12/27/08

Back on the bike...

I survived the weight training phases of hypertrophy, strength and now I have moved into the final phase of power which is also the time I start the Endurance Phase which is back on the bike building up a base. Just in time, too, as all those Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hannukah calories started to edge my morning weight up from the mid 180's to the 188 area. Just like last year during the weight training phases, my left shoulder is shot. It feels like rotator cuff to me, but seems to get trashed when I increase weights on the lat pulls up to the 140 and 160lb range. I dialed it back this week to a high end of 100 and 120 on the lat pull so the shoulder wouldn't revolt. That seemed to do the trick, but I'm pretty sure I've got rotator cuff damage in there from life in the 40's.

This year, I did stay on the bike through hypertrophy and strength phase enough to keep a little bit of the top end (via leadouts, sprint and minimal 1 minute on; 1 minute off SMSP intervals) and transfer the muscle gained strength from the weights to the bike. Not a lot of volume, but enough to keep the legs in cycling shape. But those 30 - 40 minute "keep in shaper" sessions morphed into last night's first endurance phase ride. 2 hours on the C7i in the basement with classic rock and roll jacked up and three bottles of water were just the ticket to get some calorie burn going. I did find it difficult to keep the cadence and effort down in the proper zone as I wanted to let it rip. But I held myself in check and managed to stay in the target zone for the duration.

The ICE is here!!!

Tara, Zack and I spent Friday morning chipping and clearing the 2 inch thick ice covering on the sidewalks and driveway as temperatures rose all the way up to 57 degrees. The whole neighborhood was out removing all the ice with whatever tools we could find in our sheds and garages. All that effort, only to wake up this morning to freezing rain and a total shellacking of everything outside for another layer of fresh ice. My niece is arriving this afternoon at 1 pm from San Francisco via Denver. It looks like the Des Moines airport is open and running with only about 15 minute delays, but driving up there is not going to be a picnic. It's like an ice rink out there right now as the ice/rain continues to fall. Tree limbs are sagging and icicles are hanging from everything.

12/21/08

1st Day of Hannukah is here...

It's just about sundown, so our family is getting ready to celebrate the first day of Hannukah. We picked up the Matzo Meal for the Latkes and as I type this, Tara is in the kitchen getting things prepared. Most of the presents have been purchased and the kids will get their first one tonight. My mouth has been watering since 10:15 this morning when I heard my wife and my daughter's soccer coach going into detail about preparing their Latkes as we were waiting for the indoor soccer field to clear from the 9:30 am match.

We went to Deb and Joel Hade's house last night for their annual Christmas party. It's always a fun event to attend as the high school choir shows up and sings a mini-concert, lots of food, conversation and drink are shared by all. And there is singing of secular and sacred holiday music. I cut loose on O Holy Night for the last verse as the mood hit me. It looked like there were about 70 or so in attendance at the party, so it was fun to catch up with various folks in town that I don't get to see that often. Our thoughts and prayers are still with the Hades as they move forward following the recent loss of their son, Chris last month.

Happy Holidays to all - no matter which you are celebrating.

12/11/08

4 weeks of hypertrophy hell is over...

I don't know how I made it through my final hypertrophy weight lifting session yesterday at the gym. I know I was ready for this phase to be over as 3 to 4 times a week for a month of these workouts puts some raccoon eyes on one's face and never gives the muscles a chance to rest and totally recover. So I went into the final session in this phase pretty tired and I knew it.

I started out with my usual squats which went okay, but as the workout progressed - and I moved on through my reps and various lifts - I wasn't feeling recovered from two days prior. I felt like I was having a mini-bonk. Of course, it didn't help that I had a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin earlier in the morning for the sugar spike and subsequent crash... . That may have been the culprit or at least partially to blame. Another factor is that one should really stay off the bike during this phase since it makes you so tired. However, I have been doing 30 minutes on the bike at each session to do some muscle endurance intervals and top end intervals the past 4 weeks. Normally that doesn't start until the strength phase (coming up). It cost me to do it, but I wanted immediate transition from the weights to the pedals. In the end, I cut the session short and skipped the leg presses as I had to go pick up Zack from school. Outside of the leg presses, I did everything else as scheduled. The good news is that I actually slept straight through the entire night for the first time in a few weeks. I was gassed. The good news is that I managed to build muscles mass, trim some fat and only ended up at 185 lbs. after the 4 weeks. Last year I ended up at 193 - 194 lbs. following the hypertrophy growth phase. I didn't want to gain all that weight this year and I'm glad I got the lifting and nutrition right for the month.

I'll lay low for a few days from the weights and do some recovery spins on the exercise bike before moving into the strength phase of lifting (2 weeks worth). That's when I get to pile on all the plates and heave ho with less reps in each set. Hypertrophy was 10-12 reps of 65%/70%/75% of maximum. Strength phase takes me up to 85% of maximum, but with fewer reps and fewer sets. I get to add my favorite lift back into the routine now that hypertrophy is over = the stiff legged dead lift. I don't know why, but I love that one.

12/2/08

New owner of a JET 9...

Thanks to my messing around on eBay over the Thanksgiving break, this Niner JET 9 frame:

XLJET9

will replace this Sugar 293 frame for the 2009 XC season:

SugarPostIngawanis

I will move all of my parts over from the Sugar to the JET 9 (and then some). It's all about the motor, but I am looking forward to this sleek XC racing rig arriving this week. There was nothing wrong with the Sugar, but my low ball bid on the JET 9 was the winning bid and now I am invested in the change. C'est la vie.

We've got snow covering the ground here in Iowa, so riding outside is on the back burner at the moment and all training is in the gym and on the exercise bike at the moment.

11/24/08

Tough Month

All I can say about work and home life this month is that I have been swamped. There is not enough time in each day to do all I need to do with chores, work, recommendation letter writing, attending my children's sporting events, recitals and concerts at school, yard work, maintenance of things we own, etc... . I'm swamped! I managed to get the yard winterized yesterday by doing the final mowing, leaf pick-up, fertilization and clearing out of the garden. I was so exhausted that I crashed for a nap and really had difficulty waking up. I woke up about 5 or 5:15 in the afternoon with a phone call. I didn't know where I was or what had happened. I was still having word retrieval problems when I went to bed at 11 pm. I haven't felt like that in a long time and am keeping it in the back of my mind to see if anything is going on in my body. I guess there is nothing like a good day of manual work to exhaust one. I feel better this morning and can at least remember my name. But I was out cold yesterday after all the yard work.

It's been a tough month as well due to a couple of deaths. One of my students lost his wife this month, and as his academic adviser I am trying to help him salvage what he can of this semester. Most of his professors are understanding and flexible, but there is one class he needs to graduate that I think may be difficult to do. This student is from Africa and has two small children who are now motherless. It's a real tragic situation and I am spending plenty of mental energy trying to help them out as best I can.

Friday, the son of some of our best friends passed away from cancer. My wife and I went over to their house Friday night along with our group of friends and spent the evening sharing fond memories and condolences. Their son was one of my first voice students 6 years ago when I moved to Indianola. I taught him private voice lessons for 2 years while he was a high school student. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer after he was a student at Grinnell College and had been fighting with all his might the last couple of years. My wife and I were going to be singing in a benefit concert this coming Saturday for their son. The benefit has now be changed into a memorial concert and will go on as planned as a celebration of his life. Anybody out there who has ever sung will understand how difficult it is to sing when emotions have your voice choked up. It's a tough sing - that's for sure. Hopefully, all of us that are singing on the memorial concert will be able to get through it in honor of Chris.

Chris was one of the most engaging, intelligent and talented young men I have ever met in my life. He managed to talk me into taking a closer look at the Honda Element (he owned one of the first ones that come out) after I laughed at his square box on wheels. He also took the time to come over to our house during one of his college school breaks and speak with my son when we were deciding about where he would go to high school (Dowling or Indianola HS). He never failed to put a smile on anyone's face that came into contact with him. He touched many people in his life in Indianola as well as those students and faculty at Grinnell that knew him. He will be sorely missed by all.

11/16/08

1st Week of Muscular Hypertrophy in the bag...

