Thursday, January 31, 2008
Today was actually a snow day for the university. I believe I heard that it was the first time in over 20 years that they had to shut down due to weather. We were walking in to the office this morning and someone asked us if we were headed to campus because it was closed. It was snowing so hard as we walked that we had accumulation on us when we got to our respective buildings. Lorena worked in the lab for a while and then they announced they were locking university buildings at noon. I came home after grabbing some stuff from my office and started shoveling. And shoveling. And shoveling. It was accumulating faster than I could keep it clear.
The snow plow came through some time this morning but he didn't do much good. I think it snowed 6 more inches after he went through. Lots of cars are buried on our street including a couple that you can barely tell are there.
With the temperature hovering around freezing there are lots of icicles hanging from various things. I found this truck to be a rather funny example. Bull horns and "fangs". As if it wouldn't be intimidating enough when viewed in your rear view mirror.
Looks like riding inside is the madness of the method for the foreseeable future. There's snow in our forecast every day for the next 10 days. I'm counting the snow shoveling as strength training. Does running back up the sled hill count as a hill interval?
Monday, January 28, 2008
No, not riding rollers. I'm talking about www.cycling.tv. I think I saw it mentioned over on Jeff Kerkove's blog and so I thought I'd check it out. If you're suffering from roller/trainer boredom and have a high-speed internet connection, check this site out. Even if you don't pay for the premium parts of the site to watch races live, just watching the loop of highlights is nice. Today, I watched some 2007 TDF coverage and some highlights from the 2007 World Cup mountain biking series.
I believe Mr. Wangpig himself mentioned something about the Chinese women's team a while back. You can't imagine how fast they are until you watch them at the WC#1. Holy crap. It's like they were doing a team time trial up the first climb at the start. Granted, they were still trailing another woman but, still. Didn't they have two on the podium that day?
I know what I'm watching for the rest of the winter.
Great song and a great band. Time to go ride some rollers.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Well, how about some lactate threshold testing? Despite being a little above freezing yesterday, there was some rain/sleet at periods so that nixed going out. I decided to do some testing to check on my fitness. In the past, when I've had really good form my LT heartrate was about 174-176. The intervals for the test are only 8 minutes each but, that is a surprisingly long time when you're going that hard. Right now, my LTHR is 164-166. While that's about 94% of my previous best, I've still got a ways to go. The Pareto Principle, or 80-20 rule, says that the last 20% of the results come from 80% of efforts. It certainly takes a lot more effort to go faster. We'll have to see if there's any improvement in a month or so.
Speaking of temperature... I generally don't mind riding if it's close to 30 degrees. One of the main problems with riding below freezing is that my water bottle nozzles freeze up. I've thought about using my CamelBak but I'm concerned the bite valve or the tube will freeze. I know the bladder won't. Anybody out there have experience with this? Just leave a comment...
Friday, January 25, 2008
Rather than actually clearing the sidewalks, our facilities department has taken to putting up signs indicating that sidewalks are slippery. I wonder how much of a budget hit that was just to buy the signs let alone pay for the labor to install them. They could have probably bought a few more snow shovels and some bags of salt with the money.
On a more positive note, we're going to be riding in Lewiston again tomorrow. They're forecasting 40 degrees but there's a weather system heading in that could dump another 6-9 inches of snow on us by Monday. We'd better take advantage of every little scrap of nicer weather we can get.
There are well-traveled streets here in town that are literally sheets of ice. There are also many sidewalks that are similarly afflicted. I've slipped and fallen twice in the last three days including a particularly painful fall where I landed right on my tailbone. There is still a cloud of obscenity hanging over that spot today. Perhaps it can reflect some heat back to the surface and melt that damned ice.
Not to be all smug but, we shoveled our sidewalk the day it snowed and ours has nary a spot of ice. It doesn't take too much intellect to operate a snow shovel. It also doesn't take too much effort to give a crap about your neighborhood and keep your sidewalk clear for those who have to walk on them. I'm glad I don't have to drive on the streets around here every day. Then again, as slippery as the sidewalks are around here, there's probably just as much of a chance of sliding into an intersection while walking as there is in a car.
The University is one of the biggest offenders too. I'm sure they'd have a PR nightmare on their hands if someone slipped and actually got hurt on University property. The irony of something negative like ambulance chasing being almost necessary to create a positive change.
Ok. End rant.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
The ride started benign enough with some fairly flat riding along a bike path that led out to the highway toward Lapwai, ID. We were only about 5 miles into the ride when my rear tire felt like it was going flat. It was, and so we stopped and fixed it. We reasoned it may have been a pinch flat from some of the cracks in the bike path we'd been on. A bit of a bummer but no real harm done. I was glad I'd bought some tubes on Friday.
