Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whine Flu?

Ok, I haven't kissed any pigs lately, and I don't think I have the Swine Flu, but I have been sick with a very nasty cold that started coming on last Saturday night. I do feel grateful, however, that though I've been staying home from work, I can do work from home, since it's grading season in university-land.

But come on....get better already!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dana Point Grand Prix

I was back at the races this past weekend -- the Dana Point Grand Prix, an exciting and scenic crit in the city streets of Dana Point, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This was the third year the city held the race, but its first year on the National Racing Calendar, so VeloNews sent me down to report the action. As always, I didn't get a lot of snaps, but there was some major action, with a big crash in the women's race and heavy hitters like Floyd Landis (who lives just a few miles away in Murietta) in the men's race.

If you want to read all the details AND see professional snaps, you can go to my article here.

As for my amateur snaps, here's a few. This is the women's podium. Webcor Builders took the top two spots, with Australian Nikki Butterfield in the top spot and Canadian teammate, Gina Grain, in second. No Americans on the podium, as the third spot went to Kiwi Cath Cheatley. The gentleman in the picture is handing a construction helmet to Nikki with title sponsor Webcor Builders logo on it. She wore it for a few interviews -- "good-on" Cath for promoting those sponsors!
Winners received champagne, and Nikki immediately opened hers, inadvertantly (or not?!) aiming the cork at photogs. I got out of the way before the bubbles flew -- I forgot that my camera is water(champagne)proof.
There was a little left...
One of the photogs there for VeloNews was Mark Johnson, and he sent me this snap that he got of Gina Grain whenI interviewed her after the podium presentation. His pics aren't up yet on the VeloNews site, but will be added to the gallery soon, but check his business out -- IronString Writing and Photography.
The men's race was a few hours later, and this is their podium. Current national crit champ, Rahsaan Bahati from Rock Racing took the sprint win, followed by Southern California Velo's Jeremiah Wiscovitch. Jeremiah was on Rock Racing the last two years with Rahsaan, and told me after the race that it is exciting to get to race against him now instead of leading Bahati out. In third here is Colavita-Sutter Home's Sebastian Haedo who, like his big brother J.J. Haedo, is from Argentina.
It was a quick weekend, with just the one day of racing on Sunday. I went down Saturday night and met good high school friend, Sherry, and we had dinner with her sis-in-law, Lisa Lowe (formerly Johnson), who went to school with my big brothers. Had a ball telling 'ole high school stories and filling each other in on all we knew about former classmates. I stayed with Sherry and her husband, Tim, on their beautiful 2.5 acre property in Temecula that night. Though the race was fun, it was hard leaving the next morning, so I can't wait to get down there at a time when we can hang out more. And maybe even ride Sherry's horse a bit!

Definitely good times.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

This was the first Easter in a few years that I wasn't with the fan-damily, and definitely missed them -- love to see my nieces going after all the eggs and goodies! But I did have a good day, with a nice casual bike ride in the morning, and then joining Katie and her girls at a park near where we live for a little egg hunting. Lizhu joined us, too, but wouldn't let me take any snaps of her.

This is Katie and her girls after they collected most of the eggs.
Ellie was a bit sad because she didn't get as many eggs as 3-year-old LITTLE sister, Sofie, so even when everyone else was done looking, she was still searching.
She got a little help from Katie, Sofie, and Gabby after awhile.
And I made everyone get in a tree for a quick shot.
Gabby with her loot. I didn't even look for any of the candy-filled eggs, but I'm pretty sure I have about 1/2 pound of chocolate in my belly!
Here's Sofie, coveting a few "My Little Ponies" she got in a big egg.
"Sugar and spice and everything nice?!" Pah! Gotta scuff things up to get at those eggs!

Hope everyone's Easter was terrific!

This time...

