Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Memorial Day got an early start for me today, as the dog wanted out at 03:15.  After dinking with her for an hour or so, trying to convince her to go back to sleep, and not wake DH up, I finally condescended to let her out to chase rabbits in the back yard at 04:30.  Shortly thereafter, the household started to awaken on its own, with DH and MonkeyBoy both up before 05:00.  I promptly went back to bed then, and tried to catch up on disrupted sleep.

There will be no trips to the cemetery today.  None of our dead are buried here.  My mom went to the cemeteries instead, on the weekend, paying her respects, and mine to family.  Some of our dead served in the military--my cousin Larry comes to mind--dead from cancer, after serving in Vietnam, and growing up on a no way to tell if his chemical exposure caner was service related or not.  Or my own father, who served not in this country's military, but in the Royal Merchant Navy.
In times of war, the RMN is considered an auxiliary of the Royal Navy.  He did serve during WWII, manning troop carrying ships, traversing the Atlantic from the USA to Britain.  A somewhat hazardous job, considering the U-boat unrestricted warfare meant merchant shipping was considered a fair target.

My father in law also served in WWII, in Europe, the Italian campaign if I recall correctly.  We attended a unit reunion a few years back, sadly after he had passed, but it was interesting to meet his surviving comrades and their spouses/widows.  Almost all of those hardy souls are gone now, only 1 or 2 surviving to this day I think.  Time marches onward, for all of us.

I have friends, dear ones, who also served in their time.  Some saw combat, one in Gulf 1, another in other conflicts.  So perhaps tonight I will raise a glass of finest bourbon, in memory and in thanks for ALL who served, and still serve now.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bike the Bricks 2014

Last night was the local annual Bike the Bricks criterium.  Because DH was not feeling well, I took just myself and the Monkeys downtown to watch.  We've been in years past, and always enjoyed the racing.  There are certainly some extremely skilled racers participating.

After snagging a prime spot on the final corner, I proceeded to shoot pics with my phone, as it is still the best camera I have.  With enough light and in Sports Mode, it will shoot fast and stop action.
Cadence, being chased by Fiat and Sun & Ski.

Of course no trip downtown is complete without a stop at the local bike shop, Cadence Cyclery.  They're a good shop, one that is even willing to deal with those of us on the dark side of cycling--recumbent riders!  It's nice to feel welcome in a bike shop.  It reminds me of the one I worked in, back in the 1990's, in Kansas.  And it turns out, the old-school way of bribing your mechanic with beer, coffee and bagels still works!

One of the women's races.
We snagged some new Camelbak Podium Chill bottles for the kids, the short style, to better fit their smaller bike frames.  We try to throw a lot of our small parts/acccessories orders to the local shops rather than the net, because to be honest, bike shops do not make a lot of money on the sale of a new bike.  Their money comes from the accessories--helmets, gloves, socks, tires, tubes, shorts, jerseys, bottles, shoes etc.  I also ordered DH a new helmet, one like mine, in headache yellow...anything to try to break into the mind of a distracted motorist.
Fiat's team kit is easy to spot.

McKinney Velo rider charging through the corner

Not bad, for a cellphone camera!  Luckily, we only witnessed one crash, and both riders were able to continue.  We also saw evidence of some other crashes, but again, the riders were still riding.  I did not hear of any serious injuries, like in past years.  We had a good time, and plan to return again next year to watch the racing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Amber waves of grain

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies...
It seems strange to me, a Midwestern soul, born and raised in the Great Wheat State, to see how short the wheat is down here in Texas.  It is a far shorter variety than the old Russian Red variety of my youth.  I can imagine all sorts of logical reasons for this varietal change, but it just looks funny to me.  And to have it turning, and heading-over already, and it is only mid-May?  You gotta be kidding me!
For amber waves of grain...
No.  I'm not.  It is turning that lovely amber color, and the heads are full, soon to bend gracefully toward the ground, a golden ocean whose waves make the wind visible.

Recent rains have also caused a proliferation of the local wild flowers, aka ditch weeds.  I keep meaning to stop and take pictures on my rides.  But my phone is the only camera I carry, and it rides safely in the back bag, primarily for emergency use or simple location tracking for DH, so he knows where I am at, when I go for a ride.  I don't really want to risk fumbling an expensive cell phone that I can't afford to replace, just for a picture of some ditch weeds, no matter how lovely they look.

I need to snag a used digicam from somewhere.  I know there are a lot of Nikon Coolpix versions out on the used market.  If I get something like that, small enough to fit the bike's bento box, I wouldn't be out much money if I dropped it and it broke.  That would allow me to stop and capture some of the sights I see on my rides, if only to share them here.  Perhaps it would inspire some of you to dust off your bikes and go for a ride.  That would make me smile.  Maybe you'd smile too?

