Friday, February 17, 2017

10, 100, 1000 resolutions. Or, why I quit the Beer Can Scramble.

February.  The month of abandoned resolutions.  

Is it just me?  I get tired of being resolved.  My brain rebels or just plain ignores the plan.  So, habit is usually my only hope.

Those resolutions we all made back on January 1st?  They are either habits by now - or they're not. 

I made a lot of resolutions this year.  A LOT of resolutions.

10, 100, and 1000.  My resolutions for 2017.

10 = pounds to lose.  (Duh, always that damned 10 pounds!)

100= miles per week on the bike

1000= 1000 NO's.  A little tougher to explain.  But basically, there are so many times when I regret saying yes.  Yes, to the Weasel in my head who begs for donuts or pizza.  Yes, to some stupid activity I don't really want to do.  Yes, to tolerating people whom I really can't tolerate.  So in a whole year?  A thousand no's seems about right to me!

But lets' start with the easy stuff.  Which is, of course, the bike. 

I am slowing down in my older and wiser years.  Just riding my full suspension around for fun.  No road bike.  No pacelines.  No Ironman.  No regrets.

Guessing I did about 5500 miles (street and trail) on my mtn bike last year.  So, a resolution of 100 miles per week should be pretty easy.  Just shoot for a ride every day.  Something will come up - guaranteed - once or twice a week.  But five remaining rides of various lengths should add up to more than enough. 

No particular plan, of course, not training for anything, certainly not racing any more.  And having Strava makes keeping track a breeze.  Besides it's good to have some goals - even general - non specific - sissy retirement goals.  Like 100 miles per week.  

Just a day at a time, doing something you like.  The easiest kind of habit there is.

The other two, not quite as automatic.  And no easy, peasey Strava to help me out.

For the 10 pounds, I keep my own logbook.  Most days anyway.  So, most days it's not all that hard to stay on track.

But then, there are those stubborn, fighting-back-every-step-of-the-way, brain wrenching NO's. 

The hardest thing so far this year was to step away from The Beer Can Scramble. 

It's been about four weeks now.  I don't miss the sameness of riding Turkey Creek - the exact same 10 mile trail - in the exact same direction - every single Tuesday night.  But I do wonder what I might be missing when it comes to the beer-after portion of the ride. 

Of course I have always wondered that.  

The guys have their kitchen passes and stay for dinner and beyond.  My self imposed kitchen duties demand that I get myself home to my husband and put some dinner on the table by 9pm.  So about 20 minutes of socializing is realistically all I'm missing anyway.  Yet, it's still requires some self-pep-talking not to wonder what I'm missing every Tuesday. 

But that's how it is with NO's.  Always evaluating.  Weighing the costs.  Social and otherwise. 

Saying NO habitually would be just as short sighted as saying yes habitually.  Which means that saying NO can not be left to the luxury of habit.  Which makes it hard work for the lazy, rebellious chunk of my brain that so often rules my head.

So - the 10 pounds?  Yes. I. Can. Make. Eating. Less. Food. A. Habit.  (Eventually.)

100 miles a week?  Absolutely.  Habit already.  

1000 NO's?  Much tougher. 

Got a start, though. 

One down.  999 to go.



 


 



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Riding in Secret. Scouting trail for the Full Moon Hash.

My very first job - after babysitter - was kitchen worker.  My ride to work was a bulky blue Schwinn that was my sister's before it was mine. 

There were fewer No Trespassing signs back then, but I met my share of dead ends checking for shortcuts between home and the back door of the village diner where I leaned my unlocked bike every morning at 6.

Some things change.  Some things don't.

Strava in privacy mode.  I duck behind the strip mall.  Looks pretty promising.  There's a long skinny strip of grass between the long shabby building and a long skinny fence.  At the very end I can just make out an open gate.  The bike rolls through a narrow stream of cloudy water seeping from the back of the 24 hour laundrymat.  Hmm, a little closer and I can tell that, yes, past the gate hanging open, there's a walkway leading to the right.  

I roll right up to the gate before the No Trespassing sign is actually visible.

