Saturday, January 30, 2010

Too short a visit

Emily, Oliver and Isabel came in to town Wednesday afternoon and left this morning to fly back to Spokane. Jason had gone back earlier in the month and the rest of the family had been visiting Emily's relatives in Indiana. That meant they had been away from home for five weeks. I know that as much as they liked visiting they were anxious to get home. And Jason was glad to have them back as well.

It was amazing the how fast the two kids had grown just in the month since we had last seen them. It was fun playing with them and almost watching them develop before our eyes. I'm sure the next time we see them they will have really grown. Hopefully we can get out to Spokane this summer after Emily has their next child.

Sandy and I took the family to the airport early this morning and saw them through check-in and security. The line inside was really long and we were worried that they wouldn't make their flight. After checking the bags the security line was also long. Fortunately the guards waved Emily and the kids to a special checkpoint to expedite their processing.

I'm not sure if it was because the kids were in the big double passenger stroller or that Emily was pregnant or that they didn't want the kids to have to wait in the long line. In any case they made it through and got to gate as the flight was beginning to board.

Their flights were on time and they arrived at home safe and sound although their two car seats that had been checked didn't seem to make the flight. Hopefully they show up soon as other items were packed with the seats. In the meantime the airline offers loaner car seats.

After leaving the airport Sandy and I went to the Eastern Market to stock up on fresh produce. We had never been there in the winter and while it was cold in some of the buildings, it also wasn't as crowded as we were used to. It was nice to be able to park close and also browse the merchandise without fighting the crowds.

Once back at home I headed out on the bike for a 3+ hour ride. The sunny skies and lack of much wind meant the ride didn't feel nearly as cold as the thermometer indicated. But my frozen water bottle said otherwise. Fortunately it was my second bottle, the first one was consumed before freezing.

While I felt OK during the ride and my knee doesn't really bother me much, once off the bike it definitely hurts. This week I finally made and appointment to go see a doctor that specializes in knee pain. He comes highly recommended by a friend who has used him.

I don't get to see him until the 8th so I may not race my own winter race coming up next weekend at Lake Orion High School. And until I find out if it is anything serious, I also don't know what races I am going to do this year. Maybe it is just a deep bruise that requires a little more time to heal.

Tomorrow is the MMBA annual meeting in Lansing. I'm driving over early to help the Cannondale rep set up his merchandise and hopefully come back home early as well. They also have a swap meet but I don't really need anything in the way of bike parts. If anything I should sell some of the extra stuff I have laying around.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nuts to you (and fruits and veggies)

Since shortly after the start of the New Year I have changed my eating habits, both for a more healthy lifestyle and to see if it makes any difference in my riding performance. Late last year I had begun to do some investigation in to the Paleo diet, sometimes called the caveman diet.

The word "diet" has the image of something you do to lose weight and seems to be a temporary thing. This is more of a change in eating habits that also brings about weight loss as a benefit, not as the primary goal. The Paleo in the strictest sense does not allow most foods that would have not been around during the caveman's time, before agriculture became a common practice.

This means that it focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish, and lean cuts of meats. Gone are the grains, dairy, sugars, fatty meats, legumes and some starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Depending on who the author is, there may be other items either allowed or disallowed. At first glance it would appear all the good food is literally off the plate.

For endurance athletes it presents a problem since carbohydrates are a big source of our energy. It is hard getting enough from fruits and veggies but a revised Paleo diet for athletes makes some allowances for extra sources of carbs immediately before, during, and after exercise. For the rest of the time you should be following the guidelines. But it is expected that from time to time you allow yourself a cheat meal or item.

So, for the last three weeks I have been eating a lot healthier than I have in the past but it has been a struggle at times to find the right foods or meals, especially when you consider other members of the family that don't share the same limitations on diet. It has meant that some meals may be compromises or that an ingredient is left out or a portion or even something else altogether is chosen.

I have also found that eating healthier is also more expensive as cheap food is usually loaded with things that are not good for you. Fresh is expensive. And it doesn't even have to be organic.

My results seem to be typical of most who start on the diet, I lost over 10 pounds in the three weeks since starting. A lot of that was probably water loss. I also initially noticed a surge in energy as my body was cleansing itself of the bad stuff. As other endurance athletes had noted , you hit a low point before starting to rebound and have greater endurance and recovery. I think I was at the low point last week, so now I hope things start to improve.

I have been cooking some meals and eating things that I never would have before. I think my taste buds have become more sensitive and things taste sweeter or saltier than before. Looking for Paleo recipes I discovered a great egg breakfast that includes chorizo, onions and raisins. I used chicken chorizo and it tasted great. Today I made a stew that included turnips and parsnips. I don't know when the last time was that I had those two vegetables but found I enjoyed the taste. And I rediscovered brussel sprouts.

