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?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

All It Takes Is a Rake and Hoe and Piece of Fertile Ground

 Me: This is one of my favorite meals.

John: You do realize that you say that every meal, don't you?

Me: Okay. I guess what I'm really trying to say is, I love food very, very much.

This year we expanded our garden and were able to grow a few more things and add areas that got more sunlight, so we were able to plant more stuff like pumpkins and zucchini with varying degrees of success. The pumpkins and zucchini flowered like crazy, but I never even saw the smallest of gourds/fruit/vegetables/whatever you call it. Sigh.

I've been slowly but surely planting lilies and daisies, that come up every year...

So our garden is starting to look a little on the feral side, which is just the way I like it. I plan to learn how to make chile rellenos with all my Poblano peppers and as much pesto sauce and de gallo salsa as I possibly can to get me through the Winter when all the produce will be grown on someone else's soil and won't contain all the love I put into my veggies.

Monday, August 11, 2014

What Makes a House Grand Ain't the Roof or the Doors

 This week we didn't have any races, so we decided to actually get something done around the house, and boy howdy, did we. John wanted us to get rid of about 20 % of what we owned. He rented a truck for Saturday, and we spent most of last week, sorting, getting things ready for Goodwill and tossing other stuff.

Of course, the minute you plan something like that, a hundred things pop up to distract you. On Thursday, my friend Colleen came to visit from New York and my friend Shannon came in from Des Moines. It was great to see them. I forgot how much I missed them, until I got to hang out with them again. After meeting them, John said they were just as fun and crazy as he would expect from my friends - and that was one of the best compliments he gives.

After we met my friends on Thursday, we came back home and started on the upstairs dormer room. It's where Stinky lived and now that she has moved out, we wanted to clean it up and make it another usable space. We're still not exactly sure what we'll do with it. We don't have the money right now to fix it up exactly how we want, but we can definitely make part of it a nice reading room and the other part can be where we put all of our bike/running stuff and we have two clothes racks and a shelf that we can finally organize things a little better. That would free up the extra downstairs bedroom to be an actual spare room, instead of the gigantic closet it has turned into. Anyway, Stinky came over and she and John and I got so much done in that  dormer room. We pulled  up the carpet to find nice, wide boards underneath. There is some writing on them and some cracks in between them, so this week, I hope to clean the hell out of that space, fill the cracks with twine and then prime and paint the floorboards a nice gray color. We'll see how that goes...

On Friday night, Shannon and Colleen came over for drinks on the back porch after work. Then I made baked parmesan tilapia, corn on the cob and brussel sprouts with honey/siracha sauce. Coadster came over with the grand puppy and ate dinner with us, while her puppy tried hard to play with Archie. Archie was having none of it. All cats are assholes, but mine is the biggest asshole around.

On Saturday, John got up and took all of our old paint cans and anything caustic and dropped it off at the special dump for environmental hazards, then picked up the truck and we started loading it up. We tried to go through everything - every shelf on the pantry, every closet, every drawer in every room. We honed, we purged and we threw out so much crap. Was it 20% of what we owned? Probably not, but it was great to get rid of the more likely 10% that we did...And we cleaned everything we touched. It was like when you move and you get rid of half your stuff and clean your place and think, "Man! Why didn't I do this when I lived here? I would have been so much happier in my home." One of the greatest things, is that we swapped out the old oven that came with the house that was all janky and half the stuff didn't work, for the oven my friend gave us when she moved into her place, so now I can actually broil stuff and roast veggies. Hurray!

We originally thought it would take about 3 trips to the dump, but the truck was so big, that we only needed one and when we got to the dump we realized that our friend worked there and we got an extra special discount. So, we were finished with everything by about 2 o'clock and got to go on a nice bike ride to the Brew Pub for good food and beer. Then we went home and watched Prefontaine. I hadn't seen the movie since it first came out and I forgot how cheesy it was. Also, the mustaches in it were so distracting, I forgot most of the lame plot.

On Sunday I woke with a bit of a migraine. I had to take my meds, which meant I couldn't do any playing outside for a few hours. I read and drank tea and then John and I drove the course for the State Road Race Championships next week. By the time we got home, ate tuna melts and I mowed the lawn and John got my Time Trial bike back to working without slipping gears every 5 seconds, I got to take that bike out on the road. I did pretty well, on my time and John went on his TT bike, and then we both got home at about the same time.

We then headed out to the mountain bike trails to play. I was pretty exhausted, so we weren't out there long, but for me, there isn't much more relaxing and fun and meditative after a week of doing crappy, dirty house projects, than taking my bike out on the trails and playing in the woods.

This week, I plan to try and clean and paint that upstairs room that we just cleared out. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 04, 2014

You Have to Believe We Are Magic. Nothing Can Stand in Our Way.

Bike ride, bike ride, bike ride!

So, let's go back in time to July 16th. My 49th birthday. I love my birthday and I love getting older. Every year gets better and better. I know some of it is that when I was younger I had so much stress and no money and I didn't have the emotional skills or self-esteem to make better choices. Not that I'm perfect at that now, but I have eliminated a lot of the stress and don't waste time on people who haven't always been nice to me. I figure I don't have time for the people who are nice to me, and life is short. Also, I am now an empty nester. I know people who don't quite know how to deal with that situation, but I finally have more financial freedom and time where I'm not running my kids all over hell, to do things that I love. And I am a girl with a LOT of hobbies and passions. I love to see my girls and am lucky enough to get to do that often, but I'm also glad they are adults and finding their own ways. Good job, women! 


 For my birthday, I told John I wanted to ride bikes to Stone City and back. It would be about 100 miles, but Stinky and her boyfriend said they would meet us at Big Grove Brewery in Solon for dinner and they would drive us home, making it closer to an 80 mile day. We had to make the plans tentative, because we live in Iowa and it could storm all day on my birthday just as well.

Luckily for me, the weather was perfect. I don't ever remember it being 74 degrees and sunny on my birthday. We invited our friend Burne to ride and he was up for it. The only drag was that the General Store in Stone City was closed during the week. We checked around and found the Daly Creek Winery in Anamosa was open instead.

 So, the plan was set: Leave home at 9 am, meet Burne in Solon at 10 and head to Sutliff Bridge and then Anamosa from there.

My birthday was pretty magical. Anything good that could happen, did. The weather was great, but we found out the original route we were going to take was a gravel road. That only left Highway 1, which could be pretty sketchy with traffic and  almost no shoulder on that road. We thought we'd risk it.

They just happened to be widening and re surfacing it. It was perfect. My friend Burne said that it was so nice, just for my birthday and we imagined it would go back to cracks and no shoulder the next day.

The Daly Creek Winery was nice too. They were out of a lot of things, but we were able to find good things to eat. and we even tasted their pomegranate wine. the boys were awfully sweet and helped me eat a piece of cheesecake with raspberry sauce on it. They're givers.

We headed to Stone City after lunch and rode many hills and then spent our time being in awe of the Grant Wood scenery.

We headed to Sutliff Bridge for the second time and got in a nice afternoon nap on the bridge there.

We rode off to Solon and met my daughter, her boyfriend, and my friend Ginger.

I'm sure not everyone would find an 80 mile bike ride the best way to celebrate their 49th year, but I couldn't think of anything else I'd want to do. Also, special thanks go to John for planning the whole thing and getting me awesome gifts - most importantly a Garmin video camera for my bike. Yea!