Friday, December 23, 2011

December

It's been  quiet time since I got back from Taiwan.  House sitting has turned out to be a pretty good gig, except for the lack of traveling.  Ah, well, it's a good chance to browse the maps and the internet, checking  other peoples adventures and making plans for next year.

From December 2011

As for what is in store for the coming year: I'm hoping to do more touring on the bicycles.  I've been invited to do a week long ride in Iowa in July, and I'm seriously considering riding a bike to the event from the home base here in Washington.  Before it gets too hot I'm hoping to explore Death Valley, CA, with a buddy from LA, and I want to spend some time working in a friend's bike shop.  And I'm hoping to work for the racing team a few times, though not as much as last year.

From December 2011

Then there's the standing invitation to go to Costa Rica to learn to surf. Did I mention that I've always wanted to learn to surf?  Expect me to be blogging from the beach before long....

From December 2011

If you're still reading this, I hope you have/had a Merry Christmas, and wish you the best for 2012.
Till next time, here's a picture of the sunrise from the table where I have breakfast everyday.

From December 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taiwan!!

Wow, how time flies.  I haven’t updated the blog in over a month and have had hundreds of people asking me for an update.  Well, not hundreds, exactly, tens...  Well, not tens, exactly.  Ones.  One.  

Since last time: I left Oregon behind, taking the coast road and enjoying the rain for a couple days.  I spent an afternoon inside an enormous building, the Tillamook Air Museum.  The entire thing is in one building and they use half of it for RV storage.  The building is over 317,000 square feet.

I then made my way to Gig Harbor, Washington, and prepared for the next big adventure, a 10-day trip to Taiwan, courtesy of the Kenda Pro Cycling Team.  Let me tell you, it is a wonderful place.  Friendly people, wonderful food, pretty good exchange rate... It’s not just a different country, it’s a different world there in more ways than I can point out. 

Here’s a small portion of the pictures I took while there.  Hello and thank you to any of the friends I made there, I do hope to come back and visit your country again.
During the Kenda Cup ride (not the race).  Bicycles are very popular in the land where most of them are made.
From Taiwan!!


Four racers and the chairman of Kenda.
From Taiwan!!




3 people on a scooter is illegal but still pretty common.


From Taiwan!!


I wish I could remember the name of this dish. Like pudding in thin gravy with beans.  

It was delicious once you could get past the texture.

From Taiwan!!


Hibachi.  

From Taiwan!!


I was not allowed to take pictures during the Kenda Tire Company factory tour, but they allowed this one: ATV tires used as planters.  

From Taiwan!!


At a Buddhist temple. 

From Taiwan!!


Giant Buddha.  Four stories high, you could go inside and see dioramas depicting the history of Buddhism.  
From Taiwan!!


From Taiwan!!


From Taiwan!!



From Taiwan!!


In Taipei.

From Taiwan!!


No coin slot found.

From Taiwan!!


Also from Taipei, scooters are primary transportation and they have to park somewhere.  

From Taiwan!!


Marble furniture.  I couldn't lift even a corner, so no idea how much a chair must weigh...

From Taiwan!!

This is less than 10% of the pictures I took.  More may show up later.


I'll be spending the winter months house sitting and cat-wrangling in Gig Harbor.  That may have an impact of the quality of the blog updates, but I'll do my best to keep it interesting.  


Later.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Migrating.

I've been on the move, lots of stuff to tell about...  I left Arizona around the first of the month, and have been making my way north for the winter.

Along the way, I stopped in Flagstaff, visited "the tub" in central Nevada, braved a mountain crossing in the snow, and got caught up with the amazing Jake in California.

I got to ride my fat-tired bike on the Black Rock desert and learned what they mean by "wet season."

Then I made it to Medford, Oregon, a town I'm really starting to like.  There maybe a extended stay here in my future.

Anyway, here are some pictures taken from along the way.  Enjoy.


From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon



A cloud coming in for a landing...


From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon



Eventually I'll learn not to ride in the desert during rainy season.


From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon



The Black Rock desert.


From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon



Collecting firewood.


From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon



Freaky Oregon clouds


From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon





From 10/17/11 Arizona to Oregon

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vast Horizons

I've been in Mesa, AZ, since the racing season ended.  Not my favorite place but I got to experience one of the hottest summers on record first hand.  During the month of August, the average LOW daily temperature was 87 degrees.  But east of here, in the Apache National Forrest, the high altitude keeps the temps more mild.  So when I got a chance, I got a two-day pass from the heat.

