Thursday, July 31, 2008

My summer vacation in 50 words

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! (reload) Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! (reload) Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! (take a break while the barrel cools, reload) Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! (reload) Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! (reload) Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! The end.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


During my summer vacation I almost learned to swim. I'm really close. In fact, I guess it's how you define 'swimming.' Can I do a front crawl? Sure. Can I swim a length? About halfway. Can I come up for a breath when I need to? mmm. no.

But I'm getting there!

My inability to swim is something I've been a little ashamed of for a long time, and didn't really think I could fix. As it turns out, I was right in that swimming is really hard. Certainly if you don't grow up doing it. I think it's a bit like learning a new language. Kids take to it, adults have to struggle all the way.

But I'm getting there. I've shown up to free swim twice a week all month and put myself in the hands of a good friend, loganavatar. It turns out he used to teach the adult swim class at the pool near our houses. handy guy to have on hand. and he's been incredibly helpful, he's slowly (and patiently) helping improve form and technique, bit by bit.

Best of all, I'm not quitting. I going to keep on this, and I'll be ready for the CDT for sure. I might bring a snorkel, but I'll be there nonetheless.

Good July challenge, keep em coming!

Crash's Journal July


                                     During my summer vacation,

I cooked.  Only about five dinners, and four of them were pasta dishes, but I cooked nonetheless. You see, whenever I decided to eat in and "cook", that usually meant going to Food Emporium and picking up a prepared rotisserie chicken, a bag of Ore Ida fries, and a bag of prepared salad mix.  Just so you understand my starting point.

I finally dialed in a spaghetti Bolognese sauce from America's Test Kitchen.  Pretty easy, but it still requires about four hours to cook.  My chopping skills are pretty lousy, but I do like the work involved in making the sauce.  You've got to brown the carrots, celery, onions, the ground pork & beef, then simmer the milk, simmer the white wine, and then simmer a big ass can of tomatoes.  Four hours later, you've got something that tastes a whole lot better than a jar of Ragu tomato sauce.  (I also used the BRS' Chris' Pot one time).  

My biggest test was my last meal that I cooked on Monday.  A Texas style barbeque beef brisket on a charcoal grill. Not only was this fun to do, but it turned out great.  I basically smoked the heck out of the brisket for eight hours.  I also made mashed potatoes, gravy, some somen noodles mixed with Japanese mayonnaise, celery, onions, and smoked salmon (under Mi Yong's supervision).  I served the brisket on oversized sliced bread, added some rolls, and polished off a bottle of red wine and a six pack of Stella Artois. All in all a great meal.

My lesson learned?  I never cooked before because I thought I didn't have the time, but now I've learned that taking the time to cook is the best part.  It also helps to sip a glass or two of wine while you cook.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

STP 2008

I miss Gerald already. And it's only been 1 week since our first major bonding experience, 206 miles from Seattle to Portland.

Here are Gerald, Crash, and Chugg fresh at the start at UW. Pre-race regimen? Stella Artois, Delfino's stuffed sausage pizza for carbo load, then eggs, bacon, and dry rye oh my for breakfast.

The first part was pretty congested and full of jittery riders like myself, but at least familiar, the Lake Washington Loop. It was wild being among so many cyclists packed together. Bikes seemed to take up an entire lane the first 25 miles or so, and said "on your left" more times than in my entire life total. This is what 9500 cyclists waiting to pee when there are only 6 porta potties looks like:

After all the hype, Puyallup Hill was not so bad after the butt-kicking I experienced in Everett on a 78 mile training ride the week prior with Crash, Chugg, and Furnace. Or perhaps it was the 27-cog rear cassette I conveniently had installed 2 days before the event. It was hot, sunny, and there were many traffic lights/ bumpy terrain the first day, and stops in the shade were welcome (photo from day #2). I forgot sunblock and got a nice farmer tan and raccoon face, but it's all street cred, right? Proud to wear the Team Parkinson's jersey.

