10/27/12

Weekend Work...

Selling a Used Car

I made the decision to take the Mercury Villager to a car detailing shop yesterday to have the interior thoroughly cleaned and the exterior buffed so it is in great shape for selling.  They claimed all the stains in the carpet will come up easily, and that the exterior paint will look really good because it is in such nice condition as it is.  We decided not to steam clean the engine as the recommendation was that a car with such an older age, the steaming process could actually cause damage to the electronics.   So they will just power air clean the engine instead.  

It will take about a week due to their busy business and inventory, as well as the need to shampoo the carpet twice with 2 days drying time between.   Once cleaned, I will shoot plenty of detailed pictures so I can advertise it in the Des Moines Register and some online car selling websites.  I will also print out the detailed Edmunds and KBB, etc... suggested price range for the 1998 LS model for our zip code, mileage, condition and features of the car.  Add some "For Sale" signs to the windows to turn it into a driving advertisement and I will drive it around instead of my Element to drum up some prospective buyers.

Physically Worn Out from a Desk Job!

That's right.  I am exhausted!!!  Cross-eyed, stiff necked, and totally worn out from staring at the computer screen for the past 48 hours....

I've been diligently working for several days on the NATS singing competition being held at Simpson next weekend.  The complex schedule for the singers and accompanists is finished and I will finish double checking it today.  I keep finding errors (some made by me, some by improperly filled out registration forms), but the double-checking process is catching everything.  

I was able to find an online site that has free software to alter Adobe .pdf files.  So I modified the Simpson College Campus Map to point out the locations of the contest, parking and food options.   I also modified the Simpson College Guest Parking Pass so nobody has to write anything in the description area.

Today's duties include assigning the judges to the centers they will be judging in all sessions.  That's not an easy task to do either, as a judge cannot be in a center where they have entered a student.  My plan, hopefully, is to email the entire "kit" to all of the teachers on Sunday (Monday at the latest).  The earlier the better so if any glaring errors are found, there is time to rectify them.

End of the Season Bike Racing Comes to a Close

I had planned on racing today in Steelville, MO in the Berryman Trail Epic 56 mile mountain bike race.  However, due to the NATS project as well as the cold weather (I would have been camping) - I pulled the plug on that Thursday as I clearly saw it just wasn't in the cards for this year.   I didn't have the gear to be camping in below 30 degree weather.  All the expense of getting a warmer bag, some sort of heating device, the cost of gas/food, there and back just trumped going. 

As a result, I may do a cyclocross race tomorrow morning in Des Moines (Spooky Cross) at the Living History Farms.  It's a 30 minute race at 10 am and would be a good way to kick off the day to get the metabolism fired up with an all out effort.   Due to my schedule, it's about the final event of the season I would be able to attend before morphing over into simply fun fall and winter riding (which this week sort of turned into as it is).

Now, back to work on the NATS goodies all day....

10/21/12

Cyclocross Survival!!!

Being a virgin at Cyclocross racing, I did my first race Saturday night up in Des Moines at the Bike Iowa Oakley NIGHTCAP Cross Race.  And I survived!!  And I woke up with legs that had been worked!!!!

I went up on Saturday morning to help the BikeIowa.com team out with course set up for the event.  I ended up raking leaves for the majority of the course, picking up glass, debris and anything that looked like it would flat a tire or ruin a derailleur.  I came home, showered, got my racing kit on and headed back up to Mullet's for the evening.

I had arranged to sell Zack and Alexa's Trek 4700 Mountain Bike that I bought in Vienna to Jeremy Bidwell for one of his children.  So I brought the bike along and we hooked up in the parking lot for the sale.  It was nice to see the bike find a new home.

I had pre-registered for the Category 4 race (1st Timers are usually in this group) because the Masters 45+ race was at 5 pm and I wanted to race in the dark under the lights, so opted for the 6:15 pm CAT 4 race.  There were 72 signed up for the CAT 4 race, so it was going to be crowded.

The vibe, buzz, mood - everything of this event was great.  Mullets Restaurant had a grill and bar going outside, a rock band was playing on a stage right in the middle of the field, there were hundreds of people hanging out and of course - all the racers were busy getting their number plates and warming up on their bikes.

