Monday, October 27, 2008

mountain man biathlon, (20 years of stupidity), morristown, new jersey

Race recap: In the style of the old Bikehampton races, we piled into the suburban, lashed the bikes to the rack and hit the road: powered up on coffee, bagels and headed off in the pre-dawn. Dan Farnham from Montauk, our trusty driver, drove the well-troden I-495 with Mike Bahel, Dennis and I trying not to nod off in the back. We met swim coach Tom Cohill (East Hampton) Chris and Jill Robbins (Islip) , Matt Reale and Matt Ruggeri (East Hampton) in the parking lot of the Lewis-Morris State Park where the early birds for the 20th anniversay race were gathering. Classically freezing cold, we were happy to be lollygagging around in only 3 layers of clothing, before peeling down to skinsuits and cycling jerseys with one hour to go. Despite having been racing for a combined 100 years between us, we began to catalogue the disasters and problem solve with a clock counting down: First Mike discovered that the face-plate to his stem was not only corroded, but was cracked right through, the hendlebar being visible THROUGH the faceplate. With only 2 of the bolts having any attachment to the bike, the remaining two floating in space, he attempted to switch bikes with Matt Ruggeri. Matt now discovered that his spare bike had a serious headset defective wobble, which would surely fail on the rooty, rocky course. We had visions of Mike losing his teeth / collar-bone / brains until, genius that he is / we are, a 1/2 roll of electrical tape bolstered by a 1/4 roll of duct-tape saved the day..Not my choice of bike repair, but enough to get the brave Mikey on his trusty steed, albeit gingerly on the downhills. Next up, Chris arrives at our 'burb, with the announcement that he had inadvertantly left his sneakers at home on the stairs. Fat lot of good that did him now.. Jokingly, Danny offered his size 12 Merrell slip on shoes to sized 11 Chris. Accepted! Complete with his wife's socks on top of Dan's socks, and again making use of the duct tape to stop the slide of the shoe on his narrow foot, Chris was off to the races..The crowd was full of the usual convicts, race directors in full fancy dress costume, supporters and racers alike getting into the spirit of the race, dressing up as spiderman, sexy maids and disney characters. 250 or so racers lined up for the 2 / 11 / 2 race, with 2 mile run (hilly, off-road, trails slippery from the previous night's downpour) then 2 x 5.5 mile loops on challenging technical teeth-shaking fast terrain, and then repeating the 2 mile run; this time with cramping hamstrings, cramping calf muscles and a general anaerobic-induced hypoxia. I didn't wear a heart-rate monitor, mainly for fear of knowing my max was being maxed out, but it doesn't take a physiologist to figure that I was struggling near 175 for the majority of the race. After a really fast initial run loop, I belted out a bike loop, tried to settle into the second loop letting my heart rate drop somewhat, but arrived back at the transition area with the second placed female on my heels, despite seeing her wipe out in the whoop-de-do section 1/2 mile before the end of the bikeleg. I dug deep, reaching into the positive thinking part of my brain and tried to banish the pain demons. I knew that I didn't have much reserve remaining to increase speed, so I tried to just focus onto holding my lead. At each hill-crest, I took the liberty to check behind me, NOT SEEING anyone but a couple of guys catching me!! woo-hoo, I cruised the last 1 mile, only stalling at the hill sections to stretch my screaming hammies. Finishing in style hobbling over the line in my Champion-System team issued skinsuit (first time worn since our China trip) I won first place female in 1:22-ish and either 17th or 16th overall.. no official results yet. Danny had had an excellent race on his singlespeed steed, finishing 10th overall, not bad for a 50 year old commercial fisherman!! Mikey finished 5th, having been 2nd at one point, but possiblysaving his energy for the world series Philly game later. Chris had incredibly finished 2nd overall, having been pipped in the last 1/4 mile while flopping in Danny's Merrels, downhill over the roots..Dennis came in about 1-2 minutes after me, looking beat, but not cramping for a change: he had had a great run and initial bike, and I had expected him to catch me on the 2nd bike loop as he had been riding like a demon in Utah / Fruita / Tahoe earlier this month. Truly, my real champion system! Matt Ruggeri was at the finish line taking photos, having suffered an asthma attack on the run, retiring to do the "David Bailey" papparazzi thing. The last funny calamitous detail surfaced, Matt Reale having cracked his seatpost in the first bike loop, managing to switch bikes with the asthmatic air sucking Matt Ruggeri in the transition area.. adding to the hilarity of the event. The finishline was only 20 feet from the beer keg, the prizes were doled out, this year a lump of wood with a rock siliconed to it ..(previous years prizes being a rock with a lump of wood glued to it, a beer bottle with a rock glued to it, a hot sauce bottle with an alien glued to it, and another rock with a bike-shaped pasta piece glued to it). Despite the throbbing exertion headache, the only regret that I had was missing the last 7 years races.. what HAD we been thinking! We clambered back into the 'burb, grabbed some pizza en route and called home, regaling our friends with the funny stories, the successes, the tribulations, the foaming snot and cramping hammies. Grassroots can't beat it.. Sign us up for next year!
