One day you’re a diamond and then you’re a stone

The last two weeks have been ridiculous.  The Brother got himself some nasty ass shit that kicked his ass pretty badly.  People die from what he had…but he beat it.  But he was super super sick.  I’m used to his never ending stream of respiratory bullshit but this took things to a whole new level.

One of my good friends found out her husband, a guy in his 40’s has a mass on his bladder.  Another lost a member of her inner circle to cancer of the freaking everything.  I think she didn’t have it in her stomach and that was it.   I saw this woman two months ago and she was in remission and doing just fine.  Then it roared back.  She went into the hospital on Tuesday, hospice on Friday and was gone the following Monday.  Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.  There are seriously three or four other people in my life who are dealing with similar serious serious shit right now.  Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.

Another situation has resolved itself.  My friends in San Marcos returned to their home yesterday.  I really didn’t think I would be writing that sentence two days ago.  This is their home at 30 seconds in, with the fire tornado in the background and the fire truck in her driveway. The audio is about a different house in a different neighborhood. The fire fighters are walking around in her backyard in some of the other video.

And on a much more minor note, I strained the holy hell out of my hamstring two weeks ago and it still hasn’t resolved.  I was going to put some gas in the truck and then go see Cousin Jeanne at the Clayton Art and Wine Festival.  I loaded Bill up in the truck and headed down to the gas station.  Well, the truck had other ideas and took a powder at the pump.  The battery was dead.  It was 10am two Sundays ago.  I called AAA to all that bitch back home and I think they ordered a tow from Reno.  It took over an hour to get there.  Funny, they never sent me a “How did we do” survey on that tow.  The driver was great, AAA dropped the ball.

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Well, the gas station guy wants me to push the truck away from the pumps even though it’s Sunday morning the business is light.  Like an asshole I agree.  I should have told him I buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gas from him and deal with it or I’ll go to the guy next door who has the same prices.  Hindsight.  We push the truck away from the pump.  I have to door open so I can reach in and steer it.  Then comes time to hop up in the truck and brake because we are now in the driveway which is sloped towards the street.  And the truck is rolling a little faster.

Did I mention I rode 90 miles the day before?  Over Mt. Diablo?  Yeah, that matters in this story.  I didn’t have any “hop” in my legs and missed.  I caught my right heel and got stuck.  And the truck kept rolling.  And I could feel the tearing in my hamstring.  First thought “drop out”.  Then I would be run over by my own pick up truck.  Even stupider than the situation I was in.  I pulled hard to see if I could pull myself up with my arms as the hamstring tore more.  Finally I took a hop with the leg that was down and shoved my shoulder into the truck and stopped it.  Did I mention Bill was sitting up in the truck the whole time?  I’m still badly hurt two weeks later in spite of some really great ART work but my truck isn’t wrecked and my dog did not go rolling or running out into traffic and get killed so I’m calling it a win.

Loaded up and truckin’ we’re going to do what they said can’t be done

The stupid is strong.

Check out this article and the response by the 11yo kid to the racism he was subjected to.  Sebastian FTW.  Racist assholes have a little problem on their hands.  They are about to be outnumbered.   The United States is heading to the mocha slush I predicted 20 years ago.  I originally thought it wouldn’t happen in my life time, but I’m beginning to think it may occur in the next 25 years.  Which hopefully is my lifetime.

What?  That Old Repulsive crew from the late 80’s and 90’s has been decimated by way before their time deaths.  There were four Advisory Title Officers.  Me, Teri, Jon and Jimmy.  Jon died of throat cancer at 52.  He never smoked or chewed.  Jimmy was 51 when he died of liver failure after he received blood tainted with hep during his back operation.  That leaves me and Teri.  And I suspect there is a death pool.  For the record, I intend to win this thing.  My money is on me.

Of course this is front and center on everyone’s mind with the passing of Princess.  Her funeral was Wednesday.  I spent a lot of time on the AIDS/Lifecycle processing what happened.  What else do you do on a bike for 10 hours a day over 7 days?  I was able to peel away the recent years and remember a lot of the good.  A lot of the old crew showed up for her funeral.  Her mother was afraid that no one would show.  The mortuary was packed.  Even the people who the evil clowns dialed in on forgave and showed up.  The funny thing is Princess’s sister is a knucklehead drug addict and her brother is a head case.  They both did most of the speaking.  She would have been outraged.  I watched the whole affair and thought “this is not what she would have wanted.”  The only redeeming quality was something that her son wrote that the deacon read with him standing there and a heart-wrenching story told by her ex-husband.  He never stopped loving her, despite what he went through.  He never said a bad word about her to me ever, even through all the crap.  He talked about the day they were married.  They took off to the Virgin Islands alone.  And the story had a punch line which was proper for any story about her.  She was 49.  If you’ve had chemo please go get your ticker checked out and make them explain the correlation to you.  Princess was out of moves and this was inevitable.  I was reminded last week that I predicted this.  I reminds me of the finale of the Sopranos.  There’s nothing left to say or do.

About that ride.  I love Day 6, it’s my favorite.  We leave Lompoc and head to Ventura.  I don’t love the part where we ride on the 101.  I almost got pasted this year outside of Mussel Shoals.  I was riding on the far right side of the bike lane and the road dropped off a bit.  I lost traction on my rear wheel and then when the back end of the bike had come around I caught traction which started to propel me into traffic.  On the 101.  I turned into the fishtail and corrected.  And then pulled over and let my heart rate return to something normal.  I try not to be stupid but every now and then when this sort of thing happens I think “God wasn’t ready to punch my ticket yet”.  That was a close one.  Years ago a friend of mine spun out on Mullholland Drive.  We hit the bridge.  If we had been five feet short we would have been in the ravine.  The car was drivable.  My famous quote “Give me the goddamn keys and don’t you dare say another word.”  I drove the car back to Santa Barbara.

