Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Off the grid?

We LOVE camping, go often, and don’t mind living according to the candle. I love making coffee on the camp stove, cooking that way too and even think that there is some merit to having to slow down. I don’t mind the slower pace, the darker nights, the increased need to be more involved in living. I don’t however like when I am thrust into darkness (even with warning) and then not being able to find out when/where I will be able to access basic life services such as dry ice and water, a means to pumping ground water and septic away from my house, a means to not worrying about what is happening to my investment when I am out taking care of basic essentials. If I chose to live off the grid, I would manage life differently. I would have a composting toilet, a means to potable water, and some food storage system to prevent spoilage. I realize that what I am going through is a FAR cry from what others are going through, but it is trying just the same. Maybe someday, soon, we will rejoin the grid and stop having to bail water every 3 hrs at night (we don’t want to run a generator why we are sleeping) or having to worry about where to get cleaned up, iron work clothes, etc.

Today, our electric company pulled something that encourages investigation. Several of my neighbors had their power restored 36 hours ago, and the electric company removed the rest of us from the need to restore list. Thanks to the diligence of several we managed to convince them of the need to re-open the tickets. Then this morning, what was once fixed blew up. A transformer gave out plunging the restored houses back into darkness. The power company refused to believe the reports. They even told a neighbor they would be put back in line. When they did show up a few hours later to fix things, it was only for what had been fixed 36 hours ago not for the “whole thing”. In the end however, there was only a DRIVE-BY and no new work done.

I write this from the comforts of my brother’s house where I stopped to charge a battery or two, get some water, take a shower and so on. I have seen my niece and nephew more this week than I have all summer. For that much I am grateful.

I return to work tomorrow. This will be a challenge with the resources I have but I will manage. Hopefully, as we were told would be so, our life off the grid will be a thing of the past. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#...#...#... (UGHHHHHHHHH)

On Saturday night, as we sat having a hurricane party and drinking Bronx cocktails, I very foolishly felt like I had been stood up by Irene but by Sunday morning, as she apparently stormed into our neighborhood late (3AM) and with all the vengeance of a belligerent  drunk and has so overstayed her welcome now. We have been without power since about 4AM Sunday morning.

In that time:
* no water, no toilet...and despite heeding the call to fill my bathtub and flushing very sparingly without wasting potable water we had a septic problem - ground water was filling out tank and with no way to pump it...
* I have chased dry ice from location to location. It seems that despite only having a small amount of ice, the providers continue to publicize where it will be available. Long drives, long lines, long waits, police on edge, no show trucks, police dispersing crowds, senators advising calling the governors office...and NO ice in the end...I have seen it all
* I have fought with the power company, not because I am impatient but because they have not been seen or provided us with any sort of updates. Actually it wasn't until I wasted 40. in gas and 10 hours of  trying to get ahold of dry ice yesterday did I get upset with them. They claimed it was first come first served and that I must not have been there early enough- well when you arrive at a site 2 hours before it officially opens and you are number 234 on a list and the truck never shows up and the police have to break up a crowd of people...or when you arrive at a site 30 minutes before and you are the second one to arrive and the police tell you you cannot wait...things get testy.
*school hasn't even had its first day, and we already have two days to make up in June...

All in all, its not so bad, Jon an Samantha lent us their generator. We drove to Highland to pick it up at 9PM last night. We had a great break at Alexis Diner on the way back (chicken, salad, grape leaves, fries, ice tea). We managed to get our septic pump working, our fridge going, our freezer hooked up before it was too late, and our sump pump running too. The thing is loud but... hey its an improvement.

Our friends and family have offered us showers, laundry, lunch, dinner (generous) and liquor.

# NYSEG? Well despite them telling the town 65% will be restored by 7PM tonight they told me next week would be more like it... so? not sure what to believe. Just exhausted, but hey, its not the 'dacks, the 'cats, or VT right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

park and ride....

This morning dawned early. The first day of school always does. I got my gear together, grabbed some coffee and a peanut butter sandwich and headed out the door. My destination, the park and ride 10 miles down the road, ten miles closer to work. I didn't want to deal with lights, my blinkys were on the blink, and I honestly did not want to give up the 30 minutes of sleep to add that extra distance. SO, I parked and rode, I guess you could say I followed the directions dictated by the sign, literally. 

