Thursday, August 31, 2006

Team Fortress 2

I can't wait... look what's on the horizon.

I can see some league play in the future...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wine Tour

The Willamette Valley, the river that runs north/south here into the Columbia, is very fertile land.  I guess some ungodly amount of the United States grass seed is grown here.  Plus grapes.  Lots of em.  Including this finicky one called the Pinot Noir.  What do I know though?  I'm a beer conisseour not a wine one.  In fact this was my first time.  Yes.  A virgin.

So we had to get up this morning at like 5 am to drive an hour south to Salem, OR for a wine tasting tour by bicycle.  Cool idea eh?  Heidi actually set it up (even cooler) and she's been training for it all summer.  She's been saying the whole time "30 miles, I have to get ready to ride 30 miles".  I guess they usually have a long and a short route.  I never bothered to go to the website and check.  So when she picks up the regstration packet I start reading and the short route is 45 miles!  And she only starting riding a bike this year!  Her longest ride was the bridge pedal two weeks ago at 26 miles.  This is almost double!  I'm thinking "Wholly sh*t.  She's going to die out there."  But I just try and play it cool so it doesn't freak her out.  I can tell she's a little worried though but she always tries to make the best of it.  And for that well... I'm here aren't I?

Anyway, there were quite alot of people there today.  180+ in fact.  I was actually surprised at the number of tandems.  Pretty cool.

The short route basically was and out and back.  Out to 1 winery and back to the starting winery.  We tasted some wine and I had Heidi all faked out thinking I'd done it before.  When we got back to the starting winery and did our second tasting I told her this was my first time and she was all surprised.  Anyway there just all sour grapes right?

They had 2 water stops plus served lunch at the 1st winery.  At the finish they served a whole BBQ and more wine.  This was top notch food too.  All very good and all this for just $65 bucks.  Not bad.

So how'd Heidi do?  Well after a lot of mental struggling throughout the day.  We kind of thought I should ride ahead and get the truck and come back for her.  At the first winery we were at 22 miles.  She started faltering a little though.  The hill climbs were taking their toll and it was hot.  High 90's.  She was getting baked going 3-4 mph up some of the hills with the sun beating down and the pavement reflecting that heat back up.  I bet it was 100+.  I felt really bad for her.  Anway we decided to take it in steps.  I would also ride in front so she could draft.  This was her first time doing that and she did it very well.  I had to keep looking back in case she fell off to slow down but I think it went well.  Anway she made it to 30 miles no problem.  So she thought, "Let's just try and see how far I can get."  So we start riding the 15 miles back.  At about 33 I thought she was cooked.  The heat.  The sweat.  The hills.  And she ended up walking, her first time ever, up 1 of the hills.  This was definately her "wall".  Well, she kept going.  After leaving at 8 am we rolled into the winery at 3 pm and she had completed a 45 mile ride.  Well done I must say.  There's alot of people out there who couldn't do that, nor wouldn't even attempt it, or would have bitched and moaned the whole way.  I can't say enough about how impressed I was.

Of course we can't stop there can we?  Next year we need to do the 70 miler because it adds an additional winery and a ferry ride across the Willamette.  She's in bed sleeping right now totally exhausted (it's 6:30 pm) - poor thing.  Maybe I should schedule it now and tell her it's only 45 miles...

Pics here.  I'm too tired to style this.

Good morning

Edit: This was supposed to be posted yesterday morning at like 6 am but since i've switched to the blogger beta things are a little peculiar...

Couldn't sleep this morning. Was up about an hour ago. Just got done playing the F.E.A.R. demo. I had goose bumps it was that scary. Very well done. Definately going to play the full version. I've been spending most of my summer playing Galactic Civilizations 2 (what little time I do spend on the PC(hey... it's summer after all)); ole fashioned turn-based strategy space epic. Only 3 games but they have been epic. Actually ranked 64th. My legs are trashed, mostly the thighs. 40 miles Wed. Went to the gym Thu with Heidi (first time since I've been here). 40 miles Fri. I must've overdone it at the gym because I can barely walk. Hopefully they'll be back to normal for the Wine tasting ride tomorrow. The meatloaf special at Cheesecake Factory last night made up for the pain though. Well that and the peice of Godiva chocolate cheesecake at home later!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Milwaukee named 'Drunkest City'

I see my old home town is now famous.  America's Drunkest City by  Nice. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Movie Review: Quills

Quills (2000) C+

Can't say I really knew much about the Marquis de Sade. Didn't know that's where the term sadism orginated... Had a good group of actors like Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix. I guess I was kind of in shock during the first 30 minutes from the sex and violence. One wonders whether early 1800s France was really so brutal and sexual. The story eventually got interesting but I still had that bad taste from the beginning... Heidi couldn't watch it because of the 2-3 rape scenes. You really get to see how bad women were treated all those years ago. I don't really see how the critics all loved it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Test your bandwidth.

