Friday, July 25, 2008

Latest Article ... and I'm Sick!

My latest article is up on USA Cycling's homepage. It's a follow-up piece to the one I wrote months back on the new Women's Regional Development Camp, and you can read it here. I was able to speak by phone to some racers who I hadn't spoken with before, and I'll see them at Nationals in Orange County in just over a week when I go down there to cover the racing for USAC. Good stuff.

And, dang if I'm not sick!!! Can you believe it? August, and I've come down with a nasty, raging cold-flu-thing! I thought it was allergies, but I don't think my throat would feel like it was on fire if it were just allergies ... bummer. So, please, if you have some extra time, feel a little sorry for me, and send some good health vibes my way.

Monday, July 21, 2008

How I Met Chris Horner

I am still going to do an entry on the Cascade Cycling Classic, but my friend Pat in Texas is anxious to find out how I met Chris Horner while there, so this is for her. Chris rides for Astana -- you know, the team that SHOULD be at the Tour de France, but got snubbed by the organizers -- and he was at Cascade with Levi Leipheimer (3rd at the Tour last year -- yah, should have been at the Tour). Neal Rogers at VeloNews does a lot of interviews with Chris on TV, and Pat has become a big fan from watching those. So, she was pretty excited when she found out I'd be reporting on a race he'd be in -- I was excited about all the big riders that were there, too, but of course, as a serious-cycling-journalist-type, you know ... I try to play it cool.

So, there I was, at the time trial -- the third stage of the race. I'd interviewed Levi briefly after the second stage as he and Chris were getting on their bikes to ride back down the mountain they'd just climbed, but hadn't had time to talk to Chris. So, well before the men's time trial started, I was walking toward the sign-in area, and Chris, having just signed in, I think, was riding toward me. He rode past, and I realized it might be a good time to set up a time to interview him, so just after he passed, I turned around, yelled his name, and turned to see if he heard and was stopping. He slowed, excused himself from talking to someone he was riding next to, and looked toward me. I started running toward him (well, I'm not very fast, so it was probably more like a jog) because I didn't want him to have to come back, and I just happened to be holding a reporter's pad and pen in my left hand, which, as I ran, apparently looked like I was holding them out. So as I got near him, he smiled and put out his hand for the pad and pen I was holding -- he clearly thought I wanted an autograph. I started laughing, and said, "No, no, I don't want your autograph -- I'm covering the race for VeloNews -- and, don't worry, I won't throw my bra at you or anything, either!" He started laughing, too, and said something about it being ok for me to throw my bra, and then he said that reporters don't usually run him down holding pens out.

Talking to a racer for the first time -- man or woman, famous or not -- is always a little nerve wracking, as more often than not, you're talking to them during times that they're incredibly exhausted, stressed, or both, and you don't know how they're going to respond to your questions. And I accidentally say some stupid shit sometimes, too. But, I have to say, my intro to Chris Horner was perhaps the most memorable first "interview" yet.

Like Pat, I'd also seen Chris in a lot of interviews, and I was under the impression he is pretty down-to-earth and has a good sense of humor -- and that he tells you exactly what he thinks. Talking to him over the course of the race, starting with the "autograph session" and ending with a phone interview after the race was over, confirmed that impression. He's clearly a good guy. And at the end of our post-race phone interview, he said that maybe he'll give me an autograph next time he sees me ...

And, in case you missed it on, here's a story and pics about his giving another racer a ride to the finish line of the fifth stage. Good guy all the way around.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm in Shape! ...

...the magazine, that is! My little front-of-the-book piece on fitness programs for moms is in the "Get Fit News" section on page 108 of the August issue. How cool is that?!
And the feature I wrote on Rebecca Rusch, adventure racer and current world 24-hour solo mountain bike champ is on page 66 of the latest issue of VeloNews (Volume 37, Issue 13).
She's amazing, and it was a ton of fun meeting her at a conference at the Olympic Training Center and then interviewing her and her friends for the article.
Not bad for a wanna-be freelancer, aye?!!

Can You Hear Me Now?

Tonight at dinner, Lacey made a call on her watermelon phone ... we're not sure who she talked to, but we hope she has unlimited long distance. (Oh, and the blue dots on her head? Stickers, of course. Duh.)

