A Cold Day at Discovery Park

Well, Michelle is in India, so it’s just me and the maminals.  The Doggs really hate it when they’re home alone with me because they get ignored all day while I sit behind my computer or play music.  Not today, though.  I loaded the Doggs into the truck and made for Disco Park.

It was cold and windy, and the dogs were as polar opposite as usual.

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The coast and the mountains looked amazing as the weather started rolling in.

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Halloween in Seattle

I know it’s been a while since Halloween, but there’s something I simply must get off my chest: Seattle sucks at Halloween.reaper night

Sure, we’ve got our cool things, like the Greenwood Reaper, but for the most part, kids don’t get into Trick or Treating the way we did when we were kids.  Growing up, we owned the streets on Halloween.  It was chaos.  For one night, we didn’t have look both ways before crossing, and we just swarmed all over the place.  It was awesome.

Seattle, for a city so fiercely independent and which largely turns it’s nose up to malls and shopping centers, inexplicably Trick or Treats primarily at stores the weekend before Halloween.  Since this year fell on a Saturday, we expected a pretty good turnout.  Nope.  Nuthin.  The kids Trick or Treated at the stores on Greenwood and disappeared by nightfall.  And, even while they were out at the stores, the parents all looked like their kids were on the verge of a wholesale kidnapping.   “Don’t speak to strangers!  Don’t let go of my hand!  Don’t breathe air you don’t recognize!”

Seriously.  Kids, unite.  Rise up.  Take Halloween back.  And come check out our totally awesome pumkins.

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La Volupte: I Was Flying Today

About a year and a half ago, as I was just starting to get really serious about cycling again after dabbling for about a decade, Michelle bought me every past issue of Rouleur and got me a two-year subscription.  20090120_bobetThis is not a bike magazine.  This is a quarterly publication for cyclists.  It is printed on thick, heavy paper, and each issue is rife with pieces written by pros talking about a particular race, or mechanics putting in a 10 or 15 page piece on why they love tubs, how they select them or age them for a race, and how to glue one onto a rim properly.  This isn’t fluffy stuff about Astana’s soap opera politics or What’s Hot and What’s Not; these are pieces you read over and over again: a long account by Robert Millar about the stage to L’Alpe d’Huez when he took the Polkadot Jersey in the 1984 Tour.  Chris Boardman’s discussion on his Athlete’s Hour Record attempt, focusing on his collaboration with Royce and the effort that went into building the wheels for his ride.

Each issue starts with a two-page spread of an epic scene from road racing folklore on the left page, and on the right a well-chosen quote referring to the scene.  The first issue I opened had a photo Eddy Merckx, complete with grimace on his face, accompanied by the quote, “On some days I would sit on my bike, weeping from the pain.”  The next was of Bernard Hinault, growling at an empty road, paired with, “As long as I breathe, I attack.”  Seattle is filled with short, steep climbs similar to the Ardenne with gradients of up to 25% and up to 4km in length; one of the hardest things for me as I clawed my way back into cycling form was the pain of hauling my fat ass over our route and its 1.5km vertical.  These spreads reminded me to shut up and ride.  In cycling, suffering is glory.

If the life of a cyclist is about suffering, why do we do it?  Well, the fact is that on rare occasion, you don’t suffer.  I’m not talking about those days when you top up on amphetamines or EPO; I’m talking about those days when you find the rhythm and when you find that place in your head where pain doesn’t tread.  Many have sensed it, some have claimed to have felt it but haven’t, and fewer still have actually found it.  The French call this La Volupte.

I recently read Jean Bobet’s book, Tomorrow, We Ride.  This isn’t a biography of his older brother, Louison, but instead is a book about his life as a cyclist.  Obviously, that life is deeply intertwined with Louison’s career, but none-the-less, this book is about a passion for cycling that goes beyond careers and racing results.  In some places it is historical, in others touching, and yet in others is downright funny.  But mostly, it’s about a love for a cycling life. Jean recounts two cases where he found La Volupte.  The first was a training ride with Louison around Lake Como before the Giro di Lombardia.  You can almost smell the thick, misty air by the lake as he describes their ride and the perfection of that moment on the bike.  The second was on a lone training ride on the Cote d’Azur where he floated up one of the climbs on his route in perfect harmony with his machine and the gradient.  La Volupte is fleeting, and the spell is usually broken by some external interference, as was the case for both of Jean’s accounts.  On Lake Como, it was broken by the horn of a passing vehicle – on the Azur, by taking a sip of water from his bidon at the top of the climb.  In an instant, La Volupte is gone and what remains with us is an unquenchable thirst to find it again.

La Volupte translates roughly to “voluptuousness”, and while the first thing the mind goes to is a sexual definition, my favorite is, “the property of being lush and abundant and a pleasure to the senses”.   In a sport where pain is worn like a badge of honor, those times when cycling is lush and abundant and a pleasure to the senses are what makes us want to climb onto our bikes again tomorrow.  When Bobet returned home from his ride on the Azur, his brother asked him how it went.  His answer was simply, “I was flying today.”

This was originally posted on Velominati.com

Ripples

We have a bird bath hanging on our front porch and it makes a really soothing reflection on the porch ceiling.  One afternoon, we set up a video camera to capture it.  It reminds us to take a minute out of our day and slow down.

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Music: The Reckoner by Radiohead

Happiness

People who have Great Danes know what zoomies are.  Zoomies are when your 140+ pound dog goes nuts and runs in a circle.  It’s a daily happening.  This one was caught on tape one afternoon.

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Now that’s happiness.  Notice how she keeps returning to the sunny spot.  Oh, the joys of a simple mind.