Thursday, October 07, 2010

Do I Look Deaf?

OK, I'll admit that it has been a while since I have posted anything. Well, I don't really have a good excuse or anything other that to say that I've been busy with other stuff. Sorry.

But I thought I would relate a small segment of what happened on my ride today. I found it interesting, anyway.

I decided that today would be a good day to ride from the house up to the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and go for a ride out on the Kitsap peninsula. It's the second time recently that I've done this. Last week I crossed over to Kingston and then rode down to Bainbridge Island to catch the ferry back to downtown Seattle and then rode home from there. Today I figured I would just go on a shorter loop on the Peninsula just to see some views I hadn't seen yet.

I got a little off course on my way to the ferry today and got there just as it was coming in from the Kingston side. Still, I had plenty of time and still stopped at the little espresso stand next to the waiting lanes to grab a granola round as a late lunch ($1.60 vs. $3.00 if you get it onboard). The way they have it set up is that bicycles and motorcycles go up to the front to board first as long as loading hasn't started yet, so I made my way up to the bicycle holding area where I was by myself. There were probably 15 motorcycles. As soon as the incoming crowd was off-loaded they waved me on, followed shortly by the motos and then the cars. I tied off my bike and went up to the passenger deck to eat my granola round.

I ended up sitting near the westward end in front of a couple of motorcyclists. They were talking about just general stuff and I was just sitting and eating. I think they started out talking about the hazards of SCUBA rapid ascents (though they had their physics wrong - not that I corrected them), and then moved on to griping about politics/politicians. Then they started in on bicycles. Hmm. I am pretty sure they could see me sitting with my helmet and cycling gear still on less than 5 feet away. Hmm.

Oh, it started out with complaining about all of the new bicycle lanes. Specifically, I think their main 'point' was that cyclists don't pay any road use taxes and that we (cyclists) should have to pay a licensing fee. Then they complained that bicycles get to board first and they have to wait until we are on the ferry. Next was the general scofflaw nature of all cyclists (we all run red lights and stop signs, we all ride three wide down the middle of the street, we don't ride on the sidewalks where we "belong", et cetera). Then, of course, was the fact that we all look down our noses at other people. Yada yada yada.

The ranting continued on, touching on how one guy's coworker was a cyclist and had made some comment about overly aggressive drivers at work one day...

And then one of them made the following statement: "Yeah, I guess everyone is an assh#le until proven otherwise."

Sensing an opportunity, I stood up and turned to face them. Then I laid out the following (as close to verbatim as I can recall) - in a perfectly calm and non-confrontational tone:

"You know, guys, I can't really disagree with you completely on any of the points you made, but I don't think you are seeing the whole picture."

[shock on their faces; maybe they thought I wouldn't dare say anything?]

"First, you are correct that I don't pay road use taxes for my bicycle. But for one thing, I don't have anywhere near the same impact on the road infrastructure that engine-driven vehicles do. What next? Do you then start charging pedestrians to walk on the road? Also, every cyclist I personally know also owns at least one car - I have three in my driveway - that they do pay road use taxes on. Besides, I think the biggest reason that bicycles don't have to be licensed is that it would cost more to register and placard bikes, including enforcement, than it would bring in. And maybe you should just consider that bike lanes help keep bicycles out of the flow of traffic and slowing it down"

[silence from the two of them, but people are starting to listen in]

"I believe that your next point was that bicyclists board the ferries first. Frankly, I agree there. I would actually prefer to board last and leave last just so I'm not getting passed by a steady stream of a few hundred cars that just came off the ferry behind me. But I didn't make that decision. If you don't like the policy, you should call the Washington State DOT. But you know, I'm guessing that those several hundred cars might complain about you guys getting to go around to the head of the line, too, now that I think about it."

[still silent, but squirming a little - and there are now about 15 other people standing by listening in]

"You also mention that bicyclists are all scofflaws, but I can assure you that not all of us are by any means. I follow the rules of the road - not the sidewalk, where I don't belong - when I ride, even when cars - and motorcycles - around me don't. Yes, I have seen the guys you complain about and I don't like it either, especially since the 5 to 10 percent of those doing it paint the rest of us in a bad light. I think we would do well to teach school kids bicycling safety so they know how to follow the rules of the road, but currently it is mostly a grass-roots effort in a lot of areas. I would also point out that many drivers tend to see you guys in a negative light based on the actions of some motorcyclists riding dangerously in traffic or just being perceived as being "hellions", so I would think that you might be a little more understanding in this regard."