Mango Margaritas at the Mobil

I turned 42 last Wednesday -- the day after I got back from Bend -- and Missy, Kim, and Jan, along with Stephanie, a friend of Kim's from work, joined me in celebrating at the Mobil just outside Lee Vining. Yup, it's true ... we ate dinner and drank mango margaritas (two pitchers, thank you) at a fabulous deli (The Whoa Nellie Deli) that is in a Mobil gas station at the bottom of Tioga Pass, just off Hwy. 395. I know it sounds bizarre, but honestly, the food is the best. I had Seared Ahi, Kim had Lobster Taquitos, and Missy had Carnitas Tacos. Jan had a big 'ole slab of chocolate cake, and Stephanie just stuck with the margaritas -- yup, she'll fit right in with us!

Missy had the server-dude bring out a big slab of carrot cake with a candle for me -- two customers from inside even followed the employees out to join in the traditional serenade -- I'm not telling you what I wished, as I really do hope it comes true. Good eats, good drinks, and lotsa laughter. Happy Birthday to me!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Until last year, July was all about the Tour for me -- either being there, like in 2004, or, at the least, devotedly watching it on tv each day and reading every little article about it on the web. But, for the second year, my Tour viewing has been pre-empted by the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon. It's a 5-day, 6-stage race in beautiful Central Oregon that I've had the pleasure of covering for VeloNews both years, and it ended Sunday. I stayed one additional day here in Bend to begin a mag feature on the race, and this morning, am making the 10-hour drive back to Bridgeport. It's been fun, but of course, very tiring, and I'm looking forward to getting resettled in Bridgeport and driving Jim and Missy crazy with wanting to watch Versus!

I stayed here in Bend with Paige and Erich again -- they also hosted the women of ValueAct Capital. Here are a few shots from their house before I leave, and I'll do some entries on the race shortly after getting back to B-port.

A sunset the second night I was there -- the night before the race started.Ahhhh ... a beautiful view to wake up to.
This is the view across the river gorge at a neighbor's house. Wow.
And this is a view from the media car during the race on the last stage Sunday ... thought it might bring you back to read more later!
Those are Gu packages hanging from his skivvies ... ain't pro racing great? ...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Bridgeport 4th of July

I have to say, 4th of July is just about my favorite holiday. As I wrote about last year, Bridgeport does it up pretty darn big, especially given that it's just a little town of 850. This year was the 147th annual 4th of July celebration. Pretty amazing. With the 4th being on Friday, festivities started on the 3rd with a rodeo -- and, though it wasn't on the poster of events, Tracy Rockel's birthday party was that night, too. She's a good friend, and Jim bought the sporting goods store from her parents, Rick and Sharon, who he also worked for as a teen. She turned 35, and did a great job blowing out the candles.
Tracy collects crosses, and has a wall of them at her house. Missy found a somewhat large cross for her at an antique store in Yucca ... and did a little sacreligeous imitation when she loaded it into the truck before we went to the party. The folks at the party got quite the kick out of her entry into the party like this, too ... though Jim was nervous we'd all get struck by lightning.
Lacey made friends at the party with Tracy's niece, Sophie.
And she also enjoyed the blue cake icing.
The theme for the 4th of July parade this year was "Honoring Our Armed Forces," and Missy's mom designed an incredible float, complete with all my nieces and Missy's cousins dressed in various military clothing. Amanda, Missy's cousin, and Lacey posed for me in the morning before they headed to the parade line-up.
I've been working at Jim's sporting goods store -- there's sporting goods on one side and a gift shop on the other, and I'm in the gift shop four days a week (will do an entry on that down the road). I worked on the 4th, but during the parade, though we stay open, of course everyone is out on the street watching, so we get to just stand in the doorway and watch, too. The streets are always packed with people -- many folks start setting up chairs for good views as early as 8:00 a.m. before the 10:00 a.m. start -- but this year, there seemed to be even more than usual. These are views from the doorway.
And this is the Ken's Sporting Goods float. I wasn't able to get any great shots from the doorway, but it really was amazing. Missy's family -- mom Jean, dad Terry, aunt Joanne, uncle Mike, brother Chad, and cousins Amanda and Travis -- did hours and HOURS worth of work. I think Missy probably took some better pics, so I'll try to post some later to do it more justice.
After the parade, Jean brought Amanda and Lacey by in their little Army ambulance that followed the float -- how cute are they?! Alyssa rode in a little wagon-helicopter that followed, too.
Bill and Cathy headed back home on the 5th, and before they left, they came by the store so Grandma could buy each of the girls a toy of their choice. Alyssa is currently enthralled with pirates, so she picked some pirate paraphernalia.
Abbey, Alyssa, and Emma -- way too cute!
No pics from the rest of the weekend, but there were more adventures to be had. One of the best parts of the 4th, besides getting together with the whole family, is reconnecting with old friends who come back into town. We saw some old friends we hadn't seen since before high school ... I won't tell you how long ago THAT was. Suffice it to say that sometimes we didn't recognize each other ...