After the first 109 miles, the best creamsicles in the universe, but no beer garden (denied!):

It was not enough to prevent the bonk on the hill up to Michael's sisterinlaw's house where we had the best hamburgers and potato salad in the universe. Note to self: potato salad is not a good pre-race AM meal. Still the R&R and early start must have had something to do with day #2 being much easier (GI issues aside), beautiful rolling hills and scenery, much less crowded, you could go on forever.

Then 4 miles from the end (though we had been hearing "4 more miles" for about an hour), a carpet tack in Chugg's front wheel. Then the patch blew. But we were only 4 miles from the famed Portland Beer Garden, where we had the best beer in the universe.

Crash and Chugg talked about doing STP in 1 day next year. Next stop for Gerald is the Danskin Tri in 3 weeks.
It is looking like Sept 5 may be the only weekend free for the Central District Triathlon. It may be enough time to get key sponsors like "Beef" and "Vodka" on board for our team jerseys

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The List

First off, it's F'in hot in the Willamette Valley (No global warming denier). I mean no disrespect to the central valley of California, where my family mentioned it was already over 100 degrees several weeks ago, but the third day of 90+ deg. weather sucks. I intended to run 16 miles today, but I started at 9:30 and 2 hours in it was too hot to care anymore.
The List: Grocery Store, Liquor Store, Gun Store. Just writing the list gave me a jolt of testosterone on par with 1/4 of Lance's single huevo (about the amount that got Floyd in trouble - Damn you Jim Beam for costing that nice Amish man a Maillot Jeune!). Grocery store first, I ran into a 'fellow traveler', "Oh my god Chris, thats right, you told me about Saturday mornings at the grocery store." Best time to shop. Yes, we ran into each other in the wine section at 7:30 am. Had to take a break after that. Apparently liquor and guns (or the people who typically enjoy them) don't get going till noon or so on the weekends.
Anyway, liquor safely stored in a brown bag in the trunk (A locally distilled vodka - me being the type of person who considers their carbon footprint even in the liquor store. Buy Local people.) I went to not one but two gun stores. My car was the smallest in both lots (the only car actually, sucks that Bush has rewarded his truck driving fan base with high gas prices I guess), Thank god for the American flag sticker my Father in Law installed. Walking into the second store I was alerted by a large sign that informed me I should vote as both Hillary and Obama (Time to change the sign I guess) were more likely to change my rights to own a handgun in a negative way. Fortuneately I am not a single issue voter (e.g. see gas quip above), and am more concerned that I (and everyone else) have access to health care that will not bankrupt me in the event that I (or anyone) am actually shot with a gun, than with wether or not I can actually own one. Of course now that I have one, it will be that much harder to take it away.
Gun store was fun. We spent a lot of time joking about the fake breasts of one of the customer's wife (She was there - No Lyceum). They showed me Rugers and Smith and Wessons and told me the S&W's costs more and would need more maintenance when firing .357 rounds (Total Yuppy Gun Jacob, and I mean that in the most ridiculous possible way considering I know you own firearms. I look forward to going to a firing range with you next time I visit Seattle. We can bring Guth and Crash. As a flautist in the Army, Crash was trained in the use of several deadly wood winds, up to and including the Oboe.)
Anyway, her name is Betsy (not actually her, just a google photo, she has a nicer grip).The guy in line at the cash register behind me was pretty stoked for me (surprising, given that every other brief comment he made hinted at his antisocialism - I say that as a 'fellow traveller' - my first gun purchase really stoked him out, we shared a moment as it were.). He and the clerk launched into a discussion of the fact that the gun I was buying (both owned identical guns) was a perfect choice as a first gun. I bought .38 ammo for the range because it was cheap and a box of hollow tip hunting ammo in .357 caliber. They offered me another ammo, explaing that if someone broke into the house in the winter wearing a Carhart jacket over a Flannel shirt (apparently the big threat around here is from Meth addicted construction workers, actually thats probably correct) I needed something that was guaranteed to open up on penetration. I think I may have misunderstood Dirty Harry when he explained the effectiveness of the standard .357 magnum. I went with the hunting ammunition regardless. It may only open up into five pedals instead of six, but I'm farely certain if it will kill a stag, I don't want to get hit with it, Carhart jacket or not.
I'm signing up for a safety class at the end of the month, but will be to the range this week to test Betsy out.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Crash's First Solo BRS Point

Okay, maybe my stroke wasn't as graceful as Fido's, but nevertheless I swam a mile.  