It was COLD this morning, too cold to be riding in shorts and jersey with no jacket. I think I didn't even warm up when I got to school. I was cold all day, even sitting outside at lunch, even riding the 15 miles back to my car. I even put on a sweatshirt when I got home. I wonder if the same thing will happen tomorrow? Thats if I ride in again. Ia m planning on it, but a bit nervous as I have a later day tomorrow and Chris has a flight to catch. I may just abandon that thought, but we will see. I am packing my bag as if I am pedaling in. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The End recap

I just watched my son pull off a killer workout. First the explanation, Chris did a hill workout today, with a weight vest on (its like carrying a 5yr old piggyback) and he headed up Keehler, a 1.4 mile climb that is considered a Cat 4 doing a low walk the whole way. The focus was intense, he had to remember certain things: 1. to actually push off rather than letting gravity take him, generating the push rather than falling up the hill 2. to keep his back parallel to the pitch of the road rather than staying really compressed for the whole walk 3. to keep his cadence calculated and not rushed so that each step was intentional not rushed.
Here is the profile: 

He reached the top 25 minutes after he started out and then strolled back down (with the vest on- there was nowhere to ditch it). As if that was not enough, he spent another 30 minutes doing abs. You see, unless you have ever experienced Keeler you don't understand. There are A+ cyclists here that HATE that hill more than any other hill around and often avoid it. They cry, cringe, carry on like 2 year olds...Yes it is only a cat 4 climb and the canyons in Utah were HC in places, but this climb does not allow one to gain a rhythm going up, its unpredictably hard each and every time. I think that IS the only predictable thing about it. BUT Chris walked you say? Yes, technically, but a low walk is different. Squat down like you are sitting on the edge of a chair (knees forward), now keep your back parallel to the ground (but relaxed) and walk making sure only to have one foot on the ground at any given time and MAKE SURE your hips stay at that same height (remember the chair seat) the whole time, no coming up. Now, walk up hill for over a mile, oh wait, don't forget the kindergartner on your back that you are giving a ride to...hurting yet? Most people have difficulty walking this way on flat ground, without a vest for more than 3 minutes, he endured this for 25min up this isn't so bad, this sucks farts, wtF, I am going to shoot myself, OS I am going to puke, you have to be kidding me, its not over yet, Keeler Lane. Thank God it wasn't HOT!!!

Who was the mastermind of this ingenious idea? Bud. I joined them on this escapade, walking along side them, trying not to puke. Thinking about how Bud and I used to ride repeats on that hill occasionally and how I used to be on the verge of puking or passing out each and every time, usually in the same place, where I would start to think that it was NEVER going to end. Looking back, that summer was the summer before my first year at New Canaan. I was training for a very long cross state ride that would require me to put in about 100 miles a day for 6 days straight, one of those days was actually 150 miles. Bud helped me train and I managed that ride, all 650 miles of it, at 18.5 mph. I felt like that summer was too short. I started school the day after I finished that ride. 

Tomorrow I start school. Its the end of a dream like summer that seemed to rush by so quickly. I managed to dance at a concert with the headliner (and some really good friends), cross the country (both north and central), see things I have always wanted to see, spend some time learning about physiology, spend a good deal of time on my bike (and even more time on my other bike in the woods), try golf, I got to camp, swim in COLD lakes, climb on massive sand dunes, complete a workout I hadn't done since college and even though I didn't make it to the beach once I felt like my summer was complete (almost). Its hard to go back to that 5AM- 9PM time frame. I am so much more of an 11-7 person. Hey, at least I have next summer to look forward to. (I am applying for a residency SOMEWHERE). I also want to try to put a team together for the Salt to Saint. Anyone who thinks they are interested, has a local connection to get us both an RV and a van...let me know. PS Riding in the dark ROCKS! Trust me on that one.

So on the schedule for tomorrow? I am driving to the park and ride in Bedford and riding my bike from there to school. Why drive at all? I don't want to start with 50 milers back to back even in this kind of shape, school is tiring, and I want to ride more than one day this week. Its my way of squeezing out every last drop of summer. 

Curtis's BBQ, then onto Burlington, finally!

Kenny and I have been meaning to get to Burlington, VT for ages, probably as long as we have been known each other, which is just about 27 years.  It was interesting how this weekend's plans came about, all I wanted to do was go to Saratoga to visit my mom, watch Susie and Larry's horse run, go gallery hoping with Susie, and mountain biking with Kenny (and maybe Alison and Rich too).  I could see in Kenny's face, that while he would be happy to oblige, we needed to have time for ourselves.  (I think his head spins sometimes at my dizzying pace and the above plans were packed full of stuff). So I started to think about how to do all of the above, and still have our OWN time and asked him if camping in Moreau State Park would be help?

Somehow, in all the thoughts of my plans, Kenny decided that we should go camping for the weekend, but not in Saratoga but someplace that we had not been, like Burlington. So we made plans. We found a place to camp in Shelburne, VT, four miles south of Burlington. We found something to do during the day, mountain biking at Catamount Outdoor Center,  and we found farmers market to peruse and a bunch of places to "try", etc...

