Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category:

Jens Voigt Wants to Kiss Me

When Jens Voigt crashed in yesterday’s tour stage, there was a collective gasp heard on the twittering and facebooking streams. OH NO Jens Crashed!!! No, not JENS!!

When I visited the Davis stop of the Tour of California this winter, I saw a big crowd of people over by what I thought was the Rock Racing bus. So, I wandered over to see what all the fuss was about. Well, the fuss was not about Rock Racing at all, it was for the Saxo Bank bus. Ahh, so the fuss is about the current world champ, Fabian Cancellara (Fabian wants to kiss me too by the way). But no. It was when Jens Voigt walked out and the crowd went wild (I only went a little wild, screaming something ridiculous in German to him) that I realized who the real rock star was.

And it struck me. Here in the US, where cycling is a niche sport and Lance fans are the norm, there was a crowd of fans standing in the rain outside a nondescript bus waiting for a German rider who doesn’t win the big tours.

So what was the allure? Why do we love Jens?

He’s a tough guy and lots of us fans love the tough guy. Like we used to love Johan Museeuw before he made his drug use more obvious than his hair plugs. But its something more than just being the tough guy.

Its that something inside him that makes him go hard in the front just because he can. That makes him attack just because it feels good. To make every single person in the peloton wince in pain, and then smile and giggle after the race.

I think we all just get the feeling that win, lose, job, doping scandals, television and popularity aside, he finds great joy in simply racing his bike.


July 22nd, 2009 / 8 Comments » / by sabine

Where U been?

I had a race report written up.

My intention was to write something inspirational, because I really was inspired.  However, I don’t write that stuff so well. It came off all schlocky, self involved, and whiny. And I deleted it. Suffice it to know that the XTerra was one of the hardest races for me to finish, even though it was only 2 hours and some change.  And the fact that I drove up there and did it and finished, makes me feel pretty damn pleased with myself. We’ll just leave that at that for now.

So, I must revert to what I know how to write about. Men racing bicycles.

What the hell is going on at the tour right now? I love it. The women are in Italy , facing long transfers, cramped hotels and racing in your face aggressively, and the men are twittering around the roads of France in Rock Star buses racing passive agressively.

To start it off, Lance is late for the start because he is pal-ing around with movie stars. I’m sure the French love a snub like that. Especially dressed like this.

Then, High Road gets their panties in a bunch because no one will help out the strongest sprint team. And instead of taking their namesake, they give a screw you to the peloton and spit out all of the GC contenders except for Lance.

And with his teammate and team leader, Contador, caught in the group behind, what does Lance do? He motions for the two teammates who did make the split with him, to get to the front and drill it. Oh, hell yeah. This is going to be a good tour.

And who decided to dress Thor in white?

July 7th, 2009 / 8 Comments » / by sabine

Stolen from Nolan

Larry Nolan is one of my local heroes. And its not just because he has that rare tush that looks good in white shorts. The man is a champ, and in addition to work, family and training, manages to find lots of time to encourage and mentor beginners.

Larry is the main force behind the Early Bird crits. These pre-season races are meant as an introduction to the sport for both beginners and those left a little stale from the off season. It seems as if last week’s Early BIrds had several crashes and a couple of ambulance calls. Blech. So, he sent off an email to remind folks of the basics. Anyhoo, it contained some stuff thats worth repeating, no matter what your experience level:


“400+ riders enjoyed our incredible January California weather last Sunday. 70 degrees! It’s easy to say that the majority of the riders had a great time rolling around in the warm weather shoulder to shoulder with their new found friends and a few of our local professionals.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the 9 crashes that we saw out there, including two ambulances. For our volunteer mentors and organization folks who take this very personally, this is NOT the way to start the new year.

Homework assignments for every rider thinking of coming out to the 2009 Early Birds…
– set a realistic goal for the day. Far better to come away with all your skin and an appropriate workout (off the front, slinky intervals, holding position, whatever) than a win in a training race, especially when some are racing for the first time in months.
– tone down the risk taking and practice those pack skills. You know, where you are holding good position in the field without pissing off people you’ll be racing with for years. Yeah, it’s January!
– have a minimum proficiency with these skills:
—-> know what an overlapped wheel looks like and stay away from it
—-> relaxing on the bike (arms, shoulders, head and smiling)
—-> capability to not overreact after contact with another rider (3 crashes in the 90+ rider 3/4 field all started with minor contact, including one from rubber necking)
—-> holding your line, including when there is an accident in front of you.
—-> ride predictably. Sure, we have lots of new racers but you would never jump out in front of a car, would you?
—-> how to panic stop
– practice your cornering skills (pedal and hand position, counter-steering, turning on a dime and tight figure eights)
– practice perfect pacelines”


And yes, those are all his world and national champ medals he is holding.

