Thursday, October 11, 2007


Our beloved Velogirl has asked for an update...who am I to disappoint?

Been a little out of it and apologies to those of you who depend on me to keep the NCNCA CX site fresh. It seems just relaying info that people are sending me to the site in a timely is proving to be cumbersome, and for this, too, I must apologize. But alas, I don't get paid to do it and honestly it's hard for me to be on the sidelines. There are few things harder than watching a race (or a whole season) you'd much rather be riding in. I try very hard to hide it but on the inside I'm ashamed to say I am a bit too competitive to be a good sport about it all - which is why, when I can't race, I do my best to just stay away from it all.

Still, I schlepped Liam and Rowan down to the Pilarcitos opener because Tom graciously asked me, as last years champion, to send off the Elite race and to receive the honorary #1 plate. BTW "sending off" amounted to firing off a mini cannon with a shotgun shell in it (and setting a small grass fire in the process- Alec and I quickly jumped on it tho). It was great seeing some of y'all and it looked like some fine racing. Looking at the course I would have loved to race it - my kind of course for sure. Hung out near the S/F in the sun for an hour, chatting with a few folks and watching AJM ride away with the race. Liam sat patiently in the stroller (he's always found bike racing a bit boring) and Rowan spent his time trying to walk out onto the course and playing with 'lil Jade Robinson's tricycle.

Then I got the hell out of there.

Two years ago when I hurt my back, as a distraction I tried my hand at surfing - I found that paddling felt really good and it was much more interesting than swimming laps. But I was learning at Ocean Beach in SF, which is one of most notoriously difficult places to learn. The waves are fast, heavy, and on some days the paddle is so difficult many surfers never make it out to the lineup. Needless to say I didn't make much progress, but I had a little fun trying.

Right now, my back is feeling ok though there is still a bit of pain and sciatica - I can ride a bike ok but even thinking about a dismount still hurts. So, here I am again, in the same boat, as the saying goes - I'm back in the water. This year I have to admit I'm having a much better time of it, and I'm absolutely hooked (also stoked, pumped, and jonesin' for more).

Late Monday I surfed for a couple of hours and caught only 3 waves, yet somehow, I had a blast. I can't explain it, but just being out there in the lineup, watching these rollers come in, guys and girls getting up and carving up and down these beautiful waves...

A small serene pod of dolphins came by - one surfaced just a few feet from me. Another leaped out of a breaking wave and soared about 8' in the air in an arc past the setting sun.

I thought how fortunate I was to bear witness to such beauty in my everyday life.

...and, for the moment at least, I didn't think about anything I may be missing this Fall.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Can Someone Help Me Put On My Socks?

...because I sure as hell can't reach all the way down there.


Welcome to 931 Judah, a.k.a. "Intensive Care". In this corner we have a hurt child, crying like a school girl, moaning in pain, asking for help to do the simplest of tasks. And in the other there's Liam, arm in a cast from bicep to hand, laughing and running around as if nothing was wrong. I swear, the kid had a few drops of Tylenol on day 2 and he was fine. Me...I'm popping Vicodin and Motrin like they're Pez candies.

I'm broken, again. Out for the season. Back is jacked. I don't need a doctor to tell me I've herniated my L4/L5 disc again. I didn't even DO anything, I just woke up the day after some mild on-the bike jumps and....oh god, not again...

I'm an idiot. Last year was great, 4 months of Pilates leading up to CX and I felt like a lithe 30-yr-old. This year, a couple of lame-ass core exercises on the ball per week and 8 weeks of decent training, and for some reason I expected to feel the same. Hell, I gotta stop acting like a kid.

But damn, I was pumped. Here was the announcement I wanted to make this week:
"Santa Cruz Bicycles/Art By Opsal Cyclocross Team for 2007-2008

Riders Rich "Dark God" Maile and yours truly will be out kicking bootie on the new Santa Cruz Stigmata on CX course near you
Rich: "these bikes are punk rock, man, PUNK ROCK!"
Me: "ya...we'll be having strawberries for brunch every Sunday"
Sponsors: Santa Cruz Bicycles/Art By Opsal/Shimano/Giro/Crank Brothers/Paul Components/True Temper
But it's ok, because Rich is a one-man wrecking crew, he doesn't need me anyhow. But sweet Jesus, Ferrentino at SCB really went out on a limb for us lining up some great sponsors. Seriously, I had to pinch myself every 8 hours to make sure I wasn't dreaming I was a 26-yr-old spring chicken w/ a phat contract.

Big thanks to Mike F - that was the hardest "no thanks" I ever had to cough up.

And now...on the sidelines. Actually there's plenty to do - I was seriously in the dog-house for even contemplating another season with 2 kids under 5 and Frances working hard as a full-time mom and trying to record the 2nd CD.