My only hope halfway through my second lap was to get to the other side before I drowned.  It was crazy how much I was fighting the water.  No way in hell was I going to complete 36 down & backs, but somehow I managed to finish that 2nd lap, and then I had a moment.  I took a deep breath, and simply let my stubbornness take over.  

First thing I did was switch to the breaststroke for a little bit.  Why?  Because there were six other swimmers in my lane, and one of them was an obese floater.  Seriously, he just kind of floated in the lane. Once I stopped fighting the water (really the other swimmers), it all came back to me after my 15 year hiatus.  Honestly, with a little practice, some stroke adjustments, and a flip turn, my crawl is going to be pretty strong for the CDT.

Anyways, I couldn't have done it without help from my fellow Magnum buddies.  Thanks Gerald for being a maniacal runner.  You've kept my long run honest and it helped.  Thanks Michael for being a crazy cyclist.  The pain of a one mile swim is peanuts compared to biking 10 miles with you. Thanks Ventoux for already showing me it could be done.  That was the single most motivating factor for me.  My stubbornness wants to beat you at the Central District Triathlon. Thanks Mom & Dad for making me take swimming lessons in Maine when I was a kid.  I hated it at the time, but now I'm so glad I can actually use it.  

I'm coming for you Ventoux!  And then for you Guth!

Tour Day Schmalz

For the velo enthusiasts out there, I highly recommend the daily recaps at this site. I've linked to todays, the site can be a pain to navigate so every year I find one day, bookmark it and navigate from there. "As the Toto Turns", a comic on the site, also receives 3.5 out of 4.5 stars from your's truly.
That is all.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Apparently I even have standards when it come to free beer

I wanted to post earlier, but I'm still waiting on the bulk of the photos from last weekend. It was an incredible day, and a great ride overall. I've done quite a few long days in the saddle like this now, but each one certainly takes on its own flavor. This one was my single longest day over the handlebars, both in distance and time. And from the outset, this day was to be dominated by the heat of the overhead sun. And humidity.

I was staying overnight with Jess's aunt and uncle in North Plains, west of Portland, extremely gracious hosts they were. I left North Plains at 5:20am, with a 13 mile ride ahead of me just to get to the starting line. But that short ride was easily the scenic highlight of the day. The wheat fields and weatherworn farms lining my route were absolutely stunning as I watched the sun crest the hills to the northeast. There were some high wispy clouds that lit up flourescent yellow, the breeze was still cool, and the smell of the grasses is better than the livestock farms on my Snohomish Valley rides.

I arrived at Nike HQ in Beaverton earlier than most so I just hung out until my team arrived. We coordinated meeting up via cell phone and we geared ourselved out with gels, gatorade and numbered stickers. Snapped the photo to the right. Mark is our team captain, in center. Robert, to the far right, is something like 25 years my senior and this would be one of the last time I saw him that day. After this he took off at a 30mph clip and we wouldn't see him again until we were on our way to loop around Haig Lake (he was finishing it). I think he finished around an hour and a half ahead of us. Well that's what an arsenal of bikes equalling my annual income and personal trainer buys you (and I guess a lot of hard work, nice work Robert).

