Thursday, March 27, 2008

Horton's Have a New Who!

Baby Horton has finally arrived -- meet Carter Gabriel Horton! His proud momma is friend and Bella teammate, Heidi, and proud daddy is Coby. The newest racer-baby to hit the Central Valley!
And Daddy Coby has already got the diaper changing thing down! You rock, Papa Coby!
Carter is in the hospital until next week because he's got a bit of pneumonia -- send some positive thoughts the Horton's way. They're doing great, but look forward to taking their new little biker-dude home soon.

An Excuse to Eat Chocolate in the Eastern Sierras

Spent Easter weekend in Bridgeport with Mom and Dad. Big brothers, their wives, and all the nieces were absent, some down south playing in the desert, and the others at their own home recovering from the flu -- bummer. But, that meant more chocolate for me...ya gotta find the silver lining.
I've said it here before, but I love Bridgeport. Pure and simple. It's small and real and high in the Eastern Sierras. An amazing place to have grown up, and an even cooler place to go back to over and over again. (And the population has boomed from the 500 it was when I was a kid.)
The west side of the valley is the east side of Yosemite -- locals call these the crags, but on a map, they're called the Sawtooth. They're above Twin Lakes, and though I grew up looking at them every day, they still take my breath away.
Close to the Nevada border, Bridgeport is cattle country and hosts a rodeo each July. The view above is the view from the rodeo grounds.
And what's a small town without a community Easter Egg Hunt? It's at a little park in the center of town each year, and different sections of the park are for children of different ages. The spot for the youngest kids always cracks me up (pun intended)...even I can spot these eggs.
And this year, they put the eggs for the smallest kids on the tennis courts so they wouldn't get plowed down by the older kids. There's a basketball net on the court, too, and though I didn't react quickly enough to catch it on film, one little tiny guy picked up his first egg, and promptly walked over to the basketball hoop, intent on throwing the egg in -- makes sense to me.
The oldest kids have a bit more of a challenge waiting for them, although a few of their eggs were right out in the open, too.
On Easter afternoon, Mom and I invited family friend, Sue, to drive up to Twin Lakes with us and walk along Upper Twin. It was fairly warm, and beautiful with all the snow and the partially frozen lake.
We had Sue snap a shot of us. I always have to twist Mom's arm, as she hates having her pic taken, but I'm glad I got her to agree.

And this is Bridgeport. Bridgeport Lake is behind it, and as kids, we swam there during the summer, and ice skated on it in the winter -- great fun, though a bit freaky when you could hear the ice cracking and water moving underneath the ice.
When you read that gas is going to get to $4.00 a gallon soon, well, let people know it already has. Costs a bit to truck gas all the way up here, you know, and the locals pay the price.
On the way back to Fresno, I passed my old high school, which is 35 miles away from Bridgeport, toward Nevada. Kids from three communities went here: Bridgeport, Walker, and Coleville. When I was there, there were only 100 kids in grades 9th through 12th -- I graduated with 15. Believe it or not, I think it's even smaller now.
Hammerbacher's is a store just down the road from the high school, and I have fond memories of walking down during lunch as well as after basketball and softball practice at the end of the day -- needed snacks for that long bus drive back to Bridgeport. It's a bit run down now, so I figured I better get a pic of the sign before it's gone altogether.
And I also passed this sign just past the high school. Jackie Giorgi was the Spanish teacher, our girls' basketball coach, and our athletic director. She was a great lady, and passed away a few years ago. I still remember how much she emphasized good sportsmanship. During one home basketball game, a kid in our audience boo-ed the other team. Mrs. Giorgi suddenly appeared out of nowhere on the floor in front of our bleachers, pointed up to that student, and made him leave the gym. She didn't put up with any crap -- the way it should be. She really did teach us that the way we played and the way we conducted ourselves were much more important than who won the game. Simple, but incredibly important lessons that don't always get taught.
A great place to grow up. Wouldn't trade it for the world. Even if there weren't chocolate....

A New Writing Gig

I mentioned quite a few posts ago that I recently signed a contract to begin writing for USA Cycling's newsletter and website. It's a really great opportunity, as I get the chance to interview elite American cyclists involved in a variety of USA Cycling programs. I feel pretty honored to get to know these athletes, and am already working on a variety of stories.

The first one has been posted on the website, and you can see it here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Got a "Call-Up" at Paris-Nice!

Ok, not really a call-up. And not really AT Paris-Nice...but during's live web coverage of stage 7, they did encourage race fans to check out my Exeter Time Trial article. Pretty thrilling for a little 'ole freelancer like me. You can see my moment of glory for yourself right here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Aaron's School Visit

The article I wrote on Friday's visit to Rocky Hill Elementary in Exeter has been posted here.

