The video is completely worth a reblog!! Damn that was cool!

Here To Conquer

Today is the first official installment of… (drum roll please)… FEATURE FRIDAY!

“But Liz,” you might ask, “what is this Feature Friday series that you are proposing? And why should I get excited?”

Every Friday I plan on posting about some absolutely amazing feat that someone has conquered or a wildly extreme endeavor that makes your jaw drop. The purpose of Feature Fridays is to get your adrenaline pumping as you prepare to let loose and take charge of the weekend!

Today’s Feature Friday spotlights- BASE Jumping Off of Mount Everest

On May 5, Valery Rozov, a Russian BASE jumper, hurled himself off of the north face of Mount Everest (23,688 feet above sea level) wearing the telltale crimson beasts on his specialized wingsuit (you guessed it- RedBull sponsored this jump, the same people who sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic and super suspenseful space jump). With the air being so…

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A Tale of Two Bike Racks

Those who have followed my blog for a while know that I like to walk at lunch time.  I eat my lunch quickly at my desk or in the lunchroom, then rain or shine I head outside.

Now in my previous job at the, Holy P, I would walk to the wetlands park near my office and commune with nature.  It was nice to get away from the office and hear the birds sing.

Well now I am at the Mighty P, right in downtown Seattle.  Nope no wetland park here, but I still get outside, let the wind blow in my face, and see what there is to see! 

Now instead of nature, I was erratic drivers dodge thrill seeking jay walkers.  I watch helmetless bike riders bobbing and weaving through traffic as if they are bullet proof.  There are panhandlers, and fashionistas, smilers and scowlers, brand new high rises and an old Greyhound bus station.  All of this makes walking fun.

Also, being one of the best biking cities in America, there are bikes locked up everywhere.  Bike racks, street signs, trees, fences, you name it, there is a bike locked to it.  It’s great to see, as it means there are a lot of people, like me, using two wheels to travel all over.

HOWEVER, all is not roses and gumdrops.

A few days ago I was walking, and stumbled over this:

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Yep, that person will not be happy.  I rounded the corner and found this:

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Now I am thinking one of two things here.  1) The person is being ultra-safe and took the wheel with him/her while the bike was locked , or 2) The person who took the rest of the bike in the first pic wanted the wheel to complete his newly stolen one.   You know, back in the old west they use to hang horse thieves, how’s come we can’t do the same with bike thieves?  (Git a rope!)

This had made me give serious thought to where I leave my bike.  I have been known in the past to (ok this morning even) to leave the key to my bike lock IN the lock itself.  Other times, I have even just left it thinking “Oh I will be RIGHT out.” I am very lucky that my work bike rack is in a garage, with cameras and security on site!   

Shoot, in the organized rides, bikes are just left on their own everywhere!

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Now I am planning to be much more careful.  I have a pretty long cable lock that I always run thorough the frame, and back wheel.  Granted, I could come out with the front one missing like the second picture, but at least it would be cheaper than a whole new frame, back wheel and cassette.

I am also going to look for places to lock up AWAY from the road.  It would have been easy for a pick up or van to pull up next to either of these bikes, grab what was loose and be gone in nuthin flat.  REI, for example, has indoor racks.  MUCH safer.  Shoot, I would even lock up there if I needed to and walk to the place I needed to be.

Or maybe I keep the bike with me.  My bank (US BANK, they are great!) allows me to bring the bike in the lobby.  No one can steal it that way.

Regardless, if you are going to ride TO somewhere and be off the bike (even if it’s to use the restroom) you need a lock.  Don’t be cheap on this.  Talk to your bike shop about what they recommend.  Two things are key to me.  It has to be: 

1) Strong enough to protect your bike from a quick snatch and grab (no lock will stand up to someone determined to steal a bike, but if its not easy, most will move on to easier pickins)

2) Easy to carry with you.  A lock does no good at all sitting at home.  I have a pretty big bag on mine, so its easy for me.  Some attach to the frame.  The bike shop can help a lot here.

When I was younger, my kid brother didn’t lock my bike and it was stolen.  I was mad then.  Now I would be devastated.  I am very attached to my bike (almost 12000 miles will do that).  So I will do everything I can to make sure I keep it!  I also need to record the serial number just in case the worst happens!

Either that or rig a remote control self-destruct switch!  Now THAT would ruin a thief’s day!  (Hmm maybe I can market that…)

Next time it will be 7 Gallons!

Two pints in a quart, 4 quarts in a gallon.  So 7 gallons would be 56 pints!  So some of you know what I am talking about, while others are thinking “isn’t the metric system easier?”  Or maybe just thinking “What the hell are you talking about???”