January 14th, 2009 / 9 Comments » / by sabine

Back to Work

Back to Work, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Ohmigawsh! What a gorgeous day it was in NorCal today. Whoever ordered up this weather for my birthday, thank you! Much appreciated.

This is the vista I get at the end of my little lunch loop. I work down in that valley below, but today, it was more tempting than normal, to skip the valley and keep pedaling in the hills.

If you wanna geek out for a bit, you can check out my lunch loop here, complete with geotagged pics:
Lunch ride at Harvey Bear

This ride normally takes only 45 minutes, but I dawdled today. A lot.

It was a good day for dawdling.

January 13th, 2009 / 5 Comments » / by sabine

Race leader

Race leader, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I just haven’t been feeling the photography thing lately. Not having access to a way to post process my pics takes all the fun away. Especially for the way I like making the pics.

I headed out to a cross race with my crackberry with the intention of snapping a few pics and tweeting them real time to anyone who cares. And yes, I said tweeting.

The nice thing about crackberry pics is they are usually so bad I don’t really care about what I take. I just click away. But after a bit that photography buzz hit. You know that feeling when you really “see” the scene and a way to capture it. Its like being in the zone or something. And you just get all hyper and excited by what you see both in front of you and on the screen.

Anyway, it was fun. Almost as much as racing. Maybe.

More Crackberry Cross here

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

December 22nd, 2008 / 5 Comments » / by sabine

Halloween Copy Cat

Well, Surf City kept me from doing just about anything else lately, including blogging. I am going to cheat and post a post I posted on the Surf City site, and then, after I catch my breath and stuff, its back to pictures and blogging.

But man, it was so worth it. What a great time.

Thanks everyone for just about the most fun ever! We had an unbelievable 100 people in our costume cross this year and about 50 kids in kiddy kross. I’m still not done laughing…

A big thank you goes out to all the amazing volunteers who make this race happen:

The Women of Velo Bella
The Fellas of VOS Racing
Beth Welliver – Clinic
Clinic Instructors: Ben Jacques-Maynes, Shauna Potocky, Kathleen Bortolussi, Mark Abele, Clark Natwick, Sheila Moon, Barb Howe, Stella Carey, Steven Gile
Linda Locke/Erika Donald – Kiddie Kross
Amy Hall – Registration
Steve Litvin – Results
Natasha Perry – Sponsorships
Tim Watson – Decorations
Jeff Clark – Legacy
Our amazing sponsors (check them out over there <---- ) and everyone who pounded a stake, wrapped course tape, picked up trash, raced their hearts out and wore a silly outfit. Check out the results and all the amazing pictures!

November 1st, 2008 / 7 Comments » / by sabine

Oops We Did it Again


(courtesy of Lilynn)

August 1st, 2008 / 14 Comments » / by sabine

Where Have I Been?

I’ve been here, in WordPress hell. I sure wish I knew what I was doing.

So stay tuned for the official unveiling, and then maybe I can get back to picture making and stuff.

I also realized that when we move the site over and abandon our goofy disparate blogger sites, that this babble page will be sort of stranded and outdated. So that probably means a new platform for this site too.

In the meantime, I raced the AVC last night. At first I was not going to because its AVC and thats for real racers. But one of our bellas came in from Portland to race it and so I just had to give it a go.

I am so glad I did because I cannot tell you how awesome it was to be racing on our local track with soooo many strong women. I was thrilled and honored.

And then I drank lots of the free wine.

June 22nd, 2008 / 7 Comments » / by sabine


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.

May 21st, 2008 / 12 Comments » / by sabine

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.

May 19th, 2008 / 25 Comments » / by sabine

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.

May 14th, 2008 / 8 Comments » / by sabine


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?

