Nah na na na, hey hey hey, gooooood-bye!

Well, it’s time to say goodbye. Not to the Inane Asylum, but to Tumblr.com, the host site since I ‘took over’ the Inane reigns from Sara Best seemingly ages ago. I have moved the site to a new location that is much more adaptable to my whimsical desires. I think the comment section is easier to use, and the site itself is WAY more flexible in allowing me to personalize it. AND I can finally post pictures INSIDE the post, allowing you to simply click on them and view a higher resolution shot (in case ANYBODY is actually interested in that sort of thing). And so, I bid farewell to Tumbler. Thanks for the memories, and for allowing the Asylum to hang out here. Someday when I’m rich and famous I’ll look back here as the springboard to my great success. And so, on to the new digs. Here ya’ go, come on over, the waters fine!

                          http://inane-asylum2.blogspot.com

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The Hell of the North

Well, today was Paris Roubaix…the Queen of the Classics. And it was one for the books. I woke up at 5:30am and quickly called it up on my computer…used Eurosports this time. The feed was flawless, only when I go full screen (I have a 22” widescreen monitor) the guys get a bit fuzzy…definitely NOT HD! But the price is right…thou I do miss Phil & Paul & Bobke.

I picked up the action right at 65k to the finish. And it seems it was just the right time. Boonen had just crashed AGAIN and was picking himself off the deck. His teammate Chauvenel was also on the deck at least twice I think…and whereas Boonen later abandoned, I saw Chauvenel regaining the peleton with his kit all torn up. You ROCK Sylvian!

And the real action was up front…the large breakaway composition working against Fabian. It’s a real shame Leopard Trek doesn’t seem to have anybody to support Fabian in these classics…if only he had a guy in the break. As it was, Thor did and was able to mark Fabian. I loved it when Fabian did split the chase group, but Thor was able to make the split and finally Fabian realized that he might well pull Thor all the way to the front. So he sat up. Certainly Thor wasn’t going to pull for him with a teammate (and eventual winner) up in the break. And I can’t fault Fabian for not wanting to pull Thor to the front. I was sad for Fabian…the strongest man in the race all alone, unable to go for the win. Thor (who certainly was entertaining thoughts of winning himself) most likely would have LOVED to help Fabian get to the front (or maybe not…hard to say). I give credit thou…Thor played the teammate and just sat marking Fabian. It must have been killing him, especially as the kilometers dwindled away and both their chances to win were finally gone. Sure, it’s great for the team to get the win…but Thor surely wanted that win for himself.

And you can’t take away anything from Spartacus…when he FINALLY got Thor off his wheel (at 3.7k to the finish) he lit off like he had an engine in his bike! And when push came to shove and they finally crossed the line in Roubaix, he wasn’t far behind! If it had been another kilometer he would have taken the win. But you can’t take away anything from Van Summeren either…he was the good teammate until it became clear (or was it?) that the chase group wasn’t going to make it, and was given the ok to fly for the win. It LOOKED like Rast on Radio Shack was going to get at least third…and then Spartacus unleashed his unbeatable breakaway and surged ahead of all but Van Summeren. It was just awesome to watch. Had Fabian been able to actually catch Van Summeren, well…I think Thor would have been cursing the tactics. But even if Thor had helped Fabian go to the break, I don’t think he would have been able to match Fabian’s move when it inevitably came. But we will never know…because this one is in the books, and we have a breakaway winner for a change. Garmin gets the results (Vaughters must be beside himself!) on a dusty dry day.

It was an awesome race and I can only be sad that I had to watch it all fuzzy on my PC (note to Team Leopard Trek: I had a VERY hard time picking out Fabian..your kits look too much like Team Sky’s….please do something about that if you don’t mind!)

On a personal note, I went Mt biking both days this weekend (Jeannie was doing our taxes and such and didn’t care to do anything, and also didn’t mind getting me out of the house…good for me!) So I hammered pretty much all of the Cuesta Ridge just north of San Luis Obisbo. On Saturday I rode the east side (I had to cross the 101 freeway on my BIKE at the top of the grade to get over to the east side….and then again to get back over to the west side on the way home….a bit harrowing I must say). On the east side I can only go about 5 miles back where it hits wilderness and personal property. But the views are awesome, and right now everything is still green. After I did my measly 10 miles out and back on the east side I rode up the west side and did the Morning Glory loop. The downhill that I took SHOULD be called the Rocky Balboa loop…I can’t recall a rockier ride. Pretty spooky coming down fairly narrow singletrack that is just pure rocks..some that move and some that don’t. For sure you DON’T want to crash going downhill in rocks…that’s how you break an arm, or wrist, or worse. The climb back up the ridge is pretty nice singletrack. Only problem is that the downhill’ers use it to go downhill…fast. They shuttle up in the back of trucks and then BOMB the downhill. Which isn’t too cool..it’s a multi-use trail. There are always hikers and runners going both directions. But I guess they don’t care. I know a few scared the bejesus out of me. Whatever happened to the rule “the climber has the right of way”? The downhiller’s don’t know that rule I can assure you. No wonder most everybody hates them. I hate them! (well, not hate, but surely I HUGELY DISLIKE them for sure). And there are horses here now and then too. I bet THAT goes over well. 

Anyway, today I went right back to the Cuesta grade and did the West side again, this time going all the way back on it to Hwy 41 (that cuts across between Paso Robles and the Cambria area). Well, I didn’t actually get TO the hwy…but I did make it to (and did) the Cerro Alto loop, which is 5 additional miles and 1500 MORE feet of climbing. At the far point the loop brings me withing about a mile or 2 of the highway. I had never done the Cerro Alto loop and was wanting to try it someday…and today was that day. The climb back up to the Cuesta Ridge from the Campground was crazy STEEP! It climbed over a thousand feet in just one mile…I think that puts the grade up around 18 to 20%. All I know is that it almost killed me. After the climb back up to the ridge I was spent…and I still had 12 hard miles of ridge-line to get back to my car. And like any ridge trail, it goes up and down and up and down and up and down…you get the picture. By the time I was in the final 3 miles I was ready to lay down and rest….I was beat and my neck was hurting. But I finished the ride… 28 miles, 5000’ of climbing in just under 4 hours of ride time (this is not counting the time I stop to eat).

The legs are coming back, and it’s always so much more fun to go Mt biking than road biking I have re-learned. I still plan to road ride after work and such, but for now will concentrate on the dirt for awhile. Though I will need to get busy on the road sometime before July…as I have the LIVESTRONG ride to do as part of Team Fatty (on the 10th of July). Greg will be there, and he is in ANIMAL mode right now…on Sat while I was out playing on the ridge, he was doing the first of this years California King of the Mt series…the Mullholland Challenge. It was 112 miles, 12,750 feet of climbing…haven’t yet heard how he did, but last year he finished in around 9:20 and was hoping to break 9 hours this year…from what I’ve seen when we’ve ridden this year I’m sure he beat that. 

