The Happiest Place On Earth
Okay, sorry if my odes to CA have become tiresome. I just had to post a few last pictures of my trip, and I can't help it with the Disneyland analogy anytime I ride my bike down the twists and turns of the Santa Monica Mtns, especially Latigo Road.
Here's a pic with a couple of my friends, Ralph and Heidi. Each time I come back to ride with my old riding buddies, thinking maybe I will impress them with my new fitness, all I find is that they have all gotten faster and stronger too! It's funny how deep a friendship we form on the basis of trying to rip each other's legs off. Dave Young is especially good at this, and like the strange relationship of someone who loves their abuser, we all love for Dave for his ability to make us suffer on our rides together. After the fast group ride, I couldn't help but go on a second ride. I had to ride this canyon solo so that I could soak it all up. This is the climb up the valley side of Mulholland Hwy.
Here is part of the roller-coasteresque descent down Latigo Road. It goes on like this for miles and miles. I still can't believe this is technically part of Los Angeles.
Still on Latigo Road, just closer to the bottom where it ends at the Pacific Ocean.
My bike is very happy, and decided to smile for this picture. (See the smiley cloud?)
The Pacific Ocean: the reward at the bottom of the mountain, right before the loooong climb back up.
Dena (fitness instructor and mtn biking stud) and daughter Peri, my hosts for my "cycling camp".
You know you live in a cool place when wild peacocks come roam around in your yard. But wild is a misnomer - they'll eat right out of your hand. (Dena and Rodd's ranch house is on the market - I wish I could buy it!)
Stay #2 was at the Roach Motel in San Clemente. (Rachelle's nickname has been Roach ever since we were kids and my parents insisted we stop calling her "Rachelle, the smell, the diaper pail" because it made her cry. I guess she figured Roach was a step up, and it has been a term of endearment ever since.)
My sister Rachelle, husband Adam, and my super-cute neice Tori. I am in love with this little girl! (Sorry Roach for stealing this pic from your blog...I forgot to take pics!)
Stay #3 was with Sunshine and Becca at Seal Beach. Becca looked over the couch and saw our husbands talking like this in the dining area. I'm not sure what this means, but the only time I remembered to whip out my camera for the last week of my trip, was when Becca and I spotted an opportunity to poke fun of our men. "Awww...look, they're having a slumber party!"

I just discovered this website that is perfect for mapping rides and race courses. It's a lot like Google maps, but it can give you the elevation profile (YAY!) for a route - perfect for getting to know an unfamiliar race course or new route. I love knowing elevation profiles. It also allows you to create the route just by clicking on points on the map.
For those racing this weekend, here is the map I made for Jeff Cup. If the elevation profile doesn't show up initially, there should be an option for it in the left tool bar.


Parental Advisory!
Meaning, if you are my mom, do not watch this video I am linking.
On one of the few bright sides for me at the Sequoia Classic Criterium race last weekend, I was dropped before this nasty crash happened at the finish line. iBN sports broadcast the whole race, but were nice enough to make the shorter video-clip (linked above) for those of us who just like to watch the shots of carnage. There were 80-something women to start, and only 42 crossed the finish. Many didn't get hurt too bad and got back up to cross the finish line. Others were worse off, and plenty others, like me, were only victims of the brutal speed.

I've never really considered myself as a downhill racer, but this weekend at the Sequoia Classic Criterium I had a top notch "downhill" race. I somehow finagled the best starting position I've had yet at an NRC race, and yet it turned into one of my worst races. I started on the front line - right behind all the important people who got call ups - but standing there on the start line would be the only time I would be anywhere near the race leaders' wheels. Things went completely downhill from there. Being my first race of the season, against some world class cyclists (Ina-Yoko Teutenberg of team High Road won) with full squads, I knew clearly what I was up against. Yet I didn't fully appreciate it until the gun went off and it was like a finish line sprint right from the start. Not clipping into my pedals well at the gun and rusty cornering skills at speed took me quickly from the front to middle to rear in just several short laps (7 corners on a short 0.7 mile circuit - cornering and position are crucial!). I finally figured out my cornering, but by then I was riding toward the back of a large field, meaning that I was forced to sprint after every turn. My power data shows absolutely NO middle ground between 0 watts (around the corners) and full throttle efforts of 500 - 700 watts coming out of the corners. That was just to stay with the field; efforts to move back up to the front were futile. My power graph looks like a seismograph chart. It wore me down and eventually I got dropped. My lungs and insides hurt so bad, I was almost positive someone switched out my sports drink with a bottle of Drain-O. Pure acid. Or like someone scrubbed my throat and lungs with a bottle-bristle-brush. The first race of the season always feel brutal. But I am still hopeful that my fitness and skills will come around in the next month or two, I'll take what I learned from this race, and I'll have that zen-like race I'm always searching for. Until then, just keeping it real.