"Dead end," someone chuckles behind me.    

Two young guys are schlepping paint cans out the open back door of the soon-to-be out of business hardware.

The guys don't seem a bit surprised to see a middle aged woman on a full suspension Lefty fetched up at the end of their particular back alley.  Or even surprised that I add my laughter to theirs. 

"Yep, another one," I say.   As if I do this sort of thing all day long.  (Which sometimes I do, but usually just for an hour or so at a time.)

This is Florida.  It is not safe to ignore No Trespassing signs, but I am curious.  "So, where's the passage go?" 

"There's like, a patio back there.  Total dead end."  And I know a kindred spirit.  Of course he's checked.

We all check.  Shortcutting kitchen workers, teenage hardware employees, and of course, suburban hashers looking for new trail.  There is just no passing by a double track, back alley, or hole in a fence without taking a second look.

What I am hoping to find is a way to come out far enough down the block to be out of sight of a possible halfway stop across the street.  Oh well, the answer is not here.

Today, my local quick suburban route of about 15 miles has yielded 3 surprises.  I've ridden this way dozens of times, so you'd think surprises would be, well, surprising.  But no, there's always something new if you're really looking.

"There's a shorter way past the soccer field, but I'm not sure they always leave the gates open," I told my co-hares last Sunday as we scouted trail.  Mental note: check later when I happen to be nearer the other end of the block. 

So, my second surprise of the day is a good one.  Not only is the gate in question hanging open in the middle of a weekday, but there is an enormous gap in the fence not far away.  As for No Trespassing signs.  Not a single one.  Yes!

I continue riding, with no intention of further scouting, just the need for an hour's worth of miles.  But something unusual for our flat suburban neighborhood catches my eye.  Clouds of black smoke billowing up a few blocks from the beach.  It could be one of the countless shoe-box houses in this town... or, oh no.  It could be the tiniest patch of wooded park in the county.  

Sure enough, the one and only patch of wooded singletrack in town, a postage stamp sized patch of woods behind the public library is on fire. Not just smoldering, but really on fire. Flames shoot straight up from the cabbage palms next to the parking lot.  Black smoke billows skyward while county workers watch from their white pick up.  Caution tape is warped across the road out of the park, which also happens to be my route home.

I roll up to the truck.  If you are simply curious - and nice - nearly all public workers are more than willing to answer questions.  

Down comes the window obligingly.  Controlled burn? Downed power line?  Arson?  I'm just curious!

This time the answer is controlled burn.  Supposed to be done a month ago. 

Beats crazies in the neighborhood.  I guess.  The result is the same, though.  Another bit of shiggy (hasher speak for off road trail) gone for now.  Hopefully in a month it will be passible again.  We'll see.  Meantime, not a bad idea to scout some bypasses as soon as it all cools down. 

Meantime, the fire may be just getting started, but the day is getting on.
 
Fortunately there are other exits for someone looking to elude a bunch of caution tape and just get on home. 

At least there are if you're on a bike.  And you know where there's a hole in the fence.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Full moon hash...  Feb 11, 2017


Waiting for the hounds to arrive.
Hares re-upping flour at LongDoggers halfway.



Hounds begin to arrive at halfway.



Hounds begin to arrive for slam bang beach bonfire ending.



The Santa Cruz, my ex-bike.
Finger owns Flash now. 
And definitely dresses him better!



Down-downs under the full moon.



Swing Low.
   


* If the idea of a hares and hounds sort of bike chase appeals to you (and you're over 21), check Bikehash.com.  


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

San Felasco - dim skies - dark mood - wet shoes - poor signage. Wah wah wah. Oh well. And on-on.

Any day on the bike is a good day!  Even this one.  I guess.  Which started with promise, at least.

I know.  Wah wah wah.  So just get over it, right?  This is mountain biking.  It's not supposed to be comfortable! 

Discomfort, ok fine.  I am used to that.  Being duped by poor signage.  Not once but three times.  Now that I resent.

