Summer is how many days old?

Posted on Jun 25, 2017 in General | 0 comments

And I need a rest. The insanity began May 28. Today is my first day doing “nothing” (I rode 36 miles, did 1568 chores, worked an hour, and spent far too long putting this post together).

Sisters Stampede

Kind of got duped by a teammate on this one, but I’m happy for it. “Mike, sign up for this Sunday afternoon race. I’ll drive.” I did. Later into the week she informs me she’s leaving mid-day Friday. Whaaaat? New job and no thanks anyway. I ended up driving myself 🙂 A+ dupage (new word).

I didn’t know what to expect as I’d not ridden in the area or in any real mountain bike race in years and years and years. Things turned out pretty well with a 13th place finish. I was really strong on the flats and uphills, but wasn’t skilled enough and didn’t have the right tires for the sandy descents. I’d laugh with the folks around me as we’d blow by each other depending on whether the terrain was going up or down.

Good race, super dusty, and pretty hot. Next year I’ll show up on some knobbier tires and things should go much more smoothly.

McKenzie River/Pass/Trail Camping and Riding

Then the next week… Each year my team spends a long weekend at Paradise Campground on the McKenzie River. I arrived first out of everyone because I wanted to get a lot of mountain biking in, and I did, finishing the weekend with three mountain rides and one road ride over a mountain (McKenzie Pass to Sisters and back). The weekend included a few dips in the ice cold river to bathe, and a visit to Belknap Hot Springs for a proper cleaning. I’ve concluded that this place and weekend are some of my favorite things in the world.

White Salmon and Klickitat Rafting

Then the next week… Each year Chris puts together a water-based trip. Before him, his dad did so it’s been a very long tradition. We used to canoe and camp on the Rappahanock, which happened about ten times, but then Chris moved to Seattle and at was the end of it. When I moved to Portland, the tradition was reborn, with this being the second West Coast edition. We’ve also gone from canoeing to white water rafting as well. More intense, less overall effort, probably more fun.

This year we hit the White Salmon and Klickitats with Wet Planet. The two days couldn’t have been more different. The White Salmon was a half day in big things with more time to rest in-between, and in an unforgiving granite gorge. The Klickitat was a full day of endless small rapids and some amazing scenery. I greatly preferred the latter, and not merely for the chili bread bowl lunch that was supplied.

The first night we spent in Hood River being boys – visiting all the breweries and riding our bikes down steps and all over curbs. Lots of fun.

The second night we spent just inside Gifford Pinchot at Moss Creek Campground. I got to try out my new hammock and went on a super casual mountain bike ride with no destination in mind. I ended up climbing a mountain via a gas pipeline, found a nice clearing, and kind of turned my brain off laying in the grass taking in the scenery and the fact that there wasn’t a human likely within miles of me.

Stub Stewart Camping

Then the next week… I spent Friday night at Stub Stewart because I could. Left work a touch early and was at and setup in camp by 6pm.

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Learned some new 🔥 skills

The camp was hike-in, which was a first for me and very cool. My particular campsite was in a cluster of about six, which were all booked, but none of the others showed up so there was a massive space and shared firepit for yours truly.

The next morning, made breakfast and coffee, and went out for a mountain bike ride. The trails were super slippery and more difficult than their markings would lead you to believe, which was frustrating and not as fun as it should have been.

On the way back to town Saturday afternoon had an outstanding lunch at a hole in the wall in Banks and picked up some fresh berries because that’s what you do around here. Nice little way to break out of work on a Friday and to welcome in the weekend.

Mount St. Helens – Worm Flows Summit Hike

Then the next week… I took Dad and organized a group of 17 others to go up Mount St. Helens via the Worm Flows Route.

The 8-10 hour hike ended up taking Dad and me 16 with a finish at midnight. Suffice to say, it was a difficult day but it is done and I couldn’t be prouder of him for making the summit and making it back down to tell the tale. Yes, that was questionable at points.

