Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Pollinator Week!

Bet you didn't know that this week is National Pollinator Week.  Initiated and managed by the Pollinator Partnership, National Pollinator Week is designed to raise awareness about the growing crisis of declining pollinator populations worldwide. The Pollinator Partnership does all kinds of other great things to support and promote healthy pollinator populations.  For example, they publish regional planting guides that offer plant lists of pollinator-attracting plants, as well as tips to create healthy pollinator habitat.  

I've planted a lot of flowers over the past year, and I've been amazed at the diversity of pollinators present in our yard.  Here are some of my favorite bumble bee pollinators:  

This one is a fuzzy, little yellow bumble bee which frequents raspberry plants. Maybe she is a Bombus mixtus?   (There are many bumble bee species, but she seems to resemble other Mixtus specimens).  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Unicorn Redemption (Part IV of Spokane Round and Round)

After a deliriously high lap 3, I slept hard for nearly three hours.  Apparently going without caffeine had been a great decision.  I woke up, stretched a bit, had some food and yes, coffee, then got ready.  I then made my way to the start line, where I signed in for my lap, then chatted for a bit with some friends from Bike Works in Seattle.  In hardly any time, TBD crossed the finish line on his final lap, going strong and looking great!

I headed out, dressed in full unicorn regalia to mark this final lap.  The unicorn first came out to play at the Magnuson Cyclocross race last fall, and I'm sad to report that she had less than stellar results.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Revelations in the Dusk and Dawn (Spokane Round and Round, Part III)

I set out for my second lap just after 8pm on Saturday evening.  Although the sun had set, it wasn't yet dark- Spokane has an unusually long twilight period in May, and the light hangs in the air forever. Since part of the lap would be in total darkness, my lights were ready to go.  On my handlebars, I had an ultra bright MagicShine LED with a back-up blinky light.  To my helmet, I attached a headlamp with zip ties. A handlebar/ helmet combo is a great way to go- your helmet light illuminates the direction you are looking in, while the handlebar lights illuminate the direction the bike is headed in (sometimes these are not the same direction- for example, when going around a switchback).

I also wanted to be in a more festive mood, so I rocked my forest elf dress.  It was actually a perfect piece of cycling attire- the arms came just below the elbows, so my forearms were free to breathe, and the poly fabric wicked moisture well so I didn't get too sweaty.  The extra layer gave me just a little added protection from the night chill, and I was comfortably cozy for the entire loop.

Spokane Round and Round, Part II

The Spokane 24 hour mountain bike started with a "Le Mans" style start, which you'll most definitely want to experience via the link below.  I was skeptical about this element of the race.  We're going to be racing for 24 hours- is it really necessary to tack on an additional 800 meter lap for one unlucky soul?  Isn't this just a footnote on the weekend's guaranteed agony?  Lucky for us, Dave actually does some running on purpose, and even enjoys it, so he agreed to be our start man. 

With a gun blast, the race commenced.  I must admit, I did get quite a kick out of watching a gaggle of lycra and helmet-clad athletes trotting awkwardly across the start line in cycling shoes.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

24 hours- Spokane Round and Round Part I

I spent Memorial Day weekend with four teammates at Riverside State Park in Spokane, doing our first ever 24 hour mountain bike relay race.  This particular race has been on my radar since I learned how to ride a mountain bike, and I was thrilled to finally have a critical mass of people in my life who are crazy enough to undertake this kind of madness.  The format was to ride as many 15-mile laps as possible in a 24 hour period, from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday.  We were nutty enough doing it on a team of five riders, but there were 50+ other uber-nuts who signed up to do the race SOLO.

Approximately three fifths of our team, dubbed the Boadcious Booties and Bulging Beer Bellies, departed Seattle mid morning on Friday, packing Tyler's Volvo station wagon to the tippy top with gear. We even had a four-bike hitch rack on the back.  JillyB's fancy Indy Fab went on the outside slot, which made me a little nervous, being the nicest of all our bikes by a factor of at least 5, and considering how low the wagon was riding.  Luckily, all the bikes (and riders) arrived unscathed after a smooth, uneventful, sunny drive across eastern WA.  We rolled into camp around 3:30pm to find an expansive scene of RV's, tents, bike racks, camp chairs, and very fit, muscly people packed in tight like sardines. Like burning man, but with Gu and Nuun instead of acid and magical cookies (and spandex instead of fuzzy mini skirts and kilts). The race directors directed us to the back of the camping area, and because Tyler boldy wove the Volvo between the trees into the woods, we scored a huge wooded area with virtually no one else around (great for letting the dogs loose, and for tired racers trying to catch some quiet time between laps).

Lupines and Arrowleaf balsamroot were in full bloom.

JillyB getting ready for a pre-ride