Saturday, June 27, 2009


Team Unattacked made its first 2009 appearance on the flanks of Mount Baker today when Scott "Titanium Cowboy" Young and I did the Glacier to Mount Baker Ski Area jaunt. "Mellow Johnny Boy" Clark couldn't join us as he cavorting in Europe 'til sometime after St. Smithens Day. Beautiful day, no wind, temps in the 50s and 60s.

Above, the Cowboy, sporting his new Belgian cyclocross champion jersey, rides my favorite stretch of the road, just past the ski area's White Salmon Day Lodge with its terrific views of the Nooksack Ridge to the right. (That's what's on the video.)

Below, Scott and I just past the upper lodge, at the 4,400 foot mark, where we had to turn around because of snow. Scott, as you can see, is a tad taller than I. Strong as a frickin' horse, he creates a fantastic draft which I took full advantage of on the way back. Forty four miles in all with 4,400 feet of climbing in about two hours fifty.

Shout out to our homey, John--we miss you; hope you're having a great time!

Oh, and a late shout out to Glenn Gervais too, who rocked Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 12:27, including a 4:06 marathon--SMOKIN'!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PADDEN MTN PEDAL - Indie Series Bellingham

Next up on the McQ agenda is the 17th Annual Padden Mtn Pedal on July 12. It's the Indie Series' Bellingham stop, put on by local legend Mark Peterson. Here's the website: (, pre-registration is available on the Internet Webby thing. Challenging courses in beautiful Lake Padden Park, with Galbraith Mountain pretty much right across the street. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


My helmet cam can only shoot for 56 minutes and since my race would last about four hours, I knew I couldn't shoot the whole thing. So I waited until I'd made it to the top of the biggest hill--an 8-mile killer that started at about the 20-mile mark and which featured several sections (Bonk Hill, Rock Bluff Hill, Lava Flow Hill, etc.). When I reached the top, I hit Record.
So what you've got in this four-minute excerpt are the upper reaches of Lava Flow Hill, the Ring Creek Rip and the Powerhouse Plunge, all of it known to me as the Cramp Inducing Descent from Hell. (Note abandoned car on the side of the trail and a part where I bash into another rider at a tricky corner.) After an hour of climbing you've got about 40 minutes of downhill, much of it of the tense-up and hold-on-for-dear-life variety, so when it comes time to pedal again one's legs (as in mine and just about every rider I talked to) seize up rigor mortis style. (See yesterday's video blog entry which shows me being knocked down for the count.)
On the open dirt road feed station section, you'll see I meet up with son Baker and wife Jen who run alongside for a while, a real morale boost. Then it's into Crumpit Woods where I rolled off a bridge into a puddle (camera had unfortunately run out of power by then) and later bashed my shin into a rock. Please enjoy!
Below are some photos:
Sweet rig. Me (left) and Bellingham's Steve Noble before the start.

Above, bikes lined up before the start. Below, riders rarin' to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Here's a quick video of today's Test of Metal 40-mile mountain bike race in Squamish, British Columbia. Beautiful setting for what is a hellatiously tough race. Quick impression is that what makes it so hard is that the course gets tougher the farther you go and the more and more tired you're becoming. I'll write more later but here're a few things that happened to me, all in the last 10 miles: I suffered some of the worst leg cramps I've ever had (and I've done two Ironmans and run the Chuckanut 50K five times), I rode off a 5-foot high bridge into a puddle of goo, I bashed and bloodied my shin on one of the course's six million frickin' rocks but ... I finished. In about 4:13. Pretty pleased with that time actually. The aforementioned cramps caused me to take about 10 minutes to sit on a log and ingest a salty as hell chicken sandwich (which helped immeasurably) and had me considering calling wife Jen to pick me up with the car. So I was happy to finish.

The video shows the Powerhouse Plunge, a crazy-steep rocky section, and my cramping episode which is hilarious. I topple over like I've been shot with a blowdart. Oh, the pain! First my left hamstring, then my right quad. Eventually, it subsided but there was always something there to remind me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Team Unattacked (John Clark, Scott Young, Steve Vanderstaay, me) rode up the Power Line Road today. Crazy steep. Climbs 2,300 feet in not much more than 3, 3-1/2 miles. That's not a 22-percent grade but it sure felt like it. Here's a vid with "Detlef Schremp" by Band of Horses. Kudos to Scott AKA Titanium Cowboy (TC) for riding it on a 'cross bike; that descent couldn't have been fun.

