Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mountain versus Road

We are in Sedona AZ today and I decided that I wanted to go biking. And being as mountain biking is a big thing around here I figured it'd be a good opportunity to give it a try. I'm a pretty decent road biker (if I do say so myself) so I figured I ought to stand a chance on the dirt.

I talked to the guy at the bike shop, said I was a road biker, and asked what trails he recommended. They had a map so he showed me the main trail that started right across the street. But that trail wasn't particularly long so he recommended going about half way up it and then taking this other trail. That sounded good to be so off I went.

I discovered fairly quickly that my rental had the most squeaky brakes ever, that was annoying, but so it goes. All in all the thing was harder to propel. That's to be expected though given the weight and the fact that it wasn't necessarily so properly fitted to me.

Once I hit the dirt and all of its numerous accompanying rocks I discovered the joy of the mountain bike design. I felt those obstacles but all in all the ride was no where near as jarring as my road bike (particularly my awesome new road bike which is partially carbon and lets me feel every bump in the road).

I also discovered that mountain biking can be scary. For me it was alot like skiing. They can be totally awesome and I'm sure I'd love them. But I'm also not at all very practiced in the sports so I spend much too much time concerned that I'm going to fall over. And on a mountain bike this falling over involves falling onto hard dirt (which is also dirty) and rocks. Not exactly so ideal. It seems to require a lot more control on a mountain bike to keep it going where you want.

It also seemed to take quite a bit more power (although my being winded could also be because I'm not nearly as in shape as I was this summer), and I found it nearly impossible to maintain any speed.

But enough of that back to my story!

So I went down the main trail. Went the wrong way once, hit a parking lot figured I must be wrong went back found the main trail again and managed to keep it this time. When I got to the other trail he had recommended I was speculative that it was actually a trail. It looked more like a narrow washed out portion down the hill. But there were bike tracks, down I went.

Before that I was of the mind that I was capable of this mountain bike thing. I'd gone up and down and over and around rocks. Some of the stuff was even like crazy jagged rocks and ledges that would be a few inches up and what not. I quickly realized that I had been on the "nice" trail and that this new devilry is most likely 'real' mountain biking. It was something similar to somewhat loose jagged rock in a significant downgrade with some curves thrown in for good measure.

Going down I would stop probably ever 25 feet because I either thought I was going to or actually did nearly fall off. At least once I definately executed a jump off the bike because I'm falling but try to make it look like I meant to do that maneuver. It was impressive.

I got down to the bottom of the mess and it really didn't look like the trail was anything more trail like after that. And so I conceded. Back up the craziness I went. And somehow I was actually able to ride the whole way up (albeit granny gear).

And off on my nice trail like trail I went again all the way to the end. On this one part there was some kind of mound running across the trail, I don't know the purpose. But it was on a down hill so I had a bit of speed and on a whim I pulled up the front to become airborne. Such things are actually possible on mountain bikes, and I must say they really are quite a bit of fun.

All in all good times. I'm definately not ready to give up my road bike (especially since it's awesome, shiny, light, new, and awesome). But it really would be cool to have the opportunity to do more mountain biking and learn to be able to handle some of the tougher stuff. Inevitably this is such awesome mountain biking territory here, I'm not sure that they have such cool places at home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I used a #3

I have lived the alt tag.

Although I did become a bit more speedy with all of the AP test drilling.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

All growed up.

So last weekend I was in the final stages of my laptop hunting and so I wanted to make a trip to BestBuy to look at what they had there. And of course I took TRM with me.

She wanted to visit the nearby Linens and Things store because it's going out of business and so having a 'whole store' kinda sale going on (although seriously the stuff still wasn't particularly cheap, the real world is much to expensive for my tastes). So we stopped there first.

While we were walking around with no real goal in mind it occured to me that quite a few months back I had put a new pillow on my list of things to buy sometime. I had 3 pillows all which were quite squashed and not so awesome anymore. And then I thought I had solved the problem when I absconded with a pillow from Grandma's house as she was moving out. Sadly though it was only a small step above what I only had.

So there I was browsing the pillow section of the store. And seriously who buys pillows that cost over $100 - that's crazily crazy. I found myself a nice $15 one. I'll admit the expensive ones are better than it I'm sure. But definately not like 10X better. But I digress.

The interesting thing about the whole experiance was that it just made me feel quite particularly like I was an adult now. As a child pillows were just there. They materialized of their own accord I'm pretty sure. Probably with some parental assistance, but I most certainly did not ever have anything to do with the matter.

And there I was walking out of the store with the pillow that I just spent my hard earned income on.

I suppose maybe eventually I'll become a bit more accustomed to the whole on my own, not a child thing.

Or maybe it's better to maintain this innocent fascination with the silly little things in life.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I finally did it.

