[code"> [/code"> Courtenay Brown: December 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006


I took this photo early yesterday morning, just after taking off from BWI. I looked out the window and the sky was two levels of lava somehow, and I must finally be thinking like a photographer because I grabbed my camera. A thirty second delay and I would have missed it, because just like that, the sky was a normal looking blue.

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Half an hour of posing, my mom alternating between exasperation at my brother's nose-picking, googley-eyeing, and other antics, and exasperation at her inability to work her (ahem) highly complex and difficult and multi-buttoned Sony Cybershot, and this is the 2006 Sarah-Than-Courtenay-Christmas Tree portrait!

JK. We did miraculously get some decent shots where all of my mom's gorgeous offspring are smiling AND looking at the camera with their eyes open. But I like this one. Sums up the photo session pretty well.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Conversation with Mom #5

Sal: All these cereal boxes are full. No one is eating any cereal!!

Me: No one's eating cereal because there's no milk, Ma.

Sal: Well, there's a CAR!

Me: -silence because I know she is right-

I definitely could have gone to buy milk, there is a High's just down the road, I could have gotten my lazy butt into the car to go buy milk... so to compensate, while my mom went to the store and bought milk and other food and drink items, I spent the morning cleaning the house. And, BONUS, I won the designation of Most Helpful Of My Mom's Kids since my brother is still asleep and my sister is 19 and therefore useless. Go me.

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Ruining Christmas

Last night, I went with my mom Sal, her brother Larry, Larry's wife Kathy, and their 32 year-old son John (so, to recap, with my mom and uncle and aunt and cousin) to Annapolis to see the Good Deale Bluegrass Band. It was fun, I like bluegrass. And, impressively, none of the over-60s in the group fell asleep!

I am going to try to convey to you how hilarious my cousin John is. I am going to fail. Without John, I don't think most of us would be as happy to attend family gatherings, because without him they just would not be as fun. I think he loves the family gatherings because there is so much fodder for jokes, so he's always there, which is great.

Anyway back to last night. Driving back from the show, Larry and Kathy are up front, and Sal, John, and I are in the back seat. Keep in mind that both John and I feel an ever-pressing need to make fun of our parents, and our aunts and uncles. You only tease the people you love, right?

Kathy:... and I thought the upright bass player was (etc. etc.) and in the second set (etc. etc.) because the ukelele player (etc. etc.) and my spinach salad i ordered at dinner (etc. etc.) - Larry! I wanted you to drive home via West St....

Larry: Sorry dear. I wanted to get home faster?

Kathy: ...because the lights on West St. are very beautiful during the holidays (etc. etc.) and then we could show Courtenay all the new construction (etc. etc.)...

John: Oh, Larry. Why do you always have to ruin Christmas?

Sal and Me: hahahahahahahaha

Kathy who is unaware of the backseat shenanigans:... and at this time of day, there is hardly any traffic on West St. (etc. etc.), speaking of West. St. tomorrow we should go into town and check out the sales (etc. etc.)...

And that's basically it. There were more classic one-liners from John but like I said, there is no way I can do him justice in a conversation-with-so-and-so blog, so you will just have to meet him sometime.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Conversation with Mom #4

My mom, Sal, is a multi-tasker. Especially during the holidays, when she is host to approximately one thousand people... at least that's how it seems.

Additional pertinent fact about my mom: she has several pet peeves, depending on which room in the house you are occupying. For example, in the bathroom it's not wiping the sink, in the hallway it's turning the thermostat above 58 degrees without explicit permission, in the living room it's leaving the lights on (or off, still haven't figured out which is supposed to happen when), and in the kitchen is the most important pet peeve of all. Don't, do NOT, never ever ever, stand in front of the fridge with the door open while casually looking for something to eat.

The problem for everyone except my mom is: how to deduce what's inside the fridge without opening it? According to my mom, such deduction is easy, all you have to do is ask her. But more accurately, all you have to do is miraculously catch her when she is not feeding the horses or taking stuff next door or ironing the table cloth or trying for the 6th time to wake up my brother and/or my sister, or on the phone (she is constantly on the phone, she is friends with everyone and they all call her), and then you can ask her what's in the fridge that's edible.

