Monday, October 31, 2011

looking ahead: weather for nov. 6

Forecast for Sunday, November 6 (Barton Park - Estacada, OR):


High 47°F - Low 41°F

40% chance Precipitation

It looks like we may finally get some rain -- and mud -- during cyclocross season.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

one gorgeous bike: 1980 Raleigh Tourist

The rewards of returning to the service area at work: In my first week back at the bench I got to tune up this gorgeous Raleigh Tourist three-speed, circa 1980. This was near the end of Raleigh's production of rod-brake bikes, so what we have here is the newest version of a very old design. (Rear rack and basket not original to bike but handy for errands.) I've only worked on rod-brake bikes a couple of times -- they don't come in often -- and they've always been the larger 23" frame size until now. When I test-rode this bike after my work was done, the 21" frame fit me perfectly. it was hard not to have a teeny leetle bit of bike lust.

raleigh tourist rod-brake, ca. 1980

raleigh tourist rod-brake, ca. 1980

raleigh tourist rod-brake, ca. 1980

Massive amounts of wheel-flop, due to very slack geometry; the rod-brakes stopped me in dry weather but I urged the customer not to ride this in the rain unless he could sources some elather-impregnated Fibrax pads. (He promised me he'd ride it on dry days.) Still, an awful lot of fun to ride, and fascinating to work on.

Monday, October 24, 2011

honey, i'm home

Today was my first official day back as a mechanic at Citybikes, after four years of handling the lead buyer's duties.

To review: In a cooperative with an egalitarian wage scale, there are no promotions based on types of duties assigned. Instead, ideally, tasks rotate periodically, both to stave off burnout and to strengthen the knowledge base of the cooperative by offering at least some degree of cross-training of tasks. After four years it was time for someone else to sit in the buyer's chair, and for me to start turning wrenches again.

I arrived at 8:30 am, selected a tag from the job board -- I chose a full overhaul of a used bike, so I could jump in the deep end, as it were -- and got down to work. I was surprised at how quickly my old sense of system and order came back. When I'm asked to do an overhaul of a bike, I read the job tag carefully, and then I like to look at the bike for a few minutes before tearing it down. When I'm ready to begin, I usually work from the back to the front of the bike. I fell into my familiar rhythm, enjoying the quiet of the shop and the sound of a freshly-cleaned and oiled freewheel. I lost track of time, enjoying the focus of the particular task at hand: grease this brake boss, file down an odd burr in the end of new brake housing, get that "hop" out of the rear rim and bring this cheap wheel back into some reasonable semblance of round because the customer doesn't have buckets of money and just wants a bike that's safe and rideable for another year. By the time my co-workers began arriving two hours later, I had completed nearly half the job.

Of course, work slowed down once we opened, because in addition to working on the bike in my stand I was also fielding questions from customers, fixing flats and adjusting saddles and showing someone a new bike. I'll finish the overhaul in the morning.

As I wiped the grease from the tools and cleaned up my workbench at the end of my shift, I spotted something that made me laugh out loud. This was hanging on the main tool board, the one where we keep the bigger tools like frame straighteners, dropout alignment tools and the like. It had a tag zip-tied to it. I pulled it down to have a closer look:

(This tool is on long term loan from JF / It opens beer)

Happily, some things about the work don't really change.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

race report: cross crusade 2011/Hillsboro

Another week of dry weather meant another Cross Crusade course that was flat, dry and fast. I was not excited as the MAX train pulled into the Washington County Fairgrounds station. I signed in, caught up with the fellas from Crank, and eventually parked my stuff. I walked the course to check it out. Most of it would be deadly dull for my little singlespeed bike and painful for my slow little legs; a few switchbacks near the barns and a decision by race organizers NOT to bring back the six-pack (thank you!) but instead to break up the barriers into smaller sections. The stairs were back, though with the dry weather they were almost a non-event.

But the best features for me were the most technical ones:

a. a tall sandpile that, if too crowded, became a run-up for everyone but if you had open space in front of you you could go in fast and ride up and over it...

cross crusade 10-23-11 hillsboro

...with a sharp turn to the left at the base of the downslope on the other side.

cross crusade 10-23-11 hillsboro

b. a shorter, steeper incline that you came at immediately after a hard left turn (and had to pedal through so as not to lose momentum).