I'm in a bit of pain, and I can't sit upright very long. I can't walk very far. Most of my work is done on the laptop laying on my stomach and then rolling over to my back for a few minutes. Getting up is annoyingly difficult. Sneezing is the most unbearable agony and something I dread more than anything else. Experience tells me I'll feel this way for about 2 weeks, then very slowly start to improve.

...but seriously, the hardest thing I have to do every day is put on my goddamn socks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Parental Nightmare

I work in the basement room below Liam's bedroom. Clackity-clack on the keyboard and then from above:

(screaming child)

Nothing could have prepared me for walking into that room, seeing Liam's hand dangling from a 45-degree break in his forearm. This beautiful little cautious, loving, sensitive creature that we somehow miraculously broken...and screaming bloody murder. I started to flip out but somehow pulled it together just enough to dial 911.

That IKEA loft bed...

...I worry about it all the time when Liam's friends are visiting and they're up and down the ladder. "One of his friends are gonna fall off that thing", I keep thinking. But not Liam, he's too careful. He's afraid of the monkey bars if his feet are 8" off the ground... going on Craigslist this weekend.

That's not an elbow.

Liam is a bawling deer in the headlights. Nurses and doctors try to ask him questions and try all those little tricks that work on every kid but ours - especially now, scared of all the attention and clearly traumatized at the sight of his hideously misshapen forearm, he stares into space in all directions and answers nobody, clings tighter to Fran's shoulders, then resumes crying. I want to whisk him away from this madness.

Some 2 1/2 hours later on our 2nd of 4 trips to radiology and he's still broken and wearing the makeshift cardboard splint the SF Fire Dept EMT's put on him...banished from the X-Ray room where Liam is whimpering in Fran's arms, I finally lost it. All alone in the nook of an empty hallway I'm sobbing like a baby - I can't bear to see Liam go thru this - I'm supposed to protect him from this sort of shit. Some girl comes down the hallway, our eyes meet for a second - we're both crying and neither of us are ashamed. She turns the corner and I calm down. She's probably having a worse day, she looks like she's losing a loved one somewhere around that corner.

The hospital at night - nobody's there for a check-up, everyone is having a bad day - and all these saints choose to work there - god bless them.

At some point during the evening, Liam says:
"I'm sorry...I'm sorry I'm in such a bad mood."
Then the god-awful "reduction" - what they call the re-setting the bones which amounted to filling Liam full of some drug that made his eyes go all crazy and glazed and clearly out of it, and then pulling and manipulating the bones with a hideous cracking sound louder than a bag of chips - feeling a faint coming on I rush out of the room and stand outside the door with my fingers in my ears. Meanwhile Fran is in there holding Liam, she says she barely noticed anything because she was only looking at Liam's face, getting him through it all. No bones about it, she's the rock on which this family stands.

But Liam will be fine. Back at home late last night he started meowing as his alter-ego - a kitten named Mimo. I have no idea where Mimo came from, but he always comes out warm and cuddly and full of love. In the middle of this long sleepless night, Mimo came out to let us know that everything will be fine...and I fought back a different kind of tears.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Rowan, August 6th, 2007.

Rowan had to wait 365 days to experience chocolate.

Worth the wait, I'd say.

(Note the efficient use of both hands)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Wheels are off

Daddy couldn't be prouder...

Monday, July 30, 2007

I Heart Intervals

...and I Hate Intervals.

Especially, the first one of the year.

But God, the feeling afterwards - you know, you're sitting on the couch, drained, dead to the world, thighs throbbing in such sweet blissful agony...




Drink a beer and it multiplies the effect.

Interval Afterglow.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Back on the Blog-wagon

I think it's time to start blogging again...lots going on here.

The 2007 Cyclocross Calendar is coming together nicely and should be up on the NCNCA CX site this weekend.

Work is busy and Fran's got me learning to become a Sound Engineer in my downtime as we set up or little home studio to start recording tracks for the follow-up to her first album.

So, after years watching me come home with expensive toys, Frances is exacting her revenge. Guitars, amps, Pro Tools software and hardware, cables, stands, a banjo...

Who knew you could spend $1000 for a microphone?

$250 for a set of headphones?

Tip-o-the-iceberg, my friends.

Anyhow, it's all cool and really a lot of fun, and we're just re-investing the paltry rewards of the first CD to finance the second, which is gonna be a hoot for the little ones and their indie-rockin' hipster parents. Really, I love the songs she's written for this one as much as the first one...she's got a gift.

Liam and Rowan are great. Rowan (9 months) has only just started to crawl but he's waving and saying "Hi", "Dada", "Mama" and all that - he slays us daily with his Buddha-like sweetness. He eats anything and everything but there are some things he just loves - like the fuzz on our new carpet. Liam (4 1/2) is still all about space and ocean - I'm convinced he'll be exploring one of these frontiers as an occupation once he gets over all his fears of loud noises, water, heights, the unknown...

