Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Annual....Golf Tournament??

Yes, sports fans - it's come to this. I've turned my attention to golf.
(An audible gasp rustles through the gallery: "Ooooh. Has she cracked? Is she retiring from cycling?? WTF???)
Nope. But some months ago, on one of our "Breakfast in Miranda" training rides, Bill noted that there is a golf course in the heart of Rio Dell, and that it might be cool to ride down sometime, play a round, and ride back.
Since the 4th fell smack-dab in the middle of the week this year, he got the brilliant idea that we should do it then - and since so many folks wouldn't be traveling, we should invite the Latte Warriors to join us. Thus was born the Team Raven Lunatics First Annual Fourth of July Bike and Golf Tournament.
We called the clubhouse and - sure enough, they were planning on being open. So: - I put out a flyer, and David and Mary sent it out to the Latte Warriors and a bunch of other people.
Oh. This is the point where I should mention that we're talking about the sort of golf that traditionally involves windmills and clowns' mouths (though the logging-themed Redwood Mini Golf actually features neither).

Now a golf tournament that has "closest to the tee" and "best costume" as goals is somewhere this side of "serious golf", even for mini golf. Still, I wanted to make sure that everyone's efforts were amply rewarded. So - in true ultracyclist fashion, Bill and I headed off to the Dollar Store for prizes.

At this point we were figuring maybe a dozen people would show up at the outside. We could count 8 for sures. I decided to go deep with the prizes - we were set for at least 18. A $1 golf set? Sure! Expand-o-Towels - throw 'em in! Hey, there's a great "best dressed" prize. I had no clue who was going to win the pink leopard hat, but it certainly caught my eye and would have to go to someone special. Ribbons for the winners, a fan for closest to the tee...a few more random goodies, and - The Coveted Raven Lunatics Cup for overall best-of-event achievement.

We were all set. David, Bill, Mary and I were taking turns driving the Team Van down for a sag wagon. We figured that many folks would want a ride home since it would be late afternoon before we finished, even if we did hit my predicted "high noon" teetime.

And they're off! Four of us - David, Bill, Ryan, and me - took off from City Hall just after 9. Carol, Steve and Noreen joined us along Old Arcata Road. We took the back way through town, coming out to 101 at Elk River Road, where Mary had parked the van at the park-and-ride before riding south with Wendy, who she'd picked up along the way.

I got to the van first. Mercifully, I had time for a quick errand behind the van before the rest of the gang got there. Noreen and Ryan went straight onto 101, but the guys headed to the van to help sort things out. Before I could mention anything, Bill popped behind the van. "Careful over there, I spilled some coffee...". Of course he was spilling coffee, too. And to mis-quote Arlo Guthrie, one big puddle of coffee is better than two small ones...

I volunteered to drive the next leg, vowing to get to the regroup and take off straightaway. Hah. Our regroup was the Loleta Bakery, which sucks cyclists into its caffeine and carbs time vortex and seldom lets them go without a struggle. Or, at the very least, a snickerdoodle.

When I got there, several cyclists had arrived ahead of me. No one was in a particular hurry to leave. Can't say as I blame them - perfect weather, picnic table, prime pastries...and the certain knowledge that you weren't the last one as there were a bunch more riders on the road.

My resolve crumbled faster than the cookie I was about to consume. Double chocolate chunk and a cup of dark roast. But then I needed to turn my attention to more important matters: I was the director of a golf tournament, for cripes sakes. I'm...responsible. At the very least, I should get to the links before noon, just in case someone was planning on meeting us there and was taking the noon start time seriously.

So off I went, with a fair head of steam. I opted for the freeway rather than the longer route around the Three Sisters (the early warmup climbs of the TUC). I got there a few minutes before noon and headed for the clubhouse.

During the trip down, I made some decisions about how to organize the "tournament". Sometimes decisions are driven by the oddest things and since I'd really not had a clue how many were showing up, I pretty much figured I'd wing it on game day. It turned out that a few of the prizes came in threes, so it made sense to do threesomes. There were seventeen folks playing, so that meant (almost...) six threesomes. With six groups, I could break up all of the couples and pair each of our junior participants with one of her parents. Give each team a team color...just have to figure out how to put an extra score onto the one team that was going to be short....

I grabbed scorecards for everyone and headed out of the clubhouse to ponder this. As I stepped into the sunshine, something familiar caught the corner of my eye. But it didn't make sense - every 2011 Sebring T shirt in our neck of the woods belonged on the back of someone that was riding a bike several miles north of here. Slowly accumulating data...ambling gait, desert hat, pruning shears...whatthe...JIM KERN. Not only that, he'd brought Tim Woudenberg - two of the deans of recumbent distance cycling drove up from San Fran to crash "my" golf tournament. Go figure...well, of course they were mainly there to sneak in a visit with David and catch up on RAAM gossip. Well, that made filling out the last threesome easy: I assigned the two of them to tag-team it.

We took off in color order: ROY G BV. I was in the red threesome, which I guess sounds slightly less interesting than being in the "blue threesome", which David headed up. But going first gave me a little more time to tabulate results.