I'm about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule this year over last in my off-season lifting. I just finished week one of the muscular hypertrophy phase. I'm pretty much using the same 1 RM from last year, although I adjusted the squat weights for a 0 pound bar on the Smith Machine. Every time I go to the gym, the free weight bars are in use by somebody - so I am doing the squats on the Smith this season (unless I walk in and find the free weights and rack available which usually never happens).

Tough Guy

I am also keeping my body weight a little less this year than last after my month of pumpkin pie, booze, cookies and appetizers. Last year at this point in my lifting, I was 194.5 pounds. I'm hovering in the 184-6 area at present, but expect it to keep climbing as the lifting and growth phase continues. I'm just hoping not to get as high as 194.5 this year. Time will tell.

The period calls for the following routine:


Muscular Hypertrophy Period (4 weeks)


Sets...............Reps.......Percent of 1 RM............Rest Between Sets (Minutes)

#1 and #2........10 to 12...........65%.......................1 ½ to 2

#3 and #4........10 to 12...........70%.......................1 ½ to 2

#5 and #6........10 to 12...........75%.......................1 ½ to 2



Lower Body = 4 days per week (2 days heavy 65%/70%/75%; 2 days light 60%/65%/70%)
Upper Body = 2 days per week (1 heavy 65%/70%/75%; 1 light 60%/65%/70%)

OldSchoolWeights

11/3/08

Doing the Des Moines Dirty Duathlon...

Perfect weather greeted all those who suited up in their running and mountain biking gear for the 3rd Annual Des Moines Dirty Duathlon. I believe the temperatures for the 12 noon race were in the 68 - 72 degree range with plenty of sunshine and little if any wind.

I succumbed to the head cold going around Iowa that starts with a few days of mild sore throats and finally turns into the sneezing and cough. Mine started on Friday, but was in good bloom by Sunday for race time. I heard several other racers talking about having the same thing, but there we were ready to grunt it out in spite of it. I entered the solo category of running, biking and running all by myself. I put my bike, helmet and cycling shoes in position and then headed off to warm up for the run. After getting all warmed up, it was announced there would be a 20 minute delay to the start as we waited for the beginner class to finish their race. So I kept doing some light jogging and hydrating for the event.

Off we went at 12:20'ish with a one lap run to start the race. I ran past quite a few on the opening climb and got into the singletrack somewhere in the front of the middle of the pack. Running off camber, down, up and over obstacles where you really have to concentrate on planting your feet correctly takes a lot of muscle compared to running on smooth surfaces.

DirtyDuRun

So that first lap took some effort to stay in position. I didn't want to blow my wad on this first lap, so kept things at a good pace to stay on task for the afternoon. I came into the staging area and swapped shoes and gear to head off for 4 laps on the bike.

The trail was in perfect biking condition with a few tacky areas, but no mud to be seen and the trail was a nice, quick rolling surface. The first two laps were pretty uneventful for me as I just held position and tried to find the cycling legs. At the end of lap 2, some I had been following started to fade so I passed them and headed off into lap 3 feeling pretty good.

DirtyDuBike

Lap 3 and lap 4 went better for me as I was in the spinning groove and felt pretty good on the bike. I felt a few twinges of cramping in the legs in lap 4 and wondered if the cold I had was contributing. As I came into the staging area, I had to deal with the double knots I had tied my running shoes with before lap 1. That took a little more time than I wanted, but I got in and out of the transition area in good shape and headed up the climb to start my final lap of running.

Right at the top of the climb, my left leg experienced some cramping. Not enough to seize up, but enough to have me walk 50 feet or so and do some massage. I took off again at more of a jogging pace, popped a gel and started sucking in the beverage. I tried to run the cramp out, but every time I pushed my stride out, it would return. So I resigned myself to a survival mode pace which was much slower than my first lap. Old man's jog is what I would call it. Throughout the lap, I had moments where I was able to stride out as well as moments where the cramps held my pace in check. The bottom of my feet were hurting like some sort of blisters were forming and I was glad I had done a couple of mock races to psychologically deal with the pain of a run/bike/run race because I had to tap into that psychology and just push ahead. Several runners that I had passed on the biking portion closed the gap and passed me back on this running lap. Rats! My training just wasn't enough to hold my position in this format. But I kept forging ahead to get it over with and finally relaxed as I ran up the final climb before descending to the pavement. I opened my stride out as best I could to run into the finish line area and crossed the line somewhere in the 2:20 - 2:22 time frame. No idea what the results were as I headed home immediately after crossing the line. I'll update once the results are posted later this week.

Wow! That was a long race. I did the first race in 2006 and my finish time was 1:52. I think this race was longer in distance and more difficult because we ran on the hills instead of over at Denman's. I think the biking portion back in 2006 was more in the distance of only 3 laps as compared with the 4 we did yesterday. In addition, having to run two times is more difficult than doing the running portion in one shot. It's hard to fire up the running muscles again after sitting on the bike for so long. In all my training simulations I felt that, so was expecting it. I just wasn't expecting the cramps. Could have been my cold. Could have been the toll of running too fast in the first lap. Regardless, I had a lot of fun in this challenge. I hauled my bike back to the Element and was too pooped to even stay for the awards party. I headed home to shower, eat and recover. My walk is quite "ginger" today as my legs got worked so hard in the running portions of the race.

Kudos to CITA and Striders for hosting such a fun event. I like this format and wish we did a couple more of them per season as it is much more challenging than just a mountain biking format.

10/27/08

Off Season Training Week #3...

I enter training week #3 this week which is the final adaptation to lifting weights week. It reminds me a lot of training for opera singing where you have to adapt the muscles and tendons in the larynx to be able to take the amount of pressure and vocal fold adduction needed for singing big opera sounds. You cannot rush the process, but you can enjoy the gradual build as the weeks unfold. The only thing I don't like about lifting is the weight gain that it causes as the muscles grow. Last year - in the weight training months - I put on a total of 13 pounds in muscle weight. I've already added 4 pounds this training off-season in the first 2 weeks of lifting. And that is just from the light weights listed in the table of this 3 week preparation phase. Wait until the hypertrophy growth phase of November...

After I recover from yesterday's race simulation (run, ride, run) out at Pickard Park, I will start on week three listed in this chart below of the weights I've prescribed.

Adaptation Grab

I went to Pickard Park to run and ride on the cross country course. It was too muddy to go into the woods, so Pickard Park was a perfect choice. Tough hills to run and the amazing wind (with gusts over 40 mph) made it even tougher for the 1/2 that I was running and riding dead into it. I ran one lap of the cross country course. Swapped out shoes and put the helmet on for a few laps on the bike. On one climb along the very eastern portion of the park which is a ridge that climbs next to a gravel road, the wind nearly blew me off the ridge and into the ditch. I had to lean the bike about 40 degrees to the left just to stay upright. I finished with one more lap in my running shoes which had me drooling big time for the final mile as I strove to really attack the uphill runs going into the wind.

The good news is that I felt better after yesterday's simulation than the previous week. I didn't get as many leg "tweaks" from the uneven surface. So I guess the running I have been doing this month is slowly starting to condition me - or at least trick my brain that the pain is not so bad. ;-) However, I'm still doing more of a "jogging pace" most of the time instead of really striding out. Part of that is the off road running and being afraid to rip an ankle or knee on an uneven surface. I would imagine another part of that is the reality that I weigh about 20 pounds more than I did when I ran marathons. I'm able to really stride out on the treadmill and on pavement, but not on the off road trails yet. This week has me doing two Fartlek training sessions in hopes of raising my running stamina. I've missed running all these years and might incorporate more of it in my workouts during this off season.

10/26/08

The endorsement bell rings: Des Moines Register Endorses Obama as does The Anchorage Daily News

The Sunday Des Moines Register is a must read as the editorial board of the paper endorses Obama.

And in other interesting endorsement news, Alaska's largest newspaper - The Anchorage Daily News - endorses Obama. That's right, not home state gal and Governor Sarah Palin, but Senator Barrack Obama.

While praising Palin's energy and bright future, the paper's editorial adds, "Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time."

10/25/08

The Indians finish the season 5-4!!!

