Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reefer Madness

I'm totally blown away to see an advertisement for marijuana. They may want to add to the warning that spelling may be impaired too.

A Budding Artist

Steph's awesome selfie.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Nothing's Changed

I ran across this today.

Rachel Rieger figured getting diagnosed with celiac disease and having to rid gluten from her diet meant she could no longer partake of the wheat-based communion bread that represents a key facet of her Catholic faith. 

"It was tough for me to cope with," said Rieger, 23. 

She was thrilled when her priest in Cleveland, Ohio, told her the church allows a low-gluten wafer generally considered safe for people who suffer damage to their small intestine when they eat the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

One would think this wouldn't be an issue what with transubstantiation and all. But then all that is accessible to the senses remains unchanged.

Brad, Use Your Intellect

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Donuts

My sister, Barb, made this reindeer and snowman donuts for our family gathering last night. What a hoot.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Remember Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, of "I'll throw you off the balcony" fame last January? Well, back in 2007 through 2010 he under reported wages and revenue at his restaurant where he also employed undocumented workers. He was allowed to plead guilty to one of the 20 counts he was indicted for and he's looking at up to three years of prison time.

From the article:

"Before I was elected ... I was a business owner of a small restaurant in Manhattan," the Staten Island congressman told reporters after the 30-minute federal court hearing. "Even though it was a little restaurant, I made some big mistakes. 

"I thank God for the courage to admit when I'm wrong," Grimm said.

So full of courage. Like a chamber pot is full of courage. Grimm is an attorney and former FBI agent. He did not make some big mistakes. He's committed fraud. He also plans to stay in his seat.

We have yet to see if House Speaker Boehner or our own highly touted member of the House Republican leadership, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, have the same--correction, true--courage to force Grimm to resign or expel him from the House.

My prediction--get used to the chamber pot smell.

Best Christmas Tip Ever

Last summer a friend of mine mentioned he stopped taking the paper. I offered to give him mine every day when I was done with it. I never received a Christmas tip like this back when I was a teen.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater

A "punishment" for forgetting a shirt on my double mileage day last Friday was that I had to wear an ugly Christmas sweater today at our office meeting. Stephanie helped me find an appropriate sweater. I thought a bow tie would compliment the sweater. Steph came through for me there, too. I practiced and practiced but tying a bow tie neatly is difficult. Looks like I'll be practicing some more.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Reality Is Way Out Of His Grasp

The Inlander's attempt to have "both sides" represented in their commentary in the form of our former congressman, George Nethercutt, again has paid off in spades. Nethercutt presents a bizarro world that doesn't come close to touching reality.

First he ties together the events of Ferguson, Missouri, where a police officer was not indicted for killing a young unarmed black man, and President Obama's executive action on immigration as if they are intertwined. And he has this to day:

Young people need to be taught right from wrong, how to deal with authority figures, what it means to be law-abiding and responsible; doing so shows them someone cares about them. Racial profiling by vindictive police forces isn't the sole cause of racial division in America. My experience is that the vast majority of police officers work to assure that society is orderly and to prevent crime. Certainly there are national examples of police abusing their authority, and such abuse may be race-based. But that abuse is outweighed by overwhelmingly honorable police officers, facing tough duty and danger each day. First responders deserve our respect and our thanks.

Apparently, young people are not being taught right from wrong, how to deal with authority figures, or how to be law-abiding and responsible. And there's the answer. If only young people were obedient and subservient, we wouldn't have these problems. Oh, and most police officers don't profile people based on their race and those that do are not the cause of racial division.

Well, isn't that special? What are the causes? A long history of oppression, lynching, and Jim Crow laws? New voter ID laws? The systemic institutional discrimination? He doesn't say. Also, George Nethercutt has no clue that "my experience", as he calls it, with police officers is from the perspective of someone who benefited from white privilege all his life.

But he's not done jumping back and forth between two unrelated topics.

Nationally, Republicans are in a lather about President Obama's left turn on immigration. Constitutionally and philosophically, he clearly reversed himself with his convoluted "prosecutorial discretion" legal argument for stopping deportation of immigrants in the United States illegally. In my opinion, his executive order was unlawful.