Towards the end of my last year of college I started to notice that my computer seemed to be slowing down some. Inevitably 3 years of hard use was taking it's toll. I easily admit that I'm not particularly easy on computers. Running 3 programs (an internet explorer, aim, and a music player) is about the minimum of what I will ever have up. And I like to find new things and play with them: new picture managers, cool programs like Gimp, etc. So invariably the dell was decent enough when I first got it, but given what I wanted to be doing not quite so up to snuff.

So that spring I actually started researching laptops, mostly as an idle dream. Then around graduation time (of year, not when I actually graduated myself) my parents said that they'd buy me a laptop as a graduation present - yippie! So the old computer chugged along into the summer quite well enough (I thought it was questionable then, but I now know better) through the summer as I contemplated my options.

Memorial day weekend hit and the good old Taurus met it's demise in spectacular fashion alongside the highway (good pictures that car fire did make). And as fate would have it my parents decided to contribute $1000 towards the purchase of a new vehicle. Have I ever mentioned that I hate cars. Because seriously I do. They just suck the fun out of life as I see it.

But I never gave up browsing the computer sites and dreaming of the day when I would have a shiny new bit of technology for my very own. I continued on with the old monster of a desktop. For a time it served well enough. But by last fall it was showing its age a bit too much. I stopped using it for much of anything involving new programs. And I even tried to avoid any non-vital program updates as much as possible. By this summer just trying to surf the internet while chatting with a friend could be difficult.

However I am a thrifty little bugger. During the first few months of my job I was seriously not spending any money outside of basic necessities. And so by the time I hit January when I started to seriously investigate my finances I had saved up quite the neat little safety cushion. And so when I prepared my budget spreadsheet the computer column was born. Dilligently I saved.

And as I saved I continued to ogle and drool over all of the pretty laptops on the interwebs.

My little pile of cash grew, and the goal was getting quite near. At last I finally decided to make a decision and go through with it.

I suck at decisions. By my logic my ridiculous hair is a perfect example of this. I'll just make do with what I have instead of having to decide something. Personality flaw number 83 maybe.

But last Saturday I seriously and for real when through with it.

For under $975.21 (including tax and shipping) I purchaed, from Best Buy. A Dell Studio 15. It has some pretty sweet specs. 2.1 processer, 4G RAM, 320 HD, WXGA+, bluetooth, webcam, much much shinyness.

After much waiting with bated breath and a literal recreation of this: online package tracking , my laptop arrived on Wednesday evening. Since then pretty much all of my non-work and non-sleep time has been spent with the laptop within arms reach. Yup, I'm that much of a dork.

There is just so much awesomeness to discover.

There are also a few potentially serious flaws. But I'm avoiding that.

Right now at this very moment. I have open Mozilla where I am typing this, AIM where I am chatting with Little One, I have Ruckus open and playing music, and iTunes is also open because I'm running some other little crazy program (that is a serious ram hog btw) that is supposed to be eliminating duplicates from iTunes, because after the transfer of songs onto here (plus a transfer from an external onto the old computer a few months back when we had to re-format the drive because of a battle between the old computer and something mean presumibly from the internet, and really the poor old thing didn't stand a chance) my iTunes library is pretty bad form. A bit ago I was not typing this or listening to Ruckus but I was watching the Dancing With The Stars that I missed from this week. It ran without a hitch, and even looked pretty durn good. [Although seriously I can't believe Cloris is still on the show - wtf people!]

I still can't believe I spent all that money on something so superfilous. So weird.

Oh that reminds me of another post I wanted to make last weekend.....

Monday, October 13, 2008


After working 12 straight days I always go a bit nutty and can’t wait for the weekend. Last week was no different. This time I seemed to have hit the weekend with a bit more emphasis than normal.

I had all these thoughts of things I wanted to do whirling through my head. And so rather promptly after arriving home from work on Friday I sat down and typed out the following list on my aim where I updated it as I completed things:

Clean car (inside and out)
Finish laundry – whites
Do laundry – darks
Clean room
Clean kitchen (after apple madness)
Make apple sauce
Make apple butter
Start abstract Christmas tree paper cutting
Complete at least 1 window office art things
Complete at least 1 vase Christmas present
Learn to double knit, start Christmas present
Take out winter clothes, put away summer clothes
Sort canning jars

I later added “hike 6 miles, and go on hot date with a watchmaker” when said date asked why it wasn’t on the list (cuz it was the fun activities not the at home chores).

