Sunday, September 28, 2014

And the last two weeks? Boulder, Bend, and San Diego

The La Jolla Cove
Yep, really—and it was not one trip but three, rather. Boulder was maybe the craziest because I had only a one-night turn-around at home, arriving at the house after 11 p.m. Friday night (coming from Interbike) and then heading back out to the airport well before noon on Saturday. Even though it is really not all that far to Denver, once you factor in the rental car and the drive up to Boulder, another day was done—well, almost, since the Hampton had some loaner beach cruisers and I actually got to wrangle one of those beasts for about 45 minutes before nightfall.
'cross racing at its best
Boulder was a quick and easy trip, with a 'cross race to work on Sunday and being done in time for two very nice IPAs at Mountain Sun Brewing down on Pearl Street. The next morning I flew back home.
A post-work brew, at friendly Mountain Sun Brew & Pub in Boulder
After a day spent unpacking, washing clothes, repacking, and riding 40 miles, I was ready to head to Oregon on Wednesday morning. It was time for the 3rd annual Lifetime Fitness Bend Epic 250/125/85 triathlon. Just like in years past, I flew into Eugene, where I arrived in the late afternoon. That evening I had a delightful dinner with ex-Lubbockite Tim Vignos, who treated me to a magnificent burger and some fine IPAs at Hop Valley Brewing, just steps away from the Hilton Garden Inn, where I was staying. The next morning I picked up my rental car and received a triple upgrade from Alamo, to a "luxury" car, a Chrysler 300C. Talk about power!!
Nothing like officiating a triathlon from an air-conditioned automobile

The weather had improved dramatically overnight, and Bend greeted me with the finest it has to offer: abundant sunshine and temps in the upper 70s. How much better does it get? Well, I tell you: an upgrade to a balcony suite in the Hilton Garden Inn, overlooking the Old Mill District and the East Cascades. Sometimes I think I am kept alive only through upgrades ...
Old Mill District in Bend
The opening 5-K swim at Cultus Lake
The scenery is so boring around Mt. Bachelor
The race took place on Saturday, but on Friday I had to attend to racers' briefings and a few of the other pre-race prep work. But, quite frankly, it was all fairly laid back, and I had a chance to once again go to Deschutes Brewing for one of their informative brewery tours. And on Thursday evening I ran into some locals at Crux Fermentation Project, folks who are quite involved in the local bike scene (Truman, Jake, and the formidable Petie). After Crux it was stopping over at Hutch's Bike Shop (they're all employees), and then it was off to 10 Barrel. Yes, it was an early morning night.

Hoppy, hoppy, oh-so-fresh-hoppy!
The Bike Friday waits for me at Boneyard
As a minor (MAJOR!) snafu, the motorcycles for the officials cancelled out the day before the race, and so we had to patrol the course in my Chrysler. My sidekick, Dave, from Seattle, whom I have brought on board for a number of races, agreed that that's the way to officiate.... Two Lubbockites were at the start for the 250K race, Cody Miller and Rod Burgett. It was good to see those two, even if it had been a while since our last encounter. When I called it a day around 8 p.m., having patrolled the run course on multiple laps on my Bike Friday, Cody just started his 20 K trudge, poor sod. At 9 p.m., Dave and I met up for a final quaff at Crux.
Trout at Wizard Falls Hatchery
Forest fire a few years ago ...
The Metolius River, at Wizard Falls
The perfect bike for short or medium outings—packs into a Samsonite