Can't wait until next 4th of July!


Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day.
That's what RATPOD stands for, and it's a 130 mile bike ride (that's not a type-o) that starts and ends in Dillon, Montana. It benefits a camp for kids with cancer, and a friend I met at USA Cycling's Enhancing Leadership in Women's Cycling Conference back in January told me about it. Her name is Jane O'Driscoll, and she usually does it with a group of friends. The plan was for me to join them, and Jane warned me to register as soon as registration opened back in March because they only allow 500 riders and it fills fast. She was right. I got in ... and they didn't! So, I decided to go anyway, and invited my parents along since Dad is practically a Dillon citizen. He and Jim go up there every winter for elk and deer hunting. I've been once before, about ten years ago, for a fishing trip with Dad and Jim, and it's a beautiful place, so I figured the riding would be excellent. I was right.

The ride started bright and early at 6:00 a.m. at The University of Western Montana, a small college in town.
Camp Mak-A-Dream is the camp that the ride benefits and one of their buses was parked at the start.
The scenery was beautiful all along the route -- yup, all 130 miles -- but one of my favorite parts of the course was in a valley where some cowboys -- and girls -- were doing a cattle drive along the road. I took some pics as I first rode up to them, and was soon surrounded by cows on the road. It was crazy-fun, but the cows were getting a little freaked out even though there were only a few bikes around me. Some of them were running right into fences and one even successfully jumped a fence -- wish I'd got a shot of that! I also meant to get a shot of my tires while they were green from the cow sh**, but never got around to it.
There were five rest stops -- three with food and two with just water. The breakfast stop was at mile 72 and was on the lawn of this lodge. Had a great black bean breakfast burrito.
This is a shot looking back over riders toward the road at the lunch stop.
Didn't take many pics of the scenery simply because I knew my little camera wouldn't do justice to the expansive scenery ... but I took a few here and there.
There was a band playing celtic music at the lunch stop.
I talked to other riders here and there along the way, and ended up doing a large portion of the route with three people from Helena. Being in a paceline helped me get done quicker than I would have otherwise, and it was fun talking to them.

And this is the real reason I ride ... there was pie and ice cream at the last rest stop at 105 miles. I had a chocolate covered coconut sorbet. As the San Luis Obispo bike club says, "Ride to Eat ... Eat to Ride!"
With all my transitions, I haven't been doing a lot of miles on the bike, so I was a bit nervous about doing 130 miles in one day. There was a lot of climbing at the beginning, but also a lot of descending, and I was pretty darned pleased with how the entire ride went. I was back at the hotel by 4:00 -- my ride time was just over 8 hours, which isn't too bad considering the lack of training I've been putting in. I'd like to go back next year and see how I can do with some miles under me!

We made a quick trip, as we took two days to drive to Dillon, I did the ride on Saturday, and then we returned to Bridgeport in one day on Sunday. We had a great time, though, and spent each night with Donny and Dana Keltz at the Lion's Den, their bar/restaurant. They treat us like family, and are very good friends. Donny took us to a fundraiser for the college out at the local country club Saturday night after the ride, and we had great dinner and great entertainment at the live auction. And I got to meet many of Dad and Jim's friends at the bar, some of whom I'd met on my previous trip and some new ones.