The Worm Flows route is the winter route and starts you another two miles down the mountain from the summer route I’d taken previously. The bottom 3/4 of the route differs as well, taking you through a nice area of falls and water flows.

Overlooking the challenges specific to our hike, the winter route felt much easier and will likely be my preference when I hike again. The snow is much more predictable than the loose sand/dust found in the summer. More snow also means more glissading too.

Dad and Karen Visit

The same week… Dad and Karen came to visit. I don’t think he’s been in town for a year and a half so I gave him considerable grief over that. With my new job I wasn’t able to spend too much time with them, but I think that was best for all as they got to explore on their own and at their own pace. Of course, I provided them detailed itineraries for each day – in town, Coast, Gorge, and wine. I got to join them for the wine wine and even coaxed them into become members of a winery too. A++ for me getting all the benefits of that.

I think they had a pretty good time so hopefully they’ll be back sooner rather than later. I certainly laid the bait with two vegetarian dinners (Karen is an OG veg) and the day of wine, both of which Dad surprisingly seemed to enjoy. The man is turning a new leaf in his mid 60s. It’s good to see.

Other

In the meantime, a lot of racing has been going on and it has been going very well. I’ve been focusing on my diet (no, not “dieting”) very well and am down six pounds in the past month. Four more to go for Leadville target! More on racing and diet to come.

Next

Last night was “goodbye” to Dad and Karen, today I’m catching up on all the things, first weekend in July is a two day race in Bend, Fourth of July I’m hiking Mount Adams (12k+), middle of July is a road trip to Tahoe for a 100k mountain bike race/test/corral qualifier, and mid August is a road trip to Leadville for the main event. In September I’ll take a nap, but not for too long because ‘cross season.

Virginia Quickie

Posted on May 15, 2017 in Vacation | 0 comments

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While it was a quick Friday to Tuesday trip, and the Race for Hope the primary objective, I managed to bounce around and accomplish quite a bit. <pats self on back>

The hardest thing of having moved across the country aside from being so far from family has been being so far from my closest friends. They’re all pretty much married now and popping out kids, and I struggle to even keep up with the names of all the little ones.

When I put out a feeler for a place to stay for the weekend, I was very grateful to receive a number of offers and went with the one that was easiest to accommodate. While I had met my college roommate’s oldest daughter many years ago, she was a shy peaut and we didn’t really connect. In the meantime, a pair of twin girls came along and she opened up a bit. It was an absolute blast being playing jungle gym for the weekend and catching up.

Following the race, I boarded a plane down to Norfolk to meet up with my littlest new friend in Virginia Beach, a three week old little dude. It was a short, sweet, and appropriately long visit. For being so fresh to parenting, my friends are absolutely killing it; we went out to dinner twice (once without him!), a brewery, and even a three mile walk to brunch. He stayed cool as a cucumber, and while I’m not sure he’s even capable of it yet, I swear he threw me a smile.

Good times. Virginia, I miss you don’t miss you.

Race: Race for Hope 5K

Posted on May 11, 2017 in Running | 0 comments

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I can still do it! After a walk at last year’s race due to a cycling injury (was lucky to not have another this year… instead I was just missing a bit of skin off my nose – mountain biking is hard), I made it a point to race this year. My preparation was a short run a week for about a month and a half. It proved enough.

This was the 7th Race For Hope we have attended and our 3rd without Mom. Due to a scheduling conflict she’d have fully approved of, I was the only family member able to make it. Having dealt with my own share of stuff lately I didn’t do a great job recruiting and only gathered a handful of teammates, but we still managed to raise $1910 for brain cancer research. This year was also the 20th running of the race, which I believe has now brought in something close to $30 million? So amazing. Couple the great cause with a course that any race director would lose their mind over getting, and you’ve got what I’ll defend as one of the best races in the US that nobody knows about.

