Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It seemed like a good idea at the time….

This afternoon, my brother and I are heading out on a nice little drive from the bay area to Springfield MO. According to Mapquest, it should take us approx 27 hrs to complete the 1875 miles.

When we were talking about this trip, it actually sounded fun. We’d hang out, stop and see some sights, take some pictures and get a visit in with my mom.

Of course the planning is always more fun than the doing in these types of trips and now that I’ve spent the last two days coughing and hacking and dealing with a cold, the thought of spending almost 30 hours in a truck sounds just insane. The really crazy part is we were even sober when we hatched this idea....

And it’s not like we’re going to be able to relax a whole lot while we’re there either since we both have to be back at our jobs by Monday.

So, what sounded like a fun little road trip is now sounding like, get in the truck, sit for 27 hours, visit for a day and half, get back in the truck and sit for another 27 hours and then arrive home just in time to get ready to go to work on Monday…..gee this will be fun!!!! (did I mention they're predicting rain and snow in Springfield?)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Awesome Ride Saturday!!

Saturday was set to be my longest ride so far this year. With a goal of 68 miles and 6K of climbing, it would have been a pretty good push and a great primer 3 weeks prior to the Solvang Century.

The goal, set by my buddy Jack was to go up Mt Diablo via the South Gate to the summit, then come down via the North Gate to Walnut Creek, go up and over Ygnacio Valley Rd to Clayton, out through Morgan Territory and then back around to the starting point.

Well, it turns out that due to time and scheduling issues we didn’t get the full distance or climbing in, but it was still a fantastic ride.
We started out in Danville at 8:00 and headed up the hill to Mt Diablo. After a couple weeks of rain and storms, we got a break and Saturday was shaping up to a beautiful day. Cool, but not cold and clear with amazing views all the way up the mountain. I have to say that this is one of the prettiest rides we do and if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s all uphill, I’d ride it a lot more frequently.

Evidently, I’m not alone in this sentiment as there were tons of riders heading up the hill. This guy was also out for a nice little stroll.

We had 8 riders a couple of whom would be making their first attempt at reaching the top of Diablo. This is actually a pretty impressive accomplishment as the mountain climbs about 3500ft in about 11 miles. It’s a long grind with an average grade of 5%, the last section, Summit Rd has an average grade of 7% with the very last section, the one way path, being 13%.
It took us about 2 hours to get to the top which I thought was pretty good. At least I thought that until I looked at the results of last years Diablo Challenge. The fastest guy up last year did it in 41 minutes!!!!

After regrouping at the top, where the evidence of the recent storms was displayed in piles of snow along the road, we headed down. This is probably one of the funnest (is that even a word?) descents in the bay area. It’s steep and fast and after last years upgrades, is in really good shape.

Heading out the North Gate Rd takes you in to Walnut Creek, where you eventually meet up with Ygnacio Valley Rd. This is a really busy road with a decent, but really littered, shoulder. Up and over the hill brings you to Clayton where we stopped for lunch.

It was at this point that we realized we weren’t going to be able to do the whole loop. I was a little ambitious in guessing our pace and Joanne actually believed me so didn’t make babysitter arrangements.
So, deciding that we weren’t doing Morgan Territory we jumped on Ygnacio Valley Rd back up and over the hill headed for the Iron Horse Trail to take us back to Danville.

The worst part is that Ygnacio Valley, once you get back to Walnut Creek has a really narrow shoulder and is really busy…..add to that the fact that it appears everyone in Walnut Creek drives a Tahoe, a Navigator or an Escalade and you have the makings of a very sketchy ride on a very narrow shoulder with lots of very large SUVs whizzing by….
I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get on a multi use trail in my life.

Once you’re on the Iron Horse, it’s a pretty fast ride back to the edge of Walnut Creek where we jumped on to Danville Blvd. for a nice fast ride back to the starting point.

All in all a nice ride although I did hear a rumor that the only reason Jack picked out such a tough ride was that he figured it would get rained out...

Friday, February 20, 2009

The power to do good…..

