Monday, December 27, 2010

New year

A lot has been going on since my last post. I ended the local four race cyclocross series here in Santa Rosa on a positive note. it was a tough year, all mud and rain, and I wasn't really enjoying my favorite sport. I finally came to realize how much the old routines and familiar faces made for my enjoyment. The last race I finally got my head screwed on right. No stellar racing, but just let it be what it is. I am getting to know some folks and the local races. Less than photogenic podium shot was for third place, series. Persistance counts. I was there for ALL the races

not me but typical conditions

Got out for a couple rides over the holiday period, it's been raining a lot this season, way ahead of last years totals by double, so riding has been curtailed somewhat.

Levi sighting.

While heading out to join a group on the day before New Years Eve, I came upon another group meeting up, containing you know who. I didn't invite him to join me. I had a very nice Chismas/New Years time spent with some friends, colleagues and family. That was really the highlight plus just having the house decorated. We have a week of sun and mid50's forecasted so I should get some more rides in. For 2011 I have plans to add some more of the local favorite rides to my done list and the Gran Fondo, which I skipped last year.

my favorite tree, it glows a fantastic green when the sun is out. I'll get another pic soon a couple recent shots in the park mentioned in many previous posts Sounds like y'all ( in NC anyway) are getting snow yet again, sorry, but spring is coming, we're already getting more daylight. 'til another time..... HH in Sonoma County

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Slipping down autumn into winter. Three of the last four weekends have been rainy to some degree. Letting my weekly mileage drop actually feels good and cyclocross doesn't require it anyway, so after a long road season those are deserved benefits. Starting some night rides on the mountain bike has been fun. Back in the mid- nineties it was a regular part of my weekly entertainment. Which brings me to the meat of todays topic. It's been a revelatory year in my life, the change to living in Sonoma County has been thrilling but has also been testing. The new cultural experiences, the new sights, new routines, have been exciteing and energizing, but they become sort of unsettling at a point. "All the comforts of home" as the saying goes, seem to reflect on the comforts of the usual,the expected. I feel like I have begun to have some of that "comforts of 'new' home" here now. I still thrill a bit to see bike riders out on a rainy Friday night. the beauty of well tended vineyards everywhere, and I love to see the amount of determination to support local produce, meats, dairies, seafood and stores in general. But it feels good to accept as common too. Last year as we slipped down into winter was a tough six weeks or so and home-sickness caught me by surprise. This winter should be a little easier. I am now driving a car with CA plates, still the VW. I had to turn in my "First in Flight" plate this week, it was a little sad giving it that last look. Drove down to the miniscule town of Marshall for some oysters a week ago. The place looks like a bait shack, but the food is delish. You can enjoy a meal nearly in the water This Thanksgiving I encourage you to enjoy the good things around you and the people in your life, it is so easy to take them for granted, but find some adventure too. Adventure isn't so much about new places as it is having yourself set for new experience, new tests if you will. Ride somewhere new, face a little more uncertainty and let your mind open up. It can be a great experience, adventure doesnt have to be climbing a mountain never climbed before. The real geography is happening in your head. Thanks for reading HH

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Mad Baumer in SF

So ya'll gave the National League Champion San Francisco Giants a pitcher, Madison Bumgarner. "The Mad Baumer" is a knickname I've heard. I assume he gets lots of press back in the Hickory area. He is a graduate of South Caldwell High. He's only 21, but he sure kept his cool like a seasoned pro pitching against the Phillies. I have a Giants field cap already! Three games to go! Madison pitches on Halloween - game four. Things have been kind of steady out here. We did get our rainy season start in a serious way. Four inches of rain this past weekend just in time for my first cyclocross race. It went OK I haven't raced in mud in I don't know how long. I've had some strange experiences lately, A cowboy and horse were riding down a sidewalk in Santa Rosa. I said "Howdy" and he tipped his hat in a cowboy fashion as I pedaled by on my way to work. The paper had a story about the guy, turns out he lost his family to a auto crash several years ago in Florida, his grief took him to sell everything a set out on his horse. He stops and works for a spell and eventually moves on. I guess he is here for a while. A first earlier this week, I approached another bike commuter stopped at a light just as the light turned green. As I rolled past she accelerated up and asked if she could draft. Now, I know that may not sound odd, but we were both on mtn/commute bikes with panniers. Just picture it Here are some shots from the mountain bike trails in Annadel State Park, right in my neighborhood and from this past weekends CX race

