saw Kyle Williams just ahead of me. Kyle and I have finished pretty close to each other in the previous IMBCS races this year with either me on his tail or he on my tail, so I knew that I had made up some of the time lost to the rear wheel fiasco. But I was feeling good and pushing this pace was working out okay.

The tubeless set up felt great. Nice and supple and the traction was worth it. Coming out of the singletrack on lap one for the drop into the finish line area I just used my weight to shoot past Kyle and put it in the big ring. I thought maybe I burned one match too many as we started the climb again on lap 2, but I hung in there with Kyle on my wheel and made it to the start of the technical stuff. Once there, I was able to open up a little bit of a gap on Kyle and off I went. Came around one of the switchbacks and saw Andre Lema who had just flatted. A little later, I came up behind Nick Wooley who was racing three laps in expert. I passed Nick and headed up the climbs. After passing him, I didn't really see anyone in front of me and did a little recovery before heading into the back half of the course. At that moment, the three lead experts - Brian Eppen, Cam and Cully Todd - came flying by to remind me how much of a snail I really am! LOL! No genetic talent rears its ugly head again. Reality aside, I kept pushing the pace, but still saw nobody until Thad. His bike didn't sound like it was making nice noises at all and he pulled over to let me by. According to the results, Thad ended up with a DNF.

I came out of the singletrack to ride around the paint ball area and still saw nobody up ahead. Now I was wishing that rear wheel had not fallen off because my legs were turning over pretty good today. A heck of a lot better than they were in the Kanesville Krusher where I did not ride very well on the Sugar and had let my interval training slip. So I was pleased today. Sure, I banged a couple of saplings with my shoulders, nailed a tree with my handlebar which knocked my bars a little askew, and burned a lot of matches after the rear wheel halted my progress early in the race, but I was feeling pretty good at this pace.

Finished up the back side with just a little bit of a cramp in the right leg starting to occur when climbing out of saddle, but it wasn't much of a twinge at all. I came out of the singletrack rolling pretty quick for my old bones, looked down the hill and saw no bikes moving - so I was in "no man's land" in terms of out there on lap 2 riding by myself for the most part. Ended up in 8th for Sport Open with a time of 1:35:41. No complaints at all as in spite of the rear wheel hanging me up for some lost time, I was able to push my pace and ride myself back into position. If anything, losing the wheel probably only ended up costing me 5 points and it taught me I can pick up the pace without melting down.

I enjoyed seeing the Reese triplets. Bruce has some special kids and they were a joy to see as well as hear them visit. I enjoyed meeting Jason Plunkett. He told me he had built himself his own 29"er and had been using tubeless stuff for four years. So we talked big wheels and tubeless for a little bit over lunch. Now that I have converted one set of wheels to tubeless, I think I will do another set on my Sugar 293 as well to avoid the thorns.

Congratulations to all the winners. I don't think the weather or trail could have been any better than it was today. Hats off to Troy, Kyle and Ron for running a great event.

Idiots!

Time for a quick rant. This weekend was the state tournament for baseball in Des Moines and Indianola. Although my son's team was playing up in Des Moines, something happened in Indianola between 2 parents that deserves a rant.

Remember, this is baseball for kids. Why parents get so off the rocker about it, I don't know. Anyway, two teams of 11 year old kids were playing at the tournament in Indianola on Saturday. The former coach of one team was in attendance because although he was no longer coaching the team, his son was still on the team. Evidently, this former coach kept yelling from the stands how the boys should be playing. Another parent told him to stop yelling because he wasn't the coach anymore. End result, the former coach asked the parent who was trying to "silence" him to take it out back. So "out back" they went where the former coach managed to beat the guy up pretty badly to the point that an ambulance and police were called. Broken facial bones and teeth were involved. When the police arrived, the former coach turned on them. He was arrested, cuffed and hauled off.

Excellent role models for the 11 year old boys on both teams - don't you think?

Idiots!

Rumor has it that at today's games in Indianola, 4 other people were immediately kicked out of the ball park for opening their mouths and yelling. It didn't matter what it was about, the staff and tournament organizers wanted to avoid a repeat of yesterday and were being proactive about it.

Ah....kids sports these days where all the parents get in the way of a good time....

Rant over.

My 14 year old son's team made it to the top 8 teams in the state after the three games they played on Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, while I was in Boone racing today they lost 8-7 in the first round of the championship bracket and did not advance to the quarterfinals. They ended up losing to the Cedar Rapids team who won the World Series in St. Louis last summer. Oh well...two more tournaments and then the baseball season for my son is over and it is on to football...where parents really scream and carry on in the stands!

Race update to follow...