November Wrap!

I will start with the lighter side of wrapping up November.

Bike riding in the second warmest November in history here in Iowa.

The month of November looked much like October and September did in terms of how many miles and how many hours I got to enjoy on the bike with my work and travel schedule. The weather was wonderful - being a record month for warm temperatures and all - allowing me to ride outside whenever I wanted to go for a ride in Iowa. Of course, with the time change, I had to charge up the lights so I could get some after work rides in now that the sun sets before 5 pm. Most of these were "for fun" Fall rides, and to help keep most of the blubber at bay that I tend to gain this time of year.

One of my local tracks, Banner Pits, has remained in good shape this Fall, and I took full advantage of it.

Banner Fall riding...

We will soon have frozen tread to ride as temperatures dip below the freezing mark next week.

November 3rd 18.2 Miles -- Duration 1:14:24
November 4th 12.7 Miles -- Duration 00:59:08
November 5th 14.59 Miles -- Duration 1:30:35 (MTB Race)
November 6th 37.7 Miles -- Duration 2:43:43
November 8th 9.01 Miles -- Duration 00:29:58
November 10th 9.54 Miles -- Duration 1:03:10 (MTB)
November 12th 18.7 Miles -- Duration 2:06:02 (MTB)
November 13th 20.6 Miles -- Duration 2:04:03 (MTB)
November 16th 12.9 Miles -- Duration 00:55:25
November 17th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 1:16:58 (MTB)
November 19th 9.0 Miles -- Duration 1:03:45 (MTB)
November 21st 10.2 Miles -- Duration 00:43:38
November 22nd 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:18:27
November 24th 13.1 Miles -- Duration 00:50:00
November 26th 10.3 Miles -- Duration 00:35:00 (HIIT)
November 27th 20.3 Miles -- Duration 1:00:00
November 28th 33.8 Miles -- Duration 2:28:00
November 30th 19.6 Miles -- Duration 1:04:58

November Total Miles: 300.34
November Total Duration: 23:27:14

That's it for the bike wrap up.

Now on to the emotional part of the month...

We flew out as a family and spent Thanksgiving in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Starr family celebrated Thanksgiving dinner on Gary and Nancy Starr's houseboat in Sausalito.

Outside on the dock to take the grand tour of the neighborhood - Bruce & Tara with her cousin Penny, and her husband Dave Audick.

Bruce&Dave with Cousins Tara&Penny

Sitting down to eat...


As Gary stated so well at Thanksgiving dinner, this was his 61st family dinner and the first one that his Uncle Joe was not there carving the turkey as Joe felt it was so important to be a part of the family gathering. That choked us all up.

Tara's cousin, Sharon, shared this picture of Joe carving the turkey in the past...

 (Thanks for the photo, Sharon!)

As of this year, now Gary and his son are the official turkey carvers...


Bunny chimed in and said that this was the 67th annual family gathering, and in spite of Joe not being with us, there were 4 generations of the family present between the 29 of us in attendance. She hoped that everyone would continue the tradition once she was gone.

Bunny as the oldest generation and April as the youngest generation on her Great Grandmother's lap...


We had not been to this gathering since 2010, so it was nice to be back and catch up with all of the relatives.

Alexa with her Aunt Holly and Uncle Michael...


Fun was had by all as we visited, ate, and drank our fill of the 67th annual Starr family Thanksgiving. We dropped one off in Berkeley on our way back to our motel in Pleasant Hill.

The next day, Black Friday as it has come to be known, was the day we had chosen to say our good-byes to Joe. The cremation could not be done while we were there in October due to a backlog, so it was decided we would hold off for a few weeks and do it all during the Thanksgiving weekend which was the first chance we had to travel out as a family.

Speaking of Joe...

Here's a picture of Joe along with Zack from a few years ago...


We had the interment and memorial service for my father-in-law, Joe Starr, the day after Thanksgiving. The interment was at Gan Shalom just north of Orinda, California near Briones Park. It's really a beautiful setting with a field of sheep nearby, and cattle grazing on the hills. My father-in-law loved nature and the outdoors, so this is really a perfect resting place for him. My mother-in-law's brother, Morris, is buried in the same cemetery. Eventually, other family members will be laid to rest there as well.

