Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where the Buffalo Roam

Today we drove down to southern Oklahoma for the Tour de Meers, which we had never ridden before. We had actually gone down one year and camped out with an intention to do it but the weather was ugly and we just picked up our maps and did part of one of the routes the next day.

The Tour de Meers goes through the Wichita Wildlife Refuge and I was really looking forward to the ride. I had not been down to the Refuge this year and was missing its spare beauty. I signed up for the 57 mile ride, which was really a little longer than I wanted, but the next shorter was 30 miles and not only too short but also did not go through much of the Refuge.
The 57 mile route was really challenging - hilly and mostly uphill. This is no exaggeration, as you leave Meers going slightly downhill but finish up coming into Meers from a much higher altitude. They are mainly long grades and not steep, but tiring. Rest stops were far apart and devoid of shade. It would have been strenuous but manageable if the ride had not become a victim of its own success and some very hot weather. Twice as many riders as expected showed up, but the organizers did not run out to get additional supplies. The first stop had weak Gatorade and only oranges to eat by the time I got there. The second stop had bananas but only water to drink. The third stop had only water and no bananas (they had cookies). Temperatures on the road were above 100 degrees, and I was fighting leg cramps (caused by insufficient electrolytes) from 25 miles out. Luckily I had brought two electrolyte tablets to add to the water - had I known there would be no sports drinks available I would have brought more. No ice was available at any stop to cool bodies. I let Shana take me in after 48.6 miles as I was suffering from the heat and about to lose the battle against cramp. Beautiful ride, but inadequate support this year. I feel kind of bad that I missed my distance by less than 10 miles, but I was starting to lose my balance and focus. It was time to give up. I'm still glad I went and would do it again, but it could have been better.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Housekeeping

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cycling Past Dogtown

We set off early Saturday for a ride, planning for an easy 40 miles. Weather and lack of transport had kept everyone in all week and we were ready to get out for a while. Maybe shoulda known better. We got started a very few minutes late, which meant that we were riding through around and behind a large group of runners who were having an event today at Lake Overholser. The back roads were full of all kinds of traffic. None of this would be distressing except for one thing = the wind was horrible. I'd planned for an early
ride because usually the wind cranks up later in the morning. Forecast was for 25 mph, so I wanted to get out before it really got going.
Didn't work out that way. I stand ready to swear that we had steady 30 mph winds with gusts to 40. Riding into it I was in the closest gear my bike has to granny roaring along at 6 mph. We cut the ride short and rode 20 miles instead.
There was one amusing novelty today. Apparently a bunch of prairie dogs have moved into a vacant field along the way. I took a break on the way back to snap a few pictures. Too bad it's not video because the running and barking were quite amusing. Sadly I was not close enough to get really good pictures, but this colony looks chubby and healthy. Not pleasing to the land owner, I wouldn't think.
It was a strenuous 20 miles, and I'm glad we didn't ride out any farther today.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Life After Hail

This week at work we had our first "Benefits Fair". Instead of sitting in the world's most long and boring meeting waiting for our particular topics of interest to be discussed the lunch room was decorated with streamers and banners and set up with tables for our various benefits providers so we could visit with the ones we wanted to see and pass the others by. We got our new tote bag, lots of fun goodies, and a free box lunch. Our benefits package has actually improved some (a rarity in these days) and the cost has gone down a little bit. I'm posting a picture of the decor without additional comment.

Those who know why it's funny will laugh. I did.

Spring at my office means goslings, and lots of them. This lady nests close to the front doors of our office every year. She'll hiss at you if you come too close (and you have to get really close before she gets worried) but she doesn't budge.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Traffic is Going Slow Due to the Ice on the Road

No, Oklahoma has not suddenly moved to Zone 5; the ice on the road is a truckload of large hail. We knew it was coming, but couldn't do anything about it. Our garage is too full of bicycles and garage sale candidates for cars.

Shana's car got the most damage, but both of our cars are beat to death and covered with hail dents. Tennis ball sized hail will do that. Both of our windshields are broken, and her back window is completely broken out, including damage to the
back deck which looks like someone has stomped around on it. Her back deck speakers and the controls to fold down the seat are torn up. We are keeping Rita overnight - neither one of us has a car to drive until we can get some repairs done.

Our rose bush which was covered in a huge flush of bloom now has no flowers at all. The pots I just
planted last Sunday are trashed. Still, no
windows were broken on the house and no one was injured. I've not been up on the roof, but we'll be calling the adjusters in the morning to get a look at it. With any luck they will arrive with the auto glass guys and we'll have everything taken care of at once. We'll have some pretty significant inconvenience for a few days but that's all it will be.

Oklahoma Spring weather - it keeps us in the news!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers' Day Weekend

My Mothers' Day Weekend began with the distressing news that my neighbor had been robbed during the morning and had returned with one of her children to find the burglars still in her house. Apparently this is a crew specializing in burglaries in my neighborhood. My guess is they will be caught soon - they drive a distinctive car slowly around the neighborhood and the police are aware of their pattern. That said, I have not seen increased patrols in the area, so maybe I'm being too optimistic.

