Thursday, November 27, 2008


We live in a great place, Bend. If you haven't been here you should, though I would imagine most of you live here or have visited here. 
The thing is - I am one of the owners of Sunnyside Sports. We sell bicycles and cross country skis. If there is no snow we sell no skis. Pretty simple. With the economy the way it is that poses a problem. So what do I do, nothing except continue to live my life and do the things I like. There is on thing I can't do and that is control the weather.
My friends John and Margaret are here from Madison, Wisconsin. I know them because John works for Trek bicycles. They decided to come out for a cross country ski holiday. They sent there bikes just in case. In case is what we have not snow and the best mountain bike trail conditions of the year. We rode all the way up Mrazeck to farewell Bend, down to Tumulo Falls and that back to town. It even got dark (but I had my trusty Frog lights on). There was up to three inches of snow but it was 99.9% rideable. Going down Farewell to Tumalo Falls was awesome. From the Sunshine to the fog (we were having an inversion). We dressed warm, had lots of food and just decided an epic is what was in store for us.
On a Thanksgiving when we have so much to be thankful for, (new president, good health, wonderful sweetheart, great friends) I am once again going to be thankful for something not as important. My Trek Fuel EX 9.0. This bike rocks. I have already written about my bike so I am going to thank the person in charge- John Riley (one of my riding partners). I said he works for Trek, he is the Product Manager for Trek Mountain bikes. He is in charge of the team that put this bike together. I few years ago (right after the first Lance years) Trek decided to really the best mountain bikes. They put a lot of effort into it and it has paid off big time. So thank you John. Also I need to thank both John and Margaret for joining me on another epic bike ride. I have never ridden so high or so long Thanksgiving week. No snow = great mountain biking.
Get out there.
PS I had to add my usual photo of my pies. I make them, Kathy decorated them. This years theme is love, hope and peace. The pie on the left has an olive branch and a dove, the pie on the right has figures that represents family, friends, love and music. I think it is important in this day and age to never forget that those are the true things that bind us together.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


These are photos of our annual Fall ride and photo shoot. It was 15 degrees F. Kathy wanted to know why we didn't own a car dealership. Vehicles with heaters.
No, we love cycling, warm or cold.
Eric, one of our main mechanics, told me the other day that Sunnyside Sports (check out our new website) is the only place that the owners thought it was important for the workers to have fun at work. I don't like the idea of owners and workers. I like the idea of co-workers. In fact we are trying to become a worker owned business.
That is a long process but it is coming along.
We went out on Sunday and rode for almost two hours. We had fun and we had our photos taken. We were not workers, we were friends, we are friends.
Is everyday perfect at Sunnyside, no. We work and we work hard and that is stressful. We are friends first, at least that is how I feel. I wish we could do more rides together, it would be fun to take a week off and just do mountain biking. That won't happen so we try to ride together when we can, ski together, go to cross races together, work together.
This is part of my family. I hope it shows in the photos, in our faces, and the way we are at the store. I feel blessed.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I like to think of myself as consistent in my racing. I finished anywhere from 3rd to 8th up to yesterday. Yesterday I was 18th. I had my best start and my worst finish. I crashed very hard with 1/2 lap to go. Broke my helmet and my neck doesn't want to move to today. Me and one of the faster juniors hit each other. He was trying to pass me on a corner. He wanted to win. I was trying to catch a couple of more guys in my group who were just ahead. I wasn't thinking about what was behind me. We hit, he apologized, we both got up. I must of been down longer than I thought as 10 in my group passed me. It would be easy to blame the jr  ( I don't know his name). I call it bike racing. We are all tired and trying to finish and making split second decisions all the time.  If I wanted to be safe I would have stayed at home and watched TV. If I would have been having my normal race the Jr would not have caught me anyway. If I would have ridden the mud hole the first lap (like I am doing in the photo after my crash, note the grass in my helmet) and not just the last three he would not have caught me. Blame is a silly thing in a bike race. Crashes happen, people get hurt. I am hurt. I hope to be back for the GP races. More mud more jrs.
Did that ruin my day. NO. First of all because of my consistency I ended up 5th in the series without my double points (the last race is double points). I am proud of that. It was close but I held on. Two, almost everyone else on the team had their best race of the year. You can see the smiles of the women (Sorry, but Julie is missing). Serena won the women's B race (the series also), and Renee was 4th and 4th in the series. I am not sure why they are smiling though because they will have to move to "A"s next year. Karen was 4th in the 35+ group, though rumor has it she is eligible for a different age bracket. Serena caught Karen  (they start 30 seconds apart) and then Karen stayed with Serena the rest of the race. They both thought it was cool to have a friend so close by. Julie, not pictured, won the 45+ women's. The other photo is Karen riding the mud hole. Not many women were able to pull that off. 
The rest of the team did awesome. We had two men's "A"s in the top 10 (Ben and Damian) and Mike was 11th in the 35+ A race, Matt Fox ended up 4th in the "B" race. 
So I am sore but happy. Time to clean my bikes, do my laundry and go to Sunnyside and talk about it one more time. 
Thanks for reading

