Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Never as Good as the First Time.

On Sunday, John did his first mountain bike race at a beautiful park just North of Ames, Iowa.

I'm still too chicken and I don't have the bike handling skills to race mountain bikes yet, so I went for support and since it was so gorgeous there, I decided to go for a run on some trails and gravel roads, while John warmed-up on his bike.

If you ever want a whole bunch of people to give you a hard time, go running around a bunch of bike racers. I got all kinds of grief. People told me that running was for felons, or asked me if I needed a bike to ride. My friend Katherine was going ot race, and she told me I shouldn't waste my time running, since riding bikes was so much more fun, but then halfway through her race, after she crashed and was covered in mud, she rode by me and told me that maybe I was the smart one. Ha ha.

John had a very muddy race. After he finished, he said that he thought he had made every beginner mistake in the book. I told him that that was how we all learned. He certainly wasn't first, but he wasn't last either. He actually got 3rd in his category. Pretty impressive for a first race. I think he's excited to do another one soon.

Since we were both covered in mud from our respective activities, we decided to jump in the lake. I love swimming in open water. I like spiders and bugs and the little fish I can feel swimming around my ankles, so I don't get grossed-out by any of that and this lake was so lovely. After a hot, sweaty run, it felt so nice to swim around sand get the worst of the mud off of us.

We decided to stop in Des Moines on the way home and go to El Bait Shop. It is a bar restaurant that on one side has really great craft beer and decent Mexican food and is connected to Miller High Life Lounge that is a 1970's themed place with bad 70's beer and embarrassingly good comfort food.

It was a little early in the day, so I wasn't going to have any beer, but then I started looking at their menu and they had a jalapeno flavored beer and the really cute and nice bartender told me it was her favorite beer and asked me if I wanted to try a sample. Oh, what the hell. I decided to get a beer flight of Iowa Craft beers. John helped me drink it and we both got to try stuff we may not have wanted an entire pint of. Luckily, no headache ensued.

We drove home to a huge rain deluge and heard it rained on and off all day in Iowa City. We felt pretty lucky to drive two hours and have perfect weather there all day.

Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Life, Jim. But Not as We Know it.

This will be a mostly photo post.

I had another wonderful weekend. On Saturday, we met some friends around 8:30 and took off on our bikes to Riverside, Iowa. The future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. They have a Trek fest celebration the last weekend of June and our friend lives on the parade route there, so he uses that opportunity to throw a party. If you have ever seen the movie Trekkies, you will see a segment where they go to Riverside and talk to some of the residents.

We've gone to the party every year, but have never made it to the parade. It was a veritable nerd fest. Normally, when we walk around in lycra during a bike ride, we are the geekiest people around, but going to Trekfest wearing lycra, we are finally not the biggest dorks in town. It was kind of refreshing.

I suppose if you live on the parade route for Trekfest, you are required by law to have a box of bizarre masks and headresses. Of course, we were obliged to wear said items and be the aliens to their Star Fleet . It's all about balancing it all out.

I chose not to drink alcohol. With my migraines, I can't really drink during the day, or I will go into the evening with a headache. So, I had water. Lots and lots of water. I think I probably drank at least 10 bottles. I was well hydrated for the first time in weeks.

I didn't want to stay too very late, because I had to get home and mow the lawn. With the rains we've been  having, I could probably mow every day and still need to mow more often.  We did hangout until at least 2 o'clock. John's ex-wife and her family was in town from Norway and we wanted to make sure we got to see them. They come back once a year, so we don't get to see them very often.

Our friend Timmer wore a Tron outfit and rode his old school chopper bike along the parade route. Our other friend who lives there, just happened to have a bag of candy for Timmer to throw. He said the kids loooooved his costume and his bike. He was a huge hit.