We rolled on into Lapwai without any more issues but, just as we were leaving town, my front tire started to feel a little soft. We stopped and found a small thorn in the tire. The thorn may have kept it at a slow leak. That is, until our friend Adam pulled it out, necessitating another tube change. To add insult to injury, Lorena's front tire went flat at the same time. This necessitated borrowing a tube from Adam that already had a number of patches. As if things couldn't get any worse, Adam found a thorn in the sidewall of his rear tire. He decided not to pull it out and, since it wasn't losing any air, he figured he'd wait and see how it was doing when we got to the top of the upcoming climb. With tires fixed, off we went toward the big climb of the day.
The climb comes at about the halfway point of the ride. It starts rather gradually and turns steeper toward the end. All in all, about 1.5 miles from bottom to top. Well, we couldn't go five miles without a problem and so Katrina's front tire decided to go flat near the top. We fixed that and finally got to start our descent back toward Lewiston. Going 23-25 mph felt rather frigid after sweating so much on the climb. A few miles down the road and Adam's rear tire finally started to get low enough to require some attention. He put a little air in it but, 1/4 mile down the road he had o stop and patch his tube. We were at the 25 mile point and fixing out 5th flat!
Luckily, there were no more problems in the remaining 16.5 miles as we descended into Lewiston. It was very chilly and we were well past lunch time when we got back to the car. Needless to say, it took us more than the 2.5 hours we originally intended. It was a great loop and we'd probably do it again. We'd just better bring our armor plated tires next time. On the way home we drove into a nice snow storm that was starting the process of dropping another 2 inches of the white stuff on Moscow.
Having basically killed the entire day, we opted to forget about doing anything productive and put all of our energy into going to see the movie "The Dareeling Limited". Great movie. If you've ever watched any other Wes Anderson movies (i.e. "Rushmore", "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou", "The Royal Tenenbaums"), like the others, this doesn't disappoint. I first read about it a while back over at kottke.org and thought it sounded interesting. We then heard about it on NPR and decided to make it a date when it came to the Kenworthy theater here in Moscow.
Friday was a little warmer here (31 degrees) and so I decided to head out for a ride on my cross bike. In the 1.5 hours I was out, it dropped to 28 degrees and my water bottle nozzle kept freezing. I did have many of the gravel roads to myself and was riding on ice on many occasions. Thank goodness for bike handling skills. There were some nice views.
When I got home, I noticed an odd thing. Snow was peeling off of the garage. I now there's paint peeling off the garage but, I'd never seen snow "peel". Kinda funny.
In closing, I'd just like to say that it's really hard to go wrong with bacon. Lorena made some bacon wrapped meatloaf "muffins" for dinner tonight. Simply fantastic. Line your muffin tin with bacon and add your meatloaf. One of the great things about it that the cooking time is decreased significantly versus a normal meatloaf. Just some food for thought. Ha!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
With all this snow around, we got the itch to go cross-country skiing. Since the snow is melting in town, we have to go into the mountains where the snow is still aplenty. Saturday took us and our friend Maike up into the St. Joe National Forest to the Palouse Divide Nordic Ski Area Northeast of Harvard, ID. It's a very pretty drive and the snow just gets deeper and deeper as you drive up to the parking area. They have the road plowed surprisingly well.
The trails here are pretty popular and are therefore well traveled. They are also not terribly difficult, something that is good for novices like us. As long as you stayed on your skis, the snow was fine. As soon as you tried to walk on it, you were normally sinking in up to your knees. We skied for probably an hour and a half until we reached a point where we couldn't really go much further without a lot of work. The snow here was approaching two feet deep and we didn't feel like blazing the trail. So, we turned around and went back to a clearing to sit on a gate and eat our lunch.
By the time we were done, it had started snowing more and we were pretty whooped. All told, we'd spent about 4 hours out there and were ready for a break. It was definitely a good workout. The coffee in the thermos at the end never tasted so good. On the way back to Moscow, the snow changed over to rain/sleet and made for some slick spots on the highway.
Since we'd put in such a hard day yesterday, we decided to stay a little closer to Moscow and try some of the trails on the East end of Moscow Mountain. There used to be a ski resort up there but it's long since closed. The road leading up to where it used to be is still open for logging operations and they have it plowed for a long way up. Our directions told us to drive until it wasn't plowed anymore and ski from there. In our case, we drove until it go so steep that our little 2-wheel drive car couldn't go UP anymore because of the snow still on the road. We backed it down the hill a little way and parked by an old logging road in the U of I Experimental Forest. They allow XC skiing on there so we decided to try it out. We were the trail blazers this time since no one had been on this road.