OK. Another week has gone. April is here in full swing, hopefully the crazy weather we’ve had will leave us and give way to our ‘usual’ central coast weather.Wherever you are, get out and do SOMETHING fun!

Game ON.

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Tour of Flanders & Montana de Oro State park

WELL! I woke up not quite as early as I hoped today (Sunday) and did a quick google-search for “Tour of Flanders live video”…and came up with this site:

http://www.fromsportcom.com

I was able to pick which language I wanted for the announcers…I missed nearly the ENTIRE race but tuned in for the last 5K (that’s not too bad actually). Fabian, Nuyens and Chavaenel were just about to break away from the front group…happened just moments after I joined the streaming video…and Boonen once again missed the split (HOW on earth can he NOT be at the front and make a split in the last 5K? What is he thinking??) I’m suprised I didn’t wake up Jeannie as the 3 held off the chase group and you can guess who I was shouting for! Gosh…what a finish though…I’m sad I didn’t get up earlier to see more of the race. I’ll read about it later and see how Fabian did…it’s clear he wasn’t able to escape like last year…though I doubt after seeing last weeks win that ANYBODY would let that happen, knowing the results if they let him get away.

And so…I now have seen my first televised racing this year! I wonder if I can find it anywhere to watch ‘at my leisure’ rather than live? That is the only problem. I get up about 4:20am 5 days a week for work…I just can’t do it on the weekend. Well, maybe ONCE in a while…but it’s hard.

And so. YESTERDAY I awoke to another CRAPPY day outside. Strange…the last 2 days were flat-out AWESOME (hot even). Sure…I had to WORK both of those. Now that I have a day off it’s lousy. Mother nature laughs at me yet again. But I WILL have the last laugh today, I promise. I had planned on going out on the road-bike for a long hard sufferfest as I try to attain some decent level of fitness this year. As I sat drinking coffee, it was obvious this was another one of those Central-coast days. The marine layer (ie: clouds) were right down on top of us, just high enough to NOT be considered fog. Looking outside there was nothing but the gray/white of early morning total cloud coverage. Not a speck of blue to be seen. So I shifted plans and started gearing up the Mt bike. Sure, we’ve had enough rain to float ships this year so far…enough to fill our lakes to the top and get the state out of official DROUGHT conditions for the first time since 2008. BUT, it hasn’t rained all week, and we had 2 days in the 80’s and 90’s…so hopefully that dried out my intended trails.

Montana de Oro State Park was my plan. It’s the best singletrack trails anywhere close (and this is 45 miles away). I get a late start and finally leave the house around 10am, bike and gear in the back of my little diesel wagon (btw: I just filled up on Friday…$4.40 a gallon for diesel here in the highway robbery state! $73 to fill my little 16.5 gallon tank, but that will get me another 800 miles, so all in all it’s still my favorite car EVER). As I arrive at the park 45 minutes later, it looks about the same except the clouds are higher here. Temp is prob the low 60’s. PERFECT for Mt biking! Take THAT Mother Nature! Now it only remains to be seen how dry the trails are…she will still be laughing if they are mucky. I turn on my little SPOT unit (so Jeannie can sit sucking coffee and still track my progress/location) and I’m off.

I ride into the park via “Horse Camp Rd”…it’s about a half mile of dirt road that takes me past where all the horse people set up their camps. There are 3 large areas with stalls, pens, camping areas/etc. Today there are literally DOZENS (make that MANY Dozens) of horses in various stages of riding preparation. People and vehicles everywhere. These trails are multi-use…horses, hikers, bikers…we share (as it should be). I have no problem with the horse people, I LIKE horses. I grew up with horses. And so far, I’ve only had ONE negative experience with them (right here in this very park about 2 years back I think). I’m the poster-child of cyclist/equestrian relations. I carry a dinger bell on my bike so EVERYBODY knows I’m coming. When I see horses on the trail, if we’re going opposite directions I ALWAYS find a good spot and pull completely off the trail, get off my bike and stand there, being SUPER friendly as they pass. We usually chat some and they are always grateful for my understanding…sometimes they apologize for going slow (horses plod along) and I always tell them no problem, I love horses. And we part on excellent terms, and hopefully they think that maybe not all mt bikers are conceited buttheads (that wasn’t really the word I wanted to use…but thought I’d keep this post PG rated).

And so…I arrive at the singletrack that goes UP into the park, and it’s DRY! Of course there will be wet spots, there are always a few. But I can get around them or carry my bike past them (it’s afraid of water, and I HATE washing it). The temp is in the low 60’s still now that I am in the belly of the park, light winds rustling about. I still have my fleece jacket on but it’s right on the edge of being too hot. Well…it just doesn’t get much better than this. As I near the top of the first  climb, they have changed the trail! There is a new tie-in to my usual loop. The old one had some seriously eroded sections as it crested a small ridge going over into the valley. The park service must be trying to reclaim that area. They do a good job in this park in that respect. So… I get to ride some NEW trail today…unexpected bonus! It’s probably about a half-miles worth, which means HUNDREDS to THOUSANDS of hours of trail-work to make this happen. And they did a GREAT job. The lead-in trail is MOST EXCELLENT! I get to my usual loop and take off. The trail is in great condition. However the dirt on this side of the park is different than the dirt on the far side. This side is some kind of white crushed rock, and it somehow can handle rain and be ride-able the next day. The far side is the dark brown dirt that turns to mud when it gets wet. It might still be ugly, too soon to tell.

I wind my way around the park counterclockwise (my usual route…I do the loop ccw first, then again in the cw direction so I get all the climbs and descents that are available). The climb up the East Boundary trail is brutal (hence why I do this direction first…I like to do the hardest climb when I still have the most energy). It just goes up and up, and near the top is the hardest part. And it has a false summit, with the last 300 yards or so being the absolute hardest. I’ve only cleaned this entire climb (made it without stopping/putting a foot down) twice. And today won’t be a ‘clean’ climb either…I already dabbed a few times down in the lower section for no apparent reason. But I make it up the hard part to the false summit with no further dabs. But that is where the dirt changes to the brown stuff. Thankfully it’s dry already. HOWEVER….it seems some unscrupulous mt bikers were out here earlier in the week when it WAS still muddy. They really screwed up the trail too. They left deep tire tracks that are now crispy-hard. As I try to climb the hardest part of the climb it’s nearly impossible due to the deep crusted multiple tire ruts. Thanks guys. ASSHOLES!!! (so much for my PG rating). I’m not saying this part can’t be ridden today….just not by me. I don’t have the strength just yet to push up through this bad section as it climbs in what I assume is at least an 18% grade. It’s REALLY steep is all I know. So steep that if (when) I do dab, it’s pretty much impossible to get riding again. So I push my aluminum steed up this final bit. After that it’s a bit of light climbing and then one more chunk of serious climbing (rather steep also) to the bench that marks the top of the climb. I arrive at the bench gasping for breath, my heartrate hovering near my max. I’m too hot because I should have taken off my fleece before the climb. But I feel great, and the weather is still PERFECT (for Mt biking). I think it’s maybe around 63 degrees and cloudy. Brutal climb #1 of 3 is complete. Now it’s time to put some gravy on these taters…the DOWNHILL!

