Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bellas and Bellies

I owe a huge thanks to Erika and Linda for inviting me out to the Bella ride today. I learned a great lesson in the power of the group ride. Flashback to yesterday: Mike and I head out for a ride. I turn around at the top of Tunnel Road (5 miles from home) feeling fat and depressed that my belly has gotten so big that riding the road bike cuts off circulation in my legs. I ride home alone, lamenting the fact that this might be the last ride on my beloved Moots for the remaining 4 months of pregnancy.

A few hours later , in swoops Mike (from aformentioned ride), declaring that the Moots is ready to rumble on tomorrow's Velo Bella group ride. Mike has added spacers, flipped the stem, and tilted the handlebars up towards the heavens, allowing me to sit upright while I ride. Although it didn't look like this handlebar attachment, it felt about the same.

So, today, I was a new woman and clicked away 55 miles with a crew of fabulous Bellas and Left Coast women. I think I have about 3 weeks left with this current upright setup, and then I might have to hang her up and become friends with my new mountain bike.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coffee Talk

I'm midway through my pregnancy. Our little Buddah is kicking regularly, even as I type this post. These daily reminders that he's healthy and growing are a thrill and Mike and I have already started 'watching' baby TV, meaning that we sit in silence with our hands on my belly, entertained by our little guy's actions.

The second trimester has been a breeze so far. My only complaint is that I sure could use a few more gears on the bike to get my extra 24 pounds up the steeper climbs. I did my first mama group ride yesterday with Taitt and Emily, both of whom are due within a few weeks of me. It was a blast.

One additional perk of the second trimester, is that coffee is starting to sound appealing again. Although I have been pregnant for 21 weeks, today was only my 3rd cup of coffee. It's freezing cold and raining and a good cup-o-Joe at Cole, along with some real cream, sounded like a great way to start this lazy Sunday.

You cannot imagine my surprise, when I discovered this article on the cover of today's SF Chronicle. Simeon, the boy pictured with his mother, enrolled in my pre-algebra class last May. He was living in a shelter and had missed the entire year of school up until that point. His mother was eager to get materials for him to study at home. Simeon shined, not just in math class, but in English where he was students' favorite choice to read Shakespeare aloud because of his gift for intonation and making the books come alive. He was my student again this year in algebra until his sudden departure at the end of October. His mother stopped by the office to return his textbooks, but we never knew why she had moved him to another school.

Coffee mug in hand, rain crackling on the Cole Coffee awning, it was a great morning to read the SF Chronicle and discover that there's a happy ending to his departure from my school.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Kickin' on the Coast

We spent the weekend up on the Sonoma Coast. We found a little house overlooking the water and surrounded by good rides. We took along enough of the kitchen and 'wine cellar' to assure we could fully participate in the season of gluttony. Then for four days we


and ate

and rode

and ate

and recovered.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Big Weekend Spills Over...a little.

Wow, that was some crazy fun. First it was the Big Game. My grad school buddy scored me a ticket. My first big game in many years and while the atmosphere at Memorial Stadium has changed a bit (fodder for another post) it was great fun. Neither team executed particularly well but The Bears had enough tricks up their sleeves to bring home the 'W'. Nothing like a sea of blue and gold on the field at the end of the Big Game.

Then, Sunday was the Big Ride. I'm sad to admit this was my first. About 100 Cal, Stanford and random cyclists gathered in Sproul Plaza early Sunday morning. After ascending Tunnel Road in one big mass groups split off in about 5 different directions for rides of varying intensity and length. I chose to stick with these cross dressing collegiate guys on the long-medium paced ride. We probably averaged a medium pace but most of the time it was either Hammer or wait.

Finally, today I extended the fun a little and journeyed out to the Tri-Valley area for a flat land spin with the 'G' man. I also brought him his new duds. Damn sexy if you ask me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ultrasound is Megacool

Yesterday was our first ultrasound appointment. I remember being impressed when Little M was in the oven but I had forgotten how cool it really is. Seeing tiny fingers, toes, heads and hearts on the monitor makes it all very real.

It would have been more fun if we were just there for the pictures but Ali had amnio as well. Not a procedure for someone who does not like needles. It was touch and go for a few minutes but she recovered nicely in true Ali fashion. I was amazed at how much fluid they drew. She's taking it as easy as possible for a few days and we're keeping our fingers crossed until the results return.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

4.8 is the magic number

I love Beth!