These last two days I have appropriated Monkey1's road bike, a Giant OCR, to see if I could ride a diamond frame bike again, or not, before shelling out beaucoup bucks for an Encore.  Seemed prudent to me, since it had been a decade and many pounds ago, that I had been on a DF bike.  IF the arthritis didn't bother me too much, it might make more sense to get a used road bike, and keep the old recumbent for long rides.  And if it did flare up too painfully, then the Encore would be confirmed.  So far, I am faster on the lighter bike, and much faster uphill.'s ride was a lesson in pain management.  I had forgotten what all can and will hurt on a road bike if you are not acclimated to it.  So far, the hand joints are one of the lesser pains.  Surprise!  It's everything else that hurts.  I will likely go ahead and get an Encore, the comfort factor alone is enough to keep me on a bent primarily.  But I might grab a used DF, and sell off the mountain bike, just in case.  Once the Monkeys master their road bikes, I might need one to keep up!
This is why I ride, to see the beauty still out there.  To relax, even while slogging my way uphill.  Sure there are health benefits, increased strength and endurance, and weight loss to name a few.  But it's more than that.  It's just such a part of our life here, one of the important things DH and I share, and something we want to share with our children.  Enjoy beauty where you find it.  It is out there.   and if you find it from the seat of your bike, so much the better!

Be safe out there when you ride.  I will have another post next week I think, on the general gear I think is essential for safe riding.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Written on the wind

I was driving home, across town, from running errands for meds and dog chow, when I saw this written on the wind.

It took me back, back to a September morning, back to Kansas and a job I hated with people I knew and loved.  Back to a day when there were no contrails in the sky...

I went outside on break at some point.  An unrelenting blue sky day, with more than a hint of fall in the air.  The sky was empty.  You never realize how commonplace those simple lines in the sky are, until they are gone.  I remember how empty it looked.  And then I heard it, high overhead, a lone large jet, bound due north.  Odd, I recall thinking.  There's nothing up that way--that's not the normal flight path for anything...  It wasn't private, nor commercial.  Not military either... yet it was the only thing in the sky save for the ever present turkey vultures of the Great Plains.  Its mark of passage written on the wind, fading all too soon.

Later that day I understood. SAC Offutt was due north, its destination--not Why-Not-Minot...  I don't know why those contrails crisscrossing this morning's Texas sky brought that moment all back to me.  I remember so much of that day in odd little details--perhaps because back then, there was no internet at work, no working tv in the break room...only chaos on the radio, and empty skies above.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I was supposed to be fishing

Mother's Day I was supposed to go fishing. Family tradition. I love to fish. But we went biking instead.  Then it rained. Then I caught a cold, and am still recovering.  This did not appease the Monkeys however.

So tonight I agreed to take them down to the neighborhood pond to harass the blue gill and the bass. 

Unfortunately, my pole and tackle box have gone AWOL in the garage, and I couldn't navigate through the mountain of stuff to get to where I think it is.

Thus the Monkeys are fishing, and I'm just sitting watching them.  It figures...

A rose is...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Call me Imelda...

Well, no I do not have a shoe fetish.  I swear.  But as a family, we do have a couple  bikes...14 currently, if you count the two old frames we took home with us, when DH's mom passed away.  Fourteen.  One trike, two mountain bikes, one recumbent tandem, two kids mountain bikes, three kids road bikes, two recumbent road bikes, two frames, and DH's commuter road bike.

But, I hear you say, what do 5 people need with 14 bikes? might get worse before it gets better, if that makes sense!  We both want to get the new SchlitterBikes Encore...Serious bike lust here!

Our Giros each weigh in the neighborhood of 40 pounds each, curb-weight.  Add 140oz water (typical summer load out of water on bike) and you are adding over 8 pounds more weight to an already heavy system.  My Giro, with a slightly different setup than DH's, likely weighs 50 pounds with all the water onboard.  That's a lot of weight, especially when you consider the current generation of traditional frame carbon wonder bikes are clocking in at less than 15 pounds curb-weight!  Now you begin to see why we might be looking at new bikes.  The Schlitter Encore is 22 pounds curb-weight.  Yeah.  Half what mine weighs, without water!  Plus a better parts-spec.

