Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting to the start of the Pan Mass Challenge by way of Salt Lake City

In a few days I will be embarking on the road trip of a lifetime. I will be driving with my oldest and youngest sons to Salt Lake City to spend just under a month interning with a coach that I consider a mentor while my youngest, Chris trains. I will also be trying to fit in my own training for a ride that will take place on the other side of my trip, The Pan Mass Challenge. In August, I will travel back east, foregoing home, to start my 192 mile pedal across the state of MA. This road trip to Sturbridge, Ma will be 5 weeks long and cover many miles at all kinds of altitudes and interesting scenery.  The anticipation is, well, a bit overwhelming.

We will be kicking off our trip with a going away party of sorts. A New England Supper (fish chowder, baked beans, hot dogs, a slew of salads and some killer deserts like my dear friend Chris's ice box cake. Chris is a RI native living in Dennison, TX and I know he would be here helping me pull this off if he were here, only we would probably be having a lobster bake on a beach in RI instead. We will also have a 50/50, some door raffle prizes, as well as an auction of my latest work. Here is a sampling:

100% of what we take in at this party will benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, specifically the Sunflowers For Life Fund at the Jimmy Fund. This is a fund dedicated to research and support of Pediatric Brain and Spinal cancers. Regular readers of this blog often here me speak of a dear artist friend named Steve. This fund was set up by his family as a memorial to their son/brother Jared who lost his battle against spinal cancer on September 27, 2005. I am riding in honor/memory of Jared, and Jimmy, and my cousin Mark, who lost his own battle with brain cancer a few years ago, leaving a young daughter behind. I am also riding because I have witnessed first hand how awesome a place Dana Farber is this spring, when my mom was treated for lung cancer. Its a cutting edge, progressive, treat the whole patient (which includes the family) place.

If you are around on July 1st at 7PM come join us at the lake from 7-11! 
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We are asking for a minimum donation of 20/person or 50/family payable to the PMC. 
Feel free to contribute to the food or raffle prizes if you'd like. It will be a great way to start off your JULY 4th weekend!

I went out for a ride today after Chris and I spent the morning running around gathering a few items for out journey. We even found a new Farmers Market today, which is much bigger than the one we usually frequent and only another 4 miles down the road. I won't travel more than 15 miles (or what I feel comfortable pedaling home with produce on my back) for a farmers market, and this one fits that criteria. I also waited for him to finish his first conference call with US Speedskating so we could talk while what he heard was fresh. I left the house at 4PM  taking a route I haven't taken in a long while. I think its because it has a really annoying climb on it that is just over a mile long on a really busy road with a crappy shoulder. I forgot how much I really like this 23 mile route. It has a good deal of up and down, though something tells me I have not seen anything yet, and it is pretty. Its funny though,  a good deal (1/3) of this route is travel on the North County Trailway and while its nice to get off the road, it is also too predictable and the coach in me would compare it to using machines in the gym instead of opting for the free-weights. In other words I have a bit of a guilt trip going whenever I opt for the ride through the park. HOWEVER, when its not crowded, like today, it allows me to complete some long intervals. I ride to the corner of 35/100 and from there I complete the 4 mile TT route set by TNT then I pedal another 2 miles to the path and bolt again for another 3 miles I cross Hanover and 35/202/118 and bolt 2 miles to Granite Springs Rd...I keep this sprint relax thing going until about 2 miles from home, which leaves me time to cool down a bit before climbing the monster of a hill we decided to perch our house on.

Here are a few pics as well: ( I included my dinner shots too- Chris and I went to the farmers market today and got the bread from Whole G (a German bakery in New Haven, Ct). It is a triangular loaf of whole rye. I enjoyed a slice with tuna and organic tuscan kale (from Taliaferro Farms in New Paltz, NY)  


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

No one can make you happy or angry...

