Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Beastie Boys just turned on in my head"

My boy Ben has been listening to the Beastie Boys (does a dad proud, a mom less so) and he just said the above quote as he drifted off to sleep.

Monday, December 03, 2007


The Bixabody runs on wires. It can also roll like a train. It can roll on tracks. It moves with a big wheel to pull the wires. It makes the pinwheel. It's like a tram. It goes on a big wheel that makes the wires move. That's it.


Friday, November 16, 2007

How does the world spin?

Please answer Ben because I have no idea about this one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here we go

Ben woke up and told me to write this one
"I had a dream that a paintbrush was coming out of the sky and painting me."

Ben Quote

"I can't remember any of my day" - Ben Nov 14 2007

I will be instituting a daily interview with my boy. One quote, one sentence, one line that summarizes what's on his mind. Will I stick to it? We will see.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Yellow, Orange and Red

After several YEARS of wanting to do something like this, I took the MAX rail to it's westernmost stop then found my way back home on a perfect fall day. I learned a few things like Pumpkin Ridge road turns to gravel and 120PSI tires do not fare well on this particular kind of gravel. Executing plan B involved another gravel road: Dixie Mountain Road. Then plan B becomes plan C because Dixie is closed after a bit. Plan C involves road names that I forget but on that road is an amazing place to buy and see all kinds of bamboo. The route finally worked out and with tired legs I was happy to see the northernmost point of Skyline as I transitioned from gravel to pavement. Then I was treated to a nice finale bombing down Germantown and then a nip across the St John's Bridge and South until home in NE PDX. What an amazing day. All was perfect but next time I'm taking the cross bike. 60 miles in total.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Chickens on the loose

It was a cold and rainy night.
The chickens were not in their coop.
Somebody had to put them in their coop
in the cold and rainy night.
This is how it went down:

Amy: Rock Charlie: Paper
Amy: Scissors Charlie: Scissors
Amy: Scissors Charlie: Scissors
Amy: Rock Charlie: Paper

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Racing the Kruger Kermesse

Of course this post will push my previous post written just an hour prior off the page but do read it, it's interesting... really

But, here's this:
Brotha Corndog [me - how I got that nickname with my cycling team is for another day] finds fellow cyclisme riders Greg & Jeff. They're doing master B's, I'm racing the single speed class. With 15 minutes before the master B gun, I nip over to registration and give them $5 and join my peeps for the race. Two races is twice the fun right?

The Kruger Kermesse is a 4-5 minute loop of dirt that's raced for 45 minutes + 1 lap. It's relatively flat at the bucolic Kruger farm on Sauvie island near Portland.

At the start the peloton rolls in a dusty sprint. The course has room to pass along its entire length and my warm up consisted of pushing Ben around the kiddie course a few hours prior so I floated to somewhere mid pack. I could see the checkered energy ahead. I used the first lap as a warm up, staying out of the wind. After the first corner the dust has a similar effect to ultra dense fog. We're all bombing through some dusty fluffy bumpy crap and all you can do is keep the body loose and accept the brutality of the section. My strategy for the race was efficiency, staying out of the wind and jumping from group to group, picking off riders. There was also a particular rise right before a flat and then a downhill where I could gain many spots by doing a ten second out of the saddle sprint. If felt good to be hanging near some guys and then explode with power and just be gone. Some of these guys would find me on the long sustained climb but it was a good tactical move. I repeated this every lap. The downhill made for a great recovery.

Somewhere mid-race I gained on GoBrian as he was drafting a small group that was losing ground to a larger chase. I told Greg to jump on my wheel and I domestique'd his ass up to that group. I thought it was pretty cool to be able to execute some tactics on dirt. I kept my strategy of moving from group to group getting somewhere near the lead group but never in the hunt for a prize. Unknown to him, I drafted Gerwing for a few meters but faded relative to his velocity and while he was in sight for much of the time, I never passed him. All told, I think I was probably top quarter. I had fun.