Who knew George Nethercutt paid so much attention to alleged unlawful behavior on the part of the Executive Branch. No wonder he was screaming so loud about the illegal invasion of Iraq, use of torture, indefinite detention, and dark sites. Oh...wait. I guessed he kept that to himself or something.

Time to change subjects again.

Rather than threaten government shutdowns and cumbersome defunding of government immigration agencies, Republicans nationally should adopt the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Big Brothers-Big Sisters models of reaching out to immigrant and non-immigrant children and families, not only to give them a helping hand, but also to educate them about politics and policy.

Yes, he's referring to the Republicans who want to deport, deport, deport, as if they were interested in any demographic other that old white males.

Back to racism.

Obama, as America's first biracial president, must be careful not to show racial bias himself. Racial discussions are valuable as long as they take a critical look at all aspects of bias, not laying all blame for racial disruption on white bias.

George Nethercutt, blindly benefitting from white privilege, has no idea how much he benefits from white privilege. Sometime ago, a local state legislator, Kevin Parker, dressed up as a homeless person and noticed a remarkable difference in the way he was treated. And he was still white.

I bet George Nethercutt could take it a step further and learn a valuable lesson in racial bias if he wore the right makeup and walked through a "nice" neighborhood or drove a car up and down Division a couple of times at night. Yes, even here in bland, white bread Spokane. Then maybe he wouldn't be so concerned about a biracial president talking about the realities of race in America. It's not blaming racial disruption on white bias. It's a matter of talking about the reality of racism in America.

And George Nethercutt could use a healthy dose of reality.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Double Mileage Day

As usual, I rode to work today. While unpacking I realized I forgot to bring a shirt. This is the first time I've ever done that. I've forgotten to bring a towel more than once, which I can work around. I wore my bike shoes one day when I forgot to bring shoes. But I can't be shirtless or run around in my sweaty long underwear top at the office. So I rode home and back again. It cost me a little PTO but I got to spend all that time riding my bike so it wasn't a complete waste.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Fall Of An Honest General

Over at the New Yorker there's a great article about Army Major General Antonio Taguba who investigated the abuses at Abu Ghraib. His honest report sank his career.

Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”
Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld’s testimony was simply not true. “The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,” Taguba said. Rumsfeld’s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.” It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

It's A Whole New Ball Game

The US Patent & Trademark Office denied a trademark application for Comfyballs because it's vulgar.

There is an approved but now abandoned trademark for Nice Balls, which was for boxer shorts. And there are trademarks for Big Balls (alcoholic beverages), Pot of Balls (meatballs), PartyBallz (alcohol again), Got Balls? (meatballs), and Shut Up And Ball (online gaming). 

It's a balls up situation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bad, CIA! Bad!

The Senate's Torture Report (big honkin' 500+ page PDF), otherwise known as the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency 's Detention and Interrogation Program, was released today. Well, the Executive Summary was released.

To nobody's surprise, it describes the forms of torture our country used against people. Forms of torture we imprisoned or executed people for after World War II after finding them guilty of doing the same thing. Forms of torture we condemned other countries for using. Forms of torture never dreamed up before.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney had this to say:

“What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation, and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it,” Mr. Cheney said in a telephone interview. “I think that’s all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”

Cheney admits to the Bush administration's knowledge of and authorization for the use of torture. The euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques" made torture sound so much more acceptable, especially to protect ourselves from a global terrorism threat. Fear and propaganda can make you accept anything as reasonable. You can even contrive a legal justification for it even if it is discredited and withdrawn later.

But don't expect anything to come of this. After his first election, President Obama said he believed we needed to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.

In other words, nobody will be held responsible for the crimes committed in our country's name.

Doing the right thing is a hard choice. Should a former president and vice president be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned for war crimes or should our country admit to using torture and just say it's time to move on.