I am talking about donating blood!  Yep, a pint at a time!  As of today, I have donated 55 times to the Puget Sound Blood Center!  It’s nice that the Mighty P, the company I work for, allows them to show up and drain us in a conference room right at work.  It’s also nice that we don’t have to use personal time to do so.  I just show up, laze around a while draining, eat a cookie, and head back to my desk!

Now I am an old pro at this.  The morning of the blood-letting (as I like to call it) I down my normal daily water amount with in the first couple of hours.  You drain MUCH faster if you are hydrated!  I have raced people who say they can fill a donor bag fast, and rarely have I lost! (Yes I know, is it REALLY the place to be competitive???)

I wasn’t always so cavalier about it though.  I remember my first time donating in college.  I had not planned on doing so, but one night I met a cute girl (for some reasons my stories from college always start with 1) I was drinking one night when….  2) I met this cute girl who….  or 3) I was drinking one night when I met this cute girl who….) who was a nursing student.  She was recruiting people for a blood drive the next day.  Well who was I to argue with a cute girl, plus she said there would be donuts!

Well i showed up with friends.  I was suddenly not sure the donut or the girl was worth having a needle stuck in me!  I was thinking about leaving when she came over to escort me to the table.  As I walked away, one of my friends yelled “SUCK him dry!”  OK I am out!  But she had my arm and wasn’t letting go…

I made it to my table and was laying there, contemplating the whole thing, when I heard another girl talking and saying “We aren’t making our goal.  Time to start taking blood out of both arms!”  OH HELL NO!!!  I was getting up to leave when they realized I had overheard and reassured me it was a joke!

Well I never did see the girl again, but the blood giving was easy AND the maple bar was completely worth it!

Ever since then, I have given whenever I had a chance.  I am not much of a fund-raiser kind of guy, nor do I do much charity work.  I am also a cheap SOB so I don’t donate much in terms of money.  But I gladly give a pint of blood whenever I can!  Summer time is the time of year that blood supplies run low.  People are busy, or like me, have big events coming up and can’t give blood before a marathon or climbing a mountain.  This made it just lucky they showed up AFTER my last century and over a week before the next one!  Plenty of time to recover.

PLUS, every pint I give helps 3 people!  They separate it into plasma, whole blood and platelets, passing it out as needed.  Being blood type A+, I have the most common blood type, therefore its in high demand!

Of course, one thing I did forget about when I gave blood, I was bike commuting home last night!! Now ONCE, in college I gave blood (HEY no drinking or girls in this story!) then I went to aerobics (ok that was cuz of the girls in leotards in class) then I walked a mile home in 90 degree weather.  Honestly almost passed out!

Well the bike commute is only 17 miles, its 60 degrees and I am not working near as hard as aerobics.  So I decided to go for it!  It was a great ride, the rain held off, an I didn’t even notice being a pint low! I did skip the big ugly hill though!

Like I said, being cold and callous there are very few things I do for others.  Giving blood is one of them.  Its easy, its saves lives, you get cookies, and even though there are needles involved, pain is minimal.

If you decide to go, bring a friend the first time, some people just don’t do well giving, and do NOT schedule a 17 mile bike ride for the same day!  Remember I am NOT that smart!  But its truly a way for each of us to save a life or 3 every time.  I have helped 165 people just by eating a cookie after laying down for 10 minutes!  Shoot anyone can do it!

By the way, I am not sure if people still think this, but there is NO way you can catch anything giving blood.  They use a one time only needle, the only blood you get close to is your own, and everything is sterile!  Shoot, they even put the think you squeeze in a rubber glove now!

 

How the Hell Did We Survive?

Last night was Tuesday night, and like most Tuesdays, that means I am in Federal Way with the youngest kid for dinner.  Then we go to  Starbucks and play Cribbage, or Chess or some other game, and just hang out (For the record, the pain in the ass skunked me in Cribbage last night!)

Dinner this time was at Gramma’s (my mom’s house) she and my stepdad Doug are always happy to feed hungry people who show up at the door.  (Calling ahead is good, though, or could be you will miss dinner!)  Steak pie with brownies for dessert!  YUM!

So while we were there, the youngest started showing off his war wounds.  He is 15 and skates on a longboard.  Lately he has been skating with people at a higher level that he is, so he is trying out new things.  Trying something new with a skateboard generally means falling.  And he is missing some serious patches of skin to prove this.

It started me thinking about all the stuff I did, especially in college, and truly wondering why I am here able to blog…  (Warning:  MOM, this may lead to more gray hairs….)

