During my bike commute home yesterday--yes, I'm still riding--I came up on a small line of cars being held up at a four way stop intersection. The first car appeared to be stalled and the cars behind it took their turns getting around. So I rolled up the right side to see if I could help. As I approached I saw the car lurch and stop and I instantly knew what was going on. Somebody can't drive a stick.
I got to the passenger side window and asked if they needed any help. The man on the passenger side explained he was teaching his daughter how to drive a stick. (That's a Bingo!) Frustrated with the lack of progress he got out and they switched seats. I went on and as he drove by me a strong smell of burning clutch was in his wake, which took me back in time.
I was 17 and driving my dad's 1959 Renault Dauphine. The gear shift on that car had an incredible amount of play in it. I was stopped on an incline and thought I put it in first. No, I knew I put it in first. Consequently, I tried to get going while in third and in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I still knew I was in first gear. So, yeah, I know what a burning clutch smells like. Dad was pissed. Fortunately, he did not force me to help him replace the clutch. My mechanical skills, or lack thereof, would have just added to the tension.
The news cycle has moved on, but I have an observation about the story where Senator Dick Durbin alleged that an unnamed Republican House leader told the president, “I cannot even stand to look at you,” during the government shutdown negotiations back on October 10th.
Senator Harry Reid, apparently informed by a couple of other people, said it was Representative Pete Session (R-TX). Rep. Sessions issued a puzzling statement.
“I will not admit to saying anything because it would not be true. If they taped our conversations in there, and private conversations were taped, they should have advised us of that, and I’m disappointed that the White House would try and mislead people otherwise."
Here is what the White House said.
“While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the president is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding."
I don't understand how people are being misled. Also, everyone at the meeting is denying it happened.
What I find interesting is that Sessions mentions the possible recording of private conversations. Why would you mention the recording of private conversations unless you were concerned that what you said in private may become public?
The forecast said there was a 50 percent chance of rain and it was pouring during the entire drive to Liberty Lake. And it continued to soak the course. I had intended to do the single speed and men's masters 50+ but then I realized I did not have enough dry clothing if I was going to be out in the rain for two races and taking pictures in between and after. So I bagged the first race. The rain stopped about halfway through the race.
Liberty Lake is a challenging course, mostly because it's 90 percent uphill. Well, it seems like it. The start is a long gravel road that makes a sharp right (in gravel) into a campground where there's another sharp right (in gravel). Take that too wide and you get really close to one of those barbecue grills on a stand. Don't ask me how I know. After that we had some back-and-forth with 180-degree turns on wet grass that each race churned up and made boggier. (Is that a word?) A long straightaway followed with a turn just after the barriers and then we had some twisting and turning through the trees.
Coming out of that we made a beeline for the beach. This year the markers were set about three feet away from the water's edge so we weren't forced into the water. The sand was loose and quite a few people lost it on the first turn. The trip back is a long steady incline to the finish. The part right after the finish is steeper but the funny thing about it is that it doesn't look like it. But once you hit it you're gearing down. Okay, so I was. A little more twisting and turning and then you're climbing to get to the run up. For your reward you are treated to a long run up. After that you swoop down back onto the road and keep going until your time is up.
I was happy with my race. I stayed upright and I didn't get hurt. Two plusses right there. I reeled in a couple of racers, battled with them, and won each time. I passed the first guy on the run up. Then at the top I was greeted by Doug Newell offering a Dixie cup of beer. What the heck, you only live once, right? I grabbed it, jumped back on the bike, downed the beer, and rolled on. I had one each lap and I was surprised it didn't seem to affect me in a bad way.
The next guy I passed was on the first turn in the sand. I went way wide on the grass, got by him, and tracked a deep groove on the turn. Then I ran away from him on the climb back. I caught the third guy just after all the gravel. Coming out of the back-and-forths and onto the straightaway towards the barriers, I put it on the big chain ring and cranked it. That guy chased me the rest of the race. He didn't catch me but he did make up some time when I tried to remount after the barriers and slightly racked myself. Outside of that one mishap my barriers were smooth. I rode through the sand each lap. The run ups went great. I shouldered the bike each time. And the PBR at the top was a welcome treat. I had a good, fun race.