Yep. A hard choice.
The CIA should have no problem surviving the stern looks and finger pointing. Our country on the other hand abandoned the moral high ground years ago and has no chance of recovering it. We can express indignation at others all we want as long as we're prepared to have Guantanamo, Bagram, dark sites, water boarding, and rectal feeding thrown into our collective faces. Because now it's a shame we all share.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tacoma Cyclocross Racing Weekend

What a tough but fun weekend. I got to hang out and race with my brother John and catch up with my Team Double Check team mates whom I see about once a year. Saturday's race was at Marymount. The rains had thoroughly soaked the grass, which was then churned into thick mud by hundreds of bicycle tires. John did the Masters 45+ race at 9:10 and the heavens opened up for him. He didn't say so but I'm sure he was thankful for that. Racing in the rain is true cyclocross racing. The rains eased off for my Masters 55+ race at 10:00 and another large field of riders churned the ground up even more.

The upper part of the course had all the soft ground. The lower section was nice and solid. There was very little in the way of technical stuff. And there were two run ups. We dropped down to the lower section twice where we got to feel like we were going faster on firm ground. The we got to run up the hill and slog through the mud. It was hard work.

I raced again at 12:45 on the single speed. It was exhausting trying to get through the wheel-grabbing mud. It was so thick at the barriers that my bike would almost come to a complete stop when I jumped back on. So I just kept running with the bike until I hit more solid ground. One thing that helped me was the whiskey hand ups I took. The first shot didn't sit well for a half lap or so. But I was ready for it when I came around for the second shot. I'm pretty sure I finished DFL but I had a nice buzz going. And I made the local paper.

 Although John's not smiling, he is having fun.

 All racers looked like they shat themselves something fierce.

 Tired and muddy after the single speed race.

Sundays venue was at Steilacoom Park. This course was definitely made for roadies. There was no technical stuff whatsoever. And there was no run up. They had a long climb and a fast descent with a coupe of sharp turns. The remainder was flat and featureless. John and I did the same races as before. I was tired from Saturday's efforts. About 45 seconds into the Masters 55+ I was all jacked up and coming in hot to a 180-degree turn. My front wheel slid out on the wet grass and down I went. Those who hadn't passed me yet now had a clear shot. The rest of the race was uneventful. On the bright side I did finish 14 our of 17 so no DFL there. 

During the single speed race, in which I got to see all the other riders twice, even John Speare's friend Dylan who was tented right next to us. We both kept thinking we knew the other and finally got that settled when I spoke up. 

John kept my spirits high with some beer hand ups. It was great to have something to look forward to because the long climb was brutal. With each lap I was spending more time standing on the pedals and trying not to hate life. But I stayed upright the entire race, rode as hard as I could, and had a good time.

 John tearing it up at Steilacoom.

John doing me a solid with a beer hand up.

I always bring my A game when it comes to beer hand ups. Bryan MacDonald caught these shots of me at the top of my form.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Armored Up

Check out the military equipment that's been given to law enforcement agencies in the state of Washington. For what possible use does the Spokane County Sheriff have for a mine resistant vehicle?

Data gathered by The Marshall Project.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Can Relate

I often remind myself that it's okay that someone else took the same or similar photo.

My Reputation Did Not Precede Me

This weekend I'm headed over to Tacoma to hang out with my brother, John, and do some cyclocross racing. I signed up for the Men's 55+ and the Single Speed on both days. After registering I clicked on the Race Predictor for all the races. I'm listed in third place for both of Saturday's races. And I'm listed 2nd and 4th for Sunday's races.

That's crazy! I don't know how USA Cycling crunches the numbers to reach these conclusions. Maybe they forgot to carry an aught or something. I wonder if doing two races each time makes a difference.

Hopefully, nobody goes to any great lengths to find out who I am before the race.

Racer 1: Hey, who's this Hank Greer guy from Spokane?

Racer 2: That's him over there wearing the pink and yellow tie.

Racer 1: With the matching socks?

Racer 2: Yeah.