May 13th, 2008 / 10 Comments » / by sabine

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…

May 8th, 2008 / 16 Comments » / by sabine


The Real Otter, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Well shoot.

I’m glad thats over with.

I’m pretty much over the whole wind thing.

This was, however, one of my favoritest otters in memory. I think because we took it easy and let go. Although Laura did achieve perfection a few times.

And I think some folks raced.

But mostly we just got drunk in the back of a Uhaul.

I’m putting otter pictures up here.

April 24th, 2008 / 7 Comments » / by sabine

Jumping off the spectator wall

I just registered for a race.

It was all the talk of planning which restaurant to go to that did me in.

Last week, all I heard about was the ice cream at Hanford.

We bellas have our racing priorities figured out just right. And so, that makes me want to race.

How much training do you think I can get in between now and Friday?

April 8th, 2008 / 16 Comments » / by sabine

yay, Friday, yay~

As the world rushes by, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

For half of the day today, I totally thought it was Thursday. And then, when I realized it was actually Friday, it was like finding $20 in my pocket that I didn’t know I had.

Yay again.

Ann and I have started a Thursday night ride. We started it, like 3 weeks ago. Ann has stood me up each time. Thats okay though, because I am brave.

Except for sometimes.

And I need to add another animal that I am scared of to my list.

4. Crazy mating Tom Turkeys

I went out to Santa Theresa last night for a quick romp around the rocks. (alone…cough cough Ann in case you are listening) It was another wonderful spring evening with the poppies a bloomin and birdies a twitterin

and the turkeys a gobblin.

The turkeys were in rare form. The males were all Thanksgivinged out. You know, that full plumage like when you used to draw them at school by tracing your hand.

They were like that. Strutting all over the place. And they were rowdy. Kind of spooky rowdy. And, anyone who has watched “The Birds” or heard Laura tell her tale of how she was almost pecked to death by wild turkeys, knows to take that seriously.

So when a badass wild turkey crossed my path (unlike the last time when I was sixteen and woke up in my car at the edge of a cliff – wish I was making that up and maybe I’ll tell you the story one day) I took notice.

Unlike the piggy encounter, I had my wits about me and took a picture. Except my cameraphone isn’t so good and you couldn’t really see the big mean Tom in the corner. So I photoshopped it just a little tiny bit.

This Tom was serious about protecting his hens. So, I let them have the right of way. And I am quite certain it was not my lonely imagination, but I think he gave me the stinkeye, even after they strutted up the hill.

Maybe I will start posting my Thursday night rides to the board from now on.

April 4th, 2008 / 9 Comments » / by sabine

Live from the Poop Trails

Camphone 26, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I have to maximize my lunch time riding time, which means, I only have time for a euro shower before returning to work.

So, that means, I could very well have little driplets of cow poop still stuck to me somewhere as I type this.

There is this one section of trail, that as long as no one is coming in the other direction, I like to hit at super fast speeds. As so, I did that today, but then found myself headed straight for a big ol pileopoop. Kerplush.

At least I am not afraid of the cows at Harvey Bear anymore. Even the ones who try to be all badass and stand in front of me and try to punk me and stuff. Its all bluff. I just give them a hearty “heeya!” and they scamper. Thats right, I made those cows my bitch. (says the lady who shops for orthopedic shoes)

But I am afraid of some things at Harvey Bear. Three things actually:

1. Mountain lions (for obvious reasons)
2. Ticks (ewwwwwwww!)
3. Mama pigs

Kenny and I were riding down one of the Harvey Bear trails last Friday. We had just finished showing those cows who was boss, when we spotted a little calf about to cross the trail. It was the ugliest calf I had ever seen. And, it didn’t scamper to our Heeyahs. Instead, it squared its shoulders to us and stood its ground.

Thats when I realized, it wasn’t an ugly calf, but an ugly wild pig. I didn’t take a picture, but I found one on the internet that looks EXACTLY like the pig we saw.

And when I saw how this pig was holding her ground against us, I knew what that meant. I told Kenny, “we better back up…slowly and calmly”. I think we took two small calm steps back, and the pig took one step towards us, and then we ran back up the hill. Kenny might have even screamed. Can’t remember.

Once we backed up, the pig started to cross the trail, and sure enough, right behind her were 5 or 6 wee little ugly pigs. They were sooo uglycute. Their little pig tails stuck straight out behind them and their little pig hair was all wiry and piggly.