From Apache Nat'l Forrest




From Apache Nat'l Forrest

From Apache Nat'l Forrest


Possibly the best part was being back in my camper, which I have come to consider "home."  I haven't done the math but I think in the past two years I've spent more nights in my "loft" than any other single place.  


From Apache Nat'l Forrest

So I got to sleep in my own bed for a couple nights.  And I spent some quality time with my Ducati.  And there was a couple of killer mountain bike rides.  (first ride: 12 miles, no pedaling for the first 6!!)

The right tool for the job...

From Apache Nat'l Forrest


From Apache Nat'l Forrest

And then it was back to Mesa, back to mom's place, where I've been longer than I planned.  Mom has reached an age where she needs company around most of the time.  Someone to shop for her, drive her to appointments, etc.  And I would have a hard time justifying to myself leaving her alone, since I really don't have any other place to be.  Just that I'd rather be no where in particular.  But sacrifices have to be made sometimes.

So after two nights in the woods I was back at the park.  And as I parked the van, one of the 90-year-old neighbors poked her grey head out the door and said "I'm glad to see you made it home safe."    
"There are none happy in the world but beings who enjoy freely a vast horizon," I felt like saying.  Instead I just said "Thanks." Home is where the heart is.

Oh well, the vast horizon was mine for a couple days.

From Apache Nat'l Forrest

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bend, Oregon to Mesa, AZ, the long way.


Hey, its been a while.  Here’s what has been happening:
From bend to cleveland to mesa

The Pedal-pub. Think of it as a human-powered limo with a bar tender. I spent 90 minutes on board and it was a hoot!

From bend to cleveland to mesa

Very large squirrels in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Feed them at your own risk!

Well, the racing season has ended.  I’m back in Arizona, where this wild ride began.   The big difference?  In February, when I left, the hi temps were in the low eighties.  Now?  The low temps are in the mid-eighties.  And that’s at night.  During the day, it’s over 100 degrees by 11 AM.  Sure, it’s a dry heat.  But it’s a very hot, dry heat.
From bend to cleveland to mesa

The Boat Ride. Greg insisted that I call him "Captain Stubing."

The last race of the year for me (till November, stay tuned) was a 3-day stage race in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.  It is an interesting event, in that the entire thing takes place in a very urban area.  The team did great this year, but the highlight for me was the wonderful people we stayed with.  They opened their home to the team (second year in a row) and do so during their wedding anniversary... In a way, typical of the gererosity I’ve seen from the places where we stayed in “host-housing” this year.  But also, very unique.  Jeff and Betsy hosted us two years in a row and better than feeling at home, they made me feel like an honored guest.  

But the racing did end, I have made my way back to Arizona.

I’ve been trying to get back into the retired-mode but the weather has worked against me.  A few days ago I went for a bicycle ride.  I planned a nice 20 mile ride, but after thirty minutes, I had drained one of the large bottles I carried and was worried about my ability to complete my planned route.  I turned for home but when I was within two miles of home I began to feel cold.  I developed goose bumps and felt a chill.  I still had enough sense to know that these were odd symptoms in +100 degree temps.  Back at home, I sucked down large quantities of water and electrolytes.  And called a friend.  This heat is too much.  The next day I’d head to Los Angeles, hoping to get out of the heat and as a bonus, a chance to go sailing!

The drive to LA was hot (not surprising) and seemed to go on forever (400 miles).  Greg was looking for someone to take a boat ride with him, and I was looking for an escape from the heat (did I mention it was hot?).  We sailed from Seal Beach to Catalina Island.  

As we left the dock around 10:30 in the morning, Greg told me it was a 4-hour sail over to the island.  After more than a couple hours on the open water with no land in sight, he admitted that 4 hours was not the average time it took to sail.  It was actually the fasted time he had ever made the 22 mile passage, and he’s been sailing the route for over thirty years!  We arrived at the anchorage around 6 PM.    
From bend to cleveland to mesa

Dinner at the anchorage.
From bend to cleveland to mesa

Happy hour* at the anchorage. (*Duration of your own happiness may vary. See bartender for details)
From bend to cleveland to mesa

Tough hike to get here. Later I bought a postcard with the exact same view!
While there we spent a couple days on the island gawking at the tourists and checking out the other sights, and sleeping on deck under the stars, with the not-quite gentle waves trying to fling us over the rail (the second night was better).  Then we the sails were hoisted again and we headed back.  Pretty soon (8 hours!) we were back on dry land, laughing at our wobbly legs.  And then I was headed back to Arizona for a couple more days with Mom before the next adventure.
From bend to cleveland to mesa

Camo-bus. I wonder why they didn't go with a desert-camo theme.