So we have been thinking of cleaning house, so to speak, and selling off some of the bikes.  First to go would be the two kids mountain bikes, and the two adult mountain bikes.  Next on the chopping block will be the pair of Giros, though those will not be sold probably until after we get the Encore bikes, because I will have only one bike at that point that I ride, so at least one Encore will have to be here to replace my bike before I sell the Giro or I will have nothing to ride.  Last but not least on the chopping block is the trike.  Because we were able to fix DH's balance issues, the trike has sort of just become the world's most expensive dog exercising machine.  I like it, I still think there are trikes in our future, but at this point it probably needs to go.  It would just about pay in full for a complete Encore.
The heart of the issue really is our shared love of cycling.  DH and I met in a bike shop.  I was working a second job there part time, in order to fund my cycling habit.  DH was a sales rep for a major bike company.  One of our goals is to share this love of cycling with our children.  Those horizons are just beginning to open up for them.

This weekend marked the first family road ride for us.  Previously the kids had been on mountain bikes, and DFW is notoriously free of mountains.  Plus they are not designed for long distance riding, of the type we hope to do as a family.   The geometry is all wrong.  So over time, we acquired a set of smaller road bikes for the kids, something they could grow with for a couple years, perhaps until their final height is reached.

It's hard, as a parent, knowing you have to teach your kids how to ride with traffic, to behave like a car (though slower), to be predictable--wanting to keep them safe and protected, yet knowing you cannot protect them from everything.  That you have to let them grow.  We want to share our love of the outdoors, the open road... and we know too well the risks of distracted texting drivers, plus the simply rude and occasionally aggressive ones.  And none of this even begins to touch on the other risks in today's world...with today's predators...

Our ride yesterday afternoon wasn't long, even for the kids.  Only around 9 miles total.  But it involved hills, real roads, and most importantly, strong winds.  What we lack in vertical challenges in DFW, we more than make up for with wind.  Of the two, I much prefer hills to wind.  Hills are a finite challenge...the wind never stops! 
The kids did well yesterday.  There was no complaining, and no crashes either.  The children pushed themselves more than we expected.  DH was pleased.  That meant a lot.  The two of us joked in private later, that we would soon have our work cut out for us, trying to keep up with the kids!
But that's ok, I can live with being old and slow, if it means my kids are loving cycling.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Windy Wednesday

Today, like yesterday is windy!  As in blow-you-to-Oklahoma windy...  DH was kind yesterday after he got home on the bike from work, and told me to just ride north, and he'd come get me when I was done.  A tailwind ride!  Yay!  I always enjoy those, as you can burn your matches without fear of bonking on the last hill home into the wind.

I'm sort of depressed though--not from riding, but from the fact that I am not losing weight, despite eating better and generally eating less, plus riding.  This over-50 crap is annoying.  Metabolism?  What metabolism?  I think despite starting thyroid therapy (endocrinologist says it's time), my metabolism has gone en vacance, permanently!  Oh I feel somewhat more energetic, but man, my body is hanging onto every single gram of fat it can.

I suppose I did overeat this past weekend at the dog ranch.  It was Open House weekend and we showed up a day or so early to help with preparations.  It was fun working with and playing with all the Ridgies, especially ol' Tucker.   Depending on if he is still available when it is that time, we will probably adopt him, even though he is a senior dog.

And an update on our current senior dog, Cody.  For the last two weeks, he has been having a cluster of petit mal seizures, clocking in some 4-5 a day that we were witnessing.  He saw the vet Monday, where the vet confirmed epilepsy.  We knew he had previously had a couple seizures, usually not more than a couple a year, so we were worried about this sudden unexplained increase.  The vet put him on a minimal dosage of phenobarbital, yeah, phenobarb, just like in humans.  The blood work they did came back just fine, so there is apparently no obvious and treatable cause for for the seizures.  Idiopathic Epilepsy is the official diagnosis.  Vet says it will take about 2 weeks to see if this dosage will shut down the seizures, but so far it seems to be helping.  He's just dizzy and wobbly, and sleepy for most of the day currently.

Back to the bike...I plan to ride some tonight, though I hope the winds will drop some by late afternoon or early evening.  I also probably need to get back on the Bowflex and the dumbell weights.  I know that adding muscle mass will increase the metabolic burn.  It just takes motivation to do it.  Riding is easy to get motivated to do.  Lifting is a bit harder to get the motivation running.  DH and I have talked about setting a motivational goal, of a new Schlitter Bike Encore,(scroll down pg 3 of the thread to see pics of the Encore) full carbon high racer, if we hit and maintain our weight goals for a year or more (long term weight loss).   We have not yet decided if that is a workable deal, but the time window would allow us to budget for it.

Well, time to get to work I guess.  Gotta run out and get dog chow, as the mutts are getting hungry!  Have a great Windy Wednesday folks!  See you on the road.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Call me Serenity

This is a repost, because I accidentally deleted the original

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Call me Serenity

WARNING:  Rampant anthropomorphism below! 

