Friday, December 31, 2010

Mexico!

Clare and I just got back from Puerto Vallarta and we had an amazing time.
Dia de los muertos! Dancers performing in the old town of Puerto Vallarta on the day of the dad.
The beautiful old church in Downtown Puerto Vallarta.
The view from our room in Yelapa.
The view from our balcony in Puerto Vallarta.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rafting the Deschutes River


video
Clare and I just returned from a long weekend in Eastern Oregon. We left town on Friday and spent two days camped in Camp Sherman, Oregon. taking it easy. On Sunday we drove over to Maupin, Oregon to meet up with some of Clare's co-workers for a rafting trip on the lower-Deschutes River.

The section of the river that we floated was pretty mellow but we did have a few decent rapids that managed to get our blood pumping a bit.  Everyone had a good time and it was an excellent way to beat the heat.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

North Sister Climb

My Buddy Mike Smith and I just got back from a great climb of North Sister in the Sisters Wilderness of Central Oregon.  We had a fantastic but grueling time heading up this wonderful mountain. We made it to the trailhead on the west side of the mountain at 5:00 PM on Saturday and began the 6 mile slog into the base of the climb. We we're traveling with split snowboards in the hopes that we would get some turns. Unfortunately the snow down low was really patchy so we ended up having to hike almost four miles with the boards on our backs!
Here is Mike finally enjoying a bit of skinning on the snowboard! We ended up pushing on to our high camp in the dark and making camp at the terminus of the Collier Glacier. After a brief nap (it is hard to consider four hours actual sleep!), we got geared up and began the climb.
As we climbed up the Northwest Ridge of the mountain we we're treated to some great views, including a fantastic look at the east face of Middle Sister (at the top of the post). Once we hit the ridge it was fairly straight-forward climbing (see the picture of Mike above) until we made it to the traverse beneath the summit (picture below).

The traverse to the gully in the center of the picture above was steep and exposed but the snow was generally pretty good (albeit a little icy).  We opted to forego the rope, despite the exposure, because we felt that moving fast through the traverse was our best option for avoiding the potential rock fall from above.
North Sister actually has two summits, one is just a few feet higher than the other, but the route to the top of the highest summit was melted out and sketchy (as seen in the picture above) so we swallowed our pride and were content to get on top of the lower of the two summits. We managed a few thousand feet of snowboard turns in the slushy snow of the lower part of the mountain on our decent, and then had to hike the boards out for the final push to the car. We made it back by 5:30 PM on Sunday for a total of 24.5 hours.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Irem Shrine, Wilkes-Barre

This absolutely magnificent building is the old Irem Shrine, in Wilkes-Barre, PA. It was built as an auditorium for the local Shriners group back in the early 1900's. Appaerntly the building is in rough shape and the city is not quite sure what to do with it. Maintenance on a building of this size and vintage must be extremely expensive and the local Shriners don't have the money to upkeep it. What a shame.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Travel To Ithaca

Clare and I are in New York this week to visit my family and to show Clare around where I grew up. We've had a good time so far, taking in the best of the local hikes to the area waterfalls, eating good food at the many great Ithaca restaurants, and sampling a few east coast microbrews that we just don't get in Portland. We then took a trip down to Wilkes-Barre PA to visit my Aunt Anna. We we're really lucky because my Aunt Annette, cousin Nicole and her husband John were all able to come from New Jersey to meet us there. We had a great time, although as always, too short.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rose Festival at Night


I snapped this picture the other night during the annual Portland Rose Festival. There were a few Navy ships tied up right along the Willamette River in downtown and they provided a nice foreground scene to the backdrop of the city skyline. I played around with some different exposures settings and timing and this is one of the better shots of the bunch.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tour of California - Stage 4: Modesto


