Thursday, March 31, 2011

Traveling to Dalian, China

Eventually I'll get around to posting about the 600km Tombstone brevet I did with my dad and setting for the local SCS competition. But right now I'm sitting in the airport in Seoul, S. Korea after 2 hours in the Albuquerque airport a 2 hour flight to LAX then a 12 hour layover during which we went to Venice Beach for quite awhile. Next up was a 12 1/2 hour flight to Seoul followed by an 8 1/2 hour layover that is almost done at this point, about one hour more before our last short flight into Dalian China. So we are all pretty tired, having traveled for about 36 hours so far. At least Dylan has been getting some real sleep, he just woke from a 2 1/2 hour nap in the airport and he slept for about 8 hours on the long flight.

Venice Beach was eye opening. It seems to be all about getting anyone legalized marijuana, bongs to go with that, tattoo's and performing/panhandling (I saw one performer who's whole act was to walk around with a fishing pole and a cup on the end with a dollar bill taped to it, pretty lame).

The airport in Seoul is not a bad place to spend time. There are loads of places that are really comfortable and free WiFi which is uncommon in the USA. It seems in US airports they try to make it impossible to get comfortable will laying down by adding arm rests on every other seat etc. Here there are seats designed for lounging in and lots of long benches and seats lined up without arm rests. There are at least 5 or 6 kids play structures in the international terminal for Dylan to play at. Another cool thing was a "shop" called the "Korean Experience" or something like that, lots of over priced product but also free (for foreigner) crafts, Dylan got to make a traditional Han Ji doll with Linda's help.

Needless to say Linda and I are ready to get to our apartment in Dalian and get settled in, Dylan, having just woken from a nap not too long ago could seem to care less at this point.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Boys and their toys

Today Dylan and I were out running errands, I needed to stop by Sports Systems to pick up a new rear tire for my bike, don't want to risk riding on threads during the 600km brevet in a week and a half. Anyway the parking lot was blocked off and we had to drive around to get into the back through an adjacent parking lot. It was closed off because they are repaving the lot. Of course Dylan was fascinated by the machinery rolling around laying down the asphalt.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Visit from Anna Jansen Deal and Clan

Anna and I were good friends in college and climbed a bunch together. We had not seen each other since Linda and I left Colorado Springs, but she and her family were on the road, running south away from winter in Palmer, Alaska. So they stopped by to meet the family and get a little climbing in. We managed to get them out on 5 different days to 5 different areas as well as two trips to the climbing gym for the mom's. Anna got to check out all of the Bio Park with the kids and they got a bike ride in, kind of along the Rio Grande, the bike path is under construction so it was more along Rio Grande Blvd than the actual river.
The first day we headed out to boulder at Ponderosa and Dylan and Alder, 27 months, had a blast playing with Dylan's sand toys in the dirt, Odin, all of 6 months on the road for 4 1/2 might have had some fun eating some dirt.
At some point we headed to the Taj Mahal to get diner, being only a few blocks away we walked and the kids shared the one child chariot.
Glen, Anna's husband and I went climbing in Diablo canyon on a cold and windy day but had a good time anyway while Anna took her pair to the zoo and Dylan was in school. Over the weekend I was gone for the 400km brevet in AZ. Linda got out with them to head to Socorro and climb at Dirt Wall. Here is Glen hiking down with Alder sitting on the rope.
And Linda was quite proud of herself for hiking Dylan up the hill without me around.
On Monday after my ride we headed to the Playground in White Rock with the whole crew to do some more craging. Again there was dirt play.
And some hand holding while going to look at the Rio Grande way down in the gorge. They both wanted to hold Anna's hand while she carried Odin, not going to work.
The three of them sitting on a rock...
Or maybe a broken off pillar at the base of the wall.
On Wednesday Anna was a champ and took all three kids to the Aquarium and Botanical Gardens so Glen and I could climb in the Sandias. Naturally, even though it was the warmest day of their stay the wind made it pretty bitter up at 10,000 feet. Anna apparently got some pretty odd looks and comments based on having 3 kid so close together in age a with obviously different fathers.
We made the mandatory trip to El Pinto for dinner on their second to last night, since Linda was out to dinner with the Asia ladies and is not such a fan. On their last night Linda and Anna headed to the climbing gym.
Here is Dylan and Alder at breakfast on their last morning.
And Glen and Anna before loading up to head out.
All in all it was a great week and a half. It was nice to have more people in the house without it being full to overflowing. Hopefully they will run south again next year, maybe in the late fall when the weather is better for climbing.
Finally here is a video of Dylan and Alder with his Thomas the Train book.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Arivaca 400km brevet, Ooph

