Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Flower for Leontien

Leontien is a blogger from the Four Leaf Clover Dairy who is fighting cancer.  Friends of hers set up a Flower Posting, to send some cheer her way.

Flowers for Leontien

Friday, April 27, 2012

What to do with a Saturday?

Hmm...what to do with tomorrow? Dave is off to Munchkin Land Muenster TX for the Muenster Germanfest Metric bicycle ride and I will have the Monkeys all day. All I know for sure that I need to do, is to prep the chickens with marinades for Beercan Chicken tomorrow evening on the grill. That shouldn't take too long provided I can clear out enough room in the fridge to keep it all cold, all day long in different marinade bowls.

I've been experimenting with injected marinades like these by Stubbs. I used the Texas Butter one on a pork tenderloin roast, and then soaked it in this one for 3-4hrs for extra flavor. I know it says Chicken Marinade, but it is great on pork too! The pork turned out so tasty, even Monkey3 liked it! Now THAT is a real seal of approval!

But what to do with tomorrow? Perhaps we will go metal detecting. Haven't done that in a long time, and I've had the urge to detect, lately. There are several good parks that I bet have not been hunted anytime recently, and one huge one, that renews itself so rapidly, it doesn't really matter if it gets hunted regularly--there is always something new to dig out of the wood chips! Hunting would give the Monkeys plenty of time to blow off some stink, running around the play parks too. I can think of a couple closer parks to go to, that might yield some goodies, and not take too much gas to get to. I'd love to hit the wooden-structure park in Denton (there are two actually) but they will both be zoos tomorrow, and are too far to drive to, in the Honda.

We might even take Shiloh with us, so to give her more exposure to other people and maybe other dogs. It would do her good, and she is the most peacable of the hounds at home. The boys can hang out, out back in the shade and play Rat-the-Fence with the neighbor dogs!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ride for the Heroes

Saturday was the Aledo Ride for the Heroes, in Aledo TX. It was a fundraiser ride, to benefit various small community fire departments and police in Parker County. This was the 10th anniversary ride, and I opted to try the 73 mile route. Now there was a disclaimer on the main page, that Parker County has hills, but having lived in the Collin County area for almost 9 years, I didn't believe them to be serious. Hehehe...

The weather forecast, which had been marginal early in the week, had steadily improved, until it was forecast for sunny skies and almost no wind! You don't get better than that in Texas! It was even darned chilly (48deg F) just before the ride started. Most folks were dressed in arm warmers, jackets and tights or leg warmers to be able to strip off layers as the day warmed.

It was projected that there might be upwards of 1100 riders at the start, for routes of varying lengths--8, 23, 35, 44, 62, and 73 miles. Wanting to test myself a little, and log my most miles for the year, and in fact since I don't exactly remember when, I chose 73 miles. The route was fairly narrow for the first 10 or so miles, and crowded with lots and lots of riders. Riding the recumbent, I don't go so fast UP any inclines (aka hills), but I do descend rather faster than most of the DF riders. This created a problem for me, as I was unused to descending in heavy bike traffic on the 'bent, and kept having to brake so as not to run up on someone's back wheel. Plus folks were all over the road, (we had police closing off roads for us to safely occupy the whole road) so it was ill advised to weave through them.

Things thinned out quite a bit as routes peeled off, and folks stopped at the first couple SAG stops. The SAGS were well-supported with Portables at each stop, typical ride chow, and the neat thing, enough volunteers who would offer to hold your bike upright (no kickstands) while you took care of business! I kinda like the idea of Bike Valets!

After SAG 2, I became concerned over my speed and time (I am not speedy going up hill, and it turns out Texas isn't flat! I have been thoroughly disabused of the idea that Texas is flat! In fact, the Garmin says I climbed some 4000+ feet Saturday! YIKES! No wonder I was pushing to make 12mph avg... Anyway, after SAG 2, I skipped past the next couple SAGs, and lost count of which one was next. So when I did stop for some food and liquids to refill with, I asked what SAG it was, and it turned out I was at SAG 6! I had expected it to be #5, so I was actually encouraged. I knew the cutoff for the 62mi route was just ahead. When I left the SAG, I decided to continue with the plan of the 73 mile route, as I got to the cutoff before they closed the 73mi loop.

As other folks will tell you, if you find their ride reports, there were some "interesting" hills on the north part of the route. In particular, I liked the downhills, as I was able to make up some lost time. I may not climb well, but I descend like a bat outta hell! Unfortunately, after every nice downhill, we were forced to climb right back out of the valleys, slogging up all the hills, and hills, and more hills. "Please, God, enough with the hills already!" I do recall saying that more than once on this ride!

The ride ended with a long, 1-mile slog up a hill to the I-20 overpass. Some kind soul even wrote in chalk at the bottom "Last Hill" for all to see. Then it was downhill to the High School, some nice food, and the van to drive home. The ride organizers were even prepared enough to keep good food on hand for those of us out on the 73mi route who were slow. I did NOT finish last, nor was I the last recumbent on the route! I did 73mi in 6:06 ride time, or approx 6:45 total time from the starting bell at 8:30. So I spent less than an hour stopped, which is a lot better than I thought I was doing. Next time I do this ride, I will know better than to think Texas is flat. But at least at the end of the day, the only thing I felt, was TIRED! Here's what my ride data looks like from the Garmin. Aledo RFH by monkeywrangler22 at Garmin Connect - Details

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Musings on bike shops...

So yesterday was Packet Pick Up for the Aledo Ride for the Heroes. I had to drive down to RBM for this. Now RBM is the largest bike shop in the Metromess, and certainly the largest I've ever been in. It's the shop that first sponsored Lance--yes, THAT Lance! It is sort of stunning when you first walk into the Mothership and see that many, high end road bikes filling the building. There must be several million dollars worth of built bikes on racks, on the sales floor, hanging from the ceiling...