“Old longings nomadic leap,
Chafing at custom’s chain:
Again from its brumal sleep
wakens the ferine strain.”

Yes, I hear you calling.  But I can not answer right now.  Soon, I will be there. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Miles to go before I'll sleep...

After Canada I had a couple of weeks to kill.  The team was nice enough to loan me a car and I headed from Cleveland to Michigan for a little R&R.  

First up was a camping trip with Paul.  We headed up to Boyne City, Michigan, stayed at a very expensive state park, and road some terrific hilly roads around the area.  To be camping again was great, even if it wasn’t my usual accommodations.  Paul brought along a spacious 9x9 tent and two vintage cots.  Luxury!!  It felt great to have time off again, the racing team has me working a lot of hours and a lot of days.  Too soon though, we had to head back.  Paul hasn’t achieved retirement yet and the j.o.b. was calling him.  Retirement will come soon, we hope.  Plans have been made....

Next was a trip to Grand Rapids to visit my adopted family, Jeff, Catrina, Amelia, and Justine.  They were, as usual, wonderfully hospitable.  I forced them to go to a bike race to watch the famous Breezer in a race.  They even pretended to enjoy it.  The real tell will be when they start riding their bikes.  Then I’ll know they enjoyed it...

My stay of lazy days included a 4th of July weekend and pretty soon it was time for me to return to work.  Back to Cleveland and then I was off again in the team van, towing the trailer full of racing supplies, heading to Boise, Idaho, then Bend, Oregon.  

The long drive got me thinking about the places I’ve been since February and made me realize this job has really taken me on a wild ride.  Here’s a recount of the driving I’ve done since I reported for duty in February for spring training: 

Flew to Milwaukee, drove the van and trailer to Cleveland, then on to Florida for camp, back to Cleveland, back to Milwaukee.  I drove to Phoenix, drove to Los Angles for two weeks of racing, drove back to Phoenix, then to Truth or Consequences (New Mexico).

From there I went to Silver City (also New Mexico), Phoenix, Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, did the Tour of California, left Los Angles on Sunday evening and arrived in Greensboro, South Carolina on Thursday.  Drove to Philadelphia, then Cleveland, then to Burlington, Vermont.  From there we went up to Quebec City (Canada),  back to Vermont, back to Cleveland.  Then I headed to Idaho for one night of racing, then to Bend, Oregon, which gets us to the present day.  

Along the way I’ve watched the guys win races, and I’ve seen them suffer badly for 30th place.  I’ve seen them crash and it tears my heart out each time.  I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve put in to this job and always worked by the mantra I learned long ago pit-crewing for a friend at motorcycle races: “You can’t win a race in the pits, you can only lose a race in the pits.”  

I’ve only got a couple races left to work, which  might be the cause of my melancholy thoughts.  I’m heading to ElK Grove, Illinois for a short stage race, then back to Cleveland.  Then I’ll be done till November, and I have several interesting plans. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Canada

I spent a week in Quebec for a race, the Tour de Beauce.  To get there, I drove the team van and trailer from Cleveland to Burlington, Vermont, picked up the riders at the airport and then drove another 6 hours north.  Even then, we were not as far north as parts of Maine or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  

Mountain Top Finish
From Canada!

From Canada!

The race was tough on the riders, and tough on the staff, too.  Each day (except the last) included a drive to the start and another drive back from the finish.  In between the riders were dealing with long, straight, very hilly roads.  Straight roads are tough on the riders because when they would come over a hill, they’d have a clear view of the road ahead, and twenty minutes or so to anticipate the next big climb.

Seven bikes, four spares.  Every day.
From Canada!

In Quebec they speak a language a foreign language that is hard to understand.  For example, here’s an actual quote from one of our the teams actual riders: “I thought I would go ‘cause it seemed like everyone was on the rivet.  So I went and got a gap but then I was blown.”  

In this picture, it was hailing on my tent but the sun was shining a block away.
From Canada!

The locals were no better.  For some crazy reason, they all spoke French.  I was okay with that until just past “Bon-jors” with I think means “you look tired.”  

High-speed cameras are required to stop the action when riders eat.
From Canada!

We had one day in Quebec City.  Very impressive place, even though I didn’t get to see much of the town beyond the race route.  Based on what I saw, I wouldn’t mind spending more time there.  Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures from the area but I did get one shot of a statue of a very famous Quebec resident: Confucius.  Really.
From Canada!

Next stop: Vacation!