[still very silent, looking toward the floor - surrounding people look interested, though]

"No discussion about the points I'm making?"


"Okay, well, I'll leave you with this final thought. That statement you made about everyone being an assh#le until proven otherwise? Yeah, I think you were dead-on with that one. Have a pleasant afternoon, gentlemen."

At this point I turned to go, stopping long enough to throw away the wrapper from my lunch. A couple of the bystanders came walking with me back down to the car deck. One of them said "Very eloquent. You know, I don't think you're an ash#le". "Thanks," I replied, "You either."

The story isn't over yet. I got down to the car deck and untied my bicycle from the securing point as others got back into their cars - or on their motorcycles. Once the ramp was in place the deck hand looked over at me and was about to give me the signal to go ahead when two of the motorcyclists charged ahead off of the ferry, almost knocking the deckhand down. Guess which two?


Story still isn't quite over. I rode off the ferry and started up the roadway just in time to notice two motorcycles (guess which two) go blasting right through a red light. Right in front of a Kingston Police cruiser. Lights flash, motorbikes stop on roadside, so on and so forth. It took about every bit of restraint I had not to say "Hmph. Scofflaws." as I rode past. I didn't, but I sure thought about it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Exploring the River Trail

One thing Seattle has a lot of is bicycle trails. The big one that I tend to touch on a lot of my rides is the Burke-Gilman trail, but until recently I hadn't actually been all the way from one end to the other. The Burke-Gilman is about 17 miles long from one end to the other, which would make it a 34 mile round trip. The thing is, I don't live at either end but rather I usually connect in somewhere near the middle. I've gone south and west to end up on the Seaview Avenue trail to Golden Gardens park, and I've gone north and east out to Kenmore, but I never made it quite to the end out that way. Had I realized before just how close I'd been...

Last week I decided to go north and east and just keep going until I ran out of trail. I got to where I'd been before and only went just a little past when I discovered that the Burke-Gilman ended and the Sammamish River Trail began. Actually, another trail started out near there, and I took it to the north first, only to turn around when it disappeared after about 3 miles. Then I figured that the Sammamish route should be tested.

Back toward the beginning of January, MG and I drove out to Woodinville to try to find a winery we could visit. We specifically wanted to go to the Chateau St. Michelle winery, and after figuring out that the GPS didn't really know Woodinville all that well I was able to backtrack and locate it. We did the tour and then joined the Vintner's Club, if only because they hold outdoor concerts in the summer for club members. And we aren't just talking about some unknown bands here. Last year they had (among others) both Elvis Costello and Diana Kraal, though surprisingly not at the same time. MG even surprised me on the trip home that day by saying that it was her goal to get on the tandem and get to where we can ride to some of the concerts this summer. I figured that the Burke-Gilman would be part of our route, but that we'd have to exit onto local roads to go the last several miles.

I was wrong. I found this out on my ride last week.

As I rode along the Sammamish River trail I figured that I would have to hit Google Maps when I got home to try to find out exactly where I'd been riding. That was before I suddenly realized "Hey, that building looks familiar." Sure enough, I was riding right past the winery grounds. What I thought would be several miles of Woodinville roads to reach it turned out to be just a 1/4 mile or so to go from the trail to the entrance. Serendipity strikes again.

Of course, it's going to take a while before we can do that ride. From our new house (we move in early next month) the ride out to the winery is about 15 miles one way. MG hasn't been riding for quite a long time, so we're going to have to build up to that kind of distance for her and then hope that she recovers enough at the concert to be able to ride back. I think we can do it, though. We've got 4 or 5 months to work with and we get the tandem back out of storage once we move.

Personally, I'm looking forward to it. Especially since I now know how to get there from the Sammamish River Trail.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Farewell to Knoxville (at least for now)

Having grown up in Kingsport, Tennessee, I was well aware of Knoxville from an early age, if not as a place to go to, then certainly as a place to go through. My grandparents were all in Atlanta, so more often than not we would travel through Knoxville and on through Chattanooga on our way to visit. I guess my earliest memories of Knoxville are of the Arby’s on Kingston Pike near Papermill and of the gas stations at Cedar Bluff. The first time I can remember Knoxville as a destination would be when my father took us to go see the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Civic Coliseum. In 1982 Knoxville became a destination for millions with the World’s Fair (I only visited once that summer, but I remember it well).