So anyway on Christmas Eve afternoon I wanted some peanut butter. I found Jiff in the cabinet but I wanted real peanut butter so I opened the fridge. And stood there. My mom used her sixth-sense-for-detecting-an-open-fridge-door and swooped into the kitchen, of course she was on the phone at the same time. Here's what happened:

Sal: ...well if you want to bring a yule log that's fine but we already have 12 desserts, hang on a second - COURTENAY! WHAT are you LOOKing for in there? - anyway, yes, 12 desserts...

Me: Um, natural peanut butter please? (still standing in front of the open fridge)

Sal:... O.K. brie and cranberry would definitely be better, that can be an hors d'ouevres - SWEETIE! DON'T stand with the FRIDGE DOOR OPEN! WHAT are you LOOKing for?!

Me: Still looking for natural peanut butter, Ma. (yes the door is indeed still open, going on like 33 seconds by this point)

Sal: Sorry Maggie I'd better go, there's a crisis here. - hangs up phone - WHY were you TALKING TO ME?! I was on the PHONE! And WHAT were you LOOKing for?!

Me: Um, as I recall you were the one who started talking to me first, whilst simultaneously trying to talk on the phone. I told you twice I was looking for natural peanut butter.

Sal: Well (awkward pause as she realizes I am right...) We have Jiff. What's wrong with Jiff?

Me: It's got partially hydrogenated and fully hydrogenated oils. I am not eating it. I just figured since you have organic milk, organic juice, organic carrots, fair trade organic coffee, organic butter, and natural organic gross tasting toothpaste, you would probably also have natural organic not gross peanut butter. I mean, you don't even swallow the toothpaste. You swallow peanut butter.

Sal: Oh. I didn't think of that.

And that's basically it. I have been cracking walnuts and eating them in lieu of peanut butter, which is actually more fun anyway since we don't seem to have a nut cracker so I am doing the smoosh-two-walnuts-together-and-eat-whichever-one-breaks method!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Solstice Ride

In the category of For-A-Smart-Girl-She-Sure-Does-Some-Dumb-Things:

I rode my bike in the rain and sub-50 degree gloominess for 3.25 hours yesterday. During this time I saw exactly ZERO other cyclists, unless you count 2 Cal students riding across campus at 5:15 p.m., their jeans and sweatshirts visibly soaked and faces visibly miserable. Can't say my face was much better, I'm sure. And I can't say I have ever been out on my bike in the Bay Area and not seen a single other soul out there training too.

But the thought of sitting on the trainer in my kitchen for that same amount of time was just awful. For one thing, the linoleum is just way too ugly to stare at for that long...

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Worst Style Trend In My Opinion

A few days ago, I blogged about the XLR8R magazine year-end issue, in which fixed gear bikes were listed amongst the year's worst style trends.

I have a much better worst style trend to propose. Those fuzzy pompom boots that chicks wear. For me, their ridiculosity was confirmed when I was in Honolulu last month and, in 80 degree weather, when the sun was out, walking down Waikiki, I saw a girl in a miniskirt, tank top, and pompom upper-calf height boots. The fuzzy boot part was silly enough given the weather. But the pompoms? All that was missing was a teeny chihuahua to bounce around with the dangling balls. Maybe that's what they are there for, to entertain the wearer's equally ridiculous pet accessories.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was walking through the office, as another girl who works here was walking towards the copier. I almost said "hey (name withheld for privacy), I think there is a dead animal of some kind attached to your ankle??" when it hit me: nooo.... Peaking out from underneath those Marina-purchased $400 designer jeans was a pair of fuzzy pompoms, which were attached to boots.

Do guys have overaccessorized footwear? The only thing I can come up with is the flip flops with the beer opener in the sole. But at least that serves a somewhat practical purpose. Not so for the pompoms.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I have identified myself using a small variety of words up to this point in my life. Girl, student, dj, waitress, horseback rider, bored boring admin, recreational but hopeful bike racer, and snob. I think that about covers it. And I still adhere to some of these identities, for example girl and snob.


