Time in a Bottle (Post RAO Re-cap)

This past weekend was the Race Across Oregon, an event that I’ve mentioned previously and have been anticipating for some time now. The one we all know and love, Daniel Featherhead was Seattle’s contender and while he didn’t finish the race, he rode outstandingly fast and hard. I myself am extremely proud of him, and am proud to have been on his support crew, regardless of the outcome. We all agree that we came away with great lessons learned.

After getting the support vehicle inspected the crew was educated in the course and what to do and not to do as a rookie. Somehow, while we were attempting to heed that advice, we managed to fulfill most everything advised not to do. One thing that seemed paramount in our problems was the lack of sleep that Daniel got—we in the crew certainly could have gotten a few half hours more sleep. As John stated, we were sandbagged from the start, maybe so.

But hey, we were excited, probably a little nervous too. Three o’clock in the morning comes quick. We were off, and soon enough Daniel was in the pack leaving the starting line. The crew’s first priority was getting fuel for the Mercedes-Benz 207D, I assume the “D” stands for diesel. Our attempt at getting fuel reserves for the many hundreds of potential miles with no fill-up stations were daunted by the one Portland station we stopped at only selling single gallon containers. This proved to be an “issue” later in the day.

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The starting pack.

The first several hours of the race were great with excitement, getting a feeling of what it’s like to run support, how to do things, and how not to break rules (safety being priority number one for RAO organizers). We figured out the first day was when we were only allowed to leapfrog Daniel while he rode; van to rider hand-offs were not allowed during this time (this also meant reaching out to adjust derailleurs while hanging out the van window was prohibited), only able to get out and hand-off water and food to Daniel gave us the opportunity to stretch our legs frequently. The problem with this was all the other riders and their support crews were doing the same. This factor indicated to us an almost unrealistic and seemingly problematic dependence on cars (and fuel as we learned) in the RAO and likely other ultra marathon events like it. I’m not too sure what the alternative could be however—all in all it’s like an ironic co-dependence that’s always existed in bicycle racing.

Throughout the morning Dan’s progress and strength was high, impressive as usual. Especially with his care-free and can-do attitude beaming: at one point hearing his loud crew car approaching from behind he slung his spent banana at our windshield, just messing around, it produced peels of laughter in the van. Good ol’ Daniel, our nervousness for ourselves and for him diminished. This leapfrogging and attempts at communication via radio continued into the early afternoon, we couldn’t believe how early it was still, we couldn’t believe how much further this race entailed. 540 miles total—utterly ridiculous.

At one point the diesel situation became the Diesel Debacle, at Maupin we learned that the only pump in town didn’t offer diesel. We grew worried and spent the next half hour figuring out the logistics on having enough fuel for the long passage between fueling stations. Not only was their distance from each other an issue, their closing times were likewise a cumbersome detail to determine. There were many options, the best we determined left Daniel unsupported—with a loaded musette bag of course—for just under two hours and kept us on route (where we were able to get an idea where the leading three racers were). While the rig surprisingly got pretty good fuel efficiency, this Benzo was difficult to drive considering it’s lack of power steering and extremely short gears. Beware your choice of vehicles in next year’s RAO.

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Extra—non-regulatory—containers of diesel

We retrieved Dan as he was ascending some pretty steep switchbacks on the way to Fossil. He looked tired and hot; mild feelings of guilt for abandoning him crept in. Once he reached the summit, we dashed those guilty thoughts as we witnessed him rocket down the other side. The leapfrogging proceeded the same way for the most part until we began to experiment with vehicle-to-rider hand-offs.

At some point in the later afternoon, Daniel decided to take a break from the bike. Much to our resistance, we let him bust a nap; his complaints of heat-exhaustion, breathing difficulty, and shuddering cold seemed evident. It was a difficult decision to make, but we let him sleep. In retrospect this may have been the time we should have bagged the race entirely, but he got up, ate some food, straddled the bike and rode on.

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Daniel, about to devour a banana.