Anywho, I love the Gaviota Pass even though it’s dangerous and you have to be really careful.  I love coming around the corner at El Cap and I love the reception we get in Santa Barbara.  This is Phyllis.

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Phyllis is 102 years old.  She was sitting out on Meigs with her family waving a flag for all the riders as we went by.  She was awesome.

Sometimes the people as we go by are the best.  These guys were out in the driveway in Lompoc.

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Meet Smokey.  He had on his best dress for Red Dress day.  Which was Dress Red Day for about 15 seconds 12 years ago.

Did I mention that we raised $14.2 million dollars?  It was the largest AIDS fundraiser in history.  We broke all records.  Did you know that AIDS was the number one cause of death worldwide?  We did something amazing to stop something terrible.  I’m good with that.  And in spite of how rough of a time I had this year, I signed up for next year.  Whether I ride or not is another story, I will have to re-evaluate in January.

And I totally lost my mind last week.  Not exactly.  I had something hanging over my head for the last year or so.  The lean green machine has 211,000 miles on her.  She would do weird things and scare the crap out of me.  Repairs can be huge.  And my mechanic is stuck in San Carlos with an ankle bracelet.  So I would have to use all of my AAA 200 mile towing to get it over to him if things went sideways.  And probably lose days of work.  I loved that car, but it was time, past time.  Way past time.

lean green machine

She was a trusty steed.  It’s time for her to be moved out of service.

I ended up doing the right thing, even though the original plan was not to buy a car that day.  I wanted to know what I needed to do to be in the position to get a new car because I needed one badly.  My credit is so battered that I figured it was going to take more cash and time.  Turns out I had the cash, and making the payments on this new one will give me the time.  The sales guy kept asking me about color.  I am the worst car buyer ever.  I don’t care about color.  What color?  I don’t care.  Do you like the light colors?  Yes.  Your car is Oxford Green do you like the dark colors? “Yes”.  Any color you don’t like?  No.

So here she is, the new addition, who obviously needs to be named.  I’m thinking Devil in a Blue Dress or Ol’ Blue.  Suggestions?

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She’s a six on the floor.  This car is not for pussys.  It is a driver.  The steering and suspension are much tighter than the old one.  And it’s freaking quick.  Basically I can take out anyone on the line with this thing.  I shouldn’t, but I can.  I just have to remember to shift.  That’s been the latest issue.  I’ve only owned two automatic transmissions in my life, the lean green machine and my 1975 Camero.  Two stick trucks, the Mustang is three on the floor and the MX6 was five on the floor.  I remember years ago I almost bought a GMC that had three on the tree.  I kind of wish I’d done that.  It’s a 2008 but that makes her 7 years newer than what I was driving and she has 150,000 less miles on her and 40,000 left on the warranty.  Yeah, the BMW warranty!  Woot.

A huge weight is off of my shoulders right now.  That’s done, I paid off a large credit card last week, I rehired my housekeeper and the office finally solved the transaction coordination debacle.  I even told ownership that solving that made a huge difference in my business.  Basically she forced me to quit using my person and use hers, who was a buffoon.  I was ready to leave when our Team Leader called me in and told me they were bringing back the best that ever did the job for the office.  Then they solved the Broker Review issue.  That’s always been a bug a boo.  The original one, if I saw her coming, I would leave out of the back door to avoid the 45 minute conversation that would grind my soul down to a nub.  The next one couldn’t use the system and we never got paid on time.  The next one consistently moved the cheese to the point that I actually ended up screaming at her to quit moving the freaking cheese.  Now we have this grandfatherly like guy who is reasonable, gets to our stuff on time and I’ve gotten paid on time ever since the new system is in place.  It is freeing up a ton of my time and has taken a huge burden off of my shoulders.  Are you still reading?  I thought not.

You say Rolls I say Royce

I kind of feel like I owe you a rant about umbrellas.

Best yet.  Sarah Palin tweets  “Mr. President, when it rains it pours, but most Americans hold their own umbrellas ”

Seriously.  1) who gives a crap? 2) Did you asshats forget that Obama is the President of the United States AND the Commander in Chief?  So USMC uniform regulations state says that  Marines don’t use umbrellas but you’re missing the point all of you tin foil capped little numbnuts.

The President noted that he had a change of clothes but the Turkish minister might not.  So this is the result.  Kindly stfu.

Now on the cycling.  The Amgen blew through these parts yesterday.  I didn’t get to see any of it because I was out on this adventure.

That’s 102 miles to the Jelly Belly Factory and back.  I’ve never been inside the factory, mostly because their suport of Rick Santorum.  I don’t even use their sports beans any more which is sad because 1) I like them 2) they work.  But I can’t support a company that supports Santorum.  It was our turn around.  Weather was very nice yesterday, nothing like the past three weeks of 90+ temperatures.  I came home and wasn’t completely wiped out.  Yep.  I rode 102 miles yesterday, got home and wasn’t completely wiped.  We finished 35 minutes in front of last weeks time, once again due to the heat.  Or lack thereof.  It was a more enjoyable ride than the last three by leaps and bound.

I have about $1100 more to raise to meet the minimum.  If you haven’t seen this on facebook and contributed, this link, this one will set you up.  Thanks for your support.

Maybe it’s not to late, to learn how to love and forget how to hate

I might be working on a theme today.  Embrace the crazy.

Yes, I’m back from AIDS/Lifecycle 11.  Yes, it was tough.  Very tough.  But not as tough as last year.  Strangely even though I didn’t train as much as I did for ALC 10, (too much real estate to sell) I trained smarter and that was a good thing.

Day 1 was pure joy.  The weather was gorgeous, Highway 92 into Half Moon Bay did not swallow me up like it did for ALC 10, no construction on the 1, and I got into Santa Cruz about an hour earlier than the year before.  Great start.  My tentmate naturally got there before me.  She was a five time rider and former AD at the Jewish Community Center here.  She was in her 60’s and quite honestly, she was kind of an inspiration.  She rode every mile (a lot of us didn’t) and beat me in every single day but Day 2, but we’ll get to Day 2 in a minute.  The tent was always set up when I got there and more importantly, and thankfully, two years with a tentmate that didn’t snore.  Winning.

