Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunny and Warm, and We All Proclaimed It So

It's been a pretty cold and wet this Spring in Seattle. I know what you're thinking: "Well, you live in Seattle." OK, fair enough, but it has really been exceptionally not-so-nice, but yesterday we all breathed deeply the warm, light air. So I went for a ride around the Lake.

Everyone I stopped and exchanged a pleasantry with said about the same thing: "Sure is a beautiful day, isn't it?" Hearing that a few times just keeps the smile on your face.

Well, if all us human cyclists, joggers, strollers, sun-absorbers were smiling, what you're looking at above apparently puts the smile on a carp's face. It seems that this little shallow bay just South of downtown Kirkland on Lake Washington (as seen from the long wooden bridge along the lake's edge where one can typically spy cormorants on the old moorings) is prime spawning habitat for carp.

How do I know? Well, a very authoritative-sounding guy told me so. He said those huge fish (6 - 9 pounders) we were all watching as they leapt clear of the water to splash heavily down onto the surface were spawning carp.

This picture above, of a spawning carp about to land onto the water--and this is a large fish!--is my pride and joy. Do you know how many pictures I snapped to get this? I'm ashamed to say. I eventually honed my technique as they leapt/splashed about once/minute and usually there would be two splashes.

But you know what, this guy was probably right. Here is what I found when I Googled "spawning habits of carp":
Carp spawn in the spring and early summer in weedy, grassy, shallow areas of lakes and watercourses, usually about 2-3 feet deep. They prefer to spawn when the level of water is rising. Flood conditions usually trigger furious activity as carp wallow and splash, making a noise that can be heard for some distance. All this splashing and physical activity is designed to spread the adhesive eggs.

I found this from the website Who'd a thunk? The carp I photographically captured is trying to spread its adhesive eggs. There you go.

As I was patiently waiting to digitally capture my carp, I saw this Seagull dragging something in the water. You can see in the pictures below that the Gull has a pretty big fish he's dragging into shallower water. Hard to tell from my photos, but the fish is nearly as big as the Gull.

I lived with a guy briefly in Colorado who liked to hunt, as I did back then. We were both bow-hunters as well as gun-hunters, but he was a much more practiced and better shot. He was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania. He also had his bow rigged for bow-fishing (a reel with line attached to the arrow so you can retrieve the arrow, and hopefully the fish!, after the shot). We used to go up to the irrigation ditches and he delighted in shooting carp and throwing them on the bank declaring them "trash fish" by explanation. He had a "lazy" eye, but that didn't harm his aim. He was sharp. I tried a few times without success. And yes, I did try to account for the refraction from the water, but I still didn't catch on.

All of this critter-watching was a distraction from my supposed purpose in stopping on the wooden walkway. I stopped, I told myself, to take photos of my Pereira randonneuring bicycle so I can post here about some detailed impressions. I'd been waiting for a suitably sunny day. So I did take the photos, but really I just couldn't help soak in the sunshine. It was sunny and warm, and we all proclaimed so it in our own ways.

Keep it spawning,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beer and Bicycles...Another Happy Ending

This Happy Ending, pictured above, is the repaving of Denver Avenue South in South Seattle as it intersects with South Lucile Street. The railroad tracks--the very ones that grabbed my front tire one rainy morning on my way to work years ago and threw me arms first into the pavement--are ended! The remaining tracks in the foreground are on private property and are not part of the street proper. All the tracks, and there was a wild splaying of tracks, are gone excepting the one below which is still a very active track coming into and out of the railyard.

And as you can see in the photo above, that remaining crossing is relatively smooth now.

Looking the other way, away from that remaining track, is this view of smooth pavement on Lucile, a delight to ride now.

This nondescript building is home to the Georgetown Brewing Company at 5200 Denver Avenue South. They moved here a year or so ago, and it is my hunch that their moving into the neighborhood might have been contingent on the City's cleaning up the nasty railroad remnants. I have no evidence, but I'm betting that once again Beer and Bicycles just have this karma. They are naturally intertwined.

One of these days I'm going to stop in at the brewery again and drink a fresh pint while toasting the removal of the tracks that did me in that one slick morning. I'll drift back to that moment as I pulled myself off the pavement, removed the grit from my arms, checked for serious injuries--thankfully none--and recalled asking myself how I took that tumble even though I knew to be careful of railroad crossings, especially in the rain.