A Sappy Love Song
I'd like to dedicate this love song to California.
I could stay awake,
just to eeeeeeeeeeat your tacos.
Watch the ocean while you are sleeping,
bask in your sun while I am dreaming.
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender,
I could cycle on your roads forever,
Even mariachi music is a sound that I treasure.

Reason #1 that I love CA: my wonderful friends.
This was a surprise engagement party for Chris, one of my best friends in high school.
It has been four years since we last saw each other.
It was also great to see Heather and Chris M., two more of my closest teenage friends.
Okay, so I guess you could say that I am enjoying my spring break here in California. I have a bit of a love affair with this place, especially around Malibu where Rob and I lived for three years while he attended Pepperdine. I think that every single day I walked out my front door, looked over the beautiful green hill and out over the blue coast, I quite conscientiously cherished the moment - knowing that other great adventures would lie ahead in life for Rob and I, but that we would be hard pressed to find another place as beautiful to live them out. DC is a great place and we are very happy in our new home out east, but there is nothing like coming home. I've gone to bed with a tension headache every night since I've arrived, from smiling so much throughout the day.
Things I miss the most about CA:
Taco shops and roach coaches all over the place
The beach
In and Out
Chocolate Malted Crunch Ice Cream (this has been my favorite treat since I was about 5 yrs old. Little did I know then that it is only sold in CA)
Rides with "On Your Left"
Canyon roads
Pacific Coast Hwy
Mariachi music
Palm trees
Warm weather year round
Wearing flip flops everywhere (yes, even work and church on occasion)
The Santa Monica Mountains

Random side note: I am a very unaware person. Everyone who knows me knows this. I could easily write several essays filled with funny/dumb/scary/insulting/you-name-it things that have happened as a result.
I forgot my shampoo, so I grabbed what was sitting on the bathtub to use. I noticed it said "Antibacterial Deodorizing Shampoo" and thought that was kind of funny and wondered why Dena would choose that style over, say, anything that didn't imply you smelled like a dog. But my conscience mind didn't pick up that I was, in fact, looking straight at a very large picture of a dog right there on the bottle. My hair wasn't so nice and silky afterwards, but I'm happy to report that my scalp is bacteria-free!
I think Buddy smelled his shampoo on me, because he decided to retaliate later that day. Or maybe he just sniffed out the bagel hiding inside my backpack. Too bad he doesn't know how to just work a zipper.


My Utah Trip

So I went out to Utah over leap day weekend to go to Brian Haynie's wedding. While I was out there, Mike was kind enough to take me to the Jazz-Pistons game. I was also able to go snowboard a few times at Brighton (hence the faint signs of goggle tan on my face. Unfortunately, they have since subsided.) Sorry, no pictures from the Jazz game or snowboarding. Anyway, then Brian got hitched on leap day so he only has to remember his anniversary once every four years. For those who aren't "in the know," Brian is a good friend from High School (HHS - represent) and freshman year at Ricks. Although we don't see each other very often now (he is making mucho dinero selling home security, although I still don't know how that works...) I was stoked I could go out to his wedding.

Me, Turk, Brian, Jake, Jared

Craig, Me

The day after the wedding Jake and I were going to go ride up at Brighton again, but the weather was looking kind of sketchy, so we decided to go shoot out in the west desert. And when I say out in the west desert, I mean almost to Nevada. My Dad went with us, and kindly offered to drive (he didn't know what he was getting his Maxima into.)