My son's football team won the final game of the season last night at Urbandale to finish with a 5-4 record. That qualifies as a "winning" season as it is over .500. It's the first winning season in 5 years for this coach, so we'll take it.

It also qualifies the Indians for the sub-state playoffs where they will play Waukee on Wednesday night. Waukee finished the season with a 6-3 record. No matter what happens, it should be a good game to see two playoff teams go at each other on Wednesday. Of course, at this point of the season, it comes down to which team has the least amount of injuries. There were quite a few guys getting up slow and hobbling off the field last night (from both teams). I know 8 guys did not even suit up for the Indians last night (my son included due to a hamstring injury from 2 weeks ago). He's been rehabbing it and will practice in pads for the first time tomorrow. A few of the others are out for the playoffs (collar bone, concussions, knee, etc...).

One game at a time, but at least they weren't all having to turn in their equipment this morning at the Saturday morning shake-down practice. Wednesday gives them one more chance.

Upcoming: Joey Goodale Benefit on Sunday, November 8th 5pm, St. Thomas Aquinas Pastoral Center in Indianola

10/21/08

Off Season Training Week #2...

Ouch! That's all I can say. Walking yesterday afternoon and today were a bit of an effort. It's the Preparation Phase of the Dave Morris Off-Season training plan, so here is what I am targeting this year in terms of weights:

Adaptation Grab

I'm in the middle of week 2 at the moment. I do a few other lifts as well that I didn't include on the chart (triceps, lunges, step ups). Week 1 was pretty easy in terms of time and effort, but week 2 with the additional set and increase in weights while doing some running and riding start to require a bit of recovery between efforts. I know that sounds odd considering how much weight I will be lifting a month or so from now, but I can feel the effects of "adaptation" taking place even though I'm hardly lifting much weight. I wasn't strict about doing my maintenance sessions in late August and through September. That's why it is showing now in the form of muscle soreness as I go back to square one and do this prep phase for the 2009 season. I forgot from last year that such low weights for the dead lift, squat and leg press can still tucker one out. It's almost deceiving, but it is all coming back to me now from a year ago.

I figured since the Des Moines Dirty Duathlon is coming up, I should give it a go like I did back in 2006. In an effort to prepare the legs for running and to be able to jump right back into the work week following the race, I figured a little training wouldn't hurt. In 2006, I ran 1 mile - that's right - 1 mile on a Monday, a Wednesday and a Friday the week of the event to "train" for the running portion of the race. Being a former marathon runner, I knew that no training would have done any good that close to the race, but at least I got my shoes dirty on the gravel roads back in 2006 before the race. I read this year that instead of the format used in 2006 (when we rode our bikes first, then ran in the middle of the race and finished with another ride) will be run 2 miles, ride 10 miles and finish with another 2 mile run. Oooooooo that's got a prescription for PAIN!

So far this year, I hit the treadmill 2 or 3 times a week beginning on October 1st and decided to take my "training" out to the trails at Lake Ahquabi on Sunday to run 2 miles, ride 10 miles and then run 2 more miles. So I loaded up my CamelBak with water, grabbed 3 GU's and headed out to Ahquabi on a perfect day in terms of the weather. My dog bite is just about healed, so I was hoping to run into said Rover in hopes that I could bite him back, but no luck. I didn't see him.

Treadmill running, track running, pavement running all have nothing in common with off road trail running which is very close to cross country running on a nasty course that has been ravaged by too much rain and filled with ruts, cleat marks and tire marks, except there are no spikes involved in trail running. One has to constantly monitor the surface as the bumps and debris can quickly tweak your ankle, knee, back and is frustrating because you can't open it up and really stride out like you can on better surfaces. So my first 2 miles were like an old man shuffling to prevent an ankle twist as I went up and down the hills at Ahquabi. I actually logged in 2.5 miles on my opening run as I went a tad too far than planned. The bike portion was easy, but after sitting on the bike for 10 miles, all that warming up in the first run was totally gone and my legs were stiff as could be for the final 2 mile run. Oh man, I could hardly muster anything but a stiff legged jog. Finally I hit a flat and smooth section where I could stride out, but the rest was laughable. Again, I did 2.5 miles involving plenty of hills up and down.

Monday morning, I headed to the gym to begin my 2nd week of off-season weight training. These first three weeks are simply adaptation of the muscles/tendons to prepare them for the more intense phases that are coming. I did my 3 sets of 8 reps on all Dave Morris prescribed lifts and headed home. Showered and headed off to work. In the middle of the afternoon I stood up from the piano after playing for about an hour and I could hardly walk. Ouch!!!

Today was a rest day, and I battled getting up and down and walking with my efforts from Sunday and Monday. Tomorrow I will do another brick (run and ride), but in the basement on the treadmill and trainer and save the off road simulation race of run, ride, run for the weekend. Not that any of this will help my time at the Dirty Duathlon, but at least I will be psychologically prepared for the pain involved of doing a run/ride/run format. Based on my first simulation - it's a tough format. Once I get running, I'd rather do it all at once rather than let those muscles sit dormant on the bike for ten miles and then trying to refire them.

It will be great a challenge and prepare me for the pumpkin pie season. ;-)

10/18/08

Soccer and Football dominates the weekend...

It looks like a weekend of this for us as Alexa has a match on Saturday and Sunday...

Soccer Moms and Dads

Alexa from two weekends ago where she scored a pair of goals...

Getting set

And getting ready for play to resume in the infamous "Go Purple" jersey...

Waiting for a pass

Update:

First game on Saturday at Altoona....Indianola 6 - Altoona 0
Second game on Sunday at Indianola....Indianola 2 - Johnston 2

Yesterday, Alexa announces she is going out for basketball this season. What? Say what? We shall see if she follows through on that. Yes, she can run like the wind - that's for sure, but her ball handling skills? Hmmmm.... Regardless, I ponied up for a pair of basketball shoes at Scheels after the soccer match in Altoona and practice starts for girls basketball on Monday.

Zack has a hamstring injury from last week's game against Ankeny (sustained it on the first pass he made and played the rest of the game with an injured leg) and did not suit up for last night's game as Dowling drubbed us 50 - 28 for our 4th conference loss in a row which leaves the Indians at 4-4. There is one game left against Urbandale which is the only other losing team in our conference. It might actually be a well balanced game and if we do pull out a win, we will end the regular season at 5-4 which I guess qualifies as a "winning" season. ;-) Either way, I believe our 4 wins qualifies us for a playoff game where we will be a low seed and play a high seed from another conference. A lot of players are looking beat up and tired at the end of the season.

Time will tell if Zack's hamstring heals this week, but knowing that injury well he is going to need plenty of time for a full recovery. Sometimes you can play with the injury, but you cannot run as fast and set your feet like you want to when passing the ball which throws off your timing as a QB. The top 4 teams in our central conference (Ankeny, Johnston, Dowling and Southeast Polk) were all too much for us this year as the conference is the absolute toughest it has been in many, many years. Even the Des Moines Register featured an article yesterday about how tough the central conference is this year. If we played in the conference Indianola used to be in, chances are we would have 6 or 7 wins - if not 8 wins at this point. But, that's the way it is. We remain the smallest school in the toughest conference making it tough to compete due to sheer numbers we are up against. At least we held Johnston and Southeast Polk so that the games were very close this year. Ankeny and Dowling were both able to break the games open and drub us by outscoring us about 2 to 1.

10/17/08

Barrack Obama is endorsed by the Washington Post...

Here is an excellent and well balanced article (at least I thought so) written by the Washington Post endorsing Senator Barrack Obama for President. I think the article is well worth the read:

Barrack Obama for President

I have read a lot of articles over the months, but this one stands out as one of the best balanced editorials raising all the issues about the pros and cons of each candidate and why the Washington Post has decided on the endorsement of Obama.

10/12/08

When the DOG bites!!!

It has actually been since 1968 that I was bitten by a dog while riding a bicycle. I was bitten by Blackie, my neighbor's dog, back in 1968 as I rode by their house. I fell off the back of the bike, hit my head and got a nasty concussion at the time. But that was then and I did recover after a trip to the E.R. to get the head checked out. Today, I was bitten while riding my mountain bike around on the trails at Lake Ahquabi. In spite of years of riding between today and 1968 with many encounters with dogs - I was totally bite free. One nipped me in Vienna out in the woods, but only got a piece of my shoe. Today, my leg was on the menu.