I have cheated a few time such as eating a hamburger on a bun and also a hot dog last week. Yesterday I had a few pieces of pizza. But I found that once I ate them I didn't seem to feel as well. But they sure tasted good. It will be interesting to see how long I can keep this up. I may find that I have to modify the rules to suit our budget, meal constraints, or my training needs.

Yesterday I met up with some of my singlespeed buddies for a back road ride and I finished up with four hours. I could that I didn't have quite the energy or strength I normally would but expect that to change over the next few months. Today I did a two hour ride but decided to stay inside due to the rain.

My knee is still bothering me a little and I think the time has come to finally get it looked at. Hopefully it something that will just go away with time.

This week will be busy as Emily and the grand kids come back into town for a few days before leaving for home. And then Sunday is the MMBA annual meeting in Lansing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Farmer Jason

Jason found that his wireless network will extend to the barn where the chickens are now so we video chatted the other day while he was looking in on the birds. Amazing thing, the Internet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Egg and I

With Jason and Emily getting into chicken raising and farming we thought it would be funny to get them the set of Ma and Pa Kettle DVD's for Christmas. Appropriately the first title is The Egg and I. Sandy and I have most of the set on video tapes and watched them so much that we took to calling each other Ma and Pa. If you saw some of the places we lived in the country there was a resemblance to one or two of the houses in the movies.

Last week Jason called to inform us he was about to head out to pick up 20 more chickens, mostly grown. It seems a family had started raising them as a project for their kids but that didn't last too long once the birds got bigger.

These are already laying eggs and the day after getting them Jason got his first return on the investment. All of the chickens are now in the barn so the basement has been returned to normal. At some point we will be seeing the birds live since he discovered the wireless signal reached to the barn. Now that is something I don't remember seeing in the movies.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Get out and ride

This week the weather conditions have made the trails used by snowmobiles perfect for riding. Plus the temperatures have been moderate, or at least not as cold as last week. With highs in the low 30's and lows in the 20's it is easy to stay warm.

Everyone in SE Michigan who is sitting on trainers preparing for the coming race season needs to get out and ride right now while the riding is good. I don't think it will last through the weekend. Not only is the trail riding a refreshing change of pace it helps to practice some of the technical skills so that you aren't as rusty once the trails are ready this spring.

This morning I spend a couple of hours on the local trails since there were in such great shape. In fact, some spots were faster than in the summer due to rocks and ruts being smoothed over by the snow. It was easy to pretty much stay in the big ring for much of the ride. The heavy frost put an icy coating on most of the branches which made it seem like riding through a fantasy land.

The pictures at the top is of the LOHS winter course. This is the sledding hill that bikes ride down each lap and the runners go up. The photo at the bottom of the page is how most of the trail looks on the school property. The grounds crew has kept the course plowed to make it easier to keep up when we get more snow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New rides

Sandy and I each picked up new rides this week. Mine requires pedal power and hers fossil fuel.

The lease was up on the Nitro back in November and we were debating what to do with it when they announced that the company car program was being reinstated. We placed an order for the PT Cruiser and crossed our fingers that it would get built and delivered before we had to turn in the Nitro after getting the maximum two month extension on our lease.

We couldn't have timed it much closer, just like the material supply systems I work with, it arrived with little time to spare. We picked it up this past Thursday and turned in the Nitro the following day. We would have liked to keep the Nitro since Sandy took good care of it and it had low mileage, plus it had four wheel drive but the PT was cheaper in the long run. And, being a corporate lease we don't have to worry about mileage, insurance or maintenance.

We had one of the first Cruisers before they were available to the public. That was fun since everyone wanted to look at it and would follow us on the freeway and into parking lots. Now they are a little dated but a nice utility vehicle for cheap. Plus Sandy finally got heated seats and she likes the satellite radio.

My bike is Cannondale's only singlespeed offering for 2010, the Trail 29'er SL 5. It is a basic, no frills bike that I wanted to get to use for training in sloppy weather plus as a potential commuter this summer. I have made a few changes such as a different saddle and the fenders but I don't plan on changing much else. It's heavy compared to my race bike but is perfect for what I intend to use it for.

This past week's warmer weather has pretty much stopped the XC skiing but the snowmobile packed trails have firmed up to the point where they are just about perfect for riding. Almost like riding on dirt.

I started back lifting weights in the fitness center last week after a long absence since my rib injury. I am really sore all over my body now, even though I started off easy. It will take a while to get back some of the fitness I lost but by race season I should have adapted.