The finish in Modesto today was out of control!! What a way to end our time in California. The breakaway ended up staying clear for almost the entire day, but as is often the case, they got swept up right at the very end. It was tough to see Lars Boom get caught but the sprint finish was really exciting and we had a front row seat.
We made it to Modesto early in order to be right on the course for the sprint. We managed to get a spot about 110m from the line. The riders did two circuits through the city so we got to see them three times. On the first pass through Lars Boom was leading but by the second pass he had been caught, and Cervelo had a strong lead-out train going for their sprinting ace Theo Bos.
But the finishing pass was off the hook cool. Mark Renshaw of HTC-Columbia was doing the job he does best, leading out Mark Cavendish. Theo Bos still had one teammate, Haussler, to lead him out, and J.J. Haedo of Saxo Bank was driving with his head down, going it alone. Look at how far out on the bike Cavendish is! 
Haedo manages to crank it up a notch and starts to pull even with Cavendish, who by this point is off Renshaw's wheel and gunning straight for the finish. Haussler (just behind Cavendish in the green glasses) is wondering where the heck is Theo Bos!
And then Haedo pulls even with Cavendish and neither he nor Renshaw can believe it. The picture is a little fuzzy (they are moving at close to 40 mph) but you can see the total shock on the faces of the HTC-Columbia teammates. However, what nobody sees, not even my camera lens, is Fancesco "The Sheriff" Chicchi who closed the gap in the last few meters to pass both Haedo (who finished 2nd) and Cav (3rd) for the victory. That's him at the top of the post, gettin' some love from the podium girls!
And finally, the rest of the field rolled leisurely in, not too concerned about losing time to the stage winners.  Fabian Cancellara looked pretty relaxed for a guy who had been racing a bike all day.
Likewise, Lance Armstrong and most of the Radio Shack squad finished in a mellow group, chatting and seeming none the worse for the effort of the day. So that wraps up my time at the Tour of California and man was it exciting. I can't wait for next year!!

Tour of California - Stage 4: Sierra Road

Well, today is our last day here in California and we are making the most of it by catching the KOM at the high point of Sierra Road, just outside of San Jose, and then we are going to race around to Modesto and try to grab a spot near the finish line for what is shaping up to be an exciting stage. The action on Sierra Road was pretty awesome. Lars Boom of Rabobank led a fast break away over the mountains (picture below) but the peleton came rumbling up the road about 2 minutes later with Garmin and Radio Shack leading the charge (picture above).
All of the best riders in the race we're working hard in the heat getting up Sierra Road. Although it is not the longest climb of the race it is pretty steep and the pace that they we're taking was fast.
I really like this shot of Chechu Rubiera of Radio Shack. He is a great rider who has had a fantastic career as a domestique, riding primarily in support of Lance Armstrong at US Postal, Discovery, Astana and now Radio Shack.
Heinrich Haussler of Cervelo was making good time up the mountain despite being primarily known as a sprinter and one-day classics rider. He's been pretty quiet so far in the Tour of California but for his sake I hope that changes.
And taking up the rear of the race are the team cars. The riders are followed by a long procession of vehicles, some with seemingly no purpose in the race. One look at this Packed Kelly Benefits car though and it is easy to tell what it's doing here, carrying spare bikes for riders who are unfortunate enough to crash or have a mechanical.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tour of California - Stage 3: KOM

The nice flat ride out of SanFrancisco along Highway 1 led to some stout climbs up into the hills today and Clare and I were at two of the KOM (King of the Mountains) points to watch the riders come racing through. The first hill was up in the clouds, with a light rain falling and low light. Challenging for taking pictures but dramatic at the same time. I like this crooked, slightly blurry shot of Jeremy Powers, Peter Sagan (in the white Best Young Rider jersey) and Tony Martin of HTC.
Cavendish does not look like he's having much fun in this shot. I guess that's why he gets the green sprinters jersey and not the red King of the Mountains jersey!
Next we raced on over to the final climb of the day, at the top of the famed Bonny Doon road. This is where the stage would be won or lost today and it didn't disappoint. We were right at the crest of the hill and I got some great shots of the favorites coming through. Levi Leipheimer came blazing by with Mick Rogers and David Zabriske on his tail. These guys barely looked like they were working, though they had a 2 minute gap on the rest of the field.
Andy Schleck sure wasn't looking like one of the best climbers in the world today. He rolled over the top of the climb at a leisurely pace with a group of sprinters (including Dominique Rollin of Cervelo) in tow.
Andy's teammates from Team Saxo Bank, J.J. Haedo and Matti Breschel (in the Danish champions jersey) came through with the main peleton, several minutes behind the lead group. They ended up finishing about 16 behind the leaders.
And what a finish it was. Here is a shot from the video camera at the finish line. Zabriske edged out Rogers by about 3 inches to take the victory after 4 hours and 26 minutes of racing. Zabriske also gained the overall race lead with the stage win!

