Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Retrospective (edited for the bloggysphere)

Well, another year come and gone. It seems the years just keep flying by more quickly.

Work has remained good for both of us. cyclistrick continues to work at the startup company he joined a year ago. Things seem to be progressing well there, but we're not planning an early retirement or anything. I left my position at a mid-sized company in Cupertino after nearly five years to take a position at a very large company. Things are going along well there. It should be an exciting 2008 as our team has already undergone a re-org, and I'm assigned now to a very challenging project. I will either sink or swim with this opportunity, so keep your fingers crossed.

Most of our year revolved around my newest avocation - bicycle racing. I joined a team called Velo Girls for 2007 and raced over 20 times. I mostly did road races, but also tried some track and cyclocross racing. cyclistrick came along for many of the adventures and kept the team well-fed and well-photographed during the races. It was a mentally and physically challenging season. I am looking forward to 2008, as I now have improved fitness and a better idea of the kind of races that I enjoy. I will be racing for Velo Girls again in 2008. cyclistrick will also be trying his hand at racing for the first time. It should be fun!

Two highlights of the year were our vacation to Canada and finishing my Master's degree. In June, we went up to the Canadian Rockies for a couple of weeks. We did a lot of hiking, which was a nice change of pace. The only downside was working my cycling fitness back up after our return. Even high-intensity hiking for several hours a day does not equate well to bicycle racing. Darn! In August, I started down the final straightaway with my Master's degree - the e-Portfolio, which is about 100 pages of scholarly writing with links to work products that support 14 different 'competencies' the degree holder should have attained. This work superseded cycling for most of the weekends in the fall. I finally got a sign off on it in early November. Hooray! Cyclistrick again facilitated all my work with lots of help around the house and lots of cooking meals for me. I don't know how I could have survived the year without him.

We managed to get in several visits with the family in Arroyo Grande this year. It is always great to go cycling with my mom and see my dad, aunt Phyllis and Grandma. Grandma moved in with my mom and dad over the summer. That has been a challenging transition for everyone. But, this way she gets adequate care without the need to spend a lot on outside help.

I continued to make my way up to SF most weeks to meet with my women's group. It has been 11 years now since I first connected with these ladies. I cannot measure how valuable it is to have women who know me to the core and who have been in my life for so long. They are a sounding board for every major decision in my life and I trust in their wisdom and counsel. Hopefully, I am able to provide the same for them. The trip is made more palatable by being able to carpool with my friend Ann who moved to Palo Alto this year. Also, we've recently gone to an every-other week schedule, which is more doable.

Well, my hope is that 2008 is a little slower-paced. I even got my library card in the hope that I will be able to read a little more this year. I'll again have a busy cycling season, but plan to keep it a bit more compacted in terms of calendar running time. I'll also be taking on a leadership role with our church to lead a 'communications' team. So, I'll still be pretty busy. But, here's hoping there will be plenty of time to relax with my honey and occasionally share a meal with good friends.

Wishing all of you good health, love and unexpected blessings for 2008,


Friday, December 21, 2007

Before Sunrise

Deep crimson from the east
Robes the last of the gingko queens
In rich, golden splendor
The drones approach their throne room
Fumbling through the darkness
With their offering of twinkling lights

Twenty brave soldiers pass by
Beholding the scene in reverence
As they huddle together for warmth
My eyes awaken to observe
This mysterious Beauty, profaned
When I try to capture it

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ride 'em Roller Girl!

I conquered yet another fear today. I learned to ride the rollers. Of course, I felt a little guilty, since those were supposed to be Rick's b-day gift, and he's only used them for about 15 minutes so far. But, then the feeling of terror overcame my feeling of guilt.

I started with one hand doing the death grip on the frame of the garage door. Then, I moved so that I could lean my left hip on the frame of the door slightly until I got rolling. Of course, I also got to practice not freaking out when I would 'bump' with the door frame. I had issues with shifting and getting all squirrely, but I was able to remove one hand from the bars briefly by the end of the hour. So, all in all, it was major progress. Hooray!

Friday, December 14, 2007

First Pass at the Races

Well, like a kid looking forward to Christmas, I anxiously awaited the NCNCA schedule coming out - mostly to see if Kern was on there. It was! I am so there this year!