My college career began in 1983 at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville studying mechanical engineering, so Knoxville was again relegated to ‘place I pass through and stop for gas, maybe’. There were a few times that some of my friends and I would make a trip to Knoxville for an event, but more often our destination was Nashville.

After a few years at Tech, I decided that I’d change my major to Architecture, which was a program not offered there, so I transferred to the University of Tennessee. My stay in the Architecture program was brief (long story there) so I transferred into the civil engineering program at UT, and then determined I could finish my degree quicker if I returned to Tech. Thus my stay in Knoxville was only about 6 or 7 months at that point, but I was glad to at least leave my cockroach-infested apartment behind.

In 1988 my then girlfriend (and future wife) left Auburn University to attend the UT College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, so I suddenly found myself making the trip from Cookeville to Knoxville almost every weekend. My knowledge of all that Knoxville had to offer expanded greatly during the next two years until I graduated from Tech in 1989 with a degree in civil engineering.

Degree in hand, and knowing that my girlfriend/fiancée had to stay at UT to complete her degree until 1992, I decided to concentrate my job search in the Knoxville area and landed a job in Oak Ridge, only minutes away from west Knoxville. I moved into an apartment next door to a high school/college friend/fraternity brother and began my twenty-year stay in Knoxville. I married my wife (aka MG) one year later and we moved into a slightly larger apartment.

After she graduated, we decided that we might as well settle in to Knoxville as our home. I had my job, and she found work in west Knoxville, so we moved into our first house for the next four years or so.

I found myself on the road for most of 1995 through 2000, but always with Knoxville as my home base. Since her career was in Knoxville, MG stayed home while I was wandering about the wilds of northern New York, northern Maine, and northern Alabama (you know, all of those “northern” places). In 1996 MG sold our house and moved in to house sit for some friends on an assignment in Maine. That same year we bought some land (backing up to another fraternity brother’s property) and started building a new house. I was home for most of the winter that our house was being built, so MG and I were able to put in a bit of the work ourselves including tiling, painting, and installing the dining room hardwood floor. We moved in during the spring of 1997 just before I shipped out again.

I finally finished my stint on the road in late 2000 and got assigned to a project out in Oak Ridge again, so I was able to begin feeling like I actually lived in Knoxville again. This was about the same time that MG made a career change and started being a road warrior in her own right, though she spent more nights at home than I had ever been able to.

Most of the real connections that I have in Knoxville started after 2000. I got back into cycling through a friend at our church, and from there joined a cycling club sponsored by my favorite local bike shop. Many of the people that I feel closest to now have come from branches of one of those two trees; cycling or our church Sunday School class. There are exceptions, of course, including friends from MG’s veterinary career and from the car club we belonged to for many years.

So fast forward now to 2009. MG’s career has progressed as she has moved up through the ranks at her company. We originally thought that the next step for her would be a move to the home office near Philadelphia, PA, but instead she was offered a position that would better allow her to utilize her medical background as well as her other experience with the company. The catch? The position is to cover the Pacific Northwest region of the country. We looked at the region, studied our options, and decided that Seattle, a city we had already visited and liked, would be the location to host the next phase of our lives. We moved into a small rental house in Seattle with about half of our possessions in September.

We had put our house in Knoxville on the market in July. We knew it would be tough to sell a house in the existing market following the economic chaos of the previous two years, and indeed it was. Showings were sporadic, and though feedback from those showings was generally positive, we had no offers since the market was flooded with houses in the same price and size range. We realized that it would take someone coming in and falling in love with the house the same as we did. In December it finally happened.

We went under contract in mid-December and I returned from Seattle in January 2010 to get the remainder of our stuff moved from the house in Knoxville to a storage facility in the Seattle area. Due to a mix-up we were not aware that the closing date had been moved up until just a day or two before my trip, so it turned out that closing was scheduled only hours before my return flight to Seattle.