We waited a good and long time before we finished our ride down the trail…just in case. But at least we lived to tell the tale.


So, sort of a side story. In my search for a pic of a “wild boar” I had to sift through endless pictures of guys posing with dead boars, with the mouth all open so you can see the tusks. I mean, endless pictures of this. Why do men like to pose with dead animals like that? Just wonderin.


I think my Sidi mtb shoes are the culprit by the way….this is very sad.

April 2nd, 2008 / 9 Comments » / by sabine

Wild Flower

The wildflower display going on right now at Coe is unbelievable (I almost typed “off the hook”, but then remembered that I am 41 years old)

I didn’t have a camera, and even the cellphone pooped out on me, so I borrowed a pic from Michael.

And although I didn’t have a camera, I think, all this recent photo action I have been doing, has really heightened by visual awareness. I was almost overwhelmed by the scenery during our ride. Several times.

What a perfect way to celebrate the equinox and a birthday and the bunny holiday.


SO, while climbing one of the descents at Coe (you’ll understand that in a few seconds…) , I came up with the following:

Guide to Trail Riding at Coe with Natasha:

Descent = Rolling hills
Rolling hills = Climb
Climb = get off your bike and walk

I am not even exagerrating. I’ve never climbed so much on a descent. It was all totally worth it of course, I am just putting this up as a public service.


And just because its the funniest thing in a while:

March 25th, 2008 / 9 Comments » / by sabine


Camphone 25, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I have turned into a mountain bikeaholic

The Bucolic bikeaholic.

I seriously can’t get enough of it. My days are spent either mountain bike riding, or planning my next mountain bike ride.

Even riding sploosh splash right through a giant wet pile of cow poop can’t undermine my enthusiasm. (although it does make me wonder what in the world those Harvey bear cows are eating thats given them all the runs)

So, yeah…I won’t be at Copperopolis this year.


March 21st, 2008 / 12 Comments » / by sabine

Back from the Valley

Slice of the Valley, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I did have some pics from the NRC action in Visalia this weekend, but my Dell just died. I managed to get this one up before it happened. So, you will just have to use your imagination for the race action.

This was the first time in a bit, that I have traveled to a race where I was neither racing, nor had bellas who were racing. I must admit, that I felt a bit out of place, not really belonging. And the race director for Visalia did not make things any better when she gave me one of those passively aggressive “And you ARE….?” questions when I lined up at their free pasta feed thingie.

No, seriously, she did that. As if I came to mooch on her food. And the thing is, I really didn’t know how to answer her question. In either a philosophical sense or literal sense. So I told her I was with Velo Bella, (who had no one racing this event), and she sort of reluctantly let the matter slide. And I helped myself to an extra portion of garlic bread.

However, what going to the event unencumbered did for me, was allow me to step back and be an observor. And I saw some cool stuff. I saw some ugly stuff, but I mostly saw some cool stuff.

The ugly stuff, I am going to ignore for now…but I if I find a soapbox around later, I might have to step up on it for a bit.

Now, on to the good stuff.

*Watching Ben J-M win the tt. Ben is dictionary efficiency on his bike. Nothing, nothing moves except those two hugely calved pistons. The same thing happens on the track when he gets in a groove. Its worth coming out to the track just to watch. Of course, I am a little biased because Ben is my neighbor and his wife is a bella, who also happened to help straighten Michael out a little.

*Watching Laura Van Gilder KILL IT in the time trial. She is not a tt specialist, especially for a long one like at Visalia. And she had a good shot at winning the next day at the crit, so you could easily forgive her for slacking a bit on the tt. But she does the opposite. She was attacking that TT and just forcing herself up those climbs. Damn..wish I had my photos for this cuz I have this great shot of her stomping up the final climb. And she’s like two years older than me! She’s just an awesomely strong woman who loves racing her bike.

*Brooke Miller’s sprint smile. I always knew she smiled when she won a sprint. But she also smiles when she’s second. She was trying so hard to overtake Ina. (Yes, I said overtake Ina, as if) And you could see that moment when she realized it was just not going to happen, and she broke out in a huge smile that seemed to note and respect just how awesome Ina is.

*Ina is awesome.