The Arivaca 400km brevet got off to an auspicious start when the wheel that powers a headlight for my bike showed up at 5pm instead of 10 or 11am making me not get out of town until 630pm once I had gotten the light and wheel set up. After making it past Payson I pulled over and slept for an hour before driving into Casa Grande at 3:45am to get a little breakfast before the 5am ride start.
After starting we got a good pace-line of about 10 riders going out into the dark. Once we reached the Frontage Rd along I-10 I played the "little sister" and called for a pee stop that pretty much everyone took advantage of. At this point 2 more riders caught up to us while we were stopped. We all made good progress along the frontage road working a rotating pace-line because of the head wind. We pulled into the first check-point to find Mike Stugill who provided great support through out the ride.
We pulled out with 10 riders and worked our way towards Saguaro Regional Park and the hills that awaited there. The hills did their number on the on the group and by the time we were rolling down into Tucson we were down to 4. At the check-point in Tucson a couple of others caught up and we were back up to 6 heading out onto Mission Rd into a strong headwind which at times had us down to 2 before we knew it and waiting for the others. In the end 4 of us made it to Green Valley together, I definitely had a bad spot through this section and was glad that the others slowed up a bit.
At the check-point one of our group decided to wait for a friend of his so it was just Stephen K, Roger Peskett and myself rolling out towards Arivaca to battle the ever increasing headwinds. Roger hung with us until the turn onto Arivaca Rd and at that point Stephen soldiered along into the headwind with me doing everything I could to stay on his wheel. Through these last two sections it was a battle to maintain 12 mph or 20 kph (since Stephan is from Calgary). All in all this was pretty demoralizing and the lunch stop in Arivaca was a welcome sight. Wraps, soda, cookies and a V8 were welcomed to the stomach. As we were getting ready to roll out 4 others showed up and we all complained about the conditions.
Mike Stugill spent our time at lunch getting us psyched up for the next section saying it was annoying but not that bad. In truth, compared to what we had gone through in the last 70 miles getting to Arivaca it was down right pleasant until we made a right turn onto 289 and were hit with a wailing tailwind. The next 80 miles or so was spent at or above 20 mph until we hit the dreaded Frontage Rd on the way back. Through much of this Stephen and I rode side by side just talking about all sorts of stuff while the miles rolled by. The sun went down while we were motoring up the hill back through Saguaro Regional Park and the bike lights came back on.
Heading back on the Frontage Rd the wind was more of a cross wind, but in the dark, same as in the morning it really did not seem all that bad, though long and straight. That is until we got near Picacho Peak which caused the wind to funnel through, increase and become very erratic, on the verge of being dangerous to ride in since you would be blown sideways 5 feet by one gust then come to a virtual stand still with the next. I was hopeful that once past Picacho Peak things would get better again and they did though it was more of a cross wind at this point and slowed our progress again relegating me to following Stephen's wheel. After crossing under I-10 it seemed to take forever to reach our turn into Casa Grande, but it eventually came along with a loud series of honks from a passing car that turned out to be another rider, Tammy, being driven back into town after not making it through the headwind out to Arivaca so they were congratulatory and not aggressive, thankfully. Stephen and I rolled back into the Bike shop at the finish at exactly 10pm, 17 hours out, 15 of them on the bike.
All in all there was a lot of self inflicted abuse on the ride just getting out to Arivaca but it was rewarded with a wonderful ride back to Casa Grande. After the hand shakes and thanks to Stephen for letting me sit on his wheel for so much of the ride it was off to In-and-Out to get a burger and shake and get on the road. About an hour later and 10 miles out of Casa Grande the rain started, so a huge congratulations to all that finished in those conditions, they probably made the finish as bad as the headwind on the way out. With all the rain I tried to get a hotel room in Fountain Hills just outside of Phoenix before heading up the hill to Payson but was shut down by a convention going on in town. So I headed up the hill fighting heavy eyes trying to find a road to pull off on and sleep. I found a spot not too far up and crawled into the back of the truck. Here is a photo of what I woke up to in the morning.
Driving conditions were terrible for the first couple of hours the next morning with snow covered roads and on occasion near white out conditions. The front wheel of my bike sits just out beyond the side of the truck and this is what it looked like when I stopped to get coffee before getting on I-40.
I hear that you go faster with some extra weight on the wheel to keep it moving around. Here is a short video of the driving conditions, it was like this for about the first 2 hours in the morning, and there were still a few riders finishing the brevet back in Casa Grande, they are the truly burly ones. I was just lucky to beat the rain and near freezing temperatures that they dealt with.
Congratulations to all who finished and attempted the ride and thanks to Stephen Kenny for riding 250km with me, Mike Sturgill for the great ride support and the weather for holding off.