A Chance for You to Look Into the Crystal Ball

As I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago, I signed up to participate in an charity event that would raise funds for a local nonprofit that aids families going through medical crises of one sort or another. And all I had to do was a) raise funds, and b) sit still whilst my head was shaved with a straight razor.

Well, today was the day that 'b' took place, and here are some before, during and after pix. (As always, click on the photo if you want to see an enlarged version.) I'll be the first to admit, it's not that drastic of a difference, but it probably is a pretty good indication of what my noggin will look like "naturally" within the next several years. But perhaps the best outcome was that the NPO raised nearly $10,000, so it was worth it.

Now, I just need to decide if I want to keep my hair/head this way... thoughts?


Banana Bee Action Shots

'Twas a good game played by the girls this morning, Chloe not excluded. She showed off her speed (finally!) and caught up to opposing players to kick the ball away from them, and made a couple of good breaks down the field. And despite taking a pretty good kick to the shin (beyond the protection of her shin guard) early in the 2nd half, she, after regaining some composure, got back in the game and continued to play well (the bottom three photos are of her after the shin incident.)


Isn't Time Trialing Like Many Sports Where "High Score Wins"?

This morning I took another kick at the time-trialing can. Unfortunately, this time, it was my can that was kicked.

The cycling team/club I'm in sponsors the Haystack Time Trials here in Boulder. In the morning was the Individual Time Trial (which I did) and in the afternoon was the Team Time Trial (which I volunteered at.) The course was just about 12 miles long, with a good portion of it on a slight downhill, so there were sure to be some good speeds on it.

My warm-up went fine, so I felt like I would be able to have a good result. For me, with not having a TT bike or helmet or some of the other TT finery, a good result means being able to average a certain level of power during the race. Within the first several minutes after leaving the start line, though, I had a sneaking suspicion it wasn't going to the kind of day I had hoped for: 1) my hamstrings felt pretty tight and it was tough getting to the power level I wanted, and 2) the guy that started 20 seconds after me blew by me.

I kept pushing on, with hopes of my hamstrings loosening up and being able to finish the last 8 miles strong. Alas, it just wasn't happening... they were still tight, and the guy that started 40 seconds after me blew by me. Because I was on a normal road bike and not a TT rig like most other riders, I wasn't so concerned about place, but a) it is a slight mental blow to get passed a couple of times during a TT race and b) I didn't want to finish last. Schadenfreude-ily, I avoided the latter with about 3.5 miles to go... one of the racers that passed me (there had been 3 or 4 by now) flatted.

And so, just about 28.5 minutes after I started, I finished (37th out of 42; 25.2 mph.) And I knew as I crossed the line that I wasn't able to maintain the average I wanted. Even though I'm pretty new to this racing thing, I have learned a couple of things: 1) I've got to expect to have these kind of days every once in a while and 2) if I have too many, I'll lose my Nike, Cannondale and Lexus endorsements!


The "Payback for 1812" Tour is a Go

About 3 weeks ago, Peggy was approached by her company's CEO about the possibility of her heading over to London (UK) this summer to help stabilize the company's office there — there had been some key staff departures, and there's a huge project in the balance. Many details of the offer were unknown, but we do know it included having Chloe and I join her. So we talked about it as a family over the following weekend, and decided to go ahead with it as long as certain conditions could be met.

Well, today we got final word that the conditions we proposed were not a problem, and that we should start planning our summer stay in London. Some details have yet to be finalized, like where exactly we'll be living (but that process has been started), but here's what we do know: Peg'll be leaving in early June, with Chloe and I following about 2 weeks later; we'll return to the Colonies in August about a week before Chloe's school starts; and we better get used to saying/hearing things like "knackered," "shed-yule," and "al-yu-min-yum."


A Hill-Dale-Dusty Trail Triad

This morning, I continued my foray into amateur bicycle racing by lining up for the Boulder-Roubaix. The more well-known road race – and the one that acts as the namesake for the race I did — the Paris-Roubaix, also happened to take place today.

What makes the Paris-Roubaix a popular professional road race, and this aspect provides the basis for many amateur spin-offs, is that not all of that road is paved. For the 161 mile Paris-Roubaix, the non-paved portion is comprised of 28 (or so) sections of cobblestone that the riders must ride on... for a total of 33 miles. As for Boulder's version, the course was more-forgiving/less-punishing, as it not nearly as long — 2 laps of an 18.7 mile course for my category — but does have a non-paved element... 57% of it is on rolling dirt roads.

I did 2 laps of the course last weekend to preview it, make mental notes of what line to take on the dirt sections, and get a feel of what it's like to ride a bike that's meant to be rode on pavement on dirt. What that exercise didn't prep me for was the mass of humanity at the start line this morning. My racing category and another category were scheduled to start at the same time. Combined, there were well over 100 cyclists in these two categories alone (I learned after the race that my category had over 100 in it.) I didn't get the starting position I wanted (near the front), so had to settle for mid-pack when the whistle blew at 8:50a.

The course started on one of the dirt sections and almost immediately the impact was being felt by some... there were 3 flats in the first 2.5 miles, one or two people skidded out on some loose dirt, and the bouncing jarred loose some water bottles (Let me tell you, those aren't fun to dodge when surrounded by a bunch of people who are dodging the same thing.) I did my best to keep my wits about me, stay on the smoother sections of the dirt, be patient about moving up in the pack, and draft off of people who looked like they knew what they were doing. And of course, stay upright.

