Posted by: Travis | July 19, 2011

Road Trippin’

So far, so good on the road trip.

The first night we made it to Salt Lake City and stayed with some friends. In my life time i’ve heard far more negative things about SLC than positive, so my expectations were pretty low. After dinner, we got a little driving tour of the city, and i’ve got to say, it was a lot cooler than i expected. That said, the drive through the top of Nevada was just dreadful. Not that anything happened, there’s just nothing there, not even anything to look at.

The next night we stayed in Steamboat Springs, CO. I’ve been skiing there in the winter, but never been in the summer. Despite stopping to watch the women’s world cup final, we made it to Steamboat in time to grab a leisurely dinner at the brewery on the main drag, and walk around a bit. It is such a cool town. Monday morning we stopped by Moots, the company that made my bike for a factory tour. It was staggering how much attention they pay to the details, and was certainly confirmation that a Moots was the right bike to buy. I might be hooked for life.

We left Moots around 11:30 and the plan was to get as far into Kansas as we could. The drive from Steamboat to Denver (US-40, CO-9, I-70) was gorgeous. After that… not so much. We got to the junction on I-70 and I-35 and started heading south toward Oklahoma. We were both feeling good, so we decided to push on. We stopped for food and gas just south of Wichita, KS around 11:30 and realized that we were close enough to Rachel’s parents’ house in Oklahoma, that we might as well push on, and leave ourselves zero driving for Tuesday (today). So push on we did. We arrived at 2:30am, so the rest day is a welcome one.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), we’ll sleep in a bit, then head south, stopping in Dallas for In-N-Out (not a typo, Houston had better be coming soon, Trader Joe’s would be nice too), and then make the last push to our final destination of Houston in time for a glutinous Tex-Mex dinner and huge celebratory frozen margaritas with the fam. Can’t wait.

Since ‘Life in Silicon Valley’ no longer describes our life, this will likely be my last post on this blog. My first posts here detailed our road trip out to California, so i think it’s fitting that my last post details our trip back to Texas. I may start another blog sometime in the future, but as a law student i won’t be able to write the long and well thought-out (yeah right…) blog posts that i wrote here.

I won’t be going totally off-line though. In the short term, you can follow what’s going on in our lives through my twitter feed (http://twitter.com/travisdubose).

Twitter is limited to 140 characters, so for stuff that’s longer than that, i’ll be using my Tumblr feed, Tumbling with Travis (http://travisdubose.tumblr.com/). I signed up for Tumblr a long time ago and didn’t really use it much, because for things longer than 140 characters, i just defaulted to the blog, but now that i won’t be blogging, i think Tumblr will be a good alternative and i should be using it a lot more.

Thanks for following the blog the last four years! We had a fantastic four years in California and are sad to be leaving, but thrilled to be going back to Texas, which has always felt like home to us.

Happy trails!

Posted by: Travis | June 22, 2011

Just Weird

I thought about calling this blog post ‘In Purgatory’, but then decided against it. I wanted to hit at the ‘neither here nor there-ness’ of purgatory, but it has such an overwhelmingly negative connotation in our culture that it would totally distract from what i was getting at. I could have thought of something else, but nothing came to me, so we’re aiming low.

Everything is just so weird right now. Nothing feels comfortable. Rachel and i are sitting somewhere between the past and the future in limbo and it just feels funny.

I woke up this morning planning to go on my first bike ride since the crash on Saturday. The Stahl ride is a group ride that happens out of Los Altos on Wednesdays. It’s a ride for local pros and people with flexible work schedules, designed to be a long, mid week, endurance ride. I’ve been on a few, and they’re great. Today the Stahl ride was planning on riding some roads i’ve been wanting to ride, but haven’t had a chance to yet, so i figured it would be a great way to climb back on my horse and get back on the bike on my day off.

Then i peeled the bedsheet from the huge contusion on my hip, yelped as i rolled on said contusion on my way out of bed, and struggled to stand up on my stiff right leg. Yeah, maybe a 4-5 hour group ride was a little ambitious. Instead i did a little 2 hour loop by myself. Getting back on the bike after more than just a day off always feels a little funny for the first few minutes. Getting back on after a crash feels even more funny. This is the first crash i’ve had in about 6 years so i guess i was due.

