Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Passat Performance - San Jose to San Francisco

After waking up way before my 5:15am alarm for an early day of meetings in SF, I decided to have some fun while driving up Hwy 85/101 on the way to the city.

Once on the freeway I pegged the cruise control at 60mph, hung out in the slow lane and satisfied the old raver in me by listening to the latest Above and Beyond trance podcast.  For my petrol-head friends, check out these car stats:

Average Speed = 54mph
Distance = 53 miles (door to door from my house to the parking garage in SOMA)
Miles per galloon = 61.0  (it was 62.1 when I got off the freeway)
# of raver flashbacks = lost count after the 4th...

Bummer is I got to the city before the office opened, so thanks Starbucks for the free wifi.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


This past summer has been quite interesting from several different perspectives.  I finally lost all the weight that work put on me over the past two years and I'm back to my race weight of 2009/2010.  Climbing the local hills is now so much more enjoyable when I'm not searching for that extra gear that's not available (due to being too heavy!).  I'm also excited to see where I land with my next job.  Circumstances gave me the freedom to walk away from my past employer and to explore what else was out there in the marketplace.  Thankfully I have a few options to choose from right now and it will be a tough choice as all of them have their respective benefits.

Lastly, I've realized that this blog has been neglected far too long.  It's time to buck up and get back to writing.  I find it a therapeutic form of expression and something I've missed doing.  Here's to my new-found diligence and future posts!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Morgan Territory

It's been over a year since I was able to string together a really hard long weekend of riding.  Today I decided to explore from base camp (Discovery Bay, home to the in-laws) and try Morgan Territory Road ( 

The advice received last week suggested I climb it from the north and descend on the Livermore side.  I couldn't agree more.  The northside climb is well shaded and provided some great relief from the heat.  It was a cool 60* back in the canyon; the heat by the end of the ride was 93* back in Disco Bay.  The view from the top of the climb is pretty amazing.  I didn't realize I was at ~2,000 foot elevation, but you are rewarded with some pretty cool views of the entire area.  The plunge down to Livermore; maybe next time I'll turn right at the end of the road and go climb Diablo...still haven't done that climb.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Back on the Hockey Skates

14 weeks ago I ran into a small problem while playing. I had a burning pain on the outside of my right ankle. For some reason this only hurt when I laced up the skates, no pain in any other activities. I even went as far as sending the Graf skates back to George's Hockey Repair to have the ankle padding redone (excellent job by the way, a significant improvement of the stock padding). Come to find out the pain never went away and I had to visit the doctor.

I had a suspicion that my pain was somehow related to how the Graf's were a lower-cut boot. I tried on my old CCM's and the pain was a bit less, but not completely gone. On a whim, I tried on some Easton S17's and they just happened to be cut much higher and that got rid of the pain. Later that week the xray confirmed what I thought...something on the ankle was causing pain because of excess inward pronation. This was a result of some old basketball ankle injuries over the past 38 years of my life.

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The Easton's restricted the inward movement and thus the pain relief. If you look closely at the photo you'll see what the doctor labeled as "kissing legions"; not sure it's a true bone spur, but it's two small growths that cause the pain when the ankle pronates inward while the boot is applying pressure. Since the Easton's seemed to fix the problem, off I went to buy a pair.

Tonight was the first night with the late night drop-in crew. I'm pretty new to the game (going on playing for just over a year) so I didn't know what to expect. I spent quite a bit of the 14 weeks just doing stick handling drills in the garage until my forearms were burning. That was probably one of the few things that kept me sane while my friends kept playing. So stepping on the ice I had no idea what the evening would hold. Come to find out I was pleasantly surprised.

Skating skills came back after a few minutes and it felt like I hadn't really missed much time off the ice. It was nice to know that I wouldn't have to re-learn everything about skating. After doing nothing but stick drills in the garage having the puck on the blade seemed way more comfortable than ever before. But what really surprised me was some unknown burst of goals that I scored!

I've had a lucky shot here or there to get on the scoreboard before, but tonight I was in the zone. Ended up with five goals: 1) a redirect of a slapshot which the goalie didn't see coming as I have never done that before, 2) snap shot from the right wing to the top shelf on the blocker side, 3) one-timer from the left wing, 4) a greasy goal while battling in a scrum in front of the goal, and most satisfying, 5) a heavy slapshot from the point (this was the most satisfying...I got all of my 6'9" body behind this and beat the goalie at the bottom left post).