I spent my week in Knoxville dealing with details concerning the move during the days and trying to get together with friends in the evenings. That worked on Monday through Wednesday, but Thursday didn’t turn out so well. Snow started falling early that day and the movers were not able to finish up by 1:00pm as they had predicted, but rather at 5:00pm. I still had too much to do, what with hauling away excess cardboard boxes and recyclable paper and plastic, to meet with the friends I was scheduled to have dinner with. As it turned out, the chef at the restaurant even called me to say that he might have to close due to the snow. Snow was quickly making the roads very slick and icy.

I’d intended to spend the night at my friend JB’s house, but I found that I couldn’t get the rental car up his driveway. Other friends had previously offered a room for that night, but I quickly narrowed it down to only one place where the roads were flat enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting in and out, so I spent my last evening at K&K’s.

I got up the next morning and decided to head straight to the title company office rather than run any of the last-minute errands I had planned. I got there early for our closing, but they let me go ahead and start signing the paperwork I needed to sign. I left there hoping to have lunch with Wally before I had to be at the airport, but time had slipped too far away from me. Yet another casualty of the snow.

So now I no longer have any ties to Knoxville other than the emotional ones. I do not know that this is the way it will stay, though. For some reason I don’t think Knoxville has seen the last of MG and me. Maybe in 5 or 10 years our paths may turn that way again. Meanwhile we will still visit periodically (my next visit is scheduled for two weekends from now, in fact).

So farewell for now, Knoxville. Farewell, and good luck.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Storm Chasing

Actually, that title is more about storms chasing me. They haven't caught me yet, but ...

I went out for a ride yesterday afternoon. We are into the rainy season here in the Pacific Northwest, so every day when it isn't raining, or if there's a good clear window of time, the bike's siren call seems to get louder. There have been three days in the last two weeks when I have actually gotten out. Today may end up being another. If this keeps up, I'll have to buy more cold weather gear (or do laundry more often).

So yesterday seemed like an opportune time to go see how far the Burke Gilman trail goes to the west. A quick ride down 15th led me to it, and a turn to the right sent me the direction I wanted to go.

I can see the allure of the trail right now. It skirts along several urban areas, allowing you to ride without having to constantly watch for cars (except where the trail crosses roads). Watching for other cyclists and for pedestrians is another matter, but at least right now there aren't as many out there as during the summer or on a weekend.

The Burke Gilman ended quicker than I expected it to. I knew it would end, but I didn't think I'd gone that far when it did. So I hit some urban streets (with at least some markings for cyclists from time to time) and headed further west through Fremont/Ballard, rather than crossing a bridge toward downtown. I will have to cross one of these days, but yesterday wasn't the day.

Right about at the Chittendam Locks (aka, the Ballard Locks) I picked up trail again and followed it as it curled north along the western shore of northern Seattle, ending up at Golden Gardens Park. From there I had two choices. I could turn around and go back the way I came, or I could climb this heinous-looking hill up the ridge. MG and I had driven on it before, so I knew it would be steep. Looking to the southwest, I noted that the clouds - dark clouds - were starting to mass and move in my direction. Going south would be toward them. I climbed the hill.

Now maybe I'm just used to climbing by now. After all, I usually rode some very steep stuff back in TN. I've also ridden a goodly portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway several times. (Sitting here typing this, it is very hard to reconcile just how far away those places are now.) I kept preparing myself for the climb to be worse than it was. I am out of shape, after all, having not ridden very much this year (I've had other stuff going on, OK?). I also haven't been climbing since I finally went cold-turkey off of the beta-blockers. But it wasn't so bad. That's not to say that it was easy - it wasn't - but it wasn't what I'd mentally prepared myself for. Maybe that was the difference.

I got to the top and realized that the quickest way back to the house was to head due east on 85th. A glance over my shoulder at the clouds motivated me to get going, perhaps a little faster than I meant to. 85th rolls a little as it crosses north Seattle, and I was out of the saddle moving quickly up each uphill section. I crossed several major roads, rode with a lot of traffic (but was able to maintain about the same speed, mostly), and finally turned down Wallingford to get from 85th to 80th. I figured that crossing the bridge over I-5 on 80th would be a little better than doing it over 85th.