It was busy at Lake Ahquabi today with lots of hikers, dog walkers, joggers and mountain bikers out on the multi-use trail. I had already passed several people out for hikes and some with dogs on leashes with no problems whatsover. On the south side of the lake, I rounded a corner and saw a lady walking 2 dogs on one of those really long retractable leashes. I gave her plenty of warning and said I was coming up on her left. I then saw her trying to reel in the retractable leash, so I stopped, unclipped and put my left leg down to wait before I passed. I even said hello to the dogs as I waited. One of the dogs, the big one - an Australian something or other - bolted right for me and got a nice bite on my left leg.

Being that he went right for the shin where things can be tender when struck that hard, I let out a couple of choice words. One started with an S and the other with an F. I uttered them with excellent, clear diction like any good operatically trained singer would with their finely tuned baritone. I gave her a mean stare with crossed eyes as I absorbed the pain. She looked afraid like I was going to attack her or something. Odd. It must have been my MOB racing kit and my Oakley dark shades that had her shaking. I'm sure it wasn't my chicken legs (one of them dripping with blood). I was in a nice riding groove listening to Tom Jones, the Doobies, Kiss, Sinatra, AC/DC and Whitesnake on my iPod, so I hopped back on the bike and muttered something to her like "get a muzzle for your biter, this is a busy trail with lots of people using it" and rode off. About 1/2 mile later, I noticed the blood was really coming out of my shin pretty good - so I planned on stopping to chat with her on my second lap, but by the time I got around she was gone.

Went home and cleaned up the wound which had now swollen a bit, so I iced it and elevated the leg to keep the swelling down. I still can't believe I got bit as I did nothing to provoke the dog outside of being there on a bike. I contemplated reporting it to the ranger, but since I'm out there all the time with my dogs riding around and generally love dogs - I figured it wasn't worth it. I've seen this dog out there before (when it was very aggressive towards my dogs), so I imagine I will "run into" it again at some point in the future.

That's one dog bite and one bee sting for the year. Anything else and I can be in "The Sound of Music"...

10/5/08

2008 Race Season thoughts...

I thought I should jot down a few thoughts to compare this year's XC race season to last year so I have an account for the future. I reminded myself daily this year that I do this for fun and as a way to focus on some sort of an organized fitness routine to keep me from turning into a middle aged man being out of shape and walking around with too many pounds on his midsection. All those years of playing golf just wasn't cutting it as a fitness routine and was an even more time consuming "hobby". And who doesn't enjoy the "freedom" of being out on a bike. I've felt that since I was a kid in the 60's and it is still there today.

And part of the fun is to challenge myself. Bike handling, speed, conditioning and then lining up with other similar minded riders on race day to challenge ourselves individually as well as each other all remained in the realm of fun for me this year.

In preparation for this past season, I followed the Dave Morris off-season training regimen (November - March) of doing the phases from weights to base building to intervals (SMSP and MSP). The macro view of that program is a 5 month off season plan which I followed for my second year with more diligence to the weight training phases this year (last year I was not so diligent with the weights). My bike handling has improved as well this year over last, so what about the results?

Well, I ended up in about the same spot for the Nebraska and the IMBCS in terms of placing for the season.

IMBCS 2007: Sport Open 2nd Place
IMBCS 2008: Sport Open 3rd Place

Psycowpath 2007: Sport Open 8th Place
Psycowpath 2008: Sport Open 6th Place

I upped the number of events I participated in from 11 XC events in 2007 to 14 XC events this year. I don't have the luxury of comparing very many race times from last year to this year to guage my improvement. Why? Simply because there were no exact duplications of race courses I participated on outside of the Maskenthine XC Classic in Nebraska and Sylvan Island (where I tore a sidewall and had to DNF).

So, I'll take a look at the Maskenthine XC Classic.

Maskenthine XC Classic 2007: 1:45:24
Maskenthine XC Classic 2008: 1:37:10

That's an improvement of 12:14 which isn't bad.

The only other close comparison would be Sugar Bottom in terms of the same race course, but not the exact same route was run this year, so the times are hard to compare. The way I figure it when comparing times of multiple people in various classes at Sugar Bottom year over year is that the course was running 5-8 minutes faster this year over last for everyone.

Sugar Bottom Scramble 2007: 2:21:36
Sugar Bottom Scramble 2008: 2:04:10

That's an improvement of 17:26 minus the 5-8 minutes faster the course was running this year (if that is the correct guesstimate???).

I think all the other courses that were repeats this year were too different to be able to compare (Camp Ingawanis, Seven Oaks, Des Moines TT, Tranquility). Most of those were different tracks, or run in opposite directions and or had new trail to be able to draw any conclusions.

I did make the podium 3 times this year. Once at the Black Hills Tire Festival. Once at a Psycowpath race. And once at an IMBCS race. I did make some progress moving out of the bottom of the pack and go midpack or higher in many events during my 2nd year of racing the Sport Open category. Trimming off 10-12 minutes in a race pretty much mirrors my climb up in how I placed in some races. In others, it still left me too far away from the leaders.

There is still plenty of room to cut off another 10 - 12 minutes per race next year to move up and out of midpackitis. So I know I have my work cut out for me and will need to devise a structured plan to get there. Key thoughts for myself include - better weight management, better nutrition, more intensity training and striving to climb the ladder of pain, or at least push the envelope to see how close I can get to my genetic limitations in terms of the threshold I can maintain and not crack.... ;-)

I was happy with my equipment this year and only suffered the one torn sidewall at Sylvan Island that took me out of the race for my only DNF of the season. I took a bad tumble at the WORS race which just about trashed my front wheel and gave me a mild concussion, sore wrist and banged up leg - but I was able to finish that race on the wobbly wheel and have since had the wheel fixed. I had no other flats or mechanical difficulties which pleased me. I'm pretty sure I will run the same equipment next year, but will get the hubs and forks serviced and get tire and tubeless supplies stocked for next season in the next 6 months. Buying a new bike is not going to help me, but training my engine to improve is the key to improving.

That should be enough thoughts for now. I'm heading out for a casual ride in the woods to enjoy the fall colors and leaves on the trail. It's a beautiful time of year with the colors, the smells and the temperatures.

Over and out...

9/28/08

Manawa Mountain Bike Mayhem ends season...

The XC season ended for me yesterday with the Lake Manawa Mountain Bike Mayhem. It was a joint race for the Nebraska Psycowpath Series and the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series (replacing the joint Lewis & Clarke Kanesville Krusher). Going into the final race of the season, I was in 6th place for the Nebraska Series and 3rd place for the IMBCS in terms of points. My goal was to try and finish strong and at least not lose my place in the standings.

I know that fast and twisty is not my specialty on an XL 29"er with my height and all of the trees with the amount of lean I have to do to carve the turns, but I always try to give it my best shot. I had my narrow bars on and the Dos Niner performed in a nice agile way for me. Rear tire choice of a Crow was probably not the best choice as it drifted quite a bit on me on several of the sharp, fast turns. But I kept her on the trail and didn't go down. I only said "hello" to one tree on the first lap yesterday with a nice bruise and scratches to prove it. I like the Manawa course as it provides enough of a technical challenge with the logs and sharp turns as well as the constant demand on power to accelerate after all of those turns. There pretty much is little to no chance for recovery along the trail making it feel sort of like a really long time trial.

The sport category lined up and waiting to give it the gas...

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Tom Winfield caught everyone with his camera as we took on some of the technical sections of the course...

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The fun little "stairs" that had a couple of lines one could take to negotiate...

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There was a crash during lap one by Doug Larson as he did an endo. We were at least 1/2 way through the second lap when somebody was waving his arms and told each rider as we passed him that a man was down and that he was - to quote the words he used - "paralyzed". I thought - "you've got to be kidding me". And then I thought deeper - "Please say it isn't true that somebody is hurt that severely out here in our little race." We all filed back over to the registration area and passed the ambulance and fire truck that had arrived. The race was halted as Doug was taken to the hospital.