We finally rode back to Iowa City, and I got the lawn mowed and we got the cats some attention. Lord knows, they never get enough...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Let Love Rule

Yesterday I took vacation time to go on a lovely bike ride. I originally planned to do ride the West Branch Loop. It's a bout 59 miles of rolling hills around the birth place of  Herbert Hoover, but I missed my turn and ended up in a little town called Tipton. Oops!

I had never ridden my bike there before, so it turned out to be kind of cool. I love that route because of all the prairie poppies on the side of the road and getting to ride by the very swollen Cedar River. I had a great ride. I felt pretty strong, but not my very strongest. It was hot, but not terrible and I brought a half of a peanut butter and honey sandwich to eat at the halfway point. The only big problem, was that I didn't bring enough water with me. Derrrr. Lately, I've been going on social rides with friends that are 30'ish miles at their longest and then we always stop to eat and drink along the way, so I don't need as much water. This was the first time in a while that I had done a longer route by myself. It was a good reminder of what I'll need to have on my for the Clear Lake Road Race, which is 51 miles long.

I headed back from Tipton, after I stopped and ate my sandwich by this adorable tractor. On the way back, I had lost my steam. I'm not sure if I just went too hard on the way out, or if I had a head wind that was harder than I thought, or whether I just was too dehydrated to get up and go. I just slowed my roll (literally) and enjoyed the beautiful Summer day. About a mile from home, I saw a lemonade stand run by two very stoic little girls. I gave them twice what they asked for a cup of lukewarm pink lemonade and it was the best I ever had.

Here is my cat Friday photo. The other night John brought up the marriage question again. He does from time to time. Not so much because he wants to get married, but more because he wants to make sure that I'm not resentful about not getting married. We've been together for almost 5 years now. We've each been married before and I know he's not really into getting married and it's not a big deal to me either. I said that I didn't really care about getting married, but at some point, it might be nice to have a celebration with our friends. John said, "Well, since neither one of us like parties with a lot of people, what do you think that would look like?" Um....Like we would both be in hell? Yeah. We're fine the way we are.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

When I'm Ridin' Around the World. And I'm Doin' This and I'm Signing That.

I turn 50 in less than a month. So, in order to celebrate the fact that I made it this far, I thought I'd do a look back every ten years before I reach that magical half century.

I was born on July 16th, 1965. Here are some fun facts about that year:

In pop culture news, this is what happened in July in 1965:

More July - TV for housewives - a show called “ Girl Talk ” with Virginia Graham - each weekday on ABC-TV. The chatter can range from hair curlers to the atomic bomb to sex and perhaps husband changing….Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff is seriously injured in a two-car collision near Sparta, Tennessee. Two others were also injured. Acuff suffered broken ribs, pelvis collarbone… Columbia Records releases two versions of a new single by Bob Dylan - “Like A Rolling Stone” to radio stations. On one version - “Like A Rolling Stone” is backed with “Gates of Eden.” Interesting, because each song is about 6 minutes, giving the single 12 minutes of music. So as not to completely frighten top-40 disc jockeys, where the average song is just over two minutes, a special DJ single has been created featuring parts one and two of “Like A Rolling Stone.” The song fades out about midway, flip it over and it continues ...  The Kinks are set for a second U.S tour in October. The Britishers launched a four-week tour June 18 that included 18 cities…

The number one song of my birth week? "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones.
The top box office draw for that week? "The Sound of Music".
The top selling novel was, "The Source", by James Michener.
The Vietnam War was escalating, the space program was taking off and Lyndon B. Johnson was president.

 In my own life, I was born around 11 pm on Friday, July 16th in Chicago, Illinois. My sisters remember my mom leaving for the hospital and that they were sitting on the step of our apartment, because it was so hot that night. I was the youngest of 4 children. My parents were Beatnik Artsy types. Later that year, my mom was hospitalized for the first time with unmanageable high blood pressure, and because my dad was already in Arizona, I stayed with my maternal grand parents until she got better. The following year, we would move to Arizona.  

I like that I was born in a time of HUGE changes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Feel the Arms That Reach Out to Hold Me, In the Evening When the Day is Through.