I took some photos of the Mens' Master C's, the largest single category at the race. While checking out the course and hanging out, I ran into teammate Erinne, who was not racing today but came out to cheer; and newish teammate Bonnie, who focuses on 'cross and races Womens' Master 35+ B (in short, she's faster than I will ever be). Ed was also supposed to race today, and Chris R. as well, in the final race of the day (Mens' B and Singlespeed). I would not see either of them until the end of the day, and only for a short while. I caught a glimpse of Chris The Blur on the course, and waited a long time for Ed to pass by but he never did. Finally I learned from a friend that Ed had rolled a tire after two laps and since he didn't have spare wheels in the pit his race was over.

I expected to be passed easily by Bonnie, and I was -- we called out encouragement to each other and she pulled away. I hope she had a good time; she certainly looked like she was having a decent race. As for me, well, I basically (and predictably) suffered on the flat, long stretches -- especially near the starting area where everything was hardpacked dried dirt and grass, very bumpy and tough on my hands and wrists -- and in the back are coming out of the switchbacks where there was more bumpy hardpack. Ugh! I also got passed by co-worker Hazel, who raced Beginner Women and finished a fantastic 18/86. (Yes, eighty-six Beginner Women. Large field.)

My first lap was basically about hanging on and trying to get my breathing where I wanted it to be. I carried an inhaler but did not need to use it during the race. The first lap through the sandy hill was, predictably, a total cluster and I treated it like a run-up. The second lap I tried to come in faster but got cut off by a junior who shifted too late and killed our momentum; we both had to dismount and run the rest of it. Finally on my my third and fourth laps I had enough space in front of me that I could go in hot and manual my back end slightly it at the top to keep from fishtailing out.

cross crusade 10-23-11 hillsboro

I was a very happy camper at this point in the course. It made me want to go as fast as I could so I'd have more chances to ride it.

I was also pleased with how I ran every barrier, every time, throughout the entire race. Not sure what I'm doing differently this year from last -- I stopped lifting weights hardcore in late May and the only change in my riding patterns has been to go hard Tuesday and Wednesday, ease up on Thursday and Friday and not ride at all Saturday before a Sunday race. But whatever it is I am gutting it out and running, or at least jogging, every barrier and run-up now. It's not track-star fast, and it's not pretty, and most of the time to get any speed at all through barriers I have to suitcase my bike instead of doing a full-on underam carry; but it's a huge difference from last year and for me it's proof that practice makes better, if not perfect.

cross crusade 10-23-11 hillsboro

Continuing my tradition of dogged consistency, I finished DFL in my category -- 28/28 -- but I finished and pulled off four laps and handled my bike pretty darned well most of the time. Maybe speed will come, maybe it won't. But I still feel deliciously, dangerously empty at the end of these things and the extreme physical exertion is really, really good for my head as well as my body.

More photos here. Scroll to the end of the set for Hillsboro pictures.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

--Robert Frost

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

hype of the week: 1992 USMC drum corps

True story: In 1984, I had left school to work full-time. I was living in downtown Portland and working as a bicycle messenger four mornings a week, then heading over to a coffee shop to work the afternoon/evening shift four days a week. They weren't always all the same four days, which helped. Still, I was making just enough money to pay all my bills without having to pick up the phone and ask my folks for help (a constant and looming goal -- it was complicated). I was twenty-one and looking for Whatever Was Supposed To Happen Next.

I had befriended the Gunnery Sergeant who was in charge of the US Marine recruiting station, which was housed in the Georgia-Pacific Building where my mother had worked before taking a transfer to the home office in Atlanta (also complicated). "Gunny", as his office cohort called him, was a friendly, thoughtful man who was curious about me. I obviously had been to college and was intelligent, judging by my speech and demeanor; what was I doing working as a bicycle messenger for peanuts? Sometiems he'd place a call to AMS specifically asking for me to bring lunch for the office staff, and he'd invite me to stay and chat while I ate from my own sack lunch. This happened once or twice a week that summer.

Eventually, I confided in him that I'd had a thing for the Marines since high school; they'd sent out packets to every medalist at the high school state solo contest and mine included information on "The Commandant's Own" -- the drum and bugle corps. My father, an Army veteran who'd served in Korea, had emphatically and surprisingly put his foot down; no daughter of his was going to be a Marine when she was being offered scholarships to college. Since I needed my parents' financial help that first year, that was pretty much that, and I dutifully forgot about the Marines, went to college, and eventually floundered. Gunny was intrigued. One thing led to another and before I knew it Gunny had persuaded me to take a short, 45-minute screening exam "just for the heck of it, no obligation at all". I scored 97 out of a possible 100 -- the highest score they'd seen in the office in months, and about thirty points higher than the average. Four weeks later I'd arranged for some time off work and was on a bus headed to Fort Lewis, Washington, to audition for the Marines music programs.