After the bridge, a quick right on Banner Way led me to 75th, and then it was only about 4 blocks or so back to the house. I jumped off, headed into the house, stripped off my outer layer and sat in a stupor due to pushing harder than I'd meant to. But I felt justified about five minutes later. When the clouds reached the house.

And then it rained for a while (and I dozed off dreaming of riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Crossed Up

I went to see my first Washington State cycling event today. It was the Woodland Park Grand Prix event (First Annual, they say, but I don't think the 'First' denotes 'Annual' until after it has been repeated).

I actually didn't even know about the event until this morning over breakfast. I was eating my breakfast while flipping through the most recent Seattle Weekly independent newspaper when I saw the notice for the race. The first heat was to start at 9:30am, but since I had to have MG at the airport at 9am (closer to 9:10, actually), and it's a 30 minute drive back, I figured I'd miss the start anyway. Of course I only barely missed it, since I have seen very few race events that have actually started on time.

It was a long and winding course. Most of the races I've attended/scored/officiated in Knoxville, TN have been a bit shorter, I think, but maybe not. Maybe it only seemed that way. Now that I think of it, the lap times were fairly similar.

The weather cooperated with the race, which is to say that it was cold and drizzling. That's the way a cyclocross race should be though. A little snow and it would have been perfect.

I hung around near the finish line to watch the last half of the first heat, the second heat, and part of the third. It was a little strange being at a 'cross race where I wasn't either racing or officiating. I'm way out of shape for participating, and I haven't had any local race contacts to do any officiating, though I did talk to a couple of guys today and offered my services in future events if needed.

To be honest, though, I did get to do my small bit to help out. The race announcers were working from on top of a truck near the finish line. At one point during the second heat the wind gusted and blew a couple of their start lists down to the ground below. I walked over and retrieved them for the guys and handed them back up, wet as they were. Not much, but at least I got to do something useful.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

... Found

The keys have been located. I spent a goodly amount of time last night looking high and low before it suddenly occurred to me where I'd stuffed the keys to my bike locks. I'm not going to say where I found them. I may want to use that hiding place again. It obviously worked pretty good this time, eh?

So, with that crisis averted, I found myself with the ability to actually go for a ride this afternoon. I had a few chores and such to finish first, so it was almost 3:30 before I got out there, which limited my ride time. Why? 'Cause it gets dark here early. Like, before 5:00 (actually, sunset was at 4:39 today according to Yeah, I have lights, but I'd rather not have to carry them if I don't have to.

I did have one chore that I waited to do, figuring that I could easily accomplish it by bicycle. Thus, I left the house and headed straight to the Post Office box first thing (1 piece of mail, which is better than wasting my time on none). Having done that, I headed ENE to a spot just north of Lake City where I thought I could pick up the Burke-Gilman Trail according to Google Maps. Google Maps lied. That's my story, anyway, since I refuse to entertain the thought that I could have misread the map, like maybe if I thought it said 137th instead of 157th or something. No way. They lied. I can't back that up, though. They must have corrected it while I was out riding, thus obliterating the truth of it. Yeah.

Well, I found the trail anyway, but not until after I wandered about for a little while (nothing wrong with that, though. Tolkien said "Not all those who wander are lost"). There weren't as many people out on the trail today as there were a few Sundays ago. Maybe the cooler weather kept them in. Or maybe there was a good football game on TV. I don't have TV right now, so I wouldn't know. I do plan on having it before le Tour de France next summer, though. I mean, I'm not crazy or anything. Still, I won't complain about less trail traffic. Maybe I should just become a die-hard winter rider so I can spend the next several months getting back in shape without having to dodge runners, walkers, young families who stretch out across the width of the trail and act indignant if you alert them that you'd actually like to pass their precious like tykes on his and/or her tricycle, ... the list goes on.

I did get home just before sunset, at about 4:35. And then, just as I was carrying my bike up the front stairs and before I could get my keys out and go inside, my cell phone started ringing and I had to stand outside talking for the next 10 minutes until I could hang up and dig my keys out of my carryall. How does she do that? How does she always know when it's a bad time to call? How?!?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Lost and ...

Hmm, now where did I put those things?

