Saturday, May 31, 2014


No, unfortunately not mine. Paul, our good friend and neighbor, retired as of yesterday. Kathy, not one to let something like this go unnoticed, had some decorations and patio furniture waiting for him when he got home from his last day of work. Truth be told, "retired" to Paul means he's not working for anyone else any more. He's self employed, but just enough so he can take more time for the fun things in life. Good on him.

She's Blinded By Science

In other Cathy McMorris Rodgers news, our fair congresswoman voted for an amendment--it passed on party lines--that prevents the Department of Defense from studying how climate change will affect our national security.

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used to implement the U.S. Global Change Research Program National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, the United Nation’s Agenda 21 sustainable development plan, or the May 2013 Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis Under Executive Order.

Denying reality must take a lot of energy. Or really dark glasses.

She Outraged--This Time

Cathy McMorris Rodgers is out to make political points on the Veteran's Administration scandal with an op-ed she penned.

As the wife of a retired Navy commander and the representative of the district covering Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, I see firsthand the permanent effects of war -- both physical and psychological -- on those who serve our country.

Our congresswoman tries to add to her credibility by stating she's the wife of a retired Navy commander. This is just as laughable as it is disingenuous. He was retired from the Navy when she married him. She's never spent a minute living on a military base or experiencing military life, something you would assume about a person making a point of being a spouse of a military member, retired or not.

Last week, we passed the overwhelmingly bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, which holds the VA accountable for actions that are both egregious and preventable. 

So her response is to make it easier to fire people. You have to wonder if she read the audit report.

Lack of provider slots was the highest barrier to getting appointments. She has nothing to say about that.

Though recent reports highlight the fundamental inefficiencies and mismanagement within the agency, the VA has failed to protect America's veterans for far too long. This is a serious problem, and it demands a serious solution.

For far too long. Really? If this has been a problem for such a long time why is she just now speaking up? Remember when the Walter Reed scandal broke back in 2007?

Here was her response back then.


You get the impression that it depends on whose watch the scandal happens.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


I just spent the last three days in Yakima. Yesterday Steph texted me.

Steph: What would you like for dinner?

Me: Surprise me.

Steph: Is this like Ratatouille? Do you want ratatouille?

Me: Sure.

It was delicious.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Hard Day's Night

This year's theme was A Hard Day's Night. Never was a race more appropriately named. Doing the 24 Hour Round The Clock Race as a solo is just as mentally challenging as it is physically. I'm very glad I did not know how how painful this was going to be before I did it. I'm hopeful I'll forget about the pain so it won't dissuade me from doing the race again.

I hung back for the Le Mans start and jogged the 600 or so meters back to the bikes. It was nice that the solos had their own bike racks separate from the teams. I put on my helmet and joined the swarm going up the first hill. The first half of the first lap was crowded, especially when we hit single track and/or rock gardens. But the field eventually spread out and the race was on. I stopped after each lap to refuel and swap out water bottles. During the second lap the bottom bracket on my 29er started making a clicking noise. It got worse during the third lap. I was afraid a mechanical issue would put me on a loaner 26-inch bike, which would have been much less comfortable.

Dave Nelson, who does a ton of volunteer work for the race, stopped by when I pulled in after the third lap. He generously offered to take my bike to have it checked. I thanked him very much and did a lap on the backup bike. When I returned I found out the bearings were a little dry. It couldn't be fixed there but two mechanics said the bike was rideable. What a relief. I headed out for lap number four. (clickity-clickity-clickity-click)

Kathy and my sister, Barb, stopped by with some food for me after lap five. I wolfed down some pasta salad, fruit salad, and a slice of pizza. Then I washed that down with a bottle of flat Dr Pepper. Laps six and seven went very smooth and strong with that in the tank. During my night laps I carried my Bluetooth speaker in a net bag on my back and blasted the likes of Rammstein, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Alter Bridge, and many more all night long.

There were a couple of comical moments on my first two night laps. When I arrived at the top of Devil's Up, two guys were standing there. They were both in freeze frame. One was acting like he was taking my picture with a smart phone. The other was in a still-frame cheer. On my second night lap I was weaving through the dark woods when all of a sudden there's someone in a gorilla suit waving. All I saw was black hair and big white teeth. It scared the crap out of me and then I laughed.