Suddenly, somehow, I realize that I now identify myself as an Athlete. This identity has developed only over the last couple of months, during which time I have completed some of my most intense workouts ever on the bike, I have begun running again, and I have put my body through the proverbial wringer at the gym. What's come out of this, what I see in the mirror as I stretch screaming muscles, is a body that can be called an athlete without pretense and without too much room for argument. Unless you count the 5 lbs I am supposed to lose before March, that is.

Ah dieting bike racers... this weekend at a holiday cookie exchange party, standing amidst lemon bars and ginger snaps and almond crescents and snickerdoodles and numerous other powdered sprinkled chocolated nutty stickinesses, the host and I discussed the Paleo diet. At length. And, furtively, I ate a total of 3 cookies in the span of 2 hours. Gotta save my holiday calories for egg nog on the East Coast this weekend!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Conversation with Mom #3

Let me preface this whole thing by saying my mom, Sal, is an amazing person. She is smart, she takes care of the whole family and the whole of Cumberstone Rd. and South Anne Arundel County, and she has endured my obnoxiousity for the last 28 years so that pretty much makes her a saint.

But DAMN she can be something else sometimes...

I was in a fragile state this weekend. Having not cried for a month or so, and having been brought to tears circumstancially and nostalgically on Saturday morning, I spent the remainder of the weekend either on the verge of or immersed in tears. When one of the immersed-in periods hit on Sunday morning before 9 a.m., I opted not to call my local best friend (you're welcome, Maisie!). Mom was the next obvious choice, because traditionally one of a mom's jobs is to listen to her child sobbing incoherently on the telephone.

I got her voicemail message and hung up, then thought about it for a second and decided to just call back and leave a message asking her to please call me when she (sniff) could, please.

Well. Ha. Here's what actually happened:

-phone is answered after 2 rings-

Sal: WHAT?! (wind and horses whinnying in the background)

Me: Ma? Hello?


Me: (ok now the sobbing was unleashed and this is what I was trying to say but much of it was made unintelligible by my crying) Um? I am crying because I am really upset because I rode with Devon yesterday and it was hard and I am sad and you're my mom and so I am calling you?

Sal: WELL I AM ON A HORSE SO IT'S A REALLY BAD TIME. (this was not in a nice tone of voice, which i am trying to convey via capslock)



Me: Well if it were an EMERGENCY don't you think I'd dial 911 and not you?!

Anyway you get the idea. I hung up and called my sister instead and we commiserated... both of us, when miserably upset, have this self-torturous habit of calling our mom, who reacts to her kids' tears in predictably non-comforting hard-ass ways ("pull yourself together" sort of stuff). Then yesterday I got two mildly contrite voicemails from Sal stating what stage of grief she thinks I am currently experiencing or something.

I did not call her back. Not talking to her.

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I subscribe to the music magazine XLR8R, a mostly-electronica-focused publication based in San Francisco. I like it. The most recent issue is a 2006 summary issue, which is cool because it restates all the best music of the year, much of which I missed due to some subscription confusion and way too many races.

Anyway there are also some worst-of lists. Including a Worst Style Trends list, on pg. 49... Amongst the items: "TRACK BIKES Hipsters and their brake-less bikes. Don't judge me 'cause I use brakes and don't have tattoos."

Being a tattoed track bike owner and rider, I could find this statement offensive and elitist in its own way.

Instead I just find it funny. I guess it's Monday morning and I don't have the will or energy to theorize on other people's insecurities!

P.S. I have a brake on my bike, I put it on after riding around the city brakeless for a year or so and having one too many close calls with cars.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Good Reading for Soggy Norcal Cyclists

Jill lives in Juneau, Alaska. It snows there, and it's dark there, and it's freezing there, and she is a cyclist.


Just reading her posts makes my winter rides feel like a Margarita with a pink plastic monkey on the side of the glass.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Addiction is No Longer a Question

6:43 a.m.
8 blocks to go.
too many buses on dark slick streets riddled with hidden cracks, puddles, and metal.
little track bike decked with too few lights using last year's waning batteries.
little me on top, eyeglasses dripping rainwater.
one hand guiding the handlebars.
the other hand clutching the morning's prize: a peet's latte.

such risk when Starbucks is only a one block walk from work? hell yes.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yes I Won!

