From the 805 to the 858

The One-Oh-One
The Four-Oh-Five
The Seventy-Three
The Five.

The One.

The Five
The Seventy-Three
The Four-Oh-Five
The Five
The Fourteen
The Five
The One-Twenty-Six
The One-Oh-One
The One-Ninety-Two.

Fuckin' SoCali.

Merry Christmas and Stuff.



Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web.

Opening paragraph, The Body Artist.

How does he do that?


Little Bike Blue

I took my IF out for a long overdue jaunt around the neighborhood. She's the first blue bike, Little Bike Blue. I actually have three blue bikes, but two makes for a far better rhyme. I certainly didn't set out to be so monochromatic. Next time, I'll have the orange one, thanks.

I have sinned. I have badly neglected Little Bike Blue and she felt free to show her displeasure. Born in Massachusetts, a land of rooty, twisty single track, the first blue bike likes to go fast and turn quickly. She reads my mind. Which is not always a good thing. A high bottom bracket, short chainstays, and short wheel base make tight single track a joy. Except when I forget what to do and get left behind. Uh, dude, where's my bike?

We went out to one of the local hills and went up. Up went great. Little Bike Blue likes to climb things. Down went less great. We had a few directional disagreements, the blue bike and I. When it's cold and winterlike, I'm not so quick. Being of the east coast persuasion, Little Bike Blue has no problem with cold. She was way ahead of me. I feel certain it was all the weather's fault. No, really.

Perhaps I should stick to my Schwinn, who rarely gets ahead of anything. The Schwinn is the third blue bike, for those of you keeping score at home. The third blue bike is a 1955 Schwinn Tornado, a name that sounds far more exciting the pedestrian pace we generally achieve. I even put on a nice spineasy gear, since the original gearing was bigger than my legs. Maybe women were just burlier in the 1950s. Or maybe they wanted to ride their cruisers on the freeway.

Having digressed this far from the original point, which may or may not have existed, I should not neglect the second blue bike. I really don't have much to say about the second blue bike. She came second. And she's from Santa Cruz, a place I would very much like to be from. (I'd like it ever more if there weren't a preposition at the end of that sentence. Alas.)

But I am trying to get back down the hill, and can't be bothered with prepositions just now. The descending part wasn't smooth, and it definitely wasn't pretty. Like, how long have I been riding this bike? (A really long time, in bike years.) I really race on this thing? (Yes, I'm afraid so. There are even pictures to prove it.) Let's just say, I've got just a little ways to go before I'm ready to see any starting lines, and maybe I better hide out in the hills for a while where no one can see my utter lack of grace and finesse. Certainly, I should stop neglecting the first blue bike.

But at least I made it back home at the same time as my bike.

Baby steps.


My Own Secret Sandbar

Into the Sunset: An unidentified surfer grabs air at a rarely breaking spot in Santa Barbara.

It's a funny quirk of surfing culture, that one is never supposed to blow the secret spot or publish news of the big swell. All the same, everyone knew about the big swell that showed up last week. In the parking lot, a guy said he owned a surf shop on the East Coast. He'd flown across the country. I hope he got a wave. I heard French, Aussie, and Spanish accents. Everyone turned out for the big party in Cali.

In the morning, we headed down to Rin- erm, a point south of Santa Barbara. There, the size showed to advantage. The water runs deep over an undersea canyon, then kicks up big when it hits the silty shallows of the rivermouth. It was nothing like the NorCali spots, the Grand Canyonlike troughs at Mavericks, for example. (Head over to surfline for some video of that craziness.) But big enough to inspire awe. And break a few boards.

After a serious gawking session, I headed down to the harbor to that "rarely breaking spot." Even surfline didn't give it away, posting video of "an epic California Sandbar." It's a little silly. There isn't a wave in the world that looks like this one. And it isn't especially hard to find. Maybe that was why the lineup stretched the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. And why only the best of the best got a ride.

When the Army Corps of Engineers decided to create Santa Barbara Harbor, they got out their digging machine and started shovelling. The result was the harbor.

And a sandbar.

To the sandbar, they added a breakwater, with a stout rock pile to keep the currents from undoing their efforts. Certainly, they didn't set out to make a surf spot.