We headed out on Friday, stopping along the way at Curtis's BBQ, in Putney VT. Kenny and I read about Curtis's school bus BBQ  in the New York Times Food and Dining section shortly after we got married and have wanted to get by there at some point. Honestly, we tried several times but something always got in the way. When Kenny and I got married, we used to clip recipes and destinations from the NYT and the Daily News and put them in a photo book. We are talking 1987, pre-tech. I have spent my morning looking through that book to see if there is anything else I should remember. Why we both remembered that place without looking it up is beyond me, maybe it was all the missed chances at stops. IT WAS WELL WORTH THE STOP!  In other words GO HERE!!! (Often!)

In some senses the whole weekend seemed like a date. Despite both of us going to VT prior to getting married, we came to the conclusion that we have spent some of our best "times" away from home in Vermont since and it didn't matter where it was. I think we just like to pace of the place. I saw a sticker this weekend "keep VT weird" which upon further investigation is an organization that is interested in keeping Vermont sustainable so that it continues to embody what Vermont is to everyone that lives there and wants to live there. I think Kenny and I are in that "want to" category.

So we arrive in Shelburne, set up camp, go out and get the things we forgot (pillows, a pot to boil water in) as well as some basics, like ice and beer and we head back to the campsite and cook dinner, make a fire and just hang out. In that time Kenny witnesses a guy shaving his forearms, which can only mean one thing, there is a triathlon he is getting ready for. Its the only way to get a wet suit on and off quickly without it PULLING at the hair. A quick check on the internet finds that USA Tri is having their age group nationals in Burlington...heck that wasn't even on Burlington's chamber was somewhere buried deep... HMMMM this is why I love this place (a very LARGE event in a very SMALL city and the TOWN didn't stop giving to the rest of the tourist trade to host it? we are talking zero impact to us other people not participating).

When I make the comment zero impact I do so because Saturday morning we awoke at 8AM after a long night of thinking we had a bear in camp. I mean Kenny even woke up thinking that at 2AM, so it wasn't just my fear getting the better of me. We realized that we took care of cleaning all of our camp up except...the most important task...the garbage. CRAP!!! Were we the cause of this critter in camp? So we got up, we both had to pee now (nerves) and we decided we would take care of our trash bag on the way. What we discovered it the guy in the pop-up across the way snores the way a BEAR SNORTS. You may be laughing, go ahead, but the next night we had new neighbors, and at about 3 AM the guy got up because he realized he too left STUFF out and started cleaning his campsite woke me up and guess what? The guy in the pop- up sounded even more convincing the second night.

Back to Saturday morning. After dining on linguica and eggs for breakfast we headed to the farmer's market for several reasons, we like checking out what other markets look like and I needed to stop by and talk to Christine at BIKERECYCLEDESIGNS, which is an organization that recycles bikes for low-income people who need transportation. They also sell jewelry and other artwork created from bike parts to help fund the project. I had planned on volunteering for an hour in the morning at the shop, but they were closed because it was market day. I had promised Christine that I would come by to see what their ware looked like and to meet her and Ron. It was an incredible meeting. I left there hoping a few of my former students, who go to school in Burlington, would consider volunteering for them. (HINT, HINT, HINT!!!!) Now, how to get something like that started here in a place where most of the low income in need of transportation people are immigrants and seen as a blight. (no judgement and no comment, I will just leave it hanging out there)

After the market we headed on to our next adventure, shredding up the trails at Catamount. It was Kenny's first off road experience so I picked a place that had a good mix of single and double track so that there would be something to ride, always. Well, after about 20 minutes of easy double track we were in the woods on a tight single track and spent the next 3 hours going back and forth between tight, moderately technical riding and double track of varying difficulty. We lunched in a meadow with lots of wildflowers and rode along a ravine with drop offs and banked turns. We left there feeling like we rode hard and had fun but stayed within our ability to keep it enjoyable. I think we impressed the kid at the front desk who was sure we would only last an hour, especially since it was Kenny's first time out. (thanks Jon for letting us borrow the bike)

We added to our day's adventure by heading to North Beach and swam for a bit before heading back to shower and get ready for dinner. We had an apertif at the Farmhouse which consisted of VT beer. Hey we are in VT and I am with my husband who is a BEER ...ok, lets just say he doesn't drink yellow piss in a can unless its the occasional  PBR and bottles are always LOCAL FARE never corporate conglomerates. So our cocktail hour followed suit. We then took a long walk along the Church Street Mall and found two really cool things, one was this great LOCAL bookstore (Crow Books) that was across the mall from a mega store going out of business (Borders) and YES they hung on and seemed to be busier than the chain's going out of business sale was (YAY- hang in there, its almost over) and the Outdoor Gear Exchange which is dedicated to promoting the outdoors and all it holds by selling both new and used outdoor gear. After our walk we were famished and headed to American Flatbread for dinner and of course some more local beer. (think wine tasting not redneck party hound)