I guess knowing to be careful, and being truly careful, aren't necessarily the same things.

Do be truly careful out there, and don't forget to toast our lucky stars:
  1. to not getting seriously hurt when we otherwise might have, and
  2. to the offending railroad tracks being ripped from their concrete beds as they slept.

All hail Safe Streets!

Keep it ripped,


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Turning New Pages, Part 2


Yesterday I described how I've added ten new Pages to this blog. For each new Page there is a tab to click on to reach it. The ten tabs are located directly under the blog banner. Here are the ten new Pages:

Each Page is focused around a topic and I described the first five topics covered in the first five Pages in yesterday's post. Here is a description of the final five Pages:

The sixth Page, Scribblings, is a listing of links to all the Book Reviews I've done to date as well as a few upcoming ones. I review books that are about cycling or traveling or training or related topics.

The next Page, Heartholds, is about what I hold deeply. I haven't got much down on this one yet as it will require some thinking and being. But the intent is to put down what I believe. Mainly, this is a blog about cycling and randonneuring, but I can't help that it creeps into Life, into what it means to persevere, what it means to be human. I know some folks just want the cycling stuff, and I hope they get their dose. But I believe that what we believe is what makes us human, so I'll explore that on the Heartholds page.
The other thing about bicycles is that they are just so deceptively simplistic on the face of them. But, given the context of the Age of Oil in which we now live, they are nothing short of revolutionary. Maybe 100 years ago they weren't; today they are. So that begs a few questions even though this blog is "just about cycling and randonneuring".


Vintage is a page with links to older bicycles, and it's really nothing more than an indulgence. I love old bicycles, and I have always especially loved highwheelers. But it also captures not-as-old bicycles like my old 1975 Fuji Finest. Old bicycles are cool. So, here you'll find links to any meandering posts of mine about those cool old bikes.

One World
One World is a Page about our natural world, and again mostly because I'm just continually enthralled with our world, our critters, our natural environment. I post often about the critters I see or hear on rides, and you'll find links to those posts here.

 Sillinesses, the final Page, is just that: being silly. Consider it an antidote to the times. There are two parts to this page. The first is a list of links to posts where I get silly or goofy or, some might say, stupid. A post about the mating rituals of lightning bugs (fireflies) is one example. There is no point to it other than to notice the absurdity of our lives.

The second part of the Sillinesses Page is a collection of photos. I anticipate the collection growing. It started because I couldn't decide what photo best represents Sillinesses. So, instead of deciding I just kept adding new ones. Mainly, these are photos of family and friends. For most readers of this blog these people mean nothing to them. I'm hoping that their expressions translate even if you've never gazed on their countenance before.

The thing about this Page is that it is so out there. I never would have dreamed of such a thing a few years ago. But, as with many, I've discovered that Facebook and blogging have torn down interior barriers. For better, for worse? For me, the jury is out. Hmmm, maybe you are the jury. Gulp!  Perhaps I'll be cringing a few years hence wondering "what on earth was I thinking"? Ah well, blogging is nothing if not self-indulgent. Do check out the photos at least, and I hope you get a smile on your face too!

And again, these pages are just collections of impressions about a topic or notion. If you want to find posts about topics not covered (or covered) by the ten Pages, you can always search the blog by going to the Search box at the very top left of the blog (above the banner). Alternatively, you can check out the Topics sidebar to the right of the main text body. Enjoy!

Keep it silly, for sure,


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Turning New Pages, Part 1

à Paris

I've added a new feature to The Curious Randonneur blog: pages. Under the banner, I have added ten labeled tabs, one for each new page. The pages are:
Each tab is a new page for this blog, and it is focused on a distinct idea. So, for example, if you are interested in my preparations as a newbie for entering the Paris Brest Paris Randonnée, then go to the à Paris! page and you'll find links to all the relevant posts plus a few pictures.

Stanzas is a page devoted to art. So far, it is my handful of cycling poems and information about the artist, Aaliyah Gupta, who created the banner for this blog. It will expand as I introduce other art or artistic endeavors.

Rantings is just what it seems: a collection of links to my occasional rants. Who doesn't love a good rant?