Redhead Riter  tweets "No one can make you happy or angry. Only you are in control of those emotions" I am instantly drawn to something I read yesterday about peri-menopausal mood swings (which for some is like PMS on steroids) or even MADNESS. Yes, I was doing some investigative reporting as to why I was falling apart over a stupid trailer hitch.  Apparently, according to this one article I read, the reason why some women suffer mood swings is because they were overly sensitive to begin with and that they should just learn to suck it up. To go on, it stated that middle-aged women are out of touch or not accepting of their own feelings about being an old woman. If they just learned to deal with that...HAH that had to be something a MAN wrote! Mess with his testosterone levels, oh wait a minute...I bet you the guy that wrote that couldn't deal with his own drop in hormone levels, balding head (sorry Kenny) and lust for those pretty young thangs. OK, I will play nice, after all as the Redhead said I am the one in control of my emotions. (tehehe)

We have this copy of Notes and Lectures on the American Practice of Medicine, which is basically a physicians desk reference from 1855, and the last bit of text in that book deals with HYSTERIA. One of the treatments was tonics of quinine every 6 hours. I'll take mine with some plymouths or heck even beefeaters will do. Skip the tonic, don't need all that sugar anyway. (OH, I feel happy already)

Getting older is something I accept whole-heartedly. I have found ways to deal with some of the symptoms of this excruciatingly slow and agonizing process of loosing my ability to contribute another life to this planet. Quite frankly, after contributing four wonderful beings to the population tally I think I have done enough in that department. I just hate the memory and focus issues. I think its mostly because I am so on the fly on all of the time that I hate the thought of making lists. Besides if I can't keep track of my thoughts how the hell am I going to keep track of that piece of paper? Back when Justin was an only child I remember watching someone dear to me look for her glasses for 4 days straight when she was about my age, they were on her head the whole time. Sadly, despite not understanding that then, I can relate to it now.

I now know that when I spend the evening dancing and jumping around like a toddler, I wake up feeling like my insides are about to drop to my knees! This morning, my back really hurts. My mood however, is so much better, like that of a 20 year old, but then again my back is screaming TAKE something  and take it NOW. I am actually contemplating running my errands in this heat with the seat heater on (I did it didn't work). I give up. Its happened. I guess I am an OLD WOMAN ... complete with all the interference. I even forgot to go to the post- office and home depot despite being by both of those places.

Back trauma or not,  LAST NIGHT WAS WAY COOL! Kenny bought those tickets as a 24th anniversary present over a month ago, it was well worth the wait. As we were leaving the park he said happy anniversary to me. This couple in front of us caught wind of it and were so interested in the whole concept of concert tickets for an anniversary present. They wanted to know how many years, and wished us a happy anniversary. I have to admit it was one of the best presents. (XOXO)

I was so glad to see my friend  Melanie too. Melanie YOU better call me when something this wonderful comes along!



My day started with the annoying (although very cute) cat launching stuff off my night stand trying to make sure that I wasn't late for work. She is such an effective alarm clock that knows the M-F routine, but she not great at keeping school calendars. My first day off in 10 months where I had planned to sleep in, could have slept in, wanted to sleep in and I had stuff flying at my head at 6:45. At least she was patient enough to give me that extra 1.5 hours. Did she panic? She didn't want to go outside. In anycase, I am one of those sleepers that can't go back to sleep once I am up, nor can I nap during the day. With all bets off I ambled upstairs and sat there like the vegetable I felt like for a good 30 minutes before moving. I eventually had the pleasure of Chris making me coffee before he raided the fridge to pack lunch for him and his beach buddies. They spontaneously decided at 6:30 AM to go to Jones Beach. I have to admit it was a great day and as my day played out I wish I had thought of that.

I got around to reading my e-mails, blogs and other techno-garble. Kelly's post this morning got me thinking about my own stupid INbox, my house, the EVEREST of laundry, the half packed pile of gear, the list of things that are a must and I started to get flustered, cold hard sweat actually. My sorry, fly- by-the -seat of my pants self had a reality check moment. YIKES I have SO much to do.