Two major crashes in the first 15 miles, one right in front of me and one I may have caused. I was cruising along (still trying to catch Robert at this point) and Team Starbucks was churning by, I tucked onto the back of that train along with a couple of other dudes and we caught Robert's group swiftly. He moved over a little and let their group take the lead for awhile. I think he was riding nearly abreast with the last few guys in the Team Caffein paceline, I was about 5 bikes further back. Then the last guy in the paceline went down. Right. In. Front. Of. Me. I yelled out rider down and I braked and swerved to keep from running him over. The two guys right behind me swore as they swerved to keep from hitting me. We all spun around to check out the carnage, and to call for help. The rider was moaning, then passed out. I learned later that he had hit the back of his head hard on the pavement, hard enough that his helmet straps cut into his scalp which explained the trail of blood coming from underneath him onto the dirt. I also heard that he was okay, no broken bones, just a concussion. I moved off a bit and waited for Mark to catch up to us. Robert took off though, there was nothing more to be done. Mark was right behind me only about a mile back, but it took him about 5 minutes to catch us. Turns out he was the other crash!

There was a sharp right turn about a mile back and the police and ride support had the road closed off for us and everyone was cruising around it. The bike traffic was still fairly thick though, this still early in the ride, and there was lots of jockeying for position. I noticed that virtually no one was in the actual bike lane though, so I cut inside and cruised around the bend to the right of the painted white line. I didn't know it, but Mark saw my path and tucked right on my wheel to do the same. What he didn't see was the orange traffic cyclinder someone had decided needed to be right in the middle of the white line. As I carved the turn it came into view for him and he was headed right for it. He tried to steer wide, but there wasn't time. He hit it square and launched (this is all his account, I didn't see it happen, I just keep on going-totally oblivious) high in the air. He landed, laid out on his back, his bike, hard next to him. The yellow clad volunteer in charge of manning the corner rushed over. Mark took quick inventory of his parts, none were broken, so jumped up. Did another quick rundown of his bike, also faired okay, and took off. The volunteer was stunned from the recovery I hear!

Luckily that was the last of the day's misadventures. Ahead of us lay the only notable climb, but it was a slog. The heat of the day was upon it, around 85 degrees and 100% humidity, a precursor to the spectacular thundstorms that would show up later in the evening. There were two bursts of climbing. First was a steep incline that went straight up the grade and took us over to the valley on the south side. Then we followed the base of the ridge for a mile and turned straight up the grade again, this time on the steeper backside. Yikes. After about 1200 feet, legs sore, we made it up to a left turn at around that took us the rest of the peak, but at that point we were more closely following the contour lines and the road was of a less purgatorial incline. I beat mark to the top by a little bit and had time to snap this photo on my phone. You can see some of the vineyard rows behind me, looking south over Yam Valley wine country. I texted it to some friends, their words of encouraging reply came streaming in over the next several rest stops: nice!

The decent was next. Mark and I gained speed quickly and passed a few riders who asked if they could latch on. "Sure, if you can keep up!" I got a few yards ahead of Mark while slicing a hairpin and the strangers landed between us. After that it was raw speed for the next 10 minutes. I lost my speedometer magnet after the first few minutes of the ride (after not having to touch it for 3 years! wtf). But at the bottom the other riders reported our descent at about 50mph. heh, nice.

The rest of the ride was pretty, and hot, and humid too. We stopped for rehydration at every one of the stops. The support and sponsors for Livestrong were great, they certainly went all out making the rider experience was excellent. The cool mist blowing out of the inflatable arch at the finish line was an especially nice touch. Beyond famished, the cheeseburger waiting for me was the best flipping cheeseburger I've ever had.

Hanging around the expo for awhile we started to feel human again, and not like vomiting (I'm not used to this humid high heat). They were serving beer, and it was free, but it was Michelob Ultra only, so I skipped that (come on, this is Portland, and you only bring Michelob? Really?) There was a DJ giving out prizes. Unexpectedly he waltzed his way over to me and I happened to be the first guy he talked to that rode the century ride (there were also 70 & 40 mile rides, and a 10 and 5k run I think). Impressed i got interviewed on the jumbotron for a few minutes then he handed over a gift cert for a full roof rack courtesy of Yakima (conveniently located ajacent to Nike in Beaverton, who knew!?). I'm really excited about that, and I can return the back rack I've been borrowing from Crash for the last year, or pay it forward, whatever he likes. At any rate, thanks Yakima! Woot!

