Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Busy, busy

First, Merry Christmas to everyone. Two days late but that's sort of what the past few days have been like starting with Christmas eve.

I upheld my annual tradition of not wrapping presents until the day before Christmas, I had everything purchased, I just never got around to wrapping. After getting that done I managed to get out and ride for a few hours but I had to stick to as much pavement as possible since the dirt roads were wet from the day before.

Later in the evening I went to Chris W's house for a party they have every year. Chris and his wife had prepared a great spread of all sorts of things to eat but I was careful to not overdo it, knowing what was to come in the days ahead. This year I am determined to start out the new year at a lower weight than last. It was also nice to be able to see some of my riding friends and wish them a Merry Christmas as well.

We were to meet Jason and his fiancee at the midnight mass so and we had to leave about 10:15 to try and get a seat by 11:00 or so, otherwise it standing room only or at least individual seats. As it was we saw Jason before only for a minute, his fiancee Emily was holding his seat in the pew. We finally got to meet her after the service and immediately welcomed her into the family. We stayed a little while at the church to sample the buffet they have after the midnight mass.

We were fortunate that Jason and Emily made it to the church from Indiana. Jason had flown in there the day before but his luggage didn't make it. It took 24 hours for the airlines to even say they found it and would send it up to Detroit to have it delivered on Christmas day. Until then Jason was a cranky boy. Visiting the future in-laws with no change of clothes would tend to do that I guess.

We didn't get to bed until about 4:00 am and were up again around 9:30 to open presents. We had to take a few coffee breaks to finish and then it was time for dinner. Robin and Shari came over for dessert and to meet Emily. They are great friends and we always have a good time with them. I think they were able to fill Emily in on a few things about Jason as well :-)

Sandy's sister had come up the day before to spent Christmas with us so while Jason and Emily were off visiting later in the evening we had a chance to sit around and talk and watch one of the Blue Collar Tour DVDs her sister had gotten for Christmas. Another late night and we had to get up early the next morning to go down to Ray's MTB park in Cleveland.

Tuesday morning I was up around 5:00 am since we were leaving early to go down to Cleveland. The owner of Ray's met us at the place two hours early to let us in and we had the place to ourselves. The Hammer people have sponsored a section of the park so Jason had called and talked to Ray several times. Jason was like a little kid in a candy store as he eyed up all the technical stunts and riding areas. We had picked up his friend Nate and along with Emily and our other son Greg we spent about four hours at the indoor riding park. I rode some of the technical things but I chickened out on a lot as well. It's not my riding preference but I can see where it would help your overall riding ability.

After leaving Ray's in the afternoon we went down to my parents outside of Cleveland so they could see us but more importantly to meet Emily. I think they were as impressed with her as we are. A few hours there and it was time to head back home. We stopped for dinner at Tony Packo's in Toledo. None of the kids had ever been there and everyone enjoyed the atmosphere and the food, even liking the deep fried pickles.

We didn't get home until around 10:30 at night where Sandy and Emily finally had a chance to spent a few hours alone with each other talking in general and looking at wedding dresses in the magazines. Emily had to leave this morning and drive back to Indiana before catching a flight to Montana tomorrow out of Chicago. We wished we had more time with her; the next time we see her may be at the wedding.

At least we have a few days now with Jason before he too goes back to Montana. It seems strange to think that this may be his last time at home as a single guy. Funny, when I was getting ready to get married I never thought anything about what my parents thought along those lines. Of course they already had two others get married by the time I got married. I don't think it makes a difference though. It still causes you to reflect on things. All I can say is we wish Jason and Emily the best of everything. I hope they will be as happy as Sandy and I have been.

The happy couple

Christmas dinner

Robin and Shari watching the dogs before telling Emily what she's in for

Some of the stunts at Ray's

Jason gets some air

At Tony Packos

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Night ride

Not quite on the Winter Solstice but four of us got out for a ride last night. Good thing it was yesterday, rain is in the forecast for today. Chris, Todd, Tony and I were all on our ridgid SS's as we toured the back roads and rail trails while taking in the Christmas lights. Out in the country several of the big horse barns were lit up as well as the houses.

By the time I got home I had almost 2.5 hours but the time had gone by pretty quickly. We were fortunate that it wasn't very cold, but it's not hard to work up a sweat anyway. Plus the right clothes (and shoes) makes a world of difference.

I did have a problem with my L&M helmet light not turning back on after the first time I stopped but I have a second one on my bar that stayed on the whole time. When I got home I unplugged the helmet light and put it on the other battery and it fired right up. I put it back on the original battery and it worked with it as well. I think maybe the cord had come out of the battery slightly when riding but in all the races I've done it has never happened before.

