Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Dehydrated

Well, we've passed the Dehydrator without passing out on the side of the road, or at least not for long. The day dawned cool and fresh, long after we were all on the road headed for Duncan. None of us had done this ride before, so we were excited to see what it would be like. We expressed this excitement by being the crabbiest bunch of cyclists ever to arrive at an event. Blake the Mini-WAACO was the exception. He was trying to pump up Shana's tire without letting his captured cricket go.

The route proved to be hillier than we expected. To add insult to injury there were a couple of tall and long hills near the beginning of the ride, before we were really warmed up. I was riding with Dianne (she was tired, so was actually riding at my "modest" speed). Helen was doing our distance, but she blew past us early on and we never saw her on the route. We last saw Shana and Kim at the second stop. Their route and ours parted soon after this point. The day got hotter (and hotter), the road stayed hilly. It was not as punishing as some of the previous rides this year, but the heat really became a factor. We saw loads of cattle and horses, and discovered that apparently everyone in Stephens County has a burro or a mule.

About ten miles out from the finish Dianne and I were looking forward to the last rest stop. Looking down the road I could not see it, and decided that I could not go any farther without getting off the bike for a minute. We took a break under a tree for a few minutes. Dianne cooled herself off by pouring water over her head, but my wet hair is all sweat - ewww. Once we got on our bikes again the last rest stop revealed itself not a mile down the road. This is where we found out that it was a bad idea to have a snow cone when you are REALLY hot. I stopped eating mine in the nick of time, knowing that I would be sorry later if I didn't but Dianne paid the price in the form of stomach cramps. The last eight miles were tough, especially since we had to climb the identical long and tall hills that so displeased us at the start of the ride. For a ghastly moment we thought we may have passed our turn and would be wandering the streets of Duncan, but at last our arrow appeared.

Dianne and I arrived too late for burgers or dogs, but in one piece.
This is pretty much how we felt. Several of us had heat rashes on our legs. Shana and I had each ridden our longest distance ever, but were nearly too tired to be excited about it. This was a good training ride for all of us because the spring and early summer have been so cool and wet that we have not been able (or compelled!) to prepare much for heat. Because we are less than a month out from Hotter N Hell this is fast becoming a training issue. There is just no substitute for training in the heat. No amount of theory really takes the place of trying our your hydration and nutrition strategies on the road, as no one thing works for all riders. I am reassured that I can keep up the required pace to make it to Hell's gate in time to ride my century, which I have been very concerned about. In general it was a good ride, and it's always fun when the WAACOS get together.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Dehydrator

The cycle event we are doing this weekend is called the Duncan Dehydrator. In spite of the rather intimidating name it promises to be a fun ride. Several of the WAACO's are attending, including the Mini-WAACO. It will be his first event and it will be fun to see his reactions to all of the cyclists. It benefits the Duncan Band Boosters, and includes not only lunch afterward but also access to showers (!!!!). This is particularly attractive because I've signed up to ride 69 miles. I should be nice and stinky by the time I reach the finish line. I did get a peek at the topographical map for the ride, and it looks possible. I must admit I was wondering about that, in light of the fact that the last three rides I've done were pretty hilly. Our Wednesday night hill rides have made us all stronger, but given the legth of my ride I'm glad the hills won't be too bad. The worst feature of the ride is that we will need to leave the house by 5:45 tomorrow morning. I'm planning to take Roxy off to board at the vet tonight so she can have Social Club tomorrow without my having to leave the house extra early.
Roxy is having a pajama party this week. Skippy has come for a few days while the Humps are in Dallas. It's funny how easily he fits into our routine and how comfortable he seems given that he's not a good boarder anywhere else. He just does whatever Roxy tells him to do. and they seem perfectly happy and relaxed together.