On a big swell, the sandbar kicks up a fast, steep wave that barrels like nobody's business. The same shallow sandy bottom that forms the peak demands the perfect take-off, as blowing the timing means intimate contact with the sandy bottom. One board lay forlornly on the beach, its nose broken clean off. Surely, it wasn't the only casualty.

But I am forgetting the breakwater, which gives this spot its distinctive sillouette. After all, nature creates its share of sandbars. Here, the concrete wall sends each successive swell careening back on itself, pushing the peak still higher and sending sky-high the signature arc of spray. Drop in too slow, and the backwash pushes back. Boards and ragdoll figures fly through the white water.

I stood on the breakwater, the spray towering above me. To get to the front of the lineup, guys walk, lemmings in a line, along the rocks and jump. A cranky old man watched nearby, muttering dire predictions. Really, this was the easiest part of the whole business.

After watching the mayhem for a time, I headed down to the beach. The swell started to drop off, though a few overhead set waves still rolled through. One of the mass of photographers, lugging a monster long lens, headed for home as I walked down the beach. "It's over," he said. I thought maybe he was right, but the afternoon sun warmed my skin and I hated to leave. When the film ran out, I didn't reload, switching to the digital happy-snapper, lazily firing off a shot here and there.

And then, just about the time I started to think about the bike ride I hadn't done and that maybe I'd had my fill, the real party started.

The signs showed subtlely at first. Suddenly, guys were making the drop. Every time. The overhead set waves, which had often gone unclaimed earlier, now found plenty of takers. Interesting, I thought. On the smaller waves, the moves started look a little more polished, a little more powerful. A little more pro. A Quicksilver logo caught my eye, then an Oakley. Still more interesting. A kid ran down the beach, autograph pad in hand. A tan, strong-looking guy smiled and signed.

And then, I saw the best surfing I've ever seen live. It was as if Tommeke and Ale showed up and pulled out all the stops to win the city limit sprint. Or, maybe better, as if Brian Lopes railed on your local descent, getting air and taking lines you'd never imagined existed.

Here's Kelly Slater (right), bazillion times world champion. He's like good and stuff.

The beer flowed freely on the beach and the local bros cheered the big moves. No prize money, no judges. Just a little play session in the sand box.

I shot until the light faded, walking back up the beach in the setting sun.


Clicky for more pics.


Sandspit at Sunset

Santa Barbara Harbor.



No, it's not the hill profile for a Giro stage, though they will present next year's Giro course this Saturday. Hair gel and swanky suits, galore! This, my friends, is a "significant northwest swell event," coming our way next week. The predictor-guys... No, not the bike racers, the surf report guys. Geez, we can' t talk about bike racing all the time. Anyway, those guys who watch the bouys and computer models and tea leaves and stuff are calling for 15-20 feet. In the channel.

That's, um, like big and stuff.

Now fear not, gentle reader, I will not be paddling out. That's a whole lot of water. Like the Stelvio. Only wet. The storm making it happen is sitting close to the coast, so that big mass of water will be movin' something fierce. But I will be dusting off the beach chair. Because I like to watch.

I might even get out the camera, the one that requires actual film. You remember film, right? Long, skinny, plastic ribbony substance, that when exposed to light and chemicals displays images. You know, that stuff. My film camera still kicks ass over the little digital box, but it only gets to come out on special occasions. If the tide hits just right, the wind doesn't freak, and Sandspit starts working, that would constitute a very special occasion.

If not, well, there's always the webcam at Mavericks.

In totally unrelated news, the gray lady plugged 'cross racing in today's Escapes section. What next, downhillin' in Sunday Styles? Mud, Sweat and Gears. You'd think, with the mulitude of talent assembled there in the big NYC, they could rally up a better headline. I mean, even I could do better than that one. Mud... Mud and... Barriers and... Um, well, right. Maybe later. Anywho, click and read. I'll just be sittin' here writing headlines. Pedaling... Mud stuck in pedals... Sweat and... Pedals and... Falling... Falling... Falling...

(Graph thingy stolen from wetsand.)


Now, with pictures...

I like the climbing rides. Roll out the door, start pedaling. Simple.