Fran's mom Sheila is visiting and wow how nice it is to have a 3rd party in the "your turn to hold the baby" game. Really, she's great and Liam and Rowan adore her, and so do I. We all love "Sha-Sha"...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

BJM vs Versus

Yeah, I know nobody's reading this blog since Cyclocross season has ended (no doubt with good reason), but I gotta rant SOMEWHERE.

Versus (formerly OLN) is on my shit-list...why?

photo stolen from the BJM blog...

#1 - Ok, I was a little bummed that our local boy Ben Jacques-Maynes didn't get any facetime on TV for his 3rd place in the Prologue at the Tour of California. I mean come on, turn those freakin' cameras on when the race starts...duh.

#2 - The Stage One ruling to ignore the written rules of the tour and keep Levi in yellow (and BJM in third) may or may not have been prudent, but I don't think they even mentioned who would have been in yellow on Versus if they had stuck to the rules.

#3 - In my mind, the worst offense was a lack of any mention of BJM's stellar ride in the Solvang TT except for a cursory "oh hey look who's in 10th" by Phil Liggett as the credits began to roll. There, amongst a list of Europe's finest racers was one of Norcal's finest. Ben's teammate Zirbel did get some good coverage for holding the best time early on, but Ben's mug was not to be seen despite beating Zirbel's time and sitting high (3rd) on the leaderboard before the big guns started to roll. Also this ride was further proof that the Prologue was no fluke.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nothing to Blog About

Lately...except for the fam...

Rowan is getting huge (18+lbs at 6 mos), and as a result our biceps are reaching "maximum pumpitude". Now he's eating solid food and sitting up for a few minutes at a time but mostly just rolling all over the place but not thinking too much about crawling yet. Rolling must be oh so much easier than crawling for one as rotund as he. He's still as sweet and mellow as ever.

Liam has us in constant hysterics (especially Rowan) with his interpretive dance and his alien impersonations. I've got him in training to start carrying Rowan around for us. As you can see from the above photo, he has a ways to go...

More love...

Fran is working on a book deal - no joke. In my mind, she's already famous and successful. Unfortunately BofA isn't reflecting anything to affirm this.

Me, I'm subsisting on a diet of cookie dough, corn chips, and beer.

This morning I did an about-face and went to Pilates class, if only to give the girls something to snigger at...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Back to the Grind.

We left VT on Sunday and right now it's snowing 4 inches an hour there. God I miss seasons...

It's about 60 degrees in SF today and I'm hoping to sneak out for a bike ride, but honestly I'd rather be up to my waist in "pow". It's probably best that Tahoe is hurting for it since I have no time for it anyhow.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ignorance = Bliss

I wonder if anyone's racing anymore.

Cousin Billy's Wedding in Yosemite but all I was excited about was buying a cheap sled and taking Liam on run after run in the snow play area at Crane Flat. We were soaked to the bone, what a friggin' blast.

If anyone wants me to update the Cyclocross website they'll have to actually send me an email and tell me what to say, because I'm out of it...completely. If I value my marriage ("I do") I don't have any say in the matter.

I've ridden my bike twice since Nationals - two Marin Headlands loops to Miwok Stables and back on my Single-Speed. It's funny, I've turned into one of "those guys" - you know, the ones that catch and pass you on your blissful jaunt thru the hills just to show off. I get out so seldom that I try to pack a week's intensity into 2 hours. If there's someone to pass, I'll sure as hell pass them - at least I smile and say "hi", tho.

Today I was fortunate enough to have a pretty fit rabbit on a SC Superlight start up Miwok about a minute ahead of me. Anyone who frequents these trails knows that the Miwok trail N-bound between Bobcat and Old Springs is a bee-atch of a climb, and on a SS it is a total body workout because there ain't much sittin' down to be done.

So I killed myself on it, rewarded with the Old Springs descent - one of the few fun and legal ST descents in this birthplace of the MTB - and continued the pain up the Marincello climb, envisioning that my rabbit (who wasn't behind me anymore) chased me all the way up.

I was pooped when I got home. Fran puts Rowan in my arms and says "he's yours, I'm outta here" (Liam was at a friend's house). Rowan is great if you completely engage him. I was too tired to do that, so instead I put him in the Bjorn and do the 15-minute gut-check up the stairs to the top of Grand View Park. It's funny how I have no problem being physically tired, but my brain...well that's another story - I'd rather schlep a 20 lb. 5-month-old up 500 steps than play peek-a-boo. It's just too tiring...

It was a brilliant day and I think I could actually make out individual surfers on Ocean Beach 2 miles away. Rowan rewarded me by falling asleep just as I returned home, he loves walkies.

Parting shot: