Monday, October 13, 2008

Marek Fire at Dawn

My niece lives in an area of Sylmar, CA (upmost Northern part of Los Angeles) that was evacualted because of the Marek wildfire. 70-mph winds pushed the flames across the 8-lane Foothill Freeway. Here's her message:

Hi Billy!

My neighborhood was definitely in danger at 5:45am this morning when we had a mandatory evacuation. As we left at 6am I could see flames at the end of the development on treetops and the hillsides just outside the area of the houses! Very scary.

Marek Fire at Dawn
Originally uploaded by Noe M. Torres
But they seem to have tackled it and got it doused, according to the news. The news video shots from the air show the hillsides behind the houses to be black as coal right down to the edge of the houses. The bulk of the fire crisis seems to have moved west down the 118 to Porter Ranch and Chatsworth now... Still it's all only 5% contained, and they're expecting more 70mph winds tonight. I'm staying at Omie's in LaCanada and hope to be able to go home soon, but maybe not till Wednesday when the weather changes... Keep thinking the good thoughts...

Hugs, Melissa

Boy I sure hope her place stays intact!

More dramatic photos are up at my other niece's blog.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

R-12: guess I'm comitted (Bingen 200k)

I kinda backed into this R-12 business … didn’t even know what one was when I joined Cecil and Lynne on the Scio Covered Bridges permanent last January. (The R-12 award is given by Randonneurs USA for riding a 200-kilometer event for 12 consecutive months.) But I must have figured something out (or became less vague) by mid-February, when I rode the Clatskanie-Cape Disappointment 200k permanent, alone. (That's the ride that pushed me into getting an E6 light … the result of an dark and scary return on Highway 30 to Clatskanie.)

Several brevets and a permanent later, I’m now 83% of the way towards completing an R-12. Too bad I didn’t do 200k rides last November and December. I would have then finished an R-12 a couple months ago, upon completion of the Detroit Lakes 300k brevet. But alas, I was probably too much into cyclocross during the last two months of ’07 to be in that sort of randonneuring mind.

I think Steve Davis of Tacoma had the right timetable … starting his R-12 last November, so that when he finished the Bingen-Lewis River 200k, he also completed the R-12 … without having to worry about long rides for the next two months.

I am now definitely committed to finishing an R-12. Why else would I have driven to Bingen early last Saturday morning? the rain. Like Cecil (and others I’m sure), I came extremely close to sleeping in. It’s not hard to find other things that need doing on any given Saturday … things that can wait till after you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep.

But once I started riding out of Bingen, I was glad to have made the trip. Paul Whitney’s company on one of the earlier legs was quite enjoyable, as was Nat Beagley’s a little later on. (They were the Richland, WA contingent.) And I particularly enjoyed getting to meet/talk with David Rowe for the first time at the now-famous (and much appreciated) FR-88 hot chocolate control.

It was also noteworthy to cross the Pacific Crest Trail. Seems like I’ve spent much of my life zig-zagging across that trail, be in the Angeles Forest (NE of L.A.), in the Sierra Nevadas, and at various points in the Cascades. Maybe someday I should trying hiking a significant part of it.

It was disconcerting to discover my pocket camera missing from my handlebar pack. So my only pictures of this brevet were taken in Bingen right before the start. But better to have left that camera in the car rather than my cell phone, which is what I did during the Desert River 600k. Fortunately, observant Cecil and Lynne got some good pix of this brevet.

I was so surprised to see Lynne’s Bleriot on the back of David’s car as it passed during the last stretch back into Bingen. Lynne DNF? Why…that’s crazy! But as it turns out, I’m glad she did (from a health/safety standpoint). Want her to be around for many more brevets.

I was surprisingly hungry once I got back into Bingen.

Bill A.
Originally uploaded by cecilanne
Fortunately, John had lotsa pizza and Coke available at Beneventi's upon our return.

And I ate my fair share.

My November schedule looks awfully full. I’m concerned that I may have to give up the Verboort populaire, and do a 200k permanent instead. Hmmm. We’ll see.

Thanks to John, David, and Trudy for putting on the Bingen Bikenfest! Even though it was wet, I enjoyed it just as much (if not more) than last year’s version. I only wish I had brought warmer gloves.

Cecil's blog
Lynne's blog

Thursday, October 2, 2008

karate monkey

Cyclocross season has already started, but the Cross Crusade starts this Sunday at the Alpenrose Dairy.

I already have a 'cross bike, but it's so set up for randonneuring that I went out looking for a multi-purpose frame that I could cyclocross with this season, and then do short track (next Summer) as well. I don't want to dismantle my Mountain Cycle Stumptown for cyclocross (lights, fenders, generator hub, etc.) while still working on an R-12.

latest aquisition
Originally uploaded by tangobiker

Enter a Surly "Karate Monkey" frame that Sellwood Cycle had on consignment. Its acquisition means I won't be riding 'cross with drop bars this season. But this versatile bike should work well in various other trail and single track applications later on.

The 29-inch (700c) Bontrager disc wheelset on this bike came from my Stumptown (and is what I used for the last two seasons of 'cross - among other things). The cranks and derailer are off my Specialized Rockhopper. (The cranks are 20 years old!) The seat and seatpost are from my LeMond "Buenos Aires."

Still had to get disc calipers, a right hand shifter, handlebar, stem, and a few other parts that Jeremiah (of Sellwood Cycle) installed. I went with a single chain ring, cuz I hardly ever got off the small ring during last year's 'cross season.

Took it out for a short spin to the Clinton Street Brewery tonight.