I take off to finish this first loop, and it’s now quite apparent just how bad those asshole mt bikers have screwed up this section of the trail. It’s very narrow singletrack (probably about a foot wide) and it’s nothing but deep dried tire ruts. It will take months before this gets worn down to ‘normal’. And up here it turns out the Mt bikers weren’t alone. There are also DEEP horse tracks petrified into the trail. Lovely. A bike leaves a rut a few inches deep. A thousand pound horse and rider leave holes a post-hole a foot deep in the mud. Now thoroughly dried. I didn’t have my camera, but I can tell you this is why you aren’t supposed to go out when it’s wet. I didn’t see the horse tracks as I climbed, I’m guessing they came clockwise and turned around and went back the way they came rather than risk the steep hill when it was so wet. Smart move. But this section of the trail is just devastated. We need a ranger to be out and ticket these people (horses AND mt bikers) when they do this. But alas, we barely have enough state funds to keep the park open. It was slated to be closed a few years back. This was one of the places that was put on the chopping block for budget cuts. I’m glad it was spared at the end. We have nothing like it anywhere else around here, that’s for sure.

So I fight my way over the pockmarked/rutted trail for the next mile or so until it finally shifts back to the ‘other’ type of dirt, where the trail becomes the normal crushed rock and is perfect again. I go all the way down to the trail junction (including the new section). Then I turn around and go back, this time doing the CW route. So I once again fight though the destroyed part, and then the wicked downhill. The upper part that is really rutted bad, but still do-able (as long as you don’t get your front tire into a rut and crash I mean…thankfully which I don’t). But I can see less experienced bikers will have real troubles here. After that it’s all gravy! Steep but FUN! My disc brakes are sizzling when I reach the bottom…NICE! After about a quarter mile of dirt road I’m back on the other singletrack climb…the Barancca trail . It’s totally different than the East Boundary climb. Where the EB climb is mostly straight up with nothing but water-bars, this one twists and turns, and is WAY rocky. And it always has lots of loose rocks of all sizes floating around to make it interesting. And it’s fairly steep in it’s own right…but not as much as the Boundary thankfully. It also has a few switchbacks and they are always covered with rubble. However today the rubble/loose rock and debris is at a minimum. The recent deluge of rains have cleared them pretty well…this climb is about as good as it will be all year. From here on out it will just get harder as the layer of loose stuff accumulates. I clean this climb today. That is rare. I’m rather weak but it’s only because of the excellent trail condition AND the weather. Very soon this valley will be in the 80’s to 100’s temp-wise. All summer/fall long this valley will be a little slice of HOT. But not today.

I arrive back at the start of the loop smiling. And now it’s time for the cream de la creme. The ridge trail. This section has the hardest climb of the entire park. It’s a brutal piece of straight trail slanting right up to the ridge. I’ve only cleaned it ONCE. It’s so steep that it’s always just piled with loose dirt and rubble. The horses go up and down it and they really churn up quite a bit of debris. I’d be afraid to go down it on a horse actually. THAT would be some serious trust in your animal. Well, it turns out that today there is MORE new trail! They have closed this evil climb section and made a new route to the ridge…it winds around the mountain in the ccw direction. The distance is many times what the old one was, but they don’t go straight up…it’s actually rideable! MOST EXCELLENT!!!! And once I make the top of the ridge, well…HERE is where it gets REALLY FUN!

A few years ago the park service closed the OLD ridge trail going down to the coast and made a new one. This one goes from the top of Hazzard Peak (I think of the Dukes of Hazzard every time I ride this part) down to the most beautiful section of California Coast that exists IMO. It’s about a 4 mile trail now, and they really thought it out before they made it. The grade is almost perfect the entire way. They followed the contour lines perfectly as it winds it’s way around peak after peak, heading down down down. By the time I get to the parking lot at the bottom I have a smile on my face that has to be surgically removed! And then I immediately turn around and go right back up without even putting a foot down. The grade is so perfect that it’s a middle ring climb all the way. And once at the top, I get to go down the new section! They have done such a great job here…this park just keeps getting better and better! Kudo’s to the Park Service…you’ve really outdone yourselves! (someday I SERIOUSLY need to volunteer and help do some trail work here).

I finally arrive back at my car with 3:21 actual ride time (about 4 hours since I left my car), and just shy of 3800’ of climbing. And the weather was just pure Mt biking perfection. Take THAT mother nature! Funny how what is lousy riding weather for the road bike is so awesome for the Mt bike. All I need is for it to be dry. And now that should be no problem…I hope our rains are over for the year. And when I am mt biking, winds are not only desired but welcome. On the road bike winds are just torture. Hmmm…maybe the Mt bike is the answer to my recent slump in riding. I know that honestly I enjoy mt biking more. The only problem is that I have to load up and DRIVE somewhere to do it. That’s the real downer. Oh well…so be it. I will Mt bike my way out of my riding slump. Yes. That’s exactly what I will do.

And hey….if you haven’t checked in over at Fatty’s all week, he did a day by day posting of “Fatty’s Inferno”…a short-story about cycling. I loved it! He is such a good writer, and SO imaginative. Check it out..here is the link to his first post.

http://www.fatcyclist.com/2011/03/28/fattys-inferno-part-i-prologue/

And with that I bit you HAPPY APRIL!

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Bye bye babies

Well…the myrtles are gone. I came home from work on Friday and the very FIRST thing Jeannie said to me is “I found homes for the Myrtles”. Not ‘hello’, or anything like that. She has Friday’s off as she works 4 - 10 hour days…and apparently has been scheming for a while now to find homes for them. (I had NO IDEA she was looking, or that they’d be gone when I got home). She says called nearly all the pet stores in town before finding one who didn’t care what size they were (they are still ‘illegal’ size…as in under 4”). Being juveniles, they can’t be put out on display and sold. However in that one shop the lady was happy to get them. She says she has teachers looking for turtles for their classrooms. So Jeannie gathered them up on Friday unbeknown to me and took them away. I was rather sad, as I didn’t even get to say goodbye….but it’s probably for the best (she was afraid I”d be upset, or want to go get them back). So this weekend I totally took down the turtle-tank…which in itself is quite a bit of work. EVERYTHING needed to be sterilized using chlorine bleach before being put away. So now the tank is down, drying upside down in the bathtub, and later will be put into the attic most likely, along with all the amenities.

