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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Goulash

This time last week we were mourning the death of one of our chinchillas. She was 15-1/2 yrs. old and except for her ailing health the last couple months, she lived a happy life with her sister.  We expected this, as she showed signs of slowing down, eating less, sleeping more, losing weight.  The saddest part?  We don't know if it was Pooh Bear, or Tikka.  They were twins.  Their personalities were their distinguishing features.

So we dug a little grave out in the front garden, and Chris made a little marker for her.

The remaining chin, whom we've dubbed "Tikka-pooh," seems fat, happy, and more people-oriented than before.  Our friends ask if she's lonely.  I don't know, but I imagine so. But she's a chinchilla, and doesn't emote like, say, a dog, so it's hard to tell.

Friday morning I had a great ride.  Saturday and Sunday the temperature finally passed 100*, finally.  We rode alone Saturday, and joined friends on Sunday for a quick 50-miler.

Sunday afternoon I showed a house, counseled buyers about their options, then attended a fund-raiser dubbed Tasting for Ta-ta's. It supports a local charity that provides funds for mammograms for those who can't afford them, and funds to help out for those undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The wines were, for the most part, worthy, the Kinder's BBQ up to usual standards, and the reconnecting with friends/colleagues/clients very satisfying.

Monday was my local Assoc. of Realtors (R) annual charity golf tournament.  I don't play golf but I serve on the committee with gusto:  I get to solicit prizes, visit clients/friends/colleagues, run an event for a worthy cause, help golfers have a good time.  And those who participate whom I know expect me to hit them up for some cycling event support.

While I'd rather watch grass grow than play or watch golf, I appreciate that golfers love their game as much as I love riding my bike. And golf courses are beautifully landscaped acres, and I do loves me some beautiful landscaping.

After 3 hours of registering players my partner and I took off for the 17th hole, as we were witnesses for the hole-in-one.  The prize?  A 2010 Honda Fit.  So it took 5+ hrs. in 104* or so heat (we had shade and company, food and every manner of beverages) for 28 foursomes to play through.  Around 4 p.m. we saw some deer boldly trot onto the course, oblivious to the balls flying and carts careening.  By the time we headed to the clubhouse for dinner there were easily over a dozen deer grazing placidly on the fairways.  I can see how the local creatures adapt to a golf course, and it gives me one more reason to appreciate a well-placed course.

Fast-forward to today:  Chris was leaving on a business trip so we took the tandem out early.  Temps were 20* cooler than Monday and Tuesday, humidity was up, so smells were lingering close to the road.  My favorite time to ride is early morning, beating the heat, feeling spots of cool air in the low-water crossings, the smells, the animals.

We were close to the end of the ride, barreling down Steiger Hill Rd. towards Cantelow Rd. at 40+ mph when a spotted fawn leaped in front of us. Yikes!!  Chris kept the bike upright and managed to spare the fawn by about 8".  It ran to the left, and slightly ahead of our front wheel. We could hear the tiny clicks of its hooves on the pavement, its tail high in the air, bounding away for its life.  We slowed a bit as we approached a right turn onto Cantelow; it crossed in front of us and got off the road.  I glanced over my shoulder as we pedaled away and saw it crash into a square-wire fence (its head was too big to fit).  Once we un-puckered we felt sad that it was alone.  I hope its mother found it.

We're pretty competitive but we've never been challenged by a deer.  This time I was happy to let it "win."  Our win was staying upright and coming home excited and unscathed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Race of the Season

First let me get my bag of excuses and see what I can find. *rustles around inside large Nordstrom bag*

My race season last year, after an encouraging start, was rudely interrupted (see previous posts) by a crash and a broken wrist.  I trained in June & July, raced in August & Sept., logged many miles in October (>800, a PR), and started dropping off in Nov.  December was busy, and when my business partner went on vacation the last week of December, business picked up to a power of ten. I wasn't prepared to be so busy, so I had no program for the trainer before/after work, or the odd times I'd be engaged with clients.  Until the end of February my riding was slacking, my business over-the-top busy, and I felt overwhelmed.

Took small steps to get things under control, and had a roller-coaster spring of challenging rides, not enough training, closing deals, wishing I could train away the stress and pounds.  So frustrating, days when I'd read 2 paragraphs of a book and wake up 30 min. later with it resting on my face.

So I finally gave up -- just rode as hard as I could, when I could, let go the idea of group/race team rides, made some time trial practices, and worked hard in between, finding opportunities to power walk the dogs, have a fast tandem ride, do some strength training...you get the idea.

We set our focus on the Dunlap Memorial Time Trial, which was our first tandem TT, and one we've done 3 years now. We tried to sign up and what?  No tandem division.  They replaced it with the team TT.  Boo.  We skipped it.