After the race on Saturday, it was still only noon. A storm rolled in on the way home, but then it cleared-up and got hot.

John asked me what my plan for the rest of the day was. I told him I didn't know. I had been obsessing about the weather and what I would do for the race, but never thought about anything after. I told John it was as if I wouldn't make it through it. ha ha. John wondered if after a nap and a shower, would I want to have a sushi dinner and movie date. Hell, yes, I would!

He napped, and I read my booke. Even though I was sooo tired, I was too amped-up after the race to sleep. He went for a little run and then we went for an early sushi dinner. We saw the new Jurassic Park movie. It was good Summer fare, As we walked out, John asked, "How much did you like that movie and how embarrassed are you to admit that?" That was exactly how I felt about it.

 On Sunday I woke-up without any kind of migraine. Hooray! I read a little, went on a 4 mile recovery run, did some laundry, made lunch and then John and I met some friends for a 35 mile, hilly bike ride to Solon. It was a lot of fun. We went with a couple of guys who live in other towns, but are back because their dad is having surgery. So, we got to know them better and had a really good time.

We made it home from our ride and then watched a documentary movie about the 100th year of the Tour de France.

This warm and rainy Spring looks like it might turn into a warm and humid Summer. It's not good for mountain bike racing, but it is making my garden out of control, happy. One of these days, I might even get around to weeding it...

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Road is Long. With Many a Winding Turn.

Holy cow! but did I have an amazing weekend. I'm really not quite sure how it could have been any better...Unless somebody came to my house and gave me enough money to live on for the rest of my life so I didn't have to work.

We headed to Maquoketa right after work on Friday. We stayed at the Decker Hotel. It was built in 1870 and has a cool, haunted  house vibe about it. Full of antiques and quilts and wallpaper in every room. We always try to stay there whenever we go to Maquoketa.

Me and my fun friends who were doing the race and running support at the Lime Kilns.

My brother wanted to work on some canoeing skills, since I haven't been in one for three years, since the last time we did the race. So, we took the canoe out on the river while John and my sister-in-law went out for a drink. We worked on some things and my brother helped me with my form a lot and showed me how to do some quick steering from the front of the canoe, in case we got into a jam on the river. The tutorial really helped me. I think I finally understood the form better and a way to get more power with the paddle.

After we finished up, we met our respective partners and all headed to the Mexican food for dinner. It was a lovely night and we had a great talk, but we had to get back to the hotel and get to bed, in order to wake-up at 5 am the next morning.

On Saturday, we met my two friends, one who was doing the race and the other who was her support. They wanted to follow us to the drop-off spots and get some pointers. We met at the last transition and started to drive to the 2nd transition and drop-off our bikes and helmets. Of course, my brother was in the lead car of our caravan, which was a bad idea. He has the same sense of direction as I do - nonexistent. We drove by the caves and I commented to John that I didn't remember the bike route by the caves and then we saw my brother pull his car over.Yes, indeed. We were lost. John checked his map and GPS and figure out where we needed to go. We started to head back to our REAL destination when I checked the time. If we dropped the bikes off and then went to the start, we would miss our race. I told John that we should go to the start and our support team could drop-off the bikes while we were canoeing. He was worried that we wouldn't know where to fin our stuff, but I told him he would be there to let us know and if we didn't do it that way, we wouldn't get to race. so, we all headed to the beginning of the race.

 We finally made it to the start. On time, thankfully. The next challenge was getting into the canoe.

The river was high and the banks were very muddy. I kept getting stuck in the mud, much to the amusement of the race organizers. I'm glad I could provide the race entertainment.

thanks for the photo, Rebecca_Tunnicliff-Coady

We finally got into the water and started the 8 mile canoe leg. It was so wonderful. We had a fancy race canoe that made us really fast. The last time we did this race, the river was really low and it was so much harder to paddle. This time, it felt like we were cruising and still going so fast. We went ahead of everyone in our heat and then started passing everyone in the heat ahead of us. At one point, we looked up and saw a flock of pelicans (or is it a gaggle?). It was so cool!