But before I divulge the details of my love-affair, let me set the record straight. Yes, I am pregnant. Beginning my 16th week to be exact. In Mike's last post he and Soni both had some vague references to pregnancy which caused more than 1 friend to write an inquisitive email about whether or not they had cracked the code in the blog.

Now, folks are full of advice when they learn such news. But the ones who amuse me most are the men who try to race me up the hills who DON'T know this news. Beth and I met one of them today. I think I'll ask Metromint & Louie Garneau to print this on the back of my kit to let these men know that they are barking up the wrong tree if they want to take me on.

This would be good, not just for the guys who enjoy drafting off of my engarlged booty, but those to want to push the pace to see if they can drop me.

The answer to the second inquiry is a resounding YES.

Which gets me back to Beth and the title of this blog. Beth was kind enough to ride the 3-Bears with me this afternoon. And when I say "with" I mean she actually tolerated my ever slowing pace, for all 3+ hours. I was quite happy when I looked down at my powermeter on Mama Bear and it proudly displayed 4.8 mph. Did I mention that I'm almost 4 months pregnant? We may not have broken the sound barrier while climbing, but I didn't cough up a lung either.

When I invited her to ride with me this afternon, she was worried that she was encrouching on date time between Mike and me. Mike always corrects me when I say that 'we' are pregnant. He reminds me that it's really just me. There's no better reminder that 'we' are not pregnant than when I go for a long ride with Mike. He managed to drop me before we even got across town to Spruce. But he's always circling back and would have stayed with us the entire ride were it not for a ticking clock reminding us that Lil M had to be picked up from her friend's at a specific time.

After our lovely jaunt over the hills, we came home to a fabulous pot pie from BakeSale Betty's. Twas quite an amazing afternoon!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Off Season Ends With Some Wine

Yesterday was the last official day of 'off season'. We had plans to meet Soni and Jeff in Lodi for the Giro d Vino but the weather was threatening a rain delay. Fortunately, we woke to clear-ish skies and decent biking weather so we zig-zagged our way through the delta out to the Woodbridge Winery for the start of the ride.

Ali was a little nervous about riding 64 miles in her condition but we were assured the route was pancake flat and it was. Ali also tried to temper the pace by being the wine pusher for the day. She isn't drinking but wanted to make sure the rest of us didn't miss a stop or a sip.

All in all it was a great day! Nice weather, an easy route, good wine and great company. What more could you ask for?

Here are a few photos we took along the way.

There were crayfish in the puddles along the road.

The winery cat's really know how to relax.

Bike helmets are an essential part of wine tasting safety.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quiet as a Superbowl Sunday

I was a little worried as we headed out on our ride this evening. The commute traffic can be a little testy and not much fun for riding. As we climbed the hill we found the roads were quiet, almost too quiet. It was like riding on a Superbowl Sunday or Christmas morning only better. We rolled along enjoying the open roads, knowing all the East Bay liberals were glued to the TV watching the half-time show of this political Superbowl (Even the local ice cream hot spot, Ici, was empty this balmy evening.) And when we arrived home we enjoyed dinner and a terrific speech...on Tivo.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Great America...One Year Later

Summer is drawing to a close and we're trying to pack in a few more adventures before Little M heads back to school. Tuesday we went to Great America for a couple of hours of amusement park. We went about this same time last year. Little M isn't normally a thrill seaker so during our previous visit the day was mostly spent on the carnival rides and the log ride. This year started out the same but then we got up the nerve to try Flight Deck.

Well, I think we've created a monster. We were barely out of the exit when she asked if we could do it again. We waited a few minutes for the cobwebs to clear and then strapped ourselves in for another whip around the lake. I should have guessed things had changed when she asked for this temporary tatoo.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pay me to bike to work?

Between Facebook, blog, email, phone, bike rides, and track, I just can't keep track of how to communicate anymore. Too many options!
So, for the second time this week, I'm using the blog to respond to Lauren. I could do this directly and keep the rest of you out of the loop, but what fun would that be?
I nearly spit out my Italian-roast coffee when I read this over breakfast. An Emeryville achitect firm, Siegel & Strain, paying their employees 'gas' mileage when they bike to meetings? Now that's hot!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lauren's Life of Leisure

Lauren's Facebook update today, yearning for a life of leisure, prompted me to write this post. She's gonna kill me for this, but while riding earlier this week, I told her that I really admire her & Morgan for their balance of parenting and bike riding, so I'm hoping she'll eventually forgive me.