Hopefully the weather will allow me to continue to ride outdoors. At least the days will start to get longer. I've been working out my training plan for the next few months and I am not looking forward to spending a lot of time on the trainer. But I look at long trainer rides as making me mentally tougher. Not to mention what it does for my backside.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More pics of the happy couple

Jason sent me these from the day he proposed up on the mountain.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Big news

Jason called on Friday night to tell us that he had gotten engaged! I was speechless but apparently my wife already knew he was going to ask his girlfriend, Emily. They don't have a date set yet but maybe next summer, and possibly in Spokane, Washington. That is where Jason had spent the prior year teaching at a small catholic school and they have a beautiful church there as well.

We haven't had a chance to meet Emily yet but she will be visiting her family for the holidays in the Indiana/Chicago area and Jason will be flying to meet her family before Christmas and then the two of them will be arriving Christmas eve. We look forward to meeting her and welcoming her to the family.

In other news I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday on Saturday by riding 50 miles. Fortunately the weather was nice and I met up with Chris W for part of the ride. I ended up with 60 miles. I have been riding my SS lately for winter training so it was a good workout. Heading into the wind was especially tough, as it was the day before when I got in a 2.5 hour ride.

Saturday evening was spent at a co-workers wedding. It was a nice way to spend my birthday, among friends and with great food and an open bar to boot. Ironically we also went to a wedding on my wife's 50th birthday back in August. I didn't realize our birthdays were so popular.

Today we put up the tree and got the lights on it. Later in the week it gets the decorations. We have been a little slower this year putting up decorations. Not sure why, maybe the week I was busy with the workshop put me behind.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

So I finally get a physical

This past year we switched health insurance plans and part of our new package includes yearly physicals. Now we didn't even have a family doctor, we haven't really needed one since we haven't been sick much, more often it's something of an emergency nature due to riding, skiing, etc.. I asked some of my friends for a recommendation and made an appointment for this past Monday.

The first test they did was an EKG, and then I went through some others including a bone scan and the usual blood tests as well as those of a more "intimate" type. The doctor says the EKG is showing some abnormality so he prescribes more tests including a sonogram and also a stress test. Due to all the riding I do I have a low resting heart rate which he says may put me at more risk after I tell him about the possible sleep apnea I have. I say possible because that's what my wife claims when she whacks me in the middle of the night. Maybe it's just an excuse for her though.

I took the stress test this morning which involves a treadmill and nuclear dye along withe some imaging tests. The doctor gave me a piece of paper to carry for about a week in case I cross the border or fly. Apparently the nuclear stuff in my body can set off detectors at these places. I checked and at least I can't be used for a night light.

The treadmill part was kind of fun, they start you off slow and then ramp up the speed and incline every few minutes while they monitor you HR and blood pressure. they want to get you to a certain HR and then you are supposed to tell them when you think you can only last another minute so they can inject more dye. I never got to that point and they have a time limit on the test so they injected more dye anyway. I was working a little by the time it ended, actually running to keep up but not enough to stop. They said for my age that the results were off the chart. Of course the pictures they took will tell the real story.

I also had a consultation with a sleep disorder doctor today and he prescribed a sleep test to check if I have sleep apnea and if so, how severe it might be. I will have to spend a night at a facility hooked up to all sorts of wires and things. I've heard from others that it can be difficult to sleep during these tests. Hopefully I won't have that problem and they can get a good diagnosis.

I'll be updating my blog with the experience and results as they come in. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Busy at work

I have been busy for the past month preparing for a seven day workshop at work which just concluded this past Friday. The workshop was for our ITM Business Consultant program that started this year. I am one of three consultants that is helping to direct the program as we get started and this workshop was the first to begin teaching the methods and tools we will use.

I was responsible for coordinating the workshop which included attendees from Germany and Asia. There was a lot to do including hotel and conference room arrangements, meals, and evening activities as well as coordinating the overall content with the providers, Michigan State and a vendor from Germany.

We started last Friday night with a welcome banquet and then started in with the classes on Saturday morning, finishing up on Friday afternoon. Most days started early in the morning and finished up with dinner around 6:00 pm. We went to the Palace for the Pistons basketball game one night to break up the routine. Most of the attendees from Germany and Asia had never been to an NBA game before so it was a treat for them.

My off season training basically came to a halt for the past week, unless you count 12 ounce curls as weight training. We did a lot of training using this method. Their last night here saw us hitting several of the local establishments, capping off the night at JD's Key club, a dueling piano bar. It also happened to be date night at the bar, the U of M frats had asked out their girlfriends and charted two big buses so they wouldn't have to worry about driving back home. Good thing they did, most probably couldn't have found their cars. The girls were dressed up in party dresses with low cut back and fronts; in their inebriated state it made for quite a scene. The German visitors seemed to enjoy the show.

I did get out for a few hours on the bike Saturday and today. I was able to hit up the local trails and back roads. At Addison Oaks I was the first one on the trails; it's always a treat to have undisturbed snow to ride through. The weather looks like it will not be very good for riding so I guess it's back on the trainer.