Well, I'm back in Seattle, and it has actually been raining here over the last few days. I know, crazy, huh? It was nice enough on Wednesday after I got back, but I didn't have an opportunity to ride my bike that day. I had to go retrieve my dogs (no pun intended) from the kennel and get the cat from the vet's and grocery shop and ... well, you get the idea. And then it has rained.

It's supposed to be a little nicer than that on Sunday according to the Weather Channel. I'd like to get out there if I can, but I have a little problem right now. What could that be? Well, I can't find my key.

OK, so what does a key have to do with cycling? Everything, when it's the key that goes to the lock that is wrapped around all of my bikes in the basement. Why did I lock them up if they are in the basement? Well, I'd heard of a rash of local break-ins lately, and since we were gone for 12 days, I figured that if someone did break in, I wasn't going to make it easy on them.

Except that now I haven't made it easy on myself, either. I feel certain that wherever I put that key, at the time I thought I would have no problem remembering where I'd left it. Ha! Shows how much I know, huh? Hmph.

So, here's hoping I can find the key to that lock, or at least find the other key that goes to my tool case where my hacksaw is, by the time the rain lets up for a while. Of course, some folks back home think I've got until April.

Man, I sure hope they're wrong.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

12 Hours of the Hill of Truth Report

What a muddy mess it was. And that was just in the Start/Finish area.

The race started at 11 am on Saturday under cloudy skies. It wasn't raining then, but there had been some rain overnight which, combined with all of the rains over the last few weeks, meant that the trails were fairly saturated.

I was in the field where the race started, and just after that I headed out to walk the route backwards. I walked up Saddle trail to the top of the ridge. I noted that it wasn't muddy there, but that the leaf cover on the trail was still intact at that point. It wouldn't take too many tires going by to change that, and reportedly, it didn't.

I stood at the top of Saddle for a long time, waiting for everyone on their first lap to go by. There were a couple of guys out there who were riding one lap on a tandem, so I had to make sure I saw that. I'd planned on getting a lot of photos, but light scattered light rains came along, and MG called me and wanted to talk for about 10 minutes, so I didn't end up getting a whole lot of shots up there. I did see the guys on the tandem, though.

After that, I continued on walking the route in reverse, policing the trail a bit as I went along (straightening out some markings, picking up a front fender, finding someone's race number...). I stopped once in a while to try a shot or two, but it just wasn't working out with the occasional light rain and the poor lighting conditions in the woods (and I don't think it's a good idea to hit racers with a flash in their eyes - unlike at least one other guy I heard about).

I ended up following the course all the way to the top of the Hill of Truth, which was maybe about half of the way around, and then turned and headed back to the Start/Finish area to hang out with everybody instead of wandering around with a camera and not taking very many pictures.

I had originally planned to head back out into the woods to try taking some long-exposure shots to get some light trails from the racer's headlamps, but by the time it got dark enough the rains started up a little harder than before, so I just stayed put. I did end up giving Jay a couple of breaks by taking over the scoring briefly.

The race itself ended up looking a lot like a war of attrition. Several teams ended up dropping out early, even before dark. By the time it had been dark for an hour I would guess that only half of the racers were still going. It had to be miserable out there. It was wet, it was muddy, and it was getting colder. Sometime around 9:30 or 10 pm the clouds parted and the moon came out. The bad thing was that the clouds had helped keep the temperature from dropping very fast. So it got cold quickly then, though I was at least prepared for that.

I saw riders come in with so much mud you couldn't tell what color their clothes or bikes were supposed to be. One guy came in with mud, grass and leaves trailing from his rear derailleur almost touching the ground. As people started leaving across the evening the camp area around the Start/Finish began to resemble dark brown peanut butter. Several cars and trucks lost traction and had to be pushed out. I saw ruts about 8" deep out there. I was happy that I had parked over in a gravel lot further up the road.

The race ends at 11 pm, but that only means that racers aren't allowed to start a new lap after that time. The last rider out had left at about 10:50 pm, so we had to wait until she got back near midnight before giving out the prizes (since the team she was on did place in the top three in their division). I helped with that, then helped break down the PA system, and then left.

I had planned way back in September that I would camp out with everybody else that night, and had left enough gear in my truck in Knoxville to do it. If it hadn't rained so much, I would have. Instead, I headed back to my truck, got out with no problem (and no mud), and went back to the house to sleep in a warm, dry bed.