I love how creative my kids are. Last night Steph and I were watching TV--or apparently I was--when she suddenly pipes up, "Hey, dad, is my hair shaped like a bow?" Awesome enough to get the camera out. But I'm not sure the Last Samurai would approve.
Dr. Rochelle Dicker, a trauma surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, does not see it that way. She cares for victims of the worst bicycle injuries, people who might need surgery and often end up in intensive care. So she decided to investigate those crashes. She and her colleagues reviewed hospital and police records for 2,504 bicyclists who had been treated at San Francisco General Hospital. She expected that most of these serious injuries would involve cars; to her surprise, nearly half did not. She suspects that many cyclists with severe injuries were swerving to avoid a pedestrian or got their bike wheels caught in light-rail tracks, for example. Cyclists wounded in crashes that did not involve a car were more than four times as likely to be hurt so badly that they were admitted to the hospital. Yet these injuries often did not result in police reports — a frequent source of injury data — and appeared only in the hospital trauma registry. Dr. Dicker is not a cyclist, but she said, “Lots of my colleagues do not want to ride after seeing these injuries.”
When her colleagues treat people who've been mangled in vehicle collisions, do they not drive? When they treat gunshot victims, do the doctors who own guns get rid of them? Do they not swim after treating a shark attack victim? And so on.
Leave it to our congresswoman to complain about the national health care web site and ask her constituents for their horror stories. It's as if she had no clue that her constituents sign up on the Washington Health Benefits Exchange site, which is working quite well, and not the national site that's having so many problems.
I fail to see how an overwhelmed, less-than-par web site proves that the health care law (She must be slipping--she didn't say "Obamacare") is unworkable.
I wonder if she brags to any of her fellow House members that her state's exchange site is an example of how we can make this law work?
This was the hardest, most miserable, and worst race I've ever had. Probably because I had the wrong tires on my bike. I've never been to Stanger Farm in Walla Walla before but I knew it was on farmland and based on what I'd seen online in the past I was expecting a wet, if not somewhat muddy course. Instead it was dry, dust-covered well-worn grass and loose dirt.
The course start was a straightaway followed by tons of serpentine turns. Then you went over the barriers and through a barn with a giant fire pit going and bikes hanging all over the place. You crossed a bridge and traveled through loose dirt into another barn with deep straw, then out to a double flyover and returning through the other side of the barn. Coming out of that you dropped into the creek and ran up the other side. More serpentine in the grass and then the triple flyover. You go over, loop around and go through, and then loop around and go under. It's pretty cool. A little more twisting and turning and you're back at the start. The course is short enough to allow seven laps per race.
I was chatting with Todd Conley--a better cyclocross racer and photographer than I--just before my race when he remarked that it was too bad I was never in any of the videos I made. Since he was sticking around for mine I asked if he'd mind shooting with my smartphone. He agreed and I gave him a quick tutorial on my phone and my technique. Turned out it was good he was there more than for shooting video.
My race went badly. I couldn't hold a line in the serpentine stuff on the grass to save my life. My front tire kept sliding out to one side or the other. I went down a couple times, once hitting my brake/shifter and turning it inside. I pounded that out straight while headed to the first barn. After going through the barn, crossing the bridge, and heading towards the second barn in loose dirt, I hit something and pinch flatted my back tire. Crap! I didn't have a spare. I thought I'd go ahead and run to the pit, which was just after the run up coming out of the creek, and then DNF. Todd was waiting there with the camera because he hadn't seen me come through yet. I told him what was up and he volunteered to loan me a rear wheel. He ran to his car and back.
"It's a ten speed."