It’s bittersweet actually. Sure, they were a LOT of work. But I had really taken a shine the little creatures. They seemed quite happy in our family, swimming, swimming…always seeming to love being IN the water. The only times they really basked lately was when I had the water too cold. After the heater got it back up to temp they just hung out in the water all the time. And I fed them well…they had freeze dried shrimp and also special ‘turtle-chow’ (ReptoMin…specially formulated aquatic turtle food). And then I kept a kale leaf in the tank all the time…and they LOVED snacking on that….they’d totally eat a huge leaf down to the bare stalk in 2 days. But that’s all neither here nor there, as they are no longer my responsibility.

And so ends the time of the turtles in the dominion of Matt.

On to CYCLING! I see Boonen had a good day, winning at Ghent. And yesterday Fabian won at Harlebeke in CONVINCING fashion, seemingly picking up where he left off last year in the cobbled Classics. So…the Tour of Flanders is coming up on the 3rd of April, and Boonen and Spartacus will be facing off for the BIG ONE. I am crying in my beer that I won’t be watching it, but no matter, it should be a race of races. And hey…lets not forget that right here in the US the Redland’s Classic starts on Wednesday! I admit I don’t know who all is racing that…the last few years Lance has ridden it with his mini-team. Don’t know if the Shack is sending a team or not I’m sad to say.

And speaking of cycling, I haven’t been. Rain, rain, rain. Pretty sick of rain right now. This afternoon it FINALLY seemed to break up and we have some sun, though it’s a mite bit chilly (for wimpy rider me I mean)…I think the high today was 58. I could have gone out, but just didn’t feel like it. Lots to do today…laundry, mow/weed-whack the yard, finish the turtle-tank off the top of my head. Sure…it’s all excuses as I await warmer weather. And I won’t have to wait long…we are SUPPOSED to be in the 70’s the next few days! That will be quite a change…and one that is quite welcome too!

On a side-story, Jill Homer (her blog is “Up in Alaska”) is currently racing in the White Mountains 100…a Mountain bike race up in Fairbanks Alaska. I’ve been following her track all day, and she’s just a bit under half-way (it’s 4:15pm here in Calif). She’s been on her ‘fat-bike’ now for over 7 hours, and is right at 45 miles. Her boyfriend Beat is running the race rather than riding it, and he’s currently at 26 miles. I think they are BOTH crazy…but I love to follow Jill’s blog….she is capable of more pain and suffering than anybody I ‘know’ (never met her, but after following her blog for years now I feel like I do). It’s not a big race, I think they limit the field to the first 65 crazies that sign up each year. If you are interested, she has links to hers and Beat’s track-pages on her site. I’m always amazed at what the human can endure…but to do it on purpose (voluntarily I mean) is a whole different matter. I guess you really learn what you care capable of when you do these things ‘for fun’. Me, I know the limits of my ‘fun’ and when the fun stops, what’s the point is my take. I’m just not built to ‘test’ myself…have no need I guess.

My brother Greg does (has that need)…he is constantly doing the crazy road ‘centuries’…and his first this year is 2 weeks from yesterday…the Mulholland Challenge. Just peeked in at their website….it’s listed as having 116 miles and 13,375’ of climbing. That’s just sick if you ask me. Glad I don’t have the bug that makes me do those things…whew! I”m just not cut out for 8 or more hours on the bike. I stop having fun sometime in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 hours…after that I just want to be done.

And so…April Fool’s day is NEXT WEEK already! With that I bid you “Happy April Fools day” (on Friday).

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Rain, Rain, go AWAY; come-back again some other year.

Well, we are in the middle of a rare late-March storm. It rained all weekend (we got 4.25” at our town over the weekend), and it’s supposed to rain all week with the exception of tomorrow (Tuesday). I’ve almost given up on doing much bike riding….my fitness is as sad and meager as it’s been since I can’t remember HOW long. And then I go to Jill’s site….Jill Homer, you know, the “Up in Alaska” blog? (even though she now lives right here in Cali, just a few hours north of me). She goes out on her bikes in rain, wind, snow….you name it, doesn’t stop her. She even does those (insane) biking and running (walking, shuffling, or even just barely moving sometimes) races up in Alaska… in the WINTER. And then I feel like such a wuss. It was kind of drizzly on Saturday and I peeked outside and that was it. Not a chance I’m going out. Then Sunday it was raining quite hard almost all day. That one didn’t even require any mental debate. Today: rain. SO…if I don’t ride tomorrow after work I probably won’t be riding anytime soon.

And the REALLY sad part about all this: I don’t care. For whatever reason, right now I’m just not very motivated to go riding. Other years I couldn’t wait to get out on one of the bikes if the weather was at ALL ride-able. Not this year. I just don’t have it. Last week it was windy…so I didn’t ride. What’s next? Cloudy? The temperature not between 65 and 73F? (OK..make that 70 and 73F). I wonder if the pro’s ever get this way. And if so, what do they do to get over it? However, I believe if the choice was either ride or don’t get paid, I’d be out on the bike pronto. That’s just a guess though. Just one more reason I’m not a pro rider.

I have noticed over my life that where I live ends up dictating a lot about how and what I do outside (and when I do it). Growing up it seemed we were ALWAYS outside. Winter or summer. It took some rather severe weather to make us NOT want to go outside. So far in my life I’ve lived in Wyoming, Montana, Virginia, California, Alaska, Hawaii, and now back to California. And it seems I adapt what I do based on the prevailing weather. Up in Alaska I’ve been out fishing in snowstorms. Our saying up there was “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change”. I’ve played softball and football in snow and wind so howling mad you’d think it would be impossible. It’s not. It IS much more interesting though. That was the place that I learned NOT to let the weather dictate what you are going to do. And then I moved to Hawaii. I think is where I started to get picky on the weather. It was SO perfect almost all the time that it’s easy to get in a rut where you NEED perfect weather to do things. I lived there for a total of over 10 YEARS. That’s a LOT of perfect weather.