This time, instead of trying to make words, I brought pictures. Pictures are good. Or they would be good, if I'd bothered to bring my camera. But I didn't. My pockets were a little full. And I wouldn't want to add weight, you know. The horror! Instead, I give you furry, blurry cell photos. You never knew the world looked quite like this. Alien lenses. Or something.

million dollar view, not-so million dollar cell phone
the clouds were pink... really.

the road snakes upward
and up and up and up

one blue bike, such a poser

the view commanded the islands
they're out there, i promise

a cratered moonscape
i'll have a some dirt with my road, thanks


there's a coke in the fridge
and not much else


Under a Winter Sun

I like me some kelp. With a full moon comes wide tide swings. Yesterday, it hit 7 feet and change in the morning, then skedaddled on out to a minus by the late afternoon. As the tide goes out, the kelp reaches up and wraps around fingers and toes and surfboards. Nothing like blowing the take-off, because the kelp grabbed your fin.

Yesterday was some good surfing. An overcast, grey sort of day, the sea the color of the sky, or maybe it was the sky the color of the sea. I'm never quite sure about such things. A decent little swell brought out the full cast of characters.

There's the guy who always wears a white hat tied under his chin. There's the guy that rides each wave all the way to the beach, then walks back up the point for the shortest possible paddle back into the lineup. Is it really easier to walk than paddle? There's spastic paddler guy. His hands churn egg-beaterlike, his elbows high and dry. Who knew it was so hard to make a surfboard go. There's the wave hog. Got it! Outside, outside, got it! He likes to give a little whistle, just to be sure. I mean really, if you're that badass, go to Jalama or something. Tarantulas. Now there, my friends, is a great name for a surf spot.

But I am being digressing.

There's the dude who can't steer. Um, if you're going to take off from the top of the point, try not to run everyone over, mmkay? There's the spastic kid on the short board who's watched far too many surf vids. There's the woman who must have spent years at ballet school as a child. She stands on the board in third position, the feet placed just so, the arms floating all graceful like. She can't turn either, but she looks pretty doing it. I suppose there's something to be said for looking pretty. There's dad, teaching his kid to surf. He knows just where to sit in the lineup, and he launches his little missile into the perfect wave. Of course, junior falls over and gets worked. There's ugly pink surfboard guy. Pink. I hope it was free.

Me? I caught me a few waves and watched the sun dance off the peaks, turning grey to silver, each rolling swell a wrinkle in rippling silk.

Intermission Talk amongst yourselves. Topic, the weather.

Alright, I'm back now. Didya miss me?

The espresso machine called. Of course I answered. Now, where were we? Thanksgiving happened. Bikes were ridden. Nappage was committed. Coffee was consumed. People were watched. Pizza was eaten (with red wine, natch). Relatives were phoned. Slacking occurred. Fun was had.

The passive voice was massively abused in the writing of this post. Forgive me oh Chicago Manual of Style, I know not what I do.

Respect my Authoritay Was it me, or did the cop who pulled over the group ride bear a striking resemblance to Cartman? This coincidence made it terribly hard to take seriously the earnest lecture about behaving well and traffic laws (yes, kids, the red sign with the letters on it does mean stop) and such. Terribly hard not to start giggling at exactly the wrong moment. Congratulations, sir, you win the prize for Walking Caricature. Come on down, you'll find your prize behind door number two: A dozen jelly donuts. Mmm, donuts. Stop sign? What stop sign?

Maybe the local ride just needs a donut sponsor. Pass the sprinkles.

In other news, I managed only six points on last week's round of trivia. Alas. I need to work on my guessing skills. Or, um, learn something about bike racing. Right, I'll get right on that.

How 'bout that weather?



Ich bin ein Berliner. I am a jelly donut.

The letters are wearing off my keyboard. There's a blurry black splotch where the n is supposed to be. Same with the e, and the s, d, and c are catching up real quicklike. This is a regular occurence in my life, almost as regular as the wearing out of chains, cassettes, and other shiny moving parts made in Italy. For a while, I had a keyboard that had hardly any letters left at all. I could see all the numbers and those funky function keys, but no letters. This one's still got some life left in it, though. It looks well-used, broken in, like a favorite pair of jeans with the perfect rip just starting to show in the knee.

Letters, shmetters.

Saturday, someone told me I'm funnier in blogworld than in real life. Funny? This blog thingy is serious business, dammit. Of course, if I were to be funny, it certainly would never happen before 10.00 am. Just because I'm riding my bike doesn't mean I'm actually awake.