Unfortunately with my very abbreviated training plan (20 miles), I did not get a chance to do any speed-work or even a mile at pace to figure out what would be reasonable. The strategy I settled on was to go out at the pace I ran previously (you know, when I used to run five years ago) and see how long I could hold it.

Nz-uOOL5Lt39tsWO6amXB5MIqudwrxWgX2jlGucjZiQ-2048x2046That pace would be six minutes per mile and not only would I hold it, I ended up beating it and feeling like I could have gone faster. I ended up running 18:28 (5:58/mi) for the measured 5k (19:12 by the course, which was made .1mi long in 2014) – good for 12th place of the 1300 runners. I’m kicking myself a bit as I allowed two younger fellows sprint past me at the line without putting up any fight – Top 10 was so close! They didn’t break things down by age group, but after some e-stalking I figured out I was 3rd in the 30-39/old man age group. Lots of youngsters out there! In previous years there has been a survivor who beats me handily, but he didn’t this year… Sad thoughts, but hopefully he had something else going on and continues to be in relatively good health; while all the survivors present are a huge inspiration, seeing someone go through what they’re going through and managing to maintain peak fitness is something extra special.

So… I can still run and that’s sweet. Lacking the supporting muscles I ended up hurting badly for a few days, but… yeah, sweet. I’m halfway tempted to see how many miles my body can handle and get to racing again, but the other half of me knows that’s playing with fire. What I do think is clear is I likely have more potential on foot than pedal. Things that make you go “hrmmm.”

A huge thank you to our team donors and participants, and a fist raised to the sky for Mom.

Mark your calendars for May 6, 2018 and I’ll see you just down the street from the White House!

Posts from previous years: 20142013

Book: The Oregon Trail

Posted on Apr 28, 2017 in Books | 0 comments

highway_36_maryville_ksMany men purchase a Corvette to satisfy their midlife crisis. Rinker Buck? Well, he chose to purchase a team of mules, a covered wagon, and began a many month journey to become the first person to drive the entirety of the Oregon Trail by those means in over a century.

This turned out to be decent reading for an Oregonian, but like the trail itself, it dragged on much longer than comfortable. As such, despite having no job, it took me far too long to finish.

The book teaches quite a bit about wagon travel (it sucked), mules (they’re awesome), Mormons (they’re trying to take over the trail), Indians (they were done wrong), locations on the trail, and the immense hardships faced by those making the great emigration, but unless the subject really fascinates you, you should probably skip this one. Not a bad read by any means, but there are likely better books in the subject and I already have a few hopefuls lined up.

Race: Barton Park Road Race

Posted on Apr 26, 2017 in Cycling | 0 comments

18057845_1775096625850424_8187806973124088326_nDouble the number of road races as last year and we’re just getting started!

I hadn’t planned on doing this one, but my legs were feeling good after a light week of travel/not riding, and two friends/teammates would be in my group (pictured) so I went for it. The weather was more of the same with temperatures in the 50s and rain. At this point I’m used to it.

The race was to be seven laps of a seven mile loop with a significant climb near the end of each lap. We ended up doing eight laps due to an officiating mixup that apparently also happened last year, but them’s the breaks.

I found myself pulling the pack through the entire first lap, which I never want to do, but with speeds as pedestrian as we were going (18ish) it really made no difference. That lap we would call a scenic one. It gave me a casual look at the hill. It wasn’t too long and wasn’t too steep, but changed grades a few times and would require me to use my front derailleur, which has been finicky ever since I got my bike (yes, I’ve tried everything short of getting a new drivetrain). I’d have to be extra careful at the crest of the hill to not drop my chain as things leveled out and hit high gear, where the race would ultimately be decided.

Round and round we went with the lead group dwindling every time we came to the hill. What started out as 25 riders was down to 12 or 13 when we hit the hill the final time. I felt pretty fresh and hit the incline pretty well, but ran out of gas just as it hit its final grade increase, gapped from the lead five, which then became four for a sprint finish that I was not present for. All in all I’m pleased with a 6th.