By the time we saw the place to transition from canoe to bike, we had passed a bunch of people in the first heat too. I guessed that there might be about 8 - 10 people ahead of us.

Look at the mud hanging off of my shoe. Phto courtesy of Rebecca-Tunnicliff-Coady
 The theme of the canoe part was me getting stuck in the mud. When we landed, my brother got out with the help of the race volunteers, but I was still way out in the water. I hopped out of the canoe and was in about thigh high water and my feet were stuck in the mud.

I had a paddle in my hand and John told me to give it to him. "Good idea," I said. "That will give me a free hand to try and crawl out." "No," John said. "You give me one end and I'll take one end and pull you out." Even better idea!

Photo courtesy of Rebecca-tunnicliff-coady

 I finally got on the bike and started up the 20% grade  hill out of the river valley. Ouch! I tried to stay focused and figured the bike would be my best part to gain time on people. So, I went pretty hard. I passed 7 people during that leg. Of course, right before the transition for the run, I hit the highway and there was a lot of traffic. The official stopped me and several cars ofr so long, that two of the cyclists I passed, caught back up to me. Great.

When I got to the transition for the run, the official called out, "You're the first lady!" I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was no lady...

I have no idea what my problem is on the run for the last triathlons, but I just die then. It could be that I'm heavier than I used to be, it could be that I'm not getting enough food and water during the race, maybe I'm just sweating out all my iron, or it could be that I'm just old and I can't be a faster runner anymore. Who knows? But I did okay the first mile and then started to die. Sigh. Every time I came across a volunteer or offical, they made a big point to tell me I was the first girl in. that was pretty cool.

I finally finished and assume my normal post race position - in possible puking mode.

Photo courtesy of Julie Hugo.
My brother and I were the only people in our category, so we won! I don't have the official results and times yet, but I'm pretty sure that we did it a hell of a lot faster than the first time, and since I'm always just competing against myself, I'm pretty happy.

It was a really fun day all around.

Friday, June 19, 2015

I'm in Heaven. With My Boyfriend. My Laughing Boyfriend.

Last night was one of those quiet evenings at home that I have had way too few of lately. I came home to find even MORE lilies had bloomed. These are my day lilies and I really love their color.

I really needed the nice mellow evening. I got home and read my book on the porch. Then John came out and we had a cocktail. I made dinner after that. John helped me some. He is one of those people who needs to strictly follow a recipe and I am the type that looks at a recipe and then changes it all up. It makes John roll  his eyes, but a lot of things I do have that effect on him.He seems to like to have something to roll his eyes about, so I feel like I'm doing him a favor.

Archie asking for whatever he can get at the cupboard of love.
 With John's help, I made a cheesy shitake mushroom and zucchini quinoa bake and a spinach salad with red raspberries, walnuts and feta cheese. I even made the dressing with red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey and salt and pepper. It was a lovely Summer meal.

Tonight we are headed to Maquoketa, Iowa in order for me to do an adventure race with my brother, who is a canoe racer. If the river isn't too high, we will do an 8 mile canoe, then hop on our bikes and do a 14 mile time trial. Drop off our bikes at the lime kilns and finish with a 5K run. We did this race in 2012 and I didn't realize how long an 8 mile canoe would take (1.5 hours) and didn't fuel or drink any water. By the end of the race, I was completely bonking and dehydrated. This year, I plan to make sure I have  Gu and Shot Blocks that I'll take on the canoe, and a BIG bottle of water. Of course, I was at least 10 lbs thinner the last time I did this race, so who knows how I'll do this time. I think I'll have more fun, because I'm not as worried about my time as I was the last time...Which is most important.

I'm sure the cats will miss us while we're gone...Yeah. Who am I kidding, they'll get their dry food and attention from Stinky and her boyfriend. They won't even care that we're not there.