No way, no how would I ever predict something like this happening to me after my layoff. Having a breakout evening like this was exactly what I needed to fall in love again with the game as it was a tough time being away for so long.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time does change a few things

You know it's been a long time since coming back to your roots when people you run into ask how long you've been away and you can't honestly remember the last time you were in town.  Without having Lisa with me on this trip I didn't have my trusted calendar partner to try and figure out when and where we last made it up to the Northwest.  If I remember correctly the last time was two years ago when we spent a few days in Portland and then headed over to Bend to enjoy Eagle Crest with the Petersen's.

This time back I was all by myself and in town for my 20th high school reunion.  To be honest, as much as I was looking forward to seeing old friends, I probably was just as excited to have a full day of hanging out with my sister on Friday.  I think it's probably been fifteen years since either of us had the opportunity to do this.  As the day transpired it was great to catch up on a more personal level than just over the phone and email.

Our Friday was pretty unscripted.  The week leading up to the trip I had this overwhelming sense that there was a lot that I wanted to do, but I couldn't really pinpoint specifically what I wanted to do.  It wasn't until Friday morning after I woke up that I figured out my plans for the day.  It had been way too long since I had driven out to Boring and visited the old house where I grew up; so that was at least a start to the day.  Once my writers-esque block on itinerary planning was broken by this decision, the rest of the day fell into place.

When you've been gone for a long time sometimes things don't change, yet other things just seem to be juiced up and out of proportion like Barry Bond's steroidal growth'd head.  On the drive out to Boring things didn't really seem that different until I turned down Bartell Road.  Most alarming was the last half mile of the road before my old house.  Trees that were tall had grown another fifty feet and cast all sorts of different shadows upon the surroundings.  As we progressed closer and closer to the house my memories from fifteen years plus of living on the road were slowly be re-written.  Upon coming around a few corners in the road the sights were different and made me pause; it really had been a long time and things were definitely different.  I stopped the car to soak it in and to take a few pictures.  I'm still feel like these changes haven't settled in my brain and I feel some sense of internal struggle in my head between my old memories which were so engrained and what is not the reality of change.  Strange indeed...

I know I was more overwhelmed than my sister as she's been in the area ever since coming back from college in California.  We continued our journey over to the old Hoodview grade school and then out towards Estacada to try and find one of the homes of a boyhood friend (John Neufeld).  I always loved his house for several reasons.  First, back in the late 70's/early 80's the architecture of the home to me just seemed "cool".  The floorplan was long with several floors and lofts, with a ton of wood and very angular architecture.  I'm sure there's some style that sums it up, but I wouldn't know what term to apply.  Second, I spent a ton of time over at his house because of the number of sleepovers.  Which leads to the last point, a deeply ingrained affection for eating nachos while watching Dr. Who.  I'm not so much eating Nachos anymore while watching Dr. Who, but I'm still a super-freak fan of the current Dr. Who series; so glad the BBC decided to bring it back!

From here we meandered through the outskirts of town, did a quick stop at River City Cycles and found our way through downtown to Northwest 23rd.  The yellow VW convertible we were driving brought us good luck and we were able to quickly find a prime 2-hour parking spot.  That gave us enough time to hit up the street and take in the sights before nabbing sushi for lunch.  With the day half shot I needed a good sugar hit; on the way back to the car with swung into Papa Hyden to indulge.  I remember as a kid going there with the Neufeld's after going to symphony events as a kid (yes, I somehow didn't get too annoyed at going to the symphony as a kid knowing that we'd hit up places like this afterwards).

Fully jacked up on espresso and carrot cake and our day over halfway gone, we headed down to the Pearl District.  Again, luck struck with parking and we made our way into Powell's.  Now there's a place that hasn't changed!  It still has the largest selection of books I've ever seen.  OK, maybe not as much as the Green Library at Stanford, but by far the most of any store out there.  While in the area we came across a piano store and dropped in to see how much these actually cost.  Yeah, I have our family's Yamaha baby grand piano at my house, but I have no idea what it's worth.  Well now I know, and they aren't cheap!  I definitely feel some self-induced guilt knowing that the piano is in need of a good tuning and some TLC.  I sat down and played a bit of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C#minor on a concert Steinway.  The price tag on that piano made my Yamaha seem like chump change.  Thinking back to the lessons I took from the teacher who had one of these in his living room makes me have a greater appreciation for something I've previously discounted.  In retrospect, very cool to have learned how to play on such a beautiful sounding piece of art.

