Friday, May 30, 2008

God Damn DoGooders

Midnight Walk, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

The nice thing about emergency situations, is that you get to see a lot of acts of kindness.

There sure are some amazingingly kind people.

The people who run the Corralitos Community Church came down as soon as the evacuation orders went out and opened their doors so that people had a place to go, and bathrooms and they made sandwiches and passed out water to everyone.

The folks from Gayles Bakery came by and dropped off a bunch of food.

Neighbors helped each other with rescuing pets and arranging lodging and finding missing family members.

And, this was all hours before Red Cross showed up.

After that, I witnessed people coming into Corralitos and dropping off fresh baked goods and offering their homes.

I was so touched by all of the acts of kindness that I was seeing, that I got all verklempt and I wanted to be a dogooder too. I was all weepy eyed and touched and I was probably PMSing, but I didn't care. At that moment, I wanted to be good too.

So, as I snuck back into my house by cutting into the fire caravan, I was thinking of ways to be good. I looked back at the fireman I had just cut off and decided I wanted to thank them. I decided to make a big sign and put it up by the mailbox.

So, I got home and found an old road barrier sign thingie that I stole for cyclocross, and got some pens that I borrowed and never returned to Laura and thought about the sign.

Then I checked email, and grabbed some clean socks and sportsbras (I was NOT wearing my mom's socks and underwear thankyouverymuch) and drank a beer, and cursed the trees that were close to my house, and watered the stupid apple tree that won't grow and hopped in the car and left.

I forgot all about the sign. So much for my pledge to be a dogooder. I didn't even last 30 minutes as a dogooder.

I was feeling like a dogooder failure, until Monday night. I got the fun chance to help teach beginners (which seems silly since I am still a beginner myself) on how to ride at the track. People kept thanking us for being there, but really it was me who should have been doing the thanking. Nothing like feeling helpful to help you when you are feeling helpless.

Turns out, all my neighbors made signs thanking the firefighters. There are signs all over our street and on our little mailbox corner, there are four signs alone. Not as cute as I would have made with my stolen sign and pens, but cute enough.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I get to go home today!


On Thursday, after evacuating out the kitties, I spent some time just hanging around the Corralitos "center". Most of the residents were there. I had someplace to go, as did most others there, but we all just hung around near town instead.

And each time I came back to my neighborhood during the evacuation I did the same thing. Just sort of stood around town. I wasn't alone in this on those days either.

And, while I was worried about the fire, mostly I was distressed that I could not go home. My home.

There is nothing material in my home that I am so fond of that I would be devastated to lose. I'd be bummed to lose any bikes, but even that, with the right insurance, is just an inconvenience. Yes, if my home had burned down it would have been a HUGE inconvenience, but thats all it would have been.

What would have bothered me more, would be not being able to go home.

I was talking to this woman who was also loitering around Corralitos. She said, "I don't mean to be cavalier, but I don't worry about my house burning down. I would gladly hand over my house and all my possessions to have my two children who are in Iraq returned home safely. I would give up my house, to have them home".


Thanks everyone for all the concern. I really am lucky. And not because the fire missed my house, but because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

It meant everything to me to have my friends calling and offering room in their homes, or space in their trucks, or just a shoulder to lean against. That reminder of how fortunate I am was a shot in the arm as much as a kick in the pants. I love you guys.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2 Cats and a Dawg

Thats all I had time to grab.

Left for work this morning and thought it was just super foggy. Started driving up Hecker Pass and saw the full fire and just about flipped.

Uh...thats over my house.

I foolishly went to work, then turned right back around and came home. By the time I got back to Eureka Canyon, they were not letting any more cars up the road.

"Downtown" Corralitos was mayhem. Traffic jam, camera crews, police barricades and a stream of cars coming down the mountain.

All I could think about was my little Kuku and the husky Pupu. So I took the bike out of my car and rode it up to my house. I just hopped on, no shoes, no helmet. I pedaled up a very smoky and windy Eureka Canyon in my work clothes and Danskos. Cars going in the other direction yelled "Where are you going?"

I'm going to get my cats.

Luckily two of my neighbors were still home. One was leaving in 5 minutes and one was staying until he saw burning embers. I don't need to see burning embers, so I had five minutes to pack. I grabbed my cats and stuffed an overnight bag with bike clothes (figured I could get regular clothes anywhere) and then had about 1 minute to decide on which bike to bring (My neightbor had one spot on his rack open).

1 Minute to choose between a bikelifetime of bikes?

Luckily, the Bonny is out on loan, so she is safe.

And Michael's has one or two in his car.

That left all of my Steelmen, my track bike, my xc bike, my Kona road bike, some other bikes I couldn't quite identify and my Dawg.