Revisiting an image from the summer...

My victory count is up to 3 for the year! The Albany Crit, where this photo was taken, the Golden Gate Park Cyclocross Race, and Smithers' My Best Race Race! Thanks everyone for the many votes. I plan on providing you with more good race reports in 2007.

Speaking of which, we just got confirmation that our ValueAct Capital Cycling Team Training Camp will be in Sonoma, at a sweet house next door to the Chateau St. Jean winery! Our sponsors are the best. It will be held the same week as ToC. So poor us, we will just have to pedal out with our wine-I-mean-Rudy Project Sun-glasses and watch the boys fly up Trinity Rd. en route to Sacramento.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Somethings and Nothings

Whoa Monday morning. After my first big weekend of training for the 2007 season, and as luck would have it the first big weekend of rain, I feel totally and completely out of it. Latte in hand (decaf of course, since I am still deluding myself into thinking that I am NOT addicted!), I sat down at my desk a few minutes ago, sighed, went to Smithers' page to confirm that I did indeed lose the best race race to Jared even though he whined...

WHAT?! I am WINNING?! By like THIRTY VOTES?! And the voting goes until 8 PM PST TODAY?!? I had no idea I had so many friends. Or maybe my mom just called all her friends - either way, thanks for voting for me, even though my brother pointed out that there is a (gulp) typo in my report!

In other news, WTF is up with spam commenters? Some unctuous cruise salesman commented on one of my Hawaii posts. I feel mildly violated. Is there anything at all anywhere in my blog about going on some dumb boat somewhere?! But I guess that's what I get for writing about my personal life on the internet, kinda like the chick running outside in just a sports bra and little flappy runner shorts, I can't get pissed when people notice and comment.

In additional other news, I went to the dentist on Friday. Despite my regular brush and floss and mouthwash and brush some more and replace the expensive sonicare head all the time regimen, I always leave the dentist feeling depressed and poor. Friday was no different - in fact I will be going back today to get some cavities fixed. After discussing my eating and brushing habits in detail with my dentist, we decided that my on-the-bike nutrition was the likely culprit. Riding for 5 hours with fragments of sucrose-filled energy bars stuck in my teeth, and occasionally dousing my mouth with sweetened drink mix... this is apparently an ideal bacteria breeding ground. So I need to change up my bike nutrition - I am going to drink just water, and use this stuff called Nuun as electrolyte replacement, no calories but the electrolytes are there. I will try to use more gels, since they don't stick in my teeth like bars, and it seems that Lara Bars have no sucrose ingredients since they are basically fruit and nuts so I am going to try to use Lara Bars exclusively, which is very convenient since I like them AND they are a sponsor of my new team for next year! I am concerned about taking in sufficient carbohydrates but thankfully the race season doesn't start till late Feb. for me so I have some time to sort things out and figure out what works.

If anyone has any experience with potentially cycling-related dental issues, or suggestions for nutritional products that I could try (up to this point, I have been using Clif bars and Gu20 almost exclusively, with the occasional Gu or Clif Shot), please let me know! As usual I need all the help I can get.

OK. That's it for now. In kids-these-days speak: I'ma peace. Late!

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Don't Forget

OK, at the risk of being accused multiple times (current count: once) of being Reese Witherspoon's character in the movie Election, or alternatively of being a nyerd (current count: twice):

Don't forget to vote for ME!!! As of this instant I am ahead of this dude Jared who I don't know, but only by 4 votes.

O.K. I am going to go do some yoga to recenter myself for the final push of the competition...

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Race for Best Race

So, I have already posted about this a couple of times... but some dude named Jared is soundly beating me in Smithers' Best Race poll. Gah! I already voted for myself today, but if you are inclined to help me out of my second-place-is-first-loser position, here is where you can vote!

I think the poll is only up for the duration of this week, so hang in there, I am almost finished obsessing over this... Next week I will be back to normal. Provided I have adjusted to my new daylight saving schedule by then.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Here is the announcement for our new team next year! Scroll down a little bit and you will see the release about our new ValueAct Capital Cycling Team. Not even the last entry in the news blurbs, which is the spot often dedicated to women's teams and charity rides.