We finally headed back for our last night in camp and burned the rest of our wood, cleaned up, had another restless night of sleep thanks to bear man across the way and got up to another fabulous breakfast before catching the ferry back to NY. This ferry experience was not a bad one, thank God. We stopped quickly in 'Toga to see my mom had lunch, did some back to school shopping and headed home. We arrived home to an intact house and Chris making us some curry for dinner. Our weekend was fantastic! The perfect end to a summer of adventure that seemed to go all too quickly. Tonight is a school night for me, which does not seem possible, not yet.

Mikey headed back to school on Friday for his final semester. Chris heads back to SLC for two weeks on Wednesday because his break is that much longer. When he gets back, and we finally settle into fall (and his last season as a HS athlete) he will be applying to several colleges (Utah, Wisconsin, Marquette, MN as he attempts to follow the ice). Changes are on the way. Anna moves to Philadelphia as a post-graduate choice next week. Funny, I think of a question my friend Jon asked me last week when Chris and I were in New Paltz riding..."you and Kenny went to school here, you love this town, when you moving back?" Something we have always had thoughts of...maybe in seven years time? Who knows?





Thursday, August 18, 2011

A friendly competition? (more like a battle with myself)

Its the end of the summer. There is a ritual to this time of year. This year is no different, only the stakes for the upcoming year are a bit different. On the school front, The administrative staff I will be working with has changed, one of my colleagues has retired and a few of the students I learned so much from have graduated. There is still that drive to be at the top of my game as a teacher, and that is exhausting. To think I haven't even started yet. Why is it so important to continue to better myself? What you expect to hear is that its for the students sake but I will tell you that it is a bit more of a selfish reason, it keeps my job fresh, keeps me wanting to come to work. Then there is THAT bit of ego THAT creeps in and I am afraid not to reach. Someone else might show me up. (oh the stress of this- hold that thought)

As for coaching, my son doesn't like listening to me anymore (teenagers!). I have come to the conclusion that coaching him is a HUGE challenge that I cannot take personally so I have been trying to ignore... Then there is this other thought, I have taken on a new position at a local speedskating club. I am really excited about this venture but sad that the former coach has retired. I learned more from him about teaching than I ever had in any class. I wonder if I can fill his shoes. Yet I know, as a different person, with a different teaching style, that this expectation of myself is not realistic. Then there is the ego. There are many who have these expectations of me, who will undoubtedly be very critical and waiting for me to fail (and they aren't even from the club). What do I do with those feelings? There is this pressure to out-preform. (this too is stressful- and hold that thought too).

Then there is my studio life, something I have neglected lately, or have I? Just because I haven't touched clay in about 7 weeks does not mean that I am out of the game? Whats typical over the summer is that I do a great deal of studio work, almost as if I am making up for lost time with the relaxed pace. Well this summer I have traveled extensively, crossed the country 2x and put almost 12,000 miles on a brand new car. I have gained a great deal of inspiration from what I have seen. There is this reality, however, I have a wood-firing in a month's time, and I need to get a great deal of work done, make up for lost time. (this thought is stressful- hold that thought)

OK, financial wows, trying not to buy into the Jones's perspective on material acquisitions and yet knowing that there are certain things that need attention. The kitchen... finding 3 sponsors for Chris to help cover the 15K season (you'll get logo space on his USA skinsuit - shameless plug) skate boots for Chris...finding a way to raise another 2.2k for Dana Farber (giant pit in the stomach stressfull)...and everything else that needs attention (CALGON won't even touch this stress- hold that thought)

The there is taking care of myself. Making the time to exercise, to eat right, to sleep enough, to challenge myself to want to do more for me. Do I even have the time for this? How do I keep the above stress from strangling me, robbing me of my me time? (stressful - hold that thought)

SO what to do with all this stress? If I hold it in it just becomes bricks and mortar on my waistline. If I let it out, I run the risk of loosing some of my drive...(oye, the stress of it)

I started this post because I read the Healthy Living Blog in today's NY Times and it got me thinking about the people I know who need to WIN at all costs. They think less (alot) of the people around them that don't share this mentality even to the point of balking at something as gracious as a volunteer effort. Immediately I felt my stress level (and anger) rising, and I found myself wondering why I care so much about what these types think? Why the competition? Who is that (un)friendly contest with anyway? There will always be those that believe only those capable of winning should enter the race. That will NEVER change. I say to the rest of you something I learned from a very wise 24 year old top of the heap skater who is focused enough on what is important that he has the time to give back. "Buying into that win at all costs mentality will actually hold you in contempt of your own life. You'll eventually get in your own way and find you have no one around to help you out, so live positively, give, and the world will give back ten fold."