...the cheater didn't prosper. Click here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Really-Late Redlands Wrap-Up

I got to cover the last two days of the 25th Redlands Cycling Classic in Redlands, Cali for two weekends ago. My third year there, and it feels like home!Saturday was the downtown criterium -- beautiful weather! -- and retired pro and former Olympian, Christine Thorburn, was awarded the Redlands Legends award prior to the start of the pro women's crit. One of my first articles for VeloNews was about the level of education in the women's pro peloton, and I used Christine's old team, Webcor Builders, as she's an MD and former teammate Felicia Gomez is a PhD (and my friend!). And on the far left here is Scott Welsh, the media director for the Classic. He's always makes me feel like somebody, which I realize is his job...but still makes me feel like I really am somebody!
Columbia-High Road's Mara Abbott at the call-up for the women's race. She wore the yellow jersey every day last year, but lost it to then-Webcor Builder's Alex Wrubleski by one second from time bonuses the final day. Alex is her teammate this year. Pretty good strategy, I'd say.
ValueAct Capital's Kristin Sanders at the call-up. A little trivia about Kristin -- big NASCAR fan.
My only attempt at an artsy shot over the weekend...apparently my artsy synapses weren't firing.
Team Tibco's Lauren Tamayo and Meredith Miller. Laura's been hitting the podium a lot this season, and Meredith is as much a hammer as usual. Her team camp bbq skills are apparently in peak form, as well.
Alison Powers of Team Type 1, and the current National Time Trial Champion. While there are many incredible women in the pro peloton, I have to say that Alison stands out as being genuinely down to earth and happy-like-a-kid when she wins. Fun to see good souls do well.
Katheryn Mattis of Webcor Builders. Former national champion, and rides with the U.S. National Team in Europe each season, typically coming home with some great results. And her latest claim to fame? Starting the "Cyclist's Recipe Exchange Group" on Facebook. We're all eternally grateful.
I know, the anticipation is building for who won the women's race, but the podium wasn't done until the men's race started. So you'll have to wait so I can keep my pictures in order. This is the beginning of the call-up for the men's race. BMC's Jeff Louder was in yellow -- BMC is doing Paris-Roubaix this week! -- and Bissell's Tom Zirbel is next to him in his team's red and black. I interviewed Tom for the first time at the Sequoia Classic three years ago -- he was sitting down recovering after the race. Why is that significant? Because it wasn't until I interviewed him just before the podium this year -- while he was standing -- that I realized how dang tall he is. Or perhaps it's that I'm so short...whatever.
This is what really happens at the call-up: Everyone adjusts their equipment (as Ouch-Maxxis's Rory Sutherland is doing) and chit-chats while others are called (like Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes and a BMC rider are doing).
Andy "The Baj" Bajadali of Kelly Benefits Strategies at the call-up. He was the overall winner at Redlands in 2007. And NEWSFLASH: is currently leading the GC at the Tour of Thailand!!! Very cool!
The men's field as they got final instructions from a USA Cycling official. Yada-yada-yada.
The crowds come out in full force for the crit each year. It's pretty darned impressive that this bike race has been going on for 25 years. It's run completely by volunteers, and they're a great group.
And the women's crit podium...Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg of Columbia-High Road took the sprint (no news here...), followed closely by Colavita-Sutter Homes's Tina Pic, and Webcor Builder's Gina Grain, a Canadian who went to Beijing on their Olympic team last year. Tina has been U.S. National Crit champ about five times.
And the overall women's podium at the end of the day -- Nurnberger-Shoair's Amber Neben, an American who races the rest of her season in Europe and is the current World Champion in the time trial, is in yellow, and Teutenberg's in green.
And the men's overall podium after the crit: Jeff Louder in yellow still, Kirk Carlsen of Garmin's U23 developmental squad in red, and Colavita-Sutter Homes's Kyle Wamsley in green.
Really?!!! With 300 professional cyclists in town?!!!