Jake, looking like a Jihadi - he claimed this is what Afghanistan looks like. Fun.

Me and my Pops.
On Saturday night some of my friends came over to my parents house and we had a mini-pre-birthday party for me. Although no one brought gifts...cheapskates.
All-in-all it was a fun trip and it was nice to be able to hang out at my house, see my family, and see some old friends. Besides the sports coming on way too late, the other thing I dislike about DC is being far away from family and friends. Good thing we are moving to Stockholm, then people will be even closer...


I made some changes to the blog today because I was bored. Lorena is out in CA for spring break, I played soccer for two hours, and then went and swam for an hour, and now I am stuck on the couch. I will try to add more links that I like and more music that I find cool in the future. Enjoy.


Cuddy Boy, and Europe

Okay, first of all, I know I am going to mess up the pictures, when I try to post them, so just bear with me. Anyway, last weekend I was able to take a quick all expenses paid trip to Europe on your tax dollars. So thank you for paying your taxes (and just a reminder April 15th....right around the corner). I had a meeting in Brussels on Monday for work, so I flew out a few days early to go visit my old mission companion Matthew Cuddy. Here is a picture of what we looked like over EIGHT YEARS AGO (yes, I am getting old...)

The first thing I would like to point out is that we both had hair. Second, I am singing some song (obviously off-key, since that is the only key I know) and Cuddy is rocking out on the guitar. Good times in Switzerland!
And here is what we look like now (note, for Cuddy's sake, since he has gained a few pounds, this is only a head shot...)

We hung out at his apartment in Kassel, Deutschland, ate Doener Kabobs and watched Liverpool beat Newcastle (for this who aren't in the know, we are both wearing Liverpool jerseys. No we are not some weird twins, separated at birth.) After that we went and met up with Cuddy's girlfriend, had some schnitzel, and then I took off for Brussels. It was good to see ole Cuddy boy, we hadn't seen each other in about four years, and he was one of my favorite comps. It was fun seeing him again, and it sure didn't feel like it had been four years! Anyway, he is a good friend and I'm glad we could meet up.
After my meeting in Brussels I wandered around and talked some nice Belgians into taking a few picture for me. Enjoy!


Let Levi Cry
I have just officially visited every blog on the internet. About two months ago, I was asked to be a speaker in church this upcoming Sunday. I set aside tonight to prepare some thoughts to share, and hence, the reason why I just spent the evening link hopping to just about every blog on the internet instead. I am very far from being enlightened on any spiritual matters, but I have formed a new VERY IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVE on the ordeal with Levi Lepheimer and team Astana being banned from the 2008 Tour de France.

I signed the Let Levi Ride petition just a couple of weeks ago. But now that I have wasted away my evening visiting pointless websites, I've found that my thinking actually falls more in the Let Levi Cry camp. Not that I'm not a fan of Levi. I was stoked for his 2nd win of the Tour of California. And not that the decision to keep Astana and Levi out of the Tour wasn't perhaps arbitrary (at best), or unfair and biased. But seriously, people need to get over themselves. This victim mentality just rots people away. Last year it was the Floyd Fairness Fund, now it's the Let Levi Ride campaign. Was Floyd Landis any better off after spending all that time in court, making a big ruckus and campaign, and writing a book and holding fund-raiser events about how he was wronged? What if everyone created a global campaign every time they were somehow treated unfairly? Is this really helping to advance any systems of justice, or just more people whining and wallowing in their victimhood? I'm curious what other cycling fans think.
I sort of see it both ways.


How well do you know Rob? Take Rob's Birthday Quiz
to find out.

Here are a couple random pictures of times past in Rob's life. I would have done a time-line collage, but I have lost my patience with

Picture #1: the San Fransisco days. Can you guess what decade Rob was born in?

Picture #2: the long hair days of Hawaii

Picture #3: now proving daily that bald is beautiful! (Yes, the pegged legged jeans are a joke.)

Happy Birthday Rob. I love you!


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