When i broke my collar bone back in 2005, it took me years before i could comfortably ride close to someone’s rear wheel without having a minor panic attack. Hopefully hairpin turns won’t be an issue for me for the next few years. I hit 45mph coming down Edgewood this morning without it causing me any angst, so hopefully that’s a good sign.

The bruising has gotten pretty wild. From just above the knee up to around my waist my road rash is surrounded by a wild pallet of colors: yellows, pinks, purples, blues, reds, and oranges, like some sunset picture from a tropical vacation.

Outside of cycling, things are weird too. Rachel’s last day at her office is tomorrow and my last day at the shop is Friday. Her office took her out to a goodbye lunch and the guys at the shop are doing a going away BBQ for us tomorrow night after the shop closes. I understand that it’s the way of the world that you can’t go to a new place without leaving an old one, but being sad about leaving friends and family behind, while simultaneously being excited to arrive in the new place with different friends and family, ready to start on life’s new adventures is just so odd. When we moved out here in 2007, most of our friends were graduating from college and scattering all over the country. This time around there’s no event that acts as a match lighting a barrel of gun powder, sending (uninjured, of course) people everywhere. Instead, it’s just us moving. We’re the center of attention, and i hate being the center of attention.

We started packing up our stuff to move at the beginning of May and may not be moved into our new garage apartment (being renovated) until the beginning of August.I’m not complaining. I guess i would rather it be like this than super compressed and highly stressful, but we’re in this prolonged period where there are about to be some big changes in our lives (moving to a new place, law school, getting married…) that we know are coming, but just haven’t happened yet.

We’re coming to the realization that we didn’t quite do everything we wanted to do in California. Roads we wanted to ride, places we wanted to eat, backpacking trips we wanted to do. Every time we do something, the notion hangs over our heads that it might just be the last time we do that in California.

Thomas Keller, the famed chef at the French Laundry has said that the thing he tries to create in the perfect meal, is the wanting at the end of each course for  just one more bite. Perhaps that’s what we’ve (accidentally) achieved.

It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just that this long transition period has made things very interesting.

Posted by: Travis | June 19, 2011

One Lucky S.O.B.

Yesterday was pretty…uh…interesting.

Shortly after we found out that we’d be leaving California, Rachel promised that before we left she would ride Mt. Hamilton with me one last time. Mt. Hamilton is a climb east of San Jose that is 18 miles long and climbs 4200 feet. It’s not super steep, but the length makes it a doozy. We did it on New Years Day in 2008, but that was 3 years ago, and things have changed a lot in the last 3 years, so we wanted to take one more swing at it.

We met up with our friends Jeremy and Steve in Menlo Park yesterday morning and drove down to San Jose with the plan to return to a big farewell BBQ with a bunch of other non-bike-riding friends.

For the climb up Hamilton we kept things pretty mellow and stayed together most of the way up. In the last few miles Steve and i found ourselves with a bit of a gap. He pushed on and i held back for Rach and Jer. At one point i was at the top of a switchback and saw them quite a ways down the road, so i opted to push up to the top on my own, then ride back down and finish the last of the climb with Rach and Jer. I summited at the observatory and then turned around and started descending back down to meet Rach and Jer.

I was coming around an off-camber, hair pin turn when i hit a patch of gravel or a rut in the road and my rear wheel slid out. I put the bike down and slid 10-15 feet across the road on my hip. Rachel was climbing up to the turn and saw the whole thing. I quickly realized that i was sitting in the middle of the road on a blind corner, so i had better get the hell out of the road. I jumped up and scurried out of the road over to the guard rail. I was assessing the damage to my body and my bike, thinking about how funny it was going to be to finish the ride in my tattered bike shorts, and going through a little play by play with Rachel when i started to get very dizzy as my body went into shock. While standing up talking, i passed out, collapsed, and hit my (helmet covered) head on the guard rail on my way down and started snoring. Rachel immediately freaked out and called 911 while frantically trying to wake me up. Though we had no cell phone service at any point in the ride before or after the wreck, somehow, she had full service before dialing 911.