At this point the skies had clouded over and one or two drops of rain may have been felt (no drop in temp, mind you, still flirting with 100 degrees). I rode with Mark back to his car and I retrieved my iPod and and unloaded some of the stuff he was nice enough to haul home for me. It was time to get back on the road. I retreived my bike from the lock up volunteer crew and hit the road again. 13 miles back to North Plains. After the cheesburger and plenty of iced tea I was ready. I was surprised at how reinvigorated I felt and the ride home was the fastest I had ridden that day since the climb in the first quarter of the mileage.

Thanks everyone for your support! I was genuinely surprised at the amount of support I recieved. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to ride this again next year, and some of you will certainly have to join me out there.

Susie, I have your 50 armbands, let me know if you want more.

How not to prepare for tennis (but get a good start on Journal July)

I have an 8 inch bruise running from my bicep to the top of my shoulder this morning. Yesterday when I woke up, I had never fired a tactical shotgun (or any gun for that matter). Turns out tactical shotguns have a bit of kick when fired with buckshot. If you ever need to put 5 rounds into an elk in under 2 seconds at close range, they are the way to go. Dangerous animal the elk, no respect for you're personal space. Its just that, if you are going to be sweeping any other elk out of dense urban environments, I suggest doing it all at once. Once the soarness sets in, just looking at the shotgun is enough to make me wince. I'm told thats when you need to shoot a bunch more, otherwise you'll never feel like shooting a shotgun again. B.F. Skinner knows what I'm talking about.
We started the day with a .45 automatic, it wasn't my favorite. That might have to do with the fact that it was the first gun I ever shot and I didn't really know what the hell I was doing. From there we went to the 6" Ruger .357, it was a lot smoother than the 45. More kick I think, but I liked it. We also fired the 2" version of the same gun. The kind you carry, if youre the kind of person who carries guns. The 6" is more the size to keep in the passenger seat so you don't have to waste time getting to the 2" gun on your waist when you get incorrect change at the starbucks drivethrough (its a jungle out there folks).
Then we shot the afformentioned shotgun. It hurt to type that.
After that a Marlin "cowboy" style lever action rifle, which was a lot of fun. I shot that one a lot. Maybe not as deadly as a loaded six-string, but good for taking out starbucks cups from 50 yards.
After the lever action, it was time to try bolt action. Not sure exactly what model it was. Just a very light scoped rifle good for a day of hunting deer I suppose. I killed the Starbucks cup with my first shot on that rifle. Often times those cups don't give you a chance to get off a second shot, so I was fortunate.
How do you cap off a day that includes all those guns? How about millitary grade assault rifles! There were two of them. These are franken-guns made from a wide variety of interchangeable parts from many manufacturers so I can't be too specific. One was set up for .223 ammunition (don't really know what that means) and loaded with "special purpose" rounds. I think special purpose is a polite way to say you intend to hunt people. But I'm not sure. We didn't shoot that one much. The other, I don't know what it was loaded for, but we shot it a bunch. It had the military red dot sight on top, so you could just bring it up in front of your face real quick, get the dot in front of your eye, and pop off a round within 6" of what you were looking at. Almost no recoil. A video game gun. Lots of fun, and scary. Better get yours now while the Republicans are still in office. It will come in handy when the rapture arrives. Since you can't hunt real game with it, just "special purpose" game, you'll probably want to stock up on vittles too.
After all that, we four-wheeled to another spot and shot them all some more. For the record, Fu@% that shotgun. Shooting it the second time was like running the last six miles of a marathon. Thank god it was the 5 round model and not the 8 round model.
The point of all this, I'm going to go gun shopping soon (4" ruger .357 revolver probably, apparently Smith and Wesson's are yuppy guns, who knew. I wonder if you can get them in colors to match you're Volkswagen). The safety class has enough time on the range that combined with yesterday it should cover my Journal July requirements, and bonus!!1!!exclamationpoint, combined with minimal paperwork and a perfunctory background check, it will qualify me to carry a concealed weapon in the state of Oregon! Happy Birthday America!