Tragedy almost struck a little after two in the morning. I was going through an area called Little Vietnam. It's right next to the Spokane River. It's green and lush and quiet and cool. My minded faded and I drifted a little to my right into the vegetation. Boom! My bike suddenly stopped and I flew over the handlebars. I found a huge frickin' rock. I was stunned for a few moments but then gathered my wits and checked everything out. My only injury seemed to be a killer monkey bump on my left thigh. Everything on my bike seemed okay. The switch that dampens the rear suspension was snapped off the handlebar. (Later on when I was cleaning up I found that my chest broke the switch.) I wrapped the cable around the brake and shifting cables so it wouldn't tangle in the spokes and got back on the bike.

The rest of the night was a blur. Lights would quickly approach from behind and team riders, and a couple of other solos, greeted me as they passed by. I just kept refueling, pedaling, cranking the tunes, and focusing on completing the lap I was on. I found myself losing power and walking up more of the climbs. At some point I put on two pair of bike shorts hoping the extra padding would help my sore butt.

Come sunrise I was damn tired and unsure whether I had done ten or eleven laps. It was after 6:00 am and I felt I was done. I went over to the pancake breakfast and had some giant blueberry pancakes and a huge glass of chai tea. If you saw me sitting there with my head hanging over my plate and weakly shoveling chunks of pancakes into my mouth, you would have thought, "That guy is done." And I thought I was. I was physically and mentally worn. Despite the anti-chafing products, my butt was extremely sore. Plus, I'd been awake since 6:00 am the day before. Then I checked the standings. The guy in first was unreachable. I was in second but I didn't have a lock. I was on lap eleven and I could be caught.

Well, crap. Surprised to find myself podium eligible I now needed insurance to remain there.

So I went out for another lap around 8:00. About halfway through my front derailleur started acting up. The chain was reluctant to stay on the big ring. Shifting down send the chain between the little ring and the bottom bracket. In the meantime the bottom bracket was clicking incessantly. I got back to camp around 9:45 and decided to do one more lap on the backup bike. But I had until noon so I knew I could take my time. It was a most painful lap. I had to stand on the pedals a lot to keep my butt off the saddle as much as possible. That wore my legs out. As it turned out I didn't need to do either of those laps as the third place guy did ten. But I had no way of knowing that would happen.

I got back around 11:45. Stephanie was waiting for me with some donuts. Whoo-hoo! I waited for the gun to sound indicating the race was done and rode to the timing tent to check in for the last time, wrapping up 13 laps and about 192 miles. My bike is all beat to death but it served me well. It will be repaired. And I can't wait for the pain to subside so I can look forward to racing next year.

 Done! Waiting for the final gun.

Trying to stay awake before awards are presented.

The third place guy grabbed his stuff and walked away.

One for the books.

Friday, May 23, 2014

All Set For Tomorrow

I got my tent set up. I have two coolers, one with water bottles and one with chia seed-loaded sports drinks. Clif bars and Shot Bloks are at the ready. And there's a couple of sub sandwiches for when I need something more substantial. Batteries are charged and the bikes are clean and oiled. 

It's gonna be fun. 

 Base camp Hank.

The geriatric men's solo division.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Centennial Trail Extension

Progress is being made and it's looking good.

Road Finds

None that I wanted to keep. Nor would I attempt to load either of these onto my bike. But I have to admit that the thought of a bicycle with a toilet bungee corded to the rear rack would be hilarious.

 What's on the tube?
In the near future children will ask why we call the TV a tube.

It's way too late for me to take the killer selfie that occurred to me later in the day.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

24 Hour Race Practice

The course for the 24 Hour Race is marked and I rode it from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm today. I wanted to see how I felt after a long ride and test out my fluids and food plan. On the first lap I thought I took it easy but I obviously didn't since I completed it in an hour and ten minutes. I backed it off a notch and did the next three laps in 1:20 each. That still isn't ideal for me since I plan to ride for the entire time. I did six laps in eight hours, which averages out to 1:20 a lap. My goal is to do at least 200 miles and this was about 90 so my goal seems reachable.