I didn't get a ride in this weekend, but instead there were plenty of other things to do. Shana
had made our mammogram appointments for early in the day, so after the bribe of a "short stack" at Beverly's off I went to get my breasts squashed. She went on to work, followed by a short trip to Dallas with Aunt Rita.

There was a fiber event in Edmond, and I stopped by to check it out. It was geared to spinners, so I was able to resist all offerings. On the way home I stopped at TLC Greenhouses to indulge in my yearly flower purchase. As it happens I went not a moment too soon. Our winter was tough this year and I had lost more than half of my canas. Because I don't have my heart set on particular varieties I usually buy canas at the end of the planting season so I can get them on sale. They were nearly all gone by the time I bought mine this year. I got the new canas planted, refilled my patio pots, and planted up my little front yard bed. This year it's all red any yellow: geraniums, sun coleus, celosia and gobs of marigolds. I won't post pictures yet because the bed will look much better in a few weeks.

My (local) children took me out to dinner at the Olive Garden - showing up on time and with money! We had a really nice time even though there was a long wait for a table. There are lots of additional pictures of Vivian in my Flickr gallery, but none of Alex or Sam. have to sneak up on them to capture their images and they were hiding from me.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Poking Holes in my Assumptions

Almost every Sunday (when I don't play hooky) the sermon seems to hit uncomfortably close to home. This week the topic was love - but not in the usual "love your neighbor and be a good example" way (not that I don't think that is also an important thing), but in the "Faced with the ugly, mean natured, unpleasant, bigoted, nasty people who you assume to be so much less worthy than you reach out in love" way. Sigh. It's so much easier to love (at a distance) the Deserving Poor than it is to see God in the Teabaggers.

The picture today is blooming grass by the side of the road blowing in the wind. It's a lovely sight that is easy to miss if you are looking around for scenes of more dramatic beauty. If you believe in a Creator we are all as God made us, and if you don't we are all a part of the indivisible whole of the universe. Either way we can't be looking past what we are meant to see and hope to make the best of our lives.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Rally in the Valley

This year we tried a ride we've never done before: the Valley Rally in Paul's Valley Oklahoma. I'd never been to Paul's Valley before although I had passed by on the highway many times (the usual sad take of a small town). I assumed it would be a smallish ride because a T shirt was guaranteed to the first 100 riders. Most of the rides we do are in the 600-1200 rider range, with the Hotter N Hell 100 attracting upwards of 10,000 riders. The date was right and the area was appealing so off we went to sample the delights of Garvin County Oklahoma. Rain and a big cool front was forecast for the day so I privately waffled about riding, but Shana was committed to going so we went dressed to get cold and wet.

Knowing that the terrain in that part of the state was mainly rolling hills i carefully considered my choice of rides and settled on the shortest option of 30 miles instead of trying a longer ride. I must admit that the fact that the route map

included a topographical map influenced my decision. Few rides specify where and how steep the hills are, and when they do one is well advised to pay attention. The longest ride I had done this season was 40 miles, but a flat forty. I have started riding my usual weekly hilly route, but am only up to about twenty miles so far. I made the sensible choice. No one else in our group was feeling ambitious either, partly because rain was coming and partly because we were just not ready to tackle a really tough ride yet.

Paul's Valley is a very attractive town, and the organizers put on a good ride. The T-Shirt is not
only good looking but really good quality. Breakfast on site included some of the best cinnamon rolls I've sampled in a long time, and pizza was served after the ride along with a good selection of cold drinks. Sag support was excellent - able to repair a brake hood issue for Shana about halfway through her ride and return her to us ready to continue.

The venue was really nice. We started from the old train depot. Registration and lunch were in a nearby gazebo and because the ride was a part of the annual Brickfest celebration we returned to booths, games and funnel cakes. I think these
should be served at every ride. I really enjoy the small town festivals. This one featured two raffles - one for a new car and the other for a restored 1953 Case tractor. There were also some animals from a nearby zoo - including an adorable baby goat.

The depot is a beautiful building and houses historical museum which was very interesting. There were all kinds of things to see from the important to the most mundane. One thing that caught my eye was an old sign for the White Waiting Room. Yankee that I am my first thought was that there had been waiting rooms of different colors at one time (white, blue...).

We had a great time and a challenging ride - the hills are long, rolling and numerous. Shana thought they might be slightly too numerous. We had the great fun of riding through Wynnewood on brick streets in pouring rain (later taking refuge under cover at Sonic). On the way out of town Shana and I stopped at Ballard's Drive In to sample a burger; our verdict was for the single the bun to meat ratio was not optimal, but the veggies were very fresh, the bun was very fresh, and the meat was well seasoned. It had lots of black pepper and was really tasty. The menu was long and classic old school Drive In with everything cooked to order.