My Dawg was the bike in the car and the one I rode up to get the kitties. We sorta bonded in the smoke. He got me here safely and I just couldn't leave him behind. So, I chose the Dawg.

So, that pic there is all I was able to take with me (except the neighbor, he's not mine). And except for the fact that I smell like a bbq, I'm feeling okay.

But don't laugh if you see Michael and I in my mom and Theo's clothes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Watching, originally uploaded by Garrett Lau.

Sometime during Kern (I can't remember exactly when because all off bike time sort of ran together into one big blur of sleep, ice water and potato chips), Erika asked me if I were going to the track on Tuesday.

I thought she was mad.

NOOOO! I said all emphatically.

So, last night I went to the track. It was points race night. I love points race night. I also had my wee gear on because of the Kern legs. I also knew that I could not do my usual attack attack attack with my Kern legs. So I sat in and sprinted. Something I never do because I suck at it. And it was fun.

I never won any sprints or anything, but I picked up point crumbs here and there. So that was nice.

But I think I mainly went because thats what I do on Tuesdays. The comfort of routine is not so bad sometimes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Simple Things

Fire Leaf, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Today I realized that I have no idea what I want to do today.

I mean, what did *I* really want to do. Without thinking about anyone else, just plain ol me.

And I want to go to the track.

Which is a little too early after Kern for such nonsense, but what the hell.

And on Friday, I will have some teammates at the track for the Friday Night Races. They are my Kern teammates. The ones who went to hell and put flair on the beast. Watch out Shelly because we are bad ass!

I had a Big Gulp today. Extra ice.

This post is lame. But I like the picture.

Monday, May 19, 2008

To Hell and Back

Well, we survived another Kern.

It was truly a trip to hell and back in all meanings of the phrase.

Its good to be back. I mean, really back.


This was without a doubt the toughest Kern I have ever tried to complete. I kept going through sheer willpower and the generousity of my friends. They kept me giggling and motivated. I think Laura kept losing stuff like her shoes and race number, just to keep me entertained and distracted. What a pal!

The first day was like riding straight into a blow dryer, I lack the words to describe how it felt. I just remember thinking that this wind is not earthly. People are not supposed to survive something like this. Why are we racing in it? It scared me and I stopped racing in it. I am impressed by those who could push through such a thing, but I think you are crazy.

The morning of the second day was fun fun fun. Bella magic all over the place. Have I mentioned that I love my teammates?

The afternoon was another story. I set out on that stupid hillclimb with a heart heavier than those big ass motocross tires on my Dawg. As soon as it got hard, I wanted to stop. Linda and Andrea patiently tried to keep me motivated but I had pretty much given up. I told them to go on ahead. And I got off my bike. I envisioned the ripping off of the number that happens in a tour and how sad the riders look when that happens.

Then I dumped a bunch of water on my head, took a few breaths and got back on my bike. I repeated this a few times until I finally made up my mind to finish. And so I did and I saw Lorri calmly helping a new racer decide whether to finish or not. (They did!) And I heard Bob's clarinet and I rode the longest 1 K ever and finished and ate watermelon until I got sick.

A Velo Girl was at the top eating watermelon too and she just looked at me and said "that was hard". Yeah, sister, you ain't lying. And I told myself I would take it easy down the tricky debris scattered climb, but let go of the brakes anyway.

Sunday was good. We had a cool new venue and Tyler and Barret set up our bella camp. Our home away from home. The race went well, but I was not really a part of it. I fell off and came back about 6 times and just could not do it a 7th time.

The team was remarkable. Erika didn't want the responsibility, and Sue was there to help on that end. They made quite the climbing pair. Laura is the fighter. Don't let that smile fool you. She's nails. Andrea is rock solid and its like she's been on our team forever. And Linda, Linda is our guidelight.

I was more weight than help. In fact they all helped me more than I helped them. But sometimes its good to let your friends help you.

And Laurie Simonson stole my red lantern.


The pic up above is one of two very large traffic delays on the way home. That was almost harder than any of the stages.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hear me Roar?

Daydream Wanderlust, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Is it possible to feel both chaotic despair and to feel at peace?

Proving your own strength of spirit is a powerful lift. The self doubts aren't really self doubts. Not when you can climb mountains.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Paint a Pretty Picture

I don't think I can.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hellyer Hack

Chariot Start, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I wasn't going to go to the track tonight. I'm just stupid tired right now.

Last night, after our races, I just sat around like zombified mosquito bait, waiting for Michael's races to finish. I had the total droopies as I drove home. I almost called Michael so that I would wake up, but I was almost home and wouldn't have a cell signal and figured I could fight it off. blah blah blah.

And then I fell asleep.