First things first, the bike rack. You see, I had all my ducks in a row for the past couple of weeks. I have been gathering the essentials and with the new car, the Bones rack was not going to cut it, I had nothing to lock it to. Not that I felt someone would actually STEAL the rack of the car but with 7K worth of ride on that back who wants to take that chance. To remedy my situation I decided to forgo the original 250. for a hitch installation and opt for the do-it your damn self version, afterall we are paying a boat-load of money for our son to be a mechanic right? I ordered the hitch and the rack from E-trailer with expedited shipping the day after I picked up the car from the dealer. The hitch and rack came 3 days later, YAY. Then while I was out for a ride, so I couldn't watch the suspenseful install of the hitch,  my wonderful son Mikey lays out all his tools, goes and buys the few he doesn't have and proceeds to get ready to install the rack. He unpacks the box, takes out the directions, reads them, supports the exhaust, lowers the mufflers, removes the plugs, drills the holes only to find out that there a parts missing. OK, I know he should have laid them all out first, but hey, you have done things that way too I am sure. I mean who expects that?  So I call the company and they assure me that the parts will be shipped by Monday which is today. Mikey will not be available this week to finish this so we are off to plan B. Can Cap City install a hitch for us that we supply? Of course, but they need the original hardware. I have an appointment for Thursday. I call e-trailer (remember them) to ask them to EXPEDITE the shipping, hah...3 hours and 3 people later I finally find out they haven't even shipped it yet? What? Really? All this for a stupid bag of bolts, shims, and other stuff that should have been there in the first place. I paid for express shipping to begin with and then I get the brush off when it comes to customer service for missing parts? NOTE TO SELF, don't order from them again! Finally, someone listened. Maybe it was the post on FB? Maybe someone caught the mention? Maybe it was my e-mail to the company? Something happened that seemed to get things moving. I should have it Wednesday. I HOPE? If not, I will buy a new hitch from cap city and return this one.

In this time frame I conquered most of Everest, until I ran out of detergent and patience. Why do boys have to be so STINKY? I know they should be doing their own laundry, and honestly, they do help with that most of the time, but hey, I was home. Now my bed looks like the desert of southern Utah, hopefully someone else will take care of moving those pillars before I actually lay my head down tonight?

I cleaned other things too, I was on a roll, aggravated, tired (which I didn't fully realize until Jon sent me a note that said LSD and all I could conjure up were images of Timothy Leary instead of the long steady distance he was referring to) Maybe my workout yesterday was trying to tell me something? I have procrastinated all day. Then Kelly tweets about this blog and I am hysterical laughing. How is it that someone yo don't know at all can peg your current sentiments about life, unwittingly of course. In anycase the laughter did me some good. I was in full meltdown with Kenny on the phone over a stupid trailer hitch. It was 2PM, I hadn't showered, I hadn't ridden, I hadn't really eaten (unless you count a salad for breakfast), I was cranky, my day escaped me? From the other side of this equation, the laundry got done and 2 bathrooms got cleaned, the dishes got washed, my ceramics syllabus for next year got completed and I managed to organize some of my gear for the trip. All that was left was to head out to the concert. Thats if we can figure out where we put the stupid tickets!

Kenny and I get to The Ives Center fairly early, find a spot on the lawn for the time being, our seats were in the sun. We sat under this tree people watching, sharing a bottle of wine, and listening to the opening act, an indie band called Bronze Radio Return. I have heard them before and actually like them. Kenny? Lets just say the jury is still out. We decided to take our seats just as Grace Potter took the stage. We are on the isle, but there is this guy next to me who is skinnier then Kenny taking up both his own and half of my seat. Kenny and I move our chairs over a bit (we were almost out in the isle) and the guy takes up even more space. He was so annoying. He had a really nice DSLR and was using the room between the head in front of the two of us to get clear shots of the stage. When we made more room he used it for more shooting space. Kenny and I spotted Alani taking pictures along the isle. I followed her back to say hello to Melanie (her mom/myfriend) who was standing just behind the handicap accessible area. We hung out talking for a bit then spent the next two hours dancing non stop. Grace Potter was great, not her usual club blasting self, but still enjoyable. The show stopper however was Michael Franti. He is definitely a MUST SEE in an outdoor venue. Dances with audience? In this case he was even out of the reserved seating and on the lawn on more than one occasion. Not much more to say other than we had a blast! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

I just wasn't into it

My workout yesterday was one I really looked forward to: ride, dryalnd, ride but for some reason after getting off the bike at the Quinnipiac fields and delving into that first set of low-walks I realized I was not feeling it. Maybe I just needed to be persistent? By the 5 set of low walks my body was in pain but not that welcome burn I was expecting. It was more of a tightness almost as if my muscles refused to stretch THAT WAY at that moment. I wasn't overly sore from the day before. I wasn't winded or tired. I just wasn't feeling it. On to the next exercise, 5 sets of a static medley, and the next a turnstep medley, same thing, nothing in them legs. Geez, screw it! I decided to blow off the rest of this part of my day even abs didn't work out so well. So I waited for Chris to finish up his work. It was actually fun to pay attention to him without interfering in his work. We eventually said our goodbyes, hoped on the bike and were off and riding. Chris even drove home. 