Day 2 started out with such high hopes.  It was warm in Santa Cruz.  It’s June, that should only mean glorious weather…..right?  Not so fast bucko.  Warm mornings and cloud cover can also mean impending rain.  Many of the riders left without jackets, rain gear, leggings.  It would be a mistake.  Although I wasn’t too thrilled to have a jacket and leggings when they were soaked and the rain was pounding down and I was worried about whether or not I was going to live through the morning.  Day 2 starts in Santa Cruz and winds down the highway through Aptos, Watsonville, Salinas and then heads out to the center of the State where we bust through Soledad, Greenfield and end up in King City.  Last year we road by Hahn Family Estate and I’d had conversations with my friend Mark and he was going to work out a Hahn Family water station for the riders this year.  Most of us never saw Hahn this year.

The storm started spitting around 10am.  By 11am it was raining.  The roads were slick and it was rough out there.  I’d passed Rest Stop 2 and chose to ride on.  I’d say probably 5% of the riders quit at Rest Stop 2.  Between 11 and noon it became a downpour.  It was dangerous and if you weren’t cycling your heart out, it was cold.  But going fast was dangerous, so it was a very delicate balance.  Personally, I am always ready to meet my maker.  The morning of Day 2 I thought it was a real possibility.  I got into the lunch stop a few minutes after noon.  I put my bike on the SAG rack.  (SAG isn’t an acronym for anything.  It’s the support vehicles for those who sag behind or need support in).  I quit on Day 2.  I was cold and hungry so I got a sandwich thinking I would get on the SAG bus after I ate.  Medical was running around cutting out head and arm holes in garbage bags for the riders and handing out mylar blankets.  I huddled with about 40 riders against a building that was blocking the wind.  We were under the eves and huddled together under mylar blankets and still all shivering uncontrollably.  About 5 minutes after I sat down Neil Giuliano, the CEO of the SF AIDS Foundation and a cyclist himself came around and said “We’re closing the route.  Please bear with us while we put our emergency plan in action.  We’re getting busses for you.”  I’ve got to say, You’ve-done-a-heck-of-a-job Brownie could have taken some advice from Neil.  Neil is no one trick pony.  He was the Mayor of Tempe, Arizona from 1994-2004, elected to four terms.  The dude is for real.

We waited for seemingly forever but in reality it was about 15 minutes.  The medical staff came by and asked if anyone was shivering uncontrollably.  Why yes, we all are.  They didn’t pull anyone out but I think we made it clear that hypothermia was the order of the day.  I later saw the gal who was sitting next to me.  She had asked me repeatedly if I was OK.  I’m my father’s daughter.  I’m fine.  But in truth I was shivering uncontrollably and just wanted to go to sleep.  Not good.  She was treated for hypothermia by the medical staff.  I’m pretty sure we all needed to be treated but there just wasn’t the resources.  Not to worry, Neil was on the job.  Probably 15 minutes later he came back and had gotten the Student Union at Hartnell College which happened (or maybe didn’t happen, was strategically) across the street from the park we were stuck in.  About 1200 of us were brought into the Student Union to warm up.  The hand dryer in the restrooms became a clothes dryer with a line out the door.  And then the entertainment began.  Because if you give a bunch of cyclists mylar and leave them to their own devices, jackassery becomes the order of the day.

This doesn’t even show the best of it.  One gal had bunched up the mylar to make one of those neck things like Mary Queen of Scots.

Just ridiculous stuff.  And now we were warm.  And it didn’t matter how bad it was.  I actually can’t remember how cold I was, but I know that it was one of the coldest I’ve been in my life.  At one point before we were moved to the Student Union, Lorri Jean the CEO of the LA Center came by to check on us.  Lorri is a boisterous character who begins every speech by bellowing “Hellloooooo Riders!!!!” and the crowd goes nuts.  She came by to check on us and there was a new crews with her.  She was definitely not boisterous.  There was concern on her face that she had a totally jacked up situation on her hands.  Not to worry, as cold as we were, shivering under those eves, we pulled on out of our asses.  “Are you guys OK?” she asked.  Stealing from the tag line for this year we all said to the news camera “You belong here!”.

About 200 riders were stranded in the parking lot of the Assembly of God church in Marina, CA.  They were going to wait it out.  The church allowed them in to the sanctuary to seek refuge from the storm.  They said “this is what Jesus would do.”  They took up a collection to pay for cleaning up the mud tracked in by the riders and the church thanked them but said “If it’s ok with you we’re going to use this to help the homeless.”  For a community that has been marginalized and stigmatized and abused by the church as much as those the ride represents I thought “my God, somebody actually read the good book!”

Day 3 is Quadbuster.  It’s a bitch of a hill, mostly because of it’s appearance.  Mt. Diablo is harder.  Quadbuster is a little more than two miles with an average grade of 5.2% with a change of elevation of 591 feet.  It’s a Cat 3 hill.  Mt. Diablo has Cat 1 places and has over 1589 feet of climbing with an average of 6.9%.  Actually I just figured out why I did better this year.  I didn’t train as much but I trained a lot on Mt. Diablo.

Day 4 is the Evil Twins and the “Halfway to LA” stop.  I took a picture up there last year when it was socked in.   This year it was clear as a bell up there.  My phone was dead so I couldn’t get a picture so I didn’t wait in line to take one.  HOWEVER, I did notice that behind the drop of rocks and scenery just beyond was to gorgeous Pacific Ocean.  One problem.  When we approached it, the ocean was on our left.  I turned to another rider and said “Did anyone notice that we’re heading to LA but the ocean is on our left?”  I think I’m the only one that gets that.