I've been following the Tour De France obsessively, including watching hours of racing, checking the stage winners and the daily video first thing as soon as I go to lunch, and listening to three separate podcast reviews of each stage daily. I even have a special pair of socks going which I can knit along on while I watch the tour without much attention. (Knit Picks Dancing in a garter rib). I was horrified, saddened and disillusioned by the news out of the tour this week. It just made me sick to my stomach to hear that one of the riders whose grit I had so admired had been cheating. Now that a few days have passed since Team Astana withdrew, I must say I think that if pro cycling survives this tour (and it will be a near thing) it will have been a good thing for the organizers to be seen to act immediately to remove dirty riders. The Tour de France will continue, but the high dollar sponsorship and television coverage may not. On the other hand, the coverage from Versus has carefully sidestepped all controversy to the point of surrealism.
Jennifer will be in town this weekend. I probably will not see her until Monday evening, when we will get together for dinner with the sibs. It should be lots of fun, and there should be some nice pictures. Now - what to cook? I'll be at work all day Monday, so maybe a brisket in the crockpot?

Friday, July 20, 2007

You Can Get Anything You Want

At Mom's Restaurant! This is kind of a late update, but last Sunday Shana and I had The Spawn over for dinner. Sam brought along a couple of friends, and Alex came with his little family. Jesse, who we always call Shana's Son, was in town for the weekend, so he came along too. We had a house full of noise, just like when we had resident teenagers. Miss Vivian was passed around like a bad cold until she got tired and cranky, people were alternately affectionate and sarcastic, and amazing amounts of steak disappeared before our very eyes.

One reason for the dinner was that Shana and I are getting ready to put our house on the market. It's a lot bigger than is strictly necessary for two people and one small dog. With fewer people to accommodate, the expense of keeping such a big place is not the best use of our incomes. The kids both had some stuff in their rooms that they wanted to keep, and I wanted to get it all out of here before I started clearing out closets for a massive garage sale. The last time we moved we were able to pay for our movers with the proceeds of a big garage sale, and we are hoping to make the same thing happen this time. In any event, we have too much stuff and it has to go.

Sock knitting continues as an accompaniment to the Tour De France (where Team Discovery is making a very poor fist of it). My office knitting is a plain stockinette sock in a very cute self striping colorway from Lana Grossa. These colors are pretty true on my monitor, but in person the sock looks a lot cuter.

I'm on my way out the door for my errands. I'm planning to turn the dull errands into entertainment and exercise by cruising around on my Cypress. It's such a fun bike to ride, and I use it so seldom since I got my road bike. I would not like to ride it 50 miles, but it's perfect for short hops. It makes for a much more pleasant afternoon about town.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Conquerettes

The 2007 Norman Conquest is now behind us, and all of the WAACO's completed their chosen rides! The Easy Riders Garage Sale Club did their shortie. Shana did the 26 with Kim and both finished strong. This was a tough 26 and a real training milestone for both of them. Sonny, Nez and I did the 45, which turned out to be 48.6 due to a detour caused (I think) by some road damage from recent flooding. This picture is Nez and I at the last rest area, about 5 miles out from the finish. We were riding at about the same pace, so we met up at most of the rest areas during the day. Sonny rode along at about our pace for just short of 30 miles, then she dropped us to ride on at her most comfortable pace - lots faster than I ride. The picture captures our feelings at that point - we were hot, tired, sweaty and relieved because we were pretty sure we were going to finish. After all the anxiety I felt before the ride I am relieved, and proud of the improvements in fitness and skill I've been able to make in the last year.

By the time I got in some of our party had already finished their ride and their lunch. Shana had already won a gift certificate to a new local bike store. I went in for lunch and a visit while Shana had a massage. Once she was finished with that she very kindly went out to bring to car up closer to the building. She knew that on the way in I had put my bike on the car, taken off my shoes and helmet, and put on the shoes I had stashed under the car. What she did not know was that when I took my sandals out from under the car I put my cycling shoes, water bottles and helmet under the car because I did not take keys with me on the ride. I had briefly mentioned before the ride that I was stashing my shoes because I would not have any keys and would be getting in later than Shana, but at the time it did not seem to have any particular significance. As soon as she backed the car up she realized what had happened. The helmet is a total loss, the shoes actually look OK (we'll see on the next training ride), and one very nice Polar Bottle was squashed completely flat. Shana came in looking sheepish and telling me she had finally gotten her revenge for my dropping her bike off the car before the Hotter N Hell last year.