Here is our group assembling for the interment.


It included a military burial since Joe had served in the Army during WWII. It was actually quite nice with the playing of taps, then the opening and folding of the flag which was presented to the family.


Zack adding some dirt to his grandfather's grave...


The tradition of all of us shoveling the dirt in with the blade turned over to represent our reluctance to say good-bye was very moving. After the interment, I think we all felt some sense of relief that he was in his final resting spot.


The memorial was held at 3 pm on the same day in the Fireside Room at Rossmoor with Zack officiating.


Grandson Jared Cvetich and his friend Matt played music for half an hour as everyone gathered, and included some nice big band music that Grandpa used to enjoy dancing to in his dance clubs.


Both daughters, Holly and Tara, lovingly eulogized their father, and many stood up to share memories of Joe. Both granddaughters, Rachel and Alexa, shared poetry and readings. Following the service, everyone visited and shared memories...


It's not easy saying good-bye to parents, but a lot of positive memories were shared as we said good-bye to signify closure. The celebration of his 91 years of life was joyous and we will all miss Joe dearly.


Dirty Du!

This past weekend on Saturday was the Central Iowa Trail Association's annual fund raiser race commonly known as the Dirty Du (Dirty Duathlon)! It takes place at the Greenwood Park trails known as Center Trails. I have always tried to participate throughout the history of this event. Some years, the dates line up the same weekend that I am away at NATS, but this year worked out just right that I could do it. I have done it in the solo male category, the coed relay category, and the male relay category. In the early years, it involved the flat section known as Denman's for the running, but recent years have seen the entire event move up to the sections known as Hillside and Roller Coaster for both the running and the cycling. Running those hills without much training did me in, and I switched to doing the relay version with a runner.

My daughter and I won the Sprint Version coed relay one year when I had opera rehearsal in the afternoon and couldn't do the longer afternoon race. I competed with several Simpson students as my running partner several other years. I actually had a female student runner lined up, but I roped John Taylor into doing the running section with me for the men's relay version of this race. John is a sub 4 hour marathon runner who is trained, and more used to running those longer steady pace runs. The Dirty Du format is a quick lap on the dirt singletrack trails filled with hills that is a race much more akin to a full out sprint interval that takes about 16 - 20 minutes for the more competitive runners for a lap. Then the runner waits for the mountain biker to race three laps on their bike which takes about 15 - 18 minutes per lap for the more competitive riders - at which point the runner goes out for one more lap. My relay team came in at 1:37:36 last year for 10th place in the men's category. I was hoping to top that this year.

There is no masters category for the relay, but John is 58 and I'm 55 - so we were representing the AARP card carrying crowd for sure.  The weather was perfect, the trails were groomed, and we met in the parking lot about 30 minutes prior to start. I told John our strategy was not to get hurt (no twisted ankles, no falls, etc...). I had a goal of riding faster laps than I did last year as I felt in a bit better aerobic shape this year than last year due to my semester overseas and failure to get the base training, and structure I needed. This year I was in much better condition, so thought I could shave some time off of my lap times from last year. John's wife, Peggy came along as did my wife and daughter to cheer us on as we made our way around the course.

John lined up with all of the runners, and at the sound of the gun - off he went.

As I waited for his first lap to be completed, Tara posed with me...


John was caught on film jumping the creek crossing in true free spirit fashion...

Leap of Faith

He came through the finish line area, and tagged my hand which sent me off for my three laps. My heart rate jacked up high as a kite on the first set of climbs, but I kept at it. The trail was in excellent shape and I kept pushing.

Ron Cooney snapped a picture of me as I approached him...


A short time later, David Krohse caught me coming off one of the new bridges...


I felt pretty good rounding the finish line area after lap one, and pushed off for my second lap. After some of the initial climbing in this lap, I backed off just a bit to conserve a little bit for the remainder of the lap, and for my final lap.

Laps two and three were pretty uneventful in terms XC racing. The creek crossing was hardly even felt aboard my Yeti...


