Sunday, August 27, 2006

New pictures (boring ones)

The good news is pictures. The bad news is apparently also pictures. I got so exasperated at the lack of picture loading activity on Blogger that I have not take many lately.

The picture of apparently unrelated items is the contents of the "goodie bag" from Spin Your Wheels. The take depends on the event sponsors - this particular one included dental floss, toothpaste, a magnet and leash from our vet clinic, post-its, sunblock and a pen. The T-shirt for this one was cool, and I've seen them about town, and at the Hotter N Hell at Wichita Falls this weekend.

And now "news from the Hotter N Hell", subtitle: More Tales From Texas. This year there were 11,000 riders in the distance ride, with 70% signed up to ride 100 miles. I was signed up for 50 miles, but intended to try for 100K.

Shana and I drove down with everything we needed (unlike one of our friends who forgot her front wheel). Our room was already paid for and we proceeded without incident to the Expo, where we proceeded to sign in, get our numbers, and buy T-shirts (the freebie is not all that attractive. Comparison photos will appear on a subsequent entry. ) Dinner and an early night. So far so good. Next morning we have our breakfast on the walk in front of our rooms with our friends, load up the bikes, and head for the event.

As we arrived the Curse of Texas took effect. As I was unloading Shana's bike from the car I realized I had forgotten my gloves - and then realized that my helmet was also in the room. We had to go back and get them. And hurry! So we jumped in the car and as we proceeded down the street we heard a thump. From a glimpse of bicycle flying Shana though we had hit a cyclist (they were everywhere). Nope. I had failed to secure her bike on the car. It hit the street on the derailler side, and a cursory examination revealed that it would be unreadable until repairs could be performed. We picked it up off the ground, strapped it back on the car and went on to pick up the rest of our gear. Back to the hotel, back to the event, I get my bike off the car, with the plan that Shana will find a mechanic and still have time to fit in a 25 mile ride. A quick check of our equipment and we realize that Shana does not have her phone, which was probably on the car when we drove back to the hotel. I gave her my phone, and hustled to the start line. The ride started with the 100 mile riders, then 100K, then 50 mile, etc. I get to about the back side of the 50's before it's really more crowded than I like for a start, so I stop there, Our group is a 100 yards ahead, but as I was the only one doing the 100K I didn't worry about it (and really didn't need to).

I chatted with a man from Missouri until the ride started and we kept each other company for the first 200 yards or so, then we lost track of each other and I proceeded alone. At the first rest stop I applied sunblock from the first aid tent (I'd forgotten mine, of course) and as I was about to leave I met up with a couple of members of our group, who had waited to see me so they could tell Shana I got off all right. Our rides split about 100 yards from there, and I proceeded for the rest of my ride alone. There were almost always other cyclists in sight, some of the same ones I saw several times, on the road and at the stops. It was getting hotter. At 11:00 they closed "Hell's Gate", the point where a rider planning to ride the 100 miles must reach by 12:30 pm. The temperature and humidity were reaching dangerous levels, so the cyclists who got there later had to go an alternate (75 mile) route.

Warning: following two paragraphs may only be interesting to cyclists:

Most rides seem to start with a number of cyclists whose maintenance or road trip did not get their bike to the event in good shape. Those riders usually start dropping out within the first mile or two. They either change their tube, fix their problem, or call it a day and take the "sag wagon" in. This one was no different. By the second stop there was a rider in the medical tent waiting for an ambulance. By the third stop I was seeing a new rash of riders on the side of the road with tire problems and other issues. The third stop had run out of Powerade and Pickle Juice. The fourth stop had run out of ice (by this time I was wrapping a gob of ice in my bandana and typing it around my neck.) I waited for the ice to arrive. More riders were at the side of the road, and I was beginning to see the sag wagons pass. Instead of the pickup trucks and vans I usually see on organized rides they had pickup trucks (and in one case apparently a limo) pulling flatbed trailers. The fifth stop had run out of water earlier, but had received a fresh supply. They also had Powerade. I filled both bottles with half water and half Powerade. They also had salty snacks and Pickle juice. By this time no one had to come around offering icy wet paper towels. Everyone wanted them to wipe down and drape over their necks and heads. The routine I have worked out for long rides involves having half and half water and Powerade to start, and one glass of water and one of Powerade and one of water plus half a banana at every stop. When the third stop did not have any Powerade or Gatorade it threw me off. I compensated by having a glass of Pickle Juice and one of Powerade plus salty snacks and a banana. I was afraid of running out of salt and slipping into hyponatremia. I ran out of steam a mile before the sixth stop and pulled over for a rest. The route followed the turnpike on that leg, and there was a roadside rest with SHADE. Lots of us sat and visited in the shade for twenty minutes or so, watching the sag wagons go by. By this time they were passing fairly frequently absolutely crammed with riders who could not continue. Just another mile down the road was a rest stop with a nice big "shower" so we could all stand in the cool water and drop our body temperatures. The next stop only 5 miles out, at least one mile of which I was fighting painful leg cramps that I swear I would not have had if there had been Powerade at all the previous stops, then two miles to the finish. I was chanting "two more miles" for at least the last mile, I was so proud to finish.