For those of you that follow either or the Tour of California, you had an opportunity this week to see just what a powerful tool the web and for that matter, television, can be to do good.

So often the internet and television are lambasted as either a waste of time, or even worse a vehicle for corrupting the minds of our society. (and most of the time this is probably justified)Well, this week, those forms of media did an amazing thing.

Susan, the wife of creator Elden Nelson, has been battling breast cancer for several years. This year, in an effort to continue to raise awareness of the battle against cancer, Fatty has decided to join with the Lance Armstrong Foundation in the fight against cancer by taking on the Livestrong challenge. And not only that, but he’s challenged the readers and followers of his blog to join with him under the Team Fat Cyclist banner.
The coolest thing about this is the members of his team are spread over the entire country and most only know Fatty through his blog. So far the team has raised almost 50,000.00!!!

As a sideline to this, Fatty posted a challenge, through his buddy Chuck from Ibis bikes, to Bob Roll the commentator on the Tour of California that if he were to raise 5,000.00 before the end of the Tour, Bob would have to shave his head.
Turns out, Bob is a good sport and agreed and less than 2 days later, the money was raised and Bob was having his head shaved by Johan Bruyneel with Lance Armstrong as the witness!

Again, the amazing thing is Fatty has never met Bob Roll and once again the money was raised using the web to get the word out…..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rain, Rain, go away…..

Ok, so I know we desperately need the rain and if I actually had a chance to get up skiing I’d be completely thrilled with all the new snow……but this rain is getting old….

I haven’t been on the bike in over a week, my longest ride so far this year is 60+ miles and oh yeah, I only have 3 weeks until the Solvang Century…..
So, last night it was back to the gym. I’d really like to try one of those spinning classes, but so far it hasn’t worked with my schedule. The fact that my local 24hr fitness only offers it twice a week may have something to do with that…

Last night started with a run on the treadmill, followed by my normal workout followed by about 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer... (aka the make anyone over 40 look like an idiot machine)
I’m sure you’ve all seen the elliptical thing, it’s that weird one in front of the treadmills that’s always populated by young, coordinated people. Its a blend of running on the treadmill and doing the stairmaster ...oh yeah and you have to move your arms like you’re cross country skiing at the same time.

Now, I think those of you that know me, realize right off the challenge this creates. I tend to not be the most coordinated person on the planet. I’m happy when I can walk up stairs while carrying on a conversation. Carrying my coffee, walking and talking all at the same time requires real concentration…

Anyway, I decided to give it a try and for the most part did pretty well. I even got to the point where I could hold on to the moving arm things and had my legs going and my arms going AT THE SAME TIME. This of course was all very good for my self esteem and I decided maybe I could try something other than level 1.
Well, they say pride goeth before the fall and while I never actually fell, my pride did cause me to almost get launched off the stupid thing.

Here I was, having moved up to level 4, and feeling good. My arms were going, my legs were going and I could actually glance up at the televisions mounted on the wall for a couple of seconds at a time. Then, I got cocky and tried to speed up.

I mean the guy next to me was going like a bat outta….well, you know what I mean and I was limping along at the same pace as an old guy in a walker…so speed up I did….only the faster you go, the more coordination that is required and sure enough, my legs and my arms got out of synch and the next thing I know the step is coming up at the same time I’m pushing down and well….I never actually left the machine, but I’m pretty sure I was about 5” above the step when I came back down…

I’m not sure anyone actually noticed what happened…or at least they wouldn’t have if my iPod hadn’t flown out of my pocket, ripped the earbuds from my ears and fallen to the floor…..
Slowly I came to a stop, picked up my iPod, wiped down the machine and headed for the water faucet…..almost as if I had meant for the whole thing to happen….

I am so tired of this rain…..

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You're in a world of trouble....

If I'm your only hope......
Last weekend a couple of friends and I took the Foster Calm Wilderness First Aid class.
According to their website….Classes are fun with lots of hands-on skills practice. The emphasis is on making good decisions by staying calm and safe, doing a good patient assessment, and having good communication and leadership.