And now I’m here in the Central Coast of Calif. Where the weather is strange. Sure, we have mild winters. Mild isn’t even the right word for it, cuz it’s not really a winter at all. Not compared to the northern states. But we do own more than our share of wind. And our summer is rather chilly compared to just 10 to 15 miles inland. I can start out a summer-time road-bike ride at 9am being below 60, and in an hour and a half of riding (about 25 miles) it can be over 100. And I can come out of that OVER 100 and drop right back into the 60’s as I near home. It’s a strange little pocket we live in, that’s for sure. But there is one saying that comes to mind: “it can always be worse”. Right now I seem to be stuck in the rut of “the weather’s not good enough” for me to go out. Too windy, too chilly, too wet. I sure hope I snap out of this funk soon. Maybe it’s because I don’t have VS and am not seeing ANY bike racing! Hmmmm….there might be something to that. I know in years past I’d watch a race and be all jazzed to go ride, the voices of Phil and Paul and Bobke rolling around in my noggin. This year: nothing. Not-A. Zilch. I go online  most every day to VeloNews and read about it, but that’s not good enough. It’s just words. Might as well be a book.

So….how do you get yourself psyched up to go out and ride, or hike, or walk, or run, or mosey, (or even maybe take a nap in the lawn-hammock)…..whatever it is you do? Are you slaves to the weather, or so you just make a plan and go do it, come hell or high-water? Gosh, I used to be that guy….(hell or high-water). I wonder how I can get him back? Or maybe even just PART of him. Sort of a ‘kinda toasty and a bit of standing water on the road” kind of guy. I’d be happy with that. I just don’t know where he went. Maybe he’s still living in Hawaii (LOVED Hawaii).

Aloha.

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I’ts a MAD MAD MAD world.

The world is just crazy lately. Countries revolting against their governments, volcano’s, earthquakes, storms, you name it, it’s happening. And right up until last Friday, all we seemed to hear on the news lately was about CHARLIE SHEEN or LINDSAY LOHAN. Gosh…the world is certainly circling the drain if that is the best the media can do. I wish they (the media in it’s entirety) would make a pact and NEVER mention either of their names ever again. Wouldn’t THAT be something? I’ll start…I PROMISE never to mention their names again. THERE. A step in the right direction.

And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt been overwhelmed by the news about the earthquake/tsunami in Japan last week. The video’s I’ve seen are just so incredible showing the raw power of the ocean. I just finished watching the NBC Nightly news, and they were showing a 5 story tall hospital in that little town of 17,000 (that is all but wiped off the face of the planet now). The only survivors were on the 5th floor…as the waters went right through the rest of the building, blowing out windows and doors and just rushing on by, taking everything that wasn’t nailed down (and likely some that was) with it. I saw on CNN (online) news this morning that the Japanese Navy found a guy floating on the roof of a house, NINE MILES out to sea! His family gone, swept away. Nine miles is a LONG ways from shore. To think that when the torrential waters receded they took so much with them, most likely thousands of people included. In a human death-toll this tsunami can’t even begin to compare with the one over in Thailand during the Holidays a few years back. But in a devastation scale this is probably well past that. Japan is a quite developed nation. I’ve been there and traveled throughout the country, from up in the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern end of Okinawa. As far as disaster preparedness, I’ve heard they are probably one of the most prepared nations on the planet. But NOBODY can plan for an earthquake of that magnitude! Also on the news today the USGS has upgraded the quake from an 8.9 to a 9.0 on the Richter scale. It was one of the largest quakes in recorded history.

And why is it that it takes a disaster to get people (including myself sadly enough) to think about their own preparedness? Jeannie and I start thinking about ‘what if’. WHAT IF we had a huge quake here? After all, we ARE in Calif, home to a zillion big-time faults. Many of them offshore. IF we had a huge quake just offshore like the one in Japan, I can’t fathom how far the water would come in. I know they always talk about tsunami’s by mentioning the “wave height”…however the reality of a tsunami is that it’s much more akin to the sea level rising temporarily to that level. The tiny city in Japan (Sengai I think?) with the hospital is said to had a 30 foot wall of water blast thru. Ponder that…look UP and figure how high 30 feet is. Now imagine that if you are below that, you are DEAD as suddenly the sea level is 30 feet higher, and the water will come in with a power like you can’t imagine. If you’re caught in it, well, you are swept into a seething maelstrom of debris…the frail human body won’t last a minute in that cauldron of death. Every time we get a tsunami alert, we have surfers heading out waiting to catch ‘the big one’. They just don’t get it. I don’t believe you can surf thru the swirling moving debris of dozens, or hundreds (or even thousands) of houses and buildings, some on FIRE even. Those videos of ships being hurled along, bouncing off each other, being overturned, thousands of cars being tossed about like sticks. It’s haunting is what it is. Humbling. Mother nature throwing something HUGE at us. Earthquakes and Tsunami’s are much like volcano’s. Showing us once again how small and insignificant we truly are, and how quickly mother nature can shake the etch-a-sketch of planet earth and wipe it clean.

OK…enough on THAT note…it’s honestly just too depressing to ponder for long. So..what else is going on? Oh…that’s right….MARCH MADNESS! Yes…the annual college basketball national tournament. I don’t follow basketball, cuz, well…I find it pretty boring. I can however watch a FLAT cycling stage for HOURS on end with Phil and Paul doing their very best to fill in the dead-time and somehow NOT find that boring. What can I say…I guess it takes all kinds of people to fill the world. I do know that in the basketball world, these tournament games are typically awesome and decided in the closing seconds quite often. And I do like it that unlike any other college sport, truly ANY team in the nation has an actual shot at the title. If you are good enough to be invited to ‘the dance’, you have a chance. Sure, number 64 goes up against number 1 in the first round. But hey…nobody said it was easy. Just think, of ALL the college basketball teams in the country, what is the actual difference between the top 64 teams? Usually it’s not very much. And the Cinderella stories DO happen now and then. I find myself almost always rooting for the underdogs. I just love it when the David’s slay the Goliath’s. I haven’t even looked at the brackets, but the games start tomorrow (Tuesday) evening.

And in the cycling world: Paris-Nice is in the history books, and Tony Martin from HTC is the man. Wow…good for him. I’d think that will give him and the entire team quite a boost going into the meat of the season. I gather his team is grooming him as a GC contender in the Grand Tours. I’d think he is capable of doing quite well. He TT’s with the best of them, and has shown he can climb too! So, bring it on Tony…let’s see what you’ve got! My only sadness thus far is that I still have ZERO televised coverage. We are trying to cut our expenses and nearly doubling our satellite TV bill so I can have ONE channel is out (for now). Winter/Spring is always our hard times…you know…the holidays, property taxes, fully funding IRA’s and such. And I have pretty much zero overtime anymore…which was my bread and butter in years past. But the economy in the tank has long reaching effects, and I’m just happy we still both have jobs. A little belt-tightening won’t kill us, and we have SO much to be thankful for. So for now I READ about the races. I do think I’ll have to upgrade for July though…I just can’t bear the thought of not watching the Tour.