Ohhhh, I have a nine-speed. It'll just have to do. I thanked him and jumped back on the bike. I was far behind and there was no way I was going to catch up with anyone so I suffered alone until the leaders caught up with me. And then I suffered alone after they went by. The rear wheel worked fine for the most part but shifted up a gear on its own every once in a while. Always while going up hill. That's the price you pay for racing cyclocross without a spare, I guess. But I did pick up a dollar on the run up so it wasn't a complete wash.
After the race I returned Todd's wheel and thanked him again. I haven't looked the the footage he shot (or mine) but he was at all the key places during my race. That was cool of him to do that as well.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is catching from everybody on her Facebook page. Some (like myself) fault her for her folly, lack of leadership, and hypocrisy and others because they felt she didn't go far enough. Here's a recap of her party's demands. What a shame that they shut down the government for nothing but even more so because plenty of Republicans think the lesson learned was that they didn't stay the course, which included defaulting on the national debt to go along with the shutdown.
No, I wasn't drinking Saturday night--or Sunday morning--but I felt tired, run down, and generally crappy. I woke up, thought about racing, saw it was 3:20 am, and my mind was now too awake to go back to sleep. On the bright side, I had time to I eat a good breakfast.
The drive to Moscow seemed to take forever. I showed up an hour before the first race, registered, and slowly rode the course to wake and warm myself up. There were some interesting changes from last year. It seems everyone with a cyclocross course is making improvements every year. Two additions were a sand trap inside a shed. You had to make a right turn through it. I found it best to hit it at a diagonal and squeeze the turn out just before hitting the tape. And there was a long sand trap that looked intimidating but was easy to pedal through--as long as you pedaled hard. Adding to the difficulty was a huge log that a few hopped or somewhat bumped over followed by a short but steep left turn quickly followed by a sharp right turn through a ditch. I and many others ran through the obstacle and up the incline, which was just as fast as what everyone else was doing. To me it was easier than getting back on the bike and trying to get enough speed for the climb in about 10 feet, especially with a single speed.
My single speed race was okay. I didn't go all out since I wasn't feeling well and wanted to save some energy for later. I did notice that coming out of the turns, all the other single speeders were accelerating faster than me and I'm pretty sure it was because they had a gear ratio that provided for more power. I had to crank to get up to speed. By the last lap--and I got all my laps in--my back was hurting. So that didn't help out my overall condition.
After the race I ate and hydrated but continued to feel bad. The combination of physical exertion and lack of sleep affects me a lot. So just before the men's masters I struck my name from the roster. On the bright side everyone in that race got their picture taken for a change.
The men's Cat 1/2 was an amazing duel between JT Fountain (L) and Kevin Bradford-Parish (R) in the photo above. I've never seen people go so fast. (Kevin won it.) It was if they were on a smooth road and everyone else on bumpy terrain.
I've been thinking about doing two races--my brother John also put a bug in my ear about it--but doing so with the INWCXS schedule means doing them back to back since I can only race in the men's masters and the Cat 4. But if I had a single speed I could do the first race and get 3-1/2 hours to recover before the men's masters. So I asked John and Glen if either of them had a bike I could borrow.
Glen had a bike on hand and very generously tweaked it to fit me. The front chain ring is 42 and the rear is 17, which after some intense thinking and cyphering with a slide rule told me that every time I cranked one revolution the rear cog turned 2-1/2 times. Or pretty close.
Glen even personalized it. How cool is that?
Having never ridden a single speed in a cross race before, I have new found respect for single-speeders. Yesterday's course was best described by Joe Anchondo as a power course. Outside of the long dirt/gravel road straightaway, most of the course consisted of technical turns (lots) and bumpy, speed-robbing open field. One section consisted of a downhill through soft, loamy soil leading to a 180-turn taking you back up hill. That hill got harder and harder with each lap on One Greer. Since the course length was shorter than normal we had to do 6 laps. I was standing and cranking hard on the last trip up that hill.
I ate some Clif bars and downed a bottle of chia seeded Gatorade to help get ready for the men's masters race. But the first race took a lot out of me and I was noticeably slower the second time around. Regardless, I felt good considering the circumstances. But I was ready for a nap when it was all over.