My life, such as it has been, has consisted of a difficult time when I was first assembled, where things did not go smoothly.  My expenses were legion, those "birthing pains" costing a fair bit in time, money and good bourbon.

Ever since my assembly was completed, my home has been in the garage.  I had not even seen the light of day since Thanksgiving, my last time out on the road.  I felt lonely, unloved.  What had I done to deserve this banishment?  The only attention I received was a coating of dust--the Mark of the Unloved.

Or so I thought.

Then came a glimmer of hope.  Things began to change last week.  At first I didn't believe it.  I thought I was being moved outside just to get the lawnmower and edger out.  It's mid-Spring, so it had to be the mower.  I got taken outside and propped up against the oak.  If a bike could sigh, I would've done so.

But then my Captain came up, with pump in hand!  My tires got aired up!  Then came the Bike Wash spray.  I was getting cleaned.  Uh-oh, I thought...they're gonna sell me.  My Stoker came out, and sat on my rear seat.  I heard her remark that I truly was comfortable.  It sounded like a tinge of regret in her voice.  I was as afraid as a bike can be!

Yet, they spoke fondly of me, and of the regret of not having ridden me for so long.  I was cleaned gently and then visitors stopped by.  Were they here to buy me?  Captain and Stoker took a long time, talking about me and the other recumbent bikes and trikes they have, with these visitors.  There was no talk of selling me!  They were just sharing their love of the road, and riding, and of recumbents!  Later that evening I was carefully returned to my slot in the garage, with talk of taking me out for a ride on the weekend perhaps.

Then came Saturday morning.  Yesterday.  I was taken back out from the darkness of the garage, into the light of day.  Tools were loaded onboard.  Tires checked again. I saw them suited up for riding!  GPS's were attached, and water bottles slotted into my carriers.  I was going out for a ride!  Yippee!

And then, oh what joy!  They brought out the stickers.  I was finally going to be named.  Captain had always said in the past my name should be PITA (pain in the a...).  I could not believe what I saw.  The sticker wasn't PITA, but instead, Serenity.
I knew I had to perform my best, to make them happy.  They opted for a shorter 21mile loop over known roads.  Off we went, with a fine tailwind to speed us northward (all the better to crush one's spirit on the way home, uphill).  Traffic was light, and the road in reasonable shape after a harsh winter.  I shifted cleanly, nothing rattled loose, and Captain and Stoker had fun--I heard them say so! 
Stoker even shot video of the tree lined road that is one of their favorite runs.  (Stoker found out how to add free music so sit back and enjoy.)
When we all got back home, it was smiles all around.  I had done it!  They were happy, and had enjoyed the ride.  I was proud to have actually earned my new name, Serenity!


Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...
Great name. Glad you're out and biking!
Maggid said...
Most Excellent!!!
Sparky @ My Thoughts Exactly said...
Good post. I like the name. It reminds of the Seinfeld episode where George's father kept saying "Serenity now! Serenity now!" *ha ha*
Enjoy riding again. ~:)
A Quiet Corner said...
What a wonderful surprise...a far cry from PITA!!...:)JP
Monkeywrangler said...
The font, and name for the bike, come from the SciFi show Firefly, and it's pilot/movie called Serenity.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Getting my legs back

The last two weeks have seen both myself and DH back on bikes.  He rides early morning, and commutes by bike 3 days a week, while I ride when he gets home from work.  Yeah, rush hour traffic sucks, but it is what it is.  If I get going before 4:30pm, I usually don't have a problem.
Old picture of my bike
Plus, since I have finally figured out where to mount the GoPro camera on my Giro, I can catch up to about 90min of video from the ride.  The new mounting point is so good, that it really doesn't require image stabilization to be viewable!  It also permits me to catch license plate of inattentive/rude drivers in case such info is needed.  A newer Hero 3+ (either silver or black) would be even better video quality, but we make do with our old Hero.  Should we acquire a second GoPro, then I will be able to run front and rear facing cameras...that could be fun.

It feels good to be back riding.  The memory of October's crash is fading.  My legs are still not where I was, even last summer, but that is to be expected after a 6mo layoff.  Still, I am seeing improvements after only 2 weeks.  Hopefully I can regain speed and endurance more quickly.

Last night's ride was short, only 9.x miles as I wanted to go with DH to pick up a new traditional road bike for his new commuter.  He wanted to go to a slightly larger frame (56cm), and our oldest Monkey is tall enough to ride his compact 54cm Giant now.  So she inherited it, and our youngest, just inherited Monkey1's nearly new road bike.  So all the Monkeys have road bikes now.  Easier to find a quality used 56cm, than a used sub-50cm that the kids will likely outgrow. 

Just for fun, here is a different look at video from the bikes.  This was from the GoPro, mounted to the bike frame.