Cross Crusade #1 – Alpenrose

Posted on Oct 10, 2015 in Cycling | 2 comments

Starting at the back of this many people does not a fun day make

Disclaimer: I’m about to be a whiney bitch. If you don’t have a tolerance for that sort of thing, quit reading. I wouldn’t blame you, but I need to vent and this is my best outlet.

Today began the first race of the Cross Crusade season. Crusade is the preeminent cyclocross series in the US. It’s a very big deal and I’ve been working my ass off to be ready for it after a solid road season, some mediocre time between, and a ramp up to get back into shape recently.

I race in the C class. I also raced C in mountain bike short track and won the last race I did, which led to me moving to B. Presumably, the folks in these classes are nearly identical so I’m capable of placing high this cyclocross season and was hoping to bump my category here as well.

As the fields for this are massive, there’s a thing called a “call-up,” which if you’ve been racing well in a preselected few races (I did a single one and got 10th) and did well last year (I was placing 15th or better once I pled for a call-up [more on that later]), you get to start near the front. As expected, I didn’t make the call-up list but contacted the race organizer since it’s entirely at their discretion to award these. Note: If you don’t start at the front and you’re not sandbagging your classing, you’re not going to finish at the front. I pled my case to the organizer (strong road season, was on the podium for 2 of the 3 short track races I did [similar racing to cross]), but no dice. Not a big deal; I was looking for special treatment and didn’t get it. C’est la vie. What that meant is I’d need to get some points in this first pair of races… Sounds a lot like last year…

I couldn’t get points last year because I started mid-pack for the first two races and couldn’t pick off the 30+ people required to get there. This led to me having to chase the entire season. Before driving three hours to Bend for a doubleheader weekend in the middle of the series, I pled to the organizer to grant me a call-up, he did, and top 15 placings were the flavor of the end of my season (was 3rd in the last race before a mechanical).

As luck would have it, today my random number was called to be first after the call-ups. Great! Points to be had! The starter gave us the “go” and before I even move my season unfolds before my eyes. Some guy (who had a call-up) on a single-speed botched the start (I don’t know how you do that with a single gear), caused a pile-up that tangled me and a friend with him, and there went that great starting position. Hard to say where I finally ended up starting, but it had to be way down there. I had a good race and picked people (including folks with call-ups) off the entire way to finish in 24th (points go to 15?). Comparing lap times on Strava, I should have finished between 10th and 12th had the race not began the way it did. No points for my best opportunity all season to get them. Tomorrow they reverse the order of the random numbers so I’ll start absolutely dead last. Chance for points? Zero (today I probably passed about 40 people, but tomorrow would have to be 90). Following the second race, call-ups are based on the series points, which I’ll have none of so every subsequent race will come to the crapshoot of where I start. Because of one guy goofing his start (who will continue to get to start at the front), this season is looking like a pile of crap. I’m not sure I’ll even bother racing tomorrow because as much as I enjoy racing, waking up early and spending $25 to practice my passing is not particularly enjoyable.

UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE!!! They’ve announced the call-up lists for Sunday and (if they did this last year I don’t recall it/wouldn’t have been called up anyway because I was one of the unfortunate souls [more on that]) they’re doing it based on placing today and going 35 deep. My prayers/whining have been answered. Those unfortunate souls, though, the people who might be fast but started at the back today and didn’t get into the top 35, they might be in for a cruddy season.


Catching our breath

Posted on Sep 8, 2015 in General, Vacation | 1 comment


With our arrival home at 11pm last night, Heather and I completed an absolutely insane final three months of summer. We still have another visitor spending a week with us at the end of the month, but for all intents and purposes, we’re finally able to kick back and relax.

June – Tour de June. Enough said.

July 4 – Annual block party in front of our house. People came from blocks around us, Voodoo parked out front, and the Huangs dropped by from Beaverton.

July 6-7 – Friend from VA spends a couple of nights with us en route to hiking Mt. Rainier.

July 17-19 – Whirlwind tour of Disneyland. We saw absolutely everything. In such a short amount of time, it was absolutely grueling. I’d need the entire week to recover. Pics.