Once they got word that there was a loss of consciousness on Mount Hamilton (there is literally nothing in the 20 miles between where we were and San Jose) they called in a helicopter. The fire crew from a fire station at the base of the mountain were the first on the scene. By the time they arrived i was sitting on the side of the road, conscious, and feeling okay. It was clear the the helicopter was going to be overkill, but once the helicopter is called, it can’t be called off. Since i lost consciousness, they decided to play it safe and put my in a neck stabilizing collar and on a backboard.

On the backboard, just to be safe.

The chopper showed up and they loaded me into an ambulance to get me down to where the chopper landed. It was clear that i was going to be okay at this point, but since the helicopter was already there, they wouldn’t let me decline the flight into San Jose. The 8-10 minute flight to the hospital would have been a lot more fun if i weren’t strapped to a back board, but whatever.

Get to the chopper!

Rachel and our bikes got a ride down to the bottom of the mountain in the fire truck. The fire fighters were having a pretty boring day, so once they realized i was okay, they went straight into having fun mode. They let Rachel wear a headset in the truck and listen into the radio. They even pulled over and asked if she had a camera phone to get some pictures of me taking off in the helicopter.

Rachel's view from the firetruck

I got to the ER and the nurses there quickly realized that i was just fine. We did a CT scan just to be safe, and it came up clear. I was discharged only about 2 hours after arriving by helicopter, but i couldn’t leave because Rachel had not yet arrived with a change of clothes. They cut off my bib shorts since they were already ruined (i was able to save the jersey and base layer i was wearing), so i had nothing to wear from the waist down.

After Rachel came back to get me, we went back to Steve and Brielle’s place and took part in the BBQ as planned.

All in all, i was ridiculously lucky. I escaped from the crash with some road rash on my hip and arm, but otherwise no injuries.

Road rash on my arm

Road rash on my hip

Closeup of hip road rash

The new Moots escaped relatively unscathed too. The right shift lever got a little scratched up, the bar tape and rear tire got scuffed, and the rear wheel came just a touch out of true. Other than that, there is absolutely no damage to the frame or any of the other components.

Scratched shifters, just about the only damage to the bike

Had i not put the bike down i likely would have gone into and over the guard rail, in which case we wouldn’t be laughing about it. Like i said, i’m one lucky SOB.

Posted by: Travis | June 10, 2011

Ketchup and Rubber Buns

Life has been pretty hectic lately. While working full time at the bike shop (i could write for days about how much fun i’m having working at PAB), trying to get the miles in on the new Moots (so unbelievably awesome), moving out of our apartment and into a temporary spot, prepping for the move back to Texas, hanging out with Rachel and Coop, getting some quality time in with friends before we leave, trying to get the last few items checked off our California bucket list, and making a dent on my law school summer reading list, there just hasn’t been much time to blog.There’s been lots to write about, just no time to write.

The Moots is thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to being done. I stayed up at the shop late last night with Niel building the wheels. Now we’re just waiting on the saddle. Hopefully i’ll have some pictures of it up soon.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the future of this blog. Obviously, if we’re living in Texas, and i’m going to law school instead of working at a startup, the name of this blog becomes obsolete. While i have thoroughly enjoyed having a place to organize my thoughts on certain subjects, whether i have 100 readers a day or zero, i’m not sure how much i’ll be able to write while in law school and working as a lawyer post-law school. My guess is that i’ll probably create some sort of new blog or website once we get to Texas, but at the moment i don’t have an idea of what it will be like.

So stay tuned, and thanks for your support over the last 4 years.

Posted by: Travis | May 2, 2011

Back to Texas

Rachel and i found out a few days ago that i got into the University of Houston Law School, so at the end of the summer we’ll be moving from California back to Texas. We’re thrilled to begin the next chapter in our lives (especially one in which seeing our families and doesn’t include a trip to the airport), but we’re also sad to be leaving the friends and family we’ve grown close to over the last 4 years here in California. I’ll be posting more later, but i just wanted to go ahead and let everyone know.