On Sunday I had to drive back to Eugene for my early-morning flight back to Lubbock on Monday. On the way, I visited the charming Metolius River valley and rode the Bike Friday for a few miles. Oh, how pretty, despite the traces of relatively recent forest fires! I had a look at the Wizard Falls Hatchery and learned about efforts to replenish trout, steelhead, and salmon populations in these parts. I am currently reading Frank Schatzing's The Swarm, and it's a bit uncanny how some of my recent experiences and encounters in the North-West are tying in with this novel.
A few fishy photos from the past three trips: Metolius River ...
... Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas) aquarium ...
... and Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography
Somehow I managed to make it back to Lubbock on Monday, despite our being desperately late from Seattle back to Dallas. I really hustled to zip from C31 to A29 in something like 12 minutes, but my luggage didn't—oh well. So, with one day home I went for a nice 35-miler to the End of The World, unpacked what I could unpack, washed what I could wash, and then did a few domestic chores. And then I was off again on Wednesday morning, this time to San Diego for another bike race.
Surf boards and an old Schwinn Varsity tandem for rent in Encinitas
Wednesday's flight out of Lubbock stands out just a little bit since it was the one that pushed me across the 100,000-mile threshold for 2014. Yep, 100,000 miles flown, all paid. So now I am requalified as one of American's top-1% fliers, as Executive Platinum, until the end of February 2016. With it come unlimited domestic upgrades when available (so far 46 out of 47 possible ones) and eight international upgrades—of course, that's "just" four roundtrips, so caution is advised in how I burn them. Good thing Angela is no longer in the picture!
Riding the 101 while dwarfing myself
For the past four days I have been living the good life in Southern California. My job duties entailed an hour-long meeting on Wednesday—and then nothing of consequence until yesterday's finals of the race I had been assigned to. That left plenty of time to make good use of the Ritchey, which had traveled with me to San Diego. (In Oregon I had used the Bike Friday because I didn't expect many opportunities for longer road rides, and the BF was born in Eugene, after all). One day I rode 48 miles north from Mission Beach (that's the one with the wooden roller coaster) up to Encinitas, and then back, passing along places such as La Jolla, Torry Pines, and Solana. The following day I started at La Jolla and rode south for a good 20 miles, all the way to Sunset Cliffs and Cabrillo. I am sure I must have passed some of the US' most expensive real estate!
The 101 leading north before Solana Beach
Wildlife at La Jolla
Beautiful likeness of grey whales outside of the Birch Aquarium
There is just one way to describe these rides: fabulous! It is mind-boggling to see those houses, knowing full well that the ones with ocean view costs millions (not just one) of dollars, and even the shacks just a block or two off the beach approach the seven digits. Look at the cars, and you realize that this is expensive turf. Look at the babes, and that fact becomes even more painfully clear (well, at least a bit, depending on whether they are in high heels and shopping or just playing beach volleyball). The constant ocean breeze brings the temperature down to a perfect level, and bike lanes and routes abound (even though some of them are in pretty horrible shape). People exercise in droves. On Saturday morning I went for a really early 20-miler, and I swear there were thousands and thousands of joggers, cyclists, stand-up paddle boarders, in-line-skaters, wannabe boxers, beach volleyball players, and arm-swinging walkers out to tone up, some with personal coaches who had "COACH" emblazoned on their yellow technical t-s. The percentage of fat people is much lower than in the heartland. California dreamin' ...
Panoramic view of La Jolla Bay
At Sunset Cliffs Beach
On Friday morning I went to yet another aquarium, after my brief visit of the Mandalay Bay's tanks a
week or so ago. The Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla not only features beautiful habitats of Pacific Coast underwater life (segmented by geographical location, of course), but they also have an amazing number of sea horses, sea dragons, and jellies (the latter not like those on display in Monterrey, but still impressive and beautiful). I'd recommend a visit here to anybody. Additionally, the Birch Aquarium probably makes one of the most sensible, most persuasive, most intellectual arguments for the fact that we are, indeed, fucking up our planet with our insane power consumption. How can anybody in his right mind really argue against the reality of global warming?
Could be in the Caribbean, eh? well, just wait a few weeks ...

Happy and definitely welcoming!
Not only is the aquarium a must-see; I also recommend visits to any of the 100+ (so I am told) microbreweries and brewpubs in the SD area. I hooked up with an old Texas mountain bike friend, Tony Brand, who relocated a while back. We met up on Mission Boulevard and then went on to a meeting of his potential new team at Societe Brewing ( rating of 98%!)—some of the most delicate IPA I have had in a long, long time. Other notable breweries were Hillcrest, Mission, and Ballast Point, all of them providing me with my daily dose of IPA and dinner.
Mission Brewery in downtown San Diego
Happiness after 48 miles: a $5 schooner of Stone IPA!
Not only one of the finest glasses out there: Ballast Point's Big Eye IPA
This was one of the easiest UCI gigs of the year, thanks in part to the schedule, the location, and the support of the organizing committee. On Saturday I did my work, with the help of truly great volunteers. Once again, I met a few new people who are ensconced in the world racing circuit, and I reconnected with others. Well, you know, I can't really write about any of that stuff, but let me tell you this: I am proud and honored to be associated with some of the best folks who call cycling their home.
The races pay for my trips
So, after these two crazy weeks I will be home tonight and sleep in my own bed for the next 10 days, or so. Of course, there is still the looming Angel Fire collegiate mountain bike race next weekend, and I will make a decision on that one in the next few days. Until then, Lubbock (almost) has me back.
Saturday morning beach volleyball pick-up game
Ah, the babes ...
This update was written at 35,000 feet thanks to my "friends" at GoGo Inflight (and that's a whole other story!).

And tomorrow: Judy will have been gone for four years. Time keeps piling up. I miss you, babe. Badly.


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