Here's Doug cruising along in the race having fun before the endo...

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We all wish Doug and his wife Mary a full recovery and the strength and patience needed during this down time. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.

The crash certainly was a wake up call that at any minute, something could go wrong with any of us out on the trail. The decision was made to restart the race in the same position and time differentials we had as we crossed the line after the first lap. And we would do 1 1/2 laps since we had already completed 1 1/2 laps in the sport class. I'm not sure how much time passed from the halt of the race until the restart, but it was sobering to get going again physically and mentally.

I would give it my all on the straight away and connector sections to catch up to the guys in front of me, and then slowly slip away in some of the tricky bike handling twisty sections.

I spent the day ducking my head, leaning left and leaning right in an effort to keep from banging into the "forest" as this course was not a tall rider friendly course.

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I was unable to make any passes after the restart and pretty much held my position behind the guy I was behind right when the race was halted. We crossed the line a second or two apart. He was a podium winner in the sport masters category and I finished in 6th place for sport open. Andrew, Brandon and Keith were the podium spots for the sport open. Depending on how the drop rule of one's lowest scoring races works, that should wrap up Keith Snoop's winning of the Iowa series and Andrew's winning of 2nd place for the Psycowpath series. And Brandon should hold his 4th place spot for the Psycowpath series with his podium finish. Great job guys!! I held 6th Place for Sport Open in the Psycowpath Series. I'll have to wait and see where my points land me for the Iowa series.

Sport Open Podium spots yesterday (Brandon, Andrew, Keith):

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Our family went out last night for a nice dinner and family time at Splash in Des Moines. Good seafood, conversation and fun was had by all. I know my wife will be pleased that I am home on the weekends now and not gone for an entire day attending a race. Well, until next year that is.... ;-

9/22/08

Birthday Weekend Racing...

The weekend of racing is over and my legs are gassed.

The rained out Psycowpath race on September 13th meant doing 2 back to back races this weekend for me. I wanted to compete in both since I have been racing in the Psycowpath and the IMBCS series all year. I had only missed one Psycowpath XC race due to a reschedule conflict on the same day as an IMBCS race. I didn't want to miss another.

I turned 47 on Saturday and "celebrated" by driving over to Branched Oak Recreation area north of Lincoln, NE for the Psycowpath #6 Capital City MTB Challenge. The drive was actually quite relaxing and beautiful as I had not been to Lincoln since the summer of 1980. I got there in time to do a pre-ride of the lap which was exactly 2.9 miles and filled with a couple of nice sustained climbing sections. The course was in good shape with plenty of ruts to keep one on their toes on the climbs and the descents. One sandy turn and one really sharp turn - both of which challenged all of us. Sport Category was going to do 6 laps plus a one mile gravel road climb at the start for a total of 18.4 miles. The weather was perfect and the conditions were ideal.

The experts took off as a group with open and masters together. One minute later, the sport open and singlespeed categories took off followed by the sport masters a minute later. Our group worked our way into a pace line right off the bat for the mile climb on the gravel. I went into the singletrack in 4th position and we stuck closely together for the first half of the lap. When the lead riders of the sport masters caught up and a group of 4 passed on the left, I latched on and was able to go around the guy in front of me from sport open to put me into 3rd place. Because the loop was only 2.9 miles and we did a lot of laps (experts did 8), there was a lot of passing going on from various categories and it was hard to keep track of who was who after a while. However, I knew I had to conserve and use the strategy of spinning at a high cadence as much as I could to be able to complete in both this race and Sugar Bottom on Sunday. In spite of that, I rode lap one really hard to stay in contact with the first 2 guys in sport open.

Digging deep in lap #1... (Thanks to Mr. Tom Winfield for his excellent photographic talent and sharing at all these Psycowpath events).

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I settled into a nice pace for laps 2 - 5 with my high cadence spin. Near the end of lap 5, I passed Brandon Harpster (2nd place sport open) who was pulled over on the side of the trail airing up his rear tire with a cartridge. After I crossed the finish line and began my final lap, Brandon caught back up with me and passed me. I upped my pace and gave as much in lap 6 as I did in lap 1. So much so that my stomach was feeling the effects of pushing that hard. I knew I had 3rd place locked up, so in spite of riding a very conservative race energy wise - I was pleased. I finished feeling strong and felt like I had left enough in the tank for Sunday's race.

Crossing the line for the finish of lap #6...

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Result: Podium Spot for 3rd Place

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By the way, Brandon got me by one position back in April at the Psycowpath #1 Maskenthine race as well. The same three riders finished in September just as we did back in April. So, not much has changed. '-)

April 5th, 2008 at the Maskenthine race:

6 Andrew Keffer
8 Brandon Harpster
9 Bruce Brown

September 20th, 2008 at the Branched Oak race:

1 Andrew Keffer
2 Brandon Harpster
3 Bruce Brown

Lots of climbs kept me in the pain zone a few times...

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I drove back to Indianola and hopped in an ice bath for the legs in an effort to aid my recovery for doing the back to back race trick. We celebrated my 47th with a good meal, stories and fun at the family table. Then I hit the sack.

Sunday's weather was perfect. A little bit cooler than it was in Nebraska. I pulled into the Sugar Bottom parking lot about an hour before the sport class was to start. It was a big turnout with 53 or 54 lined up at the combined sport classes. Last year there were only 39 guys. I always prefer a start where the open and masters classes are separated so you know who is who and the bottleneck going into the singletrack is not such a mess. We had 50+ guys and I was probably lined up about 2/3's of the way back in the group. I had warmed up, but not overly so in an effort to conserve energy. My goal was to finish as best I could and improve upon last year's Sugar Bottom time and finish.

Off we went at our appointed time and it was a huge massive dust cloud. I couldn't even see and the air was not fun to suck in all that dust. I thought maybe I could pass a few on the opening gravel climb, but I pretty much held my place and only passed two guys before turning into the singletrack. At the first turn, you could see the long snake we had formed and it looked like I was in about 40th place with no where to go. The good news is this allowed me to do a very high cadence spin and hold my place in line while my legs and cardio got all warmed up. The group was literally still one long snake, but I could see that I was now in the 2nd group of about 12 guys with the first group breaking away. As usual, some of those that went out hard at the start of the race started to get passed. Within the first 1/2 lap, 5 or 6 guys were passed due to mechanical problems, crashes or simply burned out. I kept chugging along and finally decided to burn a few matches and pass a few riders. I did it one at a time on sharp corners or spots that provided a little bit of room to pass. By my count, I had moved up at least 10 riders during the first 1/2 of lap one. Nobody had passed me.

SugarBottom

One guy I had passed earlier, went around me on the gravel road leading to the back 1/2 of the lap. I jumped on his wheel and stayed with him for the remainder of the lap. I went over the finish line for the start of lap 2 with him and then took off and left him. Another guy on a Sugar 29"er went around me crossing the finish line and I followed his wheel up the gravel road. Going back into the singletrack, we caught up with one of the expert women and the three of us pretty much rode all of lap 2 together. The guy on the Sugar passed her and was leading us, but we were all still together. She was a great bike handler and I was totally impressed with her riding. On our dismount at Cyclocross hill, I passed her on the foot climb grimacing all the way up the hill, but she got mounted up on her bike quicker than I did so the pass didn't hold.

The infamous Cyclocross Hill during lap one where I gave it a go...

CycloCrossHill

I followed her closely for the remainder of the lap with the guy on the Sugar a little bit ahead of us. He was my goal to sprint by in the final section since he was the only guy who had passed me in the race that held. My legs were still working even though the twinges of cramping were starting to be felt when I stood on some climbs, but I didn't push myself into the cramp zone - yet.

As we came out of the singletrack and into the pasture with the sprint to the finish line, I was at the back of our little group of 3. I put the chain on the big ring and selected a small cog in the rear. I stood and mashed with everything I had and went flying by the other two going much faster and harder than I thought I could do. I held it all the way to the line and beat the guy on the Sugar by 4 seconds. He wasn't even in my category, but still - it's always fun to let it out when you can and end the race without letting any pass stand. I cramped right after I crossed the line as the effort was enough to take me over the edge.