Matt Pollard and Brian Johnson were kind enough to take a couple of pictures of me. (Or maybe they wanted photos of Top Greer, which was undoubtedly the best looking bike out there.) I have to warn you, I am not responsible for any damage to your camera caused by taking my picture.
How ironic that she speaks of leadership. This manufactured crisis started because extremists within the Republican party decided now was the time to stop the Affordable Care Act. Speaker Boehner, more interested in keeping his job than showing any leadership, bowed to the extremists. Thanks to the Hastert Rule, Republicans prevent bipartisanship by only bringing up bills for a vote that have the support of the Republican majority. Thanks to the extremists for whom she is carrying water, that majority doesn't exist. Consequently, the House did not vote on a Senate-passed continuing resolution that funded the government at the level the Republicans wanted simply because it did not defund the Affordable Care Act. Now Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her party have escalated this manufactured crisis and threaten to put our country in default, which extremists in her party are saying would be a good thing.
Don't talk to us about leadership, Congresswoman. We can see the strings controlling you.
The cyclocross folks up in Sandpoint really outdid themselves. The course they built is fun, fantastic, and fast with just enough technical areas to keep you on your toes.
Friday evening while getting Top Greer ready for the race, I put on a fresh pair of Michelin Cyclocross Mud 2 tires. I was expecting a mix of wet and dry on the course and I really like the traction the Mud 2 tires provide. I was not disappointed. Mostly. But more on that later.
The start is a long straightaway that leads into a serpentine section where everything slows down for a bit. Then it opens up with an off camber turn, a bridge crossing (recommended over the wetland underneath), and a short climb into another serpentine. After that it's a mad dash to the double pathways through the trees which provide a great passing opportunity and into a short weave followed by more straightaways, the last one containing a bog-like section. Then it's downhill and banking right in another off camber section and up to the run up. The run up is short and steep but there were a couple of really strong riders who amazed some spectators.
After the run up you weave through trees in another boggy area, dip down and up through a ditch, and weave through loose, loamy soil before hitting the barriers. This is followed by four rollers and a steep banked turn, taking you to a log that you bump over, bunny hop, or dismount and run over. After a couple more short banked turns you head for what seems like an infinite death spiral. But with squared off corners. Leaving the death spiral you race for the finish line after you've done your five laps.
I rode the course before my race and tested out my new tires. I tend to be hesitant on the turns and take them too wide. I found these tires increased my confidence and comfort level. I also tried hopping the log a couple of times and felt good about that as well. As you can see from the picture, most people took the far right side, which is the lowest part of the barrier.
I registered for the men's masters 50+ group. I should probably switch to the men's Cat 4. The masters group is fast. But then just about everybody is faster than me so I just need to deal with it. I got off to a good start and ended up in fun battle with four others riders. I had my tire pressure down to about 30. My front wheel held every time but on some of the sharp turns, especially the squared off death spiral, my back wheel would skip sideways just a bit and then hold. Our little group was taking turns passing each other and jockeying for position. I was the lead of our group a couple of times and that always throws me off because I don't have someone in front of me I can use to judge how fast I'm going. So then I'd get passed because I let my guard down.
On the second lap I was feeling good heading for the log and decided to use it to pass the guy in front of me. While he went to the right side I hammered the pedals and got next to him. I flew over the middle and blew right past him. My friend Joe Anchondo and I then battled back and forth each taking the lead from the other. We were pushing each other hard and I was having a blast. I was not letting my guard down any more.
So halfway through the third lap I was in front of Joe heading for the log again. I cleared it just fine but for some reason I did not have my front wheel straight when I landed on the other side. Like I said, these tires have great traction. The tire held tight. Suddenly my bike is squirreling out from under me in a sharp turn and I'm flying over the handlebars. I landed on the back of my left shoulder and I think my bike then landed on me. Both of my quads felt like they'd been hit with a 2x4. Probably because my legs hit the handlebars on the way over. It's amazing how fast it happened. (Note to my brother John. Okay you were right.) Joe and the others zipped on by and I picked up Top Greer and took inventory of my body.