All's well that ends well, and Shana's gift certificate went for two new stylin' blue Polar bottles for me; I'll just wear the white helmet that Shana used before she bought the pink helmets she wears now. Sharon offered her extra blue helmet, but it is sized for her giant hair and therefore fit me in a way that threatened to cut my ears off. Sharon suggested that I could enjoy this very nice helmet if only I would trim my ears but I declined. Shana will use my surviving white bottle so she will have two nice insulated bottles and we are all happy.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Forty Days and Forty Nights

Well, actually it's 36 days and nights in a row. Oklahoma is breaking the drought in style. We had about five years of drought, and this year we are already ahead of our average rainfall amount for a year. At the time of year when things are usually shriveling up we are seeing huge fungus' popping up everywhere. The lakes are full (and then some), the farm ponds are full; there is water in the Canadian River (!), which usually needs mowing by this time of year. After years of buying expensive hay, a lot of the horse pastures I pass when we are out riding have been mowed. The horses are not keeping up with the grass this year. We've had enough water to start replenishing the ground water, but up here on the surface it sure gets old.

Miss Vivian came by my office this week, attended by The Parents, so everyone could get a peek at her. She'd been to the doctor and had big band aids on both thighs, but of course she looked delicious. Her doctor thought she looked a little too chubby - meanie! Today I popped in to see her for a minute after work - it was nearly her nap time so I did not linger long enough to throw her off of her schedule -and she was just as cute as can be. She's smiling, and has much better luck getting her fingers into her mouth. She does sometimes have to hold them in with the other hand, but the main goal is to get them to stay put long enough to chew on them, and in that she's having success. They will be visiting for dinner on Sunday, so we'll get to have a longer visit then.

The Norman Conquest ride is tomorrow morning. I will be so happy to be underway because I have been obsessing over it for at least a month. It towers in my memory as a really awful ride, but I hope my strength, skill, and endurance have improved enough to make it easier than I remember. I am planning a longer ride in a few weeks, but it does not scare me the way this one does. By this time tomorrow I will know if I am equal to the challenge. I've been watching the Tour De France all week - the ride will surely be easier than THAT! It's hard to believe that while I am training to ride a single 100 mile ride they are racing for over a hundred miles nearly every day for three weeks. One of the riders had a bad spill yesterday, but still rode on to catch up with the rest of the group with a giant hole in his shorts displaying a huge bloody bruise and scrape on his hip and blood running down his arms. Today he was riding over 100 miles with stitches in his elbows and knees and ice packs bound to his knees. I don't think I will get that tough.

Three pair of socks are proceeding in mostly non-photogenic ways. I started a pair of garter rib socks in Knit Picks Dancing and got about 4 inches down the leg, but frogged them last night because I did not like the way they were pooling. I started them again with a different stitch count, but they are now only about 1/2 inch long, and therefore not worthy of a picture! I will say that I am really enjoying the Zigzag socks. The Knit Picks Sock Landscape still feels a bit lifeless, but it's looking great in the pattern. I tried to get Shana to admire their beauty, but she's been spoiled by the Koigu Monkey Socks and does not think any others could ever measure up. Jamie tells me that she and Alex have picked up some yarn for me to knit up a sweater for Miss V. They are hoping for matching hat and mittens, too. Jamie plans to sew on some lacy trim after I have them knit up to be sure that Miss V looks girly enough. I have a couple of baby blankets to knit up before winter, too. I guess I'd better add some baby knitting to the nightly mix of projects! Apparently I don't have time to dawdle along on socks.

I went through my back room stash - the basic stuff that does not get a display place of honor on my crafts desk - last night. There seems to be quite a bit there, but not a lot that I don't have some pretty good plans for. I also ran across an Annie's Attic booklet of crocheted toys that I had completely forgotten about. I picked it up on extreme clearance at Hobby Lobby a few years ago ($1.61, marked down from $8). It's just what I need! This particular one is all dogs, but of course you can tweak them any way you like. I'm thinking I can use up some of my sock yarn leftovers to make some tiny toys. It's so much fun to go shopping in the closet!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Doggie Pajama Party

Roxanne is playing host to Skippy this week while all the Humps are out of town. Skippy is not generally a happy boarder, but as long as he's with his friend he seems to be quite comfortable. Roxy enjoys the company, and they behave well together. I was a little anxious because we had to go to work this week and leave the dogs alone all day, but it's going well and they have not destroyed anything. Skippy does make a blood-curdling howl when people leave, but I guess he settles down when he sees that Roxy is not all that upset once we are too far away to be impressed by her objections. Rita is having a less pleasing dog experience this week, as her hosts' dog ate her hearing aids! They were found out in the yard, mangled beyond repair. To be fair, Roxy has also done this heinous deed in the past. It's nice to know she's not the only Evil Wild Dog around.