I gave myself the fifteen minutes between races to decide whether I was going to roll the single speed race after such an effort. I bought a water and, with seven minutes to the start, I was mentally ready for another bit of suffering, ten minutes longer than the first race... fifty five minutes. Puke. My strategy was survival. I'm not some badass rider that should be racing two, just one that had the time and just enough insanity to give it a go. With no internal pressure to deliver, I rolled out without pre-race butterflies and just settled in and felt kinda strong. I wasn't leading but I wasn't spat out the back either. All of this changed as I read the timer at the start/finish. It read 40 remaining. It all fell apart then. I dropped the pace slightly in hopes that I wouldn't limp home fully cracked. Standing to sprint for the descent told me I was on the verge of cramping. My pace slowly degraded from that point. I've passed super slow riders wondering what they're doing in a B race or SS race and now I'm that rider. I get blasted by A's and other Single Speeders. At least the women would pass me at a civilized pace but they did pass me no doubt.

While I decidedly cratered for the second race, I'm really glad I did it. Given my work week and unrelenting family responsibilities, it was awesome to just completely drain the legs of all fuel. It turned a dark dark mood into a happy one. I have a small dream that doing the double will somehow make up for my lean training schedule.


The Community Cafe (aka my kitchen & espresso setup) is now roasting beans. Yes i suck at it but even my worst beans are passable in a cappuccino. I go through something like 60 lbs of coffee a year which equates to $900/year and that's just beans, not cafe drinks. This is based upon the Blue Gardenia's latest prices. While their beans are truly epic, somehow $15 didn't sit right and I cracked... twice [ultra geeky insider roasting joke]. I've threatened (in my own head) to really roast full time for my own consumption but I'm now all in. Buying green beans and roasting those is 1/3 the cost so even if I didn't enjoy the process, there would be motivation with that stat.

Just because I'm a slave to fashion, I even bought a burlap bag to store the bigger 20 lb bags. I like the smell. My strategery [sic] is to get a volume of beans from a particular region and then play with the roast until I have something pretty good. I then move on to another region until I've been around the world in beans. I dig it. I'm actually starting in Brazil... I hate Brazilian coffee. OK hate is a strong word. I prefer other places more like recent crops from Oaxaca have been magical. And, like a good Cabernet, Sumatra always delivers. So why Brazil? I overheard, like when one overhears a good stock pick or racehorse to bet on, that the basis for most espresso blends start with Brazil so there you go.

I will resist the urge to do any blending and do all single origin beans with the hope that I will someday not only be able to roast but be able to articulate the differences between various beans using these things called words. One should dream big.

I will post pictures of the roasting setup. In the meantime, I'm using a steel hand cranked stove top popcorn popper and a very accurate digital thermometer. That and a pen & paper to detail notes. It is rumoured that this setup makes it possible to emulate a drum roaster. All beans that I love: Blue Gardenia, Stumptown, Ristretto and others all roast with a drum machine. Drum is the bid'ness. word. Oh, and there's little cheaper than my setup save just throwing beans into a pan or wok. People do that... really.

So at the moment, I wouldn't dare serve my customers a straight up espresso but milk drinks, even a tight macchiato are not bad.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bye bye RED house

Old red peeling paint
Contractors cycle to work
Welcome to green house


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Eighteen THOUSAND feet straight up

This is the story about racing for 100 miles on trail & dirt road. The format is 3 Laps x 33.3 miles. There are three aid stations packed with water, food, and medical help strategically placed at the top of the major climbs. Most people equate dirt miles taking 2x to 3x the effort of similar mileage on pavement. My training mileage was light but there was some training. The only big gun in my quiver is experience. Also, I'll be fueled by very fancy magic liquids ( and pills. Oh, and to make this endeavor especially stupid, I'm riding not on a bike with a bunch of gears but one with only one. We who are part of the Single Speed Cult understand why such a choice might be made. It can only be described as religion. This race is called, "The Cascade Creampuff."

Here is the story...


3:15 am - dark, quiet, stars peeking between trees, the blue flame of the Coleman for coffee & food. Feeling good, really wondering what the #&$# would cause a person to sign up for such madness. I know it will hurt yet with the coolness of night, the task at hand doesn't appear impossible.