All the joints moved normally and there was no serious pain so I got back on the bike. Still, it took a lap for me to get my mojo back. I caught up with the back of the 40+ group, giving me a brief mental boost. As you can see from the picture, the tire bent away from the rim so much that it trapped vegetation in between when it snapped back into place. And it didn't go flat.
After the race I got my free beer and scarfed down a couple of brauts. I ran into Joe and he was happy to see I was still alive after my hard spill.
Ready to roll at Riverside State Park and Moscow, Idaho next weekend. But not right now. My shoulder and quads are slowing me down today.
House Republicans are working hard to reframe the message and do damage control over their shutdown of the government, a shutdown they planned for last January. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, always counted on to be loyal to the cause, has been at the forefront with her cable news appearances, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos. Yesterday, she added an email to the mix and that's what I'm focusing on here.
Cliff Owen - AP Photo
I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on the recent events in Washington, DC. On October 1, the federal government shut down many operations – and furloughed hundreds of thousands of its employees–after the President and Senate Democrats refused to negotiate any of the funding bills the House sent over to them in the past three weeks.
After the House and Senate each passed a budget, the Senate tried 18 times to conference so they could work out the differences. 18 times since April. Not only that, but Speaker Boehner made it clear last January that he is done negotiating with President Obama. And now with the onset of their brinkmanship, the House Republicans complain about a lack of cooperation?
The House passed a budget bill that kept the government open until Dec 15 but defunded the Affordable Care Act even though it was explicitly clear the Senate wouldn't pass it and the President would veto it. This is not about "any of the bills". This is about stopping the Affordable Care Act. Senator Cruz made that very clear when he whipped up the Tea Party fervor during his 21-hour grandstand focused entirely on the Affordable Care Act.
Or is it?
It was an extraordinarily difficult thing to see happen. Nearly 800,000 federal employees don’t know when they’ll receive their next pay check. They want certainty, decisiveness, and confidence that their elected leaders can protect them. That’s why Republicans are working every day to get this government open again and get the people of Eastern Washington and America back to work. And it’s frustrating and unfortunate that the President and Senate Democrats are standing in the way of letting that happen.
Now that the repercussions of the shutdown are clear and most Americans blame the Republicans, Cathy McMorris Rodgers repeats herself to emphasize it's not their fault.
I have voluntarily chosen to withhold my salary during the shutdown, and it goes without saying that I’ve suspended all political fundraising events.
The vast majority of our politicians are wealthy enough to forgo their salary for a while. I would venture that the opposite is true for 800,000 federal employees.
But this is about much more than a debate over a funding bill. It’s a fundamental difference about how to govern, about what kind of future we want to leave for our children and grandchildren. Let me explain how we’ve reached this point. For three years, since Obamacare passed on a strictly partisan vote – pushed through with every parliamentary tactic in the book – the Administration and Senate have refused to listen to the American people. Sadly, the only time we have made any progress is when faced with one “fiscal crisis” or another, each one brought on by the federal government’s unprecedented growth in spending. Even today, the federal government is spending over $600 billion more a year than we bring in – and that number would be twice as high if the House had not forced spending reforms the last time we came up against the debt ceiling.
It'n not a debate over a funding bill at all. It's only about stopping the Affordable Care Act. Go back and read her letter in which she believes "that fairness dictates that my pay be held until such time that normal government operations resume." The second paragraph makes it clear this is about the Affordable Care Act. Senator Cruz made that clear. The Affordable Care Act has survived a Supreme court challenge and a presidential election. It's the law and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who said at her Spokane town hall that it would not be defunded, is working hard to defund it, delay it, or stop it altogether.
Or is she?
Enjoy the irony of her complaint that the Affordable Care Act passing on a strictly partisan vote. It comes from a member of a party that only brings up a bill for a vote when they know it's supported by the majority of their party.