They seemed to do a very hasty and thus imperfect editing job of what we actually sent them. They cut out our sponsor list (NOT cool) and left off half of our staff... but the news is out! And we are super excited about next year.

Taitt, Martina, and I have been working on this for months. It's been a lot of work, but already it feels so rewarding and right. Lisa and Mike are great leaders and they have really helped lay the foundation for a solid, positive team. It's wonderful to feel like there is so much potential, as opposed to feeling a - well, I won't say. It's just good to feel good about it, that's all!

Let me know if you want more info, or if you want to see my full, typo-free press release.

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Vote for Me Again!

So, you actually can vote for me every day on Smithers' poll for "My Best Race"! Here is where you can vote...

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Self-inflicted Daylight Saving Time

This week, I started getting up an hour earlier, so I could get to work an hour earlier, leave an hour earlier, and ride my bike an hour longer.

I am so tired.

It's only Wednesday, and it's only 9:33 a.m., but I am finding myself deleriously daydreaming of the Friday afternoon nap I am planning to take today.

So yeah, this year I feel like I am experiencing a couple of fall backs or spring aheads or whatever and whenever it is that I spend a week stumbling around wondering why we have to go and change time all around. Thankfully, my rides this week have been lovely and made the worktime grogginess well worth it. Winter afternoon light in California warms my eyes and begs for a paintbrush.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I feel like I am in High School again...

... BUT: Vote for Me!

Smithers is hosting a "my best race" contest, I submitted my race report from my Golden Gate Park race, and you can vote for my entry here!

On a slightly different note, here is a photo Travis took of me in Sunday's race just before the infamous beach run:

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Goodbye 2006

No I am not going by some ancient orthodox calendar and thus celebrating the New Year early... Yesterday was my LAST RACE of 2006! The series ender for the Bay Area Super Prestige Cyclocross series. After the race a couple of weeks ago, I subjected my poor readers to a veritable novel of a race report ("and then I ate a Gu, and a couple pedal strokes later there was this root, but I avoided it by blah blah blah"). This time I will spare you... Briefly: there was sand, there was sun, but no bikini temperatures. There was beer and barbecuing (of which I could not partake since the women were the last race of the day and by the time we were done, everyone was done with being there), there were few barriers but endless relentless serpentines over roots, divets, sand, and rocks, there was joking, cheering, feeding, and some very unattractive drooling on my part after each massive running effort, if you don't believe me YOU try picking up my leaden cyclocross machine! Best of all, there were many many friends to cheer me on to a respectable 2nd place finish, 3rd overall. Thank you. I love the support, the passion, the joking, the athleticism, and the wonderful bike-nerdiness of the NorCal Cyclocross community. It's so uplifting for such a humbling sport.

Thank you so much to everyone who made this cyclocross season my favourite race season yet, if you can count 5 races as a season. I feel like my supporters and friends are too many to mention, plus I don't want this post to turn into an acceptance speech for the Best Sound Editing In A Live Action Short Foreign Film Oscar... but a special thanks goes out to Travis and the entire Freewheel team. I had a blast and can't wait to do it again! Here I am with Travis after my win at Golden Gate Park:

OK I hope that counts as brief. See you all next year as I attack (perhaps literally?) the A's with glee. In the meantime, I'm about to renew my bestfriend-ship with my road bike. Next bike race: some undetermined weekend in February...

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Buy My Mountain Bike!

I got this nice little mountain bike last September. So I have had it for a year and a few months. I have ridden it exactly 7 times, for an approximate total of 17 hours. It is definitely my least-used bike, and I hate wasting it on my closet... On top of that I am not exactly good at mountain biking, but I am good at stopping dead in the middle of some singletrack trail with a steep dropoff to the right, and taking 10 or 12 minutes to tearfully cajole myself into getting back on the bike rather than thinking about how easily I could fall into those prickly rocky areas 50 feet below.

Anyway. Here is the bike. It's a Gary Fisher Big Sur GS, which is a women's specific bike, with disc brakes and front suspension. It's a 13". It was $1600 new, I listed it on Craigslist at $1200, but of course I will entertain any reasonable offer. Let me know if you or someone you know might be interested.

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