After darkness fell, the support vehicle was required to pace Dan with safety lights and such. His state seemed to progress further and further into exhaustion and delirium. At least that’s what it looked like through the windshield. At one point we broke out the binoculars to determine if he was riding in an appropriate gear—is there any delirium developing? is he aware of what he’s doing? It had the feeling of being one of those zookeepers observing and making notes about the caged gorillas. For the most part, it seemed good, but we had our concerns. We performed the hand-offs when needed and attempted to coddle him less; an attempt to keep him on his bike.

Some duration after Time Station 3 in Long Creek we were all growing weary, especially Daniel. I dozed in the passenger seat and was woke at 3:38 am while we were pulling over with Daniel; shortly after the decision to hang it up was made. After nearly a triple century in under twenty-four hours Daniel stepped foot into the van and took a very long nap, succumbing to his exhaustion, coldness, and at this point, likely delirium. It was a great weekend, ultra marathon style.

Check out some more photos here as well as a few updates from the weekend at Daniel’s site sevralprojex.com; donations can still be made for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America there as well. A big thanks to Daniel for letting me help on his team (I’ll fly out for future races!), thanks to the rest of the team (I think we rocked!), and thanks to the race organizers and other competitors (all very nice people).

Status Update

Yeah, not posting a lot lately; sorry, been busy. I’m not only getting ready to move to Louisville, but also getting ready to go to Oregon to help Daniel with his competition in the Race Across Oregon, (he’s still looking for donors for the charity: the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America check out his site and donate!) In between all of this I’ve been finishing up work at the chocolate factory, yeah Theo! and picking up some hours helping out the folks at Freerange Cycles (and no, I’m not working at Wright Bros any longer—that ended a few weeks ago). There’s also the business of actually planning our life in Louisville that’s been hectic: jobs, school, a place to live, actually driving there. And many more things I’m sure we’re forgetting!

Brooke and I had a going away party at the Rendezvous this past weekend, thanks to everyone who made it out. It was great seeing you all there. Anyone who couldn’t make it or wanted to see us and hang-out some more, get in touch, time’s-a running out!

Interactive Expectations

It’s nice to know when your expectations are confirmed. There are certain people in this town that more often than not fulfill my expectations. This isn’t to say I’m exactly happy to get derisive and smug glares from certain folks downtown; I’m really just surprised it’s so consistent. I expect certain people to remain smug and negative—I suspect it’s in their blood. However, it’s admittedly kind of confusing to get that reaction in response to a simple head-nod. Oh well, moving on. The other side of the coin to this is coming to expect positive interactions from others.

Craig—always upbeat it seems (article on him from the last print issue). It was cool running into him the other day on Eastlake. I don’t get south of Lake Union that much anymore, but lately my errand-running is taking me and my B.O.B trailer everywhere. Chatting with Billy at Monorail a few weeks ago—another positive experience. Seeing Terry almost every time I turn around is a nice surprise too. Meeting and talking with Dave at the Dutch Bike shop was very cool. There have been many more lately I could list.

I’m not really sure why, but I may stammer my words and not always have something witty or even coherent to say, but I am genuine when I say it excites me and stokes me out when I run into positive people that are open to talk and exhibit happiness. These experiences, no matter how brief or insubstantial they might be, linger. They actually affect my interactions with others moments or even hours later. It’s good to be able to recognize them individually as such; instead of pondering the negativity, I’ll recognize it for what it is and push the bad aside. Maybe this will direct me into some state of nirvana bliss one day.

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These positive interactions with people around town are some of the things I’ll miss about Seattle. The amount of negative interactions and experiences I’ve gotten from others also isn’t why I’m leaving, they’ll just be happily gone from my immediate world and hopefully replaced with more cheerfulness and optimism.

Paring Down

Well, Brooke and I are still heading to Louisville. Our time here in Seattle is dwindling fast—faster and faster as the departure date approaches it seems. We hope to get the chance to see and hang out with everybody before we leave, but if that doesn’t happen, make sure to see us off at the little going away party we’re having at the Rendezvous next week.