Pass the espresso. Yes, thank you, I'll have another.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours from home on Saturday's ride, I broke my zipper. Of the lengthy list of things that can break on a bike ride, the jersey zipper ranks relatively low on the severity scale, somewhere between funny and annoying and a long way from expensive and catastropic. One does not, after all, have to walk home with a broken zipper. Nor is a cell phone necessary. But the weather was a tad on the chillier side of warm and while a base layer works really nice as, erm, a base layer, it did not work nearly so well as an only layer. My boobies froze.
Where was the old man standing by the side of the road with his Gazzetta? I needed that guy.
Spare tube? Check. C02? Check. Bonk money? Check. Safety pins? Um...

Shopping list:
Safety Pins.
Full-zip long-sleeve jersey.

That should just about cover it.


Into the Belly of a Hair Dryer

I just put lotion up my nose. It smells better than vaseline.

I rode up into the hills yesterday into the belly of a hair dryer. Warm winds whorled through the canyon crevices, the scaled road surface shimmering in the searing sunlight. My feet swelled in protest.

You have to climb to get to the climb, up through million dollar views, their twisting driveways peeling back from the main road. An old waterworks, green concrete built in the days of the WPA, stands guard at the base of the mountain. Extreme Fire Danger, reads the only warning sign. Past the reservoir, once above ground, now buried, you take your first bite out the climb. You feel sated, but this is only the beginning. Through the first steep set of corners, you reconsider. Somewhere your couch is calling, but you ignore it for now. The first false flat isn't flat, but relative to what comes before and after, it feels like it might be. Your confidence builds and recedes. Gravity's invisible hand pulls, your legs push.

The road snakes it way up the mountain, topping out at four thousand feet. In a fit of lizardish laziness, I stopped short of the summit. The view commanded the channel, the islands closer than they appeared, the city pixellated in white, red, silver, and green. Maybe if I'd taken a picture, you could see what I mean. And, I wouldn't have to write so much. Writing is hard.

Swooping down through the switchbacked corners, the scenery blurs vertiginously. Steep drop-offs stalk the unwary. Potholes pockmark the road surface, a cratered moonscape. The brakes burn, your hands cramp. Dodge the guy wrong-siding it, climbing too hard, too delirious to see the danger in a blind corner on a one lane road. You look over the edge, the view extends across the canyon out to sea.

Far below, a car inches its way upward, still small in the distance. You'll hear it long before you see it, surprising you behind the next corner, its mass monopolizing the road. You slip between it and the mountain side, a few centimeters to spare. The road straightens, flattens, then turns again. Your internal compass spins haplessly, seeking its bearings and finding none. A steep series of corners, none of them banked, lures you downward. Come here little girl, I'll give you some candy. You open the brakes, concede to temptation. Someone has painted "pave" on the road. An arrow points to a hole roughly patched. You corner again, wheels angled, a physics problem brought to life and set in motion. A straight steep chute ends with a stop sign. You wonder if you can. You do, but just.

The air feels slightly cooler here, down off the mountain, but not by much. Your sweat is long dried, evaporated nearly as fast as it appeared, leaving only salt behind to mark its visit. There's a Coke in the refrigerator, and the refrigerator lies just down the hill. You roll in the door, still in the twelve.

Disclaimers: This post brought to you by the Alliance for the Affirmation of Alliteration. In honor of the awkwardly named Third World Conference on Doping, no espresso was consumed in the composition of this post, a herculean feat never to be repeated here.


Blame the Cat

Cycling Revealed has begun their annual winter trivia game.
New questions show up every week until February.

So trivial.

I scored 7 points out of 15 on this week's edition. Some of the questions
are like kinda hard and stuff. They're grading on a curve, right?

Yes. I am a total dork. But you like so totally knew that already.

I had big plans for this post. I was going to write something witty, profound, even earthshatteringly brilliant.
But my cat is sleeping on my arm. I really can't type so well. Which puts brilliance a little out of reach.

It's always the cat's fault.



You're not punk...

...And I'm telling everyone.

I went to the gym today. Specificity, Shmecificity. Since I'm not very good with numbers, I kept losing count. Was that two sets or three? Eight reps or twelve? Maybe I need to carry a calculator. Or an abacus.

But counting is so not punk rock. So I just guessed.

Yo, meathead. Yeah, you, making funny faces and loud grunting noises, checking yourself out in mirror. Ohmigod, I can't believe you can squat three times my body weight.

You. Are. So. Cool.