Less than a week away.

For my fluids I grabbed a fresh water bottle on each lap and I drank half of a chia seed-infested sports drink. That seemed to work well. I had no hydration issues. I practiced eating Clif bars and Shot Blox while I was riding. That helps slow me down because it's difficult to chew and swallow if you're breathing hard. I had a Clif bar at the beginning of each lap and a Shot Blox after completing Five Minute Hill. That was fine but after five hours my stomach was needing something substantial. I think I'll fix some sandwiches for the race. That way I can chow down and make my stomach happy and take an extra slow lap to allow some time to recover from the prior five hours.

 I'm running out of skin.

I biffed it on the second and third lap. The first crash came courtesy of a tree branch I got too close to on a turn. It caught and turned my handlebars. For the rest of the day every low-lying branch protruding into the right side of the trail gave me a stinging reminder. The second crash was from a pedal strike on a big rock. It was minor. It only knocked off some of the scabs I got from last Wednesday's crash.

If nobody claims it after two laps, it's mine, right?

I think it would be wise for me to add a first aid kit to my gear list.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bike To Work Week Wrap Up Party

The wrap up party was a resounding success. About 120 people showed up at River City Red Brew Pub for free food and free beer. River City donated two kegs of beer. It was great so many cyclists attended, but many of them must have had their priorities misplaced. The food disappeared but we still had beer left over. What's up with that? 

Now had this been a cyclocross race....

Regardless, people ate, drank, hung out, and received prizes. On the final draw, the guy randomly asked to pull a ticket drew his own. What are the odds?

Bike To Work Week Committee members want to know,
"Are the orange shirts bright enough?"
"Have you seen the rest of this bike?"

It was odd that a rear wheel for a fat bike was just leaning against a building waiting to be used as a prop. How often does that happen? Or should the better question be, "How does this happen?"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Night Mountain Bike Race

It was not my night. The course was short so those of us doing two laps had to do three, which was fine. I started at the back of the pack and worked my way up a bit. Just before ending the first lap I came to the top of the downhill that led to the straightaway finish and my front tire slid out on me. I scratch my leg up a little and got back on. Two riders got by me and I reeled them back in on the straightaway.

On the second lap my chain came off the front chain ring and got caught between the chain ring and bottom bracket. Twice. Each time I had to wrestle the chain back out. In the meantime, all kinds of riders passed me by. I reeled a few of them back in, including my friend Brian who rocked the fat bike on the course. He was hoping I'd have one more mechanical on the third lap so he'd have a chance at finishing ahead of me. Sorry to let you down, Brian.

The third lap went better and I finished strong. After getting my beer I checked my bike over. The front derailleur is out of adjustment so I'll be taking care of that. My scraped up leg was complaining. It got a good scrubbing at home and a light coat of neosporin. Fun times.

I'm a wimp.

In 24 Hour Race news, the course is going to be marked this coming Friday. On Sunday I'm going out there for an eight hour ride.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sweeper Crew Needed

Last month I noted that the parts of the trail running adjacent to the roadway still had lots of traction sand, also known as gravel. Last year the state swept the trail in April. Still waiting....

The other side of the barrier has very little sand left.

Nothing of note here. Just a picture of the bridge crossing over the Parksmith exit.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Email Phishing Scam

I received an email purporting to be from Wells Fargo Bank. I hovered my mouse over the Login to Customer Central link they so helpfully provided.  You can see in the lower left the link takes me to a web site with a Russian domain. Amateurs!

Bike To Work Week Kickoff Breakfast

The crowds wasn't as large as in the past, which was surprising because the weather was very nice for once. But I did see a number of people eat quickly and head off. It was great to catch up with friends and witness Spokane's vibrant cycling community.

 Mountain Gear provided pancakes again.

 Betsy Lawrence showing off this year's shirt.

 Madeline McNeill has a beautiful voice.

Spokane City's Commute of the Century table was busy.