Posted by: Travis | April 25, 2011

Copperopolis and Moots

Copperopolis

I ‘raced’ the Copperopolis Road Race on Saturday. By ‘raced’ i mean i pinned a number to my jersey and started on the 21 mile loop with a bunch of other Cat 4′s. That’s pretty much where the racing began, and also where it ended. My effort isn’t even worthy of its own race report, but i’ll do a little summary here.

Copperopolis is a legendary NorCal race. Often referred to as the Paris-Roubaix of the west coast. It starts of with a 3 mile stair-step climb, then you circumnavigate a lake on a rolling road, then a 2 minute or so short, but steep, power climb, and then a crazy descent back into the start/finish. The pavement all the way around the loop is awful. I’ve ridden a ton of crappy chip-n-seal back roads in the Texas Hill Country, but this road was unlike anything i’d ever ridden. Coming down the descent i was doing 40mph and the bike was shaking so violently that my hands went numb and i couldn’t really modulate the brakes. Having to dodge potholes and patches of gravel in that state is pretty tough.

Copperopolis is a race i’ve been meaning to do since i started racing, but i’ve never had the combination of guts (or maybe lack of common sense) and fitness to justify getting up early and making the drive out to contest the race. I’ve been climbing reasonably well lately, didn’t have anything else going on Saturday, and since i’m not sure if i’ll be around next year, i figured i’d go race it. When my rear tire exploded as i was unpacking the car after arriving, i should have known it was a sign of things to come.

We started on time and did a pretty mellow roll to the bottom of the climb. Everyone knew we had a pretty rough 60 miles ahead of us and there was no reason to push things at the beginning. The climb was a stair-step climb that would pitch up and then ease off. About half way up the climb i was hanging tough, though to be honest, we weren’t really going that hard. The guys at the front started to push the pace a bit and my legs just refused to go. For a few pitches i would get dropped on the steep pitch, and then catch back on when it flattened out. Then we hit an extended pitch and was never able to get back on. I rode the rest of the loop solo, trying to push the pace, but it’s hard to really go all out when you’re by yourself.

I finished a single 21 mile lap, then called it a day, packed up the car, and headed home, making it back in time for lunch and a nap.

I’m glad i raced it once, but i don’t really have any interest in ever racing it again.

Moots

On the bright side of things, i ordered a new bike on Friday!

There’s a company out of Steamboat Springs, CO called Moots that makes custom geometry, hand made, titanium bicycles. We sell them at the shop and it seems everyone who has one is head over heels in love with their bike and the company. They came by the shop last Thursday for a demo day with a Sprinter van loaded up with something like 20 road and mountain bikes. I spent the morning riding the top of the line RSL and CR road bikes with the Moots rep, Amy, and few other folks from the shop. I had never ridden a titanium bike before and was curious what it would be like. I had previously thought of titanium bikes as the tools of old guys who ride centuries and charity rides, and are too stuck in their ways to make the switch to carbon bikes. I expected the bikes to be noodly, not stiff at all, and heavy. What i found couldn’t have been further from the truth. The two bikes i rode were light, very stiff, yet comfortable, descended like a dream, and had the best road feel of anything i’d ever ridden. I ended up shaving 30 seconds off my best time up Old La Honda without even really trying. I got home that night and downloaded the GPS data from the ride and to my surprise, i had smashed my previous time.

That night i got the go-ahead from Rachel to order a Moots CR. Unfortunately, this isn’t a carbon bike sitting in a box on a shelf in some warehouse, so i’ll have to wait 4-6 weeks while they make it, but given that i’ve been riding my Specialized Allez for 6 years, i think i can grind out another 4-6 weeks, hard as it may be. In the mean time, i’ve been ordering parts to put on the bike, which should be trickling in over the next few weeks. I’ve never been able to fully customize the part spec on a bike like this, so it’s been really fun to design the bike exactly as i want it. I’m so excited about this! Hopefully i’ll be able to get some pictures and stuff comes in and as we build up the bike.