*The TIBCO leadout train. Wow. Its early in the season and this team is already turning heads with one of the most amazing lead out trains I have seen in a while in women’s cycling. In fact, I don’t think I have seen something that impressive since the Saturn days. That speaks volumes about the strength and chemistry of this team. They owned the last two laps of that race even though they were down a few riders. Lauren in particular used her sprinter’s timing to deliver Brooke (if you get a chance, check out the last two laps in the video on IBN sports)

*Seeing Vanderkitten at the races. Yes, I have a bias towards kitties and Dave, but I could not help but notice how the Vanderkitten kits turned the heads of the young girls in the crowds.

*Knowing that Aarons and VAC both did school visits. I know exactly how difficult it is for an NRC team to race, travel and then still find time to do these kinds of local community activities. And I am super glad that Velonews covered it.

*Spending travel time with Michael. I have missed our road trips and silly times together. It was a good refresh and reminder of why I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

There was more awesomeness, but I need to go home now and try to fix my laptop situation.


March 18th, 2008 / 11 Comments » / by sabine

Summertime and the livins easy

Evening Stretch, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

It totally feels like summer time right now. It might just be a tease, but I’ll take it.


I am soooooo not a winter person. If I could do that endless summer thing, I would totally do it.

Winter depresses me. And this past winter has been one of the toughest. And we don’t even have harsh winters here. I’m certain that if I lived someplace like Canada or Alaska (lord have mercy) that I would be a raving maniac loon by January.

So, I’m riding more these days. And that means more unknown bruises. I’ve got a whopper of a bruise above my knee. One of those bruises thats got like six layers of colors that change daily and a little hard nugget inside. And its pretty horrific looking (which is why there is a pretty picture of the hill instead of my knee)

And I have no idea how I got i. (The bruise, not the picture). I might have gotten it when I did the touchdown almost crash into the puddle at campus this weekend.

But I was too concerned about keeping myself upright to worry about bruising at the time. Literally, my face was inches away from nasty week old puddle mud. The only thing saving me from complete ruin were my two fingertips that were propping me and my dawg up. And when you come that close to malaria/giardia/dysentary mud water, you don’t think about the bruises.

Damn I love this sport.

March 6th, 2008 / 12 Comments » / by sabine

My IQ just went up by like 57 points

That there photo up above is the radar image at just about the time that the Cat 3 women were finishing off their last lap at Snelling.

I kissed Michael goodbye as he left this morning for Snelling, and I headed out for a happy trails ride instead. Dawn, Beth, Steve, Brent and I zigged and zagged and had a rocking good time on the nicely packed but not muddy trails. And about fifteen minutes after our lovely 3+ hour ride was over, it started to pour. But for our ride, we were dry and even saw some goody sunshine.

Now I am sitting here eating roasted tomato soup, drinking a Hoeegarden, skippily dippilying around the internet, all while encased in the furry comfort of warm kitties.

I’m just sayin

February 24th, 2008 / 15 Comments » / by sabine

Kobe for Erika

Montana Del Oro, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

I totally want to blog about TOC. I didn’t get a chance to go see any part of it, but I saw pictures. And, man, I have a few things to say.

Hopefully will find some time later today.

In the meantime, there was a segment on the women’s race and Brooke Miller and Team Tibco on KGO this morning. Thats huge publicity. A 30 second spot on KGO is about as expensive as it gets in the radio industry. It would be awesome if the TOC promotors could add another race or two to this event. This one race for them went a long way towards promoting women’s cycling.

February 19th, 2008 / 10 Comments » / by sabine

Livin la Vida

Crossing, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Ohmigosh what a fabulous weekend.

And now I face a foggy Monday at work, while the rest of the world (the world I know anyway) plays at the Tour of CA on El Presidente day.

But, after my dreamy weekend, I can hardly complain.

And its funny, when I think back on the fun I had this weekend, very little of it had to do with racing. I didn’t even race at all, and felt only a teeny tiny twinge of regret over that.

I have really tried to be motivated to race this season, but as of yet, I have not quite struck it. I have not yet been able to give up the things you gotta give up to do it. Things like sleep, that second glass of wine, Kobe burgers, and simply not riding when I don’t much feel like it. Or, not riding hard.

I dunno. Maybe I will find the motivation later. But for now, I am enjoying la vida.