Which resulted in getting miles off course.  Then a couple knee deep water crossings and an uphill run at puke hill to get back on.  Then being spat at (or maybe it was supposed to be a raspberry?) from guys I thought were friends.  Really, is it a competition here?  With the likes of me?  Passing the old lady all by herself with only her wet feet - and the echo of your raspberry - for company.  How cool are you?

Anyway, I admit to having a less than fun day, ya know?  Which is unfortunate, because the Tour De Felasco comes but once a year.  

There is one real benefit from bailing on the metric century and only doing fifty miles, though.  Something I have never before accomplished. 

I was back ahead of the fast guys and actually got in while there was still some pizza left.  A first!!!


Popeye with some of the guys at the start.
Spitter not shown.

Felasco has it's own version of gloomy beauty.





So.  On to happier days. 

Like our Sunday stop at Santos for a quick run at Nalys and Ern N Burn on the way home.

Sunnier day.  Sunnier mood.  Serious swooping. 

And no spitters in sight. 

Worth the trip right there.












Last but not least.  Scoring a pink beer at WOB after with the last of the weekend's die hards...  

Yup.  All better now. 

Bad day?  What bad day?






Saturday, October 22, 2016

A gift of apples. Hurricane Matthew and a tangled Tuesday. Apple Crumble.


Email from 2 days ago:

Any deals for me?  Thanks a lot for letting me experience for sure what a Krummy bike I have now
  :(


Sure.  Anytime, good buddy!  Oh, and btw, thank you for the apples.  They made a delicious apple crumble and I gained five pounds overnight.

A gift of apples, the loan of a spare bike...

That's what friends are for, right?

I don't know of any bikes for sale right now, but deals almost always happen along eventually.

As for the apple crumble...  Super simple and super delicious.  Therefore probably not a true act of friendship passing along the recipe. 

But then again, much like a bike deal, some occasion for desert almost always happens along eventually. 

Like, it's a Wednesday, for instance.  Or someone gave you apples.

We had a hurricane a couple weeks ago.  Well, not really.   We had a potential hurricane.  Put up the shutters and evacuated all the way to Orlando.  Which takes a lot of dire convincing from the weather channel. 

It could have been bad, but it wasn't.  Matthew zigged when he could have zagged, and we got off lucky here. 

And so did the trail.  It's been worse, for sure.

Just the same, lots of downed trees and brushy debris at the Tuesday ride a week ago.  Had it's way with Kurt's derailleur.  

Tuesday tangle after Matthew.








Gobbler always has a chain tool.

Good thing there is beer for the end.
After this we gave up
and took the short cut back to drink it.





2nd Tuesday after Matthew
Less tangled.  Mostly cleared.

And what's left, mostly duckable.



Kurt on my Superfly 100
Zoom!




And...
A gift of Apples!
Thank you for sharing, Deb, Kurt, and Sean!


In Florida, hurricanes bring out old memories.  We are all on a first name basis.  After the ride, on Kurt's pool deck, talking about Matthew brings on memories of Francis and Jeanne and Ivan and Wilma.

These are the Octobers you remember if you grew up in Florida. 

But some of us knew October in a different world.  A world where October meant windfall instead of wind.      

I think of Owen's Orchards and look it up on Facebook.  Amazing.  It's still there! 

Owen's Orchards.  Farm Market and Cider Mill.  Elbridge, NY. 
Right there where I left it so many years ago.  

Northern Spies.  Macintosh.  Cortlands.  New York State's own version of October magic.  Pick your own.  Mother would lay down the law - no climbing, no throwing - and off we would run.  Climbing, throwing, eating, and yes, even picking some for the basket. 

Today's crunch. Tomorrow's pie. 

1200 miles and a whole lot of years away from downed power lines and freezers that need scrubbing.

So, in the midst of the hurricane chatter, when Deb said, "We've got something for you", a sack of fresh apples was about the last thing I expected to see.  It turns out I am not the only one to know of October magic.

Hey, if you can't have the pleasure of a visit to the north country to pick your own, the next best thing is having friends who did!

Which brings me to what everyone really wants from a biking blog. 

A recipe. 