My Berkeley middle school is still looking to hire a few hearty souls for this upcoming school year. Applicants must be willing to endure a rigorous job-training program during the month of July:

First, mix one part of this:

With two parts of that

Then, retreat here

for summer book group reading.

Then, blend 5 parts of this

with 2 parts of that

Top it off with a lot of this,

and you've got yourself a job!

Job description can change without prior notice and there's no guarantee that October's work will resemble July's. Apply now for full summer benefits.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Superweek Reports

We finally got around to writing a few stories about our trip back to Corn Country. They're on the team site here and here.

Some of the more colorful stories still might trickle out here on the blog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eat more ice cream!

Mike and I just bought an ice cream maker. Hans suggested we get a hand crank, but with the quantities of ice cream that we eat, we'd have unnecessarily bulging biceps after only a few weeks. Little M has been the impetus for our first two flavor creations: strawberry, rhubarb, lavender sorbet and pear carmel ice cream. She's as addicted to reading the cookbook and choosing new flavors as we are to finishing off a pint a day.

This steady increase of our ice cream intake appears to be inversely proportional to my desire to train and race. I have definitely lost the bug (you'll have to hang tight another day before my tell-all Superweek report is posted). I listened to podcasts of Spanish news broadcasts today and was quite content to completely space out and pay no attention whatsoever to my powertap.

So, the question of the day is, how to eat copious quantities of ice cream, enjoy my crisp Spanish rose wine, not train, and...drum roll...not gain weight.

Luckily, I have teammates to support me in this endeavor. Amanda housesat for us while we were in Europe and discovered a fascinating tidbit while reading Bill Bryson's, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" On average, people have 5 pounds of dead skin.

So, what's a non-training, ice cream eater's response? Buy a loofa! I've been loofa-ing steadily now for 2 days, resulting in a .1 lb weight decrease. Then again, maybe I just ate less ice cream today than yesterday. My mediocre results led me to do some very serious research on the interwebs to see how else I can address this dire issue.

Here's what I found. You'll have to trust that this is straight off the web as there is no bibliography at the end of this post:
  • Did you know you can absorb up to five lbs. of chemicals every year from make-up and other "beauty" products?

  • You swallow about one quart of snot every day.

  • About ten billion tiny scales of skin rub off your body every day. In a lifetime, you could fill eight five-pound flour bags with dead skin.

  • Most people nearly have 5 pounds of dead skin, normally. If they can shed these 5 pounds within a short duration, then it would really be good. But most of them are trapped with their busy schedules and are unable to spare any time for the workout sessions. Hence a new device has been introduced that assists in removing the dead skin from the body using a vacuum system.
My August training plan:

Buy a heavy-duty vacuum, blow my nose several times a day, toss out the makeup, loofa morning, noon, and night...rinse...repeat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


We are finally home. After our wedding, ending the school year, two weeks of cycling in Europe, and ten days of racing at Superweek, our summer excitement has come to an end. It has been a wonderful 6 weeks, but we're both ready to ratchet down the pace a few clicks.
There are Supweek race reports to be written, tomatoes to be staked, and bikes to be unpacked. But in the meantime, we're gonna uncork one of Hutch's sassy Spanish sippers and BBQ us some shrimp with mango salsa.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Burger King Corner

Getting a call up this afternoon in the Evanston Grand Prix, my hometown crit.

The real question is whether I'll stick it out til the end of the race. These enormous packs aren't my cup of tea, nor is the "Burger King corner" where traffic furniture leads us from a wide boulevard into a 1 lane corner.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Finally got away...

After pulling the group around too much on Monday I've been a bit of a marked man. Every break attempt has been covered quickly. Yesterday I hoped the power climb might provide a good spot to attack the local flat landers. A last minute pit stop left me lined up at the back, bad timing on my part. Two went off the front from the gun but I couldn't sneak through the crowd to join them. Three laps later, when the pace slowed on the hill, I made my bridge attempt. A quick glance back and showed some daylight so I kept the pressure on. The pack surged a few times following bridge attempts but I managed to stay away and ultimately put time into the pack. Unfortunately I couldn't close on the break of two but am happy with the podium.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Check it out!!!

Where to send it?

Ali mentioned that I had a little windfall of $90 yesterday. I can't in good conscience keep the money so I thought I would give it to a good (preferably biking related) cause. I have a few ideas but thought you all might have some that I wouldn't think of. Any thoughts about good organizations that could use $90 in cash?