Off on the bike soon. Concert tonight at the Ives Center! Michael Franti and Grace Potter.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What a rabid raccoon does for the adrenaline rush

 I decided to amble on my bike today. I had this area in mind I wanted to explore. I wanted to stay out until I was tired. I wanted to get lost. I headed out towards Ridgefield, CT with circling Lake Mamanasco my first order of business. My former colleague lives on that lake and I never knew it was there until I drove him home the other day. I wanted to ride around it on a bike to get a feel for the neighborhood. His house is for sale btw.
After exploring this lake I went by Seth Low Pierrepont State Park. I eventually found myself on the Danbury North Salem line, and climbing a stupid hill that rivaled HILLTOP and hurt just as much. Funny thing, right before getting to the Hilltop turn off I ran into, and got chased by, a rabid raccoon. I didn't see him sitting on the edge of the road. It was the raised back, hissing and growling that got me to notice. He lunged for me just as I turned to avoid him. I almost fell. I stopped a safe distance away, called 911 and reported his presence as he staggered into a yard that had obvious signs of children living there. I went on my way to find a deer watching me from a ridge on the other side of the road. As hilltop approached my adrenaline was surging from that encounter and I almost made that decision to climb. I was only a few miles in and I did not want to expend everything I had just yet. So on I went. I think I had a senior moment when I turned up Ridgebury road though. I knew there was a hill that rivaled the steepest ones around here. I have ridden down that sucker more times than I could count. There is a  Revolutionary War battlefield at the top. Chris and I learned about this a few years ago when my friend Deej (A history teacher) showed this and a bunch of other historic places as we traced the route of the British Raiders from Compo Beach to Danbury. I wanted to see this place again. I think it was just a destination that was not my normal route. I was fleeing the boredom of training alone. Remember, I said I was ambling, I was turning on roads I had not really ever been on when I could but staying with the familiar at times too. I did stop to check my GPS once when  I had this fear that Chestnut Hill road was dropping me back into the valley I just came out of and I didn't want a double wall in 30 minute day. After coming out on Dingle Ridge I made the turn for home as the sky was looking kind of ominous. I had the pleasure of having a woman in a car push me into a deep pothole on Dingle Ridge in front of the entrance to 121. As I felt myself about to be launched over my handlebars my instinct told me to relax ( I also had an audience and was afraid I would kill the guy standing there if I actually did go end over end, his best chance was my body being relaxed). This SAVED me. I managed to escape but the handle bar slammed my collar bone pretty hard on my right side (that is going to leave a mark). I managed to stay upright so I didn't need to get off the bike. The guy made some interesting sound effects (think Most Extreme Elimination) The driver of course became more nervous and now really refused to go around me, even at the stop sign that was 50 ft from the pothole. I waited there a good 3 minutes waving her on before deciding that we might be there all day. I made the left onto 121 and when I turned right onto Bloomer Road she was still riding my rear wheel (as if I was pulling a damn paceline). She eventually went by me around the golf course,  not that my waving really helped. The rest of my ride was kind of uneventful and I made it home just as the rain started which was a bonus. I have embeded the 26.4 mile route stats- check it out by clicking on the tabs. Onward and upward (I will ride this again but I will include Hilltop and All View, maybe even Brewster Hill just to add to the pain). Tomorrow? Chris and I hit the Farmington Canal for a 10 mile pedal to a 2 hour dryland workout before heading the 10 miles back to the car.

Monday, June 20, 2011

give her a new toy and smiles all around

There was some question about my road bike and whether it would be ready to ride by last weekend. Thursday came and went, Tim informed me that he was having trouble getting a 10 speed Ultegra 12x25 Cassette because its a Japanese company. I was a wreck!!! Friday I got the call, but at that point I had decided that it was more important to make plans to work out with company than hoping that my road bike was done. Alison and I decided to ride the ridge, despite her not ever riding off road or even owning a mtn bike. After we made plans, we both furiously looked for a ride. I found a few, but Tim offered me the shop loaner so I took it. Saturday morning I headed to the ridge with 2 bikes on the rack, the sunroof and windows open and the tunes cranked. It was a beautiful day!
We just made it into the park in time to get a spot up top. We were off and riding in no time. At first there was the cautious I cannot believe how much of a workout this is, this lasted all of about 10 minutes. When we hit the first puddle and it was all over and forget about the views or the hawks buzzing the cliffs that just added to it, Alison was hooked! She hadn't ridden like that since she was a kid!