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A little catching up

Hey, y'all. I finally have a chance to fill you in with the goings on here in my neck of the woods. First I have been sidelined by a little patellar tendinitis for a week+. I have just resumed some riding. The issue seems to have developed with a rather hard ride day followed the next day with an easy but hilly hike. Last week we had three seasons in one week. All summer has been cool, then we had three days 100+ followed by a day of autumn like cool windy dry conditions. The vineyard managers are tearing their hair. Grapes are slow to ripen and the morning fog lingers so rot has been an issue. then a heat blast burned some. We have lost 10% of the crop and if rain comes even a little early a late ripening crop is at grave risk. This area is an amazing place for music and other festivities, quite a few are free. Every week there are a couple free music shows, movie nights on the town green, then add food, farm, arts, etc. Then of course for a ticket price you can quadruple the offerings, for all tastes too. My work schedule limits a great many, buy last week I went to a local tavern/music hall to see Cracker/Camper VanBeethoven (an indie group dating back a ways) They did a fantastic show I was about fifteen feet back and the place only holds about 200. Sometimes some loud RnR does a person good. The next night we drove to Napa to see a double bill with Chrissie Hynde and Lucinda Williams. It was in a just restored Art Deco movie house that holds 800 and is quite a beautiful sight on its own. A fine show. We drove home with the top down on a starry night through Napa County and home. It is a fine life! Its our anniversary and we celebrated with a helicopter tour up through the wine country we've gotten to know. It was interesting to see it from 500' up. The copter was a Raven II and has a cabin smaller than my VW so the views were great. Coming up on Lake Sonoma The county Board of Supervisors just approved a 250Million plan that will add 203 miles of bike paths to the existing 40+, along with 406 miles of bike lanes. The aim is to increase non-motorized travel from the current 3% to 5% and trips of less than five miles to non-motorized use to 10%. You see a lot of bikes here as I've said before. People here a typically oriented to community preservation;environmentally, economically,socially. Almost no one accepts a shopping bag for small retail purchases. Many people take bags, reused or other, to the grocery, lots of restaurants feature local produce, dairy and meats. I guess its obvious I like it here. Its been an amazing, but an occasionally trying year. Its been renewing to launch out someplace new. We do miss y'all though. Be well and enjoy your rides Howard

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hello readers, I like many of you have my post Tour life back in order. For now, maybe for good, I'll leave the race in the past. Sort of like a three week addiction, I can't go back. One brief comment on the weather, its been a cooler than normal summer, I started my 10 o'clock Monday regular ride with a base layer, arm warmers and "my secret weapon". You gotta be here! Last week I got to add another of the famous rides out here to my checklist. It may be hard to imagine but I have scarcely left Sonoma Cty, there are so many rides here. Of course it is four times larger than Catawba Cty my former home. King Ridge sits along the Pacific coast. It is sparsely populated mostly cattle ranches and Redwood groves. The climb up along the ridge has eleven miles of climbing totaling 1900' gain. An amazing sight at the top is a gold domed Buddhist temple in the near distance. It gleams in the cool clear coastal air in the midst of dark green tree tops. The descent from there is steep, it ought to have steps, not pavement! more climbing 'til finally the fast drop down through the cloud bank to the Pacific Coast Highway. 50 miles and 5000' feet of climbing. This is part of the namesake route in Levi's King Ridge Gran Fondo. Speaking of Levi, he was at the short track mtb race I've been doing, but I was held up at work and missed watching him race. Yes, he won by over a minute. I am seeing some previews of the 2011 bikes and parts, speaking of such, I am going to Interbike (industry trade show) this year. I haven't been in ages. It is grueling fun. Speaking of parts, what tires are you running this year and pressure? post some reply comments. Anybody out there? HH