July 25 – Warren came to town for breakfast and shopping.

July 27 – Won my first bicycle race. Mountain biking no less.

August 4-12 – Dad came to town. Many a donut were consumed and we paid a visit to the northern side of Mt. St. Helens.

August 15-24 – Vacation in Hawaii (Big Island). Lots of fun, lots of sun. Volcanos and beaches. Pics.

August 25 – After 11 years, I left QA behind. I’m now a product manager for the software I’ve been testing the past few years. I’m busy as hell, but it’s fun and refreshing.

August 28-30 – Hood to Coast. 198 mile running relay. Ran 17 miles in sub-7 pace. For my non-running self, that was tough. We placed 9th in the Open Mens division despite nearly being Coed (one female away). Heather volunteered and got stuck standing in gale force winds and rain for five hours. She’s amazing. Made a bunch of new friends. Pics.

September 3 – Tuna fishing! Awesome day. Came home with ~50lbs of tuna. Pic. Review.

September 4-7 – Quick trip to VA Beach for Morgan and Kelly’s wedding. Was able to see Linden and crew as well.

We’re both sick now, our cats barely know us, and we’re way behind on all our home projects. It’ll be really good to finally get some rest and get back in our routines. We’re both very much looking forward to it.

Cycling side note: To top it all off, I’ve an additional pounds to twelve show for two months of not really riding. With cyclocross having started this past weekend, the timing is pretty bad. I think I’m going to forego the first race series in an attempt to get my legs back and my belly under control. Can I shock myself back into shape in a month? We’ll find out October 10.


Tour de June

Posted on Jul 2, 2015 in Cycling | 1 comment

Who got busy with racing in June? This guy. Why? Not entirely sure, but I got some good off-season training in, the scheduling worked out, and I was feeling strong so why not? 13 races, 3 podiums, 1 upgrade = good times.

Hammer Velo Crit 5s – Final sprint (guy in green won, I got 2nd)

The month started with an ugly night at Mount Tabor. It was wet and there was a crash on the first turn so we split from the start and it turned into a time trial. 6th. Maybe I had a shot at the monthly standings? … Until that weekend when I entered my first ever criterium, placed 2nd with relative ease, and knew it was time to move up. I also doubled up that day and tucked in to finish in the 4/5 pack a few hours later. Upgrade request submitted Monday and accepted just before the start of the next Tabor… I’d be riding with the 4s in a race that already gave me trouble… Except it didn’t and hasn’t; I’ve managed to stay with the pack until the final sprint all month save for last night (July, so it doesn’t matter for this post!) when I gave 100% [and failed] to win a bottle of beer. I couldn’t even keep up in 5 much of last year. Progress!

Tabor 4s – Fully spent after leading teammate out

I’ve been heading up to PIR every Tuesday night for the 4/5 circuit race too. I missed the first one due to the weather, but managed to place well enough in the remaining four to take third overall for the month. PRIZES! I don’t know what I won, but I won something, and I eagerly await receiving it. Highlights were a 3rd and a 2nd. Both times it was all about taking it easy the entire race, reading who had the strong wheel, being close to the front on the final turn, and not going too soon or too late. I’ve never really considered myself a sprinter, but maybe that’s my jam?

The highlight of the month was a long weekend spent in Bend for the High Desert Omnium. Started with a time trial (went great, 25.2mph average [1mph faster than an early season TT], 8th in class), a crit that same afternoon (struggled, was dropped, but didn’t lose much ground on the pack, 11th), and a beautiful 60-mile road race the following morning (was gassed going up the final hill/finish and lost touch, 19th). I won nothing and didn’t even score a point for the overall, but it was an amazing weekend. I came home feeling like a pro. My life for those few days was nothing but cycling. It was awesome.

Things on the bike are going great. This is the road season I’ve wanted to have ever since I first attempted road racing a few years ago. Life has gotten out of the way and simply allowed me to ride. The bike itself has a couple of items that concern my wallet, but the wheels are still mostly round and the chain is in one piece so I’m just gonna keep riding it. With Tabor ending next week I’ll probably back off on racing altogether in July as the heat really begins to hit and focus on getting into peak shape for the late July/early August weekend crit series. After that? CROSS. YES, CROSS. YES.

