Friday, October 17, 2014

On a Morning From a Bogart Movie

 Today is Friday and my attention span disappeared, so you get cat photos. Lots and lots of cat photos. Cats in bags and boxes and on futons.

 Heidi looks adorable in a bag.

 Don't worry. I watched him closely, but Archie pisses me off enough sometimes that I'm tempted to give him an unsupervised room full of plastic bags.

We set up the new futon on the dormer room. Now it is a proper guest room/reading room. Right now we have it set-up in the chaise lounge position, but we might play with other settings. It's the perfect reading furniture right now and the cats seem to dig it as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Watch Me As I Gravitate

This is my trainer set-up. That block of wood is used to elevate my front wheel so I can pretend I'm riding uphill.
 In the past, I haven't trained very well for Cyclo-cross season. I would work on skills and ride my bike on the road and get a run in or so, because that's what I liked. Not surprisingly, I'm not very good at CX. So, this year, I thought I'd try something new. I've heard good things about this training everyone has been talking about...

My view from the trainer. The other bikes want to play chicken.
So, twice a week, I get up at the ass crack of dawn and get on my trainer and work on pedaling my bike really, really fast and really, really hard for about 45 minutes, and then I go inside and do sit-ups and push-ups and leg lifts. Intervals, is what everyone says will make me stronger. There are these things called Tabata intervals. I go as hard as I can for 20 seconds on my bike, then rest for 10 seconds and do that 8 times. Four. Whole. Minutes. And I feel like I'm going to die when I'm done. I do those at the end of my work-out, so I'm already ready to puke, but those things put me over the edge. I'll let you know how that works for me...

Oh, and this is what Iowa looks like right now. Nice, huh?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Brace Yourself as the Beat Hits Ya.

 So, when you race, there are a few things you worry about. For me, my first is, "I hope I don't get sick." Bam! If I didn't wake up with a migraine on Saturday morning. The bad kind that makes me puke. So, I took my meds and that means I can't race. We had planned on racing both days at Dan Ryan Woods on the South side suburbs of Chicago and rented a hotel room. John decided not to race on Saturday either. I felt badly about that, but he said he wasn't ready and had to get a wheel trued and something else. Anyway, he was very gracious about the whole thing.

We made it to Chicago around 3 on Saturday, checked out the course and then made it to our hotel room. That evening we met my friend Sarah and her boyfriend and a friend of theirs at the Kinderhook Tap. The food and the drinks were lovely and it was great to see Sarah.

 The second thing I think before a bike race, "Man, I hope I don't crash." I woke up on Sunday with a much milder migraine and decided to try and race, but just know that I wouldn't be very strong. I figured I didn't know anyone there, and if I sucked hard, no one would know who I was or remember, and I'd get to ride the fun course. My last preride lap before my race, I tried to get up this hill in the single track section, that I hadn't been able to ride before. I pedaled my ass off, to get enough momentum. I actually made it and was all, "Yea me!" when Bam! I hit a root and went careening into a tree and then side endo'ed off my bike. I hurt both my shoulders in the crash and somehow slammed my middle finger into a tree. I didn't feel too terribly bad, just a little shaken, so I decided to still race anyway.

 The third thing I worry about before a race is, "Well, at least I I hope I don't have a mechanical during my race..." And Bam! If I didn't drop my chain after going over the barriers. I had too much momentum and almost tripped over the barrier, causing me to accidentally slam my bike too hard into the ground and my chain to drop off. I was already at the back, it just put me further behind.

 Needless to say, I was very last in my race...Besides the 3 women who didn't finish for whatever reason. It was fine, though. I know that the menopause and migraines will be a huge factor in my racing for the next however many years (hopefully, only a few more, please). So, right now all I can do is suck it up and deal and appreciate the times when my hormones aren't raging or crashing (however many minutes a month that might be). I also had a great time riding my bike around the course all day and hanging out with my friend, Sarah the night before and John was such a great support during my crappy race.