NOW RERACK YOUR FREAKIN' WEIGHTS, DUMBASS! Newsflash, pec-boy, there are other people on the planet. And some of us plebes can't get your 45 plates off the squat rack, mmkay? I really like tracking down some gym staff guy to do it for me, or more to the point, for you, since you're the one that sucks. So I'm only going to say it one more time: RERACK YOUR WEIGHTS! Don't make me come over there. Because I'm way, way smaller than you.

Meanwhile, I'll be slam dancin' in the corner. A Girl's got to do something between sets. And it sure isn't listen to that '80s crap coming through the sound system. (If you like '80s crap, I'm sorry. For you.)

Anarchy burger, hold the government. (Extra credit, if you can name the originator of that gem of a phrase.) Speaking of punks, we had a little outburst of anarchy here at Disneyland, right on Main Street. Stop the electric light parade, we've got a cataclysmic situation here. Halloween night, a crowd of merry pranksters decided to throw a spontaneous party in the middle of State Street, the main shopping drag lined with chi-chi boutiques. Coach handbag, anyone?

Now, spontaneous outbreaks of "people power" are not exactly the norm here. Yes, student protestors burned the Bank of America in the Sixties (actually, I believe it was in 1971, but sometimes the calender refuses to conform to events), but that, my friends, was then.

I think there might be a few ageing hippies still hiding out in the hills. If you search the halls, there's probably even a Marxist or two lurking about the University. Has the New Left become the Old Left yet? Inquiring minds. (Full disclosure: All three volumes of das Kapital, first American edition, are sitting here on my shelf. Bound in red, natch.) We have a hardy band of war protestors who never miss a Saturday. Thanks to them, I frequently spend my training rides with peace songs stuck in my head, which at least makes it hard to summon up much in the way of road rage. All we are saying is give peace a chance. (No, no need to thank me, just playin' it forward.) But in the main, this place is pretty darn mainstream when it comes to the politicin' A median housing price in the low seven figures just doesn't bring out the anarchists. Property is Theft.
What, no takers?

Anywho, the Reclaimers led the police on a wacky foot chase around downtown. The cops weren't so amused, and out came the riot gear. Clear the station. All the cars came peeling out one after the other, getting crazy with the blue flashy lights.

Me? I was just trying to pedal my bikey to the grocery store to get some food. A Girl's gotta eat, you know.

Please don't run me over blue flashy lights. All I wanted was a Pepsi.


Happy Halloween!

Leaf Blower.

I'm a tad slow with this blog thingy. Too much time writin' for wages. I see the blank screen and this deep sort of panic sets in. Ack.
But, I can do pictures. Pictures are good.

I was trying to explain the Surf City mayhem to someone on the local group ride. You mean, you went to a race but you didn't do it? Well, yes. Haven't you ever noticed when you've gone to a bike race that there are people at the race who aren't actually racing? They're doing stuff like running around with results sheets and entering reg info and directing traffic.

Me? I was all over the traffic directin'. There was a football game, and the football people wanted to know all about the bike race.

Hey, that doesn't look like a road bike. Very astute of you, young man.

How long is the race? Um, Long?

Then, some kids tried to sell John their skateboard for 100 bucks. Where do you skate? Santa Cruz. Uh-huh. Getting the locals only shtick down early. Good show.

I tried to explain to my group ride partner how funny bike racing is when crossed with Halloween. It's very very funny. Especially when beverages are involved. Who knew there were so many cross-dressin' bike racers out there? Hmm, did I want to know that? Maybe not, but it sure was funny. I think I wasn't doing so good with the explaining part, though, because the SB locals weren't seein' it. Me? I'm giggling. Them? They're looking a little confused. Maybe a few pics would help...

<- Scarred for life?

Yum, Orbea better than Banana >

^ Um, waiter? There's a bat in my belfrey

Uh... A guy in a grass skirt riding a bike? >
(running short on caption ideas here, and really, what is there to say about this one?)

<- Ze dust, ze dust eez 'orrible!

So funny.


Dreaming of Rain

(Photo, SB Indy)

They've managed to put our little fire out. It was just a wee thing, not like the monster from this summer.

Now, if we could do something about the air quality. How 'bout a vacuum?

SoCali's a bit of a mess. That tastey morsel, brought to you by the Department of Understatement.

Think rainy, foggy thoughts, my friends.