How fast is your internet connection? Very cool Flash site for testing your bandwidth. Click on the image to test.

Portland Bridge Pedal - 2006

Portland Bridge Pedal 2006

Portland Bridges
Bridges of Portland
This past Sunday, Aug 13th, Heidi and I did the Portland Bridge Pedal. It's the second largest group ride in the country and over 18,000 riders were there. I guess only New York does a larger ride. The cool part about the ride going over the bridges. Since Portland lies on a river, the Willamette, and the city stretches out on both sides you have alot of bridges. Then there's also the Columbia that the Willamette tees into which adds even more. We did the 8-bridge, 26 mile ride (there was a 36 miler and a 15 miler). It was also a prep for the upcoming 30 miler for Heidi. We did the following bridges:
  1. Hawthorne
  2. Ross Island
  3. Marquam
  4. Burnside
  5. Broadway
  6. Fremont
  7. St. Johns
  8. Steel
The highlight was going over the Marquam, Fremont and St Johns bridges. The Marquam and Fremont are Interstates. They actually closed down the interstate for 4 hours Sunday morning so that 18,000 riders could pour over them. They also had tents setup on those bridges with bands playing, bike shops with mechanics, people taking pictures, etc... Heidi did well for her first time at this distance. Although she questioned it when we were in a headwind heading up to St. Johns which had a long flat ride to the north. This was a group ride, not a race, and most of the people were extremely nice. There were a few people riding like they thought they were in a race though. I girl, who should of been riding out to the left, was passing slower riders on the right. Came up behind Heidi on a hill climb and said "on your right". Now most beginners do not understand this yet. And many actually veer into the direction you call out. I've joked in the past with my friends that it's almost better not to call out the side you are passing on because that way the ride won't veer into your path. So anyway we were about 1/2 way up this hill climb. Heidi had a great cadence but she was starting to hurt abit. I was there just trying to support her and the other beginners riding slowly up the hill when this chick comes along. Heidi heard what she said and bobbled to the right. The chick goes again, "on your right, were you at?" and shrugs her shoulders as she was panting herself up the hill. Well I lit into her. "It's a group ride not a race! Ride to the right. These are beginners!" At least no profanities were said for the kids around. She didn't respond and kept going up the hill. A guy next to me goes "Thank you" to me. Anyway. Other than that it was a great ride.

Marquam Bridge
View of the Marquam Bridge (notice the tents and people on top) during the Bridge Pedal. Photo taken from the Ross Island Bridge.
Marquam Bridge Photo
Aww... look at the sweet couple atop Marquam
Video going over the Marquam Bridge

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Movie Review: The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard. Um. Worst movie ever. Don't waste your time. I like Sean William Scott too. Too bad.

Movie Review : U Turn

I watched U-Turn the other night and while is was bizarre, violent, and well just plain funny, movie; I liked it. The same, in my mind, as Pulp Fiction, which I commented on the other day. It was, In fact, less violent. Heidi did not watch it nor did she like it from overhearing the sound from the other room. I would bet that a great number of women probably don't like this movie but like Pulp Fiction. Is it Pulp Fictions' good marketing or what? I don't understand.

Hottest Day of the Year Ride

Last weekend, Aug 6th, we did a group ride called the Hottest Day of the Year Ride. 800 riders of varying levels all got together to do a ride for charity. It was the first one. It wasn't all that hot, maybe 80-85 degrees. Sun was out and it was a beautiful day. I guess they have a Coldest Day of the Year Ride as well which is where the name must come from. You could ride a 40 miler or a 15 miler. I did the 15 miler with Heidi. We used it as a prep ride for the upcoming 30 mile Winery Tour. (there's alot of wineries out here). It was fun to see so many people out and to get a chance to ride some streets and see some different areas of Portland. At the end of the ride you got a sundae (choice of ice cream, banana, crushed peanuts, strawberries, chocolate syrup, etc) and a squirt gun. Yea, everyone was standing around having a big squirt gun fight.