I felt pretty confident I had ridden faster this year, and when checking my times - sure enough, I met my goal of riding faster.

Last year lap times ----- This year lap times.

18:43 --------------------- 17:45
18:48 --------------------- 18:18
19:03 --------------------- 17:53
56:34 --------------------- 53:56

In total, I was able to cut off 2:38 minutes this year over last year. John ran his two laps in 19:37, and 19:12 which when combined with mine was good enough for 1:32:46 - or 7th place in the male relay division, and 13th out of the 72 teams overall. Not bad for a couple of old guys trying to stay in shape and keep young!!! That was a grand total of 4:50 minutes better than last year.

Kudos to Cheryl, Andy and the entire CITA crew for yet another excellent Dirty Du event. Thank you to the sponsors as well. It looked to be a successful fund raiser for CITA which will go back into our trails and tools to help maintain the trails.

After the race, we all went to Mullet's for some post race treats with John and had a nice visit.


November has arrived...

Tara spent the first two weeks in California helping take care of her father who passed away on October 12th - just six days short of his 91st birthday. I flew out and returned with Tara on the 23rd after we had cleared out everything in his house. Joe was able to play tennis and do his dancing right up until the lung cancer diagnosis in August. We went out as a family during Labor Day. Tara, Zack, and Alexa all made an additional trip out to say their goodbyes and to help with the needed care in the final days.

R.I.P. Joseph Starr


My heart goes out to my wife Tara, and my sister-in-law Holly on the loss of their father. We have all been spending time sharing memories with each other. I was fortunate to have known Joe for nearly 30 years. He had an impact on his two son-in-laws, and his four grandchildren.

I also received news that my biological father, Robert Heimsoth, passed away in October. We had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions. Twice when we traveled to Goodyear, Arizona where he lived, and one time when he came to visit us here in Iowa. My heart goes out to his wife, and to my half-siblings on their loss. He was a very kind hearted man. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to meet him, and the little time that I had to get to know him.

Needless to say, that was our October...


I took 4 students to the Central Region NATS student adjudications this past weekend which were held at the University of Iowa. Zack won third place in the graduate men's division, a freshman student of mine won honorable mention in the underclassmen college men's division, and a senior student of mine won first place in the upper college women's division. We normally bring more students, but this year there was conflict with two of our college choirs having a concert scheduled on the same weekend, so only a few of our students who are in a group called Chamber Singers were available to go. But the few who did go represented us quite well.


Bruce Brown, Emma Dickinson mezzo-soprano, and James Poulsen her accompanist.

Somehow I managed to get a bike race in up in Minnesota where I got third place, and some rides in throughout the month to blow out some cobwebs and keep me in shape. Not a huge month, but enough to enjoy the outdoors and various bikes - be it on dirt, gravel, or pavement.

October 1st 15.58 Miles -- Duration 1:25:07 (MTB Race)
October 2nd 17.6 Miles -- Duration 1:49:10 (MTB)
October 4th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 00:59:37 (Recovery Ride)
October 5th 18.6 Miles -- Duration 1:11:17
October 7th 11.7 Miles -- Duration 00:58:20 (Recovery Ride)
October 8th 10.5 Miles -- Duration 1:15:50 (Pre-Ride of 11/5's race course)
October 9th 13.5 Miles -- Duration 1:28:49
October 11th 42.9 Miles -- Duration 2:43:08
October 13th 19.1 Miles -- Duration 1:20:47
October 14th 6.72 Miles -- Duration 00:40:52 (Recovery Ride)
October 15th 11.5 Miles -- Duration 1:31:53 (MTB)
October 16th 37 Miles -- Duration 2:30:45
October 23rd 28.4 Miles -- Duration 2:02:59
October 24th 9.03 Miles -- Duration 1:01:44 (MTB)
October 26th 20.9 Miles -- Duration 1:05:00
October 27th 6.11 Miles --  Duration 00:30:55 (Recovery Ride)
October 28th 11.6 Miles -- Duration 1:15:38
October 31st 10.2 Miles -- Duration 1:06:07 (Pre-Ride of 11/5's race course)

October Total Miles: 302.44
October Total Duration: 24:57:58