The first trail repair session of 2008 was a resounding success: Mike Vitti, president of C.L.I.M.B. (Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers) graciously hooked up with us through our local nature guru Mike Bottini, Tom Dees of EH town parks, and a crew of volunteers from the mountain biking and trails preservation communities. We met at the Hither Hills Visitor Center, and then re-convened at the overlook in Hither Hills, with the wonderful vista of the Atlantic Ocean on one shoulder and the sandy stretches of Napeague on the other. Our goal was to create a new sustainable section of trail to replace the trail adjacent to the overlook parking lot. The existing trail was suffering from severe erosion, creating gouges, spilling sand, exposing roots and generally becoming a headache for all. We were given a briefing with plan outline, tool demonstrations, safety considerations, then started at it: Initially we, the 15 attendees, cleared the trail brush by removing fallen trees, protruding limbs and beer bottles. The previous week, Tom and the two Mikes had laid out, marked and run the proposed contour trail, the last step confirming optimal trail flow, and grade reversals . Next was trail raking, pulling leaf cover to the uphill side of the trail, followed by the heavier cutting work using our new friends McCloud and Pulaski: long-handled tools and axe- like implements that did a wonderful job of creating a bench-cut in the side slope. We then leveled across the width of the trail, leaving a small downhill gradient across the trail to ensure run-off in a sheet pattern, then tamped it down. Returning the previously raked natural cover to the trail completed this portion of the task, and it was onto the next section in question. Here, closer to the parking lot, the trail had also eroded badly and was considered non-redeemable, so the objective was to re-route it: we brought the loppers into action, clearing dense brush, chopping and removing thick vines, then returning with a power trimmer to strip the thick vegetation to the base. Out with the heavy tools again, to break the surface, create a 2 foot wide trail, then tamp and cover: this time with mulch that had been delivered by the NYS Parks crew. This trail, closer to the parking lot, was routed to connect with the main trail, but was non-technical, gently sloped and wound through the beautiful native plants on top of the overlook, creating a short teaser walk for anyone so inclined to venture from their cars. Having walked the trail and admired our handiwork, we retired to Hither Hills Visitor Center, a wonderful NYS Parks facility: the spacious room, overlooks dunes and ocean and is filled with kids’ books, toys etc: full sized seal-lion models, jellyfish toys hanging from the ceiling, many educational tools, all relevant to the local environment... beautiful! Mike Vitti then gave a well-detailed and organized presentation on trail building, with a slideshow from around the state and nation to illustrate the engineering concepts behind sustainable trail construction. He also filled us in on grant application workshops, state / federal financing and volunteer recruitment. PHEW!! Full brain! We chatted on the way home, excited about the day, the turnout, the instant gratification, the information...I fielded calls from more local mountain bikers and trails enthusiasts and resolved to get our biking advocacy group, (Spokespeople) going asap: many friends, local cyclists and non-cyclists have expressed interest, as have the local community organizations. With a bit of effort, I know that we can make the biking here better and more inclusive, as well as strengthen our liaisons with the local trails preservation groups. Well done to everyone who attended, we all who look forward to the next event: with consistent effort, we will make a huge contribution to improvement of the trail management and cycling scenes on eastern long island. Keep your eyes out in November for the first general meeting of Spokespeople, and please contact me at if you are interested in helping out in any way.