On a personal note, I’m working on my 2nd comeback of the year (cycling wise I mean). I didn’t ride hardly at all from about the middle of November until the middle of January. Just lots going on, the holidays, bad weather, then getting sick after the holidays. So I started a comeback (and was doing well) and THEN 3 weeks ago caught what I suspect was a bit of Pneumonia. I JUST put in my first ride last Wednesday…it was a lowly 34 miler after work, and my friend Gary pulled me the entire way. Early in the ride I felt like I might cough up a vital organ or 2, but as the ride progressed I felt better. And by the next day I hardly had any congestion in my lungs FINALLY! So Saturday I met Greg and his friends for a Figueroa Mt. loop ride. Last year on this day (Solvang Century day) we met for the same ride. We were going for a double loop….80 miles, 9000’ of climbing. Well, it was windy and COLD, and we only did the 2nd climb about 1/3rd of the way when the wind shut us down and we cashed it in. This year Greg and friends were again going for the double. I knew there was no way I could do that right now…so I met them on the road at the bottom of the mountain, and they turned around and went back up (it’s a 10 mile 4500’ climb) for their 2nd time. And they crushed me. In mere minutes they were almost out of sight as I limped along in my granny gear, just trying to keep moving. I am currently as weak as I’ve been since I started road-riding many years ago. But it will come back fast, of that I’m confident. I just need to suffer thru rides like that. 

OK. That’s about all I have for this week. Everybody be safe and stay warm. And if your weather permits, get out and do something outside! Enjoy life…as things can change in an instant! Smell those roses. And have a GREAT week!

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How quickly things can change

As I type, I’m anxiously awaiting a phone call to let me know if I have a job to report to in the morning. That is the short cliff-notes version. Here is the long version of today’s story:

I belong to a union…yes…collective bargaining. Just like the one that the Governor of Wisconsin is trying so very hard to take away their rights to. I had no choice mind you, other than to NOT take this job. I came here in 2003 when I finally got a job offer to get me off the ‘ships’. I had been sailing as a civilian onboard USNS surveillance ships almost ever since I retired from the Navy. I enjoyed that job a lot, and saw lots of the world in the 7 years that I sailed. However, being gone all the time wears you down…and that job, if you’re not on a ship working, then you’re not getting paid. I was SO happy to land this job here…a SHORE job! A chance at having a life again! And it would mean working with spacecraft now and then even…What a job! There are very few days that I go into work unhappy with my job…you know…when you dread coming in? I almost NEVER feel like that. Sure we have bad days here and there. VERY FEW.

However. It’s a union shop, and once I accepted the job offer I had to join the union. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either…because I can surely say they have taken care of us very well over my 8 years here. All my years on the ships I had no collective bargaining rights, and each time our contract was won by a different low-bid company, WE the workers took it in the shorts with the NEW job offer. Over my 7 years that I worked on the ships I basically started over 3 times, taking less pay and benefits each successive time. And my only other option was to leave the ships and go look for a job elsewhere. So having this job where the company can NOT ride roughshod over us, (forcing us to accept things that we don’t want to accept) has been pretty awesome. Someone has my back, and that’s actually a pretty good feeling. I watch the company screw over our salaried folk almost daily, and they can’t do that to me.

And that brings us to now. As of last Thursday my little world was quiet and normal. And then right at the end of the day we get the email that the company has finally made their final offer. Our contract expires today (Sunday). Our contracts typically run between 2 and 3 years. Near the end of each, our bargaining committee gathers with the company negotiating committee, and they try to hash out a contract proposal that is acceptable to all parties. All the previous times since I’ve been here they have been able to successfully do that. An offer where the negotiating committee returns and gives their recommendation that we accept the proposal. Sure, there is always give and take..that’s the way it’s supposed to be…nobody gets everything they want. But no deal-breakers. Until this time. Today at noon we sat thru a long presentation by our bargaining committee as they went thru the companies “Last, Best, FINAL” offer, line by line. Explaining how the negotiations went, what we were asking for, and what was offered in this final proposal. The 2 major sticking points are the pension and the health insurance.

As to the pension, the company is apparently trying to get away from pensions and just give you some extra money and let you take care of yourself…to free themselves from the “Liability” of you having a pension. However to do that they realize that everybody currently employed under today’s ‘pension plan’ will never accept that. So they are trying to split the union. People already there will be under the current plan. Anybody new who hires in after tomorrow will be under the NO pension plan (they will give them some money into a 401K type plan each quarter, and it’s up to you to make that into your pension). The union doesn’t stand by this divide and conquer type of proposal. Effectively throwing any NEW employees under the bus. During the discussion they reminded us to think about all the people before us. Had THEY done this years ago, then we wouldn’t have the benefits that we currently do. All those years they have stuck to their guns and NOT let the company take away benefits of a younger generation of workers.

The second sticking point is the company is trying desperately to limit the healthcare plans available to us. They have already forced all our salaried personnel onto their own company “Self insured” plan. It has much higher deductibles and is overall not a very satisfactory plan. The union has fought this tooth and nail to keep HMO’s and other options available to us to choose what works best for us. Also to keep down our costs in purchasing this plan. The company would like nothing more than to have EVERYBODY under this plan, as they will make more $$ that way. Under this years negotiations, the company realized they had a big sticking point already in the pension, and seems were not going to give us TWO huge sticking points. So they graciously slipped in the new plan as ONE of the available options. And along with that, they are going to go to each area and find which is the most popular plan, and THAT will be the only other plan offered as of Jan 1st 2012. They will have successfully negotiated away all the remaining options. Making them one step closer to having only the one plan.

And so….the negotiating committee gave us their recommendation: they have unanimously agreed that we should turn down this proposal and vote to strike. And by unanimous, it turns out there were three different collective bargaining teams negotiating with three company groups in three separate rooms of the same building at the same exact time. These are all our union brothers from various other contracts that all fall under our Union umbrella. On all THREE of these negotiating teams, it was unanimous. The company offered the same proposals to each of the three groups.