Sequoia Classic's a Wrap

The pro women put on a great show yesterday at the Visalia Criterium, as it was fast and furious from the start. You can read my article here. And I promised to put up some of my own pics from Saturday's Yokohl Ranch Exeter Time Trial (keeping in mind I am NOT a photog!), so there are a few here, along with some from yesterday's crit.

This is Mark and Sheri on Friday before a "fun ride" of the time trial course for media, community members, and racers.
She's so famous that I probably don't need to put a caption, but for those of you NOT in the know, this is the Bay Area's pro racing sweetheart, Martina Patella (aka, Yellow Bug on my rockin' blogs list), at the start of the time trial. The dude who held her saddle (certainly every man's dream job) is Sheri's hubbie, and one of my first cycling coaches, Tim. He started every racer, including the pro men (my dream job...) and all the amateur categories -- that's a lot of saddle holding!

This is the winningest female cyclist in America, with over 300 career wins -- yes, 300! Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder. She is from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, where her family has a restaurant in a place kinda like Bridgeport. And though she is a fierce competitor and an AMAZING sprinter, you would be hard-pressed to find a more humble and gracious woman anywhere. She is a class act -- no doubt about it.
And another class act, one of Laura's stellar lead-outs, Kelly Benjamin. She's a full-time firefighter in her non-cycling life, and is a total hammer on the bike.
This is Kate Ross, a fellow Boulder-ite, and one of a great group of women on the America's Dairyland team. She upgraded last year from a cat 4 to a cat 2 -- in one season! -- so now races with pros. Got to chat with her at the Frostbite Time Trial back in Colorado a few weeks ago, and it's fun to see her racing with the heavy-hitter women now.
Seriously, no introductions needed here...the world champ, Kristin Armstrong, adjusting her helmet at the start before absolutely burning up the course. And, apparently, bleeding on it a bit, too...she got a bloody nose along the way and, in true competitive fashion, just kept cranking the pedals, leaving a trail of red behind her! No doubt there were flames on the road, too.
Honestly, I don't know how this happened...catching Anne Samplonius, the Canadian national time trial champ, with her tongue out. I met her for the first time this weekend right after the time trial podium, as she took fourth. Super nice gal who's joined Cheerwine this year, and I look forward to seeing her at more races, too.
And one more great gal from Cheerwine -- Leigh Hobson. She took second last year at the time trial, so because Colavita / Sutter Homes' Alison Powers (the winner) wasn't here this year, she was slated to hit the course last. She's soft-spoken, but a super time trialist and lead-out.
About halfway through the women's field, a woman named Kristy Gough was supposed to ride. She was killed last weekend in a tragic crash in the Bay Area, along with one of her training partners, Matt Peterson. Apparently, a sheriff's deputy fell asleep at the wheel of his car, and went straight around a turn, going into the left lane and hitting Kristy, Matt, and another cyclist (in critical condition) from Germany head-on as they were descending -- horrific for all involved. The gentleman on the left is a USA Cycling official who was starting the women, and the other gentleman is a good friend of Kristy's. He's holding her race number, and announcer Dave Towle asked for a moment of silence in her honor. A heartbreaking moment, but such a beautiful symbol of how supportive and close the cycling community is.
These are pictures of Matt and Kristy that the Sequoia Classic organizing committee had framed and signed by athletes in attendance. They'll be presented to their families. The photos are shots of them on the podium in Merced just two weeks before the accident.
And we continue to pedal....this is Felicia Gomez, Kristin Armstrong, and Alex Rhodes in the top three spots on the Exeter Time Trial podium.
And then it was Sunday, and time for the Visalia Criterium. Before the women raced, there was a kids' race, and who was the first child I noticed cross the line? None other than Avery, the 2-year-old daughter of Vee, one of my friends here in Fresno who raced for Central Valley Cycling. The next generation in the making -- and she's looking FAST in those pink specs!
There was also a men's pro race, though I didn't cover it because it wasn't NRC. This is the winner, Colavita / Sutter Homes' Sebastian Haedo balancing his box of oranges after the podium ceremony while talking to a local reporter. Probably not something the Argentinean rider -- and brother to JJ! -- typically has to balance on the bike!
Sebastian's teammate, Alejandro Borrajo, also from Argentina, took third. Olive two cases of oranges. Yummy!
There was also a walk/run to benefit the Jeff Barnes Brain Injury Foundation, and all ages were encouraged to participate. This little guy (girl?) made it all the way around the .7 mile course!
This is Rory Sutherland, an Aussie racer on Health Net, cooling down after the men's race. Kinda photogenic, aye?
And finally, the women's pro/1/2 race! The call-up started things off, and Laura Van Gilder and Felicia Gomez were two of the racers announced. Fun to see women who are so competitive also show great camaraderie and respect for each other.
The Proman racer here is Megan Guarnier -- remember that name. She is about to head over to Europe with a new USA Cycling program that is developing young, relatively unknown, but promising American riders by sending them to race in Europe. She will be racing in some French Cup races, and I'm starting an article about her and two other racers for USA Cycling's newsletter.
Team Tibco's super sprinter and national team member, Brooke Miller (left) and ValueAct Capital's rockin' sprinter, Martina Patella, were also called up, and chatted it up for a few seconds before the start.
No action shots during the race -- certainly don't have the camera for that! -- but there was plenty of action, including two crashes. The first one brought about 35 women into the pit for their free lap! You can see all the action, though, on, as they filmed and have the race archived. I'm not sure they caught the big crash, but likely caught the second one coming into the final stretch.