Day 5.  Tragic.  On every level.  It’s Red Dress day.  Originally it was Red Day but this crew just can’t leave anything alone.  The original idea was as we came down the Pass it would be a red ribbon symbolizing the fight against AIDS.  That lasted about 15 minutes.  One of the top fundraisers is a Doctor in San Francisco.  This year he had platform stilettos.  And cleats attached to the bottom.  He has his bike shop give him the specific adjustments to move the seat so that he can ride the 42 miles without hurting himself and the bike remains fitted perfectly.   The good Doctor raised over $40k this year and over the years he is just short of having personally raised $250,000 in the fight against AIDS.  I wish I could find a picture of this year’s stiletto’s, it was amazing.  He’s amazing.  As an aside, the ride used to go through Solvang but because of Red Dress Day the holier than thou community of Solvang declined the permit.  Solvang is permanently off my travel log.  And I will never ride a century in Solvang.  So there.

My dress choice was pure trailer trash.  I got it off the sale rack at the K-Mart at the end of the block.  I even left the tag on.  Riders would go by and say “Your tag is still on.” and I would say “I’m going to take it back to K-Mart after today”.

Unfortunately, I thought I reached all of my back with sunscreen.  Notsomuch.  You can see the sunscreen worked fine on the front.  And I got the Y at the top of the sports bra on the back too.  And as much as I could reach.  I didn’t realized I couldn’t reach it all or I would have asked for help.  I ended up with a second degree sunburn on two kidney shaped spots on my back.  I didn’t notice until Day 6 when I pulled off that sports bra and the blisters started bursting.  Back to medical.  At first they were like “you big baby, go sit over there.”  And then when I pulled up my shirt she said “Oh honey, let me get a Doctor.”  I couldn’t see it because there’s no mirrors on the ride, thankfully.  They put antibiotic cream and aloe vera on it and had me come back the next morning.  The guy the next morning was a Doctor.  I told them that the evening crew said to come see him in the morning.  I pulled up my shirt and he said “Oh honey! Let me get some gauze.”  He put non-stick gauze all along the straps of the sports bra and it did great for Day 7.

Day 6 is my favorite day.  We leave Lompoc (pronounced Laum-poke BTW) and head over the Gaviota Pass into Santa Barbara.  They changed the route this year and quite honestly, I liked it better.  The ocean is on our right for the bulk of the day.  It’s just a day that makes me very happy.  This year was even better, the sun was out.  It was the kind of perfect Santa Barbara day that lures in tourists to move there.  There’s only one day like this in the month of June and we hit it.  And it was glorious.  The boys from Rest Stop 4 have a dance party on the beach in Carpinteria and the City of Santa Barbara all comes out and creates Paradise Pit where they serve us McConnells ice cream, cookies, play music and let us wash our hands with real water instead of the sanitization system we have to use on the ride.  I love Day 6.

Day 7 we bust into LA about as quickly as we can.  Our legs are dead but we find a way.  Malibu was clear and sunny this year.  It was good and bad.  Good in that it was a gorgeous day, bad in that the beach was full of people which meant we were dodging people, children, dogs, surfboards, car doors and a host of other unexpected hazards. Still, I didn’t notice Cher’s home last year.  This year as I rolled past it I thought, “what a spectacular property” just as a guy passed me and said “Do you know who’s house that is?”  “Nope”  It’s Cher’s.  Oh, no wonder.

I made my $5000 goal.  Thank you for your support.  And yeah, sorry bro, I signed up to do this bullshit again.

I said stand or deliver or the devil he may take ya

Good morning Kittens!  I’ve missed you.  Have you missed me?  I’ve missed me too.  So pull up your big boy pants and lets get on with it.

Things that piss me off.  Oh why the hell not?

The hottest viral video on the internets right now.  It’s long, 10 minutes.  Totally worth it.

Now I’ve never watched MTV’s X Effect or whatever it was and I have no idea who this guy was, but he built a life for himself with someone he wanted to be with.  It’s America.  That’s his choice in spite of what the idiots in North Carolina have to say.  Or the idiots in my own state.  When I’m dead and gone, and God is good and I get my job assigning hot seats in hell, Tom Bridegroom’s mother, father and uncle will get prime seats.  In hell.

I’m sure he was doing ok, he had an MTV gig, ridiculously handsome and talented.  So his mom flies out less than 24 hours after the accident to ask about his bank accounts and goes through his stuff taking everything she wanted?  Yeah, you didn’t have a right to do that.   Your seat is in the front row.

Multi-use paths.  This is a whole category that I’ve been holding back on for years.  Years.

Here’s the deal.  There’s really only a few safe ways out of my neighborhood down to places where there are bike lanes and places to go train.  I have to take the Contra Costa Canal Trail to get there.  It’s a multi-use trail.  That means there are multiple uses.  That doesn’t mean some asshat gets to take up the whole freaking trail.  Multi-goddamn-use.  What pisses me off about this?  Families of five walking five abreast.  Get the hell out of the way.  Runners running down the middle with earphones on so they can’t hear you say “passing on your left”.  People with children on bikes with training wheels.  Teach your little snot to stay to the right.  It ain’t that freaking hard.  People with flexi-leads on their dogs.

Now flexi leads just piss me off anyway.  Your dog should be walking at heel.  Period.  There is no reason for a 10-20 foot lead in public.  That’s how bad shit happens.  You don’t have control of your dog like that.  How many times have a seen people unwinding tangled flexi-leads when their dog met another dog on the street and they did that dance and got tangled up.  Yeah, like that.  I have a flexi-lead.  I use it at the dog training club when I have a new dog that might not do the recall properly.  I never walk them with that.  They are walked on a 6 foot leather lead.  Period.  If that wasn’t enough my friend Ron had one of his puppies on a flexi-lead at the vets.  His wife was in the vets with the other three puppies.  She asked Ron to take Pepe outside because she thought he had to go.  The flexi-lead handle slipped out of Ron’s hand, The plastic casing hitting the pavement spooked Pepe and he ran into traffic and was hit by a Bronco.  He was a little dog.  Ron scooped him up immediately and ran back into the vet but Pepe died on the examine table.  I hate flexi-leads unless they are used for training purposes in a controlled environment.