And today we voted. There are 2 separate votes. One is to accept or reject the contract offer. The other is to authorize or not authorize a strike. IF we vote to reject the proposal (it takes a simple majority vote for this) then they look to the strike vote. That takes a 2/3rds majority. IF we vote to reject the contract, but don’t get the 2/3rds vote to allow a strike, then the contract is approved and we go back to work. That is the possible outcomes of today’s vote. Our membership where I work is a small percentage of the voters in our overall contract…the majority work up north. We both held meetings at the same time today and the vote is over at the same time….5pm Sunday evening. It’s almost 7pm now and I still haven’t heard the outcome. I don’t mind telling you that I’m literally quaking in my boots as I type. The very thought that I might go to a picket line instead of my job tomorrow is quite nerve wracking. Jeannie will have a fit and probably have an explosive ulcer if I were to go on strike. However it’s out of my hands. I won’t even tell you how I voted, because for one, this is a public forum and I don’t want it to ever be used against me. And two, it’s nobody’s business but my own. I can see a valid argument for voting either way. I like my job, and the overall offer was a very fair offer. And the thought of going on a picket line makes me sick to my stomach. In fact, I need to eat dinner before I faint or something. Sitting here typing away, NOT knowing my future is just killing me.

OK…I’m back from dinner, and while I was eating I finally got THE phone call that I was waiting for.

I report to work as usual in the morning…the majority vote was to accept the contract. And I feel happy yet sad at this thought. Tomorrow this vote won’t mean a hill of beans for us, except that we still have our jobs. And next year more of the same. However, 5, 10, or 15 years down the line today’s vote really will mean something. Because anybody hiring in after tomorrow will be under a different retirement plan than the rest of us. And all we can say at that point is “Sorry…we took care of ourselves”. I think that will make me sick to my stomach too. I might be working side by side with this unknown person who will be affected by today’s vote. I don’t have kids, but others do, and maybe they will hire into our company someday (or maybe not). But we just threw them under the bus to save ourselves. What a horrible decision to have to make. I’m sure glad there were lots of other people voting…I’d hate to have to make that one all by myself.

And so…crisis averted. I can let my stomach unwind and maybe get some sleep. Gosh…Friday was still a normal day, and depending on how this vote went I might be picketing tomorrow. On strike. For nobody knows how long. Thank goodness I don’t have to find out. I wouldn’t wish going on strike on anybody. But I can see why it’s an important tool to have at your disposal. I don’t know the details of the Wisconsin state workers, but I can say that I believe we should have the power to band together to stand up for our rights. For Democracy. Because that’s what it’s all about in a nutshell. Today I had a little taste of it for myself. It was terrifying. Yet exhilarating in some ways. I had a vote in shaping our next three years.

And tomorrow morning the job will go on like nothing happened today. But I know better. Something DID happen. And I hope to remember it vividly 3 years from now when we do this again. And I hope everybody else remembers too. 

Have a GREAT week!

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March along now

Well…February has come and gone. And I’m happy about that…it’s been a rather crappy month weather-wise. And I’m not even talking about the REST of the country, getting HAMMERED by winter storm after winter storm. We’ve had our own storms. And it’s been cold. Cold by CA standards I mean. The big storm this last weekend that was possibly going to drop snow down below 1000’ never quite happened that way, though we did get the storm, and it was indeed quite cold all weekend long. I think it made it down to around 2000’ is my best guess, looking at the hills around us. Only Figueroa Mt and the Sierra Madre Ridge got snow up here. Oh well, easy come easy go.

However, during the weekend before this last one is when I got MY cold. It was raining all day on Sat, so I rode on Sunday. Did a 4 hour ride, my usual weekend’er. I typically leave around 9am, and I usually dress for the conditions it is then, as it warms up as I ride. So, I ended up running late which is fine, gives it extra time to warm up some. I hit the road by 9:30, and it was reading about 52 degrees. Chilly but do-able. I have my arm-warmers, leg-warmers, toe-warmers, and wind vest on. Didn’t opt for long-finger gloves, as the day’s high is supposed to be around 56.

So I head out of town, and it’s slowly getting colder as I ride. Hmmm…well, THIS can’t continue I figure, so along I pedal. I get to the canyon turnoff and it’s prob holding around 50 but sunny. Still do-able. Up the canyon I climb…and MAN does it get chilly in the canyon! The roads are still soaked from the previous days rains, and it just flat feels like it’s cold. 10 miles up the canyon and it’s hovering around 42 at the top. My toes are numb, my fingers are ice-cubes. My legs are fine cuz I’ve been climbing the whole time. But now I need to go DOWN. This is gonna suck. But down I go, and I wasn’t imagining things…it’s freakin’ COLD! I crawl out of the canyon finally, an ice-cube on wheels. And I then battle the headwind all the way home, but at least the temps are back in the low 50’s. By the time I get home I’m as cold as I can remember being in a LONG LONG time. But I made it, and was better for it (or so I thought).

By that night I had a tickling in my throat and the coughing had begun. I felt fine, just seemed like I had dust or something making me cough. By the next morning I wasn’t feeling quite so chipper…but I went to work anyway. It was odd, like a minor cold coming on. Only it was purely in the lungs. I was all congested there and coughing a lot. Tue morning dawns and I feel like I got beat up by a baseball bat, AND I had chills. So I stayed home in bed all day, freezing to death even though I had the furnace cranked. By that evening the chills had gone but I couldn’t hardly force myself to eat anything. Luckily I had some Carnation instant breakfast pouches in the pantry..I could choke those down every now and then. I had some congestion in the head now, but nothing like any cold I’ve ever had. By Weds morning I felt better and went to work…but it was a LONG day I can tell you. I still could barely make myself eat as I felt nauseous most of the time, and was still coughing up a storm. Thurs comes and goes w/ no real change. Friday brings more of the same…but I made it to the weekend.

I feel better come Sat, but still not real big on eating (which is SO unlike me btw). Sun rolls around and I can even eat breakfast now…yehaw! Only small amount of congestion still hanging out…that, and the WICKED cough I can’t seem to lose. last night was the worst so far for the cough…I laid down and boy was it horrible…felt like I was suffocating. Felt so bad that I actually called my Dr. this morning for an appt…only she was totally booked today…I see her tomorrow morning.

So..we shall see what kind of critter has latched onto me…never had a cough like this before in my life. Haven’t broke any ribs or pulled any muscles coughing (yet)…but sometimes it feels like I might. All this from going out and riding in the cold. Hmmmm. How on earth do the pro’s do it? They ride in MUCH worse weather than that all the time. The entire Northern Spring Classics for example…almost every single one of those races puts my paltry conditions to shame. They can have it, just reaffirms why I’m a FAIR WEATHER RIDER!

I do know this weekend was our scheduled “Tour of Vandenberg”, where Greg and his friends all show up at the base and I sign everybody in and we proceed to do a near century all over the base. A guided-tour of a gigantic space-launch complex. They were really looking forward to it, and this morning I canceled it, as there is no way I’ll be ready to ride that far. Didn’t ride at all last week, nor this weekend, and don’t see any rides THIS week either. We’ll see about the weekend…depends on how tomorrows Dr. visit goes. I know that the weekend after this one is the annual Solvang Century ride. I won’t be doing it again this year, which is a good thing. I’m in as poor of condition as I’ve been in at this time of year since I started road-riding 5 or 6 years ago. I just DESPISE this weather we’ve been having. And it’s not even the windy part yet. That is coming later this month..or possibly any day now. Lovely, I can hardly wait. 