But of that all I completed the following:
Cleaned my car inside and out
Finished laundry darks and whites
Cleaned my room
Made 7 quarts of applesauce
Made approximately 3.5 quarts of apple butter
Finished the abstract Christmas tree paper cutting
Completely refinished and painted my window art
Finished 1 vase Christmas present
Learned to double knit and got the yarn to start the present
Swapped my seasonal clothing
Sorted our canning jars and even cleaned most of them
Hiked 3-4 miles (seriously up a mountain)
Went on a "hot" date with a watchmaker

All in all I am ridiculously proud of myself I did a freaking lot this weekend. It’s awesome feeling. Except that I’m also feeling way too tired today. *sigh* Can’t win them all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sailing the celestial spaces.

Yesterday TRM and I drove an hour down into Maryland to go to a REI store there that was having a "Backpacking 101" seminar/class thing.

I was a bit anxious as it was my idea and I was worried that it'd be stupid and that's alot of driving for something stupid.

But good news! it wasn't stupid and quite worthwhile.

First of all REI is an outdoors enthusiast mecca. Seriously the place freaking rocks. Tons and tons of camping stuff. Oodles of biking things. Spiffy clothes, etc. And as an awesomely awesome bonus the workers actually know what they're talking about and can like help you out with what to get. Sweetness.

The seminar itself was rather interesting. The presenter was an employee/avid hiker. Basically he talked just a bit about general things like planning and leave no trace, but then just tried to go through all the stuff you need for backpacking. He explained it all and told us what he uses and stories about absolutely everything. He knocked somethings down, talked others up. It was pretty freaking good.

So now I'm all psyced to go backpacking again.

I don't know if I've ever brought it up here before but TRM and I are planning next summer to go on a Sierra Club Beginner Backpacking trip. I came up with the idea last year and she was into it as well. So the thought was to start saving money now. The cost of the trip is $500ish with the Club. Then there's whatever (significant) cost to get out there (most of these trips are out on the West Coast) and possibly stay somewhere before/after. And last but most certainly not least is all of the gear.

Backpacking requires alot of gear. The thing last night reinforced this. Actually the whole experiance really left my head spinning, so much to think about.

Today I sat down and using the REI website put together a tentative list/budget of everything I need (well I suppose it really is more of a want) to aquire. I came up with $700 as a basic get the stuff I pretty much really need generally at a rather low price. Stuff that it would be nice to have/can be gathered over a longer period of time (although things like having not just 1 but 2 shirts are in this now as well as good to have but not necessary things like treking poles) are an extra $400.

Ouch. That is definately over my initial estimate of $500 for gear. Ah well in theory this stuff will last me for years. And shall provide years of awesomeness.

TRM and I are actually going out for our first hike this weekend. It's off to a bit of the Appalachian trail that is quite close to us. I'm thinking we'll do about 6 miles. And I'm excited.

In writing this I also found an amazing quote that just mentally 'took my breath away' if that makes any sense to you:

"How hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountain-top it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make - leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone - we all dwell in a house of one room - the world with the firmament for its roof - and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track." ~John Muir

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Gedächtnestag

Actually I’m a day late. And realistically Gedächtnestag was celebrated back on Sunday so I’m even more late. But I am writing today….so deal with it.

Now if you are a normal person you are probably sitting there confused. You could most likely care less what day Gedächtnestag is and are wondering more about how the heck one pronounces it, or more importantly what the heck it is….good question.

Let me start this story by informing you that I am a Schwenkfelder. And I’m proud of it.

What is a Schwenkfelder you may ask? Well a Schwenkfelder is a follower of the religious teachings of Caspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig. He lived way back in the 1500’s and one of his contemporaries was Martin Luther (whom hopefully you’ve heard of and know something about him and his 95 Theses and all). Schwenkfeld lived within the Holy Roman Empire in a place called Silesia (which is now round abouts where Poland is located) and he not only questioned Catholic practices, but also formed his own ideas that were outside of the Lutheran realm as well. His big teachings were thinking for ones self and coming to your own conclusions as well as following a “Middle Way.”

However inevitably Silesia (and most of the populated European world) were not so keen on the individual ideas thing and Schwenkfeld was labeled a heretic – ouch. He though did manage to gather a following, they called themselves Confessors of the Glory of Christ, luckly for me the name didn’t stick and these people would eventually become known just as Schwenkfelders. Those people continued to follow Schwenkfeld’s teachings despite a harsh political environment. Back then religion and politics were pretty much one in the same. And at that time in history the Holy Roman Empire, while ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor, was more like a bunch of smaller fiefdoms. And so an agreement had been made between the Emperor and all of the provincial rulers that each ruler could choose for himself if his lands would be Catholic or Lutheran. Unfourtionately Schwenkfelder was not an option, and so the valiant Confessors were persecuted.