Alright, that’s all i’ve got time for this morning. Gotta head into work. More to come later.

Posted by: Travis | April 16, 2011

Turlock Lake Road Race

Race: Turlock Lake Road Race, E4
Location: Turlock, CA
Date: April 9, 2011
Result: 37 (of ~70)
Course: 26 mile clock-wise loop around Lake Turlock, constantly rolling hills
Weather: Cool (mid 60′s) and clear, pretty good wind out of the south
Teammates: Oddvar, Amin, Allen, Saeed

This was the first year of the Turlock Lake Road Race, so going in nobody really had an idea of what to expect. We knew it was going to be rolling hills, likely a course that suited a power rider. With our race start time in the second wave at 12:05pm, Rachel and i had time to sleep a little later and get a big breakfast before making the drive out.

I raced mainly to get some race miles in my legs before Copperopolis in 2 weeks. With the course likely more of a power riders course, my goal was to hang on and finish with the bunch, and help my teammate Allan go for a result.

Most of the first lap was pretty tame. There were a few times when someone would try to take advantage of the wind and attack the field, stringing things out as we chased, but none of the early moves came anywhere close to sticking. The course was non stop rollers. Initially i was a little scared about my ability to hang, but none of the rollers were big enough to really cause me any problems. There were a handful of really sketchy guys in the race that caused some pretty serious headaches. A few guys would grab a handful of brakes unnecessarily at the start of a hill or on a downhill and send ripples through the field as everyone reacted. You really had to stay honed in the entire race or you might go down. Luckily, we didn’t have anyone go down, but there were a few very close calls.

At the end of lap 1 my teammate Oddvar found himself in a group of four. Oddvar is a very modest guy from Norway, but he’s strong as hell, so i was happy for him to go up the road and get into a move. Oddvar was the only guy in that group that wanted to work, so they sat up and got brought back, then Oddvar went again, this time drawing out a few guys that were more willing to work. They quickly got a few hundred yards up the road. Despite having a guy in the break, a few SJBC guys went to the front and started working hard, stringing the field out single file. Allan and I moved up to 4th and 5th wheel to keep and eye on things and make sure that we marked anyone that tried to bridge up to the break. Just before the break got brought back, an SJBC guy came up from the back and started yelling at the guys pulling to get off the front because they had a guy in the break. At that point, the gap was pretty small and another team that was not represented in the break (Rio Strada?) went to the front and finished the job. We came back through the start/finish just as the group was caught. Everyone sat up, took a drink, and ate something.

A few more guys tried to go at the start of the second (and final) lap, but nothing even came close to sticking. As we came into the last 5k of the race, it was clear that it was going to end in a bunch sprint, but none of the big teams could or would control things to the finish. As a result, the pace slowed, and rather than being stretched out, single file (the safest way to finish a race), the group rolled along as wide as the road (very dangerous). With the state of my health care coverage kind of blurry as i transition from one job to another, i opted to sit back and not get involved in the crap going on at the front of the race. If something opened up, i would sprint, but otherwise, just roll in in one piece.

All of the guys sprinting moved to the left, opening up the right side a bit, so with 100 yards to go, i did a little mini sprint, making up a few places, but not a lot for 37th place. It sucks to finish a race with quite a bit of gas in the tank, but i wasn’t really looking for a result here anyway, so i can’t be too bummed about it. On the bright side, i felt great after 50 miles and felt like i could have gone another lap or two. Considering where i was when i started racing, that’s a pretty huge improvement. Two years ago i would have gotten dropped a few miles into this race, now i’m hanging around for the whole thing and finishing with a lot left in the tank.

This was a great race. The course was awesome, the promoters did a great job, results were released in a timely manner, just all around great. If i’m around next year, i will definitely be at this race.