Early during the second dirt section, I was hit by a minor setback as my bike computer fell victim to the bumps. I didn't even notice it was gone until midway through the section when I looked down and saw it missing. Not that it would make me go faster, but it could help me in making sure I don't go too hard, too early. I wasn't about to turn around to look for it, so I continued with my M.O. for the rest of the 1st lap – keep my wits, find the right line, draft off of people (read: save energy), be patient, and of course, stay upright.

To some extent this strategy was working as I still with the main pack, but I was still at the back of that pack. While that positioning does provide some great drafting potential, it also made me susceptible to the "slinkeying dynamic." To explain: where I was was a little more bunched up than the front of the pack, so as I, for example, went around a moderately sharp turn, I had to slow down a little bit more to account for my surroundings. I would the inevitably drop back a bit, and so have to do a hard acceleration to make up lost ground. This inevitably led to some hard breaking (lost energy) to avoid clipping the back wheel of a rider in front of me, which again would cause a little gap to form and necessitate another acceleration. This happened quite a bit throughout the race.

I don't have much experience to base this on, but I was surprised how well things stayed together throughout the first lap. I fully expected someone/some people to attack midway through this lap to leave the rest of us to hopefully chase them down. No attack took place, so as we closed out lap 1 (on a 4 mile dirt section that made my eyes rattle) I was still in the mix... it was a pretty big mix (maybe 40 riders at this point) and I was still at the back of it.

I wasn't surprised, then, as things picked up just a little at the beginning of the 2nd lap. With fewer riders to contend with, it was easier to pick the part of the road I wanted to ride on, and the slinkeying effect was less pronounced. This meant I was still wasting energy so I tried to slowly and efficiently gain some ground. I wasn't alone in this, but perhaps because I scouted the course a week ago, I knew where to and not to try and do this. The beginning of the 2nd dirt section is a gradual downhill that leads into a moderately sharp left hand turn. Given my speed and knowledge from the scout ride, I knew the outside line was the wrong place to be. Four other riders, though, did not and hit the very loose dirt that was out there and went down. It created another gap in the pack, which meant I had to accelerate hard again to make up lost ground.

During the last pavement section, we caught up to two riders who tried broke away from the pack about 5 miles before, so things relaxed a little. It was then when I began to make my way up through the pack some, for I knew it would be anything but relaxed once we turned onto the last dirt section that lead to the finish. Sure enough, the pace picked up shortly after we made the turn to complete the remaining 4 miles, and I did my best to hang on. I was able to do so for a bit, but on a short, steep climb about 2 miles from the finish, I "started going backwards." The remainder of the pack rode away from me, so I did my best to maintain my position until the finish.

I crossed the line about 1h 35m after the start, but had to wait until tonight to find my placing. Given the size of the pack I saw ride off in front of me during that steep climb, I figured I came in around 35th or so. So I was excited tonight to see the official result: 25th place out of 100+ starters and 76 finishers. (I was initially 24th, but apparently after some review, the race officials revised the finish order somewhere.) I'm very pleased with the result give the demands of the course and my newbie status. (I'm also pleased that I was able to find my bike computer... I rode the course after my race scouring the shoulder of the road, and was able to find it!


Seeking Your Support

I'm participating in a charity event in a couple of weeks and would love your support.

The event is called "Give Hair With Care" and it's a fundraiser for a local NPO – There With Care – whose mission is to provide services for children and families facing critical illness in order to ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations during a medical crisis. Participants in the event have two options: one is to have x number of inches of hair cut off, and the other is to get one's head shaved. Since the former is for those with more than an inch of hair (hippies!), I'm going ahead with what's behind door #2. (Yes, I know... insert your joke here about my lack of hair to begin with... yadda, yadda, yadda.)

If you'd like to throw a little money towards this event and charity on my behalf, you can do so online by following this link.

Thanks! ~ Kurt


The Birthday Boy

Chamberlain turns 11 (or 77) today!

The ol' boy is in pretty good shape for his age. He had a recent check-up at the vet, and the vet was very glad to see how he was doing... his weight is good (often a concern of beagles as they advance in years) and is showing pretty good mobility/flexibility (despite what the vet thinks are pretty screwed up rear knees... he thinks Chamberlain had two previously undiagnosed minor ligament tears in each leg!), and the leaky heart valve detected several months ago doesn't seem to be any worse.

We did, however, have to start Chamberlain on some anti-seizure medicine. He's had sporadic seizures for the last couple of years, so the vet said it was time to put him on phenobarbital to make sure the seizures don't become tragically worse.


Braving the Element

Game 2 of the Banana Bees season took place this morning, and in less than ideal conditions. The plentiful sunshine and blue skies were nice, but the wind... it was a-howling, and made for some very interesting game watching. The team that had the wind at their back could run well, but because of the nascent ball handling skills at this level, the wind-driven ball often took off away from them. Going in the other direction, the ball would more easily stay at the players' feet, but because they were running into the wind, it was easy for the other team to catch up. Suffice it to say, it was a low scoring affair.

As for Chloe, she played another good game. She was in goal when the BB had the wind at their back, so she saw little action. When out in the field, she made a couple of good runs towards goal, was trying to get open for a teammate to pass to her (something the team's been working on at practice) and took the ball away from the opposing team's players at times.

I hope to get pictures of her at her next game in 2 weeks.