Turns out the heat was record breaking, The bank temperature near the finish was reading 110, and out on the course in the 20 mile per hour wind right on the road it would have been higher. Lots of people were treated for hear exhaustion, heat stroke, hyponatremia, broken collarbones, heat rashes, etc. Some of my friends actually saw a tire on a bike at a rest area explode! At the beginning of the ride when you went to a rest stop all the bikes were laid out carefully or leaned against something (road bikes have no kick stands), but by the last couple of stops they were just thrown on the ground any old way.

On Sunday we watched some of the criterium racing, then headed for home. Halfway there we ran out of gas and literally drifted into a gas station on the fumes. That was the last of the Dallas Curse for this trip: Messed up bike, lost phone, missed ride and nearly ran out of gas.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

New monkey picture

This was meant to be the restful weekend before Hotter N Hell. Uh, no. Saturday I rode an easy 30 miles, then we had brunch guests until 4 pm, then a trip to the bike store. Jennifer did not arrive until midnight. No rest. Jennifer and I went to brunch and shopping, then came back to join the gang for another brunch. We hung out until 6. Shana had to run to the airport to pick up Aunt Rita and run her up to the Humps. I did make another monkey yesterday after we got home, but no crafty goodness yet today.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Still no pretty pictures?

Blogger does not want me to show any pictures today either. So disappointing! Apparently this is a problem they are having all over their system, so we will all be patient.

Tomorrow is Friday and while anyone could be forgiven for thinking I will be lounging about in splendid idleness they would be wrong. As soon As I get off work I am running over to the Humpries' to pick up Nancy's "do-list". Larry was still in the hospital today, so I promised to pick up the list and do anything written on it. I expect it might feature changing beds, dusting, watering in the yard, and possibly a quick run to the market for eggs and milk. Also I anticipate a "meals on wheels" request. If Larry is up to it there will definitely be cookies. There might be cookies anyway.

Then home to do my own housework. Typically for a busy week the state of the house is dire. I have an engagement later in the day, an "office warming" for a friend who is starting out on her own in the law. This will require a plant, so a trip to purchase the plant will be needed. I don't have anything suitable to divide at this time. Chances are very good that we will go out afterwards. So - housework must be done before I change to go.

Housework can't happen in the morning because I'm planning to ride to El Reno early in the day. We will probably start at 6:30 to beat the heat. Then apparently we are hosting brunch for the riders. Sample menu should include bacon for Cindi, cinnamon rolls for Di, and maybe a breakfast burrito buffet featuring fruit salad for everyone else. Coffee, tea, iced tea - and beer because we'll be headed out to the pool after. - Which means that I will have to do big pool cleaning because the two inches of rain we got in two hours left it looking like a mud hole.

Sunday would have been my lazy day, but Jennifer should be here. We were planning to out for brunch, but later we should be lazy by the pool. And I had better be, because the next weekend is HHH in Wichita Falls. We'll leave here on Friday and come back Sunday night. I wonder what the chances are of knitting an entire pair of socks on the road...I've got most of my list made, so we don't forget anything we'll need for our ride.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Spin Your Wheels

The Saturday Spin Your Wheels ride was good - my first 50 mile ride went well. Not too hot or hilly, not too flat and boring - a good time was had by all. I finished before noon (just) and was able to keep a good steady pace. Except for one stretch where I ran out of water I think I was spinning along pretty smoothly. The middle stretch had about 10 miles of hills, and my experiences at Norman Conquest once again stood me in good stead. The only thing that kinda bugs is that in spite of this (tremendous, epic) ride I did not lose an ounce last week. When I weighed in at Weight Watchers I was right where I had been the week before. BOO.

The purple argyle sock monkey is done. Too bad Blogger does not want to load up my pictures tonight so the crafty goodness can be appreciated. Another time, I guess.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday returns at last!!

I'm a little burned out with work at the moment. I think it will pass, as it always does. I think it's summer, and wishing that I had the summers free as I did when I was in school. Those long, hot days full of possibility... I have such lovely memories of being outside all day. I think that is probably why I still enjoy the outdoors more than anything else. So far Google has not turned up Lake Plata or what I think was called Hudson Lake, but I have found lots of other information. It seems that the woods I roamed as a kid is still there as a park. I looked at the satellite picture from Google, and in a way it looks the same. The street I used to live on has been plagued by flooding from the overflowing Tinker's Creek.