Race Stats
Time: 2:18:24
Distance: 53.8 Miles
Work: 1419 kJ
Normalized Power: 222 Watts
Max Power: 1021 Watts
Avg Speed: 23.4 mph
Max Speed: 38.7 mph

Posted by: Travis | April 16, 2011

Snelling Road Race

Race: Snelling Road Race, E4
Location: Snelling, CA
Date: February 26, 2011
Result: 29 (of ~100)
Course: 5x ~12 mile loop of short, rolling hills, one stretch of very bad pavement, uphill sprint
Weather: Cold (high 30′s) and clear
Teammates: Ryan, James, Barrett, Juan, Ivan, Amin

The plan was for Barrett and Ryan to trade attacks trying to get into a break. Once in a break, we were to block for them, and mark bridge attempts. If the group came to the line in a sprint, Ryan and I were to lead our sprinter, James out for the sprint.

Barrett and Ryan came out firing shots from the get-go. I think Barrett made his first attack in the first 2 minutes of racing. For the first 2-2.5 laps, it seemed like every single attack had Ryan or Barrett in it. Considering we only had 2 guys playing this role instead of the planned 3, they deserve huge props for their efforts. For pretty much the entire race a break would get a gap, the field would let them dangle at 10-20 seconds (never out of view) for up to half a lap, no one would try to bridge, and eventually a team would go to the front and shut the move down. I think this was largely due to the presence of big teams. If i recall, there were 5-6 teams that had more than 6 guys in the race. Chances are if there was a break with one guy from each team, it would have had a chance, but that never happened. Rio Strada and Roaring Mouse seemed to be the most active teams at the front of the group. We didn’t have to do much at the front because Barrett and Ryan were constantly in moves and no one really tried to bridge.

For the first lap and a half or so my legs felt pretty dead. I wasn’t struggling to hang or anything, but any time there was an acceleration, it hurt to keep up. I was freezing my butt off up until the end of the first lap, so that may have had something to do with it. For most of the first 2 laps, my legs prevented me from performing my duties for the team — marking guys trying to bridge up to breaks we were in. Luckily, from where i was sitting, it looked like there wasn’t a whole lot of that to be done (guys weren’t bridging up to breaks). During this period of time Juan did a hell of a job picking up my slack. He was constantly sitting top 5 in the group, keeping an eye on things. James, Amin, and Ivan were also sitting in the group, looking good, not wasting energy, communicating, and seemed to be able to move around in the group at will. Definitely not sitting on the back huffing and puffing and struggling to hang on.

Midway through lap 3 i talked to both Ryan and Barrett. They were getting pretty tired from constantly attacking. For the 3rd and 4th lap they were a little more judicious with their efforts. With Roaring Mouse and Rio Strada controlling things, it was pretty easy to figure out what breaks we needed to be in and what breaks were doomed. On the twisty section of Keyes Road in the 3rd lap a pretty threatening group of about 8 went up the road, but the pack immediately strung out and brought them back. This was definitely the hardest acceleration in the race. It hurt pretty bad.

On the fourth lap we turned onto Olsen and the pace slowed waaaaaay down to about 18mph. I took the opportunity to down a gel, eat a bar, and drink a bottle so i didn’t have to worry about anything on the last lap. James, Ryan, and i got together on Figmond (the rough road) on the fourth lap. Ryan said he was pretty knackered from attacking all day and probably wouldn’t be able to lead out James in the sprint. James said he was feeling pretty tired too and the rough road was taking a lot out of him. They gave me the green light to see what i could do in the finish.

During the last lap i tried to move up to a top 10-15 spot, so i could see the front and make sure nothing threatening went away. The hills on the back side hurt a lot. I did my best to be near the front for each hill so i could fade back during he hill. We turned on to Figmond and things were pretty hectic. Rather than being fast, stretched out, and well controlled, the pack was spread wide across the road and churning. I picked my way through the field up the left side of the road, eventually finding a top 5 spot with the final right turn in sight (roughly 1k to go). The field surged up the right side and i got boxed in on the left, losing about 20-30 spots. We came around the last turn and guys started sitting up in the middle of the road. I kicked hard, weaving through fading racers, but never getting a clean line. I rolled across the finish in 29th place.