Yesterday? We did a family workout in Hamden. CT. A dryland workout that is resonating with all three of us today (Chris, Kenny and I). It HURT. Afterwards we headed to Griff's Chicken Shack for dinner. So much for working out (jumbalya, chicken fingers, fries) but hey it was father's day and Kenny was with us.

Needless to say, today I was sore. I went out for an easy spin with Chris. We concentrated on low gears and high leg speeds, trying beyond reason to flush the junk from our legs. It was nice to get out with him for a change. It was also endearing to have him coach me through dryland yesterday in front of the rest of the club.

Don't forget July 1 is our fundraiser for the PMC. It will be held at the clubhouse at 7PM.

Today Caroline (a neighbor) left a stuffed Kermit on my front stoop. I offered to trade her a cup for the stuffed animal, she declined. I am so thankful for the support. Thank you Caroline!

Thanks about all for now other than getting ready to drive west. See you all soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I somehow convinced myself after Tuesday's run and last night's dryland that I would love to get back into the rhythm of my former, couldn't keep weight on, nothing white, no sugar, no alcohol (only after a really long 80 plus mile ride) type of summer. I wanted to get back into the be addicted to working out place I was 5 years ago. Then today hit, after a restless night from overdoing the dryland and the road bike not being ready because of the lack of parts (anywhere), I feel like I am behind on training, and the fact that I am in deep for this ride (I have so much fundraising to do that doesn't seem to be happening) and I am freaked out about it all. Near tears actually. At least I had enough sense to know that some of this is signs of over doing it this week in terms of workouts and I did take a rest day, but still, I am feeling like Karma is playing a trick on me. I guess tomorrow is a new day? Hopefully then my bike will be done?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I can breath...

I spent the last three weeks thinking the worst. It started when I inhaled some food. The discharge instructions I got that night were to make a follow up appointment if I didn't feel better in 5 days unless that is we call you. Well, they called, and called, and called...then when I finally made an appointment and had to change it I got an earful about how my health was much more important than a meeting. There was some concern over some nodules that I knew I had. It appeared that they had changed. WHOA, really 3 days will make a difference? I was speechlessly nervous, beyond words actually, couldn't talk about it but resolved that if it was anything I would go see my mom's doctors at Dana Farber. Having a plan of action calmed me down enough to exist.
I got there on Friday, fearing the worst. I was told when I made the appointment to expect to have it take most of the day for testing. My BP was up, my wheezing from allergies was bad, I had hives too. I was the last in the waiting room to arrive an the first to be seen. Were they that concerned?
My mom and my friend Pete were at home sitting vigil. I wouldn't let anyone join me, so Kenny, despite not wanting to, went to work. Everyone was on edge. Planning on how to offer support if needed. Then it happened. I see the doctor and before he listens to my chest, he is confused. Why am I there? He is thinking maybe whatever I inhaled a few weeks prior is causing an infection because I am wheezing and my O2 level was down a bit from normal. As soon as we discuss my cat scans, he understands that most of my wheezing is being caused by stress as it suddenly dissipates, my face looks less stressed, and my color returns . The nodules have not changed, there is no real need for me to be there otherwise. The message he had left his staff was exactly that, call her and tell her that everything is fine, no need for concern. So I spent 3 weeks of my life freaking out over a secretarial mistake. Imagine if I had a heart condition?


The rest of the day was spent with my mom and Pete. We went for Pizza then to the lake. We got nostalgic. We talked about changes to the neighborhood, the things we used to do as kids, the ice cream man, the docks, the stupid pranks. We talked about Maine, my trip to SLC, and ideas for fundraising for the PMC. We watched a kid pull a bull frog out of the reeds, the biggest frog I have seen in awhile (wish I had taken that picture). It was the size of an 8 year old boy's forearm and took two hands to grasp. He was beautiful and the kids marveling at him were even more incredible, they were careful with him and eventually released him when they were done studying him. Remember what it was like to be a kid and interact with some form of wild-life like a frog, a toad, a crab, tadpoles, salamanders, or even the occasional baby bird? Shortly afterwards Pete and I went to pick Kenny up from the train station, Chris was driving. He stopped to let a turtle cross the road. I got out to make sure the turtle got off the road completely and realized they can run, fast. On the way back up the turtle was still trying to make its way through a fence and was headed back into the road. I got out again and took him to a break in the fence to release him into the underbrush, he launched himself immediately upon contact with the ground. A very satisfying moment.