We wrapped up our day by getting lost in the west hills of Portland while trying to find some vista points.  We did manage to find a few but too quickly the day was drawing to a close and I had my first reunion event coming up quickly.  Thinking back it was nice to just hang out and spend some quality family with my sis.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

20 Years Later - The Pending High School Reunion

Something called Facebook has seemed to diminish what I used to think was a monumental milestone of reunions. I think it's been nearly ten years since I made the last reunion and I recently thought, "Wow, I'll definitely have to make the twenty year reunion." With Facebook I feel like time really hasn't passed much and I still know quite a few of the "unique" idiosyncrasies of my classmates. In fact, I probably know more than I really wanted to learn.

A little background might be helpful to set the context of the pending activities. I went to a small christian grade school (SDA, Seventh Day Adventist) and stuck with that religious education all the way through high school. My class was never large and I think there were around forty-five kids in my graduating class, many which I had known since an early age. To say I grew up in an education-related cocoon would not be an understatement. In fact it smacks of so many interesting perspectives that I won't dive into them now; more interesting is the fact that many of my classmates went all-in and decided to continue their education at the same college (Walla Walla College). It's a double edge sword with this class population. Everybody knows you and you know everybody. And that's not always a good thing...

In earnest I haven't been around the Portland area much since graduating. Sure, my parents still spend about two-thirds of the year up there and the rest of their time at the Joshua Tree cabin and my sister has a sweet little tattoo business. Outside of my immediate two to three close friends I haven't kept in touch with anybody ( can argue the merit Facebook brings to your friendships if you like...I'm on the fence). This seems to be the norm with me when it comes to my social circles. I know a lot of people, but I float from one circle of broad friends to another over time. Let's see, how many people do I keep close to from high school, college, raving, those first early career jobs, the startups, graduate school, teaching, golf, basketball and cycling? It's less than you would think; probably around ten to fifteen people in total. Diving into that function/dysfunction is newsworthy enough to blog about later.

So running into this small population of past classmates will be interesting. I'm diving into it solo; no wife or kids this weekend (they're getting ready for Disneyland while I'm away). So armed with a few recent photos and some old crazy high school stories that might dig up some interesting memories (yes wife, I'll do my best to use fake names to protect the innocence of the guilty and hide shame from their spouses) I'll see if I can make it through the weekend without missing a beat.

On a side note, I'm probably most excited to hang out tomorrow with my sister for the entire day. Just me, her, the convertible and plenty of coffee to keep us warm while we drive around the town dodging the rain with the top down!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Different Approach

Over the past several years this time of the racing season has usually seen me in pretty good form and getting ready for the District TT up in Sattley. But over the past nine months a lot of things have changed and it's a different Spring for me this time around. Not that different is bad, more often than not doing something different has a pretty positive experience which I tend to believe this will be the case going forward.

Something called work absolutely crushed me leading into Sattley last year. Starting back in May I took over a pretty overwhelming integration program (Tandberg) that had just kicked off and the timing couldn't have been worse...for training and trying to peak. On the other hand, it was a shot of confidence from leadership that they gave me the "keys to the car" to drive this integration forward; for this I've been really happy. Anyway, Sattley was only a smidge better than the previous year, probably due to the new pavement and not my ability to peak and taper for the event.

The winds of change knocked me sideways. For the rest of June, July and August I believe I only was able to get on the bike around ten times. And to make matters worse, I lost a really close friend: My fitness! Gone was the motivation to ride just for the joy of riding. Work had crushed everything, except the nagging ability to put on a few extra pounds. The low point was in December when I stepped on the scale and saw that I put on thirty pounds. Of course that much weight spread over a 6'9" frame doesn't really seem like any cause for concern to my friends, but that's like carrying Chris Phipps' and Greg McQuaid's bikes on my back while climbing Mt. Hamilton.

Align all this up with the family stuff and I figured it makes sense to approach things a bit differently this season. Gone is the early fitness for the Spring, but I have a new appreciation of watching my kids enjoy their soccer and volleyball events, and seeing my soon to be 3-year old daughter blossom immediately in front of my eyes. Spring brings change and being around to see more Single A baseball is pretty fun.

On the flipside I've got my motivation back and yes things will hurt. Shedding a few pounds is not fun, but at least there's the motivation to get it accomplished. Most importantly, I'm excited to actually not burn out after Sattley and to experience the races in June/July/August/September that I've neglected from TT-itis (that's the medical term for post-TT letdowns). Only time will tell...