No pressure on me, right? My plan is to race the 55+, complete the single speed, and have fun. Mostly have fun.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

This Is Cool

Taking It Way Over The Top

Gavin Seim is a self-proclaimed "Liberty Speaker" who has taken it upon himself to look out for our threatened gun rights. He's organizing a We Will Not Comply Rally to be held on Dec 13 where he and fellow gun rights activists claim they will purposely violate the new law recently passed by the citizens of Washington State contained in Initiative 594.

Seim says:

"Initiative 594 is the most corrupt, tyrannical, lawless, and draconian gun restriction, if it passes, you will have ever seen."

This sounds bad. This sounds like people will be executed on sight or imprisoned indefinitely without a trial.

"It makes it a crime to so much as hand a gun to my friend and loan it to him to go hunting."

Well, you can't get much more corrupt, tyrannical, lawless, or draconian than that, can you? Especially since the new law says this:

(4) This section does not apply to:

...while hunting if the hunting is legal in all places where the person to whom the firearm is transferred possesses the firearm and the person to whom the firearm is transferred has completed all training and holds all licenses or permits required for such hunting, provided that any temporary transfer allowed by this subsection is permitted only if the person to whom the firearm is transferred is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law;

I'd say the hyperbole meter went straight into the red zone.

And what if I-594 passes, which it did? Seim says:

"If you are walking down the road and you see a child about to be raped, do you stand aside and let it happen? Do you say, 'I cannot decide if that is lawless and wrong and a violation of their rights? I'll let the courts decide.'" 

Requiring background checks for gun sales and transfers is equivalent to the rape of a child? The hyperbole meter is spinning wildly.

Seim says:

"Or do you intervene? Then I ask you, if government tyrants are raping our liberty, our birth right, mine, and yours, and our children's."

The voting citizens passed I-594, which apparently makes them government tyrants raping our liberty.

Seim says:

"Do we stand by and wait for courts to decide? No. We peacefully stand up and we say, 'No,' while we can still do so peacefully. We refuse to lawless legislation. This goes back to when the Constitution was being debated and Alexander Hamilton said,  'All legislation that violates the Constitution is void. It is not law. It is lawless the moment it is enacted.'"

Interestingly, I can find no such quote by Alexander Hamilton. But in another blog post, Seim makes the same reference and says Hamilton affirmed that message in Federalist #78 (PDF). Federalist Paper 78, authored by Hamilton, concerns the creation of a separate judiciary, equal to the Executive and Legislative branches, and its singular authority in interpreting the law.

Some perplexity respecting the rights of the courts to pronounce legislative acts void, because contrary to the Constitution, has arisen from an imagination that the doctrine would imply a superiority of the judiciary to the legislative power. It is urged that the authority which can declare the acts of another void, must necessarily be superior to the one whose acts may be declared void. As this doctrine is of great importance in all the American constitutions, a brief discussion of the ground on which it rests cannot be unacceptable. 

There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid. 

If it be said that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers, and that the construction they put upon them is conclusive upon the other departments, it may be answered, that this cannot be the natural presumption, where it is not to be collected from any particular provisions in the Constitution. It is not otherwise to be supposed, that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their WILL to that of their constituents. It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order, among other things, to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents.

There's more to see for yourself. It's only six pages of text.

It must be great to pick and choose your quotes to suit your purpose and ignore the context of their original form. How ironic that Seim uses Hamilton's explanation of the judiciary authority to determine the constitutionality of a law passed by the legislature to justify his behavior in declaring a law unconstitutional and disobeying it.

But for Seim there's no need to wait for the courts when we have his hyperbolic hyperbole guiding us.

I Think I'll Go Outside

I just turned on the TV and caught a sports commentator giving some passing stats on the San Diego Chargers' quarterback who's playing at the moment.

"Last week he was 82%. Today he is 10 of 12."

Hmmm, 10/12 = 83.3%.

Wow, thank you for being so informative and insightful, mister sports commentator.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

I hated to miss the Black Friday Bike Ride, but Geoff is only in town until tomorrow and Steph leaves on Sunday so I wanted to maximize my time with them. We enjoyed some rousing games of Robo Rally and Settlers of Cataan.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Riverside Rumble Cyclocross Video

This is from Saturday's racing. I didn't shoot video on Sunday.