After I finished playing my prepared pieces, I was told that there were no openings in the drum corps, but that my sight-reading was plenty good enough to land me in a dance band anywhere in the corps, stateside or in Europe. I was very interested. For the rest of my visit, they assigned me to shadow a woman Marine, and she happily showed me around the base, answering my questions and talking a little about her experiences. When she learned that I was over 21, she invited me to learn how to shoot an M-16. After an initial instruction period we went to the firing range, and I followed instructions. I wasn't a bad shot -- all of my bullets hit the target or the backing behind it, though wildly arrayed. But as I squeezed the trigger, I immediately remembered that this was a military organization and that if I joined, I'd be taught how to kill people. It was like being in a theater and the play ended and lights went back up. And I knew that, although I still admired the United States Marine Corps for their precision, dedication and discipline, I would never join them.

"The Commandant's Own" is a pretty amazingly polished organization and I still admire them. As featured guests at a drum corps show in 1992, they wowed the crowds who cheered for them loudly. The acoustics of the Cotton Bowl aren't the best, and their drill is miles behind the drill designs of DCI corps of the period; but they still throw down a very good show, with more than decent brass arranging and some excellent, excellent marching (if these guys can't march cleanly, well, I guess they do push-ups all afternoon). Their intro onto the field is pretty damned cool (and some nice, clean drumming for what would have been considered limited instrumentation at the time). The company front at 2:15 is worth the price of admission alone.
Enjoy, and see you at the races. Cross Crusade goes to Hillsboro this week, and the women race around 2:15.

Monday, October 17, 2011

evidence of my participation: PIR/heron lakes

It appears that some of my best shots this season (including this one taken by T. Quinones) involve run-ups. Blecch. I do not like run-ups, even though I have made myself get tougher on them this year and now actually jog instead of crawl up them. Still, this shot shows how steep this section was -- a punchy incline interrupted by not one, but two barriers placed in the middle. On this lap I timed my [off-camber cornering] dismount a bit too late to get a good carry position under my arm, so I suitcased the bike over the barriers by simply lifting it by the top tube -- a bit harder on the arm muscles but certainly faster -- and noticeably more doable thanks to the weight work I did last winter and spring. It's amazing to imagine that real, tangible results are possible with weight training.

A couple more, taken by J. Bentham, on the off-camber switchbacks following the barrier run-up:

A few random recollections and thoughts:

1. After my race I had the pleasure of meeting Julia from the Eugene team Poplollies, who raced in my category and sought me out to thank me for my blog posts about racing singlespeed. She is thinking very hard about building up a singlespeed bike of her own. I urged her to go for it, of course. I figure as long as the knees hold out, singlespeed is still the most enjoyable way to race off-road.

2. I helped out with the Kiddie Races at lunchtime, basically directing traffic for the littlest kids at the end of their race. It was sweet to watch these adorable, powerful little people push their skoot bikes and tricycles along while adults on both sides of the course clapped, rang cowbells and shouted encouragement. I thoroughly enjoyed the wide-eyed wonder of these tiniest kids urging their tiny bikes along in the tacky mud. Some of them had the most beautiful looks of fierce determination on their faces, while others rolled along happily with gentle smiles on their faces, almost oblivious to anything else but the easy joy of self-propulsion.

3. Although I am not a fan of run-ups, I have gotten better at them this year. And I didn't even do much actual running to prepare for my season. I mostly spent my practice time working on mounts and dismounts and jogging with my bike under my arm or suitcased out to my side, and let my daily commuting and cargo-biking comprise the bulk of my between-season mileage. I'm still dreadfully slow all around, but I really enjoyed noticing the small, incremental improvements in some of my cyclocross skills yesterday during the race.

4. In retrospect, I thought there was too much gravel. Yes, I pedaled through it, and no, I did not crash; but there was still way too much gravel on the race course and, well, that 180-degree, off-camber gravel turnaround was simply stupid. Very few of the women rode the turnaround successfully every lap; most of us had to get off and run through it, or be forced off our bikes halfway through the turn because of poor positioning going into the bank, not enough speed, overcrowding at that spot, or all three. Never mind the finishing straight, which I think was longer than it had been last year and was just bad for a singlespeeder like me. The gravel was probably the worst feature of the PIR course this year.

