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.