5:15 am - The start siren and we're spinning the neutral start on smooth and luxurious flat pavement. I find myself behind a row of three single speeders. These riders have the meaty calves and requisite ink of badass riders who I'm guessing will own this race. As they spin an ultra high cadence, I am comfortable in my spin. My only thought is that I am totally screwed. If these seasoned riders are all geared way lower, what the bloo'y 'ell am I going to do on lap 3? I am in trouble.

5:37 am - Friend and team rider Chris & I ride together for a few moments until the low cadence, fresh legs, and desire to not be among the yo-yo-ing riff raff. I accelerate away up the hill, passing dozens of riders. My race plan was to stay below a particular heart rate but I managed to *not* pack my heart rate monitor strap rendering it useless. I found it next to the pile of "stuff to bring" ... brilliant. So with no HR data, my strategy changed to stay below a subjective pain threshold.

6:31 am - (1:16 elapsed) - Aid station 1 - I barely stop and am feeling strong. The tread has been exclusively gravel road and will remain gravel until aid station 3 where it becomes essentially all singletrack all the way down.

2:26 into the race I am at the highest point at 4777' after blowing past aid station 3. Up here it's crazy mop-headed scrub grass with invisible singletrack. The race organizers marked the course with signs to mark nearly every nuance and danger on the course. If there was a rock in the middle of the trail, there would be a sign. Often after a 25mph+ section, signs would indicate to slow down. More arrow signs pointing down = more danger. One means caution, two means be really careful, three means make a mistake and you could die. The 3's were infrequent and what they represented was cliff exposure. Sections were so well marked that it was often easier to read the signs versus read the trail. While grateful for the info, especially the 3x warnings, it was almost like a padded forest. Even with the "padding" I managed to eat it on the downhill tagging my knee with a rock in a most unpleasant way on a dead-easy switchback. The singletrack is really buff and full of perfect curves. It's a luge run with intermittent climbs just to mix it up. These climbs don't hurt now but they will. On the steepest uphill sections, I intentionally walk to avoid digging deep with my 32x18 ratio. The downhill sections are so fast and so long and require such focus that they exhaust me. It's nearly impossible to want a sinuous downhill singletrack section to end but here's the exception. With aching arms and fried mental focus, please let me point the bike uphill. And this is my thinking on lap one... I'm in deep.

3:45 into the race I have completed lap one... an impressive time. If I can maintain this pace, I will have a finishing time of 11:15. This is my thinking now. If only...

2nd lap ... all I am thinking is that I want to deliver myself to the beginning of the 3rd lap before it gets too hot. The strong and confident climb on lap one is replaced by a sluggish 2nd. It's already warm on this second climb instilling fear for the third. My gear choice is really making me sad now. Without knowing what gear would be fastest, I thought I had chosen well. It's only now that I'm crossing 6 - 7 - 8,000 feet with the knowledge that it'll be 15,000+ by the end. The gear worked well for a previous race, the 50 mile/7500' Test of Endurance race but it's not working now.

I just try to ride the downhill cleanly and quickly. The velocity feels high but I my GPS tells me (now as I write this) that it's down in comparison. I deliver myself to the start of lap 3 at 1:45 pm. Lap 1 time was 3:45, lap 2 is 4:45, a solid hour slower... crap. As I round the final turns, I'm blasted with the heat of the afternoon. The climb is going to be ugly.

3rd lap ... I'm feeling better emotionally but but know that my uphill speed is dire. The cranks are barely turning over in the heat of the gray gravel. It's funny to watch riders pick their line based upon where the shade is versus where the smooth bits are. The time to get to aid 2 seems an eternity. I'm burning through water and fancy drinks. After expecting to see the aid tent after every switchback, I finally see the blue cloth of aid 3... essentially the top. I rest, rejoice, fuel up and stretch. Doing the math, I realize that my time is neither remotely near the podium nor near the cutoff time of 15 hours, I totally change my attitude to just kick back and enjoy the downhill. I'll stop at every opportunity to eat, stretch, pee, look at the sights... whatever. I realize that truly no one cares about what time I pull except myself. I could suffer to gain 20-30 minutes or take that time to feel fresh for each buttery section of singletrack. So that's my plan which I execute to perfection. I count over a dozen points where I stopped on the downhill to stretch and recharge according to the GPS.