5. I take that back; the worst feature of the PIR course this year was the complete absence of rain and deep mud. And Washington County next Sunday looks no more promising; the preliminary forecast calls for partly sunny skies and a high in the low to mid-60's. If that's the case, I'll leave the embrocation at home. For heaven's sake, where's the mud? It's mid-October already.

6. Crank -- the bike shop who sponsors Team Slow -- was a gracious host, allowing me to park my bag at their tent for the afternoon. The boys do seem to have a thing for pork, though -- at Alpenrose they offered me pulled pork sandiwiches, which I politely declined. At PIR, they offered me biscuits and gravy with -- you guessed it -- pork sausage. I'm convinced they own shares in a hog farm somewhere. I opted for oatmeal from the nice folks at Bob's Red Mill instead. Still, it's been really nice to hang out with the fellas and to meet their families.

7. Special thanks to pal Crystal and her friends at Metropolis Cycle Repair for letting me do a quick-change into my kit in their station wagon. The porta-potties were too far away and there was not a phone booth in sight. Bless you.

8. One nice thing about the conditions: I didn't have to hose my bike down after the race.

See you in Hillsboro.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

race report: cross crusade 2011/PIR-heron lakes

The day dawned cool, almost crisp, and cloudy. I enjoyed a nice ride down to the venue from my house. By the time I'd gotten to PIR at around 10:15 am, the clouds were breaking up a little. By noon the sun had broken through and I no longer needed my long-sleeved base layer; I swapped in a lighter sleeveless layer instead. The course was mostly dry, with long stretches of gravel and pavement that I didn't remember from last year. What mud there was was dry and tacky. In short, this was a flat, fast course that would be perfect for roadies, and sort of awful for my singlespeed mountain bike. I toyed with the idea of swapping in a smaller cog but decided to leave things alone so I could power up the few short inclines on the course and feel like I'd accomplished something.

At the start line, I scanned the other bikes in my category; I was the only Master 45+ woman racing on a singlespeed; did the other women know something I didn't? Yikes. We were off, and I prayed that I would be able to hang on for 45 minutes.

I surprised myself. Yes, I still finished last in my category (not official yet but I'm pretty confident of the result); but this time the timing worked out so I could push myself hard and squeeze in a fourth lap before it was all over. Anytime I hit the mud, my bike handling felt fine. Anytime I was on pavement, I spun out (and wished I'd swapped in the smaller cog before the race). Anytime I rode through gravel I just told myself to keep pedaling, and while my rear wheel slid under me a couple of times I remained upright. Nicest surprise of all was how I dealt with barriers, especially on the flats. Obviously, the huge concrete slab was a challenge every time, but I forced myself to at least jog at it and all my dismounts there were timed pretty well. (Note to hecklers: consider placing the dollar hand-ups a little farther out from the slab so folks have time to remount before grabbing for them.) Because the course was run in reverse of last year's route, the strongest and most agile riders today were able to bunny hop up to the slab and back down the other side. (Note: I did not see any women attempt this but then I missed most of the Pros/A's race just prior to mine. Several junior men made it, and many singlespeed [men] did so as well.)

Except for the two barriers on the steep uphil, where the cheers of my male teammates helped me get up and over that section every lap, I managed to run over every other barrier -- and the two barriers out in the back section were awesome! The hours I spent in late summer/early fall practicing nothing but mounts and dismounts seem to have paid off. I'm sure I was still slow as molasses, but when I suitcased my bike over that set of barriers each lap it felt almost like flying, and I felt the closest I ever have to a real cyclocross racer.

Team Slow notes: I got to meet the newest of our ladies today -- Suzy is an impressive rider and races Womens' Master 35+ B. Erinne looked so ridiculously strong today; her pedal strokes were smooth and powerful and her long red hair was just flying out the back of her helmet. I saw her a couple of times on the course and she must have lapped me more than once (I don't yet know how many laps each of us completed). I saw Kristin early on; she passed me and I don't remember if I saw her again. I got passed early on by Suzy as well -- another strong rider with great form on the bike.

I struggled, as I knew I would, on the sections of the course that were long, flat and paved -- ick! ugh! -- and felt stronger on the short, punchy climbs and the steep switchbacks. I never managed to get the hang of the 180-degree turnaround in deep gravel -- and on an incline! -- and lots of women got hung up here. The key, as best as I could observe, was to go in fast and take the turn rather high But with so many women on the course there was never enough room for me to get my momentum up enough to make the whole turn, and I got hung up halfway around each time, forcing me off my bike. I couldn't decide whether this or the two uphill barriers were the least enjoyable parts of the course for me.