First, even before college, I biked all the time.  NEVER did I wear or even own a helmet…  I once rode right in front of a bus, for some reason with my hands full of branches (no idea why I was carrying the branches, or how I got started on my bike with my hands full) and the bus had to slam on the brakes.  As that bike at the time didn’t have any brakes, nor could I have reached them, it’s a damn good thing the bus could stop.

I can’t begin to count the crashes I had back then.  I am even pretty sure that one time I knocked myself out for a little while (this woulda been Jr Hi) by hitting my head.  Didn’t want to tell my parents because they may have made me stop riding for a while!  Couldn’t have that!  So after the world stopped spinning, I just kept going.

High School I was pretty mellow.  A very boring kid with great grades who studied a lot, and never did anything dangerous.  Unless you count graduation night.  I had a 69 Merc station wagon. when I graduated.  Leaving commencement and heading for the school sanctioned party, I floored it.  For some reason this caused my windshield to completely fog up!  Couldn’t see a damn thing.  Did I stop?  Nope, just rolled down the side window and stuck my head outside, while going 70 on a side road!  Made it no problem!

OK, college, higher education, I musta been smarter then!  Well………

In our dorm, if you locked yourself out of your room, you had to pay a fine to get it unlocked. (May have been $5 or $10 MAYBE $20) Any money we spent on stuff like that took away from pizza money.  We (well the Immortal Pete Lamb)  discovered that it was possible to crawl out one window, inch along the ledge, reach over to the next window and pull yourself over to the next one.  Then unlock the door from the inside!

He and I were great at it.  The 1st floor wasn’t so bad (even though on the back side there was a drop off so it was closer to 2 stories tall) and I would go as high as the 3rd floor. (This I charged money for). I was once asked to crawl across for a guy on the 6th floor.  I thought about it, even walked outside and looked at it,  but  for once common sense kicked in, I declined.

Driving  was always an adventure.  Once, in Pullman, the Mudsucker and I were heading for a Mexican place for dinner.  We wanted to get there before the rest of the group.  Scott said “Turn HERE! It’s a short cut!” Yep, a hill, straight down, covered in ice, and we were heading straight for a power pole at 40 MPH!  I used every trick I knew, but nothing slowed us down.  I looked at him an said “Oh this is bad!” Just as the ruts in the road took us right around  the pole!  I hit the gas and kept going and we got there first!  Me worried?  NEVER!

Or the time heading down hill, a car full of people (same car mind you, 77 Dodge Aspen Wagon (hey I love hatchbacks!) food, beer and barbecue in the back.  I passed a semi, on a 2 lane road, came back in front of him, and saw I had to slow down for a 15 MPH switch back.  I hit the brakes, nuthin, hit them again, nuthin, hit them a 3rd time and they started to grab!  Jim in the back said “Is that brakes I smell?”  “Yep Jim, tell me if you don’t smell em anymore!” and we slowed just enough for the corner!  )OK THAT time I was worried!  I forgot to tell my Dad about this incident and later that year he came close to driving into a Piggly Wiggly as the brakes failed again! )

Or the time at Cheers West where I pissed off a Mountain of a man (he was huge!).  I had playfully tossed an ashtray a friend and ended up hitting someone else’s beer.  I had already ordered a replacement for it.  This guy got in my face jawing at me because if it. (Wasn’t even his beer) I jawed right back (all 5’7″ 135 lbs of me)  He looked at me and said “Don’t let 2 seconds of stupidity ruin your life!”  I stared right back and said “I won’t will you!!!!!”  (Meanwhile the Mudsucker and Dave were at a table watching this saying “Tony’s gonna die”  “Yep sure is”  “too bad…” (for the record if something woulda happened they would’ve jumped in!)) The man walked away (to this day I don’t know why) and all was right in the world.

I tell these stories, knowing there are many MANY others that are not coming to mind right now.  Teen and twenty something  guys are not smart.  Each and every one of them seem to think they are bullet proof.  I know I did.  And while I sat there and listened to the youngest tell his stories about his battle wounds (Pain heals, Chicks dig scars, Glory is forever (yep, my fault, I told him that) I realized he has it too.

Looking back, I know I was stupid many times.  But its part of being that age that you challenge yourself every chance you get.  I think of all the fun, all the stories, all the adventures that wouldn’t have happened if I played it safe.  Most people grow out of it, but I don’t think I have.  It’s why I have sky dived, bungie jumped, mountain climbed and now ride anywhere and everywhere.