Tour of California - The Bikes



Although the fearless riders, who literally risk life and limb everyday, are the heros of the race, to some, the stars of the show are the bikes they're riding on. While the riders are getting ready in the RV for the long day of racing, the mechanics line up each teams bikes for the public to drool over. The bright red Pinnarello Dogmas of the Bissell squad got a lot of attention. I love the Northwest Coast Indian inspired paint job on the carbon handle bar-stem combo.
The bike above is one of the first bikes that caught my eye, and certainly one of the most unique of the Tour. This is the custom Cannondale bike of Francesco Chicchi of the Liqugas squad. He's nicknamed the Sheriff and his bike has an old west, gunfighter paint job.
This bike was his reward from his sponsor for winning last year's Tour of Missouri. If you look closely you can see two "bullet holes" on the chainstay. The saddle even has fuax-cow skin. I wonder what he's gonna be riding next year if he manages to win a stage here.
Although not all of the riders have a customized paint job like Chicchi, nearly every team has the name and national flag or fun logo of each rider somewhere on the bike. This is Tom Boonene's Eddy Merckx ESX-5. Tom's nickname is Tornado Tom and his logo incorporates the World Championship stripes. The plain carbon, red and white color scheme is pretty subdued for someone as colorful as Boonen, but you can't blame that on the designers at Merckx bikes. The picture below shows the bike Tom was riding right before he crashed near the end of Stage 1. It has a beautiful Belgian tri-color paint scheme. I'm assuming it was unrideable after the crash because Tom didn't even cross the finish line with it and he didn't start Stage 2 with it.

Tour of California - Stage 3: Start


Today's stage started on the beach in San Francisco, right along Highway 1. Maybe it's the ocean air or the warm temperatures after yesterday's rain, but the riders all seemed relaxed and in a good mood this morning, which made for great picture taking. Lars Boom of Team Rabobank was out of the RV early and chatting with Dutch fans.
Tom Boonen was looking better today after his stage 1 crash and getting soaked in the rain during stage 2. He's bandaged up on his arm and leg but seems none the worse for it all.
Another day, another jersey for Mark Cavendish. Today he's in the green jersey of the overall points leader (the sprinters jersey). He lost the overall race lead yesterday but if he can finish all eight stages of the Tour he should be a threat for the point overall. He will certainly be gunning for the green jersey this summer in France!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tour of California - Stage 2


Today the Tour started out in Davis California, bike city USA. This city is bike crazy, and lot of folks turned out for the start, despite the cloudy weather and the unseasonable threat of rain. I took the picture above during the ceremonial start of the stage. That's Mark Cavendish in the race leaders gold jersey and J.J. Haedo in the green sprint leaders jersey. The riders are all smiles, for now.

Cycling is pretty unique among high-profile professional sports in the level of access that fans have to the athletes. Unlike other sports that you sit in the stands and the athletes are hundreds of feet away, pro cyclists compete within feet of hundreds and sometimes thousands of screaming fans. My favorite part of the Tour so far has been the pre-race time, when the cyclists are getting ready for the day. The teams roll up in big RVs and the riders get ready inside, then come out and sign a few autographs (like Cavendish above), chat with friends (like the American champion George Hincapie is doing in the photo below), tend to any final details with their bike, and head to the start line.
Some riders have a pretty big following and the crowds can be pretty thick when they first come out of the RV. Mark Cavendish is a very popular rider so he often has folks seeking autographs or wanting to pose with him for a picture. For most of the guys though, particularly here in the US, things are a bit more mellow for them, and by and large the fans are very polite when asking for a bit of the riders time.
I like this shot of Mark Cavendish in the leaders jersey. He seems genuinely excited to be wearing it for the stage, although he knows he will not keep it for too long.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tour of California - Stage 1


Clare and I are in Northern California for the start of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California bike race. This by far the most prestigious professional bike race to occur in the US and this year's field is one of the best ever assembled for the race. Many of the biggest names in professional cycling are here and we got a chance to see all of them up close and personal.
Lance Armstrong is here, along with his entire Radio Shack team, including last year's champion Levi Leipheimer. I was more excited though to see the guys from Team Saxo Bank, including the champion of Luxembourg, Andy Schleck, and the champion of Switzerland, Fabian Cancellera. This race is gonna be epic!!!! Todays stage began in the little town of Nevada City, California. The streets were packed with people and it was exciting to be there. After a ceremonial two laps around town, the peleton headed out of town, on their way to Sacramento.
But the day belonged to Mark Cavendish, of the HTC Columbia team. He is regarded by many to be the fastest sprinter in the world, and today he proved it by easily out-sprinting the field for the win. He was celebrating well before he hit the line! That is him above being led to the finish by his teammate Mark Renshaw.
The day didn't end so well for everyone though. Tom Boonen, the champion of Belgium and one of my favorite riders crashed hard on the second to last lap around downtown Sacramento. He needed to be helped into the finish line by one of his teammates. Several top riders went down in the chaos including Stuart O'Grady from the Saxo Bank squad. Let's hope Tomke and O'Grady are able to start the second stage tomorrow!