Falling Leaves

(Photo shamelessly stolen from Graham Watson)

One of my favorite races of the year. What's not to like about Italy in Fall? (Or any other time, for that matter.)

Together with Ricco, Cunego escaped on the final climb of the day, San Fermo della Battaglia. Over the top, they had just five seconds in hand over a chase group containing a pair of CSC's, Rebellin, Cadel Evans, and Sammy Sanchez. Despite the best efforts of kamikaze descender Sanchez, Ricco and Cunego reached the last kilometer alone, where Ricco tried desperately to convince il piccolo to come around. As if Cunego was going to fall for that. Watch the final kilometer, and feel Ricco's pain. I don't count myself among the Ricco tifosi, but he drew the low card in that particular deal. Too bad he couldn't rid himself of Cunego before the finale. As it was, he was almost certainly racing for second. With only the smallest of gaps, there was no time for funny business, and Cunego easily took the sprint.

Ricco may have held the low cards, but at least he was still at the table. On the Ghisallo, CSC looked to be holding a royal flush, with Sastre, Kolobnev, and a pair of Schlecks in the front group. Sastre, who always looks simply bursting with fruit flavor, turned the screws up the climb, and the front group dwindled. But in a moment of inattention on the road to the Civiglia, Frank Schleck touched wheels and crashed out of the front group. Oopsy. So much for the perfect race. The younger Schlecky still managed fourth, beating out Rebellin, Evans, and T Dekker, among others. Silly talented, that kid (I especially like the bed head.)

Here is a tidbit for the trivia - or is that trivial? - minded. When Cunego won Lombardia in 2004, he achieved a rare feat in cycling by winning both a grand tour and a monument in the same season. Prior to Cunego, who was the most recent to do the same?

And while we're at it, had Bettini won (best watched without the sound, unless you like sappy techno), he'd have taken three straight. Who is the last rider to win Lombardia three times running?

Ah, but maybe I should have just posted this bit of love, ten minutes of choice footage and saved my little fingers the tappy-typing. Grazie anonymous Belgian youtuber! (Now, if only I'd found that sooner.)


Pen Tests

We have a collection of espresso cups called Pen Tests. The espresso machine is the only tool in my kitchen I know how to use, which isn't to say that I have a great many kitchen tools. I am not what those of a previous era might have dubbed an "accomplished woman." I boil water competently. What more is there? The kitchen is where the espresso machine lives along side its friend the bean grinder and its other friends the espresso cups. I have more espresso cups than dinner plates. Big blue scribbles decorate this afternoon's choice, picked mostly at random from the cupboard where the espresso cups live. Frothy tannish foam sticks to the inside. I begin to feel smarter, a little.

Big blue scribbles.

I did the group ride this morning. I'm a fall group ride kind of girl. When the days get a little shorter and I get a little lazier, I roll on out and see what everyone has been up to. Turns out, not all that much. Someone gets faster, someone else gets a little slower, and one dude just keeps getting fatter. There's a new bike here, a new wheelset there. The same guys ride the front. And at the back? Sandbaggers, party of five, your table is ready. I was cozied up to the October sandbagger table, shooting the breeze, checking the scenery. Nice weather back here, pass the chips and salsa, can I get another drink? Waiter, there's a fly in my soup.

It was a small sort of group ride today. It seems there may have been a secret ride. But since I lost my secret decoder ring, I wouldn't know anything about that. Meanwhile, the fall transfer season is in full swing. Did you hear the news? All the cool people are riding for the red team next season. But only if they didn't get invited to join the exclusive new team, where the really cool people are. They're going to get cool bikes to match their cool new kits. A veritable epicenter of cool.

Then there's the press releases. I'm going climbing after this, so I have to go easy (Watch out for that overpass, it's a doosey). Last week, I did my best time up the climb. (One wonders if he measured it from the same spot.) I can't go hard, because my socks are too white (so distracting), my shorts are too tight (sounds like a personal problem), my chain is too loose (are you sure it's your chain?), my bottom bracket is unthreading (that really sounds like a personal problem), I'm choking on my gu (real excuse, used by an honest to gosh category 1 racer), uh, sorry, gotta take this call (for best results, use this one when about to get dropped by a girl, she'll never guess). Use as directed, limit one per customer, please. Void where prohibited.

Me? I'm just sitting here pedaling.