What about training?

I finally got my bike to Tim yesterday. It needs a new drive train; chain rings, cassette and chain. I had apparently ridden a bunch more than I had thought I had. I usually pay attention to my mileage and have a good idea about when I need to do those overhauls. I lost track this time. Oh well, better fixing it here instead of a few weeks from now when I am out west. So I have been out on my mountain bike for the past week. Today I took it out on one of my normal road rides, and quite honestly with the 29" tires I could ride almost as fast BUT I felt like I was pulling a cement filled truck tire behind me especially when climbing. I saw plenty of interesting things this morning too, an oriole, a bluebird, a few turkey vultures doing what turkey vultures do, a slew of deer, a flock of swans who spit at me for stopping to take a picture. I also spooked to horses despite being cautious about coming up on them. Thank God the event didn't toss their riders. I saw a woman with two dogs who couldn't understand why I was out on the road with a ride suited for the woods? Come to think about it, I think I am asking myself the same thing? As for riding in the woods, after the last beating I think I don't want to ride single-track alone anymore. I am getting too gutsy for my own ability because I have this desire to improve my skills. I think the technical stuff should be done with company, just in case.

I really can't wait to get my road bike back though. I lent my spare to a kid who has the courage to ride the PMC as a teenager. This morning I was debating that Karma decision as I worked twice as hard to go half as far. I hope her training is going well. I hope she is enjoying the ride and taking notice of the many cool things along the way.

Song that has been running through my head as I ride lately:

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I just spent an hour...

I have to keep reminding my self that its OK to feel what I feel sometimes, mountainous exhaustion. I am after all an artist, a wife, the mother of four kids, and a HS art teacher that is desperately in need a better sense of humor, or  maybe just for the year to come crashing to an abrupt halt so I can be done with teenage angst for a few minutes. Oh wait, I still have one of those at home. He is 17 going on that age just before nesting sets in, the listen to everything loud, except me of course, stay up too late and have momentary lapses of  the pre-frontal cortex kind of thing, all of this despite having an intense desire (and focus) to make it as a speedskater. To think I have to ride across country with him this summer. This rant was spun out of my desire to work out as hard as he does, and being jealous of my lack of time and energy. 

My day started  at 5 AM with a mountain of tasks to accomplish before 2:05, my first thoughts this morning were if I just had an hour:

* an hour to work on an article that I have been working on for weeks now. Its just not quite right yet. It needs more substance and less bourbon.

* an hour to grade student work uninterrupted by plastic crisis', gossip, or even some other administrative task.

* an hour to prepare annual reports for a meeting that is happening directly after school.

* an hour in my studio without my head getting in the way.

* an hour to sit and plan my trip to SLC. OK, this might need more than an hour, but a good honest uninterrupted sixty minutes might actually help get things going. I need to find hockey skates, a 60 CM road bike, and figure out how to pack my cycling gear for the PMC so that I don't need to stop home in August before going to MA.

* an hour to figure out just how I am going to raise all that money for the PMC? YIKES!!!

* an hour to procrastinate about working out so that I can still get in as much as I had planned on.

* an hour to just sit and talk to my kids, or Kenny, or my mom, or Kelly, or Alison, or Pete for that matter, no phones, no texting, no electronics, no distractions.

* how about an hour to just sit, though I am not sure I can do that, or if I ever have done that?

I budgeted an hour for a meeting after school. It took two. I had budgeted 2 hours on the bike and took only one. How did that happen?