When I pulled into the parking lot, I was initially surprised to see so many cyclists milling around. But then I realized it must be one of their evening ride groups. Still, there were 60+ riders there, all on $$$bikes. Suddenly I was acutely aware that I had a recumbent sticker on the back of the car. I looked around carefully--nary a 'bent in sight! Why, I only saw TWO Aerobellies in the whole bunch! I realized sadly, that I no longer felt like I fit in with such a crowd--not because I am older, nor because I was wearing Birkenstocks (heck that should've made me fit in!). Not even because I was on foot (after all I do ride a fair bit nowadays), or because I was slower than them when riding. It was because I ride a recumbent--like this one in particular. Never before had I felt like the red-headed stepchild, in a crowd of cyclists. It was an odd experience.

I bear no ill thoughts toward roadies--if it were not for the arthritis in my hands, I would still have and ride my Masi Gran Corsa, well spec'd out with Campy parts. It would have been 'old school' in that crowd, but would have fit right in, and I'd have still been too slow to hang with them. But I would've fit in...

I guess although the 'bent has been instrumental in my weightloss, and overall health improvements, and has gotten me out riding again (YAY!), it has also changed how I feel I am viewed by a majority of roadies. Motorcyclists seem friendlier on the road, than most roadies. (Note: I said most, not all).

I guess I will just stick with my RBENT crowd, and be in like-minded company...trying to organize some small group rides for us 'benters in the north part of the Metromess. BTW, all riders are welcome to show up for any RBENT rides I offer up--trikes, MTB's, DF's, name it, if you pedal it, I'll try and ride with you! And remember, once you get 'bent, the only thing you are at the end of a long ride, is TIRED!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Garden 2012

So once again I am trying a small garden in Texas. So far my attempts to garden successfully have resulted in cucumbers with Wilt, apples the rats stole, blueberries that seldom pollinated and did poorly last year in the drought, herbs that perished in the heat, lettuce that went wild, and two successful items--parsley and radishes.


Not exactly a shining example of self sufficiency is it? Well, last year the 4x4 garden went by the wayside in the heat and the lettuce I planted went to seed. I didn't think it would reseed itself, but two varieties seem to have not only reseeded, but thrived! The lettuce you see below, is stuff that overwintered here in DFW. We've had one large salad from it so far, and if I am careful, we might get a couple more.

One of the Lettuce Survivors

I decided again to try my hand at peppers and tomatoes (in hopes of salsa). Since all my attempts to bucket tomatoes failed miserably, I decided to double my in-ground space to 4x8 and put in 3 tomato plants and 3 peppers. Monkey1 wants to also start some Hungarian Wax Peppers from seed--they might be producing by fall if they survive the summer heatwave. Monkey2 wants to plant radishes, which is great, 'cause I can usually grow radishes well, even if I hate to eat them! I just enjoy growing them, and the kids and Dave like them.

Peppers and Tomatoes

I try to follow some aspects of Square Foot gardening, and it tends to work pretty well. At least it did last year with the early lettuce and spinach and of course, radishes. The radishes will be planted successively, a row or two at a time, so that after 3 weeks, we should have new radishes to harvest every week for as long as I want to keep planting the seeds.

I may grab some more dirt and get some chives again. They were useful for cooking last year, but died out, and I wouldn't mind trying again. I will probably plant them in a plastic flower box like the parsley is in, and try to keep it shaded better than last year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Busy week keeps me off the bike

It has been a busy week or so here at the Casa...between a date with my husband for his birthday, and Scouting events past and upcoming, Easter & Good Friday Tenebrae services, and life in general, I haven't ridden for a while!

This could be an issue, since I have committed to the Aledo Ride for Heroes, on the 21st. Guess I will have to gut it out in the hills west of here, for I opted to try the 73mi route. I hope the weather is good. I am pretty sure I can do the distance, especially since it is a supported ride--I just hope to make good time on it. Dave says I only need to maintain a 12+mph avg to get done in 6hrs (not counting rest stops). I guess I can manage that--I will just have to make sure not to stop too long at any of the SAG stops.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughts on spring, riding, and storms.

This week was an unusual one for the Metromess. Seldom do we have an actual tornado whirling around DFW, let alone 11+ ! Yes, a couple days ago there were at least 11 tornadoes skipping along the ground all over the Metromess, making, as you might guess, a real MESS! Videos of it all are here.

Fortunately, the injuries were minor, and I have not heard of any fatalities so far, so despite the property damage, I think folks were blessed. It could've been SO much worse! Up here at Casa del Monkey, we spent the afternoon down in the storm shelter. We are truly blessed to have that in-ground too. It has been worth every penny spent that summer after the Anna tornado of May, 2006.

Spring too, has sprung in NTX. The bluebonnets are in bloom, along with Indian Paintbrush and other wildflowers and weeds. The Monkeys' allergies are all in full swing, with all sneezing (even the dogs!) and some coughing from all the drainage.

However, the warm weather and the recent rainfall has made for some lovely riding weather, with pretty scenery to boot. I've just been too busy this week to ride at night, or even get real enthused about it. I guess I just want to ride in the light for a change.

I have been looking for another T-shirt ride to do too. Dave wants to do either the Muenster Metric or the Aledo Ride for Heroes, (and don't forget he also wants to do the local Relay for Life walk...). Too bad the RFL conflicts with the Muenster Metric. I am guessing I will do whichever T-shirt ride he declines, for April. He is already signed up for the Collin Co Classic, and I might haul the Monkeys out for the 4mi family ride. I know they can do that distance. Maybe we can convince our friend to do it too, on her new trike?