Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Are you CPR Certified?

Earlier this year, I re-certified in First Aid and CPR. It's insurance. When you ride, like any transportation activity, you assume a certain level of risk. So our club organized and offered a certification course as a benefit to our community. I was first certified for babysitting eons ago, then again as a lifeguard. It is something I hope I never have to use.

Occasionally you'll hear a story where tragety strikes - it's often remote, you are touched that something happened to someone... it's a shame. Then along comes a story that grabs the heart and forces you to ask yourself what you would do. This isn't a bike-car collision. This isn't lack of fitness nor lack of skill. This is one of those freak things that could happen to anyone anywhere. Would you be ready?

the incident:

a perspective - grab a tissue:

Monday, June 23, 2008

There is an artist within

I am musical, but I am Not a Musician. I can play the lines set before me, and play them beautifully. I can not compose a new line of song to save my life.

I am artistic.

In my youth I enjoyed drawing. I attempted cross stitch, but never completed anything larger than a trinket. More recently I tried quilting. Really. And, while I truely enjoy selecting prints and patterns and coordinating color palets, I am not a country/quilty girl. I know enough quilters to recognize how it can take over - and have enough piles of fabric to make 3 quilts (all in various stages of completion) plus random small scale projects. But quilting is simply large scale paint by number, perhaps applied as a new collage of existing patterns or design.

There are a few painting projects that I want to complete that mimic someone else's work, or apply a style to a set design. But this is limited artistic expression.

I long to be an Artist.

I want to create based on my unique design and vision. I have a sketch book of ideas. I know the medium I want to work in. We have a room that has been recently cleared of all clutter (minus the closet) ~ and am once again motivated to make this space my
workroom. A space that declairs "an artist works here." It is inspiring and inspired. Not an afterthought, not a niche where one pushes enough things aside in order to work on a small project once or twice a year. A persistent state of creativity.

The walls covered in tack board host an open collage of ideas, inspiration, samples, and sketches. A window illuminates the space, Task lights provide focus. Music compliments the area - Moya Brennan, The Wailin' Jennys, Loreena McKennitt, David Arkenstone... a gentle stream of celtic and new age tones.

There is an artist within. She longs to create. She longs to turn Someday into someday Soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I was talking to a cousin recently about relationships.  I told her "follow your heart, and honor your head."  It is not enough to marry for love.  It is not enough to marry for intelligence.  They must both be present, but also marry for completeness.  Marry because you are better together than apart, and better apart for being together.  Marry because this is the one person you want to hold hands with as you stroll thru the park when you are 82.

I met my husband in high school.  Our first kiss was magic, life changing.  The following summer in Seattle held the moment I knew  he was my ever after.  Our lives melded together, and five years later we married.  Our love has grown in ways I'd never have imagined possible.  We motivate each other, challenge each other, and support each other.  We have strength an independence; we have steadfast companionship.  

Tomorrow I celebrate 10 years of marriage to my best friend, my true love.  

I love you, Matt.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Jun*uary Recovery Ride

Yesterday's ride was brilliant.  Last night after sitting for a bit too long, the knee fibers began to cement together.  Standing was painful.  Bending was painful.  Getting up off a sofa was painful.. but it had to be done in order to make it to the car to get home to crawl in to bed.  It was slightly better this morning - I kept moving to help prevent it from turning to stone again.

We drove East to join up with friends for our Recovery ride.  We drove away from blue sky - toward a blanket of gloomy gray.  They say this will burn off, and we'll have a warm day.  It doesn't look promising.  As we climb out of the car, leaving behind the heated seats, we're welcomed warmly.  Again I'm congratulated for yesterday's success, and told I've been upgraded to the 19s.  

Everyone is dressed for a brisk day.  Rain gear or wind vests.  Layers and layers to guard against whatever weather we roll thru.  There isn't a bare knee in the bunch.  Another friend nailed it when she called this Jun*uary weather.

Our recovery ride is just shy of 30 miles, perfect after yesterday's 55.  And from the start my knee speaks up; I will pay for yesterday's efforts.  One block in to the ride and it is up - a roller by any healthy standards, but it is the first of many.  I'm tired.  I wish I'd napped longer yesterday afternoon.    "How do you feel?" he asks - my sweetie is keeping me close, I notice every time he checks his mirror to make sure I'm still on his wheel.  "Just the knee."  We roll on.. two blocks later and I change my answer.  The knee, and fatigue - my right quad has nothing left, and we aren't four miles in yet.  My left quad must be working because that leg is moving, but it's the right that's firing and moving me forward.