Because of the dry, warm weather, the off-camber section at the end of the uphill barriers was almost a non-factor. According to various reports, today was the first time the PIR course has been this dry since something like 2002. And while I would have liked to challenge myself in the mud, I felt really good about managing to pull out four laps on a course that really wasn't my cup of tea.

(Me and Erinne before our race. We were both smiling afterwards, too.)

Next weekend: Washington County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro. Another run through the manure-tinged mud and the sheep barns. I am hoping it will rain.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

hype of the week: 1996 phantom regiment

In 1996, the Phantom Regiment took the field with a different look, and a much darker feel than even this all-classical corps had been known for. The familiar gleaming, all-white uniform had been replaced by an all-black version, which gave the corps an almost terrifying presence on the green field. The program, entitled "A Defiant Heart", featured music from Shostakovich's first and fifth symphonies, which are definitely among the heavier works in the orchestral repertoire.

I don't normally put up an entire 12-minute field show for Hype Of The Week, and frankly I'd been sitting on it, saving it, for about a year; but I've been in a sort of heavy space since Rosh Hashanah and decided it was finally time to put this one up. In advance of racing my favorite course (PIR/Heron Lakes on Sunday) it feels right to share this now. I promise it's worth hanging in there for the whole thing.

The show proper begins at about 40 seconds in. Look for great close-ups of snare stick work at 3:32 and 5:21. The most famous theme of this symphony happens at around 7:00. More snare close-ups at 10:00 (dig the stick heights, matched beautifully!), followed right afterwards by some gorgeous drill-writing (check out the huge flags almost floating through the corps without hitting anyone!). The show ends with a massive, earth-shattering company front/wall-of-sound at 11:40, and you can stop viewing there or watch through to the end of the video to see Phantom announced as DCI Champions. It was (and remains), in drum corps parlance, a nearly perfect field show. Watching it again gave me goosebumps, a burst of strength, and even a little hope. Turn up the volume, go to full screen, and be shaken and even moved.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

chag sameach sukkot

Happy Sukkot!

northwest native lulav

(Northwest Native Lulav)

My four species:
--Western Hemlock
--Western Red Cedar
--Douglas Fir
--Vine Maple

In place of an etrog I'm using the seed cone from a cedar. I may have to add a few drops of essential cedar oil but we'll see.

Our praise to You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all:
whose mitzvot teaches us holiness and who instructs us to take up the lulav .

A local rabbi's comment on the holiday seems especially pertinent for me personally as I am in a time of great uncertainty and not a little worry. "Dwell in a booth," he writes, "You will emerge in strength."
May it be so for all of us.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

my first sukkah

Today, like many Jews on the day after Yom Kippur, I built a sukkah in our yard. Unlike many of my Jewish friends, this was the first time I'd built a sukkah of my own. I'd helped friends in past years (shorter friends especially have been grateful for my long reach) but had wanted to build one of my own for years.

I sketched an idea on some notebook paper, measured the height of the porch (against which I would stabilize the other three sides) and figured out how many poles I'd need. I went to the lumber yard before Rosh Hashanah and brought everything home on the cargo bike.

It went together fairly easily.

my first sukkah

my first sukkah

my first sukkah

my first sukkah

my first sukkah

my first sukkah

Stay tuned for D-I-Y Sukkot, Part Two: The NW Native Lulav (in which I freak out most of the rabbis I know).
Sukkot begins this Wednesday evening.

Monday, October 3, 2011

evidence photo: alpenrose

First lap, run-up. I ran. (I would walk the next two times.) Still raining pretty steadily here.

(photo by vitus1997)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

race report: cross crusade 2011/alpenrose

The weather never got quite as sunny or as warm as the weatherpeople said it would. Which was a good thing.
In fact, about half an hour before the womens' race, it began raining, steadily and lightly. Which was an even better thing.
More rain meant that a formerly hard, fast and tacky course ideal for roadies became, in seveal important spots, a slower, muddier, slicker course better suited to off-road riders. I was happy.
I was slow, but very happy.