OK, so here goes the first pass (DRAFT ONLY):

-March 8 - Menlo Park Gran Prix
-March 16 - Bariani RR
-April 11-13 - Madera Stage Race
-April 27 - Wente Crit
-May 11 - River Rd. TTT (Pretty stoked about this!)
-May 16-18 - Kern Stage Race
-May 26 - Memorial Day Crit
-May 31 - ICC Dash for Cash
-June 1 - Steinbeck Crit
-June 28 - Stockton Crit
-July 19 - Watsonville Crit
-July 27 - Foster City Crit
-Aug. 3 - Timpani
-Aug. 23 - San Ardo

I might throw in an MTB race somewhere for fun and probably some track, too. And, this schedule is still subject to family committments, etc. But, I think that overall it is better than last season's schedule. Note that other than whatever hill climb is in Kern, the schedule is FLAT. Flat as a pancake. I've learned that unless I suddenly start generating Brooke Miller's power numbers, this 5'10" gal with weight in the 160s ain't going to get over them hills with the little girls. So, this season will be about working my strengths. Last season was about learning, exploring, and apparently working my weaknesses. :) No Wente RR, no Pescadero, no Mt. Hamilton, and no 9 month season. Life is good!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fraternization between the generations - cool!

Oh how I wish I had a picture! We had a team ride on Saturday and had 5 generations represented. We had one woman in her 20s, one in the 30s (me), three in the 40s, one in the 50s and one in the 60s. That was so cool! I really cherish what I can learn from women with a lot more riding and life experience. I think it's great for the generations to sharpen each other - in whatever the discipline is. The comingling of freshness, wisdom and experience can be magical, which is why I hate when I see companies that only have young workers - as if innovation shouldn't be informed by experience....But that is a whole different topic for another day!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Advantages of riding a fred (utility) bike for midweek training

At the risk of sounding like I've taken a big swig of the Rivvy juice, I have to say there are some advantages to riding a utility bike during midweek commuting/training. There is beauty to having a wider tire with a bit more tread and high handlebars and fenders and canti brakes.

The bike I ride this time of year is a bit of a Frankenbike. It was originally a Soma Doublecross, which I built up for touring. It has a triple crank, bar end shifters and a Brooks leather saddle. The handlebars are WAY up to the sky, right where I like 'em. All fun and comfort (as opposed to my racing bike, which is tollerably comfortable, but I don't prefer to ride it). Since purchasing this bike, I've added S&S couplers (yay, free plane travel for the bike), fenders, dynamo hub with lights and a saddlebag for commuting. I switch to more substantial racks for touring. This bike is quickly approaching 20,000 miles and will probably hit it before daylight savings switches back. It's been through the Alps, the Pyrenees and many, many trips between home and training rides and work.

This morning, I hooked up with my friend Erika for a loop in the Los Altos Hills. She brought our friend Josh along. Admittedly, it was some work for me to lug my 40 lb. rig with luggage up the steeper part of the climb we did. But, as soon as the road turned down, I was seriously gapping the other two. Then, I left them to go back to work and continued on my ride. I added on another loop that went into Cupertino. As I was coming down the home stretch of that loop, I saw this nice piece of single track that I've always wondered where it went. So, I pulled off on to the trail, since I had a lot of time before my first meeting. This is not something you do on a rainy day on a racing bike. I whooped and hollered my way along the trail and ended up needing to do one runup in a steeper place. I can't practice my mounts with the saddle bag. So, I just threw my leg back over and continued. I wasn't sure where it would end up. I turned down through a horse farm, which dropped me off near the railroad tracks. I knew those paralleled Steven's Creek. So, I followed them along until I dropped of on to a road and eventually on to Steven's Creek. At that point, I had about an inch of mud on my tires and a bunch splattered on the bike in general.

Sweet single track in the green space below:

After a quick diversion home to use the hose, I headed into work with a nice 2.5 hour training ride and some 'dirty girl' training in the mix.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

seeing spots

Today, we met up with Alicat and Merkeley in Gilroy for what I've deemed the Gilroy double loop. We rode out from downtown Gilroy, across to the Gilroy Hot Springs Loop and then back across to the Uvas/Chesboro loop. It was beautiful and sunny when we started and threatening rain the last 20 miles. We even passed through some freshly rained on territory as we passed around the west side of Uvas Reservoir. It felt really fallish with the rain drenched air, yellow leaves and walnut smoke in the wind.

This pic was taken as we took a quick 'bio break' at the reservoir. Rick pointed out that I could have gotten a more scenic background in the picture. But, then I figure cycling racers feel at home next to the port-o-lets. It really wouldn't be a racers gathering without one, right? Of course, Rick isn't a racer yet. But, he will be. You can tell, because he was the only one without a PowerTap or nifty, logo-covered team kit. But, we decided to let him tag along anyway, so he could school the rest of us in proper hill-climbing technique.

It was a fun ride, and Ali gave me lots of great tips and advice on racing and training. According to my PowerTap, I spent 40% of the ride at threshold and 60% in recovery. AKA, "Junk Miles". But, it's the fall, so who cares, right? It was all about having fun and getting the know our fellow bloggers. Afterward, we satsified our hunger at the local Chevy's. Nothing like a big basket of chips (or 3), beers and good food all around.