In 11 years of the 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth, they had never had rain fall during the race before last night. I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. Let's hope next year the race can be 'in the dry'.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Race Weekend

Tomorrow is the annual 12 Hours of the Hill of Truth mountain bike race at Haw Ridge near Oak Ridge, TN. I have been to all of these races since 2002 except for last year, but I had to miss that one to attend a wedding in Blowing Rock, NC for one of MG's friends. I'm happy to report that it worked out that I could be here for this year's race.

I was going to help John with some course set-up today, but most of that was already done. Where he needed my help was in the splitting out of all the the prizes donated by local bike shops and other sponsors into classification awards. That can be a very tough job, but I won't go into detail. That took us about three hours to get squared-away, at which point we finished up the marking of the start/finish/scoring area and setting aside t-shirts and glasses for the volunteers and sponsors.

Now the question is about the weather. The forecast has been calling for a 50% chance of rain tomorrow. The trail conditions at Haw Ridge are OK right now according to some of the folks who talked to us after they did practise laps today, but any rain will likely turn the trail surfaces into a soupy mire of muddy muck. I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Go West, Young Man!

Well, it's done. The inhabitants of the former Casa de Big Guy have relocated to a new, temporary Casa de Big Guy. How temporary? That is anyone's guess. We are in a rental house in Seattle until our house in Knoxville sells and we can then afford a down-payment on a Seattle home. Anybody want a house in Knoxville? It's a nice house. It really is.

Mrs. Guy and I loaded up most (but not all) of our household items onto a moving truck on September 17th and 18th. Well, to be honest, we stood back and watched as the professional movers came in and did it. We also loaded up a rented minivan with all of the myriad things that we wanted to have with us in our rental house until the movers made it to Seattle. What kind of things? Well, enough clothing to get us through a couple of weeks if needed. An air mattress to sleep on (along with sheets, blanket and pillows), all of our computer gear, other miscellaneous stuff we'd want, my Ritchey Breakaway, and the cat. What? Only one bike? And what about the dogs? Not to worry. I drove the Mini Cooper Clubman with the dogs in the back and a bike and a cargo carrier on the roof. MG drove the van.

Ever since I told people we'd be moving to Seattle they've been going on about all the rain I would have to put up with. Well, that hasn't exactly borne out. It has been really rainy in Knoxville this summer and on up into the fall. It rained on us almost all of the first day of our drive from Knoxville to Kansas City, where we spent the first night. It rained for the first half of our drive from KC to Cheyenne on the second day. It was mostly sunny on the third day from Cheyenne to Boise, and sunny on the fourth (and last) day from Boise to Seattle. Then it stayed mostly sunny for our first three weeks in Seattle, with only a little rain during the fourth week, at which point we flew back to Knoxville for a couple of weeks so MG can have her second round of surgery. Yeah, it's still a little wet here. Go figure, right? Actually, Seattle averages less rain per year than Knoxville. It's just that during most years Knoxville gets the occasional downpour, whereas it rains more often in Seattle, but generally lightly.

So, you're still thinking I only have two bikes in Seattle, right? Wrong. Two of the bikes were boxed for me at the Bike Zoo (my Knoxville LBS) and loaded onto the moving truck. I left the tandem and my SS mountain beast - I mean bike - in Knoxville for now. They'll come in the final move when the house sells and we have a bigger place in Seattle. So I have the Ritchey, the Seven, the road SS, and my geared mountain bike in Seattle, and the other two in Knoxville.

Now then, those of you keeping score at home will remember that I had seven bikes. Well, the key word there is 'had'. I decided it was time for me to part company with the Kestrel. I hadn't been riding it much since I got the Seven, and space was at a premium, so I found it a new home with a friend of a friend. Besides, I could use the money.

Did I mention that I quit my job and don't have one out in Seattle yet? Don't worry, the hiatus was planned. I'll start my job search once MG is recovered from her surgery. Meanwhile I've been working on getting the house in order, getting essential services lined up, and acting as tour guide for MG's little sister when she showed up for a long weekend (she wanted to be our first visitor - I think she'll be first by a large margin).

So that's more or less a synopsis of our last couple of months. Maybe next time I'll actually discuss cycling in Seattle, the Emerald City.