I don't have a cyclocross bike, so opted to use my Dos Niner as my "cross" bike.  Huge 2.4 tire up front and a 2.25 in the rear (not exactly cyclocross ready tires).

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Bike with my number plate from last night...

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I watched the Masters race at 5 pm and got the hang of dismounting the bike and running to jump over the barriers that are set up along the course.  You more or less keep your "left" foot clipped into the pedal while you swing your right leg back behind the saddle and over the bike, place your right foot on the ground to begin running and simultaneously unclip your left foot from the pedal, lift the bike and run/jump over the barriers.

Barrier crossing looks something like this...

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I haven't done much running at all this year, so I knew pain was going to be felt from the running alone.  I haven't jumped over things since trying the hurdles in high school.  More pain to add.  Jumping back on the bike after crossing one of these boundaries as fast as possible looked like another recipe for pain.  Add pain in the nether regions to the list.

I lined up around 6 p.m. because I saw there were already about 50 guys lined up.  Wow!  Everybody wanted the front line I guess.  Suffice it to say, I would be starting in the latter 1/3 of the group of 72.  The USA Cycling Officials ran through the rules with us, had some of us (including me) get our numbers pinned correctly on our jerseys (supposed to be on the right side of the back), and wished us well in our quest to go in circles as fast as we could until the lap count said 1 left to go.  We were slated to spin circles for 45 minutes.

They gave us the go and off we went.  I immediately sprinted past about 15 or so guys to move up before the first dismount and barrier crossing.

Game face on!

NIGHTCAP Start

The course was easy to see how strung out a group of 72 racers were and it looked like I was about in the middle of the pack.  The mountain bike was working fine in the grass, on the corners, on the climbs and I felt comfortable.  The pace was high and there was nowhere for recovery as one would get in a mountain bike race on a descent.  This was "balls to the walls" for the entire race.  The death spiral is always good for a visual...

NIGHTCAP DEATH SPIRAL

The course was lined with "hecklers" who would yell fun things at you as you rode by them.  Mostly, words of encouragement, but some really fun stuff as well that made me smile.  Now consider, that a lot of the crowd had been drinking heavily for a couple of hours at this point and you can imagine the things they would yell.

I passed quite a few people throughout the race, and about three made it around me after some fighting for position to hold my spot, but being overtaken by "youth".  I kept thinking through the entire race, why would I want to subject myself to the battering the course was giving us on skinny tires, a rigid fork, and rim brakes?  No less than 4 guys on cyclocross bikes went down in front of me on corners, and my bike didn't even flinch.  Quite possibly it was faulty technique by the riders, but there is a difference between tire widths and traction.  This particular cyclocross course was very mountain bike friendly - IMO.  Of course, I haven't seen any others - so who knows?  I'm sure I could tweak my tire choice and still get away with the mountain bike just fine if I do another one of these races, or only do 1-2 each season.  Even then, if my Dos Niner works fine for the event - why bother?

Okay, so we passed the finish line that finally said 1 more lap to go.  I didn't want to give up my position, so I went into final lap mode and fought off all attacks from the rear until 200 yards before the finish line.

Deep in the pain cave on the final lap...

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We had to dismount and cross 2 barriers before the final sprint to the line.  The guy who had been on my tail out "jumped" me and I didn't get back on the bike as quickly as he did.  I tried to sprint with all my force to catch up, but he had me at the line.  I rolled across in 35th place out of the 72.  That's about as mid-pack as one can get!

Video recap of it all...



My number plate and kit that I dug out of the back of the Element this morning with drained legs and a body that felt like I had been through quite a bit the night before...