I still have yet to win a damned race EVER. Including running, I’ve been 2nd [I think] five times and 3rd another few. Can someone run the odds on that? Will I ever get a chance to stand atop of the podium with both arms raised? Ideally, I’d do it before I reach Masters age (shit!) in two years. I think I can. I’m pretty sure I can. Just lacking a few watts. Core (I have none) and diet (I’m up about 5lbs right now) are going to be the focus in July. Might just be enough to get me that extra second on the line. Here goes!


Dear Mom

Posted on Jun 21, 2015 in General | 4 comments

It has been a year now without you. I miss you a lot. I still think about you a dozen times a day. I still expect to receive a call from you at any moment. You were pretty much the only person who ever called. I used to share my life here and I haven’t in many months. Why? Because you were the main audience. You were and likely always will be my number one fan. I know you’re probably still reading so this is me realizing my selfishness and promising to get back on the train.

I must confess that I recorded every voicemail you left me from the day you became sick; I never knew which would be the last and something about keeping them made me feel better. I do listen to them from time to time. It’s nice to hear your voice even though it hurts. I do suppose the finality is beginning to sink in. I won’t be getting a call and you won’t be commenting my latest post, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have a voicemail of you singing me happy birthday that I may or may not have played for myself this year and will forever more.

It has brought  me great solace over the past year to see how much you’re still present after passing. I see you in my habits, I see you in the girls, I see you in Jessie, I see you in Dad, I see you in random lines of text on billboards, I see you in the sky, I see you in odd items on the shelf of the grocery store, and so many other places. It’s weird, but it’s awesome and it’ll never fade. For that and for you, I’m thankful.

Mike Jr.

Being a mature athlete

Posted on Jan 20, 2015 in Cycling, Running | 0 comments

After being an endurance athlete most of my life, today I realized that I am at last a mature one.

This morning when standing up after cleaning the cats’ litter, I did something funky with my knee. It felt as if my ligaments weren’t properly aligned as I brought them to a straight position and they pulled a bit. The weather outside is absolutely gorgeous, I just got my bike back from the repair shop, and I had some miles planned for the afternoon… but I chose to not ride.

The time missed from potentially seriously screwing up my knee far outweighs the time missed from not going on a ride or a couple while I rest it. Hurrah, maturity.

How to get free airplane Internet

Posted on Jan 18, 2015 in Tech | 0 comments

This has been confirmed on a Gogo-equipped flight on Alaska Air using iOS devices. I would assume it to also work on Android, but I check mine in my luggage because it’s a pile of dung.

Important note is that you need to not have the Gogo app installed. Your browser will detect it and you will not see the necessary options below. If you had the app installed, you may need to wait for a cookie to expire, restart your browser, or restart your device; I had trouble getting it to not try to use the app I didn’t have, but it eventually came around.

Step 1 – Join the in-flight wireless network
Step 2 – Open your web browser
Step 3 – Navigate to the entertainment portal
Step 4 – Select a movie to watch
Step 5 – When it asks you if you have the Gogo video app, say “no,” and click the button for the App Store.
Step 6 – Enter the confirmation code that… I don’t know what it does. I’d assume it just confirms the creation of a session.
Step 7 – When the browser directs you to the App Store, leave it
Step 8 – Enjoy your 10-15 minute (still testing to find the exact number) free online session. Check your e-mail, Facebook it up, etc.

If you use your web browser, be sure to leave a tab open to the page that prompted you to go to the App Store. If you leave this page, it can be tricky to get back to it.

After your internet goes away, go back into the page that asked you about the App Store and simply hit the App Store button again. You’ll be put back at Step 6.

Why does this work? By having to download an application from the App Store, Gogo must give your device temporary access to any location; they don’t know the exact server that will feed you their application. Since apps can take a long time to download via plane wireless, they have to give you a decent window of time in which to get it. Except you’re not going to use that time as they intended.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we cannot have nice things.