But I did get some podium shots, and like this one of the women raising their oranges above their heads...strong to the end! (l to r: Lauren Franges, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Brooke Miller)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yokohl Ranch Exeter Time Trial

Saturday's Podium, complete with oranges for each winner (l to r):
Katharine Carroll (Aaron's), Felicia Gomez (Aaron's), Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-LifeForce), Alex Rhodes (Team High Road), Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine)

Spent the afternoon covering the first day of the Sequoia Cycling Classic yesterday in Exeter. The depth of the women's field was incredible, with current world champion time trialist, Kristin Armstrong burning up the course, as well as a number of national champions and Olympic hopefuls.

You can read my article here.

The women were impressed with the difficulty and length of the course, as well as the $10,000 purse. Definite kudos to friend and race director, Sheri Clark, and her organizing committee. They work very hard on the race, and it's nice when the racers recognize and appreciate their efforts.

While there were many highlights of the day, one big one was seeing friend and Fresno State prof, Felicia Gomez of Aaron's, take the podium in third place. A Canadian citizen, she's on sabbatical this semester to focus on her training in the hopes of representing Canada in Beijing. She was all smiles regarding her performance, and knowing how hard she works, it was really fun to see that.

I did take some photos -- a few are even in the article! -- and though I'm clearly meant for putting down words and not images, I'll post more later. No time now, though, as need to get to Visalia to cover the criterium. It promises to be incredibly fast and exciting, with another $10,000 purse on the line!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hangin' with Aaron's Pro Cycling Team

Friday, I had the honor of joining the Aaron's Professional Cycling Team as they visited Rocky Mountain Elementary School in Exeter. They were there to encourage the children to come try the kids' race during the Sequoia Classic on Sunday, as well as to talk to them about racing, nutrition, and bike safety. Their title sponsor, Aaron's Corporate Furnishings, will be providing Specialized helmets to the first 50 kids signed up on Sunday -- cool!

Here the team poses with some of the third through fifth graders before their talk and in front of a sign that the kids made.
Team Director, Carmen D'Aluisio, a former crit national champion, proudly introduces her team to the kids.
Each of the racers introduced herself, and then the kids got to ask questions. It was hard to pick a hand, as so many went up!
When a boy asked if the team knows any bike tricks, Erica Allar (PA), who started racing on the track in 2001, showed them a track stand.
Another child asked how the team talks to each other during a race, so Kristin Sanders (2007 Master's National Champ) used Erica to show the kids how they are "wired" with radios during races.
After the riders showed the kids that they clip into their pedals and wear special shoes to do so, one child asked if the shoes are comfortable. Katharine Carroll (who just came home with the Sprinter's Jersey from New Zealand!) was nice enough to pass her shoes around...yes, a few children sniffed them. Nobody fainted, though.
When the talk was over, children swarmed the riders like rock star groupies, and asked them to sign their arms. (Apparently there's a paper shortage in Exeter?....)
Carmen McNellis, a former 5th grade math teacher and also a member of the US National Team, felt right at home with the kids, and signed a few arms -- and a forehead!
From left to right: Kristin Sanders, Carmen D'Aluisio, Carmen McNellis, Katharine (Kat) Carroll, Erica Allar, and Meredith Miller. Shapin' the next generation!
(I wrote an article for, and will put a link here when it's up)

My Cycling Roots

Stayed with Katie and her girls my first night back in Fresno -- great reconnecting with them. And on Thursday, I got to ride up past Millerton Store and nearly to Prather (insert deep, deep meaningful sigh here). It was so beautiful -- these blossoms greeted me on the way out of town on Willow. The trees were cut down, but the blossoms were still intact.

This is one of my favorite views on the way up...a little piece o' Ireland just before St. Paddy's.
This is a new piece of the scenery on the way up. It was in the works when I left, but not completed....there's no ocean nearby, so it's not a lighthouse...just a fun place to take in the view for a mountain-top home owner, I suppose.
And the store! Chatted with a couple very nice guys here, and it was like old times.
And, once back down into the Valley, almost home, of course I was greeted by this St. Paddy's-clad fella. He's just before Auberry and Copper, and is always dressed in his holiday finest!
Lookin' forward to more riding while here. The Rockies are great and all, but this is where I fell in love with all things bicycle.