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I am reading this book called the Talent Code (Daniel Coyle). You can find his book and blog at this link. I am fascinated by this book because it discusses all the tenants one knows to be true as an observant teacher, that talent is something that is taught, not innate. What one does with that developed talent depends on the type of practice that is engaged in. Reading has let me affirm some of my practices as a teacher. It has also led me to understand that I know why I stress at all those things that I need to feel more comfortable with. Its all part of the process, call it practice, of becoming whole. As I try to figure out how to let go of the unnecessary (stresses) and continue on with the purposeful,  I try to remember that the more I give, the more I will get back, and notoriety has nothing to do with it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

AwA (adventures with Alison)

I look at visual contour of the acronym AwA and it basically describes the past couple of days. It started Thursday morning, a 2 hour ride that was supposed to be off road in Clifton Park turned out to be a trail ride because the single track available did not afford us fairly new technical riders any warm-up problem solving time, you know a bit of double track or even wide single track with a few technical problems thrown in. The trails were also un-marked and without any kind of map, topo or otherwise, it made for some nerve-wracking moments. We bailed after 15 minutes and rode the bikeway instead for the next 2 hours. Upon leaving the park we met up with this guy who was very involved with SMBA, something I just joined last week on my travels east from Utah. He told us that this area had a nice double track loop with lots of easy and intermediate single track that were off shoots, as well as plenty of black diamond terrain. He also offered to show us where to ride with him in the park we were just leaving. We declined, but thanked him whole heartedly for the info and the time. Alison was under a time constraint and quite honestly, even though there were two of us, the thought of AX MURDERER crossed my mind (nervous LOL) which was a switch from my usual worry about breaking an appendage or ending up like Aaron Ralston, pinned and forced to amputate.
After departing I found myself perusing the farmers mkt in Balston Spa for dinner. It was interesting to buy for only one person. I had no clue what I wanted, or needed so I decided to go with what looked good. For a total of $15. I could have fed 4-6 people. I bought a pound of heritage pork sausages, some california peppers, 6 rolls, a bunch of candy striped beets, a bunch of tuscan kale, a cucumber, some romaine and a box of cherry tomatoes. Dinner was a romaine and kale salad (cucumber, radishes, carrot and tomatoes too), steamed beets (of course I saved the greens) and sausage and peppers on fresh rolls.
Friday morning we had planned a road ride but with the disappointment of Thursday's ride, we decided to head off road again, this time in Saratoga. This was an exhilarating change! The guy we spoke to (Ax M) was correct in his description of the place and armed with a trail map (its surprising at how much confidence that creates) we headed hit those trails hard, even venturing off onto a few black diamonds after warming up. We crossed a great wooden bridge, needed bug spray, different lenses in the glasses and nerves of steel in a few places (the hornets nest hanging in the middle of the line of travel at chest to face height yet hiding in a shadow- man that had the potential to ruin a day!!!) , balls in others (the rock decent that was short, stepped, steep and had an abrupt t-turn at the very end). After a solid hour of pedaling and 30 minutes of sight seeing we emerged super-charged, dripping with sweat and HUNGRY!!! This was nothing that the Fortunate Cup couldn't fix. After some quality time with Mom's I met Alison again for a round of golf (hahahaha, my first). This was an experience. I survived even though I was FORCED to play right handed (lol). It was one adventure beer fixed. I was so stoked afterwards that I sent my dear CUZ a note about how I played my first round of golf and feel like a part of the family now (my parents were avid golfers until I came along. They decided I was better suited to tennis or softball). His response: only if you are a BAD golfer!!! Thanks Noah (LOL)

This morning, a ride around the lake, no not Saratoga, but Round. I was in search of this elusive village that EVERYONE tells me exists and that I would LOVE (HAH) after 15 miles at 17 MPH (2 of them on a brindle path and all without water) I decided I give up, I couldn't find it!

Next weekend? Camping in Shelbourne, VT with Kenny (Mtn biking and pub crawling)

Now? 127 hours (read the book already - in it for the scenery and NETFLICKS usage)

Monday, August 8, 2011

From BAD to GOOD

My last post was about our camping adventure just outside Badlands NP in South Dakota. Its a week since that day and we have made our way home in a round about way, but we are here. I woke up in my own bed with my cat following me around like I might leave her again and swatting me in the head every so often as if she is saying "how could you have left me for 5 weeks?"