2014 Year in Review

Posted on Dec 31, 2014 in General | 0 comments

This year was easily the worst of my life. Numerous people passed away, lots of health issues for others, and every time there was a possibility of something going wrong, it would. Farewell, 2014. GTFO.


Umm. It seems I didn’t set any. I said I would, but that was in the midst of home buying so I must have just not gotten around to it. Regardless, I got a good bit done. Maybe goals aren’t required once you’ve good habits formed?

Of all the measurable things I do, I only seemed to have done more so I’m happy.

  • Running took a hit as I sprained my ankle and kind of lost interest for a few months following it. My total will be a handful of miles below 200 (down from 400).
  • Biked just below 4000 miles (up from 3500) and greatly increased the quality of those miles; my fitness today compared to the start of the year is night and day. No crashes this year (down from 2), but bike repairs were $1000 anyway (up from $0) – carbon fiber is more expensive than bone.
  • Didn’t swim once. That’s sad.
  • Dropped a solid 5-10lbs (I fluctuate daily).
  • Burned roughly 220,000 calories through measurable exercise, which is identical to last year. Interesting.
  • Read 26 books (up from 18) and 8100 pages (up from 5700) so that’s cool. I highly recommend (my 5-stars) Unbroken, Why We Ride, The Big Short, and Ready Player One.
  • Reviewed 39 place on Yelp (down from 65). Meh.


  • January – Mom became a 3-year survivor of Grade IV brain cancer. That’s pretty much unheard of. We also bought our first house.
  • February – Suddenly lost Heather’s Aunt Betsy. Heather’s mother visited for a short bit afterward. I turned 32, but don’t feel a day over 14 as long as I look past the grays in the morning. Heather also began her new job!
  • March – Suddenly lost a good friend, Edward Johns.
  • April – Bought a “new” 2009 Audi A4 Avant – great driving car, but what a turd. Celebrated our 2-year anniversary – went to the coast to celebrate. Also spent a day in the Columbia Gorge.
  • May – Paid a visit to Bend to visit Molly and the East Coast for the Race For Hope.
  • June – Mom passed away from complications with her cancer treatment. Had some visitors from out of town, did some wine touring, and visited The Gorge again. Competed in the Mount Tabor racing series – did alright and won a beer.
  • July – Rode my bike from Seattle to Portland in a single day with Michelle. Also took part in the 1st Annual Flabapalooza.  Competed in the Portland Trail Series – did alright and sprained the heck out of my ankle.
  • August – Made a quick trip to Seattle. My family visited – went to The Gorge yet again (never gets old).
  • September – A whole bunch of cyclocross racing.
  • October – Adopted two cats at the Oregon Humane Society – look for a post regarding them soon. Believe it or not, also did a whole bunch of cyclocross racing.
  • November – Another good personal trip (I had a number of work trips that aren’t really worth mentioning) to the East Coast. Spent a week with Dad just kind of hanging out. Cyclocross racing also ended with a doubleheader weekend in Bend – got to hang out with Molly again. Oh, wait, that’s a lie; there was one final race just before Thanksgiving that I crushed – 4th place.
  • December – A quiet month. I spent Christmas alone, but had the cats to keep me warm. Delivered a bunch of care packages to the homeless via bike the morning of – wore a santa hat and had a speaker blaring holiday tunes.

We’ve begun to really settle into Portland life and love it possibly more than when we first arrived. We have a solid number of friends now and Heather has hit her stride at work. I’m still unsure of remote work, but it has been working out and I’m starting to figure out what works and what does not. It’s lonely and has been a slow process, but I think I’m getting it.

I won’t promise a post on goals and instead give you the gist of what’s coming next year – a lot more biking, a fair bit more running, some more blogging, the same amount of reading, no crashes, no broken bones, maybe another few pounds lost, and I don’t want anyone to die. Okay?

2015, it’s not gonna be hard to beat the previous year. Let’s go.

Previous years in review: 2013, 2012201120102009, 200820072006.