A few photos of the course, showing the morning racing (mostly C Men and Clydesdales):

The off-camber run-up behind the velodrome:

cross crusade alpenrose 10-2-11

This got a lot slicker and sloppier by 2:30. In fact, by then, most of the women opted to run the length of the section including the short run-up. I rode as much of the section as I could each lap, but was forced to get off and run the incline because there were just too many women on the course to allow me to keep up any momentum. (Sigh.)

The switchbacks at the opposite end of the velodrome:

cross crusade alpenrose 10-2-11

cross crusade alpenrose 10-2-11

I took the switchbacks a little too hot the first time and nearly collided with another racer cornering out of a descent. Watching my speed the following laps meant that I had to kill my own momentum because there were simply too many other women close by for me to really open things up and muscle up the other side of the switch.

The long run-up was back, and I suffered it each lap; enough said. The long stretch of singletrack behind the velodrome was also back and I really enjoyed bombing down it -- but was surprised, and brought up short, by the women in front of me who rode their brakes the whole way down. (Whaaaa...?) More momentum-killing. Arrrrgh!

No Team Slow men raced today. We were represented on the womens' side by me (Master Women 45+), Erinne (B Women U35) and Kristin (Beginner Women). I never saw Erinne on the course but assume she did well; Kristin lapped me about halfway through the race and I never saw her again, either; but she looked strong. On my first and second laps I passed women (!!!), in the same spot each time (coming out of a short descent, into a turn and heading out along a singletrack straightaway to a little "bump-up" behind the velodrome). Both times I saw someone flounder because of lost momentum or a bad recovery from the turn, and I simply said, "passing on your right", and passed them all the way through the singletrack and up and over the "bump-up". A satisfyingly mountain-bike sort of feel to the passing move each time. Of course, they passed me later on down the road, so we were even. Still, it was thrilling to pass someone in a bike race.

In spite of how slow I felt, and having finished dead last in my category (results not posted yet for the combined womens' race but I'm pretty sure that's where I ended up), I had an awesome time playing in the mud. I'm so glad it rained.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

'twas the night before cyclocross season

Saturday night (post-Shabbat) finds me feeling a little jittery about my first 'cross race tomorrow at Alpenrose.

I've done as much as I can do and still hold down two jobs, eat, sleep and have time with my sweetie:

a. Four weekly cyclocross practices, opened to friends and teammates but each held solo. (I dunno, I guess my neighborhood is a bit far away from everyone, but I have a great neighborhood park to practice in.) They weren't the most disciplined pratices, but I did get in some good practice on mounts and dismounts. My mounts still suck -- very slow and halting -- but there's probably nothing to do about that now except hope I don't hang anyone else up in the process.

b. Some quality time with Stompy, finally! Replaced cables and housing (sorry, its not hot pink anymore; I scored some nice woven metal housing from VO that looks sturdier), swapped in the Conti Cross Country tires and overhauled the headset (I'd done the once-over on the BB and cranks this summer and they still seem fine). Headset cups look a touch dinged up but since I'm only racing five or six times this fall I've decided to roll with it through the season. If I stick with this frameset next year I'll upgrade the headset before next summer.

c. The usual primping and preening of all my ephemera, and pre-packing this afternoon based on the weather reports. Tomorrow's forecast: cloudy, with showers in the evening, high in mid-60's. I opted for bib knickers and my short-sleeved jersey with arm warmers, though I did toss the long-sleeved jersey in and may use it as a jacket. (I wish we could've spring for actual thermal jackets but not enough of us could afford them to make the minimum). I also packed a screaming orange wind-vest I scored over the summer. Plus various accessories (embrocation, chamois cream, first aid kit, pom-poms), a tool kit and I'm good to go.

I'm heading out early in the morning so I can watch the Beginner men, where I hope to see at least one or two of my teammates. I'm nervous because in spite of all the commuting I've done over the late summer I still feel underprepared and out of shape for 'cross season. (Adding to my sense of underpreparedness are the last three days I've spent off the bike because of Rosh Hashanah. Sweetie tells me I'll just be really, really rested for the race.)
I'm excited because Sweetie and several friends are coming to watch.

Last reports indicate that close to 800 racers have pre-registered online. Last year there were over 1,500 registered racers plus over 200 kiddie race participants. 1,700 racers, plus another 2,000 who came to watch. Even with the runoff from folks planning to race only the Molly Cameron series, I think we'll still have more racers this year. I expect my category (Master Women 45+) to be the smallest womens' category but I still expect to see more than 40 women. Alpenrose is always such a cluster.

Here we go. Let the wackiness begin. The women race tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 pm or so.