Some more pics of the beautiful race down in Los Olivos are here

The promotor, Mike Hecker, of that race is doing something interesting. Ever go driving down the highway, and look off into all that Cattle ranchland thats here in California, and see a little dirt road and wish you could go ride it?

I do that all the time. Well, Mike must have done that too. He’s gotten in touch with the owners of the Chamberlin Cattle Ranch and they’ve allowed a network of trails to be built on that land. Hecker’s group plans on holding about 8 races there this year, including a Norba National as well as downhill and dual slalom races.

Sometime this summer, the ranch will be open for riding outside of races for like a $5 fee or something.

Its a lot of work forming a partnership like this. And you have to ride alongside cowpatties and the occasionally ornery bull, but if this past weekend was any indication, the work is well worth it.

While not technical, the singletrack was stunning. There was one trail, in particular, that was along the top of the ridge, offering fabulous views of Foxen on one side, and Vaca Station on the other. I did not get a picture of this piece, because I was too busy enjoying it in person. (its hard to be both photographer and do-er).

And when in Los Olivos, you just HAVE to visit American Flatbread in Los Alamos. YUM!

February 18th, 2008 / 7 Comments » / by sabine

We’re smarter than we look

NO, thats not Cherry Pie, its Ollalieberry Pie.

And its better than Cherry Pie because we didn’t have to race to eat it. We just pedaled our bikes on sunshiney roads at whatever pace we felt like.

We didn’t plan on pie. Didn’t even think about it. Until we came up on the Gizdich ranch sign and Stella said “blah blah blah blah pie?”

So we all searched our pockets for whatever chumpchange we might have with us, and between all of our jersey pockets we had enough for one pie and 5 forks.

Erika complained that we couldn’t possibly buy and eat a WHOLE pie. “A WHOLE pie???”, she exclaimed.

This picture was taken right before (or maybe after) she helped herself to seconds.

February 12th, 2008 / 12 Comments » / by sabine

Fuck Chicken

CamPhone 13, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.

Oh yeah! I totally cleaned Rocky Ridge today. No bobbles, no dabs.

There were a few “oh shit” moments though.

Now, for those who aren’t so wussy at mountain biking, Rocky Ridge is probably no big deal. But I am from the land of soft sand and redwood needled carpet trails and the rocks just foul me up something fierce with their pointy obtrusiveness.

I trusted in the Dawg (and in only about 17psi in my moto tires) and rolled right over everything. It wasn’t pretty, but it got ‘er done.

At the bottom of the trail, when I stopped to finally catch my breath and regain and reflect, I was all full of giddy glee and was sort of bummed that no one was around that I could fling my glee on.

So I patted myself on the back and granny ringed it back to the car.

January 18th, 2008 / 4 Comments » / by sabine

Coe Legs

Camphone 11, originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes.


They still hurt.

But man, was that worth it. Nine of us headed out to Coe on Saturday. It was an incredible Juneuary day. Birds a twitterin and streams a flowin.

And hills a rising. Lordy there are some hills to climb in that park. Ann mentioned that Serpentine trail would be a tough climb and we might have to walk a little.

A little?

I’m quite sure I push walked more than I rode. I even had time to stop and take a picture with the phone.

But it was so very much worth it to get to the top and see nothing. Well, not really nothing, but nothing man made, save for the observatory on top of Hamilton.

At 90,000 acres, Coe is the largest state park in No California. Because it is so large a park, it can maintain its wild habitat, with very little influence from encroaching populations. I imagine it is what California used to be, back when the Ohlones migrated seasonally to harvest the rich wildflowers.

How precious to have preserved such a chunk.

Unfortunately, it is on the list of parks to get the axe under Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal.

48 State Parks to be CLOSED.


In the history of our state park system, no Governor has ever closed a state park to meet a budget. What an utterly dreadful legacy we would leave to actually CLOSE a state park.

The cut would “save” $13.3 million from the state budget, as part of an effort to fill a $16 billion gap. That is less than 1% of the shortfall.

Just seems a stupid way to save some chump change.

Many its just an act on the Governor’s part, or maybe the State Parks is just gesturing, or maybe it would really happen.

Sure, we’d probably still get to ride in these parks, but thats not really the point, is it?

More info on the proposed closures here. And a sign it and send it thingie is here.


January 15th, 2008 / 15 Comments » / by sabine