The snow was deep but we were fine as long as we stayed upright and on the skis. I couldn't plunge my ski pole in deep enough to actually touch bottom in some places. We only skied for about 2 hours today and the gentle undulations of the trail were nice. Yesterday was a little more strenuous. Either way, it was certainly a lot of fun.
At the end, I decided to step off my skis onto the top of the "solid" looking snow and sank in above my knees. I still hadn't reached the ground yet either. I felt like I'd stepped off a diving board. We all had a good laugh about it.
We were actually back by noon, which was good enough to watch the Colts lose to San Diego. That was rather a bummer but, the Colts didn't quite play good enough to win either. The Chargers were without their QB and L.T. was out. I know Marvin Harrison was hurt but Indy has a lot of other weapons. On a positive note, Green Bay won and the Giants knocked the Cowboys out.
Everybody's got to root for San Diego next week against New England. I hope the Chargers can knock a few wheels off that bandwagon. At least the Giants/Packers game should be a great one to watch. I don't really care who wins that one because they're both good and actually have a little class.
I think that's about enough. You're probably tired of reading by this point, eh?
Thursday, January 10, 2008
We literally got 6 more inches on top of the 6 inches from a couple of days ago. They're even calling for more during the wee hours of tonight. I guess that means these piles may get even taller than the cars beside them.
We've been doing a bit o'shovelin' lately too.
I do feel bad for these bikes though. No bike should have that much snow on it unless it was raced at the 2007 Cyclocross Nationals. As an engineer, I feel bad for the materials that make up such neglected machines. They could have been so much more...
With the roads a mess, this is the order of the day.
I can't complain too much. Give it a couple more days and for temperatures to get a little above freezing and the gravel roads should be at least ridable on a mountain bike. The trees around campus are rather pretty as well.
For all y'all in Ohio getting the early Spring... Climate change is just a myth, right?
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
All you OSU fans will be happy to know you were well represented at the sports bar here in Moscow this evening. It's a good thing we didn't have to face Tressel after the game was over. I don't think I would have wanted to be in that locker room.
In riding news... it's still winter and we might have another 6 inches on the ground tomorrow. Looks like another trainer ride... At least I'm getting caught up on all of my podcasts.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
3. New England
I suppose I inadvertently put them in order of loathsomeness. Like a lot of people, I'm sick of hearing about how great the classless Patriots are. They're smug to the point of conjuring rage. Hell, even the bluegrass band Nickel Creek made fun of Tom Brady during a concert in D.C. in November. I just hope that they get knocked off next week.
I've rooted for the Colts in recent years when not cheering for the Browns. Though I will support them though the playoffs, the Colts have some bad karma for not beating the Titans and prevented the Browns from getting into the playoffs. I'm afraid that's going to bite them.
Speaking of karma, those fine folks over at How to Avoid the Bummer Life brought this gem to my attention. Almost makes me want to drink some High Life.
Lorena and I rode with our friend Jeff this afternoon. It was very windy and a balmy 38 degrees. Once we got that tailwind, it was a great day for a ride.
Friday, January 04, 2008
As mentioned in a prior post, the trip to Ohio was really pretty uneventful. It was sunny every day and the roads were clear as could be. The return trip to Idaho provided a little more adventure than I think we really wanted. The first day we made it all the way to Iowa City, IA and found that they had received quite a bit of snow during the time we'd spent in Ohio. We got our hotel and had a great pizza from the restaurant next door. Hard to go wrong with a place that had the best pizza in town for 7 years in a row. They didn't disappoint but, they had way too much Iowa Hawkeye paraphernalia around for these Buckeye fans.
The second day we hoped to make it to Rapid City, SD so that we'd be able to visit Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse with a potential stop at Devil's Tower. Everything was going along fine with the exception of one of our tires being out of balance and causing a strange pulsing vibration. We made it into Wall, SD for some dinner but, it only took another 9 miles of interstate before the tire decided to give up the ghost. Thankfully, that stretch of road isn't too heavily traveled this time of year and we were able to pull into the berm to put on the spare. We were also glad we had the hand-crank flashlight in the glove box to provide some illumination on the situation. I didn't really notice the cold too much because I was so worked up. Images of that famous scene in 'A Christmas Story' kept popping into my head and a cloud of obscenities is perhaps still hanging over that spot on I-90 today. This is where the fun really begins...
We opted to turn around and drive the 9 miles back to Wall rather than drive 50 miles into Rapid City on the spare. Most of the hotels in Wall seem to close in the off-season but we managed to get a room. Since it was the off-season and they have low occupancy rates, they also don't heat the rooms and I can't really blame them. We just had to turn the heater on in the room when we got there. Much to our chagrin, after half an hour of running, the heater wasn't really heating. We called the front desk and the clerk came up, cleaned the filter, and we were in business. She was even nice enough to bring us some extra blankets. I think there were only three rooms in the entire hotel occupied that night. I called a local tire place and was happy to find out they'd be open on New Year's Eve. That happiness was later abated by the Colts getting beaten by the Titans and keeping the Browns out of the playoffs. You can't have everything I suppose.
The next morning we got our breakfast and got the tire changed. Nothing $100 won't fix and we were back on the road heading to Rushmore. We got there and found a surprising number of people visiting. It was VERY cold that morning but we managed to endure it long enough to get our picture taken by some nice folks.
The drive from Rushmore to Crazy Horse was a little bit snowier than any of the previous roads we'd been on. Lorena had never been to Crazy Horse and so we spent about an hour taking it all in. It's the second time I'd been there in 2007 but it's still impressive and totally worth visiting. I think it's cool that you can fit all of Mount Rushmore in Crazy Horse's head.
After Crazy Horse we decided to stop in Custer, SD for lunch before making the cross-country trip up to Devil's Tower. What we didn't know was the storm brewing in our path. A nasty winter storm that had just blown through Idaho was now pelting Wyoming and we were headed right into it. The drive from Custer to Newcastle, WY wasn't terrible but there was lots of blowing snow. The real treat was from Newcastle to Sundance. The blowing snow was like little mini-blizzards where you couldn't really see the road very far in front of you. We almost slaughtered a wild turkey at 60 mph after popping out of one of the snow clouds. The road surface wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. We arrived in Sundance to get gas and asked the woman there about how far West the snow went. She said it was all the way through Gillette and the roads were worse the further West you go. That's a great thing to hear as you get up on the interstate again heading right into it. We opted to skip Devil's Tower given the conditions.
The roads weren't terrible on the interstate between Sundance and Gillette but that changed pretty significantly afterward. We drove into more blowing snow, actual precipitation, and icy roads. Only one lane was drivable and only marginally at best. The wind kept blowing the car around and the rough ice bounced us around pretty good. Couple that with the fact that it was dark and that made for a very stressful 90 minutes between Gillette and Sheridan, WY where we finally decided to call it a day. It was only 5pm but we didn't think it would be prudent to continue to Billings, MT that night. We got our hotel, ordered in pizza, and proceeded to crash out at about 9pm on New Year's Eve. It seemed lame but we were completely exhausted from driving in the snow. We looked at the radar after getting into the hotel and found out that we would have been driving in snow all the way into Billings if we hadn't stopped.
New Year's Day was sunny again and the interstate was clear again. Funnily enough, the parking lot of the hotel was rather empty when we pulled in the night before but was rather full the next morning. Likely people who had the same idea as us. We knew it was going to be at least 10 hours from Billings to home plus the hour from Sheridan to Billings. Just to make it more fun, the other rear tire decided to be unbalanced and so I couldn't drive over 60 mph without vibration. We didn't want a repeat of Wall, SD and the chances of finding a open tire shop on January 1st in middle-of-nowhere Montana were probably slim. In fact, that was verified when we stopped in a little town to see about getting the tire balanced only to find almost everything in the town closed. Not surprising but worth a shot. We just continued on at 60 and it took 14 hours instead of 11. Hell, the major mountain passes (Continental Divide, Lookout Pass, and 4th of July Pass) were clear as a bell and dry. That's not to say there wasn't A LOT of snow along side the road in those places.
We arrived home to find about 6 inches of the white stuff here in Moscow and had to do a little bit of shoveling before we could unpack the car. The cats were glad to see us but had made a few messes and destroyed our plants. We don't think we'll leave them alone for quite that long again even though we had someone checking up on them. They apparently decided they like raw pasta enough to get into the cupboards and knock it out all over the floor. Let's just say it's not what you like to come home to after a long day on the road.
That's about it. We've been slowly getting things back to normal here at the house as well as at the office. It's been above freezing the last few days and so the snow is melting a little. Our first ride of 2008 was on the trainers in our living room on January 2nd. Yesterday, since it was about 37 degrees we decided to head out on our cross bikes to get in some miles. Unfortunately, the path between here and Pullman isn't plowed and the roads were very slushy. I decided to try and ride through the snow but it was just too deep and I was working way too hard. I turned back and decided to just ride the roads despite the slush and water. Thank goodness I opted for the AmFib booties. My feet stayed nice and dry but my bike slowly built up piles of ice and snow in the derailleurs. It was just nice to be outside on the bike for the first time in a while.
We were so glad to hang out with everyone, friends and family alike, while we were in Ohio. It's always hard to leave when you're having such a good time. There's a lot of work to be done here in the coming year and it will all be done before we know it. In the meantime, keep it rubber side down and raise a glass to the new year!