I wish an Americano was in my bottle cage.  There is no bail out, and I know finishing will help the legs more than giving up.  I push on, dancing thru gears to continually find the one that makes this ride easy but fast.  I drink frequently, washing down sport beans and a Luna tea cake and moons.  I'm fueling as if I have 60 more miles to go.  My chain tries to drop, and I manage to recover without having to stop.  "I'm fine!" I shout up the line, as I see Matt ready to turn around and help me out.

It's beautiful.  Green everywhere, except up.  It's still gray.  It's still chilly.  It doesn't burn off until we're back and packing the car to head home.  It finally looks like June again, but I miss it as I doze in my heated seat once more.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blue Sky Ride

Finally - a good ride.  Blue skies, green fields, and even Mt. Hood visible off in the distance.  I rolled out with the "17 Brisk" group - and we called out that this would be 17-19.  I've already put the magic 8 miles in my legs to get to the start, and the knee is okay.  We had a few rolling climbs, and the knee was okay.  I check milage, and at 32 the knee was only a whisper.  I check my speed - it's rare that we're below 17, and that's due to elevation gain or a rolling regroup.  By now the slower riders have fractured off into their own group, and we're given the all clear to carry on at our pace.  Things pick up a bit now, but I'm right there in the front, taking my turn and maintaining position so I never get popped off the back.  This is an excellent ride, and it isn't until mile 45 that fatigue and burning legs distract me from flying down the road.  This was by far the fastest, the longest, and absolutely my best ride in months.  I reward myself with a hemp milk black forest mocha.  

For my recovery I've done a lot of stretching.  I bought a foam roller to lay on and torture roll my IT band.  I've started a new workout that is somehow low impact plyometrics.  Only two full workouts complete (plus the interspersed cardio) and I can tell how much it is strengthening and engaging the core and stabilizing muscles thru the legs.  I know that it is helping me ride stronger.  5 more weeks scheduled, and I'm looking forward to every sweaty minute of it!  I'm still struggling with the final 4 lbs to my goal, target date June 29 - time to get strict.  Well, maybe tomorrow.

I've made two cakes for a party this weekend.  My first ever German Chocolate Cake - the layers look fine, although I might need to burn that page in the Better Homes recipe book.  Shortening, buttermilk, evaporated milk, a ton of sugar.. yikes.  I'm hoping the coconut pecan icing came out okay, the syrup turned a little funky along the way.  Fortunately, there is a carrot cake in the oven as backup.  I'll put little stars of pure cream cheese on the pieces for those who want it, and keep to a simple dusting of powdered sugar for the rest.  This one came from someone's friend's grandmother's recipe.. basically, page 1 google results and it was simple enough to fit the bill.   No fancy 18 layer carrot cake tower of sugar, just a simple square cake full of carrots and pecans.  Happy Birthday, Nick!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

34.34 miles, 15.6 avg

It is a weird day. 

The pavement was wet, but we left the fenders off.  The skies were a mix of bright silver and heavy gray.  I wore knickers, long sleeve wool, wind vest, wool beanie under the cap under the helmet, wool socks, and neoprene booties.  We ride to the coffee shop, and the low numbers echo that of a typical winter ride.  The race team gathers, ready for a long effort - I envy their strength.  The club mingles, and we break down to our groups.   Today is a silent start - we honor the memory of TimO, lost a year ago.  We give his wife Mary a framed jersey, the one with Tim's initials - we all struggle with tears, with the reality that in this club, on this ride, one year ago we lost one of us.  Needlessly.   Senselessly.  We are stoic, and roll out.

It's a rough start - the two 17 groups get all mixed up.  Linda and Julie are "riding their own ride" so I join them.  We ride as our legs command - fast, slow, however the road leads us.  No pressure, no group, just friends out on a route that we no longer need maps for.  We ride past fields of green wheat.  To the right, option one with a long slow climb into the dreary clouds.  An out and back ride.  To the left, option two has skies more white and silver.  We go left.

Ye Ol' Scotsman, Linda #2 and a new rider (greg?) join us.  On we roll, a nice little group out in the country, in long sleeves and jackets and woolen mittens and knee warmers and boot covers and fenders and ear covers.  This really is June - we rode past a strawberry field in bloom to prove it.  We push thru a cold drizzle; I hope that we outrun it.  Our course is headed southwest, and I can see a few sun breaks on the hills in that area.  I tell Linda#1 to keep going - she's threatening to turn around.  Before long we escape the rain.