After leaving the Badlands and spending a wonderful night with the Hartman's in MN and seeing my friend Chris who now lives in Roseville of all places we headed to Chicago to surprise our die-hard White Sox fan of a son with Yankee tickets at Cellular field (notice I am still taking lessons from Switzerland and staying neutral though a B/W pinstripe sticker did end up on my car). We had a blast at the game. This park was smaller than the NY counterpart, and much more accessible with LOTS of interactive stuff to do. My only beef is that 5th tier seating does not allow you to access any of it. We slept in that night after the game and left Chicago at 11AM. We arrived in Saratoga at 1:30AM but we did stop a number of times. Dinner was in Mentor, OH just outside of Cleveland in a little place called Lakeshore Eatery. The pot roast and breaded pork chops were wonderful. I had perch, which was good, but fried fish is fried fish. In any case if you find yourself between NY and Cleveland on route 90 its worth the short 3 mile trip out of the way. Its not on the lake though, despite what the name implies.

Friday morning came early. We were up at 9 repacking and out the door by 11 to get me to Sturbridge to check in for the PMC by 1 and Chris to the Martha's Vineyard ferry by 4:30. Everything worked out well. I met up with my team and a the surprise of a former student and aspiring photo journalist/environmental scientist at dinner. It was such a joy to see Leslie and a few current students from NCHS that came along to cheer on her dad who was riding as well. Although, at the time, in my head I was thinking that despite training for this, I wasn't sure that ending a cross country rode trip with a 192 mile bike ride was sensible. Then I saw Deklan at the opening ceremonies and I knew I had to figure it out.

PMC 2011 Opening Ceremonies at Sturbridge from David Hellman on Vimeo.

Deklan in a pedal partner with Team Kermit. He was diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer when he was 15 months old. He is alive today because the Jimmy Fund at Dana Farber did not think that diagnosing 32 children per year with his type of brian tumor was too little to research and treat.

On Saturday morning (before dawn was even a thought) I made my way to breakfast, ready to join Lance Armstrong, Sen. Kerry, Sen. Brown, the Bruins, the wives of the BosSox, 55 team Kermit members, and about 5,000 other people in a 192 mile journey across the state of MA.

I began my journey of 111 miles with a very large vintage Kermit perched upon my head. At first I couldn't figure out why my helmet adjustment was off, then I hit the first down hill and thought this is never going to work. Then it started to get really, really heavy! I remember this guy going buy saying to me thats a really big frog on your head, your neck is going to hurt by the end of the day. As much as I hated the guy for that comment I knew he was right, but I wanted to be a team player. At the first rest stop I used a bit of ingenuity and strapped him to my handlebars, where he sat perfectly as if he were meant to be there. I left that pitstop with Ellen, and rode the whole way with her taking pictures when we wanted, taking our time, enjoying the ride. The 111 mile day went fast despite all of that. My back did act up at around 80 miles, probably from sitting all week in the car? Tylenol and delegating one water bottle to ice which I stuck in the center back pocket did the trick. I was amazed at how much spectator support there was. There seemed to be as many as the TdF at times, three/four deep, lots of cow bell and horns. It was enlightening. I was so glad I was wearing glasses because it allowed me to get choked up without people knowing it. I was riding with Ellen, a friend who lost her son to cancer. I have learned so much from her. She helped me so much last spring when my mom was sick. I know that the PMC must be hard for her as they used to volunteer as a family when her son was sick, now they ride it as an annual memorial. "One day the PMC will be a party rejoicing in a cure for this horrible disease"

We arrived at MMA to Steve and Adam waiting to fetch our bikes for us, help us get our gear situated and get some food. We sat there with the rest of team Kermit who despite eating already joined us at the table to keep us company. We washed down dinner with some Harpoon, went off to take our team picture, grab a shower, listen to music, drink another IPA and head to bed.

MMA is situated on the Cape Cod canal. It reminds me of Jamestown and Newport Harbor. The wind picked up that night and with the windows in the dorm open it completed the memory of the CYC in Jamestown and the days when we used to get together up there. On my way into MMA there was a support sign that said go Skip Gorman, you got this. Was it possible that my friend Chris's brother was one of the 5,000 riders? I have had my friend Chris in my prayers for a bit as he waits to find out his prognosis. The experience at MMA made me wonder if he felt my prayers, or maybe it was just Helen was listening from Heaven?

I woke up at 3:45 AM to howling winds and heavy rain. It was ominous. We had another 82 miles in front of us. After a great breakfast I went to fetch my bike and panicked, it was gone, moved... apparently the rack of bikes had collapsed and Steve had moved my bike to a very obvious spot, but I completely missed it until he gave me a hint on where to find it. With that solved we headed out at 5:45 over the Bourne Bridge and onto the Canal Path. It was funny being in that park under the bridge. I used to hang out there with my friend Tim and his brother Kevin. We would sit, listen to music and watch the boats and the cars crossing the bridge. There was this one time I remember vividly, Annette was there. We blasted "The Who". As I rode all I could think about was "Behind Blue Eyes".