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road Kill

Huh, The Possum became road kill or road rash at least. Amazing! When was the last time Lance "caught a pedal"? And did I read the 5km (or 8 whatever) chase with two teammates wore him out! I can think of many solo breakaways that last longer than that. At least we haven't had to deal with drug busts and such. I hope that continues. Too much happened in the first week for me to write about for now. So much to go what!? about. How about the weak Astana Team everyone wrote about? Who is that David Navarro who pounded the peloton to pieces for Contador two days in a row. Lately I have competed in some short track mountain bike races. One more tonight. I did a 89 mile ride with a 2.5 mile, steep climb and some headwinds later. It went pretty successful. Weather here is..... ya'll in NC don't want to know, sorry. I would love to see Levi do something courageous -besides finishing, that is courageous I know - He has two Euskatel riders that can knock him out of a possible third on GC. In the Pyrenees they will have throngs of orange wearing fans. Go Levi. I am amazed at the speeds these guys do. The chases before the end of sprint stages last for maybe an hour. At 30 miles per hour! I don't care what kind of draft you have that is killer. Think about what it feels like when you have to close a small gap at 23 or 25 mph. I hope your riding is going well. HH

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Playing Possum

This is an audience participation entry. With the build-up to the Tour and all the coverage available to us in this electronic era how will the media frenzy effect you dear reader? Do you find yourself missing sleep watching the days stage or reading about it online in your "Cave of Tour Isolation" computer room? Or do you risk termination from that most important of duties - earning the coin to fund you wheel life or is it real life or is there a difference, because you are caught on when you're supposed to be drafting a document at said work? Are your family, spouse or significant other at peace with your upcoming Tour of Duty? How have you prepped them or are you just suddenly going to be missing in action as the lawn goes unmowed, garbage piles up, car goes unwashed? How about that important pass time, your training, will it suffer? We have been besieged with the center of the "Mobile Universe" He's been on the cover of "Mens Health" or some other such grocery store checkout decorations. Print ads such as Bontrager's remind us that "It is Good to be" Him, while Oakley has "Perfection Gets Personal. How about the tender "real men don't use emoticons" from The Shack? But what do you think, what has he done this year? crashes, illness, field finishes, a DNF. But then there is The Tour de Suisse, a second place GC thanks to a TT final stage. But then his TT was bested (11th) by - yeah I know - Cancellara, but also Maxime Monfort, Jacob Fugelsang, Wouter Pouls and Gustav Larrson. Not to disparage these fine athletes but were talkin' Lance here. Or is he just playing possum. He does the psych game better than anybody. Did he go just hard enough to get a podium place and not draw too much attention. He did a faster second half split. What do you think, and more importantly, how will your life fare during the month of July? Use the comment box below the post. Keep rollin' HH

Thursday, June 3, 2010

new adventures

I think I've mentioned the parks (yes plural) across the street from our apartment. There is a city park with tennis courts, great playground, baseball, a good size lake and walking paths/trails. This links to a county park with a bigger lake, more nature stuff, then into a huge state park of 5000 acres w/30+ miles of hike/bike/equestrian trails. We had to get mountain bikes. I finally got mine a week ago. I have been into the park several time on my cyclocross bike, but a lot of the terrain is steep and rocky, not really CX territory. Annadel Park has a history in mountain biking as the site of the first(?) national championship mtb race, it was won by John Tomac, I believe. Today I ventured into some new areas. It's been 14 years since I had a mountainbike, so I have some skills to reacquaint myself with, but it was fun. The lake in the photo is Lake Ilsanjo 750', home is 165' and only 4 miles away. Lots of wildlife, deer and turkey are seen regularly but also bobcats and mountain lion, so far not seen! The area is volcanic in origin, all this area is - and makes good soil for grapes! It has been mined for Obsidian by ancient native americans and into the 1900's for cobblestone. So you guessed it, it is rocky but heavily wooded as well. Lots of exploring to do. panoramic shot of typical norcal hillside Mt. Hood in the distance, see previous blog 9/23/09 the lake is clear and good for fishing and swimming.

Still here!

