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.