The next road is a series of very small rolling hills.  I want to feel my legs, so I push the pedals.  First rise 22mph, faster down.  Second rise 24, and on and on.  The final one, I'm tiring, I refuse to let it drop below 18 - it feels fabulous to fly down the road again.  My heart is thumping away, it's been too long since I spent any time at 184bpm, and I cherish that moment.  I coast to the stop sign, and we regroup.  The knee?  Noticeable as usual since mile 8.. the embrocation and patella wrap don't seem to help that.  The sprint didn't seem to aggravate it at all.  A few miles down the road, and we've reached another fun rolling section.  I set the mind and legs to smooth climbs with higher RPM.  I tell myself I'm working on form.  The muscles can do this.  I feel their strength.  However, my pride demands a personal best and knows the reward will be a quick decent.  I spin quickly up hills that usually slow me to a crawl.  I coast downhill, 28mph without trying.  I scold myself, I know it was dumb to push like that, so I stop and grab some just-in-case Advil as I wait for the group to catch up.  They pass.  Julie compliments my climbing.  I hop back in the saddle & hustle to regain the pack.  It only takes 20 seconds, and I find I'm scolding myself again.  I shouldn't do that.  How can I not?  

A few more miles, and we're approaching the intersection... the scene of last year's tragedy.  I drop back to be the caboose.  "Huge truck back!" echos up the line.  It blows past with the usual turbulence.  "Car Back!" again is shouted out by all.  This is a good group.  Everyone listening, everyone communicating.  All clear.  We turn the corner and take a moment.  "Be courteous.  Share the Road."  Too few will see that sign, or take that message to heart.

Off again.  A few more miles down the road, and it happens.  The knee is Done.  Nothing was different about that moment - I can only assume it simply reached it's limit for that ride.  Every up and over of the pedal stroke is pain, I coast to a small shoulder and stop.  I tell the group to go on, but they refuse.  These people are the best.  I shake it out for a minute, and continue on - we aren't far from home.  They roll with me, at a limping 14mph pace.  Linda #1 knows I'm turning off early.  I tell Linda #2 that I'll meet them back at the coffee shop for lunch - she offers to order me food.  I make it home, occasionally taking the foot off the pedal to rest it as I one leg it for a bit.  I'm home, showered, and back at the cafe one minute before my german pancake is on the table.  I'm back with my friends, and our table grows as the other groups roll in.  

February weather in June.  A sombre ride mixed with the joy of exertion.  Mental focus, physical strength, and one gimp tendon shutting it down.  It's a weird day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June Bliss Begins

Spring showers break, and sun beats warm upon the upturned faces of flora and fauna alike.  Wild yellow canaries dart in and out of the cherry tree behind our house.  A chorus of birds sing us awake ~ perhaps we could request the serenade not start at 4am, but I wouldn't trade it for silence or city noises.  

Berries are slowly coming in to season this year.  I've found a few ripe nectarines, but no peaches yet.  My produce browsing stops in front of a pile of zucchini.  Deep green, glistening with mist.  I don't have the benefit of a friend or coworker's bounty - no one to beg me to help them consume a garden full of vegetables.  But consume them I must.  "Roast me," they cry.  "Pan fry!" and "Bake!"  I can feel it - there is a zucchini bread waiting to be made.  I gather up four healthy zucchinis and complete my shopping.

Which bread to make?  I decide against Betty Crocker (sorry old gal) and select a basic recipe from the City Tavern Baking & Dessert Cookbook, by Walter Staib.  I scan thru, ensuring I have everything I need, and quickly move to mis en place.  I gather up the hardware affectionately, excited that I can once again use the Microplane Box Grater.  As I'm reaching for the cinnamon (the only spice listed) I pause.  Cinnamon.  Just cinnamon?  Let's change that!  I take out the ground cinnamon, ground allspice, whole cardamom and my marble mortar and pestle.  2 tsp of ground cinnamon is now 2 dashes, a half tsp allspice, and 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom.  Mix, Bake, and Wait.

The smell is delicious.  The taste is even better.  The cardamom gives the bread a lighter flavor, with a little brightness.  I'm again reminded of little yellow birds chirping and darting about, light and carefree.