Monday, July 31, 2006

Stage 4: Rest Day in a Bowl of Soul

coffee and AliToday we decided to kick back a little. We're spending a few nights in Sun Valley and a morning of reading was just what the coach ordered.

Mornings here are cool, a nice change from the heat of recent weeks in NorCal and Pocatello. We walked around town looking for the best cup of coffe. There is a Starbucks here but it's pretty empty. There are many great alternatives. Before this morning we thought we had found the ultimate Mexican Mocha at Joe Coffee in Truckee. Today we discovered The Bowl Of Soul...WOW!
gold flaired bike
While walking around town you couldn't help notice the Sun Valley flair. We found this cruiser which has some serious style. We also enjoyed the 80 year old woman in a Tutu and Chacos.

After a leisurely morning we headed out for a little mountain bike ride. We stuck to a simple flat trails along the Big Wood River. It was nice to get out into the open on our bikes.

mountain biking sun valley ali2After biking it was time to head out on the water. Idaho has great rivers and I was not to be denied some fisning time. Ali was a good sport and suffered through my distracted instrucion. She wants to learn although she doesn't quite understand the fascination.

Stage 3: Pocatello to Sun Valley via The Moon

Being the bike geeks we are, we found a bike rac in Idaho: The First Annual Old Town Pocatello Criterium. We thought it would be fun to try out the racing outside of NorCal and were happy to see small field sizes. The course was in the center of Pocatello, six turns, good pavement. The race didn't inconvenince any business in town because they were all closed on Sunday - except the coffee shop. While warming up we were both reminded that we were at altitude - ~4300 ft. The cycling community in Idaho is small, the news of new racers spread quickly.

Without trainers, we set off from 'downtown' Pocatello to warm up on the road. While riding down Main Street, we passed a few men who were the volunteer medical crew for the race. I was on Ali's wheel and one called out, "Idaho is a catch and release state. You're gonna have to let her go eventually."

W4 StartThe W4 field was small, too small. Ali tried a few attacks early but wasn't able to drop the other two women so she decided to sit back and wait for the bunch sprint (a generous term for a 3 woman field). Watching from the sideline I could tell the stronger of the other two women was getting gapped in the corners and I hoped Ali jumped early enough take advantage of this. Ali played it perfectly and hammered the sprint for the win - GREAT FUN!

Sprint FinishWe both entered the M4 field. I just wanted to test my legs but didn't have super high hopes. Ali wanted to see how long she could sit in and get some extra laps. Ali asked the other 2 women from the 4s race to join her in the men's race. We giggled at their response: "What? Do the MEN'S race? There are 20 people in that field. That's much too scary!"

There were 15 in the M4 field. The presence of a woman in the men's field turned some heads and raised a few eyebrows. While watching the early races I saw some strange lines going through the corners so I decided I wanted to be on the front for the first few laps. I went to the front and rode No O2hard to string out the field. After three laps I sat up and let someone else take the lead. I sat near the back hoping for some recovery...unfortunately it wasn't happening. After half an hour of slowing into the corners and then jumping out of the corners my legs were done. I found myself wishing I'd remembered my Oxygen bottle ;). With 5 to go I pulled over and watched a local strong man solo for the win. Ali lasted a while but two races at altitude proved one too many.

Guns billboardOpen RoadAfter the race we headed out into Idaho traffic and enjoyed the scenery.

We made a quick stop at the Moon but hunger and fatigue nagged so we didn't explore as thoroughly as we should.

When we finally arrived in Sun Valley we sat down for some much needed pasta and vino, thankful that our long days of driving were behind us for a while.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Stage 2: Truckee to Pocatello (636 miles)

This proved to be the longest and probably the most challenging stage of our trip. Not challenging physically but challenging because of the vast expanse of mind numbing landscape known as Nevada.

The day started a little rough when we pulled up to our favorite Truckee coffee shop only to find a new furniture store. Ok, it's been a few months since we've been to town but does Truckee really need a anoter nick-nack shop. With a quick call to 866-FREE-411 we located Joe Coffee's new digs around the corner but they won't open until next week.

Nevada looks a little wider when you have to face it WITHOUT a Mexican Chocolate Mocha!

At the back-up coffee joint we ran into Norm of Team Clif on his way to Master's Districts. We, on the other hand, had a race date in eastern Idaho.

Fully cafinated, we headed out into the Great Basin. We passed the time listening to a couple of good books, some new tunes and checking out some roadside attractions.