Been a while, sorry to leave you without my occasional entertainments, but nothing has really jumped up in my mind to rant, brag or ruminate about. The Giro had me occupied for three weeks, especially since Universal Sports covered it more than once daily beginning at 6:30 AM that made it possible to see nearly everyday before work. If you didn't get to see it, it was the best stage racing I've seen. Lots of genuine drama as the lead changed numerous times and the usual quaint Italian back country scenery and gravel! roads. I venture to say that we are seeing a leveling of the playing field in some sense with regards to PEDs (performance enhancing drugs)Either few/none are doing them or all/most are doing just a little so as to stay undetected. There were no super dominating performances, it just looked like real racing. Same in CA. The ToC just didn't seem to catch my attention though, Versus TV didn't help with only one show a day at 2PM Pacific time. I don't see how they can continue with cycling if they don't think there is enough interest to rerun their expensive programing. But the HD was nice. Oh well we'll see what THE Tour brings. Weather here has been weird, still rain some, a sprinkle this AM. June rain just isn't right here. Thunder and lightning last week, also a rareity in Sonoma County. But spring is still here. Lots of wildflowers remain. Below are a few recent photos for your enjoyment. I hope your riding is going well. HH

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tour of CAtastrophe

Been busy lately, getting miles in pretty well, and I've done some new modest routes. Big ones yet to come.
The Tour has come through, ToC of course, I had planned to ride up to the small climb about 10K out with food, and beverage to watch the leaders (maybe a break!) grind over slow enough to see their faces. Then ride downtown to partake in the festivities, complete w/free valet bike parking. Funny how cold rain changed all that. We drove down with a friend, strolled through the festival, watched the Big Screen show the last 300 meters. You saw nothing less than I did, plus you were dry. Oh, I did see Coop.
We then walked down the course to the team bus area. the corner, a block out had several soigners trying to tend to riders. We stood and watched a grim looking bunch come in. The most famous was Mark Cavendish (dang, I didn't have the camera ready) also Popovich.

grim guy from Team Spidertech

team Bissell Pinarellos

second guy is Mike Friedman

one of the Jaques-Maynes bros

cool Mavic Carbone Ultimate wheel

The week before we saw BMC guys training numerous times and one Liquigas guy as well. For all the build up it was disappointing that TV coverage was non existent. I watched the days live coverage from the Giro broadcast in similar conditions, what gives with hi-tech USA? Don't let them fool you, its about egos and poor planning, not weather. It seems as long as advertisers are ponying up bucks the management doesn't care what goes on TV. They only hired ASO for prestige, plenty of US talent could get the job done. One moto camera guy was only to be there for the first hour, but when rain came the ASO guys weren't prepared for rain, so they the local guy had to stay out (with the wrong clothes) he got plenty of video tape. But production had no back up plan to get it from the field to production. I have a friend in cycle video production, who went through this with me. You can tell I'm rather let down after all the build up to the event. Now my rant continues to Versus.... I watched Tuesdays coverage rebroadcast, the schedule showed 9:30 PM. Well hockey was on, then the post game show dawdled on, I know its the playoffs and all, but they don't hesitate to cut cycling short. I just read the live broadcast earlier cut the last exciting mile for the damn PRE game show of "mullets on ice". Even Lance was pissed. I guess he'll have to be in all the sprints to guarantee final coverage. Cycling gets no respect

Oh well, lets go ride.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Levi sighting

Several pix from my morning ride today.
Ah, Spring, it really is grand. I'm sure all cyclists can relate. Longer days and milder temps.
Last week Susan took me on a route she had recently been introduced to, lots of wildflowers and interesting new views. Sorry, no camera that day, but it was bird day. Hawks, bluebirds,goldfinches and some tri-coiored woodpecker all made themselves known. Lots of Redwinged Blackbirds in their usual marshy habitat. Susan said we'd see them, I think they were looking for her.
On my Monday ride we had a Levi sighting. It was the first time I had seen him on the roads. He lives here in Santa Rosa. He was heading the other way, so we let him go on his way. We all brainstormed on were he was headed. I little last minute leg work before flying to NM for the Tour of the Gila, which started today. George Hincapie rode into town Sunday, on a 114 mile charity ride from Davis Ca. This ride drew 800 riders to follow the stage to Santa Rosa in the Amgen Tour of CA. Future references here will be simpy ATOC as I'm typing challenged and take certain liberties. Georges new team affiliation. BMC, tho' Swiss owned is US registered and based here in Santa Rosa. Look for details of the race day finish some time soon. The big day is May 17.
Keep the wheels turning, 'til later