Mini golf is a fairly random sport - by which I mean that (a) you can't predict who's going to be a putting ace, and (b) random luck smiles down on you every so often. Doug got the first ace, shortly followed by Bill, and Steve, and then some others. Sometimes Lady Luck frowned, and you 5-putted. Sometimes your teammates inadvertently improved (or demolished) your lie. The wind picked up, which I suppose affected someone, sometime. But no one complained.

Here are some photos...

Team Blue in the sahdow of Logger Dude Statue

Wendy surveys her shot

Despite Hawaiian shirt and flaming socks, Bill did NOT win "best costume"...

Doug (Team Orange) in the foreground; Team Yellow in the background.

Coco waits. And waits. Having a physicist on your team OUGHT to be an advantage, right??

No clowns, lots of loggers - welcome to mini golf, Humboldt style!

Noreen fights through the wind on the front nine.

Coco watches as her teammate putts.

Team Green putts again!

Team Yellow watches nervously - will the Blues catch them?


not sure how to improve this lie...

...words fail me.

Coco won the "dramatic finish" award - pink AND leopard!

Tim brought Jenga to occupy the gang while they were waiting for awards

...with the predictable result.

Some highlights of the tournament:

Willard got the low individual score, but the Yellows won the team competition. Coco nearly aced the nearly-impossible last hole, and David...well, he came close, too, sort of (see photos above). Wendy won the closest to the tee competition. If I'd gone three or four places deep, I think she might've won more than once. Coco won the "high drama" award for her amazing finishing shot, which netted her the amazing pink leopard hat. Last, and certainly not least, Mary won The Coveted Raven Lunatics Cup. Not only did she anchor Team Yellow, she was second low score overall, AND she had the best decorated bike. 

After the awards ceremony, we packed it up. Bill and I headed for home. David left a few minutes behind us, not far behind Noreen, Steve, and Doug. The rest of the gang (I think, mostly) piled into the Team Van and headed north. Tim and Jim were kind enough to drive north and cook up an amazing barbeque dinner before turning around and heading south. Quite the whirlwind tour for them...
That left nothing for us to do but - Fireworks! Last year we'd been a little bit too tired after our "through the trees" cyclo-touring adventure, but this year we were up for it. Great display, though I'm not quite sure that I'll ever get used to the West Coast tradition of hats, gloves, and down jackets in the middle of summer.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Every once in a while, people ask me, "What do you think about during those long rides?". Admittedly, sometimes it comes out sounding more like, "What were you THINKING???", which might or might not be the same question.
Either way, on my last stupid-long ride I did my best to record my thoughts, as they occurred, for your reading pleasure.
The ride was Sandy's Neighborhood 200k - 150 laps of a 0.79-mile loop. It's the longest route that you can take through our immediate neighborhood that (a) keeps us off main roads, (b) avoids most left-hand turns, and (c) goes conveniently past our house. Astute readers will note that it would actually take 157 laps to make a true 120k. I cut it off at 150 because it's a convenient number that's arguably close enough.
This is ALWAYS a night ride, because I want to do it with as few vehicles on the road as possible and during the daytime there's no reason to stay so close to home. Bill and David often join me, but this time I was solo. David is winding down for the upcoming STP, and Bill had a full day of climbing ahead of him on Sunday morning (yes, he's one of those guys who CAN get a full day of climbing in before noon...) in preparation for Furnace Creek.
I started at 0100 and finished just before 0630, with 11 minutes of downtime.

