Sunday, August 12, 2007

Picasa Photo Albums

Lately, not a lot of blog activity, huh?

Well, we've found it's a lot easier to just upload photos with Picasa, and provide captions if we want to.

So, point your browser to our Picasa Web Album:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

My first criterium

Last Thursday, I entered my first on-pavement bike race. (Back when I was in Kentucky, I had raced mountain bikes some.)

The race was part of a series of races at Seward Park.

The race flyer is here:

A criterium is a short race on a short (generally less than a mile) loop. Usually the race is for some set period of time plus a couple of laps.

I raced the "A" race - the race for Category 4 and 5 racers.


We had been to Seward Park before. It's a pretty good-sized park, located on a peninsula on Lake Washington. Lake views abound - the scenery is fantastic. The weather was fine, too - about 65 and fairly sunny.

The race course is a 0.8 mile loop located at the top of the park. One end of the loop has a downward slope, and the other has an upward slope. There is one 140-degree hairpin curve.

Rebekah picked me up from work, and we loaded the bike on the car (I had ridden my "race bike" to work) and the whole family drove to the park and parked at the lot up by the course.

It was a nice area for kids. While I was getting situated - and trying to figure out how to get my number pinned on - Jacob was riding around the park sidewalks on his Big Wheel. It was cute to see him cruising around among all the serious racers and their high-end bicycles. (I was nervous that he was going to knock some $3k bike over on the sidewalk, but no incidents occurred.)

The race organizers offered a "first-timers" clinic, and I found it very helpful and pretty fun. About a dozen riders rode the clinic. First, we rode a few laps around the race course. This was to get us used to cornering at speed. Then, we concentrated on practicing the hairpin. We were taking the corner at around 17 mph. Once, I started pedaling halfway through, and my inside pedal struck the ground because I was leaned over so far. It wasn't a big deal; the back of the bike stepped out a bit, the rear tire grabbed again, and I continued on. I didn't realize that I had experienced pedal strike (for the first time) until after negotiating the turn.

While I was learning race skills, Stan was enjoying the swings.

As soon as the clinic was over, it was time to race. Here's a picture of us at the start. I'm on the right a few rows back in a yellow jersey and blue helmet:
The picture doesn't really capture the size of the field. There were a LOT of riders!

I had tried to prepare myself as much as possible by reading "your first crit" internet articles and getting advice from those who had raced. So I was thinking:

Dont get dropped.

Hold your line.

Stay at the front of the pack; avoid the "accordian effect"

The pace will vary - might start off fast, slow down, go fast again.


So, I decided that my objective was to finish with the main pack of riders and try to learn what I could of race tactics. Tactics are key in road bike racing - not so much in mountain bike racing. On a mountain bike, your adversary is the course. Your level of fitness and skill at navigating the path determine how you place. On a road bike, the concept of drafting results in a need for race strategy, and the other racers become your adversaries. "Drafting", or riding behind another rider, your power requirements is decreased by up to 40%. The typical race strategy is to draft in the pack as much as possible the entire race, and save all your energy for a sprint across the line ahead of your adversaries at the finish. Sounds simple, but it's what everybody is trying to do, so it's not that easy.

There was no gun going off or starting bell. We were just told, "okay, go!" and we went. I was trying to get up in the pack quickly, but the fellow in front of me was stumbling with his pedal. In a second, he figured it out, and we got going.

A typical loop was like this: We started on a fairly straight and nearly flat section. Hard acceleration to get up to speed (mid-20's). Then an inexplicable slowing of the pack for a slight right-hand bend, and the course dipped downwards. We rocketed down to a tighter right-hand bend. Slight feathering of the brakes to keep from running into the rider in front while negotiating the turn (about 30 mph), then fairly hard acceleration out of the turn and across a wide flat stretch. We roared across the flat stretch and hit the uphill. As the course turned upwards, the lead riders slowed before the rest of the pack, making the whole pack stack up and spread out across the hill. We worked our way up the hill. Speed was moderate, effort was substantial but not extreme. I generally rode the hill seated, in the large chainring. At the top of the hill, the hairpin turn. We took the turn very slowly each time - the clinic skills were wasted. Then it was back to the straightaway. Lather, rinse, repeat... for a half an hour.