On the way home, I rode by the beach to see what was doing. I won't keep you in suspense. It was flat. So I sang a little song, and pedaled onward. Rubber ducky, you're the one, you make bath time lots of fun...

Can I get one of those in carbon fiber?

Last week there was a swirly off the coast, and it made us some waves. So generous. When we went out on Thursday, I got totally cleaned up when the first big set rolled through. Spin cycle, my favorite. Thank you, I'll have another. Uh, wait, I didn't mean it. Yes, friends, set means more than one. So, there's always more where that came from. The trick is to keep breathing.

And while I'm on the subject of water, if anyone can tell me how to get tar out of my hair, I'd be most grateful.

Big blue scribbles.


Sprint or Break?

It's Paris-Tours this weekend, that long jaunt across the French countryside. It's usually grey and cold, as befits Northern Europe in October. Pass the onion soup. The race dates from 1896, when men were men and bike races were long. This year's edition comes in at 256 km of mostly flat, windy, riding. My ass hurts just thinking about it. Not surprisingly, Paris-Tours counts mostly sprinters among its winners. Erik Zabel, for one, has three wins in Tours to his credit.

The sprinters don't always get their way. Last year, Arvesen and Guesdon escaped, and hit the closing meters with enough time in hand to play a little cat and mouse. Guesdon proved the quicker, as Arvesen, perhaps distracted by the oncoming field, failed to match the Frenchmen's jump.

Favorites? Experienced and canny sprinters like Zabel, Friere, or Thor. Petacchi's presence makes a fourth win for Zabel unlikely, and may well doom the hopes of the breakaway artistes. Gert Steegmans - his name just sounds fast - showed speedy form at Circuit Franco-Belge. With Boonen staying home with his Lamborghini or whatever, Steegmans has a chance to play for himself, though the finish may prove a few kilometers too far. Since Fiellu just won Paris-Bourges, he's certainly on form also. The bumpy climbs inside the last 10 km give the quick classics kids like the Hair and Gilbert a chance to escape.


Book of Cat

Chapter 1.

Do not yell at your cat.

It isn't nice.

You will annoy your neighbors.

And your cat.


Got surf?

It's tough being the first North swell of the season. There you are, frisking about up around Alaska, waving at the polar bears, tossing a few boats around, making the cruise director queasy.

Meanwhile, down in Cali, everyone's watching you. They've seen your picture, they know what you look like. You're a sexy swirling thing, twisting the night away for the satellite cameras. Smile, say cheese. You're the blip on a graph, the hump of the curve, passing through the wires from screen to glowing screen.

Everyone knows you're out there. Everyone knows you're coming. They're putting their racks on the car, planning vacation days, and stopping by the beach every hour.

Is it here yet? Is it showing?

But it's a long way to Cali, and you're starting to feel lazy. You make a stop by Santa Cruz. Everyone is so glad to see you. It's nice. But it's such a tiresome business being a swell. You have to work so hard to make the perfect peaks. Too many lulls, and you're judged a fizzle.

Then, the wind picks up, and you're thinking is it really worth the trouble? Down South, they're still waiting for you.

So much pressure.
. . .

Today was the day. A north swell, bringing surf galore was supposed to roll into town, which is an unusual thing for October. So far, nothing. Here and there, a hint, a teaser, but no waves. It's nice to know some things are still unpredictable.

Still, I think I'll go for a little bike ride. And I'll make sure to pass by the beach.

Because you just never know.


Unwanted Guests?

Black Flag kills ants on contact.



"Man, wow, there's so many things to do, so many things to write! How to even begin to get it all down and without modified restraints and all hung-up on like literary inhibitions and grammatical fears..."

—Kerouac, On the Road

If you don't know what to write, start things off with a good quote, the tried and true cure for blankscreenphobia. It's so empty and white, that blank screen.

And the little winky thing sitting there, prodding. Hello? Would you type something already? I'm getting bored just sitting here like this, blinking. On. Off. Onoffonoffonoff. Still waiting, impatiently.

In more desperate times, I've typed entire pages of other people's words, in hope that somewhere, somehow, inspiration might strike. Sometimes it even worked. But I'm not so desperate as all that today.

Of course eventually, you're supposed to erase all that stuff you borrowed from someone else.

But if I did that? I'd actually have to come up with something to say, and I'd be back where I started, sitting here with the blank screen and the winky thing.

On off. On off.