Have a great weekend, and may you also have fun playing outside.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Look Around See What You Do.

My Shadowy Self.

So, the photo up above is my first successful attempt at getting a still shot from the video I took on Sunday. I shot this just South of Dubuque, Iowa. I know people think Iowa is flat and boring, but those people have never ridden their bikes in Dubuque, Iowa before...Or anywhere in Iowa, for that matter.

I hope to make more of these photos from video, but this week has been crazy busy. Last night was the night that John goes to his mom's house and I was going to work on it a little then, but Stinky had the night off from work and wanted to hang-out with me and I will never say no to that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

And the Heat Wave's Calling Your Name.

Sunday started with a whimper. I woke-up with a slight migraine. It wasn't the kind that knocks me out and makes me non-functional, but I was worried it would get worse as the day progressed. I decided to risk and not take my meds, since I knew the hills coming out of Dubuque would be treacherous and my meds make me so weak. Instead, I took some Advil, did my biofeedback exercises and John gave me a little neck rub. Luckily, that all did the trick for the most part. My migraine wasn't gone, but it never developed into anything so bad that I couldn't ride.

After a few logistical issues with getting our luggage and persons to the start, the second day of TOMROV was just fine. We rode through Mines of Spain park which was really lovely, but the hills in and just outside of the park, were enough to make a grown woman cry...Especially after 106 hilly miles the day before. My legs and butt were already sore to begin with and my migraine made my feet and hands get all needles and pinsy and numb. So, I did get a little whiny at different parts of the day and I wasn't riding half as fast as I did the day before. Which was actually okay. I think we were all feeling the effects of yesterday's ride and the thunderstorms that were supposed to be plaguing us today, decided to hold-off until the evening and the weather was warm and beautiful and the views were incredible, so we were all about just taking our time, stopping when and for however long we felt like it and enjoying our last day of riding. We only had 90 miles to do and that seemed so little compared to the day before.
The cemetery next to one of our stops.

The rest of the day was really lovely. We saw a lot of our friends throughout the day, we stopped for lunch at Goose Lake and ate a big warehouse looking ballroom and a couple of hours, the big hills calmed down and we got to ride on rollers (my favorite).

We finally made it to Bettendorf and about a mile from the end, Timmer got a flat. Out of four people, each riding 196 miles for the weekend, only getting one flat wasn't bad at all.

We grabbed our luggage, changed clothes in the car and made it back to Iowa City by 7. After showering, unpacking, and starting laundry, we were so exhausted that all we could bring ourselves to do was order a pizza and watch a half hour of Netflix before bed. It was the best kind of exhausted.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

And the Backwater's Calling Your Name.

Last minute tinkering with the bikes in the parking lot.
 So, most of the beautiful shots of the countryside from our ride are from videos I took with my bike camera. I thought I figured out how to make still shots from the video last night, but the photos were so small, they were annoying to look at. If I figure out how to make them larger, I'll try to do an entire blog post of beautiful Iowa/Illinois countryside shots.

The fire station where we had our first stop and pancake breakfast.
Today? You get photos taken with my iPhone.

The forecast for TOMROV seemed a little bleak. A small chance for rain on Saturday, but severe thunderstorms on Sunday. Having lived in Iowa for many, many years, I packed for everything. I wore my camelback and stuffed it full of a rain jacket, Merino wool undershirt, sunscreen, snacks, water, drops for my dry eye, Advil, migraine meds, bug spray, and a plethora of ziploc bags to house my iPhone, wallet, and bike camera if it started raining. I was prepared for anything the Midwest could throw at me...Except, maybe a zombie apocalypse.

We started out with things on the chilly side, with a little bit of light mist. It was actually pretty nice. Our friend Marco had left at least a half hour before us. John and I and our friend, Timmer took off around 7 am. The first part of the ride was mercifully flat. We rode along the Mississippi River, through cute little towns. At the 13th mile, we hit the first stop and a pancake breakfast. I wasn't all that hungry, but I also didn't want to bonk later on, so I ate. Pancakes and eggs digest pretty well when I'm biking too.