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Susan and I like to visit wineries (surpised, aren't you?) and its hard to take time to drive around, but we do take time to ride bikes around. While we out riding recently, we decided to stop at one a good ways up north in Sonoma County. We have frequented many tasting rooms here in cycling attire and never feel out of place! People are used to seeing cyclists, really! Anyway, the tasting room guy and a taster were taking about the Salmon out back in the river. This area has many rivers that take the Salmon upstream, way upsteam from the ocean to spawn. Check it out if you are interested They even had little fish printed, cardboard frame sunglasses to help the vision. We were told it was just out back. Well, we started out removing our cleats and gingerly begin what turned out to be a painful stocking footed 25 yard limp down to the river edge. Nice day, no fish. I took my socks off and waded in a ways. Wow a first!- my barefeet in CA mud and riverwater. Back up at the tasting room. We were told the recent rain left the water too muddy to see the fish. Boy did I feel like I was sent on a snipe hunt! We continued the rest of our ride, 20 some miles laughing about our new experience. Spring has really sprung, you guys in NC seem to have jumped ahead temp wise for a while. Lots of new flowering plants here, and some familiar, I have seen a few Dogwoods, lots of Wisteria, but no Azaleas. Grapes are burting out new growth, at various stages depending on varietal and exposure. Pix follow.

That's all for now, I hope your wheels are seeing pavement


Monday, March 22, 2010

Can't judge a book....

Every creature learns from experience. We are not continually a blank slate experience-wise. Animals learn not do to something, and then don't. Eat that, you get sick. Don't go near near the yellow flickering stuff, it burns. Humans are no different.Experience is a short cut, experience something once, you can build on it. That's essentially what education is, building on our universal experience. So you can judge a book by looking at the cover. Well I am sure you will agree one can't always do so. Literature reinforces our own lives events. So, we as higher functioning creatures get to apply a little more judgement. OK, are you still with me? So, Sunday I am doing my bikecommute to work, a nice 12 mile route, not hilly and on Suday its especially quiet. I left home a little late so I am not dawdling. I just crest the one little bump on the route, when a group of riders roll past. I think, "I had better jump on that train" so I accelerate up and announce that I am tucked on the back. We go a mile or so and get held up at an intersection, another guy looks over and I comment that appreciate the draft. They are a serious looking group, me, I am in jeans and on my old 1991 Bridgestone MB-4 with a pannier and fenders. He commented they were turning off another two miles up but I was welcome to try and stay on. Well, I suppose he misjudged the cover on that book, because I stayed with them. Sure, they were cruising out at a rather relaxed pace, but.... We've all done it, misjudged someone or something by appearance, only to be shown - wrong. Oh well thats life, look around, pay attention Last week I hit the 190 mile mark for a week! I haven't done that in a good long while. That is hardly heroic distance out here with these folks. But I am happy. Above panorama is the view across the Santa Rosa Plain. Lower ridge separates us from Napa County, the mountain is the far side of Napa. Mt. Saint Helena. Fortunatly, there is no paved road, otherwise I guess I'd have to climb it too! Happy Springtime, I told you it would get here. It looks like many of us are getting some sun on our deprived arms and legs now. Even y'all in NC. Ride on folks, thanks for reading. HH

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happiness revisited

While finishing up a nce ride with my wife, Susan, on Saturday, we were assulted by a very unhappy person. Said person hurled a open commercial waterbottle at us. It sprayed me on its way to Susan, hitting both her leg and bike in an undetermined order. After coming to a stop to gather our wits and assess the situation, all seemed well. I had scanned the passing vehicles but couldn't even be sure which vehicle contained the unhappy being. Maybe they weren't even fron Sonoma County? But on top of being cowardly, they sure mustn't have been having a happy day. Anyway, just goes to show, folks are folks, even in the midst of happyland My Monday ride had four people join me for a hilly 45 miler. We got rained on about midway, spotty cold spring showers on and off the rest of the ride. They pretty much ripped my legs off. Fastest ride in months. Happy tho'! I hope y'all in NC are enjoying the sudden spring temps break out those bikes HH