My GPS seems to not like calculating elevation properly anymore (it’s about a year old and cost $400 so why would I expect it to?), but the proper race distance was around 55 miles and 3300ft of climbing.

I’m currently sitting in 2nd of the Cat 4 BAR (Best All-Around Rider) standings, which I can’t really make sense of other than I’ve done a time trial and most others haven’t. It’s a moot point because I’m Cat 3 in cross, I don’t know what in mountain bike, and a beginner at track (I really hope to try it this year if the rain ever abates) so those results won’t count towards it. What it does mean is I’m knocking on the door of Cat 3, which is probably where I’ll live forever unless I have a lot of trouble finding a job and put in a gross number of hours; age isn’t exactly on my side at this point unless I go to Master’s racing, which I’m going to avoid until I truly feel myself slowing.

Some weekdays in Boulder

Posted on Apr 24, 2017 in General, Vacation | 0 comments

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Dating back to before my time at the company, there was a tradition to eat at Ted’s Montana Grill following the departure of a coworker (I was there ten years – long standing tradition). When the final bunch of development was laid off last month including the last of the founders, we were not about to let the tradition die so the planning began in earnest. What was not tradition was that the parting soul attends their own wake, but it has been known to occur and besides, was Brian going to go eat a burger by himself?

Fortunately for us, the Ted’s we used to go to in Arlington had closed. Fortunate because only one of the four who were attending lived in Virginia anymore and that place was awful so we broadened our search. My vote was for Bozeman since “Montana” Grill, but that proved more costly than folks wanted so we settled on Boulder. We’d be traveling from the four sides of the US – Virginia, Minnesota, Texas, and Oregon.

The trip involved a burger that was surprisingly better than expected, beers at Mountain Sun (great place – good beer and outstanding service), beers at Avery, ice cream at Sweet Cow MULTIPLE TIMES over a roughly one day trip, random fried and heavy food, a new board game to add to my collection, shouting matches over a ridiculous mobile party game, and a pretty outstanding hike. A great couple of days.

I’m glad I finally got a chance to see Boulder, the 4th place finisher in my “Where Should I Move?” contest. It was a nice place with lots of outside to offer, but it felt very small town, too white, very ticky tacky suburban, and, well, not a place I’d really want to live. I know there are great jobs there and more are flocking, but that also means housing prices are astronomical. No thanks.

RIP to the company and hurray for the friendships and experience to cherish forever.

Note: Brian still has a job. When he goes, we’re doing Bozeman and we will be renting mountain bikes.

Squeaky floor remediation

Posted on Apr 11, 2017 in House | 2 comments

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These holes are about the diameter of the shaft of a q-tip

My new place has old floors. Some are 70 years old and others look to only be half that, but suffice to say, they’re old and they squeaked like crazy. It was so bad that I was self-conscious about walking around late at night. At times I’d even choose to wet the bed rather than risk waking my neighbor. NO MORE. With about an hour of effort and a $15 investment with the Squeeeek No More (that’s four ‘e’s) kit I have no more major squeaks. I could spend more time to eliminate them all, but some squeaks add character and I’ve only left the most minor of them.

Process:

  1. Locate a squeak.
  2. Locate a joist (my stud finder was broken so technically I spent more on this project to replace that, but it’s something I needed anyway – a deep scan was necessary for this too and my old one couldn’t do that).
  3. Drill a small hole.
  4. Put template/snapper over hole.
  5. Hand thread screw in a touch.
  6. Sink screw with a power tool and the included bit.
  7. If you have hardwoods, the template can self-snap. If you have softwoods, you snap them off manually (I had a mix so it was a bit of trial and error – may have ended up with an extra hole or two).
  8. Fill hole (I’ll get around to putting some wood filler in there, but for now I swept and pressed the drillings back in).

Most of my squeaks took 2-3 screws to fully resolve, but I only used about half the kit anyway. They also sell a kit for carpeted floors. A+ would recommend. Great product, good price, great fix.