Her complaint of a $600 billion deficit fails to mention that the deficit dramatically decreased. Why? Because of increased revenue from the expired Bush tax cuts and increased payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
For the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row. The Budget Control Act (BCA), which the Republicans passed, was the largest spending reduction bill of the last 25 years – amounting to $630 billion in savings over five years. It was the largest deficit control bill since 1981 not to contain a penny in tax increases. Our legislation successfully protected 99 percent of Americans from a tax increase on a permanent basis, and ensured that almost all of the 2001 and 2003 tax rates were made permanent, including the death tax and lower rates on capital gains and dividends.
All this is here to make you forget that the reason for the shutdown is to defund, delay, or stop the Afford Care Act.
Or is it?
We have ideas to revive our economy – from the Keystone Pipeline Project and energy expansion, to tax reform that would spur a new generation of American manufacturing jobs, and health care reforms that would reduce consumer costs and bring competition back into the marketplace. But the Senate believes their slim majority gives them the right to ignore everything coming from this side of the Capitol. And Americans are paying the price because of it.
Again, more "hey look over there" to take more mind off the defunding of the Affordable Care Act.
With just two weeks to go until the Treasury runs out of money, with federal agencies closed and national parks padlocked, our message to the President and Democratic-controlled Senate could not be clearer: come to the negotiating table. Listen to the American people. We don’t expect to get 100 percent of what we want, but we represent one half of the legislative branch and we insist on being heard. In times of divided government, both bodies of Congress and both parties have come to the table and worked out their differences. This time should be no different. Congress works best with negotiations and compromises, not shutdowns and crises.
Republicans have dug themselves into a hole with their brinkmanship so Cathy McMorris Rodgers passes out more shovels. So why do we have this manufactured crisis?
I ran 3.5 miles barefoot today, mostly on the new section of the Centennial Trail that passes through Kendall Yards and into the West Central neighborhood. The trail is awesome. The new smooth pavement is perfect for getting my bare feet back into shape.
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers made a half-hearted attempt at sharing the pain of furloughed federal employees. Yesterday on her Facebook page (how appropriate that the link ends with "theater") she posted this letter.
You'll notice the second paragraph contains nothing but grandstanding hogwash totally unrelated to stopping her pay. And also notice the last paragraph doesn't really direct anyone to do anything, only that she believes "that fairness dictates that my pay be held until such time that normal government operations resume."
Cliff Owen - AP Photo
A humble and sincere person would have written, "Please withhold my pay until I notify you to do otherwise." But not our congresswoman. The letter also makes it clear that the government shutdown is all about stopping the Affordable Care Act. That's it.
The Senate passed a bill that gave the Republican House the lower spending it wanted, but McMorris Rodgers and her fellow extremists are not satisfied with that. They will put people out of work and wreck the economy just to stop the Affordable Care Act, which makes their "creating jobs" and "growing the economy" talking points sound even more hollow than before.
Today was my day to count at the intersection of Addison and Rowan this morning. It started off slow but picked up after 8:00 am when the kids started heading to school.
The school crossing guard program is much different than when I was a crossing guard back in 1968. These days they have adult supervision. Back when I was a Crossing Guard Sergeant at Bryant Elementary (thanks to my buddy Jessie Powell who was the Crossing Guard Captain, which incensed the hell out of Helen Eggleston who certainly deserved to be Sergeant because she had way more time on the squad than me), our flags consisted of heavy metal rods with a red STOP flag. We made great sport of waiting until the cars were just about on us and we'd jump out with our flags. We wore a white canvas belt with a strap that crossed diagonally across the chest and over the shoulder with a kind of highway patrol look to it. And we had a metal badge on that strap. I don't think safety orange had been invented yet. Ah, the good old days.
I ran twice last week, both times for two miles. And my ankle felt good. Yesterday and today I did four miles, two in the Vibrams and then two barefoot. My ankle isn't 100% but it's really close. But after four months of no running I have no callouses on my soles so I'm starting over in that respect.
Regardless, it sure feels good to be running again.