In that hour on the bike I contemplated big life questions such as my recent love affair with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fridays at the Met are intoxicating, for some literally. The people that go to the museum at night are different than the people who make their way through by day. It is almost as if its a who's who want to be seen kind of thing. There is live music and what seems to be a happy hour of sorts in a variety of corners of the place, the young professional wanna be jet-setters on the roof, while the actual jet setters are in the restaurant listening to live chamber music, then there is the quieter wine bar crowd, who seem to be there to enjoy a light dinner out while in the midst of visual overload, this is truly a contemplative crowd. It made me wonder in that cavernous place, just how many artist's lives were being changed forever, how many were there just to say they did something slightly intellectual, and how many were there to people watch. How much BS was dished out about aesthetics for that matter? And, just what was going on on the other side of the museum, in the Egyptian wing while I was in the Greek wing, not digging for headlines here just wondering, was there someone like me, a kid in a candy store re-discovering why I am an artist again and again as if it were the first time tasting some sweet heavenly morsel. And? Was there someone like me, wondering why the Alexander McQueen show was as popular as the Gates were? Yes, it was a great show, but do that many people really know what the significance of the collection is? Will it ever be quiet enough to view and contemplate rather than try to crane over the woman in the Manolo Blahniks's that despite being able to afford a McQueen, doesn't understand the aesthetic quality because she is just trying to keep up with her neighbors, the Jones' who just happen to had a personal invite from McQueen to dinner.

In that hour I thought about how my road bike is acting up. All the things it could be. All the things I hope it is not. I can't afford to hemorrhage more cash or the time to get it up to Tim to fix it?

In that hour I thought about what I was going to write about and if it all would make sense. I also forgot about what I was going to write about so now none of it makes sense.

In that hour I thought about nothing too. I took a mental break, which is why I love riding so much. In that hour I was in heaven just meditating.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A picture of the last week:


I have been neglecting my blog lately. I think I have had 14 hour days 4-5 days a week for the last 2 months and trying to write as well as work as well as train has been incredibly mind boggling. Sometimes training has been left by the wayside to get other stuff done or because I am too damn tired or stressed. Don't get me wrong I have been able to meet the 4 days a week on the bike rule, just feel like I am a bit behind where I should be. OK, that is the end of my whining.

So what has been up lately? After my meet up ride on the mtn bike I basically had to take a week off, I looked like I had stood on a turntable point blank in front of a pitching machine set at 100 mph. I was covered in hematomas that made riding a bit too uncomfortable. I was itching to get out there though.

In that time Kenny and I headed to the Blue Ridge to see Anna and my oldest friend Joanne and her husband Mark. I find it kind of interesting that my daughter is living about 35 miles from them. When she was little (about 4) she used to tell me that she was going to live in Va near Sammy (J and M's youngest son). She loved that area. We had a great time. One thing we got to do is relax, a lot! We mostly stayed about the house in Piney River but took a side trip to Roanoke to see Joanne's sisters and their family then there was that one special trip to see Kevin Crowe at Tye River Pottery . Kevin was having an open studio sale last weekend. The funny thing is that he is good friends with my friend Joanne but he is also great friends with my friend Steve. Joanne has never met Steve and yes its one of those really small world phenomena that you always hear about (6 degrees of separation, however in this case I feel like its 2). I bought a teapot and came home envious of this elusive form, but that is another story.

I also had an interesting visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week. I love Friday nights. They are open until 9. This time I met Arnie there. We went to the Alexander McQueen show, which of course was way to crowded to enjoy, then meandered into the Richard Serra show, and spent a great deal of time contemplating the work. We then headed to the roof in search of seeing Anthony Caro's work and a drink. The roof was so crowded, like it was the new hotspot to meet after work. We bailed to the wine bar, sat and drank martini's while we discussed art and influences. I was glued to my seat as he indulged me in his adventures as a young clay artist. He worked as an apprentice at 17 for Phylis Hammond, a local sculptor and he also headed to England to find a pottery to work in before going off to art school. What an incredibly inspiring gap year. We eventually went off in search of a burger before heading home. I really love hanging out with Arnie. He motivates me to work. Watch soon for a feature article.

