Monday, May 31, 2010

You can go home again, sort of

The three day holiday weekend allowed me a chance to partake in a variety of activities, starting Saturday with a XC race at a trail fairly close to me in Rochester, Bloomer park. I don't ride there very often so I made sure to ride the trails twice last week to try and pick what gearing I would use on the bike.

In some ways the trails are similar to parts of the LOHS trails but Bloomer also has more flat areas and some longer climbs. Picking the right gear ratio is never easy at courses like that. I started with an easy gear on the first ride, made it harder for the second, and picked a compromise for the race.

On race morning my stomach wasn't feeling 100% plus the anticipated race time temps in the upper 80's prompted me to switch the gearing back to the one I had on the first ride, fairly easy. In the end I'm glad I listened to reason.

I purposely started out slow, 6th out of 10, and just tried to keep a steady pace and not overdo it. I passed a few riders and was in 4th or so and kept taking it easy. On the second lap I got stuck behind a young girl in the race just as we entered a long section of trail that was very narrow and went along the side of the hill. There was no place for her to pull off and I felt bad for her as she was obviously nervous. I finally got around but the wait cost me a lot of time.

On the final lap I caught up to another rider in my class and I thought we were racing for 4th and 5th place. He got away from me but I got up behind him again a little ways from the finish. I stayed right on his wheel but didn't have the power left to pass so I ended up crossing the finish line 7 seconds behind. As it turns out we were 2nd and 3rd place. Overall I was happy with my result given the way I felt at the start. Plus I ran a smart race and never really blew up or cramped. Next week we are going down to near the Indiana border to support a race sponsored by our team shop. I haven't raced at the course in many years.

After getting dinner at home I drove down to my parent's house east of Cleveland to spend the night. The next day they wee going to participating in a one mile walk as part of a bigger event during the Chagrin Falls Blossom Time Festival. I hadn't been in the town for a while and while they were walking I walked around the town seeing how things had remained the same yet changed.

Chagrin Falls was featured in the 1977 movie The Gathering, which was supposed to take place in New England but the town is very much like a town you might find in Vermont or New Hampshire, except that the houses and incomes are probably two or three times those in the northeast. However with the incomes also comes a change in the once sleepy town to a more upscale and exclusive attitude. The town still has its charm and beauty.

I didn't actually grow up in the town but close by. They were a rival in high school yet I went to church in the village and new quite a few kids there. Sandy and I ended up getting married at the church in Chagrin. Lots of good memories but a long time ago.

Leaving Chagrin I drove out to the memorial gardens that my mom helps to maintain. I had heard a lot about them but had never seen them. I was impressed with the size of the gardens and the care that has gone into them. The edges of the walks were lines with brick in memory of loved ones. I found the one for my sister that was located under a bench so I sat there for a while remembering.

One of the other reasons for heading down to Ohio was to attend an open house at the park where I had my first official job over 40 years ago. Wiegand's Lake Park is in some ways a throwback to simpler times with a picnic grove, swimming lake complete with rowboats and paddle boats, softball field and horseshoes, concession stands and a dance hall. The grounds were always in immaculate shape, partly due to the hired help that constantly was on patrol picking up litter and emptying waste cans. In fact, that was my first job, litter patrol.

The park is not open to the general public but instead rented out to companies and organizations for picnics and other functions. One of the high points was the food provided by the park, always home made. The custard stand was another highlight.

The park is now being run by Wendy, the daughter of the people I worked for. I graduated with her and when my dad's company or our church had their picnics at the park she and I would usually hang out together. I hadn't seen her since school but lately have been catching up via Facebook.

Arriving at the park the entrance and parking lot was just as I remembered, complete with a law enforcement officer directing traffic. But once I got onto the grounds it was impressive to see all the improvements that had been made. Wendy and crew have been really working to add to or update just about everything. But more important they have kept everything that made the park special.

I got a chance to see Wendy's mom who is still helping out in the kitchen. We had a nice chat and she is still as sharp as ever. My parents had to leave but I stuck around a little while longer to visit. I may stop by again the next time I am down there to visit my parents.

It was nice to see some things were actually better than you remembered as a kid, I also swung by the house where I grew up, unfortunately a lot of the big trees have come down over the years due to their age. But the house itself is in good shape.

I always enjoy visiting my parents and fortunately for now they are still relatively close, only 3.5 hours away. I should get down there more often but it always seems there is too much stuff going on around here. Definitely something I need to work on.

My parents starting their walk

The walkers started after the runners

The popcorn stand has been a fixture in Chagrin Falls forever

The church where Sandy and I got married

The memorial gardens

Wendy and her mom, my first boss

The lake with swimming and boating

The original custard stand

Brand new wedding spot down by the lake

These tables probably weigh 500 pounds with all the coats of paint over the years

Wendy was prooudn of her new bathrooms and the floors, complete with her requested glitter

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