The route on the cape was similar to what I am used to riding here, big rollers. Lots of up and down. It was much less taxing then the fairly flat second half of the century yesterday. It was wet and with wet clothing comes friction. By mile 46 I had had it. I bailed on my efforts. It hurt to sit. It hurt to stand on my pedals. Hurt it not a good description, excruciating is more like it. The 50/50 mix of bag balm and 2.5% cortisone was doing nothing for me. It was the wet shorts that kept the issue compounded. I had a keen reminder of what acute diaper rash must feel like to a baby! I wanted to cry despite my high tolerance for pain. It sucked in a way because my legs were fine. I could have ridden another 100 on them but at what cost? Not to worry my adventure did not end here just my ride.

In the sag wagon I sat with three other people, a woman with the flu (Roberta I hope you feel better), Brescia a newbee cyclist who got behind THE CURVE from the lack of experience and guidance. Hats off to her, she managed 156 miles after training on her own with no one to teach her what was important. And then there was a man, I forgot his name, who had crashed on the vinyl striping on the side of the road. He was pretty banged up but refused care because he wanted to go to Brigham and Women's instead. (great hospital) He was quite an interesting guy, 75 years old, his 17 time doing this ride, and had raised a ton of funds each and every one of those years. He did not look a day over 60. I only hope I have another 30 years of this sport! Later on the trip another cyclist joined us, he wanted to get a lift to a spot 5 miles from the finish. He was too exhausted to finish the last 20. Then there was Steve, the driver and volunteer. He was incredibly nice and very encouraging, not to mention funny. All of the volunteers were extremely helpful except the old woman who was at the medical tent in Nickerson. She was cute but clueless but she meant well. I just went away for a few minutes and came back to talk to someone else.

After arriving in Province Town and rescuing my bike from a near shipping error (quite the ordeal) I got a shower, shared some food with one of my team mates and his family, and headed to the ferry dock in torrential rain, wind and chilly temps. The seas were so rough that our ferry was 50 minutes late and there was no shelter of any speakable significance to wait at. Waiting on line we even lost a rider to hypothermia, sad they got him into an ambulance just as we were boarding the ferry. As we boarded the boat the cabin was transformed immediately into a changing room. The heat was cranked up and then just as the cabin became stuffy and warm we were warned about the extremely rough seas. A comment was made about the barf bags being placed on the counter. At that point my eyes were closed, my head was down, I was meditating and knew I could really use one to have one of those bags on hand but also knew I would be doomed if I got up to get it so I worked within my abilities to cope. Then things started to unravel, first someone started blasting some music, which made focusing on my breath really difficult, then one of my team mates gave rise to the mantra, "its not easy being green" by tossing his lunch onto my foot, then it was ALL over for me. I tried to contain myself but it just wasn't going to happen. We cleared our side of the boat, I was surprised it wasn't listing afterwards. After a very rough 2 hours we finally landed in Boston Harbor, where Kenny fetched me shivering, crying, incredibly wet and cold. I changed into the only dry clothes I had right in the middle of the street (my newly issued PMC jersey was still in its plastic bag and a pair of gym shorts that was at the bottom of a bag of laundry), got into the car and headed home. Poor Kenny, he had to pull over for several more episodes of hurling in the course of the 3 hour trip. We even stopped to get me a warm biscuit and some coke. It helped enough to let me sleep the rest of the ride home. Though I was up a few times during the night too. I slept most of the day today, or at the very least didn't move much from the couch. The cat who was so happy to see me last night, gave me the cold shoulder this morning, eventually spent the rest of the day blobbing with me on the couch.

As I look back on this incredible weekend, between the support of the spectators, the diligence of the volunteers, the courage of the riders, the diversity of the riders, and overall comradery of the group I find it hard not to have a smile come to my face. It was that incredible. Now, I just have to finish raising the funds I promised to raise. If you have already made a donation, thank you. If you can find it in your hearts to contribute now thank you. Just know that you will be a part of a Cancer Center that is going to no end to find a cure. The weekend's mantra, "commit and you'll figure it out" says it all. Cancer touches everyone. Lets strive to make that a historical statement rather than a present reality. Let's commit to figure it out. You can donate online or send me a check made out to the PMC/Jimmy fund (48 Entrance Way, Purdys NY 10578) or you can even text a donation PMC LF0085 to 20222. Thanks so much for all of your support!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We weren't in Kansas but...