Monday, October 20, 2008

desert riding: part 2 of western states ride

continuing our merry trip in the desert, Dennis and I sit and write our blog, combined meories of travel, crashes, skin loss, eating++ and epic off-road memories..
DAY NINE (REST DAY) 10/13/08) Wound assessment, bikes to Poison Spider for same, we to the understaffed Pancake Haus @ the Ramada for hearty breakfast. Later, went to Miguel’s Baja Grille for dinner: waded through a small waiting crowd, and were eventually greeted by a fourteen-year old boy who told us to “wait 20 minutes.” After 45 minutes we were seated right at the front door, cheek to jowl with the waiting hordes. Bolted after sitting for five minutes or so without a waiter in sight. Wound up at Moab Brewery which is big, busy, and served passable food along with their own microbrews. DL had fish and chips and SF had blackened tilapia on penne washed down by Derailleur Ale and Polygamy Porter. DAY TEN (10/14/08) RIDE: Sovereign and Salt Wash Trails. Time: 2.5± hr. (RT); 3+ hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: ??’ Mileage: ?? Notes: Disembarked at Willow Springs Road, rode around in circles for about 30 minutes, serarching for thrilhead—no luck! Returned to car and drove to Dalton springs Road trailhead. Ledges, slickrock, etc. Difficult navigation due to braiding of trails. Got some help from a Ride with Respect trailbuilder who provided data for Lat.40 map we were using. Met Salt Lake MTB stage-racing couple who panned BC Bike Race as overly technical, citing pro riders completing a 30 mile stage in over 4 hours(?). EATS: Desert Bistro. Excellent and creative menu coupled with earnest (but unpolished) service. Started with rabbit sausage with goat cheese and just-out-of-the-oven bread. SF followed with melt-in-mouth buffalo filet in a rich reduction sauce, and DL with Antelope medallions on corn meal patties in plum/whiskey/habanero reduction, washed down with a Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Zin. Wow! DAY ELEVEN (10/15/08) RIDE A: Slickrock Trail. Time: 1.5 hr. (RT); 2 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: ??’ Mileage: 14± Notes: Had the trail almost completely to ourselves. Until the final mile or two, saw more dirt bikers (about five) than cyclists. Rode a counter-clockwise figure-eight loop inlucing the “Practive Loop.” Despite all warning against novice riders, saw a mother getting a shifting lesson from her husband in parking lot while young kids looked on. Always a blast, and the climbs are quite challenging. RIDE B: Amasa Back. Time: 3 hr. (RT); 4 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: ??’ Mileage: 11.2 Notes: Awesome trail: technical ledgy climbing and descent, great views. EATS: Returned to Miguel’s and found it much less crowded than last attempt. Had a delicious dinner of fajitas, fresh margaritas, and excellent salsa. DAY TWELVE (10/16/08) RIDE: Poison Spider Trail (“Cliffhanger”) and Golden Spike Trail. Time: 3.25 hr. (RT); 4.5± hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: ??’ Mileage: 18.5 Notes: Short, super-technical descent right from trailhead, then a climb made quite difficult by tread of loose, round rock and sand mix. Upper sections very sandy in parts. Trail on mesa was flat and uninteresting jeep track. Upper section loaded with big uphill ledges and super-steep slickrock. At end of PST, met couple with dog. Scouted first section of Portal Trail—appeared no more exposed/dangerous than Lion Loop in Fruita. Riding couple comfirmed same. Attempted to ride lollipop loop at end of PST, but lost our bearings and wound up heading south on Golden Spike Trail (big rolling slickrock!) to PST. EATS: Zax for pizza and beer.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

(bike) riding the western states rides 1-7

Following the flight from (drizzly) Portland to (sunny) Reno, Dennis picked me up in our rented "mom-van" as the Toyota would be known for the next 2 weeks. Packed the bike in the back and swerved our way over the mountain tops to South Lake Tahoe, only temporarily blinded by the views of the lake and surrounding backdrop mountains. We stopped off at the "Inn at the Lake", our temporary lakeside home, built up the bikes in the sunny parkinglot (overlooked by the local trailer park residents) and clambered up the 2 flights of stairs for a quick snooze. Chest heaving on the stair climb, I am reminded of the first day in Brighton every winter, when we scramble from the car park to the base lodge for the first run of the season.. and forget that we have travelled from Townline Road elevation 106 feet, to 7000 feet in Utah. Here 2 minutes drive west of the CA-NV border, the lake lies at 6200 feet, so the effect was much the same, pounding chest, blood-starved legs, heaving lungs.. "and this is just after doing the stairs" I thought.. "how are we going to manage the mountains?"