Final time: ~13 Hours 30 minutes
On essentially the final section of singletrack, I'm stretching and hanging out and Chris shows up cursing his shock. We chat for a sec, I tell him I've cracked and he powers off. I walk a section that he climbs easily. Once at the top, I decide that it'd be cool to have a Cyclisme team sprint finish. I lay down everything I have on these velocity sections going well beyond what is sane but my rediscovered adrenaline and motivation kick in. I'm expecting to see his checkered jersey after every turn given I'm riding like the short track. I see nothing but trail. I roll into the finish and to the cheers of everyone, including the grinning Chris & family.

Thoughts: Happy I did it. Happy it's over. I picked a shitty gear. I can't believe it but I bested my previous time by an HOUR. In 2001 I rolled it with gears, without kids, and with endless hours and days of training. The question isn't why I was fast yesterday but how the 'ell was I so slow before? Mysterious.

I don't anticipate doing the 'Puff again. If I'm going to suffer though 100 miles with over six figures of vertical it needs to be some sort of point-to-point where it's all new and it's all an adventure. The lap format doesn't offer that kind of experience. It's a great event and there's a lot that I like but I've done it and can put it to rest.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ben and Ellen and the Four Cheetahs

This is a story in 3 parts.
Ben gets many variations of the following story. There's a game, a journey, and some incident that requires assistance from the fire department. They travel many different ways; by bike, by Eurovan, by spaceship, by snowshoe, and sometimes on the top of a turtle. No matter the mode, everything tends to work out just fine and Ben finds himself in bed... asleep.

Part I - Ben and Ellen and the four Cheetahs play "Find the biggest turtle"

Ben wakes up and heads downstairs where he has a cheamer (chai tea + vanilla steamer) and a big bowl of oatmeal because it's going to be a big day. Ben goes to the garage and gets out his bike, then puts on his helmet and goes out of the gate locking the gate behind him. He then rolls all the way to the fire station where he sits down with the four cheetahs and has another bowl of oatmeal. Just as he starts eating Ellen arrives and says, "Hi Benjamin, how are you?" Everyone finishes their breakfast and then it's time to play, "Find the biggest turtle!"

The four cheetahs: Nebbe, Pooter, Cocoa and Dander head out followed by Ben and Ellen. There are ninteen minutes left in the game. The Cheetahs find a big turtle and begin carrying it back. Ben and Ellen find a kinda big turtle and realize that it's not as big as the one the cheetahs have, so they don't grab it. Now there are twelve minutes left. Ben is looking over a long ridge while Ellen is in a field. Ellen sees a HUGE turtle and calls for Ben. Ben and Ellen wonder how they are going to lift the turtle all the way back to the fire house. They don't think they can do it.

Ben then explains the game to the turtle and the turtle says, "Jump on my back, lets go!" So Ben and Ellen jump on the turtle's back and they head back to the firehouse. Now there's only three minutes left and they're getting closer and closer. With less than a minute left, Ben and Ellen and the HUGE turtle walk through the door of the firehouse. Nebbe, Dander, Cocoa and Pooter all immediately get a sad look on their faces. Ben and Ellen win the game.

Part II - Ben and Ellen go on the fire engine

Ben gets on his bike and goes to Ellen's house. First he goes along 15th and then turns left on Klickitat and then immediately makes a right onto 16th because 16th is a much nicer road to ride on. He keeps riding along this until he passes Broadway and Weidler. He then makes another left followed by a right to put him on 2oth, where he goes past Burnside, transitioning from Northeast Portland to Southeast Portland. He keeps on 2oth until he comes to Harrison and then bikes along that until he hits 34th street and bikes up to Kelly, Tony, Ellen and Maximilian's house. Ellen already has her helmet on and they head off to the fire station. They say, "Bye Kelly. Bye Tony. Bye Maximilian" and off they go.