OK, not really a recipe...

Guidelines, more like.  Adjust to suit yourself.  You know.  Like borrowing a bike.




Apple Crumble

For the Fruit layer:

6-8 apples, peeled and sliced
1/3 c granulated sugar
3 T. flour
A T. of lemon juice - if you have it.  (I didn't.  It turned out fine.)

Toss well and let stand for five minutes.  (Or stick it in the fridge for close to an hour while you ride out to meet your husband on his commute.  It will turn out fine.)


A handful of cranberries would have gone nicely with the apples, too.  But since I had to empty the freezer after the hurricane, sadly, there were none on hand.  That's OK, it will turn out fine. 

For the topping:

1 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, diced
Combine in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on low until the butter is the size of peas.

Butter a casserole dish (I used an oval, about 8X10.  I am pretty sure whatever size you use would turn out fine.)

Put apple mixture in the bottom, top evenly with crumbles.

Bake uncovered at 350 for an hour.

Yup, turned out fine.  
So thank me later.  

And let me know if you gain 5 pounds overnight. 

You're welcome. 

After all, that's what friends are for.






Thursday, April 21, 2016

Feathers and photos. (Found post from February)

I want to write this down before I forget.  Because I don't have a picture, so no reminder.

Dead peacock by the side of the road.  Lady cutting off it's tail feathers.  In front of the most awesome house on all of Tropical Trail.   And there are quite a few awesome houses on Tropical Trail.  And no.  No photo.  Even though I thought at first,  "Oh my god, she's killed a peacock to take it's feathers!"

Today has been a long day.  I have been practicing my "nice". 

Who knows when you might need to apply a little Nice?  Especially if you haven't been using it much. 

I went to 3 different stores.  I tried on run shoes. 

Shoes are a particular ordeal.  Just try finding women's Nikes in size 11 neutral, not too cushy, not too heavy, not too light, with tread that will work on trails.  The poor clerks, going back and forth.  But I practiced my nice.  And in spite of coming up empty, counted it a victory, in the Nice department, at least.  Every one of them said some version of,  "It's been a real pleasure!" even as I departed without purchase.  As a rule, clerks don't say that to middle aged women.  No one does.

Mostly people don't speak at all.  I normally spend my day entirely invisible.  

So mostly I don't bother practicing my Nice. 

People don't take time to recognize Nice anymore anyway, let alone show appreciation for it.  Mostly they just want you to get out of their way.  

A week ago, I set out to ride in the cold, talking to myself so the inner weasel wouldn't have her way.  Thinking thoughts like, you only have to stick it out for an hour, but yes, you have to go out.  I was mentally not in a place of practicing Nice.  I was pretty much on the on the edge of not so nice.  In other words, just get out of my way, OK?

I made it maybe two miles and some old guy fell into the ditch across the road.  Just pitched off the sidewalk and rolled out of sight.  Damn.  Better stop.  How annoying.
 
I crossed the road right in front of two cars, dumping my bike in the grass.   A woman with a little girl stopped her van and jumped out.  Even as the poor old guy struggled to get himself up, the woman and I both said - "Don't get up!  We'll call the paramedics."  I guess because the guy was old.  If he'd been younger and able to jump up faster maybe nothing would have been said, and we would have simply helped him up. 

He was laying face down, half in the flowing water.  Fairly cold out so must have been uncomfortable.  I waded in and put my hand on his shoulder, mostly to keep him from rolling further down the bank into the ditch, and also because we had been taught Don't Move.  

In true grumpy old man style, he yelled, "Fine!  You don't have to help me up, but at least stop holding me down!"

I was mortified!  WAS I holding him down???  Was I?  Maybe a little.  Sort of.  Mostly I thought I was helping keep him from deeper water.  And keeping him from struggling and maybe hurting himself.  And..  Oh my god, I was sort of holding him down. 

Because we were right across the street from the fire station, the paramedics were there in 2 minutes and basically they just stood there watching, while he struggled and struggled and finally got himself upright.  

I wasn't too happy to see them handle it that way.   I could have just stood there.  But no, I didn't just stand there.  I "helped".   