Riverside Rumble Cyclocross from hank greer on Vimeo.

It's hard to believe the season is almost over.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

WSBA Cyclocross Championships

The ruts in yesterday's mud froze solid overnight. Almost every water puddle was frozen solid. The course was slightly modified to avoid the largest of the miniature ice rinks. Nonetheless, it was still very challenging. I raced the single speed today. It's not my strongest event so I planned on just having a good time. Before the race the Bike Hub crew asked me if I wanted beer hand ups when I went by.


After roll call they did the call ups. Call ups are for point leaders. You get a spot up front at the start. Imagine my surprise to hear my name for the final spot.

Whaaaaaaaaaaat? How did that happen?

I think they were just being nice. Basically it meant that I would get to see everyone behind me pass me. The whistle blew and most everybody took off like a scalded cat. I was more the mewling kitten.

The Bike Hub guys were not expecting me when I came by the first lap but they were ready on lap two. The difficulty for me was they were right before the barriers. So I dismounted early, grabbed the beer, jumped the barriers, drank the beer, and then jumped back on the bike. The next lap wasn't so easy. Since I was handed a can of beer, I immediately poured as much into my mouth as I could and then threw the can back before jumping over the first barrier.

There was no hand up for lap four because four ended up being my final one. The lead Cat 3 Men's racer passed me on the run up so I was done early.

A good time was had by all. I posted tons of photos on the INWCXS Facebook page.

Andrew Ackerman coming back from a mechanical and on his way to finish 7th.

  Beer hand up #1 on the second lap.

Beer hand up #2. Surprised, he just hands me his can of Oly.

Cat 3 race leader riding up the run up. Because he can.

I wasn't DFL. I stayed upright. And I had fun.

*** Update ***

I almost forgot. Matt Morra had the strangest thing happen during his race. He was attacked by a clown who had mad balloon tying skills.

Okay, he rolled the tire off the rim while the inner tube was inflated. Crazy.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Got A Little Woody Today

Today was the first of two days of WSBA cyclocross racing at Riverside State Park. They have a different schedule so I only signed up for one race each day since both races I usually enter are running back to back. Today I did the men's masters 55+. Since I was only in one race I planned to race hard and see how it went. The course made it very challenging.

Yesterday we had a ton of rain. The park normally drains the water away but since the ground had frozen a couple days before much of the water pooled and froze overnight.

They started all the masters, 35+, 45+, and 55+ together so I had no idea who I was up against. There were about twenty of us in thee group. I jumped out at the start and was around 5th or 6th when we went through a twisting, winding park. Coming out of that I tried to power around a wide turn to get past a couple more guys. I hit a lot of loose debris on the ground--I never fell on the icy parts--and my back wheel slid out from under me. Almost everyone got by me before I was back up to speed. 

I was bummed out by that but I raced hard and started reeling people in. But I had no idea if they were in my age group. So I just kept going and finished feeling good about my performance. Well, except for the part where I threw away a good start. After the race I changed into clean, dry clothes and broke out the cameras to shoot the remainder of the days racing.

Later on I was taking photographs and I heard the announcer calling out the names for the 55+ podium finishers. Danged if they didn't call me out at second place. Heck, I never podium. So I figured there must've been only two of us. Nope, there was four.

It was a great day of racing. The day warmed and the course turned to mud. I wished I could've raced in the afternoon. Tomorrow I'm in the single speed race. It's the state championships. I'll get my ass beat big time. But I'll have fun.

Dodging icebergs on the first lap.

We crunched up all the ice that covered the water.

 My little woody.
I thought everyone yelling for Frank was calling me by the wrong name.

 I yelled for my buddy Brian to wheelie for the camera.

 The run up was very, very long.

 It got muddy in the afternoon.

 Bad ass teen jumping the log at the bottom of the run up.

 Bad ass Cat 1 guy jumping the same log.

 As the day warmed there was more mud.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How Dare The President Do Something

Cathy McMorris Rodgers had this to say about President Obama's decision to address parts of immigration reform through executive actions.