They get to the fire station and get ready to have some oatmeal when the radio crackles to life, "There's a fire on Sauvie Island." Ben rushes and puts on his fire boots, his fire hat, and his fireproof coat and jumps into the firetruck and turns on the lights. Ellen jumps into the other side and says, "Let's go!" Ellen then flips on the siren and they speed off towards the fire. They roll so fast over the Fremont bridge and then go North on 30 towards St. Helens. Next they turn on the Sauvie Island bridge and then follow the big curve to the left. After about two miles, they turn right onto the Kruger Farm gravel driveway and see a tree next to Farmer Don's barn that's on fire. Ellen jumps off the truck with the hose and Ben opens the valve. Ellen points the nozzle at the tree that's on fire and opens the nozzle.

First the fire gets smokey and steamy. Then it's just steam coming from the tree. Ellen sprays the tree a little bit more and then there's not even any steam coming from the tree anymore. Then Farmer Don comes out and says, "Thank you Ben! Thank you Ellen. That fire could have caught my barn on fire. I'm so relieved."

Farmer Don then went into his back room and came back into the barn with five cheamers for Ben and the four cheetahs and one green tea for Ellen. Everyone sat around in the barn enjoying their tasty hot beverages with Farmer Don. Then they all jumped into the firetruck and headed back to Portland. First they drove to Sandy Boulevard where they dropped off Nebbe, Cocoa, Pooter and Dander. Then they went back to the Fire Station. Ben got on his bike and Ellen got on her bike.

Ben said, "Bye Ellen, see you tomorrow."
"Bye Ben, see you tomorrow too." said Ellen.

Part III - Ben and Ellen go to the moon

Ben and Ellen strap themselves into their seats on the spaceship and Ben begins pressing the buttons. Ben presses button number 1 and the lights go from red to green. Ben presses the second button and the lights go from red to green. Ben presses buttons three four five six and they go from red to green. Then Ben presses the last button and it goes from red to orange to yellow to green. Ellen then presses the big button and the countdown begins, "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one ..." And the main engines fire up and the auxiliary engines turn on and the spaceship lifts up into the sky. They are heading to the moon. When they get close, Ellen turns the spaceship around with the controls and fires the rockets to slow down. They get slower and slower until they land oh so softly.

Ben gets his spacesuit on and Ellen gets her spacesuit on. All of the sudden they hear "Dadooo, Tsi Tsi, hotdog" which can only mean one thing: Max is on the spaceship saying those things. And then they hear someone else, "Baahhhhh, Lahhhhhh" and it's Maximilian too. They were both hiding behind Ben's seat and Ellen's seat. So Max and Maximilian put on their spacesuits and helmets and Ben and Ellen put on their helmets. Next they go into the airlock and the doors close behind them. Then the doors in front open and everybody goes out and is walking around on the moon.

The dirt is so soft like sand but even fluffier, like pancake flour and everybody bounces around in the fluffy fluffy dirt. Then they are all done and go back into the spaceship and the door closes behind them. Then the forward doors open and a loud, "pssshhhhhhhooouiiiii" sound means that the air has filled the airlock. They walk through and close the 2nd set of doors. Everyone takes off their helmets and they buckle in for takeoff. This time Ellen presses the buttons 1,2,3,4,5,6 and they go from red to green. Then Ellen presses the last button and it goes from red to orange to yellow to green. And now Ben presses the big button and the countdown begins, "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one ..." And the main engines fire up ... the auxiliary engines turn on and the spaceship lifts up above the moonscape. They are heading back to earth.

As they get closer and closer, the rocket disconnects from the spaceship and it falls into the ocean. Then the spaceship keeps falling and falling until the parachute comes out and then it drifts slowly slowly slowly and splashes into the Willamette river. Ben opens the hatch and paddles the spaceship to the dock next to OMSI where there are people ready to help with the ship. Ben jumps off and Ellen jumps off and their bikes are sitting on the dock.

Ben says, "Bye Ellen, it was fun going to the moon with you. See you tomorrow."
And Ellen says, "Bye Ben, I had fun too going to the moon. See you later."

