Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heaven help me...I think I'm becoming a dirty girl!

In college I had a mountain bike. I rode it all over San Francisco for transportation. On the weekends, sometimes I pretended to be a mountain biker and went to trails in Marin where I would walk most of the 'ride'. Then, a back injury took me almost completely off the bike for a few years. That's when I loved surfing and hiking.

Then, I discovered triathlon and road cycling. And, it's been a 6 or 7 year love affair with the road. All road all the time. My favorite non-training-specific activity is discovering a new gem of a road that I've never ridden before - or some new combination of familiar roads. But, the prospect of venturing on to the dirt on a road bike, or even touring bike freaked me out.

This year I went on a few mountain bike rides and did a CX clinic and race in the name of improving my handling skills. Now, I'm all confident and stuff. I know I can ride a fair bit of dirt on the road bike, and can ride just about anything I want on knobbies (not counting boulders, logs, and massive drop-offs).

Now, I find myself daydreaming about quiet roads that end in a bit of dirt or single track and connect up to other interesting roads. I practice my mounts here and there. The possibilites are expanding. I like singletrack. I never thought I would say that. Heaven help me, I think I'm becoming a dirty girl.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Outsmarting Ourselves

On the LOOONG drive home yesterday, we pulled over in lovely King City to grab some lunch. We spotted a Sinolonese Mexican restaurant that seemed to be pretty popular, which we took as a sign of the edibility of their food.

We both pondered the menus for a moment or two and discussed what we were going to order. We discovered that we both were going to order the mole chicken. Normally our litmus tests for Mexican restaurants are mole and carnitas. The carnitas were advertised as being deep fried and served with french fries. So, we opted out of that dish. I said "I can order the chile verde, and then we can share." We agreed on this plan.

When the waitress came, I ordered the chile verde and pointed at the menu to make sure she was clear on what I wanted. Then, Rick ordered as I was distracted by the burley, Harley man slurping away on a giant bowl of menudo at the table across from us.

About 10 minutes later, the waitress came with TWO plates of chile verde. Apparently, in our eagerness to avoid ordering two plates of mole, we ordered two plates of chile verde - the consolation dish. Sigh. The good news is that it was pretty darn tasty. We'll have to stop there again and try the mole another time!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What I'm Thankful For Today

I'm thankful for my sweet husband, who is the best companion a girl could ask for. And, I'm thankful he was born (insert ultra-geezer status here) years ago today!

I'm thankful for parents who are happy and healthy and a big part of my life.

I'm thankful for the other friends, acquaintances, family members and the community of faith that create a beautiful tapestry of interactions that inspires me.

I'm thankful for work that I enjoy.

I'm thankful for the health to be able to enjoy cycling and travel and all the other adventures in this life.

And, I'm thankful that I can eat a big meal today and ride my bike for 4 hours tomorrow so that it doesn't settle permanently on my hips!

Monday, November 19, 2007

If it's too hot in the kitchen, go for a long ride!

The first part of the weekend had a kitchen theme. cyclistrick's surprise gift arrived, and I forced him to open it, because I knew we needed it for the weekend. Saturday morning, he opened the new pizza stone and got it all prepped to use on Saturday night.

Later that morning, we headed out to do some volunteer work with people from our church. We knew we were going to be 'gardening' or 'deep cleaning'. When we arrived, we opted for the cleaning. We joined a team deep cleaning a kitchen built in the late 1950's or early 1960's. By the looks of it, it hasn't been deep cleaned since it was put into action. Yuck! We basically got assigned to deep clean and reorganize two sets of cabinets. I was regretting the weight training from the day before as I did deep knee bends several hundred times with stacks of dishes in my hands! By the time we did our 4 hours there and ate some lunch, ran a couple errands and did grocery shopping, it was time to forget about throwing in a bike ride, too.

I iced my back when we got home as Rick did some preps for our Provencal pizza. I'd seen the recipe in Cook's Illustrated and wanted to try it. It was a simple pizza with caramalized onion, olives and a tiny garnish of anchovies and thyme. Vegan types could easily remove the anchovies and still enjoy it. The pizza stone did it's job and it was yummmylicious! Of course, a smattering of goat cheese on the top might also be good :)

Sunday, we decided to remove ourselves from kitchen duty and go for a long, adverturous bike ride. It seems during training times, I get in a rut and do the same set of routes over and over, because I know the terrain and approximate time to complete them. Now that it's fall, it's time to try random things that are new again. So, today, we headed out to Los Gatos for a climb to Skyline we've never tried before.

We got in some CX practice, too! They had closed off the lovely, well-graded cement ramp up to the dam on the Los Gatos Creek trail. So, we had a nice run up on the very steep dirt trail to the right of the dam. Then, I got to practice my remount before diving into the single track along highway 17 up to the Bear Creek overpass. We crossed over the freeway and headed for Black Road, which looked like a fun climb.