If I lose that spirit of adventure, if I give up trying, then I honestly believe I would have one foot in the grave.  It would be time to trade the bike in for a walker!  I am more careful now, and I sure as hell don’t climb on ledges, but I DO have a degree of bullet proofness left!  I think I take smarter risks now, but I rarely decline a challenge!

And I support the youngest in his skateboarding endeavors! BUT, since I am a dad, I do make him wear a helmet!

Folks find a challenge, accept it and beat it!  It will keep you young!

The Next Level

So, Sunday night I was talking with my gorgeous wife, and planning the day for Monday (Memorial Day).   “I’ll get up early, do a quick 40 or 50 miles to give my legs a break, then be back early and finish the yard work!”

This morning, I slept in longer than I planned, so I got up, made the morning run to Starbucks (Ice tea for my wife, chonga bagel for the man-child and artisan ham breakfast sammich for me).  While it was being made Nichol asked “How far are you riding today.”  “Only a quick 40, I over slept.”  She was amazed by the ONLY 40 part.

I started thinking about it as I drove back.  Yep, I turned the corner!  It happens every year.  In January, the first 40 of the year is a big deal.  It means the rain has stopped enough for me to ride outside, and I am going to test the legs.  I am always worn out after the first one.  I try to get it in as early as possible, in order to start getting stronger.

Then this time of year hits.  I’ve already ridden 50, 60, 75, and 2 century rides.  I am riding 4-5 days a week and pushing it hard on every ride.  I’ve added more hills and ridden the day after my century rides.  I am getting into summer riding shape!

So my 40 mile training route, is an easy stretch of the legs.  Three hours of riding and then ready for the rest of the day!  What begins as an ordeal is now a recovery ride!

I took off and it was a bit chilly, but not bad.  The mountains were out, so I stopped for a quick picture, only to find I left the SD card out of the camera.  DAMN!

Now in the rest of America, Memorial Day is considered the first day of summer, and there is nice weather.  Our friend Gina posted she broke out her bikini for the first time (sorry guys, no pic of that either!).  People barbecue, go camping,  get sunburned etc.

NOT here,  In Seattle we KNOW the weekend (weather wise) is gonna suck ass!  We still barbecue, and go camping, we just know the burgers might get soggy and their better be blue tarps at the campground  (Check out PEMCO‘s NW Profile Blue Tarp Camper commercial (by the way I am a Trainer at PEMCO (full disclosure you know, but I love this commercial)).

Sorry for the digression, BUT, because of this, I was NOT surprised when the rain started about 15 miles in!  But, as long as I am on the road when the rain starts I refuse to turn around!  it was just drizzly, so it wasn’t too bad, and didn’t slow me down.

I pulled into the yard in just over 3 hours, wet, cold, but smiling!  The ride felt good and so did I!  I walked in and DAMN it smelled good. My gorgeous wife had made my garlic chicken I like to add to salad for lunches at work! YUM!  That was one of my tasks planned for the afternoon!

She also said she planned on making chocolate chip cookies!  (OH HELL YEAH!!  Bad for the Tony diet but I loves chocolate chip cookies, specially her’s!)

Then she took me to PCC and bought sushi for lunch!  Damn she spoils me but I like it (and love her.)

Soon after lunch, the drizzle turned to rain, and it never stopped.  A complete washout of an afternoon, but a great hang out day.  I read, Manchild surfed the web, Michelle did both, and we were able to just hang out.  I think Michelle and I BOTH needed a day like that!.  I got off my ass long enough to take the kid to his favorite skateboard shop, and then I made dinner (chicken enchiladas for us, and mac and cheese for her (she’s a vegetarian and LOVES Kraft mac and cheese!)

I will need to get the yard work done later, but a good morning ride followed by an afternoon to sit, was perfect!

 

A Free Hour???

Anyone who follows this blog knows my last few weekends have been nuts!  I had a weekend of yard work followed by a Century ride, a trip to Walla Walla, then a Century ride in Oregon followed by a long drive home.  Then the evenings this week were full of getting things done that I normally do on weekends!

Saturday was running around all over, taking care of kids, hitting hardware store, general errand kind of things! Not a bad day at all, but VERY busy.

Sunday morning comes up, and the man child, Sierra Victor, leaves a note asking if he can be taken back to his house in the morning, so he can participate in the Federal Way Skate in.  (35 miles away) OK, wake him up, drive south, in the rain mind you, and drop him off, then Beeline back home for belated brunch with the mom in law.  Good thing too, I was hungry!

On the way home from that was a stop at Safeway.  Groceries picked up!

However, back at the house, and the rains came back (normal for Seattle on Memorial Day Weekend, it ALWAYS rains!