Ellen bikes all the way home and Ben bikes all the way home. Ben then unlocks the gate and goes through the gate and then locks it behind him. He takes off his helmet and goes inside the house. He creeps upstairs and changes into his pajamas and crawls into Mommy and Daddy's bed and falls asleep.

Goodnight Ben

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thank you Mark

Bloody F***ing genius ...

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Episodes in Fall !!!

I have truly fallen down on the job in publishing to the blog. I *know* my loyal fans are weeping in their beers.... so sad.

I'm posting to recommend you get another round because spring is here and I'll be out riding my bike, fixing the house, or working with my collegues in India at midnight or 4am. The *last* thing on my mind is sending out long flowery prose to the blog-O-sphere.

Think of it like summer re-runs, you'll have to wait until next season before the new content arrives. Sure I'll post if my boys do something super cool and expect perhaps a report or two related to the Creampuff race.

I could talk about paint colors and what vegetables we're putting in the garden but I think anyone reading needs to instead go outside and play.

I will, in the spirit of sharing, provide an excellent tip for those who are fixing homes and patching walls. Throw away your traditional wall joint compound and use a product called Silverset. The stuff goes on way smoother *and* you can pick from the 20 minute, 45 minute and 90 minute versions. Why do you care? Because if you are doing this work, you're patching and painting same day. In fact, one beauty of this is that the wait times are so short that you change the nature of the patch.

The old school approach? Make the patch go above the surface, wait a day or until the next opportunity (can be weeks for me) thenlaboriously sand it until flush.

The new school, run the 20 minute stuff, do 3 coats inside of 90 minutes, never touch sandpaper and get the paint rolled on. If your project is big enough, you're not waiting for anything. By the time you've stirred the paint, piled the brushes, rollers and tray and set out the tarp, it's all ready to go. Then... you can get back outside and play... that's what this time of year is for! The best thing is that you've knocked one of the millions of tasks off the list... for good.

You'll thank me

Saturday, March 03, 2007

New Residents

Chi and Kai (our chickens) have been enjoying Portland's finest organic food scraps for well over a year. Chi recently met an untimely demise as a result of some predator. We suspect it was a raccoon but will never be sure. The best part was when I had to go visit my neighbor who shares our back fence. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi I'm your neighbor who lives behind you" - Charlie
"Hi, nice to meet you." - neighbor
"Um, so I was wondering if I could retrieve our dead chicken from your backyard?" - Charlie
"Sure, that'd be fine." - neighbor
"Sure is a nice day. It's the kind of day when you want to be outside, collecting a dead chicken with a shovel." - Charlie
"Yeah." - neighbor

Anyway... so now Kai is lonely so we've picked up some tiny new residents who will join her in a few weeks. We now have a Barred Rock and a Polish along with our Araucana who lays the blue eggs. Google the Polish in particular because they are wild looking birds. More eggs by fall.... woo!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

18,000' and 100 miles

Oh yes... back and uglier than ever...

My entry has been accepted. It's now time to get some mileage under my belt so that I can best my previous time five long years ago of 14 hours 28 minutes. Back then I was kid free, ahhh, those were the days.

I will crush it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

:^) Bells on bobtails ring

Had to make a small mod to the following advisory by changing a few words at the end.

... Snow Advisory remains in effect from 6 am to 6 PM PST
Wednesday for the Coast Range... inland valleys... Columbia Gorge
... And Cascade foothills...

A Snow Advisory remains in effect from 6 am to 6 PM PST

Rain will turn to snow Wednesday morning as colder Arctic air
invades southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon.
Accumulations of one to two inches are likely above 500 feet...
and local accumulations of an inch are likely in lowest valley
elevations. Accumulations of 3 to 6 inches are likely in the
Willapa Hills..Coast Range... and Cascade foothills. The heaviest
snowfall is expected in the morning hours... starting during the
morning commute... and snow showers will continue through the
afternoon with some brief locally heavy accumulations. Snowfall
is expected to taper off in the late afternoon and evening.

A Snow Advisory means that periods of snow will cause primarily
travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and trails.
Also be prepared for limited visibilities... and use caution while biking.