So we waited until Thursday night to register for the Mt. Diablo Hill Climb.  I did it 2 years ago. Chris registered as well and since he's in better shape and has been riding more than I, we both thought he'd bring this one home.

So the day dawned with screaming dessicating north winds.  We caravaned w/K and her kids and dog, and our daughter came along to be the supervisor of the kids.

By the time I registered and had my bike ready to go I had 20 min. until my start time. Frack.  So K rode as my coach (the road was closed to cars but not cyclists, and many locals were taking advantage of the lack of cars to ride).  I never drafted, hell, I never caught her wheel even when I was really pushing it.

This even features a start house and a held start.  I love that.  I can be in a big gear, all clipped in, and when the official says, "Go" I can stand and pull the pedals so hard the front wheel comes off the ground.

I got a  solid start.  Eventually I found K.  My HR was ridiculous so I spent an inordinate amount of time working to keep it in control.

Came around some switchbacks and wham!  A face-full of wind. Around another switchback and it's tailwind. K rode this recently and remembered the corners.  Her insight was invaluable.  It's been a year since I've been on the mountain on my bike and I've forgotten.


She yelled, she encouraged, I dug deep, stayed focused, failed to recognize Diablo Scott (sorry! and thanks for the great pic!) (to be posted soon). Close to the end, at an especially steep switchback, I threw up a little in my mouth. And a day later I'm still coughing up "stuff."  Hello, lower lobes of lungs.  It's been a while.

After what seemed forever I saw the line, sprinted for it, went well past it before I stopped and hacked and nearly yakked.  K & I hugged and exchanged congrats.  Jen joined us shortly thereafter.  After some discussion they took off to ride to the Junction, down then up the southside, and back to the parking lot.

I took my time riding down so I could cheer on subsequent riders, including Chris and our friend Curtis. I was so proud to see them, as if my influence had anything to do with their racing.

Got to the start and was talking to a tall, young CAT5 rider about to go off and realized it's my www.bikeforums.net and Twitter friend, Ygduf.  This was his first race also and he posted a great time.  He has potential, that one.

After a change of clothes we checked out our results.  Chris finished in 36:37 I finished in 40:27, 7th of 8, and >2 min. slower than 2 years ago.  I have some work to do.

All in all, a very trying yet satisfying day.  The harder I work, the more adrenaline/endorphins I release, the better I feel.

I predict more racing in my future.  And I can't wait.

Late Spring Surprises

...and I haven't had a new blog post since April. Ooops.  Darn you, life, getting in the way.

Many times have I composed prose and poems, haiku and homilies, while riding/walking/washing dishes/playing in the garden.  And all those posts are in my head -- sometimes I ran out of time to post, sometimes I ran out of energy, mostly life jumped up and demanded my immediate attention.

So my new rule of thumb: Update blog 1st, then social networking sites.  There, that's better.  Priorities, like a new bra, occasionally need re-adjusting.


We've had 2 opportunities in the last week to be stand-up people.

Last week at Costco we found someone's smartphone in a basket in the parking lot. We figured out how to work the phone but couldn't find the emergency #.  So I called the entry called "Mom," and Mom called the daughter who came to the store and picked it up.  She had no idea where she'd left it and was pretty upset about it. She was very relieved and thankful that we "did the right thing."  Like we'd do the wrong thing...former Scouts that we are.

That felt great. We're big fans of happy endings.

Today a couple miles into our easy tandem toot we were passed by an older, classic motorcycle.  A mile further down the country road we see a dead buck in the middle of it, the motorcycle in the grass on the side, and the rider limping up a nearby driveway.  No one answered at the house so I called 911 & his wife.  He was skinned up bad, lots of blood but nothing apparently broken, and he was alert.  His helmet did its job, even though his face, nose and mouth had a fair amount of blood. (Good thing I'm not squeamish.) He insisted we not hang around, his pride talking, but we know better.

Chris and a neighbor who saw the commotion moved the carcass off the road, and pushed the cycle to one house over.  (That pretty bike is probably toast.  The handlebars were mangled, it was leaking oil, and who knows what else was damaged.)  We stayed around until the paramedics came, then went back to the road to find the wife. She was the driver with the anguished look on her face.  We waved her over and pointed to her husband.  As she parked a fire truck and 2 CHPs arrived.  We gave our report to the officers, got on our bike, and rode about 30 more pleasant and thoroughly enjoyable miles.

So that felt great, too, being first responders and helping this poor guy. I felt bad that his bike is broken, sad that a fat young 2-point buck (still in velvet) died, and glad this guy is going to live to ride again.

I wonder what's next?