This is my finger the day after. John told me to elevate it and Monday morning at work gave me plenty of reasons and motivation to "elevate" my middle finger.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

There's Hundreds of People Like You and Me

I painted this for a friend of mine last week. I miss drawing and painting, but mostly painting. A co-worker gave me a sketch book for my birthday this year. It's about the size of a paperback, so I've been carrying it around in my messenger bag, and drawing stuff as it comes to me. It's hard to fit in all the stuff I love to do, but I hope I can work in more artsy-fartsy stuff in the mix this year.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Oh no. Not Me. I Never Lost Control.

 this is the house and garden edition of  my blog. This weekend, we spent most of Saturday FINALLY finishing up our bedroom. On Friday night, I finished cleaning the other book shelf. The one that contains all of my comic books. Cleaning them all off made it very hard for me to continue cleaning. I forgot I had so many and then I just wanted to sit around and look at them, but I was good and soldiered on...

 ...Okay. After I went through my books and figured out what I wanted to read this month for Halloween.

 This was a lovely little surprise our garden gave us. I went out there to dig up my gladiola bulbs, and saw that one of them was a late bloomer. The only pink one I planted bloomed this week. Spectacular!

 The cats have been having a field day with all of this cleaning and moving of furniture. It's like we gave them Christmas in October.

 It's amazing how high Archie can jump for being as heavy as he is.

 I don't know what the cats are going to do to amuse themselves when we're done moving furniture around...

Here is part of the room, all cleaned and tidied and put back together. There are two dressers and a closet and another window behind this, so it really isn't this small. As you can see, there is shelf space for more books. I'll have to work on that...

Thursday, October 02, 2014

But the Wine and the Song, Like the Seasons, Have All Gone.

 I know I told you all that we are doing a lot of work on our house. Some of it is very necessary, because our crawl space is so damp, that we are basically living over a poop-ton (scientific quantity) of airborne mold. When we went to Wisconsin, we closed up the house because it was supposed to storm and we didn't want to have even more water damage. Unfortunately, there is so much moisture in our house, without a storm blowing in that we came home to moldy, musty smelling rooms. So, now we added project number 7,458 to the mix: We are going through every room of our house and cleaning (with baking soda and vinegar) every last inch of it. Last night, I started in on the book shelves in my bedroom. It was really fun to check out all the books I still have to read and get excited about rereading others. As you would all expect, Archie has been EXTREMELY helpful throughout all of this.

Also, I will eat the very last tomato from my garden this evening. I've decided to slice it up and put it just under the cheese and over the tuna of my tuna melt. It is the end of an era...Or a season. Whatever.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Don't Go Too Fast But I Go Pretty Far

So, this weekend we went to Des Moines to race Night Cup CX. It's one of my favorite races, and this year they added a second day. We got to spend the night at Coadster's place for free and hang out with her, her boyfriend and the grand puppy.

Before the race, we met Coadster, her boyfriend and my friends John and Shannon, who moved there in 2008 at Fong's Pizza. I ate way too much before my race, but we all got different pizzas and I wanted to try everyone's. It was a great lunch. We talked about how much Des Moines has changed for the better in the last 10 years and how nice it was to go there now that they have such amazing bike trails and restaurants and bars.

On Saturday night I raced against 6 other women in the Masters 45+ field. We raced in the dark and there was a downhill, turny, off-camber part of the course that I was too afraid to ride. Instead, I had to jump off my bike and run it, but jumping back on my bike on that off-camber hill was awkward and slow and every time I did it, more women passed me. One of the women who started out really fast in my race, flatted and dropped out, which left 3 women ahead of me and one behind. Surprisingly enough, there was a muddy uphill, that you had to hit just right in order to be able to ride up it and the woman directly in front of me and behind me weren't able to do, but I could. That never happens. The third place woman and I were neck and neck throughout the race. She would gain ground on the downhill thing I couldn't ride and I would catch up on the uphill she couldn't ride. Finally, on the last lap, the 3rd place woman crashed on the downhill thing, and I was able to run ahead, jump on my bike and get a little ahead of her. I was too tired to go as hard as I needed to get a gap and she was such a strong competitor, she came on me like gangbusters after that. I wish I had that kind of strength at this point of the race season. She did pass me eventually, and I stayed hot on her wheel, in hopes that I could come around her, but that never happened. I finished 4th and I used all the strength I had to do that. On the plus side, I did grab a dollar bill someone was hanging from a fishing pole and I accidentally popped a wheelie on the muddy uphill in front of a bunch of people who cheered and applauded me and asked me to do it again. (sorry, kids. I can only do that by accident). Most importantly, because I was pushing so hard to keep up with the third place woman I had a lot more interesting and challenging race than I have all year. Also, I got a free beer when I was done.Yea me!