Monday, July 14, 2008

$150 and a Slice of Pie

Day 1 of Superweek: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Mike enjoyed a rare small field of in a masters’ race. Intolerant of the predominance of negative racing, he spent well over 50% of the race on the front of the field, singlehandedly chased down the break, rode the last 5 laps as the exclusive man on the front, and still was able to unleash his sprint for 3rd. That was the first $60 for the coffers. Then, in some crazy stroke of Midwestern kindness, the guy (pictured in the photo)who won came up to Mike and insisted that he keep his $90 of winnings. Huh? He was so thankful for Mike keeping the pace high for the last few laps and said that he had done no work the entire race and Mike deserved his winnings. Damn, that’s some generous Midwestern guilt.

I went home with a huge slice of humble pie. This was my first non-local P-1-2 race and the first where the P category was represented in good standing. It hurt. I got dropped. All I can say is that is WAS NOT fun to hurt that much and eventually (after less minutes than there are ounces in a Venti Starbucks coffee), I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Elis gave me some very sound advice this evening and I promise to not be such a pain-wuss tomorrow. I have been practicing my suffer-face in front of the mirror all evening. Actually, I think the suffer was induced by the gargantuan chocolate chip cookie which I had after dinner, but I’m not so sure.

Starla and Ali. Here’s basically how the race went for us both. Wanna guess which of us kicked ass today?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Le Ouch

I am moved to sing praises for my teammate Monique. We headed out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate Amanda’s birthday. There we were, drinking margaritas on the deck, when I startled the crowd with a cry of pain. I had reached under the table for my napkin, and somehow had graised the inside of the wooden table. My finger emerged with a huge splinter under my fingernail. This was not some tiny speckle of wood, but a fat, pointed slice of wood which drove itself clear down from my fingertip to the bottom of my cuticle. Serious buzz kill.

Other than having me drink a lot more margaritas, no one was quite sure what to do with me. Mike (and my mother) have been privy to more than one post-doctor visit phone call when I am seeing spots, tolerating ringing in my ears, drenched in sweat, and on the verge of fainting from some minor procedure which has freaked me out.

As I pondered my finger’s fate, Mike ran across the street to a Walgreens and bought tweezers and nail clippers.

Step 1: Clip the nail super-short for better access to the splinter.
Step 2: Carefully grab the splinter. Confidently yank it out so as to not break it and leave it inaccessible under my nail.

Monique’s swift hand, a mouthful of cerviche, and a bit of pre-chugging of the margarita made the procedure quite swift. It hurt like hell, but…mom will be proud…I didn’t end up with my head between my legs, warding off the dreaded faint.

Mike was the highly-paid photographer. At the end of the tweezers, you’ll see the splinter. Remember, this whole thing was under my fingernail! Yes, it was at least 1 foot long… I'm sure of it!!!

Cancel your health insurance. Dr. Monique is your woman.

A Pearl In The Paella

Well, we're back...trying to get back into the swing of things. The rest of our trip was nice, although we ended up enjoying our time in France more than the time in Spain.

After our spectacular trip in France we packed up the car and drove 4 hours from Provence to the Costa Brava of Spain. The first two nights we stayed in a small Renaissance town east of Girona called Paratallada. The hotel and the town were run as a historic tourist attraction within a state park. The surrounding area was mostly agricultural land nestled between Girona and the Mediterranean. The riding was nice but not nearly as spectacular as France. We spent one day doing the well known Els Angels loop which includes Hincapie Hill. It was a nice ride but we had a hard time figuring out where else one would ride out of Girona.

The next two nights we moved out to the coast (about 20K away) and stayed at El Far Hotel in Llafranc. For those of you who aren't well versed in Spanish, El Far is The Lighthouse. The Costa Brava is hilly. Beaches are tucked into rocky coves surrounded by steep cliffs. El Far was at the top of one of those cliffs. The views were spectacular. Walking or riding to the hotel was a good workout. For our last day of riding we decided to hug the coast and check out some of the beach towns. As you can imagine, this involved a great deal of climbing or descending. The roads up and down the hills seemed to range between 10% and 20% grades. Wrong turns resulted in some serious grinding climbs to backtrack but the scenery was spectacular.

As we headed up to El Far on the final climb of the day (and the final climb of the trip) Ali threw down the gauntlet and set a fast tempo up the hill. For the next 8-10 minutes we had a nice little duel on the hills of Llafranc. Nothing like a little competition on some STEEP hills to help you set some new PR's for power output.