"Tonight the President articulated his plan to act unilaterally on one of the most significant issues facing America: the future of 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country.  His decision to act alone blatantly disregards the will of the American people: for their elected leaders to work together and enact effective, long-term solutions that make people’s lives better.  Tonight the President has done exactly the opposite.  He has revealed that his own desire for unilateral action trumps the democratic process upon which this country was founded.

When it comes to fixing our broken immigration system, the American people want a permanent solution, not a quick fix.  They want the most effective solution, not the most expeditious one.  They want their elected leaders to come together, transcend partisan divisions, and advance real, common-sense solutions.  Make no mistake: I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle – and I will listen to the American people – to get immigration reform right.  I urge the President to join us in that effort."

Our congresswoman laments the President's unilateral action and claims his actions trump the democratic process.

Here's what she's not telling you.

The democratic process isn't working because of the extremists in the Republican-led House. The Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June 2013 that would provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living here illegally and tighten border security. Sixty-eight bipartisan votes passed that bill. The bill would double enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border but provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. The House leadership has refused to bring the bill up for a vote so it's been languishing in the House for almost 18 months.

What does the president's unilateral action consist of? President Obama is not granting citizenship to anyone. His executive order will protect about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Those people will not become citizens nor will they receive legal permanent residence. Deportations will focus on the people who threaten public safety.

Plus, undocumented immigrants who have lived her for more than five years and are parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents and register and pass criminal and national security background checks, will start paying their fair share of taxes and temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation for three years at a time.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers may cry havoc about the president's "decision to act alone", but what it really translates to is, "The president is doing something because we won't."

Does anybody else need a Kleenex?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Apple Cross Video

Apple Cross 2014 from hank greer on Vimeo.

So what took you so long, Hank? Well, I was in the middle of transferring 2TB of video and photo files from my old iMac to my new iMac. It took 16 days to copy everything over. Hence my relative silence on this blog because I didn't want to interfere with this very time consuming process.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Apple Cross

Apple Cross, hosted by the Zusters, was held last Sunday at Walter's Fruit Ranch up on Green Bluff. The weather was cold and rainy, the course was muddy and nearly every turn is off camber. It doesn't get any better than that. I sputtered out of the chute for the single speed race at 9:00. The heavens opened and drenched us. The mud plastered onto me and the bike and made the bike feel 20 pounds heavier at the barriers and the run up.

Two and one-half laps in I was wondering, "Why is this so hard?" I was really struggling. My progress was not matching my output and I was having a tough time. Shortly after starting my third lap I hit a real soupy part of the course and I could feel the ground really well under my front tire. And I mean really well. I had flatted at some point but didn't notice since the course was so mushy. The extra front wheel sitting in my van wasn't going to do me any good so I just took it easy and made sure I didn't peel the tire off the rim, which would have forced me to walk. The race leaders passed by me on my fourth lap and I was thankful for them ending my race for me. I washed my bike off and changed out of my muddy kit into some dry clothes so I could take photos of the next couple of races.

Two hours later I put my muddy kit back on and lined up for the men's masters 50+. (My extra wheel set was in the pits.) I had a good start but my depleted energy level made itself evident by the time I hit the run up. I focused on technique and worked the turns as best as I could. I saw I was reeling in a couple of riders ahead of me so that was encouraging. I went down once when I pushed a turn too hard and I got hung up on a course marker trying to take a turn too tight.

The Bike Hub crew set up camp next to a particularly treacherous set of muddy serpentine turns. On two of the laps my friend Brian gave me a beer hand up. That forced me to maneuver through the turns one-handed while I tried tossing down the beer. I'm happy to say I was successful both times.
On one of the laps someone at the top of the run up had a can of whipped cream."Hey, Hank. Want some whip?"
 What the Bike Hub folks saw all morning.

"Sure," I said and opened my mouth as I tried to maintain something I hoped would pass for a running effort. Things didn't work out as planned. She hit my lip with the tip of the can and then sprayed whipped cream all over my goatee. It was pretty funny. After the race someone asked if I was okay because I had blood running down my chin. So not only did I not get any whip, she drew blood. That's cyclocross.