Monday, November 10, 2008


More cross talk. At Sunnyside we call it Cross Monday. Jim, Damian, Mike and I go over what happened the day before. This is after we have talked it over on Sunday at the race and in the car on the way home. Afterwards   I get to go over it with Kathy at home (though she pretty much makes me keep it short. Then I have to go over it one more time on my Blog. I like to get my money's worth after 40 minutes of racing. 
That is the first thing. We have only raced 40 minutes the last two races. I would like that extra lap. I know it seems strange to want to suffer more, but I have good endurance and just a little longer would help me some. Maybe I could have made up those 10 or so seconds to third. Probably not though. I seem to be 5th this year. I was 4th once and 7th and 8th. 5th is not bad, in fact it is satisfying. We have a lot of 50+ this year who are strong, tenacious, and skilled. Yesterday it seemed about half of them wore Guinness green. Dave Luoma was ahead. I caught him, (great I said to myself, Dave is flying this year and being ahead of him rocks.) Of course he passes me right back. I pass again (see what I mean about going over it). Then here comes Dan. I battled him last week. His chain comes off.  Relax no, third and forth are 8 seconds ahead. I attack. Then Steve goes by. I go by Steve, Steve goes by me. What is happening. Green, green green. Steve clips his spike on the barricade. Of I go. Now or never. I stay ahead, but I feel bad. Steve Lacey has had some tough luck this year. Last year his heart would accelerate above normal, so he went in and had some surgery to fix that. Then some kid on a bmx bike ran into him while he was commuting to work. He is just getting in shape now. I like to finish ahead but not from someone having a silly fall. 
That is the thing you see. We race and we are ruthless, but we are all friends. After the race Steve Yenne came up (he won our race) to me and said "There is my good friend, how did your race go?" That is how we are all. We want to do well, we want all of us to do well. This year Brad has decided the startline mayhem was getting too much. Who really want to stand on the start line for 1/2 hour. He now does call ups for every category. I get to start in the front row. I am proud of that. I look back and see over 40 riders (over 50) every race, and I get to be in the front row. That is cool.
You may have noticed the photos don't have much to do with this blog. But they do. The one is of the drum corps. Brad gets out the drum corps for the important races, nationals, GP races, and Single Speed Cross Worlds. When they drum, the Adrenalin goes up,  I was ready to start another race when they showed up. 
The other photo is Mike. Mike had a pretty good race. Not his best but he did score a few points. You can see he is on his bike going over the monolith (this is what I call the concrete thing in the middle of the course). He was hopping the monolith. I don't think more than 10 in the category A race could do that. We had two on our team doing it. Mike Schindler (photo) and Mike Martin. Mike would gain 20 feet each time. I would say Jason Stager (who also hopped up) was able to finish second because he could do that. 
The last photo is Damian. Lets just say I like seeing our jersey in the A field. We had two yesterday (Ben and Damian). We have had up to 4 this year. We are a small team who loves cross. Having "A"s on the team is a big bonus.
There it is going over the race once again. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I try not to make this blog something it is not, like a political forum for example. I am not going to talk about politics per say. This is about a boy growing up in the 50's and 60's and being part of what happened yesterday. 
My Dad was from Kentucky, he left just before WW II and moved to Montana. He spent a summer there and then joined the Army. He ended up fighting his way across Europe, being in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge. He survived. He told me a few days before he died that in the darkest moments of the War he told himself he would go home, get married and have three boys (I have two brothers). He told me he would raise these boys to be free of prejudice, though my mom may have had more to do with this than him, he did all of that.
After the War he became a long distance truck driver. He moved house hold goods. I was able to travel with him during the summers. It seemed that when it was my turn we headed south, "The Deep South". Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Texas. These are the places I saw in the early to mid 60's. 
I was living in California at the time. My schools were all brand new and 99% white. The neighborhoods were new. Most of us had Dad's who were veterans. California had the best home loans for vets. I think my parents payed $79 down and $79 a month. 
Even though we lived in a world of white we learned in school and at home that everyone was the same, and never to judge or treat someone different just because of the color of their skin.
In the deep South it wasn't like that. They had white only signs everywhere. I was outraged. I was 13 and I was telling my Dad that we shouldn't eat, or buy anything at places like that. He pointed out to me that it was like that everywhere. He was right, but I was still outraged. I felt betrayed by my country. I had learned in school that were all created equal. I learned that we fought a civil war to end slavery. Yet in the 60's the South was a affront to everything I had learned and believed in. 
I was in Yosemite National Park the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. I was camping with my little brother, Dave. The news spread through the campground mouth to mouth. I am not sure how long it took me to get over that. How could I be living in this country where something like that could happen. 
I love the United States. I love the things we do here, what we stand for, and what we can become. After yesterday I am proud of the United States also. I am proud to be an American.  We have a lot to be thankful for. We have come a long way from those summer days I spent in the south. I am no longer outraged, I am just proud. 
Thanks for listening. 
Don Leet