So, no chance at yard work, actually, for the first time in weeks, a bit of quiet time to sit, read, relax and unwind.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

But alas, unlike last week, the rain was NOT long term!  Just a squall, so i was able to relax and sit and read for over an hour, t was nice.

However, I wanted to ride on Memorial Day itself that means getting off my lazy butt and getting to work!  First of Michelle pointed out the plants that needed to die!  This I am good at!  Have shovel will travel!  Even better, there was nothing delicate close to the ones that had to go!  Dig and rip and done!  2 yard waste bins full.  Done!

Next, the new plants were strategically placed.  Dig a hole and plant away.  For one of the first times ever, I didn’t snap a big chink of the plant off getting it our of the pot.  All plants planted and watered!  Check!

Finally, time to spread some of the bark I bought yesterday over those new big bare areas.  Done!

Wow not bad for a couple hours work for the two of us!  Just enough time to clean up a little, and drink something before going to get the kid.

Turns out his longboard gathering was an all day deal.  He was still skating at 6 when I got down there. Once again I had to feed a kid of mine NOW before he started chewing his own arm!  Taco Time it was!   YUM!  Love me a beef&bean burrito and mexi fries!

10 minutes north on the freeway, the kid was OUT, snoring away.  We got home, he woke up, said “hi” or at least grunted as his mum, and went straight to bed!  I think the last time he was in bed before 8 he WAS 8!

I am glad I had my free hour to sit, it was nice, but better yet, Manchild had a great day, and Michelle and I got stuff done!

 

Dad and Husband Duty Day

Not every day can be a free wheeling, tail wind blowing, mad cap century ride to the Pacific Ocean.  Nor can it be a fun-filled, wine sipping, hand holding weekend away.

Alas there are times when dad and husband duties take priority.  It’s not often when both occur on the same day, and even MORE seldom when the dad duty involves BOTH kids.

We woke up Saturday  morning, with both boys under the roof.  The oldest (Alpha Tango Victor) (so named as he is now a tango dance instructor as well as a math major at Western Washington University) was down for the night.  He and his friends had to navigate the detour from hell to get around the I5 bridge that fell into the Skagit River Thursday.  He showed up ready to start chewing his own arm.  First dad duty was getting him to Dicks Burgers (a favorite in Seattle)  He devoured the fries and one Dick’s deluxe before we hit the main road.  Dad Duty.

At 10 PM, I went down to the park and ride garage to get the youngest ( (Echo Sierra (he’s a skateboarder) Victor) who was taking the elevator to the top floor and bombing down the ramps.  Yep, past my bedtime, but Dad Duty.

Saturday morning started with husband duty!  We were at our favorite nursery, Molbaks, when it opened at 9 AM.  We got there 5 minutes early and entertained ourselves watching the old guy walking from door to door to see if they were open, then back again!  Dude, relax!  it aint 9AM yet.  I think they purposely opened the door he wasn’t  at just to annoy him!  We did a power shop to find some plants to put into the garden this weekend.  Husband Duty.

Next, dad duty again.  Alpha Tango Victor had a job interview in downtown Seattle.  So, yep, he asked dear old dad for a ride.  I made sure to write down the address.  We got him there, and he asked “Um, where is the interview?”  “Ok pal, just get your stuff out of the car, I’ll check the address.”  Yep Dad duty.  Later he called. “Which way is Westlake Center?”  Yep Dad duty (did I mention he’s 20, but then I am sure my dad had to do the same things..) Dad Duty.

OK, back at the house and husband duty!  But this time I drafted the 15-year-old, Echo Sierra,  to help.  We went and rented a uhaul van and hit Home Depot.  Today is plant the plants and spread bark where needed day, so the kid and I needed the bark!   Yep loaded, delivered and unloaded in an under an hour.  Echo Sierra jumped in and helped a lot.  I let him relax while I went and pulled weeds.  Husband Duty.

Then Echo Sierra, the man-child, started hinting about going to Motion Board shop.  He wanted some grip tape,  His was fine, but he wanted to do some changes and he wanted to use his own money.  Evidently this is the Mecca of Seattle longboarding, and all skaters are required to make a pilgrimage there.  I parked around the corner, and read the kindle while he went in.  “No hurry dude, take your time!  Dad Duty.

Then, knowing nothing about applying grip tape, I made sure it was done outside, to minimize residue all over the living room!  Husband Duty.

But I supplied tools, appreciative comments and held the board as instructed. Dad Duty.

Yep, love my bike riding days, but Dad and Husband days are important too.  its not often I do this much in one day, but its nice to know I am appreciated!

AK a122  wine at base camp