An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Frederickson Fun Ride

After putting myself into the "event coordinator" role for a few mixed-surface rides, when my place of (daytime) employment was looking for people to help organize a cycling event, my friend threw me under the bus and suggested I would be a good resource.

It turned out to be a good thing. Not that it wasn't without some time commitment, but having myself and another racing cyclist helping out made the entire event come off smoothly. The folks who were initially putting on the event had big ambitions -- I told them that it would be a miracle if they got 25 riders on this first-time event.

My main duties (along with Russell Clark, who put on the CL100CXTTWC last December) were to scout out a route (that's poetry, by the way), suggest signage, and note where it would be good to have volunteers. Also, we secured a shop to come out for assistance on bike support.

Russ and I are both very familiar with the service road network on the company property, and we arranged a 7.5 mile route within the confines of the outer fences, minimizing the amount of two-way traffic. Sure, there are a couple challenging spots where some folks may have to get off and walk, but this isn't a race, and there are no ego points on the line. It is for the most part beginner-friendly as long as one is not trying to break any speed records.

Just a few weeks before event day we had a storm blow through, which dropped several trees across our chosen path. Where these trees fell across the fences, the maintenance crews were very quick to clear them. But there were a couple that fell on less-well-used dirt roads. I volunteered to come out on my own time and cut them out, but I think that violated several company policies and a few union rules, and my request for permission quickly elevated to high levels of management. Our contracted grounds crews must have been on it post-haste, because my recon ride two days before the event revealed a completely clear path.

One wrinkle came up the day before the ride, when the "leadership team" announced a barbeque for several work groups RIGHT on top of the time slot for the ride. This is the same "leadership team" that was supposedly pressed by the upper management to support this ride. Of course, since that very same upper management couldn't make it to the ride, it should come as no surprise that none of the other leadership would be there. As of 2 days prior, we were at a total of 15 for the daytime slot.

The morning of the ride came, and was spent marking the course and placing signs. Rain had fallen overnight, but not enough to make the wetter areas of the backwoods muddy yet. It looked like things would actually come together.There were a few challenges with some painted arrows being driven over, and thus disappearing, but some extra color kept things well marked.

We had a dozen riders show up, and I followed the last riders through the loop. Yes, it was slow going, and several times I tested my track standing. But no one got lost, no one got hurt, and the reports I've received so far say that everyone had fun.

That makes it all worth while.

Who knows, I might just do it again.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The passing of an icon

Photo by DBC Photography,
lifted from the Jerry Baker is Everywhere Facebook Page.

Some people are major forces in a community, and you never even know it.

Some people influence your life and you don't even realize it until they're gone, and you look back and see the fingerprints.

The Pacific Northwest cycling community lost one of those types of people today in the person of Jerry Baker.

I first met Jerry as the owner of the Baleno clothing company, a Seattle-based maker of cycling togs that also sponsored the Puget Sound Cycling Club, the racing club whose major sponsor was Gregg's Cycles. Our team meetings took place in the printing and cutting room of Baleno every month. That was in about 1990. He was kind of goofy, but always upbeat, always smiling, and always supportive. I had no idea at the time just the amount of effort he put into the racing and riding scene.

He is, as I've read, the only person to ride every Seattle-to-Portland Classic to date, even winning the first edition (back when it was actually considered a race) in 1979. He raised the initial funding for the Marymoor Park Velodrome in Redmond. He was a tireless supporter and advocate of racing, and was the man driving the development of the local cyclocross culture surrounding Seattle.
These are all things I came to know over the years of being around him occasionally, attending the annual New Year's Day ride from Bellevue, and seeing his face at so many races throughout the years.

But here's the funny thing -- for all his tireless support and energy, he was the man so few people even knew about. He was just that way. Sure, when talked to, he would be gregarious and always had a good story to share, but he was also very content to just do his thing behind the scenes and watch the community benefit. Or at least that's the way he always seemed to me. And quite frankly I had no idea he was 73 years old -- he always struck me as much younger, such was his constant energy and enthusiasm. 

There's a life lesson in that.

As a cyclist in the area, and past racer, you look back on all that and see his influence on your life, the opportunities he created for so many people, and realize that it shaped you in ways hadn't even noticed.

One man with energy. Not even caring who got the credit.

Rest well, Jerry. You will be missed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Missing a traditional event...

This coming Saturday is the Bonney Lake Labor of Love Triathlon, the 7th year the race has been run.

And it's also the first year that I won't be doing the race. As one of only a few who have done each edition of this race, it's kind of sad to miss it this year. A streak broken. And in fact it's the first year since 2007 that I haven't done any triathlons at all.

The reason I'm not doing the race has nothing to do with the fact that I haven't done any running or swimming since... well, since the last time I did the race. I could still do the bike leg of a relay. Though it wouldn't be my best ride. 

And it has nothing to do with needing time in the shop to finish up things for the Oregon Handmade Bike and Beer Fest, where I'm exhibiting for the first time.

No, the reason I won't be doing the race is because I've been battling some lower-back issues since just a few days after the Capital Forest ride, now over a month past. I believe that ride set me up for the injury, one of those "how could that hurt me so badly" kind of things that just seems stupid, but nonetheless puts me on the sidelines. This one was just hanging on. I can still ride, but every time I get into a good race position and push it, everything starts tightening up.

So I sought the intervention of a chiropractor.

I've seen one locally a few times when I've been feeling it. Within a couple adjustments things cleared up. Maybe they would have done so on their own anyway. This time, though, I wasn't seeing any progress, and the chiropractor was hesitant to take x-rays to see what was going on. I could FEEL the vertebrae out of place.

I defected to another chiropractor, and now a week later I'm doing MUCH better. X-rays showed that I wasn't imagining things -- a sideways angle at L-4 to L-5, and a forward displacement below L-5 said a thousand words of "ouch" in two pictures. 

Aggressive treatment is what I was after, and that's just what I got. Without 15 minutes of talk about how the chiropractor wanted to expand the clinic.

Anyway, I may still show up at the event if I can get on the road early enough, just to say a quick pre-race "hi" to the RockSteady kids. Maybe passing along a lesson in making the wiser choice...