Captured is a page with links devoted to my latest experiment--sound recorded during rides--and a few video links. I am digging the nighttime sounds especially. Tricky business as sound pollution permeates the night just as light pollution does.

Ahh! is the page that folks have been asking for. It is designed as one place for links to all my observations about my new (now a year old) custom randonneuring bicycle and other observations on what makes a comfortable performance bicycle. I still have many posts to deliver here on my promise to document the new Pereira, and they are forthcoming. Promise.

The pages will grow over time as I post about relevant topics, so I hope you'll check them out. You can also search the entire blog for any topic by keyword by using the Search engine at the top left of the blog (above the banner). Or, you can search by Topics in the sidebar to the right of the main body text.

I hope you enjoy the new pages. I like them because they pull out some arenas that either are important to me or that I think others mind find useful, and it gives them a little more attention by putting it all in one place.

I've described the final five pages in Turning New Pages, Part 2.

Keep it archived,


Monday, April 18, 2011

The things we do for...

Why exactly am I doing this again? My physical therapist, she whom we call TheHealer, told me to shave my left, lower leg for my next visit. And so I did. Wow, is that weird.

Next visit, she taped it into what she called a "fibular lift". It seems that my Fibula isn't allowing my Talus to slide fore and aft as smoothly as we'd like. My theory is that this is the result of an injury from a little race over twenty years ago. I had taken my son to a dude ranch for a weekend of horseback riding and hiking in the foothills of the Rockies.

We had just had a grand day hiking those hills and sneaking around spying on a herd of Bighorn Sheep. We were tired, but having fun. At day's end, I remember clearly seeing my old, green Jeep across the gravel parking lot and saying "race you to the Jeep!". And so we tore off across that gravel lot. Just a stride away from the Jeep my tired ankle turned under and I heard that distinct "pop" as a tendon pulled a bone chip off of my outside bone on the foot where it connects to the fibula.

I never put weight on it as I hopped my last stride on my "good" foot, hauled myself into the Jeep and drove us into town to the ER. I wore one of those goofy walking casts for a while, and that was it.

But on my last brevet, the Nighttime 200k, I ended up the last 50k or so with very mild pain down my left shin. I had issues here before, though not often. TheHealer theorizes that this rough fore/aft motion of my talus causes the muscles in front of the shin to work harder, thus the pain.

Well, we'll find out. Meanwhile, I'm still getting over the crud...again, and I'm a little frustrated. I had planned to do my 400k this weekend, but this recurring sinus crud isn't helping me along. I'm showing restraint, and a passage from the book I've been reading, Base Building for Cyclists by Thomas Chapple, has helped:

The athlete with a commitment to her long-term goals also knows that skipping a workout when her body is not up to the task will not set her back but will actually keep her moving forward. Committed athletes know the benefit of maintaining balance in their lives. When the committed athlete asks herself, "What can I do today to make myself a better athlete?" the answer may be "Rest." The athlete who attempts to train through an injury rather than adjust his goals always believes he is committed, but he is not. He is acting obsessively rather than remaining committed to his objectives. Remaining injured is not the way to progress, and by not resting he only creates long-term setbacks. This is when obsession is mistaken as passion or commitment.

The very athletic Bighorn Sheep, per Wiki.

Keep it shaved and wrapped,


Sunday, April 17, 2011


I have pre-registered for the Paris Brest Paris Randonnee! As most know, the pre-registration is based on the longest brevet each rider completed in 2010. And if there is going to be a larger number of applicants than slots available--which is still uncertain--then this earlier pre-registration is important.

In any event, I'm in and I don't have to worry. That feels great. Now it's just finishing the 400k and 600k to qualify.

My Registration Number is US-1451. That means there were 1451 registrants worldwide as of when I pre-registered. I think that also will become my Rider Number that is attached to my bicycle. If so that may also be the way to track me en route. We'll see.

One thing I'm proud about is that I persevered to get my 600k done last year. I attempted the Willamette Headwaters 600k in Oregon, with more climbing than I was prepared for...and I abandoned. Some serious lessons learned then. I regrouped, cast about for another opportunity and attempted and finished the Surf City 600k out of Santa Cruz. More lessons learned, but I did it.