Yesterday I am riding down the trail and there’s a woman jogger with two large dogs both on flexi-leads.  I yell “passing on your left” and she makes some cursory effort to nudge the dogs over to the right.  The flexi-lead does not retract.  Then the big one lunges to the left in front of me.  For the visual, this puts the dog on my left and her on my right and the flexi in the middle now, basically so I can be clotheslined.  I make evasive action and pass on the left in the dirt.  She says “sorry he saw a squirrel”.  SORRY HE SAW A SQUIRREL?  You ignorant bitch.  You didn’t handle your dogs and I’m down hoping that you aren’t so ignorant as to be able to dial 911.  It was all I could do to control myself enough to say “It doesn’t matter what he saw I’m down” and keep on riding.  I wanted to get off the bike walk back and punch her in the face.

Speaking of riding, I’m spending a lot more time in the saddle now.  The ride is now 22 days away.  I need your support.  Here’s the link.  Please donate to my ride.

Our training ride last weekend took us through not one but two Art and Wine festivals.  One in Clayton and another in Livermore.  That was interesting.  Speaking of interesting there is actually a powerlifting meet in my backyard next weekend.  Seriously.  The first time since 2002.  I hope with all of this cycling I don’t embarrass myself.  The meet is on the 19th and then I will stop weightlifting until after the ride.  The goal is to get my butt in the saddle six days a week until it’s time to leave, alternating 30-40 miles with just an hour or hour and a half of flat recovery.  And a ton of stretching.

As far as that selling real estate thing, it’s catching on, which is why PBE has been suffering.  I’m sorry.  After five years of hell I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  I’ve been able to keep my mortgage current for the last three months now.  That’s a happy time.  But they now treat me like cold crap.  A couple of months ago the little twit that was assigned to my account said to me “We’ve been chasing you around on this account every month since we acquired it.”  They bought it from Bank of America last year.  “Well, if you had looked at the history you would have known that this was going to happen.  I’m not the idiot that bought this account, you are.  So shut the hell up about it and quit calling me.  Nobody hid the payment history from you.”

The payment is due on the 1st and they are harassing me on the 2nd if they don’t have it.  So I just come back at them.  Where’s my modification?  It’s past due.   They are not fun phone calls for anyone.  They are past the timeline according to the HAFA rules now so the next time they call me I’m going to threaten them with a call to my Congressman.  They hate that one.

Wiedersein.

And we gonna make you lose your mind

I’m sorry.

I lost control of everything.  That is all.

So here’s an update and some bon mots and cheap shots.  Ready.  Set.  Go.

Last we heard, my all time favorite rescue Prescott had a massive heart attack and dropped dead in his home.  Well it never ends there.

Back in the middle of March I was supposed to drive down to the Harris Ranch and meet a transport that had a Doberman from Bakersfield.  My job was to take this dog to Cottage Kennel here in Concord where another driver would come down, pick him up and take him up to the rescue in Red Bluff.   Yeah, that didn’t happen.

I got to Harris Ranch and the driver says “I know this isn’t a Doberman, what should we do?”  I’m looking at a ridiculously emaciated German Shorthaired Pointer.  Not everyone would recognize these dogs but Parker is a GSP and I saw Parker in this dog.  The other drive said “They were going to put him down today, I just took him.  I can’t keep him.  I will take him back and put him down if you want me to.”  The people who pay to board at Cottage are Doberman people, not GSP people.  I would be picking up the the tab myself.  And then he would just get three hots and a cot at the rescue which is packed with dogs, not a ton of love and sent to the bridge.

I’m looking at this severely emaciated creature.  At the very least I could give him a couple of decent meals before I sent him to the bridge.  So, yeah, I took him home.

He’d been a stray, but at the end of the day, he’s one of God’s creatures.  So I took the little tick infested piece of shit home.  Meet Sport.

Hey thanks for the ride lady!

He turned out to be a very nice little dog.  I talked to some friends and it so happened that a friend from Oregon who does medical fostering was in St. Helena last week.  She came by, checked him out and decided she could help him.  So no, I don’t have five dogs.  Sport is up in Oregon now.   By the time he left the ticks were gone, he was on antibiotics for a urinary infection and his dry crusty nose was wet and supple again.

Now I’m sure you’re all missing my rants on the GOP clown car.  But to me it was getting a little old.  The Brother got it right when he said you can’t tell the difference between the real headlines and the Onion any more.

Eric Fehrnstrom, which sounds a lot like fire storm probably walked out of that interview thinking “Did I say that out loud?”  Yeah, you did.  ROMNEY IS A FLIP FLOPPER!! SEEE!!!! EVEN HIS OWN GUY SAYS SO!

OK, you assholes.  If people didn’t evolve in their thinking, we would still have slavery.  Women would not vote.  Santorum himself has changed his positions with the wind.  So STFU.  It’s not flip flopping, it’s adapting to public sentiment which is how you get elected.  Santorum has done it.  Gingrich has done it.  Paul has done it.  They all do it.  And sit there and tell me that your thinking has never evolved on a single subject.  I thought not.

We need someone tough in the White House.  Someone who has the balls to take out the head of Al Quaida.  What?  Obama already did that?  OK, well we need someone who has the business sense to turn this economy around.  What?  Obama already did that?  OK, we need someone who will bring home our troops from Afghanistan!  What?  Obama already did that?  What the hell?

And now that I know what Jelly Belly is all about, Sport Beans are off my training rides.  That’s fine.  Clif makes products that work and an old high school friend married the owner.  I feel better about Shotbloks these days.

Speaking of riding, my AIDS/Lifecycle is coming up again.  I am woefully behind in fund raising.  And training.  I’ve finally started doing hill work on Mt. Diablo again.  And I did 3 Bears yesterday.  If you can throw a few ducats my way, that would really help.