The race on Sunday was a lot smaller field. It was me and two other women. The woman who flatted the night before came back to try again. She can beat me pretty easily on certain courses and I figured she'd have an advantage because she didn't race the day before and this would be my first double race weekend of the year. I have really noticed how much longer it takes this old bird to recover, the further away from 40 I get. I didn't have the best start to this race. We were staged behind the Cat 1/2/3 women and started all at the same time. Apparently, I need to work on being faster and more aggressive at the start of a race. I got behind slower people and couldn't get around them, and then there was a little crash that took up the whole lane and bottle necked the few of us bringing up the rear. After that, I had a pretty good first lap. I gained on the number one woman and passed a few of the Cat 1/2/3 racers and started getting a gap on the number 3 woman in my race. After the second lap, I started to get really tired and thirsty. It was 81 degrees out and I was feeling a little dehydrated. I passed the number one woman on the long, flat section. I know she doesn't feel like she has a lot of power and she has excellent bike handling skills, so if I wanted to pass and get a gap, I knew I had to do it there. Or course, she and one of the 1/2/3 women were right on my wheel the whole time and after that effort, I really started to feel gassed. I held on and kept my lead. by the last lap, I was really dying. I was worried I was going to lose my lead, but then I realized that the other two women in my race got lapped and pulled and I was the only woman in my category out on the course. Normally, I would use that time to work on going as hard as I could, but I really had nothing left. I rode that last lap and was hanging on by a thread. I was so glad I didn't have any competition right then, because I had nothing left to fight with. I got first place and figured out my weaknesses: 2 F words - fear and fitness. The fitness I can keep working on, but the fear I will have to try to handle with thousands of tiny, little, baby steps. I suppose that means higher RPM's, right?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Accidents Will Happen. We Only hit and Run

 So, we went to Madison last weekend to celebrate John's 50th birthday by going to a big Cyclo-cross race hosted by Trek. On Friday we got to wander around State Street and checked out the Union Terrace. As you can see, the weather and the view was perfect.

I raced the Master's 35+ Women's race on Saturday. Most of the women I raced against were still 10 - 15 years younger than me, but I tried my damnedest. I knew I wasn't very fit and decided I'd go out as hard as I could, until I died. It worked well, until the first lap, when I did actually hit that wall. Three women passed me, leaving me in last place. Which, I was fine with that. I was only seconds away from those three women, I didn't get lapped and because we were also racing with the 50 + men, I actually chicked a couple of 80 year old guys (or however old they were). Hell, I'll take what I can get.

 On Sunday I tried to pre-ride the course. They changed the course a little and it had rained a bit the night before. The one downhill seemed even steeper and because of the mud, I slid down it and jacked my bad knee up. So, I decided to be safe and not race that day, in hopes that I wouldn't ruin the rest of the season.

 Even without racing there was plenty of fun to be had. This guy raced in that suit too. Very impressive and so very Wisconsin.

Speaking of Wisconsin...Beer battered fried cheese curds. Need I say more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Because Time Won't Give Me Time

We had some big birthdays the last couple of days. We went to Madison this weekend to celebrate John's 50th birthday. We did a cyclo-cross race in Waterloo, Wisconsin at the Trek headquarters with some of the biggest names in the US for the sport. I will try to write more about the race later. We also had a lovely dinner with some of my family members at an Oyster bar.

Stinky turned 21 yesterday. Coadster came back from Des Moines to have dinner with us and to take this "lovely" photo. It's so weird to think of my girls as being in their twenties. I am still digging the empty nest gig, but also glad that they both live close enough to see on a regular basis.