Was I a holder-downer???  Just because the guy was old?  It is absolutely true that he was so shaky, it really seemed as if he might topple over and splash down into even deeper water.  But then, encouraging someone to lay face down in a ditch on a cold day seems, well... seems pretty mean. 

You can not assume someone is helpless just because he has gray hair, a hearing aide, and there is blood running down his face.  How old is too old?  80?  90? 102?   After all, he was out walking, not home on the couch.   Just as I plan to be someday.

So anyway, I've been trying to be a little nicer this week.  Non judgmental.   Hold nobody down.  Try to just give everyone an automatic break.  Ask questions first, shoot (photos) later.

Tropical Trail in winter.  Just spectacular.  Well, it is spectacular all times of year, but in winter there is a clarity of light that you just don't get in the summer humidity.

So, after talking to the lady snipping tail feathers off a peacock with her garden loppers, and deciding not to photograph her grisly enterprise, I was determined to find somewhere along the way for a photo.  Anywhere would do, just so I wouldn't forget this spectacular day. 
  
 Merritt Island, across from Mathers Bridge.
 
 

OK, so guy in a ditch.  Leads to deciding to be nicer.  Don't make assumptions because of age, gender, or strangeness of action.  Leads to happier store clerks, more pleasant line time, and meeting the lady who lives in the most beautiful house anywhere around, who also happened to be lopping the tail off a dead peacock. 

(Honest to god, they must have modeled the HGTV Merrit Island Dream home after her house.  Same style.  Only hers is better, bigger, more beautiful, and duh - has peacocks.)

I know I have pictures somewhere of one of the peacocks from a few years ago.
See, even the gate is beautiful.
Not to mention the peacock.
 
Here it is. Taken in July, 2010.  On the gate of that particular house.  As a matter of fact I think this was shortly after a friend of Popeye's swerved to miss a pea hen and broke the fork of his bike in half. 

Here's the thing.   It's amazing there are peacocks left on Tropical Trail.  They strut wherever they please.  They just don't get it, no matter how much you yell or lay on the horn.  Don't count on them moving.  They won't.  If you are on a bike, you better go around.  If you don't have a conscience and go ahead and slam into one with your car, you better have insurance. 

Someone somewhere probably has a fair sized dent after yesterday.

I guess I never gave it a thought before.  Only stopped to admire how beautiful the huge males are dragging around their amazing five foot tail feathers.  Never gave a thought to how bulky/heavy they might be.  Not until somehow I found myself at the side of the road offering to help a tail-lopping lady heft a dead bird onto a bed sheet for burial.

Before I go, curiosity gets the better of me.  "I get that you don't want a thirty pound bird rotting in your yard, or the local flock of buzzards out there pulling it apart.  But why cut off the tail?  Do you keep the feathers?" 

(Seems a grisly idea to me, but then they are so beautiful it also seems a waste to just bury them.)

"Well," says Lopper Lady, "this isn't the first peacock I've had to bury.  I just can't dig a hole big enough to include their tails." 

"Take some if you want," she says, pointing to the pile of feathers. 

I look down.  It's quite a pile.  I picture riding home with a couple of five foot peacock feathers sticking out of my shirt.  There's no doubt they'd be beautiful somewhere in my island-blue house, but also sad.

I decline the feathers.  Partly out of inconvenience and partly out of respect for the dead.  And also out of respect for the dead, I resist taking a picture of the whole scene.   Although, I admit it was the most interesting thing I'd seen all day.  

Before getting back on the road, I complimented her on her beautiful house.  

"Thank you, I'll tell my husband.  It's his design.  And thank you for stopping.  Not one other person even slowed down." 

Back on the road again.  So there you go.  I can be nice.  And helpful. Without a feather or photo to show for it.  And if I see you lying in a ditch, I might be curious enough to ask what the heck you're doing there, but I won't hold you down, I promise.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tallboy or Scalpel. The curse of chronic fat.



"Kurt's got some Blue Moon in the fridge.  You don't have to drink that Coors Light," says Semi.