 

 

 

 

I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone

I’m a little behind here. It’s really time for my annual Black Friday outrage post, but it’s already World AIDS Day.

World AIDS day means that it’s a year later and there is no cure. It means another 50,000 Americans were infected with the virus last year. It means the pandemic rages on in sub-Saharan Africa.

I was listening to NPR the other morning and they were talking about how HIV works. I can’t find the article on their website to link back but the Dr. they were interviewing was talking about how it’s a three pronged issue. Prevention. Vaccination. Management.

There is a lot of different places for money to have to go with that scenario. He was saying that basically if a patient in sub-Saharan Africa could be taking the current treatment and miss a week and end up with full blown AIDS in as little as a week.  Apparently the virus is so prolific that it adapts and mutates that quickly.

Currently 20% of the people in the US who have AIDS don’t know their status.  Really.

And here we go…I’m riding the AIDS/Lifecycle again this year.

It was Day 4 last year.  The speaker in the mess tent was talking about how some of us would only ride that year and others would ride until there was a cure.  He talked about how it didn’t matter what category you fell in to that this Ride will have changed your life.  At the end of Day 4 the Ride had changed my ass too.  There wasn’t enough chamois cream in the world, I’d been to the medical unit’s “Butt Clinic” twice by then and I really wanted a hot bath.

I thought “I’m a one and out” to myself.  Then my cycling rep Russ came and sat down next to me.  He started talking about the Ride and how much he loved the Ride.  Russ is the guy whose daughter saved the motorcyclist’s life only to find out he was HIV+.  Russ rambled on for a while about the importance of the Ride and his love for everyone that was out there.  And then he got up and left.

Being on a bike for 8 hours a day gives you plenty of time to think, although Day 5 was the short day.  40 miles.  Red dresses.  By the end of Day 5 I knew I wasn’t a one and outter at all.

I’m in.

I’m in for all the same reasons as I was last year.  The December Project last year was pretty awesome, but I’m not doing anything like that this year.  I’ll think of something else interesting.  I don’t know what it’s going to be.

The December Project woefully overlooked an amazing woman, a firebrand and a powerful advocate against AIDS.

This year’s ride will be dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor.  Since her passing last March I’ve been on an Elizabeth Taylor film festival.  I don’t have that much time to watch movies, but I’ve been working my way through all of them.  Current favorite is Reflections in a Golden Eye with The Sandpiper as a close runner up.  But more importantly she founded amfAR.  That matters.

Good on Alicia Keys for stepping up big time.  She’s all over Twitter this morning.

Click here to support my ride.

As always, thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

The cheese stands alone

I’m sure all of you who have television saw the original of this.  I think he looks terrible in that video.  Actually, I think he’s looked bad for a while now, bad like he’s-going-to-drop-dead-at-any-minute-bad.  I hope he doesn’t, at this point he’s kind of the heart of the Democratic Party, the only guy who remembers how to get anything done.  I can’t even begin to understand what happened to the Republican Party.  They have clearly forgotten about the separation of church and state, which while not in the Constitution, was clearly the intent of the founding fathers.  (Do your homework).  I reject the cultural and social conservativism they are spewing forth at this point.  And for what it’s worth, we aren’t going to cut our way out of this mess, we have to grow our way out.  I swear to God I hear one more teabagger spew a bunch of numbers at me about how the government doesn’t create jobs the private sector does I am going to scream at them to dismantle the military industrial complex and call me when they’re done.  There.  I just got rid of a bunch of government jobs you ignorant assholes.  Where do the masses turn for work in tough times?  They join the military you idiots.  But I digress.

I’m actually here today to talk about cheese.

After I read the article about Clinton’s new vegan diet and how he’d lost 20 pounds and was in better shape than he’d been in years, I thought about maybe it was time for me to think about heading back that way.  I was a vegetarian for years.  I quit because I wasn’t getting enough protein.  I feel better now than I did then.  Could I get the protein up high enough to make it work?  It would certainly be better for me.  I’m getting to be in a little better shape.  The cycling is doing that.  I’m getting ready to compete in powerlifting again.  I laid off last year but I’m ready to go again.  Processing….processing….

I went to the google.  Vegan bodybuilding diet.  Pretty similar to what I would have to do.  There’s those crazy Brits.  That looks complicated.  Robert Cheeke is a vegan bodybuilder, what does that guy eat?  That’s doable.  And no where does it say I have to stop drinking wine or beer.  That’s a plus.  But one of the fundamentals of vegan is no cheese.  They have substitute soy based cheese that tastes like ass.  I hate substitute anything.  Veggie burgers chap my hide.  Although I was watching an older True Blood last night and Lafayette comes out and delivers Jesus his meal as he announces “I had to see who ordered the veggie burger with bacon.”  Which is kind of how I feel about veggie burgers.  Always have.  And substitute cheese.

I could work around those two issues, but then I thought about my big grill out back.  And how amazingly excellent the pork chops with the orange chipotle glaze were last night.   Sure I can could vegetables on the grill.  I grilled corn on the cob last night too.  Asparagus earlier in the week.  But I would miss the occasional pork chop.  I have mastered chicken breast.  I would miss that.  I would definitely miss tri-tip.  I got a perfect tri-tip from of all places Safeway last week.  Safeway should have perfect tri-tips since they are the first ones to ever put one on the grill and cross cut it.  I would miss my grill.

Could I go without eggs?  I do an omelette or scrambled eggs a couple of times a week.  I use one egg and three or four whites.  I would miss that.  I’d have to make cookies without eggs, those usually taste like the bottom of my boot.  We’re not winning here.

Then there’s cheese.  That was the back breaker.  I love artisan cheese.  I love the Cowgirl Creamery.  I love the little farms in Sonoma that make little bits of amazing cheese.  I love goat milk cheese.  As a matter of fact, from Wednesday to Friday of last week, I’d been living cheese and crackers or bread for dinner.  I could not survive without cheese.  Wine requires cheese.  Beer requires cheese.  My life requires cheese.   The idea of a vegan red velvet cupcake with substitute cream cheese icing was painful.