And such is life. Hope everybody else is able to stay warm and avoid the dreaded bugs that are lying in wait to JUMP on you at any given moment. Hopefully you are getting that early Spring that Punxatawney Phil promised you.

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Rising from the ashes

Well, unless you’ve been under a rock the last few days, you’ve heard by now that the Spanish Cycling Federation has changed their minds and decided to let Alberto Contador ride again, clearing him of doping charges (meaning he is still the winner of the 2010 TDF…for now anyway). The UCI and WADA have 30 days to file an appeal with the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS), otherwise the decision is final. IF either file an appeal, then the CAS will have the final say. They can leave the decision as is, or change it up to a full 2 year ban including the loss of his TDF title from 2010. And if they REALLY want to play nasty hard-ball, they could possibly begin his 2 year sanction now rather than last July, being as he raced professionally just yesterday.

I won’t go into any great detail here on the complexities of this decision and it’s ramifications…if you are really interested go on over to Rants. He has some awesomely smart folk commenting (excluding myself) who have been dissecting this and citing code and such. It’s really interesting to hear some of the details that are left out of the mainstream articles that are my usual source of information. It’s like I’m reading Mad Magazine and they are reading Scientific American. That’s how they make me feel sometimes. But that’s cool…I like Mad Magazine! (who doesn’t love Spy vs Spy?)

I have to admit that I’m surprised by the Spanish Fed’s reversal. I totally expected the 1 year ban as it showed that they believed he did nothing wrong, but also were realistic enough to believe there was no way the UCI/WADA would go along with it….and if they (UCI/WADA) do appeal the decision then his penalty can be much worse, and it’s also completely out of their hands. So this reversal of their earlier decision means one thing to me: they believe they somehow have a good enough case that the CAS will NOT overturn their decision. What is that case though? It’s like they have a hidden card in their sleeve and have let the UCI/WADA know which card it is ahead of time.

Rant has talked about the possibility that a ‘technicality’ might be that ace in the hole. Something about how he (AC) wasn’t notified correctly (you’d have to read all of his last posting and comments to get the full dirty details on this). However in their decision they specifically mentioned the rule they are using to justify their decision, and it’s based on the athlete having proved his case that the banned substance found in his system got there inadvertently. Unless this is what they decided to go public with, and are keeping the ‘technicality’ card in their sleeve only to use it if they have to. I don’t know that the CAS would be required to abide by that though (the technicality aspect, if it does exist)…and I haven’t yet posted that question at Rants. But it’s still quite interesting to speculate on though.

For one, I hope and pray that the decision is based completely on their utter belief that he did not dope. One of the things discussed over at Rants is the fact that anyone who spends any amount of time in China (eating their food) WILL come back with Clenbuterol in their system. Apparently it’s all over the place there..food, water, who knows where else. There has been an actual study and proven this is the case, and the anti-doping authorities have to deal with this ‘inadvertent’ exposure to banned substances by setting a threshold level. This level would be above what you could get eating reasonable foods/quantities, but low enough to catch athletes even doing ‘micro doses’. And it’s not only China apparently…Mexico and other countries have recently come under the gun for having Clen showing up in their food supply. They (the UCI/WADA) can and will hold you accountable for using ‘supplements’, no matter if something is in there that shouldn’t be. But they can NOT hold you liable for eating food. And they can’t have differing standards based on where you live (or travel). 

One of the good things coming out of this (besides Alberto being able to race again) is that IF the UCI/WADA decide to go along with the ruling and not appeal, then this will be a very public precedent set for going back and exonerating others (ie: less noteworthy athletes) who have been snared in this ‘any amount whatsoever is a violation’ net. The rule is completely unfair and needs to be changed, and this ruling will be the stepping stone used to git’ er’ dun’. At least I hope so.

Today’s post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention Lance’s official retirement (again). Whatever your thoughts on his storied and recently embattled career, if you go back and review his past you can’t help but be impressed. Here is a link to an article on Velo News which does just that. All the way back to when he was 13 years old.

http://velonews.competitor.com/2011/02/news/inside-cycling-with-john-wilcockson-armstrong%e2%80%99s-25-year-journey-is-over_160347

All I can say after reading it is GO LANCE you STALLION! I have NO IDEA if he really won all those TDF’s clean or not. But I have to say this: NO amount of doping will turn a plow-horse into a Secretariat…and he was a thoroughbred of thoroughbreds to be sure. And early in his career when he was already winning (even as a teenager against adults in triathlons), I just can’t force myself to believe he was already doping (if indeed he ever was). So there is no denying whatsoever that he was a world-class athlete even as a young whipper-snapper. So following this logic, I would believe that surely early in his career he was winning clean (he flat out couldn’t afford to dope). Later on, maybe, maybe not. But I do believe that IF he was doping in his later years, then surely so was everybody else who wanted a chance to beat him. But it’s all of no matter to me at this point. I hope and pray this stupid McCarthy’esque witch-hunt folds at some point in the near future, and they leave him alone to run his foundation and be a family man.

Obviously he will ALWAYS be a star of stars, and his voice will continue to carry clout with heads of state the world over. The cancer fight is far from over, and he is the engine behind the success of his organization. I must admit I wanted to see him ONE MORE TIME in this years Tour of California…mostly because I knew it was the end. He may still show up here, as it’s a big race and he’s as big of star as there is in cycling. But it won’t be the same. He won’t be on the bike. It’s the end of an era for sure.

And so, if the Spanish Federation decision stands, we WILL be treated to the Andy/Alberto shootout this July. I will keep my fingers crossed, and my rose-colored-glasses set on HIGH. There’s one thing I CAN say about the Spanish Federation though: they’ve got guts and they don’t immediately fling their guy under the bus (unlike OTHER federations who are QUICK to name the man in question as a cheat right from the start, BEFORE their case has seen even a smidgen of due process). You can call it being soft on doping, or simply standing by their man…. you know: innocent until proven guilty. I sure hope it’s for the second reason. If so, then the REST of the world (including, and ESPECIALLY the media) needs to take a deep breath of that statement and finally start to live it. Quit condemning people before they’ve had their day in court.

Happy Friday…I need to go clean the turtles house. Every THREE days. I wonder how long their water would stay livable in a swimming pool, not that we have one.

Yet.

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MORE turtle pics for your viewing pleasure! (oh…on the last post with the ONE picture, I noticed that I can click on it and get a higher res version…hadn’t noticed that before here at Tumblr).

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