Luckily nothing much happened, but it very well could have and I know we have all been there before, but it doesn't make any less irresponsible of me to not have pulled over. I vow to never let that happen again, and I am writing it here so I will remember and hold myself to it.

Okay, enough of the self flagellation (at least until I get to the track tonight).

So, last night, after the first race, my throat felt like someone rubbed it with 20 grit. I could hardly talk. Then when I could finally talk, the hacking started.

Track Hack

If you have not yet experienced track hack, you are missing out on some fun times. I started to get a little anxious about my hack, when I noticed everyone around me had the dreaded coughies. Even 12 year old Dylan (who is awesome by the way!) was coughing up a storm.

Must have been something in the air.

And I am thinking about going back tonight. Although I am super tired, I noticed that a SNOWBALL race is on the schedule, and that sounds like too much fun to miss. Maybe Beth can do my math for me.


The pic above is from the Chariot races last Wednesday (note the lack of actual chariots and roman gods). Check out Gio's throw of Alicia! He was so into it that he threw her right into Jenny. But these girls are so pro that they just rode it off. (Notice Jenny's calm face compared to MIchael's "oh shit" face). This was the final heat of the races. Jenny and Alicia finished 1-2 in the heat right before this.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Sunset Monday, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

After my awesome night of racing at the Larry Nolan Tuesday Night World points championships, I headed back for more on Wednesday.

The night started off with chariot races. I don't like these chariot races because there are neither chariots nor half nekkid romans involved. Its just a one lap sprint. Go, bell, finish, thanks for coming.

And thats pretty much how my race went. Even though I pulled and pushed and grunted, by the time I got on top of my gear, all the other chariots were long gone.

And the rest of the night, I just could not get on top of that damn gear. So I told Michael that I probably need something smaller than my 88 for Wednesday nights.

Thats when he told me I did not have an 88, but a 92. A 92.6 to be more exact. Thats a Jaques-Maynesian gear. All this time I have been pushing around a humongo gear.

So, on Friday, I decided to try Michael's gear, an 86. It was the first of the Friday night races and I wasn't expecting much of my racing efforts, but my friends were there and the music (that I worked so hard on thankyouverymuch) was playing and Michael was announcing and well, I wanted to at least give a good show.

I thought with my new fancy lower gear I could do that.

But then, in my race, I pedaled and pedaled and didn't go anywhere. It was a wierd feeling. Like in one of those chase dreams where you run, but you don't really run. It felt like that. And slowly the pack just drifted away from me and left me in their wake, a spinning fool.

So, I suppose I should keep that small gear on and practice my spin and get my foot speed up. But I say that spinning is for people without butts. I have a butt and I have quads bigger than Beth' what the hell do I need to spin for?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Winding down

This is how Michael and I wind down after a night of promotin and announcin and racin.

Just us and the fireplace and some wine and the kitties and listening to some awesome music.

And the comfort of each other.

(after listening a few times, be sure to watch his fret hand and her strumming hand)

And then some more wine.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Existst,,,wha huh?

Into the Grassy Sea, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I am having one of those days where i think too much. And maybe blogging will make it stop.

You ever have a moment where you are slapped with such clarity of thought, that it threatens to just make you implode or something?

So, I was walking in to work, when I spotted a little bird gathering up twiggly things for its nest. And I made some kind of comment to the bird about how it looks like were are both going to work. The bird flew off with its twigglies and I opened the door to our offices.

And the receptionist said hello and then BAM it just hit me.

What the F am I doing? What the F are any of us doing? Life is so fleeting and we humans burn it up doing these strange tasks and getting all pent up about minutae of stuff, that when you put it into universal persepctive, is laughably inconsequential.

The little birdy has it easy. Eat to be strong enough to have sex and make nests and feed little birdys. Not that I think we should just hang out and eat and have sex all day....(Do I smell a new religion?).

But we have the amazing power of awareness of our situation (religious beliefs notwithstanding) and what do we do with that awareness? We put staples in papers and file them in drawers and wash our windows and collect little spoons from tourist shops.

It just seems so....flat. And I don't mean that we should all go out and devote ourselves to some cause, because even that kind of stuff is "meh" in the scope of the universe.

Maybe this is philosophical crap that people without kids engage in. Maybe we are so wired to populate, that when we don't, some part of our brain is sort of freaked out by our lack of purpose.

Maybe that explains my opossum dream last night.

I dreamt that I rescued this really dirty and ugly (is there any other kind) opossum. And it became all domesticated and a pet like a cat or something. But I was a little embarrased that my cat was a dirty opossum. And then it sort of morphed into a baby, but it was still an opossum. I was trying to convince these other people that it was totally cool to have a dirty opossum instead of a baby, when the opossum peed all over me.

But I am digressing.