I know some who couldn't finish a long brevet last year--including some who were plagued with serious physical limitations not of their own making--and I wish you, my buddies, plenty of opportunity for you too to qualify this year. There is much discussion of quotas, but clearly not all those eligible are utilizing their spots. I do hope that any of you who wish to go get your shot to go too!

Keep it hopeful,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Carry a Spare

I started carrying a spare tire on my Night Brevet 200k this past weekend. I like the way it worked out on my Gilles-Berthoud saddlebag.

This is what it looks like under better conditions. This is all a part of my PBP prep.

Keep it spared,


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Critters of the Night Brevet 200k, PBP Qualifier #2

Yep, I saw another Bobcat while riding a brevet in Oregon. I spied one on my first 400k (the same brevet I ran over a weasel). This time it was on Geiger Road at 3:30am where the road crosses a small stream. What a rush! I love nighttime riding on lonely country roads.

This route was put together by Marcello of the Oregon Randonneurs. Come to think of it, I met Marcello on this very 400k while I was photographing a Turkey Vulture. But this brevet last night was his night-starting 200k. I needed a 200k Qualifier for Paris Brest Paris, and I like the idea of practicing night starts as that's what it will be in Paris.

Only six of us started at 5pm--I wonder why more didn't join us?--and we jumped out fast. Once again, despite telling myself to start slowly I got into trying to hang with the faster guys. My rationale was that since we faced a stiff headwind, it'd be worth it. And it would have been if I wasn't too slow.

So I peeled off after 20k and rode the rest on my own. The weather held, and despite getting a spit of rain now and then, mostly we saw stars.

Before it got dark, I captured the picture above of a chawed tree along a bridge crossing a small stream. I'm guessing beaver since it was near the stream and porcupine often chew bark higher up the trunk, but I'm not certain. What do you think? Below is a closer look.

Reminiscent of a previous post featuring a beaver-chawed tree. Is there more beaver activity now, or am I just tuning in to beavers now that I've seen their handiwork while riding? Am I experiencing a rando version of the familiar Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon again?

I also really like the sounds. Lots of frogs last night. Once, it was quiet, and I was riding along when a frog croaked right next to me all of a sudden and very loudly. Maybe I startled him, but I know he sure startled me out of my pedaling reverie!

Like to hear some frogs I recorded last night? Check this audio file out!

Also saw a raccoon that crossed a road in front of me--from a wooded area along a stream on one side to an open field on the other. When he understood that he'd be out in the open by the time I got to him, he spun around and loped back from whence he came back into the brush and stood there staring at me in that scornful, defiant way they do.

It was a cold night--frost on my window after my 1.5 hour nap before driving back home to Seattle.

But it was nice and toasty in Marcello's and his wife Kathy's house. I was the last finisher, and she conjured up some biscuits and jam and hot tea for me. Really hit the spot. And as I ate she regaled me of their chicken-raising adventures. I was really interested as I've been contemplating chickens, even getting Dartre's blessing. But in the end, even though Kathy reminded me of how affectionate they can be (I really took to the chickens when I visited the farm where my grandfather grew up in Oxford, PA when I was a wee lad), I think I've come to the realization that we just don't need more responsibility in our lives.

On the way home from this nighttime brevet, I was pretty beat. But as I came upon the exit for the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge I had to stop. I used to visit there years ago, but they recently removed the dikes and opened up the area for reclamation by Puget Sound. The Ranger told me they doubled the amount of esturay in the Southern Puget Sound in this one restoration. Perhaps as much as 750 acres of restoration, I'm not certain.

I was too pooped to go for a stroll--I really wanted to be back home with the family--but I put it on our family to do list: visit the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. As I was leaving I saw an older couple with cameras and huge wildlife lenses. They were fixated on the little pond adjacent the Info Center. There, just in front of us was a pair of Wood Ducks. Talk about beautiful! They said they were told that they had just descended on this spot for the first time this year.

Perhaps the most beautifulest of all the ducks (though the Harlequin is right in there), the Wood Duck is stunning.

But all the critters great and small have their habits, whether they be wild or domesticated. I am enchanted by them all.

Night brevets are cool!

Photo of Bobcat courtesy of National Geographic. Wood Duck photos courtesy of Wiki.

Keep it croaking,