And to be honest, this is pretty much what I was expecting. Fun and interesting. What they forget to mention is that if you’re even a little bit anal, don’t like tests or really hate failure…..then you might want to skip this class.

It starts off easy enough. She talks, you write notes, she has leaders do demonstrations and you pay attention. So far so good right? Wrong! Evidently you really ARE supposed to be paying attention because before you know it she breaks you up into groups and has you doing what she been demonstrating.

Basically, she lays out the scenario….you’re in Moab UT, its 3pm and 90 degrees. You’re on your way down the trail and come across someone sitting there holding their leg and it appears they fell down the hill…..

Now, for most people this really isn’t any big deal. But I have to be honest….it really stressed me out. What if I don’t get it right? What if I misdiagnose and they end up paralyzed…or dead?

Luckily, In the team setting it all works out since if you don’t know there are a couple of other people there that you can look to for help. But, on Sunday when we broke into groups for the final scenarios, I was appointed leader which means I was supposed to know everything and the others in the team were there as support people.
And to make matters worse, we had a guy that was non-responsive and couldn’t help out by answering questions. I think we did everything correct, the problem was, it took us too long to realize the issue was diabetes and at the rate we were working, he probably would have been in a diabetic seizure if not worse. (looking for and finding the medic alert necklace would have helped)

So, now that I’ve taken this 16 hour course and I’m supposedly “certified” for wilderness first aid, You though, my riding friends, fishing buddies and backpacking pals, had better hope and pray that if you’re ever hurt in the backcountry it’s someone else that comes down the trail. Chances are good you’ll have better odds with a group of 10 year old cub scouts than if I try to administer first aid.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Forgot my ipod….and lived to regret it….

Last night, since the weather guy said there would be rain, I cancelled my mt bike ride and went to the gym instead (turns out he was wrong – big surprise)
As I was getting out of the truck and gathering up my stuff, I realized I forgot my ipod….No biggie I thought, I’ll just have to suffer through the crappy music they play there.

Now, I’m normally a really social person. I have no problem talking to strangers, I tend to be pretty outgoing and I like people…..(most of ‘em anyways)

The only time this isn’t the case is when I’m at the gym. I prefer to get in, do my thing and get out. Afterall, I’m suffering and I don’t want to talk to anyone while I’m doing it.
In order to prevent anyone from wanting to talk to me, I usually put on my ipod and headphones and pretty much ignore everyone. ….actually, it’s probably unnecessary since most people at the gym only socialize with others they know and I’m not there frequently enough for that to be an issue.

Well, last night, figuring the worst part would be the music they play at the gym, I went ahead without my ipod….
Well, of course after work is the busiest time to go and I couldn’t get a treadmill to run on, so I went to the stairmaster.
Interestingly, although the treadmills and the elliptical trainers were all full, there wasn’t anyone on the stairmasters. (maybe that's because they were created by satan himself and everyone but me knows that)

WEll, without any other options, I went to the end one, got on, set it for 20 minutes and started in…I wasn’t on there but a couple of minutes when an older lady got on the one right next to me (why when there is a line of 20 empty stairmasters she felt the need to get on the one right next to me I’ll never know) and it wasn’t but a minute after that, that she started talking to me…..(who does that?)
I tried to be polite, oh hi, yeah, it looks like rain…no, I’m not having a great time, no, I don’t know when the next zoomba class is scheduled…..I tried to act like I was concentrating on my workout but evidently she wasn't catching on.....and pretty soon she’s telling me that her husband just had bypass surgery, and she’s started going to the gym to prevent that, and if he’d walk the dog once in a while it wouldn’t have happened, and blah, blah, blah, blah…..finally I couldn’t take it and said I was done and had to get off the thing and go do something else…..

I mean come on……seriously???? I can barely breathe, I’m sweating like a fat guy in polyester at the disco, I can’t wait for this freakin thing to stop torturing me and she wants to chat????
At least pretend you’re suffering a little fer cryin out loud…..some of us have feelings you know and watching older women do the same exercise and not even break a sweat is really not good for our self esteem…..