Starting Line
Starting Line
Make your sundae at the end of the ride. Or get a beer right there at the Rogue Brewery
Bike parking
Check out all the bikes! Bike parking at the end of the ride...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Perfect summer weather

Portland weather
Perfect summer weather in Portland.
It's hard to believe how great the weather is out here. When they said they get 3 months of great weather for July, August, and September they weren't kidding. It's got that San Diego, low humidity, perfect 72 degree weather feeling to it. It makes it great for for riding the morning 20 mile ride into work and then getting off at noon and taking my time to ride home...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Heidi's got me hooked on Rockstar Supernova. Reality show tryouts for a rock band. One of the people on there, Storm Large, is from here in Portland. She's actually pretty good. In fact, I think it's going to come down between her and the guy from Iceland. Although I think the guy from Iceland will win I think the band would do better to have a chick like Storm fronting their band. I guess she plays around here in a band called 'Storm Large and The Balls'. Last night she had a t-shirt on that said "Got Balls?". I wonder how many other people knew what she was referring to.

Also finished watched the 3rd season of the Soprano's last night. Awesome. I was watching the first few minutes of all the episodes because I remember that they eventually took out the twin towers from the start of the show and couldn't remember when. Turns out it was the last episode, 13, from season 3 that the twin towers finally disappeared from the intro. Just in case there is ever a question in Trivial Pursuit. Know we know...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Abandonware DOS Games

A co-worker passed this url along to me. This stuff brings back alot of memories. My Dad and I were just talking the other day about playing old games like Ascendancy, Master of Magic, Fields of Glory, Lords of the Realm, ... I could go on and on. I bet my Dad still has some of these on floppy...

Weekend Project - Picnic Table

built a table
I made a picnic table over the weekend. Inspired by Ryan's hot tub project, Heidi's comments about wanting a table for the deck, and knowning that if I screwed up as Ryan says, "cut a few boards wrong no big deal--about $10.00 worth of fire wood." About $75 worth of wolmanized wood and fasteners. 2 trips to the Home Depot (there's no Menards out here). 6 hours of labor; although I'd say 2 of it was figuring it out. The table top was easy. Then came the legs. I wanted them to criss-cross. So I looked it up on the net and found out about the lap joint. All I have is a circular saw. And I had no idea that you could lower the deck and use it to make those cuts. Of course it meant multiple passes (5.5 inches worth at about 1/4 inch per pass) so my forearms got a heck of a workout. That saw got alot of use considering the lap joint, 45 degree cuts for the table support, and all the normal cuts. Now we have a table that only I can lift cause it's heavy as hell. Ah well. It will last forever.

Enjoying the table with a little steak and wine

mmm... steak, mashed taters, and coleslaw

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oakridge XC Race - Sun July 27th 2006

Hills Creek Lake
Not sure if I mentioned this before but they've instituted 1/2 Summer Friday's at work (2nd one so far). So Heidi took a 1/2 off and we headed down to Oakridge, OR for my first XC MTB race. It took about 3 hours to get there. It's in the foothills of the Cascade Mtns southeast of Portland. We decided to do some camping too. Getting there Friday night was an adventure. There's been some really hot weather here lately. In fact the weekend ended up being a scorcher with Fri, Sat, and Sun all being just over or right near 100 degrees out. So Heidi picked a campsite on the water. That's another interesting story. There's really no natural lakes around here either. The way lakes get made is dams are built and then the water fills in the valley and they call it a reservoir. The other thing is that the water is cold. Ice cold. It's snow melt basically that pours down out of the mountains. So even though its like 95 degrees out the water is still cold and you can hardly stand it. Accept for the man-made lakes where it gets a least of fighting chance of warming up. But then again the weather never really gets too hot around here. So there you are, stuck in this loop of seasons.

Camping in the Pacific Northwest
Anyway, back to my train of thought. The campsite was on the opposite side of this man-made lake called Hills Creek Lake. Looking at the map we decided to go left around it. The road suddenly turned from 2 lane to 1 lane and then to gravel. We stopped and sure enough. The map had a dotted line for the road. I had the truck so screw it lets see where this leads. It was a pretty cool drive along the lake with the mountains looming up over it. The road was basically cut into the side like a single track trail. You could even see some parts that had been washed away in prior years.

Finally we got to the camp ground which was actually located on the river that fed the lake. So no swimming because it was shallow, cold, and rocky. It was nice to go to sleep each night and hear the water rushing over the rocks though. Like having a rapids in your backyard. That night was a scorcher and humid. And humidity is usually never part of the equation out here. Plus we forgot the mosquito spray. Heidi had a travel size one which we used to spray her down and I tried to rub off some of it onto my skin. Well that had little affect because they damn near carried me away and I was left itching for days afterwards.