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I'm still not sure what to think of it all.  72 racers jammed on a course that only took 5-6 minutes per lap is a much different experience than how spread out we get on mountain bike course laps that may be 5 - 8 miles in length filled with technical terrain and challenges.  Everybody said "you'll love it" before I did a cross race.  I don't know, I'm just not feeling the love and desire to do more than this one or maybe even another one per season.  It was fun, don't get me wrong.  And racing is racing - which always challenges one and gets the heart rate pumped.  However, one race did not make me a convert and has not planted any sort of seed yet.  This one had the advantage of the downtown skyline, racing in the dark, live music, party atmosphere and being run by my own bike team.  Take away some of those goodies, and color me jaded at this point.  I'll have to try another one or two for a better review of it all.  I don't think I'll have a chance this season to do that, so it will have to wait another year.

I hopped on the road bike today with Tara and we got in 3+ hours as we rode to Des Moines to watch the marathon, get lunch and then rode home.  My legs were cooked from the previous evening's effort at the cross race, but I needed some volume.  The weather was great and the scenery made for a pleasant day for sure.  After that, we saw a great concert by 3 of the Simpson choirs and then grilled ribeyes for dinner to end the weekend.

Now I'm watching the Giants claw themselves back into this series. 




10/20/12

Betsy is up for sale!

Our 1998 Mercury Villager LS van is going on the sale block now that Tara's new Insight resulted in her passing her Mercury Mariner to Alexa. 

All cleaned up and ready for sale...

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Selling a used car involves a bit of legwork and self-promotion of the vehicle, word of mouth, advertising, etc... - so that all is underway this weekend.  I've got the printouts from Edmunds and KBB for our zip code and the cars mileage, condition, and features available for prospective buyers along with all of the maintenance records.  I'll make signs for the windows today so when I drive it around it is a rolling advertisement.  We'll run an ad in the Des Moines register and Craigslist as step one before moving to a wider audience in step two.

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It's only been in one iddy-biddy minor rear bump at a red light fender bender which resulted in the rear plastic bumper having to be repainted.  Alexa or Zack scraped it again on the rear right against something, but it's just a cosmetic paint rub.  Not in bad shape for a car with 214K on it.

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After a busy mid-term week at Simpson, this weekend is full.  I have a ton of work to do on scheduling the upcoming NATS competition being held at Simpson, my first ever cyclocross race tonight at the Oakley NIGHTCAP in Des Moines, a lengthy training ride tomorrow to prep for the Berryman Trail Epic that I am racing next Saturday, a Simpson Choir concert Sunday afternoon and preparing two lesson plans/lectures for the coming week.  Why I am laying in bed at 8:47 Saturday morning with everything I have to do is the question of the morning....

Time to get up and get at it all!!




10/8/12

The Mullet Fall Classic was a huge success!!

This video encapsulates yesterday's 5th annual race at Lake Ahquabi.  



We grew from 155 registered racers to 172 this year, or an 11% increase.  $1000 was raised for CITA.  The weather was perfect with clear skies, little wind, and temperatures were in the 50's.  I even managed to use my home course advantage to snag 1st place in my age division.

Mullet 45+ 

It was a nice party to finish the IMBCS season with a potluck, grilling of brats and burgers, a roaring fire in the fire place of the shelter, music, beer, fellowship and smiles.

I am exhausted and need a couple of days and nights to recover. 

10/6/12

It's RACE WEEKEND for The Mullet!!!!

It has finally arrived.  Race weekend for IMBCS #10:  The Mullet Fall Classic that is.

All of the planning, delegating of tasks, organization, trail work, PR, social networking posts, shopping for supplies, ordering awards, getting cash for the top finishers, etc... have come to fruition.

141 have pre-registered online (compared to 123 last year).  We need 14 walk-in day of race registered racers to meet the record turnout of 155 last year.  I am really hoping we actually top that number and break 160.   Who knows?  We had 32 day of race registrations last year.  I know at least a few were planning on racing that did not sign up online, so we shall see...

The weather is classic fall weather for the weekend.  Dry and cool.  Tomorrow's forecast looks grand for a mountain bike race....

Sunday, October 7th

We've got 111 of the 141 pre-registered racers plugged into the timing system as of this morning.  All 141 will be plugged in it by this evening.  For the curious, here is the list.  The accounting for this year is here and being updated as I get the receipts.