Race Stats
Time: 2:56:41
Distance: 63.3 Miles
Work: 1779 kJ
Normalized Power: 223 Watts
Max Power: 965 Watts
Avg Speed: 21.5 mph
Max Speed: 36.4 mph

Posted by: Travis | April 9, 2011

‘Live Like a Pro’ Wednesday (and other musings)

There hasn’t been much action on this blog the last few weeks. With the new job at Palo Alto Bicycles (working a full 40 hours rather than the old 10-15 per week), i’ve pretty much been working, riding, eating, and sleeping, with little time for anything else. It’s been great though. I don’t have any concerns over job security like i did at the previous place, and i get to sit around all day and talk about bikes. How cool is that?

One of the great things about my job is the schedule. Most days i don’t have to be there until the store opens at 10:00am, which gives me time to join in on the local morning ride, and still have time for a shower, a cup of coffee, a recovery shake, and a dog walk before i have to be at work. Most everyone at the shop has to work one weekend day a week. That sounds like kind of a raw deal, but it actually works out quite nicely. I’ve got my schedule set up so i get Wednesdays and Saturdays off. Since Rachel’s at work on Wednesday, and i have no other responsibilities, i’ve been getting up with her and then setting out on really long rides, getting home just before she does. Saturdays i can use to race (like i did today), or hang out with Rachel and the Coopster.

Last Wednesday i did a 95 miles ride over to the East Bay. In the summer the East Bay tends to be hot and dry. The grass dries and turns brown (the golden state). Riding over there in the summer can be a challenge. April, on the other hand, especially after the wet spring we’ve had, is the perfect time to go for a ride in the East Bay. Here are a few pictures i snapped with my iPhone (i used the standard camera app, so these pictures did not go through a filter):

Calaveras Road

Calaveras Reservoir

Calaveras Road just before descending into Milpitas

Sierra Road is one hell of a tough climb. It climbs up beautiful open hills that sit above San Jose.

After cresting Sierra Road, you descend back East toward Calaveras reservoir.

It was a ridiculously beautiful ride. The only problem was that i crossed the bridge in the morning before the wind came up. This lead to a pretty nasty cross/head wind on the way home. On the way out it took me 90 minutes to get from home to Sunol, but it took 150 on the way back from Sunol home (even though Sunol is significantly uphill from Palo Alto).

This afternoon i did the Turlock Lake Road Race out East of Merced (near where Snelling was). It was the first race i had done since Snelling. I’ve been riding a lot, but my travel and work schedules have kept me from doing any racing the last month or so. The main goal was to get some race miles in the legs before Copperopolis in 2 weeks. This was the first time this race had ever been run, so everyone went in a bit blind. It ended up being a great course, even if our race had a lot of monkey business going on in the way of people not being able to ride their bikes. the course was pretty constantly up and down and more climby than i expected. Luckily, the climbs were all very short, and i’m in reasonably good shape, so i didn’t have too much trouble. Going into the finish none of the teams wanted to control things, so we came into the final 2k pretty slow and taking up the whole width of the road (races are safer when strung out, dangerous when bunched up). I couldn’t help but think about the transitional state of my health care as i move from one job to the other and not knowing for sure what the current state of my coverage is. Given that, i opted to sit back, sprint if given the chance (i was, but had to jump on the brakes a few times as spent guys flew back through the group), and roll through near the back of the group. It was a fun race, and the course was great, but i was really just happy to have gotten a decent workout in and gotten back to the car without a crash. Hopefully i’ll get a race report up sometime soon.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Rachel’s birthday. We’re planning to get up and cook up a breakfast taco feast. We and a bunch of our friends also got Giants tickets. I’m scheduled to work, but i’m hoping to get off a little early and get up to the game in time to catch some of the action.