Saturday I went to pre-ride the course. We had stopped at the bike store on Friday night to chat with the locals and since I had no idea where the trail head was I stopped in there. After getting directions, and meeting yet another guy from Wisconsin (Stevens Point), I headed out. The single track was cool to start with. It followed along this mountain river on the right. So as you were winding through single track you could hear the rush of water. The singletrack was very smooth. Not very tight so basically you could just blast through it. I prefer the tighter stuff with some technical obsticales like rocks or logs but this had none of that. I did hear later that other courses do. Anyway after that I slammed into the section they call The Wall. Basically 2 miles of a gravel climb to the top of the mountain... /sigh. Good god I had to walk a couple sections because I just couldnt breath anymore. I found out later that the climb was 2.25 miles over 1100 feet which means a grade of 13%. Ouch. Once at the top it dipped into some singletrack along the ridge which was cool and then blasted down some switchbacks along the side of the mountain. Now again, I hate to sound like a broken record here but why don't they make the single-track more fun? Blasting down the mountain you just took 30 minutes to climb is not fun. Needless to say I wasn't too excited. It shot me out onto some rode where I pretended like I was in the Tour de France and blasted down that an intersection. I had just done 11 miles in 1.5 hours and I didn't want to burn myself out. I also felt kind of lost so I called Heidi. She knew where I was and I was close to where I had started. It was basically a loop. Another .5 miles ride would've brought me back to where I started.

We went swimming later that day at Hills Creek Lake. Heidi got stung by a bee so I spent the afternoon killing any bees that approached. It was a little cooler that night and after we cooked up dinner (chicken and pasta sound familiar?) we had a campfire, some smores and went to sleep. Oh there was this strange noise, we lit the lantern and this huge beetle, like 2 inches, was flying around and then landed on the latern. When I poked it with a stick it made a loud sound so I squashed it... Later I'd wish I'd saved it and tried to identify it.

Race Director Course Tour
The race started that morning at 10 am. It wasn't to organized. The promoter led us around on the bikes to show us where we started and finished. The start had all of us take off in one mass group, Beginers, Sport, Singlespeed, all age groups. Then the Pro / Semi-Pro / Elite / Experts took off about 30 minutes after us. The race started about 10:30, 30 minutes late. A breakaway formed right from the start and I sat at the back of that. Once we hit the gravel road I couldn't hang as they were pushing a fast pace so I got caught in no mans land between the pack and the breakaway for about 1 mile. We hit that section of singletrack along the stream and I still couldn't catch my breath. I wasn't making up ground but not losing it either. I caught a couple guys and then a couple caught me. Then we hit the Wall. This time I tried to really focus on my breathing. Last time I think I mentally quit. I was able to get almost to the top but finally my legs and lower back were just burning so bad I had to stop. The heat was like a sauna. I heard later that a number of folks needed help. It was 95+ and the sun was beating on that climb. When I started walking I got passed by a few riders even though it was only about 100 feet of walking. 2 were women. Awesome. I also took a Clif Shot because I just didn't have any energy. The top of the Wall was at the one hour mark. Unknown to me I had ridden to high up the Wall the previous day. There was a white van with water about 375 feet short of the top and we (the sport / beginner class) were sent into a single track section there. The Pro guys had to go all the way up and also do a second lap (but only to our height the 2nd time). I grabbed a water from the van and dumped it over my head and entered the single track behind the 2nd girl that passed me. I remember thinking she was going to slow me down. Right. She took off. I was scared. Normally I have no problem with descents and can make up ground. Well this was different. basically the single-track was cut into the side of this mountain. It was like being on the side of a cliff with and endless drop. After a few minutes I settled down and started feeling good. Maybe it was the Clif Shot or maybe it was being out of the heat (or both) but I started really enjoying this section of singletrack. I was laughing out load and thinking how fun it was and if my old buddies back home could enjoy this. It was really different. Ferns, green trees, moss, everywhere. And once in awhile the single track would come out into the open and the view was amazing looking across these vast expanses to other mountain peaks. You felt like you were in the clouds. I was getting the flow of it. And starting to catch glimpses of other riders ahead. On a fast switchback descent I caught and passed two guys. It dumped us on some fireroad where I caught one of the girls. Then we hit that pavement section and I was really feeling the power return to my legs. The return leg was 2 miles of gravel, double-track type road with lots of ruts. Shitty riding basically. Great for my style. The girl that got away in the single track was stuggling up a short steep climb and I passed like she was standing still. I hammered it down the gravel and passed two more guys. I was all alone the last mile and just kept pounding into the finish. I ended up 8th. It was only 14 miles and just over an hour (1 hour 25 minutes) - I wonder if I would have done better had it been even longer. I think some of the end of the race was people popping and me feeling better. These are some things I think about to trying a 12 hour solo around here which the seem to have alot of.

Wow. Long story...

Chris Isaak Concert - Sun July 27th 2006

We raced back on Sunday to see Chris Isaak at the Portland Zoo. Hot day but great show.

I'm spent. Sorry for the lack of updates.