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's the Room, the Sun and the Sky

Just wanted to show you the mostly finished product of the dormer room. I think we'll move the trunk to the back wall and put a bigger coffee table in the center so we can put our feet up when we read and play board games on it. The stairway was too narrow to bring up the oversized reading chair and John had me give our futon chair to Stinky and she claims she needs it, so I can't ask for it back...So, right now we're using an old chair of John's that I love, but want to reupholster, but I also want to get another futon couch, so we have another space for guests/Stinky when she visits, and I can take a little snooze when my eyes get tired from reading...Yes, I am old and I'm a huge fan of napping.

Friday, September 05, 2014

And We Drink Ourselves Full of Beer. To Help Us When We Deal With All the Fear.

 So, after our simplification of our lives purge, we decided to work on our house in earnest. Our house was built in 1950. it's pretty solid, but we have had a termite problem and a moist (ew!) crawl space and a bunch of other problems and we decided to take out a home equity loan to get things fixed.

 The first project I worked on was ripping up the carpet in the dormer room. Archie was a HUGE help (ahem).

 I put rope in the cracks, but the cracks were all different sizes and it took forever and not all of it looks that great. My fall back plan is to put tons of primer and paint in those cracks. I'll let you know how that goes...

 I put on two layers of oil based primer and got a free high AND a free headache. Lucky me.

I finally finished the first part of the floor, and REALLY needed to get out of the house afterward.

 We decided to go to the Kalona Brewery and kill brains cells the deliciously old fashioned way - with beer.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we kill even more brain cells with a nice fresh coat of oil based, French gray paint on that floor and who knows, maybe we'll throw in some asbestos induced lung cancer when we scrape off the popcorn ceiling in the kitchen. Cheers to DIY projects!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Everyone is Trying to Get to the Bar. The name of the Bar, the Bar is Called Heaven.

So, normally my friends and I go on this thing we call the Monday Night Ride. It's our way of trying to get some of our other friends into riding their bikes, by making it fun and easy and adding alcohol. It has actually been pretty successful. I think the alcohol is a big motivator.

Generally, we do the same route every week, weather permitting. We meet at The Dublin Underground in downtown Iowa City and then ride a very flat, 10 mile route to another bar called Old 218 Tap in a little town called Hills (ironic that there are no Hills in Hills, isn't it?).

Old 218 is a cute little bar, and definitely caters to cyclists, which is one of the big reasons we go there. The only problem is they really only serve fairly unimaginative pub grub and even the "healthy" salad options are made with rusty chunks of iceberg lettuce. Yeah, yeah. I realize I've surpassed first world problems girl and headed straight on to snobby bitch, but it is hard to eat dinner at the same place almost once a week that doesn't have the food you like.Especially, when there are all kinds of new establishments in small towns around us that have these great brew pubs that serve wood fired pizzas and other menu items made with ingredients from organic farms around our area.

Because I wasn't the only person in our group to  feel this way about the food, last Monday, I suggested we check out the new place in Coralville called 30Hop. It boasted 30 tap beers and a rooftop bar, along with really good food. Everyone was happy to give it a try.

When you are old and forget your reading glasses, your friends have to help hold the bill out far enough, so you can see how much you owe.

Of course, the big issue for rides, is figuring out how to get to a place. Will the trail they say is finished on Google maps, just disappear into a creek or busy street, or will the road you choose end up being gravel? We did some off-road riding here and there on our way and found a cool metal trail around wetlands and bird sanctuary to extend our route a tad. Then we couldn't find the restaurant and took a couple of wrong turns, which is always good for extending a route.

Since the place just opened and was full of novelty, it was packed. They had a great system of taking your name and you phone number, sending you upstairs to the rooftop bar for a drink and then texting you when your table was ready. Very nice.

We all tried different, lovely things on the menu and loved what we ate. John sprang for both our meals and later told me the food was a bit on the pricey side. So, maybe not something we'll do all the time, but I will definitely be back again...For food AND drink.

We could easily have headed straight to the Coralville Strip and ridden home on a nice, paved trail, but someone in the group decided we should take a "shortcut". We ended up riding on gravel, next to railroad tracks and  through muddy construction sites in the dark with only a full moon and our bike lights with which to see by. It was so amazing and fun.

This is what my shoe looked like when I got home. Guess I better clean those up before the roadrace tomorrow, huh?