End result: 18th Place Sport Open; 26th Place overall in the sport categories of 50+ riders.

My time last year was 2:21 and change. This year it was 2:04 and change. Granted, the final race times on this course were running about 5 - 8 minutes quicker this year with the way the course was set up over last year, but even with that factored in, I was pleased with my time as it was faster than last year. And that was pretty good considering I had raced the day before in Nebraska.

Hats off to ICORR and the trail crew for getting the course in such excellent shape. That was the best Sugar Bottom has been since I've ridden there starting in 2003. Trails were in perfect shape. Fast and fun with just enough technical challenges to keep you on your toes. And it was marked much better than last year. There were no questions about any corners. Great JOB guys!!! The full suspension Sugar was what I raced this weekend and I was glad to have the extra cushion to keep my lower back in check. It's a pound or two heavier than my Dos Niner, but was ideal for all the roots.

Next weekend is the final XC race with a combined Psycowpath/IMBCS season ending race at Lake Manawa. That's a very flat, but very twisty course that is going to favor bike handling and pushing big power on the flat straights. It will be hard to score high series points for me as the race will be well attended being in Omaha, but I'm plotting my strategy to finish the season strong. ;-)

9/16/08

Final 2 weekends of XC racing on tap...

I've prepped myself for the final races of the season, but wish that the rain cancellation and subsequent reschedule didn't have the cards stacked so I have back to back races this Saturday and Sunday. But, that's how it looks. Whether or not I do both the Psycowpath and IMBCS this weekend remains to be seen. For certain, I will be racing Sugar Bottom on Sunday and next week at Lake Manawa. I'll see how I feel at the end of the week. I know Sugar Bottom takes a lot of juice to power through with the climbs, roots and length of the course. The Nebraska race on Saturday is on a course I have never ridden, so I'm not sure what is required and how to pace myself for 2 in a row. So we'll see...

I hit the trainer hard yesterday with a good interval session before work. I know that these devices are not the most accurate measurement of wattage when compared with a power measuring device on a bike out on the road, but as long as I use the same trainers on a consistent basis I can measure improvement month to month and year over year - regardless of what the wattage says on the machine. My goal this year was to increase my tolerance at the lactate threshold and ride at a lower body weight than last year. I also was targeting working harder on the hard training days, and resting better between training efforts. Comparing my numbers this year to that of last year at this time, it appears I have reached most of my goals.

I rode at a weight of 185 - 188 last year and this year I have been riding at a weight of 179 - 184. With the carb loading and subsequent water retention, I've had trouble keeping my weight down at 180 for race day. I still would like to be riding at a weight 5 - 15 pounds less than I am right now, but that will be next year's goal. And I have room for additional improvement to increase my tolerance at LT next year. I know that a reduction of 15 pounds would mean a gain of around 50 watts on your typical mountain bike climb. I don't think any amount of training over the course of the next year is going to give me 50 watts!! But dropping the weight would. That would be most beneficial on courses with lots of climbing and would be ideal events to target, but I'll evaluate everything in a few weeks in preparation for next year.

Today is a scheduled "off" day, but I'm going to do an easy commute on my bike to work and back since the weather is ideal. Edit: And mow the lawn...

9/13/08

Hoping Ike turns EAST!!!

It's been raining for over 24 hours and once again, the sump pump is "on duty" in the basement doing what it is supposed to do. I sure hope Ike turns enough north and east to keep us out of the 4 - 6" path of rain expected to hit the upper Midwest. Although I do want to test my new downspout system, I don't really want to take on another 4" rain this year to saturate my basement - especially now that the new carpet, paint and molding is already installed. Midwest Basements are finally coming by on Wednesday to make a diagnosis of our drainage and basement to see what more we could improve upon for the future. So I am hoping Ike turns east with plenty of breathing room for us here in central Iowa. We are under a flood watch from all the rain we've received the last few days as it is. 4.5" in the past 3 days. So we do not need Ike!

The Psycowpath Race in Nebraska was canceled today and rescheduled for Saturday, September 20th. That means a race on Saturday and on Sunday this coming week. Ouch! That will certainly test my conditioning. I'll be hitting the bike today for some more training to substitute for the missed race today.

Indianola High School Homecoming game last night against Sioux City East. We won 28-8 and have opened the season with a 3-0 record. There were a lot of fumbles last night in the game from both teams as the rain just continued to strengthen during the game. Zack will quarterback the two JV games this week against Ottumwa and Des Moines Lincoln. Weather looks good for those provided Ike turns east so the Monday night game against Ottumwa can be dry. The JV won their opening game this week 31-6, or maybe it was 34-6 - I forget.

9/8/08

Breaking out of Midpackitis...

You've got to love it when a confluence of events comes together which allows you to snag 1st place at a race. In my case, a few of the youngsters who are hot riders in the Sport Open category were no shows yesterday and I had a good enough run to best the rest of the sport open guys that did show up for the IMBCS #8 Science Center TT. End result: 1st place. Now wouldn't you know it, I finally get a first place and no sport open guys are acknowledged for the prize table. My chance to snag some Oakley's and I'm like the overweight sophomore girl sitting in the bleachers at the high school dance where nobody asks me to dance. ;-)

The weather was great on Sunday and I arrived just in time to do a pre-ride of the race route a little before 10 am. I had the Sugar 293 as my choice to help soak up the roots and bumps. I'm glad I chose it as I could stay seated and hammer away. A few technical spots that gave everyone a challenge, but the rest was sweet and fast singletrack. My turn came to go and off I went in the big ring spinning up the pavement to the orange cones to turn into the track. The pre-ride took care of any questions I had about where to go, but after the 2nd climb that finally led us into the roller coaster I ran into fellow MOB team member Scott Sumpter coming up the hill as I was bombing down it. He wondered if he was going the wrong way and I said "yes". I guess he missed a turn and all those bright pink flags. Come to find out, so did Paul Varnum and Steve Fuller. I guess pink ain't their color. ;-)

I had a pretty uneventful loop of the time trial and was conservative on the tough corners, but let it fly whenever I could. I mixed high cadence spinning with monster mashing and flipped back and forth between the two depending on the terrain and what was coming up next. I didn't even try the big log on the hillside and used the alternate route around it. Everything else I took on at full steam. The race seemed to be over in no time as I crossed the line with a time of 25:15 and I was happy with not hitting a tree, falling or getting muddy. After the awards, I headed home to shower and go with the family to my daughter's soccer match in Polk City.

Today, I enter my 3rd week of building for my season ending peak. I could already tell things were firing a little better yesterday, so the last two weeks of training are starting to show. I hit the trainer this morning for 4 reps of 8 minutes on, 6 minutes off of SMSP intervals after a 20 minute warm up. I was sweating buckets and hope I didn't ruin the new carpet. I've got to get some exercise tile to put under the exercise bike to catch my drips.

9/6/08

VP Candidate Sarah Palin - for what it's worth...

I take this email with a grain of salt, but it is making the email rounds these days. So I'm tossing it up for view. Whether it is a lady with a beef, a resident of Alaska simply providing her point of view, another angle to consider or whatever, I guess it is always interesting to read various points of view. I am much more focused on the tops of the tickets and the issues than stuff like this, but here it is....

By the way, I'm more concerned with the little $$$Cash Counter over on the left that just passed $551 Billion spent to date on a totally pointless war than I am about Sarah Palin's dirty laundry.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080909/pl_politico/13307

Other e-mails are specific to her sex: Rumors of affairs, or that her child isn’t her own, and digitally altered images purporting to be pictures of her nude, or in racy outfits or dressed in a bikini and holding an assault rifle.

“People tend to pay attention to the things that are very basic,” said Mikkelson. “A long, detailed analysis of a candidate’s voting record gets out there and people’s eyes kind of glaze over, but put some simple issue out there and people will seize onto and circulate stuff about.”

(There is one exception to this pattern: A long, often accurate e-mail criticizing Palin’s policy and character by a Wasilla Democrat, Anne Kilkenny, has circulated extremely widely.


This following email, is the "often accurate" one sent by Anne Kilkenny from Wasilla, Alaska - according to the above story link.




-----------------
IF YOU MAY BE CONSIDERING THE McCAIN/PALIN TICKET, or know someone who is, this is a must-read.