So, in an effort to slip back into oblivion, I headed over to the weight area where in addition to the really bad house music they were playing, I was entertained by all the big muscle heads grunting and swearing and yelling at each other….come on man…one more…you got it….crank it out…..followed by the sound of barbells that weighed more than my truck being clanged about like they were toys…..yeah, I hate this place….

Now, If I could just get this damn blue dumbell off my chest, I’d get up and get the heck out of here……I knew I shoulda grabbed one of the pink ones....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just out exploring....

This afternoon, Jer and I did a nice easy 10 or 12 miles on the road bike. Our goal was to explore what appeared on mapquest to be a really nice loop in that it was close, had little traffic and involved a couple of pretty decent climbs.

It actually started last Saturday when we found a new road (to remain unnamed) which turned out to be a really nice climb and was close enough that one of our riders will probably be turning it into his evening ride once or twice a week.
So, today (while at work of course) I looked it up and according to mapquest, the road we were on which we thought to be a dead end, connected to another road, which connected to another different road we thought to be a dead end.
So, with the street names and a general idea of where we were headed, we took off.

Well it turns out the road we thought was a dead end was actually....a dead end. And, the other road we thought was a dead end was...another dead end.....BUT, as we explored the new roads up on top of the hill, we stopped to talk to one of the security guys (that is supposed to keep us out of where we were) and he explained that eventually (probably a long time distant) the roads probably would actually connect.

Even more interesting was the fact that he pointed out that there were several trails in the area that probably made for an interesting loop on the mountain bikes...

Granted he did say no-one is supposed to be riding there since some drunk teenager crashed his four wheeler while tresspassing and now they're in some gazillion dollar lawsuit....but I'm pretty sure I saw him wink when he said we couldn't go in there and afterall if he didn't want us to try the trail why would he have told us about it....right????

So, although the route we hoped to find doesn't actually exist, we did have a pretty nice ride with about 1000ft of climbing, a beautiful evening and a lead on our next covert moutain bike adventure.
It's good to have a new place to explore since the high falootin golf course people in the Hayward Hills are getting annoyed that we use their golf course as the starting and ending place for our most recent newly explored area....

The common cold….never really very common

It’s funny that it’s actually called “the common cold” since it seems to hit everyone with different symptoms, different intensity levels and different durations.

Last week Thursday Deb woke up feeling kinda stuffed up and just not ok. Not bad, but definitely off. She went to work (spending the day doing that medical billing, coding, auditing thing that she does that I’ll never understand no matter how many times and how simply she explains it to me) and came home pretty stuffed up with a cough.

Friday she woke up sounding like someone had poured sand down her throat, had a full on cough and felt pretty much like crap. She stayed home. (btw, she also volunteered to sleep in the other room so I wouldn’t get sick – pretty awesome huh?)
I on the other hand still felt fine on Friday, went to work, came home, still felt good and got ready for a nice 45 mile ride on Saturday morning.

Saturday dawned cold and I had a “tickle” in my throat. Nothing more though, so the ride went off without a hitch.

Sunday, Deb still feels crummy, is coughing regularly, sounds like Demi Moore after a sex change and wants nothing more than to curl up on the couch. I now, am coughing a little, still kind of have a scratchy throat, but feel not bad.

Fast forward 3 hours to after church when we’re supposed to go to some friends to watch the Super Bowl. I come home to see Deb is obviously not going anywhere and I’m glad about it. I’m now coughing, feel pretty crappy and my throat hurts. We decide to bail on the party and Deb and I spend most of the day either napping or laying on our respective couches doing absolutely nothing….except coughing. Me occasionally, her….more than occasionally.
Actually turned out to be a nice restful day for both of us.

Monday rolls around and I feel great. One day down and I’m back in the race. Deb though, still feeling less than better, is stuffed up and coughing.

Funny how the same “common cold” is anything but common….