I completed the purple Monkey Socks this morning, and coerced Shana into taking pictures for me. They came out really pretty, but their dark color made them a little hard to photograph well, and the pattern does not show up well with the socks flat. It's really hot today and wearing them outside for the pictures made my ankles itch. I don't think they will be itchy when they are washed and the weather is more suitable, but today was not the day to be outside in woolies. I immediately skeined up some Knit Picks Sock Landscape from my stash and cast on for a pair of Jigsaw Socks from Pink Monkey Knits. I have not used this yarn before, and chose it just for the color. The color is really nice: the Mesa colorway. Its an adobe sort of variegated, with a bit of dark blue to set it off. The yarn itself is not as soft as I would have expected from merino, and it is not terribly tightly spun, but does not seem splitty, and I'll reserve judgement on its softness until after it is washed. That makes such a big difference. The Tour De France started today, and I see lots of sock knitting happening in the next couple of weeks. I have a pair of plain stockinette socks on the needles and a pair of basic 3x1 rib socks started. I'm set with a variety of projects to knit along with the Tour, depending on the excitement level at any given time.

I hope to get out for a fair amount of cycling myself in the next few weeks. It looks like our every day monsoon weather is easing up, and we are "enjoying" heat and humidity. The mosquitoes are awful this year, so we'll ride REALLY FAST! I'm looking forward to being out in the country with my bike and my camera. Before the ride today I'll have to have Bike Maintenance Day. Big Blue looks a little the worse for wear, and it's time to lube. I may do it out front so the dogs have something to watch.

I have not seen Vivian this week, but I'm thinking that maybe tomorrow will be the day. Alex wanted to bring her over on the 4th, but I was really tired and didn't feel like being patient. I suggested (selfish!) that it would be better if he called me with some advance notice so I would be prepared to stay with her, rather than assuming that I would be available at a moments' notice.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

Usually on the Fourth of July Shana and I go to a parade, host a barbecue, and go out to see some fireworks. This year, with a lot of family out of town we did something completely different. We went to Stillwater with the WAACO's to ride in the Tour of Payne. Most of our group chose the 40 mile ride. It's a challenging ride with a lot of hills, and usually the heat is an issue. This year it was not as hot as in years gone by, but the humidity was a big factor. The hills, of course, were just as big as in any other year. Not only did everyone complete her chosen ride, but also Dianne, in a moment of inattention, blew past the signs on the road and rode 25 miles out of the way and got lost. She was rescued by a Diane and Sharon, and after we all cleaned up we wandered out to Eskimo Joe's for a burger. That took FOREVER, but the burgers were good and the company was first rate. By the time we got home Shana and I were tuckered out. She had done the 40 mile ride, which was her longest ride ever.

The next event will be the Norman Conquest on July 14, which should be challenging, so say the very least. I have pretty much decided to do the 45 mile ride, even though the 26 mile last year lives on in my memory as possibly the worst ride ever. The hills are huge and steep, and the weather will be crazy hot. Shana will likely do the 26; everyone else who decides to go will do what they dare. We are also planning a weekend at the lake. Shana's uncle has a lake house that we can have the use of, so plans are afoot for a gourmet/boating weekend.

Last weekend Baby Vivian came to visit while The Parents took in a movie and I tried to take some pictures of her that did not make her look like the Wild Child of the Forest, without much success. In person she looked so sweet and pretty, but something about the flash made her look demented.

Most of my knitting this week has been easy-peasy car knitting. the Purple Monkey socks are down to the last pattern repeat, so they should be finished this weekend. What's up next? Only time will tell. I have several choices in the queue, but I can be almost sure it will not be a sweater or an afghan, given the current weather and the amount of available time. It will probably be something small and simple, maybe some fancy socks. Most of my time will be taken up by cycling until the end of August - only a few more weeks until Hotter N Hell and we are all trying to get some mileage in before then.