ABOUT SARAH PALIN

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.

She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even me n who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".

It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.

She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.

She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.

She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.

Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans.

Sarah and her whole family are avid hun ters.

She's smart.

Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.

During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once.

These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.

As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state.

In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.

She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below).

As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper.

Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness. Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.

When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined).

As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.

As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”.

She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.

Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.

As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.

Like most Alaskans, she f avors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b)tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species.

McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.

There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.

However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.


CLAIM VS FACT

•“Hockey mom”: true for a few years

•“PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since

•“NRA supporter”: absolutely true

•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).

•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.

•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation

•“Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run t own of about 5,000.

•political maverick: not at all

•gutsy: absolutely!

•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.

•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no

•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.

•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!

•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a s ewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.

•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents

•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history.

•pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.

WHY AM I WRITING THIS?

First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.

Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.

Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in t he future: that’s life.

Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.

Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.


CAVEATS

I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.

You may have noticed that there are various nu mbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s.

Anne Kilkenny
annekilkenny@hotmail.com

August 31, 2008

9/5/08

Busy Weekend Ahead...

It starts today at 3 pm when I rush out of the office to meet up with my "date" for tonight's football game. Indianola is playing Sioux City West at the Morningside College football stadium tonight in Sioux City. Another father and I are car pooling up to Sioux City and will hopefully arrive in time for a little bit of the tailgate party we parents are having before the game. We should get home in the 2 - 3 am time frame.

Saturday is a good chance to demo the '09 Trek/Fisher bikes in Des Moines as the factory demo truck will be in town from 10 am - 3 pm. I plan on test riding one or two of the new '09 29"ers. Then I am attending my colleagues Green Card party in the afternoon and am supposed to wear something "green" in honor of the event.

Sunday is the IMBCS TT in Des Moines at 10 am and then it is back home for getting things moved back into the basement now that the new carpet is finally installed. It will be nice to reclaim our living room and garage that have been used as store rooms for the entire basement. Also on tap is to move my daughter to the basement bedroom and move the guest room upstairs to her bedroom. I'm not sure we'll get everything done this weekend, but at least we'll get a good start on things.

Looks like rain off and on all weekend, so we shall see what that does to the bike demo, the bike race and of course tonight's football game. I best throw the raincoat, hat and umbrella in the car for the trip tonight.

9/3/08

The Ubiquitous Blog Tag

Yup, "ye ole blog tag" courtesy of Bidwell.

What was I doing 10 years ago?


Let's see....September 1998. I was totally immersed in my professional singing career at the time. I was living and working in Vienna, Austria. I was finally fluent enough in German to be feeling comfortable in work and social situations. We had just moved from our apartment on Gentzgasse in the 18th district to a walk out apartment with garden on Maulbertschgasse in the 19th district at the edge of the Vienna Woods. Making the decision to sign another 3 year contract with the opera, we purchased a brand new Honda mini-van to become more "mobile" with our children and see more of Europe. I was singing about 2-3 opera performances per week 10 months out of the year. Between that, I was devoted to my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter and spent a lot of time hauling them all over Vienna on a bike seat and hitchhiker.

What are five non-work things on my to-do list today?


1. Finish getting all furniture and objects off of the basement floor so the carpet installers can begin their work tomorrow morning bright and early.

2. Take the dogs for a walk in the rain.

3. Talk with my son about his football participation and some realities that have come up that are on his mind about playing football.

4. Have lunch with a colleague to talk about the Gorilla Ape Trust.

5. Listen to some music.

Snacks I enjoy?

Almonds. Oatmeal cookies. Raisins. Apples. Cherries. Grapes.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire?

Create and open my own small to mid-size professional opera company. That would include building a building, hiring a staff, develop the marketing, creating seasons and goals for the company, audition for casting, and develop a young artists training program on site as well as an educational wing of the opera company that would tour and bring opera into the lives of those not fortunate enough to be able to afford or travel to see a live performance.

Set up some trust funds devoted to academic and talent scholarships for those wanting to attend college. Donate money to organizations I believe in and support. And of course, enjoy a few things I currently don't get to enjoy with my family. My wife would want to open her own restaurant and I would make sure my children pursued their dreams.

Places I have lived?

Beresford, SD
Claremont, SD
Rapid City, SD
Williston, ND
Nacogdoches, TX
Forest Hills, NY
Astoria, NY
Manhattan, NY
Houston, TX
Walnut Creek, CA
Vienna, Austria
Indianola, IA

Jobs I have had?

Ranger Band (played tuba)

Red Owl Grocery (short order cook in the restaurant)

Kentucky Fried Chicken (chicken cook)

Country Kitchen (midnight shift cook)

K-Mart (stock boy)

Cathedral of St. John the Divine (sculptor's assistant/gopher)

St. Thomas Episcopal Church in NYC (bass singer in the choir)

Max's Opera Cafe (singing waiter)

Houston Grand Opera Studio (baritone young artist)

Houston Grand Opera; Texas Opera Theater; Bronx Opera; Opera Festival of New Jersey; Mississippi Opera; Knoxville Opera; Eugene Opera; Festival Opera of Walnut Creek; Sacramento Opera; Glimmerglass Opera; Des Moines Metro Opera; Chautauqua Opera; Opera Northeast; Vienna Volksoper/Staatsoper; Vienna Kammeroper; Innsbruck Landestheater and probably a bunch of others I have forgotten at the moment (baritone soloist in oodles of operas and performances over the past 22 years)

Assistant Professor of Music (teaching voice and directing opera)


There. Tagged. Labeled. And done.

9/1/08

Labor Day and September...

I missed racing this weekend, but there was plenty to do here at home. I'm anxious to hear the results of the Boone and the Dakota 5-0. Everyone is feeling healthy today in our house, so my nursing duties are over and our routine can get back to normal.

Zack's varsity football team won their opening game against Hoover on Friday night with a final score of 51-14. Their fallen teammate has still not awakened in the hospital from last Tuesday's blow to the head during practice. Continued thoughts and prayers for his recovery occupy the entire community at the moment.

I managed to get some training in at Lake Ahquabi yesterday by doing 3 full laps. My time was about one minute slower than my race time in spite of all the bumped up training. My legs felt good at times, but it was hard to keep a simulated race pace going for all three laps. Nevertheless, I felt I needed to be out there and pushing myself to keep on pace for the season ending races. I lifted weights today (upper body) and did my first cross training of the fall season. I ran for 2 miles and worked up to a 7.5 minute mile pace. I'm sure my knees, back and legs will be talking to me tomorrow after that.

The rest of my Labor Day weekend involves a lot of labor. I will get all furniture removed from the basement today in preparations for the carpet installers who arrive on Thursday to install the new carpet and remove the flood damaged carpet. At least it is cool in the basement which will be nice on a hot and humid 90 degree day.

8/28/08

Time to reflect and heal...

It's been a very eventful week to date. One of my son's classmates suffered a traumatic hit to the head during football practice on Tuesday night. He was rushed to the hospital in Des Moines where surgery was performed to remove a piece of his skull to allow for drainage from the swelling and a coma was induced. We're all still waiting for him to come out of the coma. Reports of the CT Scan seemed to indicate nothing out of the ordinary in terms of brain damage which is good news, but the swelling needs to go down and the recovery process begun. We all feel for him, his parents and his entire family. The boys have their first varsity game against Hoover tomorrow night and will be playing with heavy hearts and minds thinking about their fallen teammate and friend.

My wife is still ill from the weekend and it has now spread to my daughter who had to stay home from school today. Not the kind of crash diet anyone wants to go on along with fever and body ache. So I have been Mr. Cook, Mr. Clean, Mr. Laundry, Mr. Shuttle Bus, Mr. Doctor, Mr. Dog Walker and trying to keep the boat upright. Due to that, I will be unable to participate in the Boone 24 Hour this weekend as originally planned. The week is not over yet, so I hope no more drama is introduced to the already dramatic week.

I was really looking forward to the challenge of the "new" Seven Oaks XC course for the 24 hour and wish all the best to those who are participating. I will be there in spirit and thought and certainly hope to race next year.