One certain thing that is nice about moving, I’ve stated before, is the idea of getting rid of “the stuff”. Not The Stuff from the movie, but all the excessive possessions we find ourselves carting around the country. Sometimes you should really examine it all and question it’s necessity. We had a moving sale last weekend and were pleasantly surprised at how well we did. It certainly lightened our load, almost to the point that we’re wondering if we even need the truck we’ve got reserved—the smallest, a ten-foot step van. Unloading it into a new place in Louisville I bet will be a cinch.

Louisville looks like a cool town too. Many people ask why we’ve chosen there to move to, and of course the answer is for Brooke’s school, but there’s other reasons too. I suspect things will be less expensive there, especially rent. I also suspect that the bicycle community there is just burgeoning and that’s really exciting. Gas is equally expensive there, so it’ll be interesting to see what, if any, bicycle growth occurs in Louisville. It’s already beginning to happen I’ve think. These reasons coupled with the fact that the both of us are really looking forward to some change in our lives. Shaking it up a bit, per se. I’ve been in Seattle for too long, I myself need a change of scenery.

“So you’re moving there blind?” This is another question we get a lot. No, neither of us have been to Louisville before. And that’s part of the adventure! It’s the same way I moved to Seattle, it’s part of “shaking it up”. To be fair though, we’re fortunate enough to have noticed Google’s Street View and this has given us the ability to view just about any and all prospective neighborhoods to live in, what the streets are like to ride on, and generally what the town looks like. It’s rad, but I certainly know this doesn’t really compare to the actual experience of exploring the streets in person! It’s a pretty helpful tool nonetheless.

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…too many yellow lines, where’s the lane?

I still have a lot to do before we leave. There’s the going away party, there’s helping Daniel with his Race Across Oregon, a small number of items to still get rid of (minor furniture, an alto saxaphone, among others), and I’m sure a million other things to plan for the trip across. Posts to the website will be sparse for while.

Ka-Booom!

Yep, we got some lawn chairs, we’re gonna sit out in the middle of the street tomorrow night and enjoy some fireworks. Gotta remember though, this handy mnemonic I heard for the first time the other day: Get your fifth for the Fourth, on the 3rd. The liquor stores are closed here in Washington state tomorrow folks. Have a great Fourth of July!

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We’ll be using them for the Fremont Outdoor Cinema too. Saturday=Hot Fuzz!

Lake Crescent

Hey! Michael went camping this past weekend and had a big ol’ time!

Yep, Brooke and I tagged along with Phil and Stephanie on out to the Lake Crescent area on the Olympic Peninsula. It was outstandingly beautiful—it was a perfect time to get out of the city again and decompress with nature’s finest.


Sitting on the Sol Duc River, enjoying Mia’s adventures with Stick

It seemed like most of the time we kicked back and chilled out by the river and campfire, typically what I’m used to doing while camping, but we did have some righteous activities planned by camp leader Phil. Yeah, I’m not used to riding off-road too much, but Phil insisted we bring some mountain bikes. I just came across that Specialized P.2 so I was set, but Brooke needed something to ride. We borrowed Seth Holton’s Norco. She thrashed hard on that bike. For never riding on dirt before, she tore it up. Phil took us around the north shore of the lake on a trail that was pretty mild on some parts and somewhat sketchy on others. Evidently this trail used to be a railroad bed during WWI, Phil provided us with great historical commentary throughout the weekend. Stephanie got a bit scraped up and I fell halfway into the lake at one point attempting to round a loose gravel corner one hand holding the camera. Besides that and a couple of ticks, most of the ride (and the weekend) was without incident.


Phil Anderson bombing back with lunch.

It was really great to actually experience the Olympic Peninsula once before I leave this area. Big thanks to Phil for such a great time.