We stopped quickly at the second stop and our friend Marco texted us that he had just left that stop. We hurried to catch him and soon the three Musketeers became four. We rode together over the sketchy bridge from Sebula Iowa, over the Mississippi River to the Illinois side. Luckily, it was just a little misty and the bridge wasn't too slippery. We were able to ride over it with little incident, although, a lot of people chose to walk their bikes, which I totally get.

We got to Mississippi Palisades Park not long after crossing the bridge. We rode over 56 miles going 17.8 mph, including all the times we slowed down to ride through towns going pretty slowly, that wasn't bad time at all. Of course, we still had about 50 miles to go and the insanely hilly part was yet to come and it had started raining for real.

It's important to take a selfie when you are at your sweaty, frizzy haired, drowned rat worst, right?

 We hit the bigger hills and John and I took-off on our own for a little while. The rain stopped and I was feeling pretty strong, and wanted to see how hard I could go. It felt good to cruise along the rollers.The scenery was incredible and I love riding with John. He let me pull, because he knows I like to and then when I started feeling my legs, he jumped up and pulled some and we took turns and kept a nice pace and bombed down  hills and played and played.

We stopped at the ski resort and waited for the boys and then we all descended that steep, steep hill together. My goal was to break 45 miles per hour. I was a little past 40, with about half the descent to go, when my bike computer reader thingy slid down and all I could see was zero. I'll never know if I made it to 45 mph, but it was a hell of a lot of fun anyway.

We made it into Galena and that put us at 82'ish miles. We finally stopped at the De Soto House for food and beer and that's where I met those two couples who I spoke about in my last post. I did get them to sing, "That's Amore", before we all left, which made John roll his eyes and also meant that I won TOMROV.

We only had about 24 miles left to get to Dubuque, which felt like nothing...Until I tried to ride up  The Wall and I found myself in the wrong gear, trying to go too fast, and I actually got off my bike and walked a little bit of it. John flipped me shit, until I got back on my bike about halfway up. At one point, I was passing a woman going up the rest of the hill. She said, "Wow. Good job!" and I said, "No. I walked up part of it. I'm  not gonna lie..."

We hit our favorite little, dive bar along the route and had one more beer before we crossed the river into Dubuque. I hope I figure out how to get phtoos off my bike camera, because the views crossing into Dubuque are really beautiful.

We rode up one more, stupid, dumb hill on the way to Clarke College, where our bags, clean, dry clothes and a buffet dinner were awaiting us. AHHHHH. We ran into our friend Gardar again, but some of our bike racing teammates were yelling at us to join them at their table. The food was good and most importantly...There was pie!

By the time we got a cab ride to out hotel, took showers and headed down to the bar for one last drink before bed, I was REALLY starting to fade. I thought I might be getting sick, it hit me so quickly and with so much force. We finished our drinks and headed to our rooms, passing-out by around 9 pm. It was an incredible day on the bike

Monday, June 15, 2015

And You May Find Yourself in Another Part of the World.

We didn't get home from TOMROV until close to 7 last night, so I am playing catch-up all day today and I forgot to bring my phone and blah and blah and blah. I had to highjack this photo off of Facebook. Hopefully, tomorrow I will have time to get my photos up and running and maybe even figure out how to attach a video here.

It was a great weekend. 196 miles of EXTREMELY hilly riding. The views were amazing and the people were all so incredibly nice. This pic was taken by a woman who was sitting next to me at the De Soto House. She started asking me questions about the ride. She was from Chicago and just started riding last year. She was really nice and gave me a bunch of packets of wet wipes, let me charge my phone with her portable charger and had her husband take a photo of all four of us. How nice is that? Almost everyone we met on the ride was like that.

I'm hoping I'll get photos and video all set-up to write my post ride post.