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Instead of a photo I am giving you a link some very special photos of Portland Cyclo cross. Pdxcross  is a web page dedicated to Portland Cross. It is the essence of what Brad Ross has created. Bicycle racing that is both challenging and fun. Racing that has moments of pain and joy. Please click on this link and you will see what I mean. This is not the usual site that has photos of each racer from each category. I look at those also and it is great to be able to see yourself and your friends every weekend racing. This is different. It is art. Barton Park is where we had our last race at. Really we barely in a park at all. We race in a  gravel pit. If you look at the pdxcross, though, the gravel pit becomes a playground for cyclists. Enough said now just click on pdxcross and see for yourself.
I saw another great thing on Sunday. There was boy, around 3 years old, who just learned how to ride his bike without training wheels. His Dad was out racing and he was doing what the big kids were doing, going through mud puddles, making tight corners etc. It isn't clear to me if he was trying to be like us (the big kids) or we are trying to be like him. Probably the latter.
Now to something serious. It is election day today. This is not a political announcement just a sigh of relief that the election will be over.   I will have a bigger and happier sigh if the election goes my way. That hasn't happened very often in my life. 
See you on the trails or at the races.
Don Leet

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Most bike racers are on a team of some sort, we are on the Sunnyside Team. The main thing about the Sunnyside Team is to stay on the Sunnyside, just like the song. We have some roadies, quite a few mountain bikers and a lot of Cross racers. This is a photo of some of the team. You can see that they are all smiling. They are a few minutes from race and they know they will be having some serious fun. Serious because they will all be going all out. Some to win, some to place and others just to race well. Most of them were cheering me on just an hour before this photo was taken. It is pretty cool to be racing around and having lots and lots of people yelling "GO DON!" I always do my share in yelling for the other groups. In fact every Monday I wake up thinking I have a cold. My throat is always sore from yelling and not the cold, thankfully. I love having a lot of women on our team. I also like having men and anyone else. We have a few new teamies this year, and a couple that are out for the year. Matt Fox just moved from Portland to teach at Bend High School. He actually bought a house in Bend last month. The reason he is on our team is when he lived in Portland he kept noticing the Sunnyside Team. Not only did we race but we actually acted like a team. Cheered for each other, hung out together, warmed up together etc. We try to park close, put up a communal tent, we even have heaters to stay warm. We share trainers, food and even equipment. Last week at the Astoria race a bunch of us rented a house together. It cost me $25 for a night. How good is that. I got to talk to Serena and her boyfriend Ben. It was cool to get to know my new teammates. This is what being on a team means to me. It is more important than results, equipment or anything. It is about a shared passion, helping out, being part of something bigger. Our store supports our teammates so they can race well. I yell and cheer so they know someone out there cares. They yell for me.
If you are not on a team find one, but find a fun one. One where they put friendship first, one where they ride together, one where they go to the Cross Crusade the funnest bike racing in the world.
Thanks to Wade for supplying me with this great photo. See you on the trail or at the races.