Friday, March 5, 2010


OK a little cycling history. Paris- Nice, the so called "Race to the Sun" starts Sunday, see your Versus TV schedule! It is a week long stage race that often shows who is coming along for the year. Last year Contador blew-up, but we know the rest of that story. The race starts in dismal northern European weather and finishes up on the sunny shores of the Med, where the wealthy and celebs frolic. The king of P-N has to be Sean Kelly, who won it seven years straight 1982-1988. Also Andrei Kivilev died from head injury in 2003, prompting the UCI to make the final move to mandate helmet use. Many images of the race make up my memories, but the primary has to be a certain Frank Vandenbrouke in his breakout year, 1998. I had not registered his name before. The pic in VeloNews or some other mag shows him in dismal snowy conditions on his way to a win. He went on to many thrilling victories before celebrity and drugs and mental illness got him off the rails. He came through a several possible come backs but he always messed them up. He was the classics rider for the 21st century, or could have been. He typified the PRO look. This past year he came out with a very open and clear minded appeal to his fans and the cycling community. But he died of a heart failure while training in South Africa. Did drug use damage his heart? For all his flaws, he was a admirable man racing a bike. RIP Frank. HH

Cavedale Adventure

Before I get to yesterdays ride up Cavedale, let me ramble a little. Sonoma County is reported to be the happiest place in CA and the fifth happiest in the country. I didn't know such polls exist, I've never been contacted by a major polling organization, which is not to say that overlooking my opinion detracts from the veracity of the results. But anyway, the local paper featured the story on Feb. 16. It was a poll taken by the Gallup organization last year, it assessed the jobs,finances, health habits,mental attitudes and communities of 353,000 Americans. So apparently we in Sonoma County eat healthy, exercise regularly and don't smoke. There is a big impact of the local food movement here, not to mention strong emphasis on "green" and environmental issues. I would also say a certain "joie d'vivre" attitude is very prevalent. There's also a prevalence of ads for Medical Marijuana Certifications and "smoke shops"! Not saying there's any connection. Boulder CO was first and I think Raleigh NC was in there too, in the top forty. Now for a little anecdotal evidence, about a week later, a major rush hour pile-up on the freeway southbound to San Fran, stopped traffic for hours. The paper covered the accident and part of the story said drivers pulled over, got out of their cars and talked to there fellow strandees and finished their coffee in the morning sun. I'm sure not everyone had the same laid-back approach to the event, but I reflected back to the "happy" story. I think there is some real truth there. Come see what you think.
Yesterday, I did one of the standard climbs of note, here in happy land. Climbing seems to be the defining feature of Sonoma County riders. You may know I'm not one to seek out such features, but I've decided "when in Rome....", so climb I will. Cavedale Road goes up the mountain ridge separating Sonoma County from Napa County. It goes up 2000' in five miles. One probably should be warned not to descend it because the surface is very rough and mostly like a poorly paved driveway and one lane. But beautiful views await the adventurer and nearly no traffic. Above shows the start. Note clouds. I did begin with misgivings as the area is rather remote, and temps where low 50's. But the area to my back and elsewhere was sunny, so with a bit of 'happy' stoicism I soldiered on. This view is nearing the top. Way in the distance are the back waters of San Fran bay where waters from the Sierras finally end up (those that don't get sent to Southern CA anyway) Above is five minutes up, about a mile,views are out of order, sorry still figuring this blog stuff out Valley now, one small climb before home. Springtime!!!! Sixteen minutes Cave! is this what the road gets named from? View after the last climb. The Tour of CA comes over this coming into town. The hills are very different profile, aren't they? Last Saturday, I was off work and did a group ride over another climb of note, Sweetwater Springs Rd. (my second time) The first hour was a steady light rain. The views are a bit less dramatic, but the climbing! six miles and the last mile and a half went up 900' I saw 18% on my HMDR (handlebar mounted data recorder) my feet saw the pavement a few times to rest. Think Grandfather Mountain without the cheering, I was all alone at that point. But not last! Thanks for following, y'all. HH