In Lovelock we saw a parade and visited a casino.
Ali contemplated entering the amature boxing competition but lost her entry fee to the Betty the Yetti slot machine.

Truth be told, it was one of the most stimulating days Ali has had in a long while...

Poke yer Fellow, Idaho

So me and my honey are cuddled up here in Truckee. Stage 1 complete of our 2 week road trip to the West. Not sure why we're driving east when we're taking a trip in the west, but we'll ponder that tomorrow as we drive across lovely Nevada en route to Pocatello, Idaho.

I hear there's a Dairy Queen in Winnemucca.

Stage 2 will be completed on Sunday when we each race

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oh that..

I'm saddened by the Flandis incident but I'm reserving judgment. I find this quote interesting.

I believe Floyd is innocent. The majority of T/E tests are over-turned at the CAS level. The guy will probably be proven innocent in eight months time, but in the short-term, the media is killing him. Floyd is basically paying for the sins of all the morons who came before him, who have denied, denied, denied. He's going to take the fall for everyone who has cried wolf before him. He's going to be the guy who gets his head cut off and that's a real tragedy.

-Jonathan Vaughters

I wonder if this means this is a faulty test or easy to beat with the right representation.

Monkey business...

I guess after all my racing mishaps this season I've go a bit of a monkey on my back. I tried to race at Albany but after two of the regular pinballs started their ricochet action the monkey climbed right up there on my shoulder.
Maybe it was the ride up Diablo in 108 degree heat the day before or perhaps it's because life's been a bit of a tornado lately but I'm pretty sure the monkey is involved.

On a lighter note the Blue Dot Mafia had a nice showing!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Here is Floyd crossing the line today. This is the first photo I've seen of Floyd without that spark in his eye.

Kind of scary!

Glad to see he got it back by the end of the day.

You know your system is hosed when your hair is dry but your jersey is soaking wet.

Win or Lose...

the guy has class.

I'll admit it, I've been cheering for Floyd through The Tour. Today it was painful to watch him crack on the final climb and lose so much time.

But...throughout the race I've been impressed by how Floyd presents/handles himself in the spotlight. He never makes excuses, praises his team and other riders, isn't overly confident and answers most questions directly. Even today, after a difficult performance he came out of his hotel and faced reporters. This is a class act.

This years Tour has been fun to watch because it is so wide open but I've also enjoyed a relatively ego free race. Most of the competitors have been reluctant to say the race is over and willing to admit their limitations. Finally, some great role models from the sports world.

Real guys layin it out for all to see. Let the best man win.

Monday, July 17, 2006


I was doing a little online research for an upcoming road trip and ran across this. I thought for a minute someone had written an unauthorized biography ;). Better yet it's the ulitimate guide book!

A Foray to the Suburban Jungle...But Anyway

I don't like San Josey much, in fact ... not at all. I know some great people who live and work down there but damn if that place doesn't suck. Most of the people just rub me the wrong's like SmellA without the beach. Last night we ventured to the SJ zone to visit the Mountain Winery and see Blues Traveler and my opinions were just reinforced.

Normally the MW is a great place to watch a show but last night I felt like we were watching the show at Chevy's. The crowd was diverse, Rockers, surfers, groupies, yuppies, Sweet Talking Hippies all made for good people watching. There was also a new element - lots of families with kids. Dad's still in their golf attire, mom's in their garden party sun dresses with the kids in tow. Cool, broadening horizons.

After the warmup band two couples sat behind us and as luck would have it it was Chatty Cathy and her friends. The speed and volume of speech was amazing. I found myself wondering how they were breathing. Ali and I hoped they would quiet down once the show such luck. They talked about volleyball, Tina Turner's legs, being pregnant at the Tina Turner show...blah blah blah. I tried to focus on the show (which was great). Then Cathy's man had the nerve to summon an usher and complain that there were people standing in front of them. YOU'RE at a rock concert...people stand, sing along, dance. Why they cared if someone was standing is beyond me, they weren't watching the show they were talking about babysitters. Anyway, I decided if it was ok to ask people to sit then it was ok for me to ask them to be quiet and they did...mostly.

In the middle of the show about half the crowd decided to head home: bed time for kids, reality TV, too much rock and roll. Then the rest of us were able to enjoy the show and dance in the half filled aisles.