I picked up the CITA trailer in Des Moines and pulled it to Indianola yesterday.  Today I pick up the generator, food warmers, final supplies, water and load it all up in the trailer, mini-van and cars.  Plenty of trail marking to do today and one more hole to fill out there on the race course.  I have 14-16 volunteers lined up with duties assigned.  I need to email all of them to confirm and tell them what time they need to be there.

It's amazing I was able to sleep at all this week getting everything organized, but I did manage to get 5-6 hours a night.

Toodles...


10/3/12

Forecast continues to look good for The Mullet....

Mullet Weekend

Bumped up 2 degrees on Sunday from yesterday's forecast. Of course, I trust anything beyond a one day forecast about as far as I can throw it. But the above is what Accuweather is forecasting for this weekend as of today - Wednesday.

10/2/12

New Honda in the House....!!!

We have some car switch-a-roo's going on in our house. Alexa has been driving the Mercury Villager mini-van which Tara and I decided was time to replace for a car she can be happy with and take to college. My first thought was to get something she wanted, but Alexa and Tara talked and decided that Tara would give Alexa her Mercury Mariner SUV so that Tara could get her long awaited Hybrid.

So Tara spent the weekend researching, test driving and narrowed her choices down to either a Toyota Prius or a Honda Insight (and was also considering a non-hybrid in the Honda Fit). She does so much driving from school to school for her work and the per mile reimbursement is no longer covering all of the travel due to fuel prices. The hybrid will take care of that and cut her $225 gas bill in half.

Monday, she dragged me up to Des Moines to test drive everything. I took them all out on I-80 to rev them up and see how they responded in Interstate speed traffic. Believe it or not, the Insight felt the best to me, but I'm biased towards Honda. The Fit had a nice view with all of the window space surrounding the cockpit, but it was bouncy and got the worst mileage of the three. Cute, but I gave it a thumbs down which Tara was happy to hear because that's how she felt, but needed another opinion.

The Insight was not brand new, it's a 2010 had had 34K on it. It was in pristine condition, came with a warranty, had been totally detailed and upgraded by Honda. It was the LX package which means no alloy wheels and no cruise control. But who needs cruise control for commute driving - and even on trips, I tend to drive with the flow of traffic and not use the cruise. Tara did the negotiating and I did the customer stare down with the salesman. It was the "end of month" period at the dealer and this hybrid had been on the lot for a while. They were ready to move it off the lot and we struck a very good deal - at least in our opinion (we were able to pay about $1000 under the Edmunds 2010 used LX price of 15,026 and for the mileage it had). Not good for Honda as we paid cash, and did not even consider an extended warranty, but the price was within the going rate range we researched for the model year, package and mileage. We even got a full tank of gas with the purchase before we drove off the lot.

Tara loves it and here she is going off to work this morning...

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It reminds me a lot of the Civic we had in Austria (color, cabin room, hatchback/trunk space).

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It's cute...

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Fall Weather headed our way...

Wednesday night and into Thursday, the weather forecast is for a cool weather system to move into our area (currently it is in British Columbia and headed this way). That will see Wednesday's gorgeous 80 degree temperatures with sunshine dip down to the low 60's with rain on Thursday. Then the dry cool air of the system moves in after the edge of the cool front and will see high temperatures setting into the 50's for the weekend. At least that's the forecast at this point. Plenty of statistics on the validity of anything beyond a 3 day forecast being suspect found here.

Here is Accuweather's look at the weekend, which I will update daily to see how accurate they were with their forecast.

Mullet Weekend Weather Extended Forecast

Hmmmm....fall weather arriving just in time for this year's Fall Classic!!!

Yes, it will certainly be cooler than in the past. Arm warmers, pre-ride warm up clothes, post-race warm clothes (jackets, sweats, etc...) will take care of it all as the sunshine will keep us warm along with the chili, burgers, brats, and party.

What about weather in the 4 previous Mullets?

2011 - Pleasant October Indian Summer weather of 82 degrees and sunshine

2010 - Following soaking monsoon rains all week, pleasant weather of 81 degrees and sunshine

2009 - August version of the race, very humid and 86 degrees with sunshine

2008 - August version for year one, 83 degrees with sunshine