I did all my laps and got in line after the finish to get my bike washed. Props to the guys at This Bike Life for bringing bike stands, buckets and brushes, and standing in the mud and water as they removed mud with water. Sometimes from riders, too.

 Andrew crushing the MTB race right after doing the single speed race.

 The run up. And it wasn't chewed up yet.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Missoula Rolling Thunder Cyclocross

Wow, the folks in Missoula know how to put on a great race. I decided to race just men's masters 50+ because the race was back-to-back with the single speed race. Our races were scheduled to run 50 minutes. There's just no way I could handle back-to-back 50-minute races and come away with any feeling of enjoyment.

Stephanie is going to school at the University of Montana so Kathy went with me so we could hang out with Steph. Consequently, I did not do my usual routine of shooting all the races and creating a video. But I did turn Steph loose with my camera while I raced and gave her a few tips. She did great and I uploaded about 600 photos to the INWCX Facebook page.  Thanks, Steph!

My race on Saturday was at 3:40 pm and it started out cool and dry. The masters 40, 50, and 60+ groups were started in waves with a 20-second gap between each. I started in the back of the 50 group so I wouldn't get in anyone's way. As the race progressed four of the hard-core 60+ guys passed me by. The course was hard at first and seemed to get easier with each lap, most likely due to an increase in comfort and confidence levels. The run up on the back side was pretty cool in that they cut these huge steps out of the hillside. That got chewed up more and more with each race. It was a worthy run up. On a side note, because of the permitting no hand ups of any kind were allowed on the course. Fortunately, that's the only down side to this event. The back side also included navigating through deep gravel with a couple of sharp turns thrown in just to shake things up a little. I stayed upright, kept my weight towards the back, and kept a light touch on the handlebars. Every once in a while my front wheel would squirrel off into a deep section but as long as I kept applying power I was fine. The course included a succession of short BMX-like whoop-de-doos. Those were fun. That was followed by a 180 through deep sand. On one lap I heard people yelling for me to get the money in the sand. I spotted a $1 bill during my turn, dismounted, grab the buck, and ran for the barriers that were up next. After the race Steph told me a racer after me picked up a $20. Dang! I need to look around more.

The barriers were tempting in that they were short enough for me to hop. But they were also close together so if I didn't land the first hop correctly I would pay dearly for the second one. I decided to dismount and run through instead. The second set of barriers were higher so there was no discussion there. Clouds threatened most of the afternoon and finally followed through during the last 1-1/2 laps. Rain slicked up the course. On one turn in the grass I powered by another guy only to have one or both of my wheels slide out from under me. That got my right side dirty and my pedal took a chunk out of my right shin.

I took the last downhill before the finish really fast and my front tire slid out during the turn at the bottom. That got my left side dirty and gave the side of my butt a nice rash. It was a fun race. Steph took photos for me. I wish I could show you some GoPro footage but I forgot to turn the darn thing on. Brilliant!

Thanks to the rain I was cold and wet at the end. We packed up and headed to the Marriott where a wet and slightly muddy old man wearing a black shirt, black shorts, bright pink and yellow socks (I had removed my tie) got a lot of strange looks as he checked in.

Day two found us at the race at 10:00 am. I was set to race at 11:10. The course was soggy and muddy from the torrential rains that feel during and after the races the night before. We were going in the opposite direction this time. They removed the run up but one of the ride ups was too steep and slick for most of us so that served as a suitable substitute. The tight turns were precarious in several spots because the mud was so thick. There was only one set of barriers to run through. The wet sand packed down pretty good so it wasn't a factor. But the mud was glorious. This time I remember to turn my GoPro on--about 2-1/2 laps into the race. I only fell down one and this time it was while going up the downhill I feel on the day before. I took a bad line and my front wheel slid out from under me. I even got it on video.

 I was actually in front of someone.

 A split-second capture of my subsonic speed on the bank.


 Not quite on the Sven line.


 My best side.