This past week, I rode a bit, but the one ride I would really like to elaborate on was the ride I took on Thursday. I had a headache all day, migraine in fact. It was one of those really long days too. At 5PM I was still at school but I had enjoyed a conversation with a colleagues daughter who is currently training for the Lake Placid Ironman. We talked riding, and hill training, and KEELER. Keeler is this road that is between North Salem and Ridgefield, CT that has this incredible pitch, similar to one of the climbs in the high peaks just not as long. It was a place that Bud and I used to ride until the pain would eat us up and then go back for more. I remember this one time when I came up with this killer hill training route, 45 miles with a serious climb (longer than a mile, steeper than 12%, with pitches of 18%) every 2. When we went to test it out, we rode up this driveway to look at the view. I was so nervous we would be caught that I didn't enjoy it. Then, to turn the tables, a week later we rode to New Paltz just so I could return the favor. We caught it on top of Mountain Crest Road heading down towards Accord. Wow, I was pining to be in that kind of shape again and to ride that route, or at least a good part of it. At 6PM I headed out, pumped to at least try some of those climbs, first one, Bogtown, then Delancey, then Guinnea, but I left Keeler Lane for another time. I knew I wasn't ready for that one. I returned home 25 miles later with my headache gone and my resolve renewed. I marveled at how I could still climb despite being close to 50 lbs heavier than I was when I was riding with Bud. The intriguing thing, they didn't hurt as much as I thought they would. I remembered a time, when I first started to get back into riding, 18 years ago, when Pete and I would escape the world. I couldn't ride up any of these hills. I had to get off and walk 1/2 way up. There is something to be said for muscle memory.

It was with this thought that I left my house this morning. I wanted to see just what I had in me, so I went off to find 2 things, some hills and some unseen territory. I found myself meandering along Star Ridge, then I thought about Brewster Hill Road, another climb that used to kill me. I headed in that direction and came to a fork in the road...hmm...Tonetta Lake Rd...which way should I go? Up Brewster Hill? Around the hill, which is still up, just not as long? I took left at the fork onto Tonetta Lake Rd. and as I started to climb, there was this building with a sign on it which read Breath... How ironic. How inspiring. How incredibly motivating. As I rode along I was finding myself so happy to be out there training. After about 35 miles I made the turn for home, down the path where I expected to encounter some cyclists and walkers with no trail etiquette, after all, it was a bright sunny Sunday. Usually this is random groups of families that really don't understand that a trail is like a roadway. Quite honestly though this is a great place to get kids used to riding longer distances as well as have quality family time. I usually just chalk up all the dodge or burn maneuvers to normal expectations on a bike path. Today however was a different story, it was the day that the I Challenge Myself Century was taking place. This group's leaders, not the riders, got me so flustered that I had to come home and figure out who they were and why they chose a bike path to ride 100 miles. The thing is, that this was a group of about 40 riders, and the coaches with them were really loud, barking out orders, obstacles and motivation as if they were trying to scream them to someone standing on the other side of 57th Street during the height of rush hour. Geez, didn't they know we were in the woods and in a park where maybe people were trying to get away from the stresses of the world? They were behind me for a long time, a good football field and a half between us most of the time, longer at some points. They were so loud that I was having trouble focusing on my workout so I decided to slow down and let them pass me. This took a good 15 minutes of forever. The issue with them was that they would come up on people and rather than have the decency to let the people know they were coming they would just point them out to the group as if they were debris in the road. The group would then pass at a very methodical pace. As they came by me, I hear there is a bike on the right. I mentioned to the announcing ride leader that the proper way to pass someone was to give them the courtesy of letting them know that they were passing on the left first and then to let the group know the rider of walker was there. He said excuse me you are correct, then passed two girls walking within the next 50 feet by letting his group know that there were walkers ahead. No warning to those girls, who were so startled and not to mention afraid to move that they stepped off the path and waited for the long line to pass (imagine how a little kid who is new to riding would respond? My heart is in my throat thinking about it). This was also a group that would fly through intersections 50 deep yelling clear. Some of the intersections on the trailway are really blind and cars seem to forget that there might be bikes crossing.  Why am I mentioning this? I guess the parent, teacher and coach in me sees the welfare and safety issues that arose in that few miles of nerve-wracking company and only hoped that those kids would learn better if they continued to ride. You see, there are places that locals won't ride on the weekends here. Mostly because rude riders like this have created such a BAD name for cyclists that it has become dangerous and costly (try doing a track stand in Peirmont, Alpine, Bedford, Westport, or Ridgefield at a stop sign or light in front of a cop and see how much it costs you for not putting your foot down and coming to a complete stop). I hope those kids made it home without getting hit! I hope their coaches read this! CONGRATS to the kids though RIDING 100 MILES is an ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!
So how did my ride end? 45 miles and then a mechanical in which I had no middle chain ring. I bailed 7 miles from home as the issue continued to worsen. So, its the mountain tank for the rest of the week until I get up to see Tim, maybe I will even brave the woods with it again.
Pedaling onward and upward! (pics to follow)