A few minutes drooling on the pillow, and we pack up our stuff headed for the first rise of the trip: Spooner lake,Nevada. Since this was to be a shake-down ride, we read the bike maps and noted that this was primarily a 4wd road rather than singletrack trails: we thus anticipated a gentle leg opener, foolishly not realizing we were going to get our quads ripped off, not merely opened.
The trail leaves the car-park, downhill on a jeep road, then begins the inexorable climb to the sky: we hit the granny gear minus one, almost immediately, and stopped talking to each other.
About an hour of this, and we reached Marlett Lake, bore a left and continued on a wide trail around the lake, then continued more climbing, taking a path onto the famed Flume trail. Surely the most photographed trail in the USA, it towers 2000+ feet over Lake Tahoe, loaded with boulders, hike-a-bike landslide sections.. after gawking and photographing, my next thoughts were of amazement that this actually exists, in todays litigious culture..the capacity for death, or worse..are very real in barrelling down these trails on fat tyres,
So far, so good: here, on day 9: I sit with (the much more organized Dennis (DL)) to map out our rides thus far..forgive the momentary backtrack.. it is worth it for the big picture..
LAKE TAHOE (elev. 6225’) DIGS: Inn at the Lake. A faded “boutique” hotel in South Lake Tahoe. Good access to most trailheads. DAY ONE RIDE: Spooner Lake TH (elev. 7000’) to Flume Trail, Red House Flume, up Hobart Rd., to Marlette Lake and back. Time: 3 hr. Gross. elev. Gain: 3000+’ Mileage: 20 ± (did not record) Notes: Jeep road climb up from TH (elev. 8200’) and back down a bit to Marlette Lake (elev. 7823’) shocked legs. Rode Flume clockwise, against prevailing flow; saw approx. 30 riders on trail. Amazing views and blind corners at cliff edge. Continued on Red House Flume trail to Hobart Campsite, (elev. 7500’) missing turn to Hobart Road, which climbed to Marlette Peak (elev. 8780’): a gruesome climb through logged forest Dropped down to Marlette Lake through lovely aspen groves, then back to Spooner Lake (20 mph bike speed limit).