 A cycling blogger whose reputation exceeds my own.
But then, whose doesn't?

 City Councilman Jon Snyder was a guest speaker.

I love it when people pose.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Federal Law

In today's Spokesman Review we have an article about some people who were within state medical marijuana laws but are being prosecuted in federal court.

I'm not to going to get into the details of the case but I would like to point out one paragraph that highlights an issue our country has in federal courts.

The five also face a mandatory five years extra in prison if convicted of “possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.” Agents did seize eight firearms, including a black-powder rifle and a .22 that Harvey says doesn’t work, but the guns had nothing to do with the garden, he contends.

About 95% of criminal cases never go to trial in federal court. Most people accept a plea deal. Three contributing factors to this high percentage of plea deals are: (1) increased criminalization at the federal level, (2) mandatory minimum sentences, and (3) the ability of the US Attorney's Office to pile on the offenses a person is charged with.

In this case where the guns did not play a factor in the crime, the US Attorney can still press those additional charges. What would you do if you were looking at mandatory minimum sentences and a huge total of possible penalties for additional charges? Probably, like most people, you'd accept a plea deal.

By the way, when you go to trial and you're found guilty, you are told you don't receive any credit because "you put the government to the test." I always found that statement strange because the burden of proof is on the government. Why make it sound like a defendant gets punished for making the government do its job?

It will be interesting to see how this trial goes, but I do not think it will turn out well for them.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Trail Ride Today

I went out to Riverside State Park this afternoon for a nice three-hour ride. I kept it easy and just enjoyed myself. 
 The scene of the crime from last Wednesday. The tree in the center is the one I bumped. The one behind it to the left caught my front wheel dead center.

 Looks like they held a color race today.

 And it was all yellow.

The chair recognizes the distinguished gentleman from Spokane.

Friday, May 9, 2014

His Concern For Cynicism Brings Out The Cynic In Me

George Nethercutt whiffs again as he swings for the fences in his latest commentary published in The Inlander. He feigns concern about "Millennials" not voting and their lack of trust in government. I say feign because Republicans don't want young people to vote anyway. Their base consists of elderly white people.

But George Nethercutt wants to make a point about public cynicism.

Likewise, Americans have generally lost faith in President Obama. His "trustworthiness" scores have diminished due largely to Obamacare promises unfulfilled, perceptions of dishonesty relating to the IRS and Benghazi controversies, and his drawing of false "red lines" internationally.  

What promises were unfulfilled? He does not say. He only makes an unsupported assertion and treats it as a fact. The Affordable Care Act was definitely not the best implemented legislation, but millions more of Americans have health care now and millions have more affordable health care. What negatives have outweighed the plusses? As for perceptions of dishonesty relating to the IRS and Benghazi controversies, these were perpetrated by Republican House members, especially Rep Darrell Issa, and Fox News. Leave it to George to allow the perceptions to stay in the forefront and ignore the facts that show that conservative organizations were not singled out by the IRS, there was no White House involvement, and there is no Benghazi cover up.

But George Nethercutt wants to make a point about public cynicism.

When a Republican congressman was recently photographed passionately kissing a staffer who was not his wife, public disgust ensued. When another Republican congressman was arrested and indicted on multiple fraud and tax evasion charges, the public was again let down. When a Democratic congressman claimed that opposition to Obama's policies are simply race-related, the public took issue and cynicism increased.

I'd like to add that public cynicism also increased when a certain Republican congressman, who now writes commentary for The Inlander, violated his self-imposed limit of three terms.

But George Nethercutt wants to make a point about public cynicism.

Researchers from Princeton and Northwestern universities recently suggested that the U.S. political system is an oligarchy, dominated by special interest organizations and the economically elite, instead of the majority of voters. President and Mrs. Obama haven't helped that perception by vacationing lavishly and spending extravagantly while the rest of America is hurting.

Vacationing lavishly? Spending extravagantly? What is the basis for those statements? What the researchers were referring to was the monied interests who get their way politically through their influence on legislation and the legislators. Elected leaders are not the oligarchy. It's the people and companies who purchase their influence.

So what does he recommend to get young people engaged?