In the end, the best advice was from my buddy from work who also rode the race with me. "It's like a Tuesday night ride," he said. And he was right. The intensity was manageable. I fulfilled my goal of staying with the pack. Rebekah said I was about 1/3 back in the pack at the finish.

Entering the race, I was afraid that I wouldn't have the fitness needed to hang on and that I'd be off the back of the pack within a couple of laps. Instead, I felt that my fitness was adequate, but that I need to learn more racing skills, and that I need to relax more on the bike.

Here's a Jewish (?) guy watching us climb the hill.

Seattle Public Library

Hmm, there's probably a more efficient way to post tons of pictures...
Anyway, here's some other pictures of the library:

They had a sort of conference room area where all the walls were red. Also, unusual, organic curves were used on the ceiling and floor.

Here's the floor in one of the rooms. Look closely.

Lots of escalators to get around, and lots of interesting use of solid colors.

Seattle Public Library

We saw an article in World Magazine about the Seattle Public Library, so we decided to "check it out". (HAW!)

Anyway, it's a very interesting structure with a lot of neat design inside. Here are a few photos of the (very large) children's area:

Where's Waldo... I mean, Stan...?

Playing together

Stan is getting big enough that he and Jacob can play together sometimes. Here Jacob is demonstrating proper (?) use of a hammer.
-- Brian

Looks like Washington

The other day, Jacob ran up to me and showed me this Etch-A-Sketch drawing he had made. "It looks like Washington!" he proclaimed. Indeed it does. Amazing!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stan's big enough for the bike trailer!

We tried out Stan and Jake together in the bike trailer last weekend. Stan really enjoyed the ride around and around the driveway. He started to whimper every time Brian stopped riding.
So, we bought him his very own baby helmet and as soon as the weather permits, we'll try biking together as a family again! Brian will pull both kids in the trailer and Rebekah will try to keep up. Even pulling both kids in a trailer, Brian is still way fast! He has been biking a lot and is in great physical condition!

Swimming lessons

Jacob recently started swimming lessons. He loves it. He has no fear of the water. His teacher, Missy is great. He is learning, among other things, to kick without bending his knees, and how to blow bubbles out of his nose.

A Day at the Park

Stan absolutely loves swinging on the swings with Mom. He cracks up the whole time we are swinging. It is so fun to hear him laughing.

Happy Birthday, John Deere

February 7 was John Deere's birthday. If he were still alive he would have been 203 years old. Most of you know Jacob is a HUGE John Deere fan, so to celebrate his birthday we made cookies shaped like tractors, dump trucks and bull dozers. Jacob decorated them with yellow and green icing.

Christmas time!

I know we are SO far behind on keeping up on this blog, but I wanted to show off this beautiful picture of Lizzy, Tim and Amanda's newest addition. Can you believe she is almost a year in this picture?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Picking pumpkins in the pumpkin patch...

We went to Fall City Farms in October to the pumpkin patch. It was a beautiful day.

Look at this automatic donut maker! It's like a miniature Krispy Kreme restaurant! The whole thing is only three feet long or so.

Just like in Robert McClosky's Homer Price! (Interestingly, McClosky was an inventor of all sorts of contraptions...)

Jacob enjoys a doughnut while we get ready for a hayride:

There was a hawaiian band at the pumpkin patch:

Jacob's favorite part was a sandbox with toys:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thanksgiving with Carl and Rachel

Since we couldn't get home for Thanksgiving, we had my cousin Rachel Meyer and her husband Carl over to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.
It was a great time. Unfortunately, we spent more time visiting than snapping pictures, so these are the only photos I got.
Look at the size of the turkey! A twenty-pounder, I think. And also note the wrapped dills.
This is making me hungry...!

Google me.

Hey, did you know that if you're using the customized Google homepage, you can add this blog to it:

Just go to the "Add stuff" link, then search the homepage content directory for "Brian and Becky Rages".

Of course, setting this page up for email updates might be the best way to keep up with the sporadic updates to this blog.

(Check out the Google 15, too - this is a neat feature because it's super-easy to keep it up-to-date...)