EATS: Freshies: a tiny Hawaiian-themed eatery in a strip mall directly next door to Inn at the Lake. Sinead sampled the Chimay (blue label) ale and pronounced it lovely. Great fish tacos (as advertised), wakame salad, a bowl of edamame, savory chicken curry, and seared ahi a bit buried in sauce left us full as ticks. DAY TWO RIDE: Tahoe Meadows TH (elev. 8400’) along Diamond Peak ridge to Flume Trail, to Marlette Lake, to TRT, and back. Time: 3.5 hr. (RT), 4 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: 1000±’ Mileage: 28 ± (did not record) Notes: Rolling and rocky ride along diamond Peak ridge to Flume Trail. Rode Flume counter-clockwise and agreed that this is the preferred direction. Reached Marlette Lake (elev. 7823’) and lunched Safeway turkey and cheese grinders on sunny rock. Rode up through aspen grove to great rolling ride on TRT section open to MTB only on even-numbered days. Back to diamond Peak, and down to Tahoe Meadows. Amazing views all day long! EATS: Freshies: Sineada revisited the Chimay with home-made linguini and chorizo. DL took to the Udon noodle bowl with blackened cod in a lovely ginger broth. Saved room to share a vegan chocolate mousse cake. Yum. DAY THREE RIDE: Kingbury Grade North (elev. 7000’?) to Spooner Lake South TH (elev. 7000’) and back. Time: 3.5 hr. (RT); 4 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: 3925+’ Mileage: 22 .2 Notes: ride starts on TRT with immediate technical climbing up granite boulders. DL crashed hard within five minutes. Could not get rhythm before the granite reared up. Monster sharp gravel, both in trail and loose on top, on approach to South Camp Peak (elev. 8866’) damaged brains and bodies. Photo op on The Bench. Descent to Spooner Lake South TH through mixed forest was beautiful, and featured sandy swithbacks. Lunched on Safeway turkey and cheese grinders on a trailside deadfall near TH. DL struggled with back pain and bonk on return ascent to South Camp Peak. Amazing descent down to Kingsbury Grade rolled through granite gardens. DL was done. EATS: Waffle Hut for breakfast. Homey, local, and good food, though DL’s Eggs Benedict were drowning in a light Hollandaise. Dinner: Sineada went to Freshies for takeout, as DL was bedrideen with fatigue and injuries. Sineada had fish curry; DL had organic BBQ chicken with veggies. Watched Presidential debate for entertainment; lights out @ 8 pm? DAY FOUR RIDE: Fountain Place Road parking lot (elev. 6400’) to Armstrong Pass Trail to Mr. Toad’s (loop). Time: 3.5 hr. (RT); 4 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: check book??+’ Mileage: ?? check book Notes: ride starts on paved single lane Fountain Place Road, which kicked up relentlessly after Corral Trail TH. At top (elev. 7800’), turned right onto Armstrong Pass Trail, which continued to climb and roll to TRT. Sineada crashed hard on right knee halfway to Armstrong Pass. We continued to within 500 or so of TRT intersection, but backtracked after noticing major discrepancy in mileage compared to guide book; turned around and reclimbed over a mile. Lunched at intersection on Safeway tuna paninis—sineada’s was a bit compressed from crashing but no complaints. Continued climbing on TRT (gorgeous trail) to ridge line. Ride along ridge was unforgettable, with views of the lake to north and peaks to south. Small snowfields scattered around us. Got to top of Mr. Toad’s and lowered saddles against Sineada’s protests. Had a screaming ride down Mr. Toad’s—even Sineada loved it and rode most of it. No crashes! EATS: Heidi’s for breakfast. Good food, with a proper German hausfrau hostess and appropriate alpine décor. Dinner: Mazatlan Family Mexican. Monster margaritas were too sweet, but we were to tired and hungry to care. Friendly service and monster portions did their job. DAY FIVE
(TRAVEL DAY) Drove back up to Reno, then onto Salt Lake city. Sineada enjoyed the cultural experience at our lunch stop at the Subway in the Winnemucca truckstop/rest area. Continued across dramatic salt flats with stormy skies at sunset. Rolled into Motel 6 in downtown SLC (surprisingly dirty and run-down). Had dinner downtown at RedRock Brewpub. DL had passable fish and chips and Sineada had a seared tuna “sandwich.” RedRock ale was too malty and sweet for DL’s palate. Finished the evening with the late screening of Religulous, which was riotous. The young local crowd peeled with delight when they found their own city and religion featured in the film. This movie should be required viewing for all Americans. DAY SIX Drove on beautiful UT-6, then I-70 to Fruita, CO. First stop was Single Tracks bikeshop for maps and directions; owner extremely helpful but shop inventory very limited. Next stop was Hot Tomato Café for a monster Kokopelli pizza. Booked a room at LaQuinta which was a welcome change from the Sienna and Motel 6: big new clean room offered the space and comfort required for proper recuperation. Though we had not had a proper breakfast and were reavenous, we could nott manage to complete the task, and saved the remaining three slices for future reserves. RIDE: 18 Road "lunch loops" Time: 1.5 hr. (RT); 2 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: check book??