More crafty goodness this week. The zebra socks are done at last. Shana and I are not in agreement over these. I think animal prints are always in style; she thinks they are an excrescence of the 80's. I did find the socks a bit aggravating in progress. They were knit on size 0 double points & 64 stitches, 4x1 rib. Not a fast knit, and I tore them back three times and changed the needle size and ribbing to avoid some really ugly pooling. The stripey sock monkey only lasted a few hours at the office. Not only did it sell almost instantly, but when Tracey bought it she said that if I'd make up a few more by September 8 she'd put them on her table at a local crafts fair. She liked the whimsical look of this one and thinks they would sell quickly and draw a bit more traffic to her jewelry. I told her we could split the profits if they sold. So now I am in full on sock monkey mode. Not that I have a lot of extra time, as it's still big time bike season. Still, I think I can get half a dozen ready to go without actually losing my mind. I picked up some cute socks at Ross - lavender argyle and some bright ribs that I think will make up nicely in the whimsical mode and I still have three pair of grey and red hiking socks plus one monkey in grey already made up and dressed. I did have to buy a bag of assorted buttons, as my personal button jar is not stocked well enough for the project. I need to hit some estate sales & thrift stores & pick up some buttons. They are surprisingly expensive to buy a few at a time.

Tomorrow is Spin Your Wheels, where I will do my first 50 mile ride. I've picked up our packets already. The T Shirts are cool, and the goodie bag has some useful stuff. I'll post a picture of the contents with the after ride recap. My bicycle buddy from the office and I have rehashed my situation from last week where I was unable to complete my ride, and we have come to the conclusion that I got my electrolytes depleted. I had started the ride with water only. Usually I start out a long ride with half and half water and Powerade. I will not be making that mistake tomorrow. I think this was a massive thrill for Kevin, who loves to play authority. Since he has more experience than I in endurance rides I think it's a good trade. I have a treasure trove of GU in our favorite flavor, some Enervitene gel in Cola flavor, which Kevin assures me is the good one, and some Clif Shot Blocks, in cran-razz which are sort of like gummy worms for athletes. Each of the products has a slightly different combination of sugars, vitamins, and electrolytes. There will be food and fruit at the rest stops, so I might not use all of my ride snacks. Depends on the temperatures, though. When it's really hot sometimes real food upsets my stomach after the first 20 miles. Tonight I'll check out the bikes and make sure they are good to go. Tomorrow we'll need to leave before 7 am & I know from experience we will not have time for maintenance, except for checking tire pressure.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What a difference a year makes. One picture was taken last September at the Bricktown Streak, the other was taken today. The difference is about 30 lbs. The difference is also six months of Weight Watchers, twice a week yoga, a daily hour of walking, and several months of cycling. Yesterday I rode 46.6 miles, next Saturday I'll ride 50 miles for Spin Your Wheels . When the 2005 Bricktown Streak picture was taken I had just finished my first ever cycling event. It was 30 miles, and the farthest I had ever ridden. It was such an exciting accomplishment. Shana and I both felt so proud of ourselves, and were feeling really fit and buff. Turn out we looked more like the Michelin Man. We were just stunned when we saw the pictures. I'm not on the desirable weight charts yet, but I'm getting really close. The 2005 Bricktown Streak picture also includes Shana's Aunt Rita, and Larry Humphries' skinny legs. Nancy and Larry had brought Rita downtown to see us finish the ride. It was so nice to have them support our efforts. We have gotten encouragement for our cycling all along the way from family and friends, and have been fortunate enough to meet a great group of cyclists who have encouraged us to push ourselves to get faster and stronger.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Deadline Day

Desperate times at the office. For some reason everyone was having a hellish month, and today was the last day for input. I left at 6:45, missing my yoga class, and I was not the last to leave. I did finish - tomorrow will tell if I have made a mess of it. My brain hurts!

On a happier note, pictured above is the Creatures of the Reef shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting , in white JaggerSpun Zephr. This is my first lace shawl, and I am very proud of the results. Fiddlesticks is great to work with, ships promptly, and responds to email questions immediately. The pattern was terrific, very detailed charts, easy to follow, and the results are beautiful. I put off starting it for weeks because I had terrible Fear of Charts, but once started it was not bad. It helps that the charts were so big and detailed. Because every section changes there were a lot of charts. I am having more trouble with another, simpler shawl with a very small chart that repeats. The problem I am having is that it is to be triangular, starting from a few stitches at the neck. Increasing and adding motifs is not quite intuitive for me (yet). Perseverence will win in the end, I'm sure. When I finish that, and the Kimono Shawl from Folk Shawls I have my eye on the Fiddlesticks Peacock Feathers Shawl. Wendy Johnson knit one last year and it was gorgeous. I happen to have a giant skein of laceweight teal merino that would knit up nicely in that pattern.

Alex is moving this weekend - he's taking furniture from his dad's house today, and getting his other stuff over the weekend. He should be coming by tonight for some clothes. I imagine I will see him regularly on laundry day. He has been anxious to try life on his own. I hope things go well for him. I'm sure he'll learn plenty. He's known the boy he's moving in with since 6th grade, so there shouldn't be too many surprises for anyone.

This weekend should see the end of the Zebra Socks (the same ones that met the Yarn Harlot!), so I should have a picture of them up soon. I am almost to the heel in the purple Dancing socks. Saturday I need to try a 40 mile ride, and Sunday will be another triathalon. I don't know where that one is, but the purple sock will surely be going.