That was it.  Off the table.  Well, not completely.  I found this website in my travels last night.  There are some amazing little recipes on there and I will certainly try some of them out.  I think it would be ok to add some vegan meals into my repertoire and I’m going to do that.  I do love beans in almost all forms.  I eat more in the winter than the summer and that seems like a good plan.  But I can go all in for all the reason stated above.  And right now I don’t have to, my latest cholesterol test with the blood bank came back at 153.  I’m good.

I met a gal at a wine event last week, which I will talk about in a day or so, but this is time sensitive.  She told me about Cold Soup Week.  What?  Yeah, it’s a social media thing, but conceptually it is very interesting.  She knows Chef White so it makes it more interesting.  And I’m going to try a couple of these this week.

And now Tiffany, the news.

I won’t argue with myself, today my legs are gettin’ some hell

And now, the Ride.

Day 1 we rode from the Cow Palace to Santa Cruz. Quite honestly if not for the weather this ride just wasn’t bad. We were jacked up on the coast for about an hour because the road was only one way and controlled by a long light, but it really wasn’t bad. This is a little older route, but is very close to what we did.



The hill profile is almost identical to what we did, so about 2500 feet of climbing. The real route was 82.5 miles. The computer didn’t save my ride time on that one, or rather it did and then erased it. It was right around 8 hours in the saddle.

Day 2 was a slice of Kentucky Fried Hell from Santa Cruz to King City. 106.7 miles of it to be sure. Everyone said we were on probation from Santa Cruz to ride perfectly to all the rules. It was actually the Town of Aptos that got their panties in a bunch over a couple of guys riding abreast through an intersection. The Santa Cruz CHP were pushing their weight around and threatening this that and the other prior to issuing the permit. The Brother nailed it when he said “Jerry needs to call the CHP up, remind them that he took all the government funding for these organizations and this is the only way they can provide the essential services they do, so, STFU.” Word. We all rode out of Santa Cruz like little angels. Deep inside my dark heart I was giving the CHP the finger.

Time in the saddle 9:18. 11.2 mph. Average heart rate 115.



Day 3 was like a death march. It was a really fun day though. It featured Quadbuster, the first of the named climbs. I think as a ride any day it’s not as hard as Diablo. However after 200 miles in the previous two days 2 miles of a 5.2% grade seems soulbusting. I also think it’s press is worse than the actual hill, but once again when your legs are spent and you haven’t gotten any real rest, climbing sucks.

Time in the saddle: 5:39 10.4 mph average heart rate 113.



By the time we got to Day 4, my ass was done. Literally. The rest of me was ok to carry on but my ass had had it. At lunch I went to the medical tent and they put this tape stuff on me, only after advising me that there was no shame in sagging in. There is shame in sagging in. So I got back on my trusty steed and put another 15 miles in, but by then the tape wasn’t where he put it and the pain was off the hook. I sagged in at 61 miles. This is the only day I didn’t ride every mile and I’m still pissed off about it. I did ride the Evil Twins which are the two spikes in the beginning of the day. Like every nasty hill in this ride, Ginger Brewlay was waiting for us at the time.

Time in the saddle 5:50. 10.4 mph average heart rate 107.



Day 5 was Red Dress Day. There are questions about the origination of Red Dress Day, but suffice it to say, Red Dress Day isn’t pretty at all. The good news, it’s the recovery ride. I got my ass taped up in the medical tent before we left and had no problems, finishing the day in, well, some pretty ugly style.

Time in the saddle 4:11. 9.9 mph (obviously tired) and average heart rate of 107.



Day 6 features another shitty climb that they haven’t named yet. I think they should leave that task to Ginger. It also features a long ride along the coast. At this point everybody is in a little better shape. We all got into camp around 1pm the day before and got some rest. The hate that filled my heart on Day 4 was gone. Day 5 had been a lot of fun and I was ready to ride again. We opened the day climbing the Gaviota pass, which is a fine good morning. It was overcast and the down hill was downright chilly. This is the day with the cinnamon rolls and Paradise Pit. The roadies did their best to get us to not screw around and get into camp but we couldn’t help ourselves. We had to ride on the 101 at several points during this ride. This day there was a narrow bridge and they actually closed one lane of the 101 for 3 1/2 hours. We had to get our asses past there by 1pm. I was through around 11am. Lunch was in Santa Barbara up at Tuckers Grove, then there was another rest stop at Ledbetter. That did not discourage us from yet another stop at Paradise pit at the corner of East Cabrillo and Channel. Or the dance party at Carpinteria State beach. I almost missed dinner I got in so late, but I always came in mid-pack. Day 6 is a long day because besides the 85.5 miles of climbing, it is the final night in camp. There is a candlelight vigil on the beach that night. It’s interesting what you reflect on. My conscience reminded me that the last time I saw Bill was at Ventura General. And I was now in Ventura and the first candlelight vigil I’d been to since 1984. Did that mean anything at all? I don’t know.

Time in the saddle 7:57. Average mph 10.8. Average heart rate 111.



Day 7 I can’t remember ever being so happy to get on my bike and ride. I knew we are almost there and I couldn’t wait to put this bitch to bed. The air was electric in spite of the fog so thick it was raining. The first part of the ride was uneventful through the strawberry fields of Oxnard, then Port Hueneme and Point Mugu. Then we rolled into Malibu. We were warned to watch car doors. Lots of people getting in and out of cars and in spite of 2361 cyclists rolling through, which really you can’t miss us, they would still do stupid stuff. I saw an actor I recognized with his surfboard on the north part of the beach but I can’t remember his name. I thought he was in Clerks, but that’s not it. He does independent films and I’ll figure it out eventually. Not Jason Lee but close. Of course there was one last soul crushing hill on Gretna Green and then it was a stroll into the VA Center. The streets in LA were lined with well wishers. It was pretty awesome.