So, if you haven't figured it out yet, we like to eat. Our travel enjoyment is directly related to our enjoyment of the food. Some people like to see art, cathedrals, natural wonders...we like quite beautiful roads for riding and tasty food at the end of the day. The food in Provence was incredible...every day. In Spain we weren't having the same luck. Most meals were OK, some not so good. So after our little duel we decided to make the long trek back to Girona and try a little restaurant that looked promising on our previous visit. Ali had stopped in to ask for directions and was impressed by the owner. He seemed very detail oriented and we hoped his attention to detail would carry over to his food. We weren't disappointed. We decided to try the pre fixe menu: a 9 course meal with wine pairings. By the time we were done we were pretty sure it was one of the best meals we have eaten. So, if you're in Girona check out Mimolet.

Our next stop was Barcelona...but that's going to have to be another entry.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Gorges du Verdon

It's just after midnight here. Dinner is sooooo late I have trouble sleeping. Ali's asleep so I'm looking for stuff to do...hence the blog.

Today we drove (too far) from Menerbes to Gorges du Verdon, the 'Grand Canyon' of France. I was feeling a bit sluggish when we started so we didn't really have an agenda. After an hour of climbing the East rim of the canyon we reached a lookout spot. We had a snack and took some pictures and then decided to continue on a bit further. Warning: you know you've been in the mountains when you say 'It's only another 1000 feet up'.

The Gorges were great but it was nice to get back to our hotel for our final honeymoon dinner in France. The meal was great and we had a little surprise when we got back to our room after dinner.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


After our epic ride we’ve been moving a little slowly. We briefly considered trekking up to the Alps to ride l’Alpe d’Huez and Col du Galibier but decided it would be too much time in the car. So, the last two days have been spent mostly exploring by car. Visiting some of the well known sites in the area and checking out some of the local markets. We’ll let the pictures speak.

One more day in Provence and then…vamos a EspaƱa!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Let's Not Forget...

It’s still bike racing season. While it may seem like we’re over here in the old country working on our tans and wishing we had a few more notches in our belts we haven’t forgotten that Superweek is just around the corner. So, with that in mind we planned a little training ride to prepare us for the racing to come.

Many of you may think of the Midwest as pancake flat but it isn’t. There are a few hills, Allison learned to ski on suburban Chicago’s Mt. Trashmore; as a child growing up in Iowa, I lived in fear of riding up Benton Street on my bike. So, we thought a little climbing might be a good addition to the training plan. Also, the races at Superweek tend to be a bit longer than many of your local crits often ranging from 60-90 minutes, so we wanted to ensure that we don’t arrive ill prepared.

Some rides become epic purely by accident; mechanical problems, weather changes or unfettered pets wreak havoc on what should be a leisurely ride. Other rides have mild potential due to distance and or elevation gain. And then there are rides that are epic from the first moment the idea is uttered into the ethos. Yesterday was one of those days.

As we mentioned, Mt. Ventoux is visible from the road outside our hotel. By visible, we mean its peak can be distinguished from the distant clouds on the horizon with the just the right level of squint of the eyes. At some point one of us proposed riding from our hotel to the mountain, up the mountain and back…an epic ride was conceived.

We figured that we wouldn’t stop for lunch, so we did our best to gorge ourselves on the gourmet breakfast at our hotel. The staff at the hotel thought we were insane, “Maud, you are maud” they said as they pointed out the sheer distance we’d have to ride, coupled with the 90+ degree weather and gusty winds. We replied that the Tour de France does similar distances up these same roads. They countered “Ze are paid to ride up zee mountain.”

We smiled, grabbed a few more chocolate croissants for the road, donned our Minty suits, and headed north. Each road was as car-free and breathtaking as the next. Our route took us through lavender fields, a pack of German cyclists, goat cheese producers, farm stands of fresh honey, castles atop red cliffs, steep gorges , endless rows of grape vines, and so much more.

Have you endured the 14 mile climb to the treeless, exposed peak of Mt. Ventoux? If not, you’d never guess what you’ll find there: sugar, as far as the eye can see. We spent almost $20 and it still wasn’t enough to fuel as home without a bit of bonking.

Ninety-four miles and not nearly enough water or calories later, we were ‘home’. Dinner included gazpacho accompanied with tomato sorbet and roasted sweet pepper ‘foam’, roasted duck in a lavender honey glaze, and rhubarb crisp with coconut sorbet. Twist my arm and maybe we can do it again tomorrow.

Superweek here we come ;).

Action photos here and here.