The bike race Paris-Roubaix also happens tomorrow in Northern France. the Versus network will be showing a glorious 3 full hours of coverage starting at 7pm Eastern. Tune it. It should be a great race.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Here’s my current plan for upcoming entries. Don’t count on them being written though:

  • Snelling RR report
  • PDX tour of gluttony
  • ATX wedding planning / SXSW trip
  • Turlock Lake RR Report

I’d be lying if i said i wasn’t happy to see 2010 go the way of the buffalo. On paper it should have been an awesome year. Rachel and i got engaged in August. After 3 years of having fun mostly on our own, we finally developed deeper friendships with some people we’ve known for a couple of years but didn’t hang out with a whole lot. My bike racing finally clicked, and even though the DNFs still happened every once in a while, they were much less frequent. Rachel got a big promotion at her office, which was a huge validation of the work she’d been doing the previous 3 years. I could go on and on…

However, all of that awesome stuff got wiped out by the bottom falling out of my job. At first it was great. We were a small, relaxed company with big ambitions, drinking from a fire hose of funding. Everyone was happy, i got to take on some ambitious projects that were rare for someone of my age and experience. Hell, i got to ride the vomit comet. I remember one time passing around a copy of the Office Space DVD and joking about how that would never be us.

Then the financial meltdown of 2008 happened. We had a large backlog of projects (about 2 years worth of work), and figured we would be able to survive unscathed. Then that fire hose of funding shut off completely. At the end of 2009 things started to get tight and it became obvious that we had a problem. Over the course of a few months we downsized from 7 engineers to 3. Meetings went from being about technical progress, to be about finances, to not happening at all. Energy that used to be spent coming up with new innovative ideas was spent figuring out how to cut costs and maximize efficiency. There was a huge shift in morale at the office. Everyone was stressed out. Every time there was a closed door meeting everyone not in the meeting starting talking about whether or not they would have a job on the drive home that night. That whole thing about not becoming the office in Office Space? We became Initech.

In August, 4 days after i bought Rachel’s engagement ring, my boss pulled me into his office and informed me that they didn’t have enough work for me at the moment and that my time (and pay) was going to be cut in half. There was some hope that eventually there would be some work and i could come back full time, but that never happened.

I have to give Rachel a huge amount of credit for putting up with my shit the last 6 months. I have not been an easy person to be around. At first it was great to have some time to ride my bike and play with Cooper, but it’s hard to enjoy that time when you don’t know how much work you’re going to have next week or if you’ll even have a job. I looked around for other engineering jobs for most of 2010, but it happened to be one of the worst job markets we’ve seen in several generations. I was a finalist for several positions which specified that they were looking for someone with 5 years or less experience, only for someone with 10 to swoop in and get the job. It was frustrating.

In November, after months of thinking about it and not telling anyone, i brought up the idea of going to law school for IP law to Rachel on a drive home from a trip to LA. The idea being that it would better utilize my balance of technical knowledge and communication skills. From the get go she was super supportive, so i called my folks and they bought in.

I spent the next few weeks studying for the LSAT at the Stanford library at night. Most people spend months preparing for the LSAT, and just like the SAT, pretty much everyone takes a prep course. I didn’t have the time or money for a prep course, so i did everything myself, designing my own prep plan (just like a bike training plan), and ended up scoring in the 90th percentile. Not quite good enough to get into an elite school, but good enough to get into a darn good school.

I submitted applications to 3 schools in the Bay Area and 3 schools in Texas and since then i’ve been in a holding pattern. The acceptance (and a couple of rejection) letters started trickling in a couple of weeks ago. We’re still waiting to hear from 2 more schools before making a decision.

Because it is now clear i’ll be going somewhere for law school in the fall, and because things at my company were looking pretty dire, i opted to leave and do something fun with the few months i have before starting law school. From now until August i’ll be working at Palo Alto Bicycles. PAB is my local shop, just a few blocks from our apartment, so i’ll be riding my bike to get there. It’s the shop i take my bike to for all the work i have done, as it’s one of the best shops in the Bay Area. The full time schedule will keep me busy, but will also give me time to ride my bike and continue racing. Plus the employee discount ain’t bad either. The best part, however, is the job security. Now i know that i don’t have to worry about a job until i start law school. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now if we could just figure out where we’ll be living for the next 3 years…

I have a feeling it’s going to be a really fun spring/summer. We’re headed to Austin on Friday for a long weekend to do some wedding planning, take engagement photos, see family and friends, and hopefully catch some South by Southwest (SXSW) music. I think it’s time to celebrate!

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