We hauled across Wyoming trying to get to Mt Rushmore and the Badlands before dark. It was a beautiful day, a bit hot but still gorgeous. We took some time through the Bighorn, which boasts 9.5K elevations with open range for sheep and cattle. We were making good time until we got to the two mtn ranges we had to cross, then we were slowed down significantly by RV traffic. We arrived at Mt. Rushmore at 5PM and after a VACATION view and a photo op of Chris picking Lincoln's nose we hopped back in the car with the intention of getting to Badlands before dark. With no firm plans on where to stay we decided to make a reservation that was at a KOA 30 miles east of Badlands and headed out so that we would have an easy morning getting on the road.
We arrived at Badlands just before sunset, pronghorn grazing along the road and a lightening show from a storm raging somewhere in the distance. The light show was amazing.  As we traveled the loop road at dusk, it was eerie but cool. We left towards our night's accommodation's just as that storm reached Cedar Pass. I kept a firm eye on both it and NOAA. There was a no notice of concern other than a scattered thunderstorm warning. The storm at Cedar Pass was picking up and it was following us.
We arrived at the KOA just before 10 and before the storm hit and set up camp. We had figured that as long as we set up, even if we had to wait it out in the car we wouldn't have to deal with setting up when it was wet (mistake number 1). We through all our gear in the tent too. (mistake number 2). Then the storm hit with lightening that was close enough to raise the hair and wind that was attempting to toss the car. As we waited out the storm inside the Subaru, we watched as our tent broke loose of its footing on one side and toppled over. When it was all said and done, our tent poles were snapped, the fabric was ripped, the tarp and rain fly was in a field a half mile away, and our gear was in a puddle. The MUD was another factor. We bagged up all the wet stuff in garbage bags, dragged the tent to the dumpster, loaded the bikes and sat for a minute in the drizzling aftermath trying to figure out our next step. The campground manager came by and asked us if we were ok. We told him we were going to try to find accommodations with 4 walls. Somehow, as if I was on automatic pilot I asked the guy if there were any cabins available. I was that tired. I didn't want to drive another mile let alone 60. The campground offered us a cabin for nothing. I think they felt bad because they had not been able to warn us about the storm. NOAA didn't post the HAZARDOUS weather warning until it was right on top of us. We took advantage of the dryers in the laundry room and got the sleeping bags dried in 20 minutes. We finally get to bed just past midnight, which all things considered, was no big deal though it made traveling yesterday difficult.
After another 8 hour driving day, we ended up in Roseville, MN at our friends house. What a treat, good company, great fun and relaxing. Today? We will be off to Chicago momentarily.

Monday, August 1, 2011


We left Salt Lake City two days ago and headed for Yellowstone. We took the scenic byway (route 89) through Bear Lake, Logan, and the Cache ( a few trucks as well as granny and her RV did too). What should have taken just over 6 hours according to my GPS took forever. We got into Jackson, WY around dinner and decided, since it was a bit wet to stay put. Despite this being a setback, we enjoyed ourselves.  We hit Snake River brewing for dinner and walked around town. Kenny and I then dropped Chris back at the hotel and went out on a date to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

When I was 8 my mom took my brother and I too see a horror flick (quite accidentally) called Grizzly. I think she thought it was a documentary and we were so into the series Grizzly Adams. I am guessing that that was a formative experience because since I have been old enough to do things on my own I have had a heart stopping petrifying fear of Grizzlies. I had planned on camping in Yellowstone to get over that a bit and was nervous all day. I was incredibly relieved yet quite disappointed just the same when we decided to hotel it.

Yesterday morning I hit the road on my bike at 6AM which was probably a stupid idea, but I just had to get my legs moving. Believe me if a mouse made a noise on that ride I would have jumped out of my skin. I rode up to Teton NP and turned around. It was only a 12 mile ride. I was on the road at first and then realized there was this path that followed the road and hopped on there to avoid the RV traffic. After a few minutes I was too nervous about surprising an animal that I hoped back on the road. My one incredible moment was cresting this hill to have an incredible view of the Tetons. By the way, it was cold enough in the mountains to NEED a jacket. Morning riding temp? 38 degrees.

After an incredible breakfast we were off to Grand Teton then Yellowstone. In Teton my fear got the better of me but by the time we were in Yellowstone I had relaxed a bit and was able to enjoy myself and the interesting diversity the park had to offer. Our trip through the park took all day. We walked about 5 miles to see numerous thermal features. We actually didn't see ANY wildlife until after 5PM. at 8PM we finally headed toward Cody, WY through the Sylvan Pass which was still very snow covered. We arrived in Cody, found a motel, and went off to have dinner at this Saloon. Kenny and I ordered a plate of Rocky Mtn oysters for the table and a Red Lodge IPA (a Montana brewery).

This morning? We are SD bound! Pictures coming soon (FB has quite a few!)