Tyee in Jamaica

You know who is doing something cool. One young man, whom just the other day I heard referred to as shop intern, Sam. He’s currently involved with something really great. His school, Tyee Middle School, is doing some very humanitarian and educational things for the youth in Jamaica. Some of the specifics for this can be read about here: tyeelovesjamaica.org. Evidently this is the second of a five year project of Tyee building and bringing computers for a specific school in Jamaica. This Negril school is underprivileged and underfunded by the government. Sam’s teacher, Mr. Burke has made a deal with the government in Jamaica at the end of the project, they will finally build a new school building. Progress on last year’s project can be read at their blog, Project Jamaica: Tyee Class Project.

Sam himself is concentrating on developing some type of bicycle cooperative repair shop while he’s down there for the next couple of weeks. According to him his “main goal for this trip is to spread the love of biking and to offer an alternative to cars.” This indeed is a great and important ideal to share with an impoverished population. As such Wright Bros donated a slew of parts, tools, and consumables for Sam’s effort. Sam has created a blog that should detail his progress down there: jamaicabikeproject.blogspot.com; be sure to check it out.

Sam is also a bit of a competitor in the cycling scene. From what I’ve heard he’s been tearing up some of the standings in the juniors cyclocross circuit. Keep an eye and ear out for this enterprising young man.

Shredding

I’ve been busy lately, always the theme, just the reason I’ve not posted in some time. The move doesn’t start when the keys turn the ignition, it starts when you begin packing. And this process has started seemingly months early. Yep, we’re still moving to Kentucky. Looking forward to the change—I have heard nothing bad about the city of Louisville, actually quite the opposite. All positive reviews—great to hear, it’ll make leaving Seattle easier.

The process of packing to me really entails getting rid of stuff. This is sometimes what I really look forward to when moving. Call it stuff, call it shit, garbage, detritus, or kipple. I’m always happy to part with it. For the first time in twelve or fifteen years I actually went through my file drawer. I don’t need to keep these old bills and paystubs, do I? No. I feel like I’ve been in some government scandal recently, shredding documents! “Quick before Feds get here!” I’m sure I’ve got nothing of importance, but better safe than sorry, I’d hate to see some old bill of mine go flying by on the street with my social and other “secure” account numbers on it.

In a sense it’s sort of fun going through it all. The old stuff is yellowing and mostly unnecessary to spend any time looking at, but some of the more recent papers and memorabilia is exciting and nostalgic in a way. Some of the old papers I wrote in school was fun to look at, read again, and then shred. (Not that they needed to be shredded per se, but the shredder is fun itself to use!) Science or Faith: Choices to Be Made in ‘Oedipus the King’ is one title that stands out right now, mainly because I’m reading Carl Sagan’s Contact again. The two writings aren’t a lot alike. There are lots of other papers too: culinary arts, stuff on James Joyce, the Psi phenomena, and material sciences and mechanical engineering papers. I enjoyed school, the writing was fun. All through the shredder.

However, I continually question the “to-keep pile”. I have still kept a bit of stuff. A lot of photos; which I whittled down to a quarter or so of the volume. Thank goodness for digital photography, now my computer is cluttered. A small stack of comics, (hopefully getting a good price for the others), a small section of my wardrobe, and a small box of bike parts (all my tools though), and now, three bikes. Just two weeks ago, I was only keeping two bikes, but I just acquired another that I just can’t seem to part with. A Specialized P.2, maybe a little more aggressive than I need, but I can’t rightly take my Coppi off-road in Kentucky, can I?

Anyway, I’m still wrenching at Wright Bros for a several more weeks and am happily getting rid of the majority of my burden of possessions. That’s what they all become, all the things we own, they become burdens; especially when they’re so copious. One can’t possibly enjoy or even make use of everything we have, so why have it? We’re planning a yard sale at the end of June. What was once mine might become yours. I guess that’s the other side of possessions, while they can be a burden to some, they can also be a boon to others. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? (There’ll be lots of books, bits of furniture, some bike stuff, etc etc etc).