And hungry. I think someone brought in bagels.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Track Nights

Track Night, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I feel like its been forever since I blogged.

I mean really blogged. Not just dumping a picture and splashing a few words up to accompany it.

Its like my brain can only do either pictures or words, but not both.

But today I feel like blogging because I actually raced last night. I mean really raced. Where I tried and everything. And I haven't done that in a while.

Us women folk got our own race last night (well a couple of guys and an awesome junior did join us too). I like when we get our own race. Not that I don't like racing with the men and all, but damn if they don't chase any little attack.

And I like to attack.

When I first started racing again this season (after zilcho training and nothing but easy rides for the past 5 months), I had about 3 minutes of fitness. One attack would spend me for the night.

Last night I was able to launch about 7-8 attacks and didn't get spent until about the 7th one. Yay!

Erika and Linda were there again and I love racing with them. In the first race, Erika and I traded attacks. Erika ended up in the one that stuck. So with three up the road, there were only points for one in our chase group. Since I was not pulling, I decided not to sprint for them. Instead, I wanted to try and bridge up without pulling the pack.

I tried to get away a few times, but Ileana and a woman visiting from Ttown kept me on a short leash. Then I noticed that Erika's break caught up to the pack (who were behind us). And I remember the quirky rules of points racing. Of all the things I have done at the track lately, remembering this in the midst of the frenzy of a race is one of the things I'm most proud of!

Now, our chase group was the lead pack and full points were on the line. So I went for them, but goddamn that Ileana has some top end acceleration and I got nipped. But I also noticed how tired she was after the effort.

Then somehow Erika's group became the lead group again, except they were now four since a lapped rider joined them. That meant no points for us. (Is your mind whirring yet?) But my chase mates did not know that, so they sprinted and I rode their wheels. Then I did a most evil thing and attacked after they sprinted.

I tried like crazy to catch up to Erika's group, but it just did not happen. I did stay away for the remainder of the race, but it didn't earn me any points so I have no idea why I tried except that it felt kinda good.

Between races, Erika said "let's do some team tactics this time"

Uh...I thought that was what we were doing. But she said she wanted to do something different. What she really wanted was to not be in the lead break. And I got to find out why in the second race. That shit is hard.

On the second lap of the next race, I took a little pull up front. I was just pulling along all innocent like, when I looked behind me and saw I had a gap. I was confused, but decided to just take it and I took off.

After a lap, I looked back and I had an even bigger gap. Well cool, and well, crap. Cool because thats racing and crap because thats hard. Larry and Holloway's mom were telling me to keep going for it because bell lap was coming up. And, I had never ever won any bell lap in a points race yet. So I went for it and got my first 5 points. Yay for me.

Then Larry told me to keep going. So I did. Which was pretty much a silly thing as that put my laps alone out there at about 13 if you count the race prior.

Fortunately, Ali and Beth bridged up to me at some point. And I remember seeing Erika and Ileana there but I have no idea what happened to them. Maybe they were a mirage.

Unfortunately Ali and Beth had carpool bonding going on. The next few laps were spent getting worked over by the both of them. It was too much fun. Beth was doing tactical shit. I was so tired, but I had to laugh. And I was sort of flattered to because if you have to do tactical shit to me, then that means I am part of the race.

Kind of like how I liked it when the guys at hockey would check me.

So, Beth held me up while Ali attacked for a sprint lap. And then the two of us sprinted for the 2nd place points. I was totally wiped out before the sprint, but in all the times we have raced together, I have never been in a position to actually sprint against Beth, so I just had to go for it.

I think she was just teasing me though, because she did the most evil thing you can do in a points race, and attacked me after that sprint. Karma, on the track, is very quick.

Her and Ali rode off and lapped the field. Which of course made me leader on the road. I, thought that maybe the last sprint would be a brownie prime and I figured it was worth the 15 points to win some brownies. So I rode it in and scooped up my second ever points race lap win. But alas, no brownies!

Crap, I'm late for Wednesday night track....gotta run...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kenny Live at the Drome

Kenny Live at the Drome, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Looking for something a little different to do on some summer Friday Nights? How about a Track Night at Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose?

Michael is promoting this summer's Friday Night Track Races at Hellyer. Even if you are not interested in racing, you can still come out and have some fun watching. The races are fun and easy to watch, there's music (as soon as I fill up the iPod) and food. Also, you can bring your own food and refreshments (wine and beer is allowed in Hellyer).

The first race is this Friday, May 9th at 7:00, but the track opens at 6:00. My good friend and fellow mountain biker, Kenny Schick will be playing from 6-7, so I would love some folks to come out and hear his stuff.

Should be fun! See you guys there!

Directions are here

More info on Friday races are here