This was my hang-out spot the next day at the final stage -- the Sunset circuit race. For you neo-cyclists (or never-cyclists), KOM is King of the Mountain (or Queen for the women, but there's rarely a Q). Points are awarded on various laps to the first riders across the line and the winner wears a red climber's jersey. It's likely red after the red-and-white polka dot climber's jersey in the Tour de France.
And I hung out with Sean Weide! He's the media guru for Team Type 1, and a damn good guy. It was our "friend-iversary," as we bonded at the KOM last year when I followed him around like a puppy because he's great at getting about 20 consecutive numbers of racers as they go by.
To kill time while waiting for the racers to come around each lap (women did 9 laps at an average of about 17 minutes each while men did 12 laps at an average of about 15 minutes each) all the reporters/photogs did things like call each other's phones to hear cool ring tones. Kirsten Robbins of is sharing hers with us's the song from the Mac commercial (I don't know the name, but it's a great song).
The women's podium back downtown was Alison Powers in first, Kiwi Joanne Kiesanowski of Team Tibco in second, and Aussie Nikki Butterfield of Webcor Builders in third. The race finishes on the same course as the previous day's crit, which has some pretty gnarly chicanes just prior to the final turn into the finish. Alison is a former U.S. National Team skiier, and her ability to make it through tight, quick turns served her well here.
Redlands always has podium girls -- and boys. Gotta love the equity!
And the final women's podium: Teutenberg in yellow, Neben in second (by just one second due to time bonuses....eerily like last year, minus Abbott and Wrubleski), Powers took third, down just 27 seconds, and Colavita-Sutter Homes's Tiffany Cromwell took the climber's jersey.
The women of Tibco took the team classification. I think skeptical-looking Lauren was looking for the pizza I confiscated from the VIP area for the team while they were waiting for the podium.
This is not a good pic, as it's fuzzy and not framed well because I turned too late, but I thought it was cool that this little girl wanted her pic taken with Teutenberg and teammate Kim Anderson while they waited for the podium. Female cycling rock stars and their little groupies -- that rocks! And Ina gave her podium flowers to the little girl -- sah-wheet!
The men's Sunset podium: Matt Damon-look-alike Kyle Wamsley soloed across the line first, followed by Kirk Carlsen, and Canadian Jacob Erker of Kelly Benefits Strategies was third.
And the men's final podium: Louder retained the yellow jersey by five seconds, Zirbel was second, Ben Day of Fly V Australia (who won San Dimas the weekend before) was third, while Carlsen took home the climber's jersey, and Wamsley took the sprinter's competition (the green jersey).
The young pups of Garmin's U23 Development team took the team competition -- pretty amazing, especially given they're all 21 and younger -- and did a little group bonding while waiting for the team podium.
And the team podium. Some happy youngsters. And they were really all smiles when the podium girls were giving them the traditional two-cheek kisses. I think there was a little blushing going on, too.
Another Redlands wrapped up! Posed for one final pic with Sean and his friend, Ed, then met the ValueAct Capital women at one of their host houses for dinner before retiring to my host house to write my story late into the night.
You can see the crit report here.
And the final report here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Transition Back

I know...I never started this blog as a movie review site, and honestly, it's not going to be that. Here's the's been a really busy, really crazy (in both good and bad ways) semester, and with my discovery of Facebook in November, I've continued to neglect this blog. But, it's Spring Break this week, so I'll be doing some entries -- honest! -- to catch my loyal readers up on Redlands (which I covered part of last week) and my trip to Denver for SRCD.

I just got back from SRCD, and to ease back in to my real life here, I swung by Jimmy John's on the way home from the airport, got one of their great Beach Clubs, and came home to eat it while watching "Bella," fresh from Neflix. It is an absolutely beautiful and incredibly poignant movie. So watch it.
And now that the movie is over, I'm ready to unpack, start some laundry, and go grocery shopping for the week. Yippeeee!

And some additional blog posts will appear over the next few days as I get all caught up with my personal life.