Great people, great food, great riding. What could be better? (Ok, if my ass was a little less sore on the way home, that would be better, but I'm not complaining ...)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Continent-Trotting Juniors

My latest article for USA Cycling is up. More amazing junior racers -- this time headed for not only Europe, but South Africa, as well! Read it here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Goodbye, Rockies...Hellloooo, Eastern Sierras!

My time in Colorado this last year has been amazing...full of new friends, great riding, and fun work. In March, I decided that I wanted to return to my position at Fresno State -- not because Colorado and the work I did there wasn't great -- but because over the year, I gained new appreciation for the security and lifestyle that my position there allows me. I'm headed back to Fresno in early August and back to my associate professor position but with some new responsibilities. And I'm not leaving freelance writing behind, as I'll continue to do much of what I do now. I'll write more about all that as it unfolds, but for now, just wanted to catch up on my transition back to Cali. It's been a whirlwind, and what remains of the summer promises to be more of the same!

This is Jack and Catherine -- two good friends in Ft. Collins, who spent some time with me just before I left. They're sitting on the coolest "bar stools" ever at "The Drunken Monkey" in the Fort. They're swings, and fun even before you've had a few drinks.
You may remember that I was living in a teeny-tiny apartment in the Bubble, which was kinda cool when it came to packing to leave -- not much stuff! More than pictured here ... but not much!
And I spackled all the holes I put in the walls (not with my fists, but just the traditional nail holes from pics) all by myself! There's this really cool spackle that is pink when you put it on and then lets you know it's ready for touch-up paint when it dries to white. Doesn't take much to entertain me, obviously.
I hit the road towing a U-Haul behind my Su-boo-buh-roo, and along the way, saw these crazy-looking clouds. I don't know how to use PhotoShop, so, honest, they're real.
I was pretty darned proud to tow a U-Haul -- first time -- and can't believe I forgot to get a pic of it ... but I did take this snap of my view in the rearview mirror.
Stopped the first night in Fruita with Will and Joanne -- thanks again! -- and the second night, was here, in Spring Creek, with Carla and Dan -- thank you, too! The Ruby Mountains are spectacular.
And back in Cali after dropping my things off in Fresno at Katie's house -- which I'll share with her and her kids upon my return in August (more later on that, too) -- I drove through Yosemite to get to Bridgeport, where I'm spending my summer. Grew up by Yosemite, but the views there still take my breath away.
And I got back to Bridgeport just in time to spend a few days with the Fishin' Mission! As has become tradition, Jim, Missy, and now Lacey, and I had breakfast with our main boys at Hays Street on their last morning. This is Toni (Sparky) holding Lacey, Larry (Here-for-the-Beer), Jim (Toni's bro-in-law who was on his maiden Mission and doesn't have a nickname yet), and Gary (Walkbucks). Love 'em! And you can see that Lacey has become a fan, too.
And, yes, a little drinkin' goes on in B-port. Since I figured I'd be out at Rhino's a few nights a week all summer, I found a nice new low-calorie beer to drink. Miller Genuine Draft 64 -- 64 calories, crisp, and clean. Good stuff. And on one of my first nights back, Cammie (used-to-be)Padilla taught another friend, Roxanne, and I how to play 1-4-24, a dice game. My first two rolls? 1-4-24. Sa-wheet! Of course, we started playing for money after those practice rolls, and I promptly stopped rolling that particular combination. But it was fun anyway.
And there's always good eatin' in the hometown, as well. On Father's Day, I made Chinese food for Dad and the fam (Hot and Sour Shrimp, Ginger Beef, and Egg Rolls -- yes, homemade!), and Missy ordered a chocolate pie for Jim that we had for dessert. Jan Mills made it, and it was dee-lish.
And with all that drinking and eating, of course, I've got to do some miles here and there. Been riding up to Twin Lakes at least three days a week, and the views, as always, are to die for.

One of the best parts of spending the summer in Bridgeport, though, is being with family. I'm staying with Jim, Missy, and Lacey, who, as you can see, is as cool as ever.

So there's a little bit of catch-up. Things are going to be a bit busy the next few weeks with 4th of July and a trip to Oregon to cover the Cascade Classic for, but I'll blog my best!