In all, we rode about 32 miles. About an hour to get out there, the killer climb, then a rollicking, fast ride back to town with a sprint to the city limits sign. (I believe Mellow Johnny took it.) Total elevation gain: 3,500 feet. Fun, fun morning.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


I'd heard the Leavenworth race course was one big hill--first half the race you climb it, second half you descend it--fast. That's exactly what it was. Stunningly beautiful too. I love the Leavenworth area but I'd never been to Freund Canyon before, which is basically due north of the skatepark. (You'd know where that is if, like Jen and I, your 10-year-old son led you by the hand on the great Washington State skatepark tour two years ago.)

Near the top of the course's 1,800-plus-foot climb, it was all purple lupine and Indian paintbrush and wide open views of canyons, peaks and valleys. But by the time I made it there during Saturday's contest, I had no time to really soak in the views; I was leading the 45+ Beginner's race and thought it most appropriate to try to maintain that lead.

The race started with about 1.5 miles of dirt road before we actually hit the trail. Which was good because I'd heard that it was tough to pass on the singletrack and that the downhill was so fast and skinny that passing there is next to impossible. The road stretched out the field a bit and about a mile in, I'd made it to the front of our group and just wanted to stay there. Turns out passing was actually quite possible on the trail--though there were stretches where the consequences could be a tumble down the hillside through the aforemention pretty flowers--and I made my way up through some of the 35-44 racers. While the road climbed gradually, the trail was much steeper with one or two spots where I had to get in my tiniest gear, lean down low over my handlebars to keep my front wheel down and really push it to make it up and over. Generally, I'm Mr. Altimeter boy, never riding without one so that I always have some idea when I'm nearing the top of a hill, but I'd forgotten mine and just had to take it on faith that the climbing would eventually end. Which it did but not before we'd climbed for 35 minutes straight.
Then, came the downhill. Which was as advertised--smooth, narrow and fast. Winding too, which lots of water-bar dips which lifted one's back wheel high off the ground and threatened to launch me from my bike. I felt like some cartoon character trying to hang on for dear life on a runaway horse. (Alas, I later heard that a couple racers were hurt when they were indeed launched from their bikes; I saw ambulances heading to the race site when I was leaving.) I hit 34 miles an hour at one point before we were spit out onto the dirt road we'd started on for a 50-yard sprint to the finish. Another rider and I duked it out to the end and though he might've pipped me, he was a couple decades younger than me so he wasn't in my race. I ended up winning the 45+ division.

(The entire race was 8.6 miles long and it took me about 49 minutes.)

My plans are to do as many of the Beginner races as I can this year--Bellingham, Roslyn and Greenwater are upcoming (I'll miss Winthrop because I'm doing Test of Metal), then move up to Sport next season where the races are often twice as long. The Leavenworth Sport race for example was two laps of what we Beginners did, thus two times up the 1,800-foot climb. (Yikes!)
Thought this was pretty ingenious--this guy knew he'd want a bottle for a later lap so he mounted a bottle cage on a pole and stuck it in the ground.

Just found these photos on the Indie Series website Biker Chat, taken by joelb ( Thanks, joelb. I'm the guy in green and yellow. George Spaggiari is the Lampre dude in the center; he finished second in our race.

And Chris Green, who finished 3rd in the Men's 35-44 Sport Race, just sent me the below shot. Thanks, Chris!

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Forty-eight-year-old boy wakes at 3:30 a.m., on road by 4--in all, spends close to six hours driving to and from what turned out to be a 49-minute mountain bike race. "What the hell," said the boyish-looking lad who resembles a younger, handsomer Johnny Depp. "I had so much fun, I'd have probably driven 10 hours if I'd had to." Area boy also wants to take a moment to wish his sister Kath a happy birthday. (Happy Birthday, Kath!)