+’ Mileage: ?? Notes: Rode up kessel’s Run to Zippety-do-da, with ridiculous exposures, where sineada caupght a fright on a cliff face, then back to parking lot for a break. Legs a bit heavy after all the driving. Rode up Kessel’s again, to Joe’s Ridge (not so great), and headed back up Kessel’s when DL biffed his front wheel and pinched flatted. We took that as a hint from the MTB gods to pack up for the day and open a cold brew. DAY SEVEN RIDE: Kokopelli’s Loops: Mary’s, Steve’s, Horsethief, up (!) Mack Ridge. Time: 3.25± hr. (RT); 4 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: ??’ Mileage: 27?? Notes: Wow. All the tech features of 18 Road, but as Nature herself presents it, with drop-dead Colorado River and canyon views everywhere. Wind screaming 25 kt, gusting to 40 kt, and threatening to tear us from the cliff edge into oblivion at any moment. Began at Lion’s Loop parking lot. Sineada biffed hard on the nasty rocky climb up Mack Ridge: blood but no tears. Finished ride descending Collarbone Hill to service road to parking lot. EATS: Fiesta Guadalajara. Excellent chunky salsa and solid margaritas preceded monster burritos and enchiladas. Fast, friendly service, ten gallon hats, lots of bikers, funky Tex-Mex décor (hand-carved banquettes and chairs). Perfect. DAY EIGHT RIDE: Kokopelli’s Loops: Mary’s, Steve’s, Horsethief, Wrangler, Rustler, Lion’s, down Mack Ridge. Time: 4? hr. (RT); 5 hr. (TT) Gross. elev. Gain: ??’ Mileage: 30 Notes: Epic day started cool (40’s) but sunny. DL crash-fest unnerves the I-chick. DL starts the day with a high-speed wash-out down Wrangler. High tire pressures needed to defend against rocky insults do little to assist traction on loose, fast tread! Rode Rustler (rated “Easy”) on recommendation of two Denver bikers, and following a tough little climb, did not disappoint with fast, swoopy riding. DL nearly launched big over the side and opened fresh shin wound on portage section of Horsethief during a flubbed abort maneuver. Lunched trailside on Mary’s on energy bars, and discovered we had “just enough” fluids between us to complete the ride. Found Lion’s Loop (missed it on Day Seven) with assistance of another lost rider: a gorgeous, technical rim tour. Mack Ridge was easier on the way down but did not fail to take its toll on DL who biffed, whacked the shin yet again, and landed with head pointing downhill and underneath bike, requiring outside assistance from the increasingly agitated I-chick. Made it back to car just in time for cold, three day-old pizza and Fat Tire ale. Drove via Cisco (ghost town) onto US-281 through canyonlands along Colorado River. Dusky colors on towers and moonrise to the east provide highlights of a beautiful drive to Moab. Checked into Gonzo Inn (home again, home again, jig-itty-jig!), and wolfed burgers and suds at the SlickRock Café. Evolution Ales were just the ticket, though the service was in rehearsal mode. DAY NINE (REST DAY) Wound assessment, bikes to Poison Spider for same, we to Pancake House @ the Ramada for hearty breakfast and more amateur service.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

RIP uncle Larry

Yesterday, early morning, my uncle Larry died. Quite uncharacteristically for him, it was a quiet affair, slipping away from this world in his sleep at the district hospital in my home town, while the nurses lit candles, not for him, but for his wonderful, graceful wife, Peggy. Larry was a black sheep in our family, funny, since most of the family are black sheep of sorts, but he was legendary. Throughout our childhood, he was a philanderer, a bar-fly, a chancer, a divil, but always with a broad smile and a hug, always gentle and kind to the kids, a kind of pied piper of the pub scene in town..
His one true love it seemed to our young eyes, had been the RNLI, the royal national lifeboat institution: the company of brave ocean warriors who defied fierce storms to rescue suffering humans, off the coast of Ireland and England. Larry was forever fundraising for them, selling christmas cards, whittling wood in shapes of lifeboats, building model lifeboats to put up for auction..For a small, ruddy, roundy man, whom I never remember even seeing in shorts, never mind swimming in the ocean, it seemed odd that he, and his two brothers (my dad amongst them) were such ardent supporters of life-support along the coast.