Over and out and off to make some chicken broth and find the Saltines...

8/26/08

Rats! The WORS that Wasn't...

I put in a good training week (for me) during the past week. I realized that with preparations for hosting a race and the recovery following that experience, I wasn't getting the hours in the saddle to stay ready for racing. I mapped out a three week in-season training schedule for the last 2 weeks of August and first week of September so I am good to go for the season ending races in the IMBCS and Psycowpath series.

Due to the IMBCS TT being rescheduled for September 7th, I had an opportunity to race another WORS race, #9 Border Battle in River Falls. I was looking forward to racing against my Fat Tire Festival buddies Tim Larsen and Tim Brinkman from the Twin Cities and getting a bite to eat with them after the race to catch up. In order to do the WORS race with my busy schedule at Simpson on Friday and Saturday, I had to drive up the morning of the race. It was to be about a 4 1/2 hour drive which meant leaving at 6 am to arrive an hour before the start to warm-up and get suited up.

I packed up the Element Saturday evening so everything was ready for my early start. I got up at 5:30, showered and jumped in the Element. I was just about to the exit for Mason City on I-35 making really good time when my phone rang. It was my wife who was feeling really, really sick. Turns out she woke up with a nasty flu and was basically begging for me to turn around and come home to take care of the kids and dogs. I knew she must be hurting because that is not typical for her to call and "beg". It sounded like she was going to be praying to the porcelain deity all day long. It was scheduled that she would be taking the kids to the mall for some additional school supplies and clothes shopping. I needed to come home to take over that duty so she could rest and let the flu "run" its course.

RATS!!!!!

You know when to and when not to be selfish - and this was a when not to moment for me. So I took the next exit and headed to the other side of I-35, grabbed a coffee at McD's and went back south. I joked when I got home that I had just driven 190 miles for a cup of really bad coffee. She looked awful and was cramping up from dehydration and flu symptoms. I tended to her for about an hour and then made breakfast for the kids and fed the dogs. Once my wife was resting comfortably, I took the dogs for a bike ride out at Lake Ahquabi (not quite the best substitute for a race I was missing) and then took the kids for their shopping.

The WORS that Wasn't...

8/20/08

Psycowpath #5 Traquility Tire Tantrum Race Report...

Midpackitis again!! Of all the sport men categories, 19 guys finished ahead of me and 19 guys finished behind me. You cannot get any more midpack than that!!!

We had the second weekend of perfect weather for mountain bike racing in August. I carpooled over with Cam Kirkpatrick and we arrived in Omaha with plenty of time to register and take a test lap of the course. New for this year at the Tranquility Tire Tantrum was a 3 hour marathon race option which was underway when we arrived. That race was not for points in the series, but provided an option for those seeking a longer venue. It was a good turnout for the Psycowpath series with 163 total racers in all divisions showing up in the excellent weather to race their mountain bikes. Of those, 18 were in the kids race and 16 were in the 3 hour Marathon race. That left 129 racers battling for series points in their respective divisions. Oh that we could get that kind of a turnout in Iowa for our races.

I brought the Sugar 293 to race as my back was still tender from the previous week of setting up the Lake Ahquabi race course and racing. The Sugar stays glued to the ground and lets me stay seated and pedal through any rough stuff with less fatigue afterwards.

Here she is:

Race Sled

I ran an XR 2.25 up front with a tubeless Crow in the rear which was a fast combination for the dry, dusty, hard packed course. The XR was a popular choice up front at the race in the 29"er crowd so I was in good company. During the pre-ride, I didn't wash out on one corner, so it was a good choice and gave me confidence for those corners out in the prairie that were hard packed, grassy and dusty. By the way, this is a really fun course. A nice mix of technical things in the lowlands by a creek, pine trees with tight singletrack to provide some shade and switchbacks and lots and lots of open prairie singletrack with the majority of the climbing out in the elements of wind, sun or whatever the weather brings that day. This is all situated between urban dwellings and a golf course with a nice view.

The Sport Open category was stacked with some new fresh and fast talent. I couldn't believe how fast off of the line our group took off and quickly found myself in about 9th place out of 14 as I struggled to get my left foot clipped in. The course had been lengthened a couple of miles from last year with some sweet switchbacks and new trail in the open prairie. We rode it in the opposite direction this year from the clockwise direction we raced last year on that 20 degree day in April. With the new switchbacks and additional prairie trail, it was a middle and big ring race. I really thought I did a good job of keeping a steady pace and power on the pedals at all times. The Sugar soaked up all obstacles and bumps in the trail and provided the platform I needed to keep my lower back in check.

I felt really strong coming out of lap one and started to push it a little more in lap 2. At the end of lap one:

LeadingTheGroup

With all of the 3 hour marathon racers still out on the course during lap one and two, it was kind of hard to tell just who you were passing. However, most of them were going at a slower pace having been out there for so long. Turns out, not much was going on in terms of changing places with guys in the sport open category.

Cruising along in lap two:
TranquilityRoadCrossing

One guy passed me during lap two from my class and went on to best me by 4 minutes. I stopped for a new water bottle at the drop zone to start lap 3 and another guy went around me. I gave chase and tailed him for the first part of lap three, but it turns out he was in a different category (Sport Masters 45+). Regardless, we traded places back and forth all throughout lap 3. Me passing him on the climbs, he passing me on the descents. It was fun to have this chase and pass scenario during the last lap as it gave the two of us a nice little motivation and battle to keep us moving. On the big descent and switchbacks at the end of the lap, he was able to open up a little gap on me and I couldn't close it in the big ring before the line where he bested me by 6 seconds. It's never happened to me before during a race, but on the final descent, my upper left arm cramped up. Not enough to alter my riding in any way, but it was interesting. My legs were fine in terms of not cramping. I only felt a twinge in the right leg building up during the second half of the final lap, but it didn't cramp.

In the open prairie on some switchback climbs:
ClimbingThePrairie

I felt good with my effort, but the results certainly don't match how I felt. I rolled in for 10th place out of 15 in the Sport Open category. Wow! Not good. Granted, there was some new young and fast talent in the category, but this was my lowest place finish for my category in the Psycowpath series for this year. Hmmmmm.... I always check the overall sport men category to compare my times with the entire field and other guys who are regulars to gauge my progress or standings. As I said at the beginning of this post - midpackitis it was. I need to be higher than dead in the middle pivot spot of 1/2 ahead of me and 1/2 behind me.

Needless to say, I have upped my training this week and will continue to build up for another peak 4-6 weeks from now for the final two Psycowpath races.

Congratulations to Cam who, in spite of a heavy training week of two 68 mile days and one 102 mile day on the road bike of training for a season ending peak, rolled across the finish line in the expert division in total control of the field. I actually brought my camera along and got a few shots. Believe it or not my batteries were working! You can read about Cam's excellent race here. Here is a shot of him rolling out of the prairie and into the final section before the finish line:

Cam bringin' home the bacon...

Hey, this is the first time all season he hasn't passed me on his 4th lap before I finished the sport open race!!! Either his legs were tired from all the training or I was pushing a good pace - or both. ;-)

I visited with another racer in the start/finish area when I saw his custom Sycip 650B wheel sized bike. He was a former 29"er rider, but swapped out to the 650B "tweener" size of 27.5" (between 26" and 29") when he bought this bike. He seemed to really love it and said it fit his height and riding style a bit better than the 29"er platform. I'm interested in this wheel size for my wife and or daughter so was chatting with him about it. I think it would be a nice platform for those who are less tall, but want some of the benefit of big or bigger wheels. NoTubes already makes a tubeless ready rim for this wheel size and a few tires are now available. Most of the frames are still custom, but production frames as well as the ability to use certain 26" wheel frames/forks that the wheels will fit in are possible.

He was sporting the new Pacenti race tires and very enthusiastic about them:

650B custom bike

Cool looking rig and more power to him for racing without any suspension on the Tranquility course.
====================

Today is the first day of school for the kids and the first day of work for me at Simpson. We have 3 days of faculty workshops and meetings before classes start on Monday. Boy, the summer went fast!

Carpet is scheduled to be installed on September 4th and 5th, so it won't be long before our house gets back to normal.