We have the day off from work tomorrow for MLK day. It should be another great morning for a ride.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

LOHS Races for 2010

I met with the LOHS school race coordinator yesterday to lay out tentative race dates for 2010. Here are the dates as we have them planned for now. More information will be posted as we firm up the details but I expect the races will follow the same structure as last year. We have extended the school portion of the trail by about a mile since the race last October and we have two more sections of singletrack to complete next spring. Beginner racers will ride almost the entire loop due to the new course layout but we plan on having a much shorter loop designed for elementary students this year.

Saturday Feb 6 3rd Annual Winter Running and MTB races

Wednesday June 9 Evening training XC race
Wednesday June 16 Evening training XC race
Wednesday June 30 Rain date

Saturday October 23 3rd Annual Fall Harvest Running and MTB races

We also began to lay the groundwork for the formation a scholastic MTB league. Hopefully more news on that initiative later this spring.

Ski conditions - finally!

The snow we got a few days ago meant that there is finally enough to go XC skiing without worrying about scraping the bottom of the skis on bare ground. This morning I skied around the school trails and then over and around Bald Mountain. The air was cold but the sun was shining on the powdery snow causing it to sparkle like diamonds.

Later in the afternoon Sandy and I skied around the Bald Mountain lake and nature trail under mostly blue skies. We are going to try and get over to Stony Creek tomorrow to ski there. I ride there quite a bit but have never skied. They groom the trails which will be a nice change but I hope that the numerous users haven't thinned out the snow cover too much.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More laughs

After looking at the last post I thought I would show the opposite extreme. I don't think I started growing my hair longer until junior high.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Hey, I used to have hair

This was 20 years ago but Sandy wasn't the only one that had longer hair. Of course she still has hair.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Christmas memories



One of the items we received from my parents this Christmas was a USB flash drive loaded with pictures of family Christmases starting back in 1952. My dad used to take a lot of slides and has started to convert them to digital format. It was great to look back and relive the memories and watch how things and people changed over the years.

Sandy, Greg and I had started to watch it the day after Christmas but decided to wait until Jason got back yesterday. Last night we stayed up until after midnight looking at the pictures. Some brought up interesting discussions on family history. Others brought back memories of long forgotten gifts and moments. It was also fun to see when certain items of decoration first appeared and how the various houses we lived in were decorated. Anyone who has watched Mad Men would recognize a lot of the styles of the period.

Obviously in over 50+ years some of the people(and pets)pictured are no longer with us so it was a nice was to show them to the kids or just remember them in general. It was amazing how some photos of the kids and relatives when they were younger really display the family resemblances we may not have noticed before or forgotten. I noticed a few poses that have been repeated over the years among our own family, whether subconsciously or not.

I was particularly taken with the early photos of my wife in our first years together. I always thought she was a hottie and have to admit that it was one of the things that first attracted me to her. Looking at the older pictures I can see how lucky I was to marry her, she was even better looking than I remembered. And as we have aged she has lost nothing to her early looks, she just keeps getting better. I am one fortunate guy.

I hope my dad gets a chance to get more of the slides copied for us to see. I wish I still had our early family photos but unfortunately a lot of them were damaged by water.

Sandy and I went for a hike on the trails today and took our dog Oliver. I decided to give my knee a rest for the day by hiking instead of riding. It was cold enough that Sandy was able to wear her wool hat I gave her years ago. If it is much above 15 degrees it is almost too warm for her. I think it makes her look like a movie star.


Friday, January 01, 2010

1st Post

For 2010.

Happy New Year!

We managed to stay up to ring in the new year but we were in bed 15 minutes later. Real party animals here. But I was able to get up reasonably early this morning and get out to ride for a while.

We received about an inch of fluffy snow overnight and it was still snowing slightly as I was riding. The trails were still able to be ridden without too much trouble and the ice was buried below enough snow that studded tires didn't make much difference.

It was a little colder out on the roads as the temps were in the low 20's but the wind was blowing enough to cut through you. I think this made the tenth year in a row that I have ridden outside on January 1st.

Today was a good day for other members of the family as Ohio State won the Rose Bowl. We had a party at our house with some friends to watch the game. In spite of being a Michigan fan I was rooting for the Buckeyes to win. I want to see the Big Ten do well in the post season. Plus a win for the Buckeyes may make the rest of 2010 a little better on the home front, at least until next November.

Jason arrives tomorrow and will be here until his flight home on Monday. Emily and the kids arrive at the end of the month for a few days before they also fly back west. It will be good to see the family again, even for a short while.

I'm still trying to figure out my racing plans for this year. I have a few races I would like to do but not sure if I will compete in one of the local series or just pick and choose those of most interest to me. Some of the decision will depend on which race team I am on this year. Whichever team, it will be on a Cannondale branded bike.