But there you have it, none of them could swim, still can't..or at least, none of my siblings ever recall seeing any of them enter open water other than to sail, or row boats, so in retrospect, they may be more naturally inclined to support the RNLI as a back up system (in the same way that I used to pray as a child! just-in-case..!!) Ireland, with her history of maratime industry, sharking, fishing, sea travel etc, has always been tightly woven with ocean, and as a result, death and drownings by the ocean have been a fact of life here. So in stead of tossing floral wreaths into the ocean for Larry, instead of wasting money on Interflora or 1800-flowers, I will send a fat donation to the RNLI in Larry's name, and stand on my own shoreline at home in Sag Harbor, by Cedar Point lighthouse and read a poem in his name. Growing older, moving on to the USA, on return to New Ross at Christmas, I would sometimes bump into Larry in town, usually in the pub, though less so in later years. He would still have a broad smile, a warm hug, always fondly addressing me, and anyone else, as "pet": "ah Pet, life can't be too bad in america pet", "since you're looking so good pet". .We'd hug, exchange small family talk and go on our way. I would tell my friends travelling with me, some stories baout Larry, about his annual Santa trip to my sister's playschool, where he would be the uber-santa, with the real, big firm belly to climb onto, and the real ruddy face to press close to wide-eyed children.
Go softly Pet, I wish you fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

bikefitting level 2: part 1

And so I find myself in Portland OR, getting picked up by Michael Sylvester (bikefitter extraordinaire) and dropped at Stephanie Edelman's house (PDX commuterchick) as part of the plan to develop the next phase of a bike fitting protocol for both Trek, and the greater cycling public. Since it it 3am east coast time when I hit the pillow, I am pretty shattered, though excited to be here. zzzzzz... Bright and early, Stephanie and I hit the road, by bike of course, and she thanks me profusely for assisting her in her "car-free lifestyle" ! We cruise (on her singlespeed commuter bikes) to her local java joint for a coffee bomb, high octane++ to get us to our first meeting. Buzzing with caffeine and enthusiasm, we meet at Michael's house for a breakfast of champions then ride downtown to his bikefitting studio. All the way, I am amazed at the number of cyclists out on the streets, the bike lanes and bike routes blending with cars seamlessly, the bike "blocks" at the intersections, the painted bike route markers on the roads.. all part of a greater portland alternative transportion plan that seems like heaven for cyclists and motorists alike.. So in attendance: Chris Pieck: Trek manager, facilitation, dream builder, cyclist Tyler (Trek) product development manager, head honcho in pushing new ideas forth, cyclist Warren: Prosthetist and Orthotist: works hand in hand with Michael fitting extreme cases, lower extremity biomechanic specialist, cyclist Lee: genuis, Ph.D student, engineer: specializing in cyclists, cyclists with amputations, P+O also, cyclist Michael Sylvester: one of the founders of the Serotta bike fit system, yoga instructor, fitter of 300+ per year, developer of level 2 bike fit program, owner of bike fit studio, ex-national cyclist / runner Stephanie: Massage therapist, bike fitter for Michael, scholar of human function, developer of bike fit level 1 program, cyclist Pattie: bikefitter, bike sales, developer of level 1 program, cyclist Jay, PT in VA, university research PT, incredibly talented clinician in ortho and sports PT, cyclist MTB and road Mark Timmerman: MD, family practice, sports medicine, developer of level 1, cyclist Doug MD, family practice, sports medicine, cyclist and me, PT, cyclist, enthusiast Oh Boy: what a group..I am honoured to be here amongst so many brains, all with the same purpose of improving bike fit for medical professionals, for shop fitters, for the industry: Mission statement of sorts: more happy asses on more bikes, for more years.. (I am in Lake Tahoe, mountain biking with Dennis, and travelling to Moab / Salt Lake region today, so this will be in a few parts.. THEN we get onto the MTB trail ride descriptions..suffice to say for now, 4 days, 4 rides, all 3 to 5 1/2 hours long, 2 crashes, one bout of tears, several beers, ice pack and perma-grin: Oh My GAWD if you ride mountain bikes, you must visit this place..)