It started off fast and furious. The first 1.5 miles were pretty steep and I was making ample use of the 24x34 gear on the touring bike. Then, it slacked off to a mellow climb until we passed Gist Rd. I thought "hey we must be close to the top", but we weren't. This was about 3 miles in. Then, it got steep and steady again. At one point, I had my sternum down, spinning my legs wildly, looked down and I was cranking out a vigorous 2.7 mph. Yee haw! It then seemed we were close to the top. We passed a big trail head. I thought we must be almost there, so picked up the pace. But no. It just kept on going. So, I had to tone it down again (in order to stay away from the anaerobic summer intensities). Finally, we reached the top and stopped for a snack and photo op and minor adjustment to Rick's seat. I think the climb totaled about 5 miles.

An older gentleman came up from the one-lane portion of Skyline just as we were stopping. He said "Oh, you came up Black, good for you". I said "Yes, it was a first time, and it was pretty." He asked "Pretty?" And I replied "Pretty steep?" He then laughed. We then slogged up the much more gentle grade of Skyline for another few miles before making the happy descent to Highway 9 - our first real descending in over 25 miles. Going down 9, the cars were pressing us, even though were were going 30-34 (speed limit of 30). We even passed an accident cleanup and they kept pressing. I haven't been that uncomfortable on a descent in a while. I think we finished the day with a blazing 12 mph average. But, it was a lot of fun and a perfect fall adventure.

Our next adventure will be to connect Montevina with Bohlman/On Orbit. Again, this will likely require the touring bikes as there is a good section of dirt between them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

online shopping meltdown

It's the time of year when I need to think about spoiling the Boy. So, I popped online to do some shopping. I don't really do the other kind of shopping if I can avoid it.

First stop was a cycling retailer for some rollers (not a surprise) to help my trackie in training. Then, on to procure the surprise gift. I found one of what I was looking for, verified it had good ratings, made sure it was made in the USA (still no guarantee that slave labor didn't make it - but that's a whole 'nother topic), put it in my cart and set off to check out. I filled out their ridiculously long form for contact info, then the payment form, clicked 'submit' and then the web application threw a fatal error. Ugh! Hoping it was a transient problem, I tried again with the same result. The third time I decided to pay with PayPal and route around the whole problem, but it blew up again! Then, I got a payment confirmation from PayPal, which means I probably ordered the same thing 3 times! Double Ugh! So, I try to call customer service - busy. Phone orders - busy. Non-800 number - busy. Guess everyone else was having the same problem. Sigh. Maybe I will reconsider my shopping strategy....Or not.

Monday, November 5, 2007

fall riding and romantic memories. Yipppeee!

Well, finally having some time on my hands and no team commitments right now, I've been able to spend some time luxuriating in long fall rides with my honey.

Saturday - Los Altos Hills

Saturday, we got out early so we could make the memorial at 2 pm. We decided to do some meandering through the Los Altos Hills. We rode the flats up to Arastrdero, then left on Purissima, right on Elena, left on Robleda and right on Duval up to St. Luke's Chapel in the Hills - the site of our marriage 2.5 years ago. We did some kissing intervals and looked out at the view before heading back to Elena. We turned right on Moody and then left on Tepa for the steep, short climb to the quarry. We crossed over to Magdelena and descended to the flatlands again. Very nice!

Saturday afternoon, we attended Leone's memorial. It was nice. Leone and Bill had recorded themselves with him singing and her accompanying a few months back when she was dying. They played the songs with pictures of them on the screens. It teared me up really good. Fortunately, there were only two sets of folks I recognized (besides the family) and none that recognized me. So, we didn't have to do any of that awkward "I remember when you were this tall" bit.

Sunday - Conquering El Diablo

Each year in the fall we've made a tradition of returning to the top of Mt. Diablo on our bikes to celebrate the anniversary of our engagement. This was our 4th trip, so 3 years since our engagement. We've done 1 up north gate, down south gate and loop back in the flats; one up and back on north gate; one full loop including Morgan Territory after the summit (that one hurt); and yesterday up and back on south gate. We took our friend Erika for her first climb of the summit. We had lots of company, as we were climbing in the midst of a large Filipino cycling club (probably about 40 riders). It was fun, and we did it at a VERY leisurely pace, which was great.

We had some pizza and beer to replenish and returned home. It was a great day!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

bad news first, then good news

A very sweet lady named Leone, who was my first piano teacher in San Jose passed away this week. Her liver and kidneys have been failing for about 3 years, so it wasn't a surprise. Since moving back to the south bay, I've made an irregular habit of popping in and visiting her and her husband Bill. They've been pretty much housebound, so having visitors is a good thing. Bill likes to tell tales of racing at the Hellyer Velodrome 'back in the day'. Seeing as he is about 85, that was a long while ago. He's at peace and happy that she has 'gone home'. I'll be attending her 'gone home' celebration this Saturday at the church we attended when I was a wee tiker. There will probably be lots of "Wow, you're Sarah??!! I remember when you were this tall" (hand held at waist level). But, it will be good to go and give Bill hugs and love from the rest of my family.

In MUCH better news, I just got an email from my adviser that the last section of my thesis is signed off. Hooray! I'll be all graduated in time for racing season '08. Yeeehaw! Now I just got to work on making my spine happier....