For starters, the quality of congressional leaders needs improvement. Leaders should be elected to serve the public good, not personal ambitions.

Another baseless statement implying that congressional leaders are only interested in personal ambition. Unless, of course, you take into account that for many of them their primary concern is getting re-elected and so they spend an extraordinary amount of time raising money.

Members of Congress should convene advisory groups of young voters to advise them through social media outlets regarding their views on policy matters — and then those members should produce results by giving progress reports on suggestions implemented. Voters also should demand that their public officials periodically explain how their service has improved the public good and offer young people hands-on projects that achieve a public or policy objective. Fair competition also means frequent candidate debates.

If a politician is able to effectively communicate their message and their views, why would they need an advisory group of young people? Also, just because a politician uses social media, doesn't mean it they communicate effectively. Have you seen anything of substance in Cathy McMorris Rodgers' Facebook and Twitter accounts?

Progress reports? Really? I'm way too cynical to think any elected leader would give themselves anything but an A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++.

Overall, I think George Nethercutt makes a valid point about public cynicism.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wed Night MTB Race

Tonight was the first race of the 8-week series. I signed up for the 2-lap race. Just because. There was a great turnout. So many, in fact, that registration ran long and the race started 35 minutes late. The course was crowded so I got plenty of experience dealing with that. All it takes is one person up front to lose it in the rock garden and everybody comes to a halt. Overall, I was very happy with my race. I had a great time. My confidence level rose and I think I did pretty good.

On the second lap I caught up with three other riders at the top of Five Minute Hill. I trailed them on the single track, waiting for an opportunity to pass. When the opportunity came, two of them waved me by. I followed the third one for a bit before getting by him. On the last climb one of the guys behind me just cranked it up the hill and got well ahead of me. I put a target on his back. I was slowly reeling him in when I went through a swerving section of single track loaded with trees. Going a little fast for conditions, if that can be done, I bumped the end of my handlebar on a tree. That knocked me off track and I caught a tree head on for my trouble. I was okay and I frantically checked my bike to make sure it was too. The handlebars and front wheel were not in line anymore but everything else seemed okay. In the meantime, four riders behind me passed by. Satisfied the bike was rideable, I jumped back on. The remainder of the course was flat double track and I opened up the throttle. I got by one rider and had one in my sights on the final straightaway. When I passed him he hammered the pedals and surged. But I had plenty of gas left so I kept my front wheel just ahead of his as we sprinted to the finish. I ended up 19th out of 38 in the men's 40+ two-lappers.

Then I had beer and bratwurst. Whoo-hoo!

 My bib number for the series.

 The fast guys up front.

Scored some free tools!

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'm A Winner

My brother, John, took this picture of the guy who came in 1st place at Bloomsday. There's an uncanny resemblance, eh?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Saving Soles

My brother, John, hung out at our mom's house a took a couple of photos of the race.

Wheelchair leader.

 Women's elite leaders.

 Men's elite leader.

Instead of running barefoot, I wore the Vibrams this year. My ankle injury flared up on me a couple weeks ago during a four-mile lunch time run. I compensated for it, which affected my stride, and I ended up with a large blister on each foot in two miles. So I saved my soles this year.

I didn't check my time until I hit the five mile mark near the top of Doomsday Hill. I was surprised to find myself at 41 minutes and some change. Quick math told me I needed a sub 8-minute-mile pace to beat my PR of 1:00:40. Smart thinking said to just take it easy. I was feeling it but not as bad as the maroon shirt guy to my right. I think I crossed the line at just over 1:02:00.

Wife, Kathy, and sister, Barb.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Prom Night

A Day Of Ascents

My brother, John, came over for the weekend and brought his cross bike along. We went out for a mix of pavement and gravel, climbing Mount St Michael, Old Bruce Road, Moffat Road, and Kronquist. Lots of other cyclists were out and about. While climbing up Old Bruce Road another cyclist came ripping down the hill. We crossed paths with him again while we were climbing up Moffat. While we were on Pleasant Prairie a swarm of roadies blew by us. We spotted a few other singles along our route. It was a good ride. But when are they not?