"Oh, but I do have to."

"But why?"

"To save calories." 

"What?  Again???!"  

No.  Not again.  Still.  Always. 

"Fat is a chronic condition,"  I say.

Gary starts to go off on women of a certain age and their troublesome metabolisms.  I don't want to hear it.  Besides it's not true at all.  I was much fatter when I was younger.  When I too, thought diets could have an end.

I decide it's time to pass around the new BCS stickers. 



I'm thinking of designing a jersey too.  It would look a lot like my Santa Cruz.  White - with mud splats up the back.   Why fight the inevitable?

Coors Light.  Muddy El Nino winters.  Some things simply need to be accepted.

Popeye and I got new bikes. 

We have never been twins'y before, but this time we did it.  Ordered the same bike.  Same model, same color.  Everything. 

My fault really.  Krafty found a closeout deal, and Popeye jumped on it.  I was standing behind him at the bike shop counter with a sudden image - of the back of his head getting smaller and smaller in the distance as he rides away on a super-lightweight Lefty.  And me, grinding along, working harder than ever to keep up.  If there's anyone who needs to buy speed, it is me! 

First I try talking to myself, knowing what this will do to my savings account.  But the inner discussion ends all too quickly with a softly whispered "Damn it." 

Out loud I say, "Are there any more in stock?  Order me one too!"

Now I've got a different decision to make.  Sell the "old" (2015) Tallboy 29r, or the "new" (also 2015) Scalpel? 

At some point I am going to come across a need for an extra dime to my name again.  So one of them really has to go.  Like old fashioned carb-loading.  I may be feasting on my double sized plate of pasta right now, but soon it will be time to pay the price.

I love the white Tallboy.  The look of it.  The whiteness of it.  The way it shows every bit of mud, like a dirt-layer record of every trail you rode all day, carried home with you on the frame.  I love how it gets over obstacles, and I love the simplicity of the 1x11 shifting. 

 
 

But I love the Lefty too.  The leap-ahead quality of the light weight front end.  The BLACK INC lettering on the black-on-black frame.  Just too cool to to give up.



Now what? 

Coors Light.  Salad.  That's easy.  With enough practice, they can even be made into habit.  Yeah, it sucks to have fast friends, and a super lean husband.  It sucks to always be the one who craves pasta.  But it also sucks to be fat.  So each and every day, what it comes down to, is choosing my preferred version of suckage. 

But what to do when the fat comes in the form of excess bikes?  It's not something  I get a lot of practice at.  Or want to practice at all.  It does not suck to have, not one, but two, amazing bikes.  

But choose, I must.  Now that's going to suck.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Turkey Creek. Trail or highway?

  


It's a Tuesday night. 

Mike is riding up ahead.

I can just barely hear him.  I think he's singing.

"Sign, sign everywhere a sign."

Yup, he's singing. 

I join in.  

"Blockin' out the scenery.  Breakin' my mind."

 
 


 

"Do this!  Don't do that!  Can't you read the sign?"


 
 
 
 
At first, I thought
some third graders
were playing a joke.
 
 
I love my mountain bike.  It makes me feel like a kid again.

Not the indoor kid.  Not the kid stuck at the desk farthest from the window on a sunny day.  Not the kid being told to sit still and finish her homework. 
 
Not that kid.  The outdoor kid.  The after-the-bell kid.  Stomping puddles.  Throwing rocks at beehives.  Riding bikes with your friends.  School's out and two hours til supper.  All directions possible.  That kid.
 
Every outdoor kid knows it.  A little risk equals a world of freedom.
 
Freedom teaches you some awesome stuff. 
 
Like common sense - so you don't cause yourself too many bruises. 
 
And common courtesy - so you don't cause too many bruises to others. 
 
Self regulating stuff.  So others don't have to. 
   
Take a few bumps once in a while.  Take care not to bump others.  Let others be in charge of their own bumps.  
 
This is mountain biking.  It is not supposed to be easy.   
 
Or rude.  Or selfish.
  
Choose your own lines.  And leave the rest so that others may choose theirs.