Here we go.....
Lap 0: Whoof. Strong odor of skunk. Hope Cog is inside.
1: there's a cat.
2. there's another cat.
3: whoopsie. further outside on that corner. Pothole.
4: hope that was a cat.
5: better. take the line through the black mark on the pavement.
6: cat is crossing my path. Hope it isn't black. REALLY hope it isn't black and white.
7: THROUGH the black mark, not inside it.
8-13: mu-mu-mu-mySharona (didn't bring iPod, singing to self...)
14: wonder if cats get sprayed by skunks? Everyone talks about dogs and skunks. Probably not.
15: THROUGH the black mark, doggone it! (quick stop to readjust light, which is now aiming straight up courtesy of the pothole).
16: speaking of lights aiming up - the searchlights are still going strong at the Eureka waterfront carnival.
17: only 33 laps until my first planned stop.
18: love the new seat pad.
19: nice cornering! Did that one with ONLY countersteer. Cool!
20-24: Hey, Soul Sister!
25: halfway to the planned stop. Guess I should drink something.
26: OK, seriously need to get on a schedule here. I'll take a drink every time I pass the little motorhome on the left.
27-37: Here's the motorhome, take a drink.
38: That's too often. How about every OTHER time we pass the  motorhome...
39: OK, if the lap is about 3/4 of a mile, I'm drinking every 1.5 miles. On a 3/8 mile lap that will be every four laps.
40: ten laps to a potty break.
41: I don't think I'm going to need a break, wonder if I can make it to 75? Then I'd only have one stop.
42: bar traffic is heading home. Watch yourself.
43: I swear that every youth in Arcata is issued a black hoodie to wear when they're wandering at night.
44-49: bring pace up slightly. Smoooooth in the corners.
50: Nope, I don't need a pit stop. Nearly done with one bottle. Start in on an energy bar soon.
51: Really wish I'd have opened the bar ahead of time. This is a pain.
52-60: I love my bike. I love my bike. I
61: Whoa! I've blown the same stop sign 61 times in a row. Wonder what the record for that is?
62: Car parked by side of the road, motor running. Clumsy sex, pot deal, or both?
63: cats are active again. There are a LOT of cats in this neighborhood.
64: I wonder if I'll have to stop at 75, or if I should push it on to 100 laps? So far, so good...
65-69: mu-mu-mu-my Sharona.
70: I am NEVER doing this ride without an iPod again.....
71: Oh, yeah! We were going to put reflective tape on that fire hydrant to mark the turn. Wonder how long it would last? I've got leftover pink from my wheel pinstriping.
72: and while we're at it, we should paint the line THROUGH the black mark so I don't go into the pothole.
73-75: hey, I'm going to keep going. Switch the bottle over and let's shoot for 100 laps.
76: more road traffic. Wonder where they're going.
77: drunk kid in requisite black hoodie and miniskirt walking a chihuahua while smoking a Swisher Sweet gives me a thumbs-up. Arcata make its own hallucinations...
78-80: Let's see how close I can shave the corner at Frederick.
81: there's the skunk!
82: there he is again. Wonder how many people leave out cat food? Hope Cog is inside.
83-87: Born to be wi-i-i-ild!
88: Hey, I could probably ditch this stop and keep going all the way to 150.
89: No, you can't, either.
90: French press coffee hits the kidneys faster than espresso. Wonder why that is?
91: that's 91 times I've blown the same stop sign.
92-100: nothing particular, just counting down to 100...
(11 minute rest stop; bathroom, pet Cog and remind him not to mess with skunks, refill bottles, discover a chafed spot on my back. Originally thought it was due to a tag, which didn't seem reasonable since they're old shorts. Nope: for some inexplicable reason a sliver of plastic film got in a piece of a plastic mailing envelope. How the HELL did I not notice that??? Quick first aid over the raw spot, get on with it...)
101: pick up the speed, pick up the speed, pick up the speed...NO. THROUGH the black mark, not inside it...
102: adjust the #$*( light, and while we're at it, let's run the high beams since we've only got an hour or so until light.
103: wow. high beams make a big difference.
104: wonder where all the cats are, now?
105: owl overhead; maybe the cats are on to something?
106: hm. Maybe they're onto the skunk?
107: wonder if that's the same skunk? It's halfway across the course...
108: won't be that much longer until there's some light.
109-12: nothing much.
113: when was Ride the Rogue, again? Would it be good training for Bill, or should we bag it?
114: this is one sweet bike. Love the way it corners. Correction: love the way WE corner, this bike and I.
115-119: I could do 200 laps before the Latte ride, no problem....current lap time is about 2:10, let's see...that's, what, three hours? Yeah. No problemo. 200 laps would be almost 160? New goal.
120: Wonder when Bill is getting up? Saw the bathroom light on a while back Surely he's sleeping in...
121: Car! Stopped in the middle of the rolling slowly...grrrrrrrrrrr.
122: Same car. Stopped in the middle of the road AGAIN. AUGH. It is too late in the day to be coming home drunk, dude!
123: Same car, further up the course, driving slowly, veers into cul-de-sac and gets out. OH. Newspaper delivery. Maybe a substitutue? It would be faster on a bike, dude!
124: Bat overhead, getting the pre-dawn bug bloom. Should see some light before too long.
125: Car on Janes' Road. Need to start slowing more for that stop sign...
126: Almost a hint of light to the sky.
127: cats are getting scarcer. Still can't believe how many cats there are out here!
128-130: should I find a good mounting point for the big battery or should I see if I can get Bill to splice a longer wiring harness and run it where I've got the smaller battery? I am seriously loving the high beam and I can run it all night with the big another energy bar.
131: there's the skunk AGAIN. That little guy sure gets around. Glad he's staying away from our house!
132: ok, it's starting to get light.
133: it's getting lighter.
134: ...and lighter.
135: Hey! I can see the display on the computer! Reminds me that I might want a headlamp for that.
136: Cars each way on Janes road. Didn't "quite" stop, but close.
137: It's light enough to see. More cars. I will have to start stopping at the stop sign.
138: Funny thought: This is exactly what dogs feel when you throw a ball for them. Driven, happy, driven, happy, tired, driven, happy, happy, happy happy. Woo-hoo!!!!!
139: I just realized that I am stopping at 150 laps because I won't be happy having to stop at the stop sign, and traffic is going to pick up, and I don't want to piss off the neighbors.
140: OK, if this is it, hammer down....
141-149: Counting down, no particular thoughts besides "Ten - Nine - Eight..."
150: Woo-hoo!!!!!!!