Time in the saddle 5:46. 10.8 mph average heart rate 107.



Today? Mt. Diablo. It was clear to me that I need to pick up 3 or 4 mph on my average. That gets me in an hour earlier on some of these rides. There are two components to that. 1) drop tonnage. 2) get stronger. I’ve been reading that spin class is good for picking up strength and ultimately speed because there is no coasting or stop signs, straight pushing for an hour. So I’m going to hit at least 2 spin classes every week whether I go outside or not. I am down 15lbs from when I started this, I just need to keep that rolling in that direction. One of the things I’m not sure about is if I should have pushed harder out there. My average heart rate was pretty low on the ride. I thought it should have been around 124, but then I wondered if at that rate would I have blown up my legs on day 2? I’ll have to do some research on that one.

There’s no way we could disguise it

Jackassery, party of twenty three hundred and sixty one, your table is ready.

When I decided to do the AIDS/Lifecycle, I didn’t really think it out.  I’m famous for not thinking things through in the beginning.  I really didn’t think about 1) what it entailed 2) what it would be like.  For instance, I knew it was 545 miles.  I knew we had to ride 70 per day on the average.  I didn’t put together that it meant ride 84, then 106 the next day, then 66 the next day, then 98 the next day and then have a 40 mile recovery ride followed by 85 and 65.  The gravity of that was lost on me until late the night of Day 3.   That’s when I woke up in this little tent in the middle of the night freaking out, in a full panic attack.  Except it was a million o’clock in the morning and it was cold out there.  And I had a tentmate who may or may not have been amused by my mini-meltdown.  I unzipped the little tent window quiet like a mouse and stuck my head out to get some fresh air.  Then I told myself that it was just a bike ride and to calm down that 3100 other people were sleeping peacefully in these little tents and so could I.  And I did.  From that point on, my tentmate MacGyver, as I affectionately referred to him, kept the tent windows open at night and the mosquito screens closed.

One of the things I didn’t realize was all of the rich tradition that comes with this ride.

There’s Red Dress day…OK there is RED DRESS DAY.

And apparently all of the Rest Stops have themes.

Conceptually, it’s brilliant.  You have all of these riders who are getting their asses handed to them by the terrain of the State of California and you have to keep them going.  The best way?  Keep’em laughing.

Rest Stops are staffed by Roadies.  Roadies handle breakfast and dinner at camp, the gear trucks, all the medical needs, the set up and break down of the amazing tent city that’s assembled six times in a row and a plethora of tasks.  Logistically speaking this ride was a thing of beauty.  Apparently it was originally designed by an ex-military guy who was accustomed to moving large groups of people flawlessly.  I’m sure there are hitches we didn’t see, but what we did see was perfection.

The breakfast team was more often than not in some sort of pajama theme.  I remember kitty cats one morning.  They served up a hot meal every morning with more food than I could imagine.  And the food was good.  It wasn’t four star dining but they had trays of oatmeal that wasn’t lumpy.  Generally an egg dish, meat, a carb and some other stuff.  Dinner was never dry or over cooked.  It wasn’t Bradley Ogden but it wasn’t Pelican Bay food either.  But the rest stops….

I didn’t pick up what was going on right away on the first day.  As a matter of fact, I can’t even remember what the Day One themes were until we got to Rest Stop 4.  The Rest Stop 4 team were out of their minds.  As we approached there were Burma shave signs on the roadway.  And the Rest Stop was staffed by lumberjacks.  As the week progressed the themes included Candyland, Scouts gone bad complete with merit badges, one was a Carnival.

There was the Jazzercise studio.  That one was a trainwreck from beginning to end.

They even had a stage and were leading the riders in stretching routines.  That was the thing, they found fun ways to get us to do what we needed to do.  That was on Day Three which is the hottest day.  My eyes had glommed up and I had to visit medical to get them irrigated.  And my contacts cleaned.  It was hard laying still while having saline poured through your eyes with a Jazzercise drag stretching show went on at the foot of your cot.

Then there was the Mary Kay booth.

Beauty is subjective.  Can you guess which one is the real woman?

We had just come up a terrible hill and the Rest Stop 2 team with their Mary Kay theme awaited us.  It sure took the edge off of everything.

Then there was Zombieland.  They had a zombie Jesus.  And blood everywhere.

Then there was the Flintstones.  Gone wrong.

Very wrong.  I don’t know how BamBam didn’t end up in that picture, he was hilarious.  By the time we got to Day Seven everybody was pretty much done and everything had calmed down a little.  A little.  Rest Stop 2 did a theme of “Where ya from?”  They had big pieces of cardboard tacked up everywhere and Sharpies laying around so you could write down where you were from.  They were on all of the portapotties and at all of the tables.  And on the Powerade buckets.  The Powerade isn’t referred to as Tropical Punch and Mountain Blast.  It’s red and blue.  And even the Powerade had a story to tell.

And then there were the Gear Trucks.  The way they work is that 100 participants are assigned to each truck.  It’s a Budget box truck.  There’s a crew there to load your gear and give you your tent at night.  They take your tent in the morning and your gear in the morning.  They had themes too.  The first day my gear truck, which was the funniest of all of them, had Sweet Child of Mine blasting because it was hair band day.  The next day Girls Just Want to Have Fun because it was 80’s day.  Then on Day 5 I was headed to the portapotties and I could hear Dueling Banjos in the background.  That just couldn’t be good.  Could it?

No, it wasn’t good.  The gal in front got to the bottom of the ramp and exclaimed “Sweet Baby Jesus, I went down to the Walmart and they wanted $15 dollars and I only had $10 dollars!”  And then when someone walked by with two hefty garbage bags full of who knows what announced “There’s my luggage!”  Mullets abound as it was Tornado Acres Trailer Park day at the gear trucks.

But the best Rest Stop all week was the 10th Anniversary dance party on Carpinteria State Beach.  And it was the Rest Stop 4 crew.