Blues Traveler is awesome! Fun show!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Remembering Pat

Pat at SausalitoBeing surrounded by so many amazing bike racers and educators at Pat's memorial service this afternoon reminded us both of Pat's infectious optimism.

I met Pat last September while working as math coach for the Bay Area Math Project. While introducing myself to a colleague of Pat's, I metioned that I like to ride my bike.

"Oh, then you must meet our middle school teacher, Mr. Caurant," replied an eager teacher.

I was brought over to meet Pat and introduced to him as someone who likes to bike. I found myself in front this skinny guy with cartoon characters all over his tie. I will never forget the look we gave one another as we both thought the exact same thing: "There's no way he/she bikes as much as I do..." We both assumed that the other was a casual biker. Hah!

Ali & Pat at TOC-small

Wow. Two bike racers who are both middle school math teachers...not a lot of us out there.

Those of you who have read the accounts from Pat's students on this site know how much his students adored him.

As an educator, Pat was truly gifted. I'd get chills watching him teach as the way in which his students (7th graders!!) respected one another was truly amazing. One of the first times I came to Pat's class to do a demo lesson, I found him on the floor with his 35 students. They had moved the desks to a corner of the room, were sitting in a circle, and talking about the ways they had pushed one another to take risks in his class that week.

Pat has taught me so much about teaching middle school and I will always keep him in my heart as a friend, biking partner, and educator.

After a few months of both teaching in Pat's class and observing him teach, I was ready to bring him home to meet the family: Mike and little M.

Pat joined us for our First Annual Paris-Roubaix Party. Despite having suffered a crash at Clobberopolis Pat was very up-beat. His optimism and spirit were infectious. At the end of the evening we were all treated to a Norwegian treat - Salted Licorice (Yum). Pat was underwhelmed (his expression says it all) and he dubbed the treat 'Penguine Poop'.

Penguine Poop

More recently, Pat shared with us his thoughts about life after bike racing. Our admiration for him was affirmed as we heard his hopes to refocus his energy into his teaching and begin to take on more leadership roles as a coach for other teachers.

It is clear from the outpouring of love and support after Pat's accident that Pat has made a significant positive impression on our community. We feel honored to have known Pat, even if it was for a relatively short time. Although we will miss him we will cherish our fond memories of a truely great guy.

Ali and Mike

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Whatcha gonna do about it?

Lafayette today was a thriller. Julie has a crazy jump just before the last prime, flies by me and calls for me to get on her wheel. Her monster acceleration is too much for my little gear and I can't get on. Off she goes, grabbing the final prime and finding herself with a big-ole gap with three to go. 2 to go, I'm hanging out, doing a little pulling at a nice easy pace and folding back into the mix when folks try to bridge. 1 to go. I think she might actually make it, but my entire focus is on both blocking and being ready to counter if she gets caught. Somewhere, somehow, Ms. Travis Hawk slips by me and nips Julie at the line.

Excuse me? If there was 1 person I should have been marking in that race, it was Ms. W of the Air Force. No, not because of her riding talents, but because of her lack of reasonable values from Santa Rosa.

I decide that I need closure on this one and want to talk with her. So while she's waiting for the podium along with Julie, I saunter over and congratulate her on her win. I tell her how strong she was during that last lap. She's happy. And then...I tell her that it must feel great to have won today but it's nothing like Santa Rosa when she DIDN'T get 2nd, but took the prize money (and the points) anyway.

I was quite kind. I agreed with her for the need for rules and concurred that having a protest period was important. But I then explained to her that occasionally, we need to use our values to make judgements beyond rules and in this case, I felt that once she was informed that she had been lapped by a break, she should have returned the money which she hadn't earned.
Did she apologize? Of course not. She reminded me that she had no idea that there was a break, nor that it had lapped the field. I told her that there's no rule which says that riders in a break need to pause to inform the peloton that they are now taking off. This isn't tiddly winks we're playing out here.

As she awaited the podium, I made it clear that not knowing there was a break, or worse, not knowing you had been LAPPED by a break, was a sign of her inexperience. Maybe, I told her, she should think twice about whether or not she was ready to upgrade.

Moments later, as she walked away from the podium, she had a chance to make it right. BBelf was just around the corner and Ms. W was holding $75. She at least can no longer claim that she wanted to give the money back, but she no longer had it (which is one of the many claims she has made).

Ok, I have closure. Makes me happy. Cause I can't spend the rest of my season marking her. Attacking and leading out are far more thrilling.