By the early 1700’s it was getting pretty bad and the Schwenkfelder’s were seriously considering escaping their native lands to find religious freedom. After a temporary respite while staying on the lands of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendof, a pretty awesome and unbelievably liberal guy for the day, in Saxony their freedom was again in question and their thoughts turned to moving to the new world. Specifically they picked Pennsylvania where there people spoke of religious freedom, plus there was already a good contingent of German folk.

There were a few different migration groups however the largest set sail in 1734 and arrived in Philadelphia on September 22. Two days later on September 24th the Schwenkfelders held a day of Thanksgiving for having made the grueling journey to begin their new lives in the new world.

Each year, from then on, Schwenkfelders gather together on the Sunday closest to September 24 and together celebrate Gedächtnestag, or as we also call it Day of Remembrance. It is the oldest continually celebrated day of thanksgiving in the US (our claim to fame!).

On that day we take the opportunity to reflect upon our past. There is a traditional meal of bread, apple butter, and water. When I was younger I understood that we did that because when those pilgrims first landed that simple meal of fresh food was a feast. I now know that this is most likely not at all true, and I’m not sure if it’s a common misconception by everyone, or a child’s error. But it’s the tradition and we love us some apple butter. Some people even call it Apple Butter day.

Most importantly however is that we are remembering. The part that I love most about being a Schwenkfelder is our rich and vibrant history. What can I say, it makes me feel special. I love telling the story or even just teaching other people to pronounce the name.

I haven’t regularly attended church for over 4 years now having moved away most of the first 3 years for school and now having moved away for my job. And of all the reasons why I miss home being a practicing Schwenkfelder is probably what gets me the most.

But I still remember. And I figure that so long as I remember I’ll always be a Schwenkfelder at heart.

Happy Gedächtnestag!

Clause: The historical parts of this entry may not be 100% accurate as I was mostly just telling it from my own memory.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

5 days in a nutshell

Date: 7/8/08
Time: 6:15PM-7:15PMish
Distance: 11.936 miles
Average Speed: 13.3 mph
Time Moving: 54 minutes 07 seconds

Let's see what I can remember of this ride....

Well it had been planned that Jo and I would go out after work. She gets home later than I, generally between 5:30 and 6. Originally I was thinking that we would ride a whole loop, 20 miles, which is approximately 2 hours. But then we realized that the Olympics opening ceremony started at 7:30. The plan had to be changed.

So around 6ish Jo was home and we're getting all ready to go. I went through all my normal getting ready to ride routine of getting the water bottle, puting the cell phone and whatever else I'm taking in the pack, checking the pressure on and adding extra air to the tires. And I was ready to go. So I wheel out of the garage and Jo comes behind me.

I look at her bike and I'm like "umm...forget something?" She looked at me somewhat quizzically and I pointed out that her rear tire was completely flat. Which was odd being as it just came back from the shop, but whatever. So she goes to pump it up and it is determined that she has a flat. D-oh.

So she goes inside to go get a spare and change the tire and I ride around our little loop. I pull back in the drive way and she's unfurling the new tube. I've never actually changed a tire (kinda not idea for as much as I ride now, but hey we'll cross that bridge when we get there) so I thought the tube looked a bit off but didn't comment much. Then I saw the valve. "Umm is that going to fit"? See we both have road bikes with those little skinny tires. And those skinny tires have smaller valves, Presta valves. The tube she had in her hands had a Schrader, larger and what most people are used to, valve. She thought it might still fit, but called the bike shop before she tried...and it was a no go.

So then the plan was completely scrapped and I went off on my own and she went to the bike shop to exchange the spares for ones that would actually work for our bikes, so that she could ride the next day.

Other than all that it was a quite uneventful ride. Although I totally was working hard and pushing myself and so managed to post my fastest average speed yet of 13.3. Yay!

Oh and the Olympics opening ceremony was pretty cool. People in China are crazy. Staying up late to watch that was just the beginning of many nights to come.

Date: 7/9/08
Time: 8:20AM-I don't remember probably 11:20ish
Distance: 31.543miles
Average Speed: 12.0 mph
Time Moving: 2 hours 37 minutes 11 seconds

The next morning came early. But we managed to drag our lazy butts out of bed and were in the saddle on 20 minutes behind schedule.

It was crazy cool, for August that is, and so I got to wear my awesome arm warmers that I got back when it had just started to turn from cool into the summer heat. They were quite good and I like them. I have this amazing ability to be constantly cold. And the wind you generate biking can, in my opinion, make it quite chilly.

Jo was impressed how much faster it seemed like I could go. And it does feel faster, although the final averages speeds don't seem all that impressive.

I was originally hoping to go for 40 miles, and we probably could have pushed it and done it. But I was feeling fatigued even in the first 10 miles so decided to cap it at 30 miles for the day.

One amusing part was where we made our turn-around to go back was just after a long straight on a nice, although sometimes there are cars, road. Heading out, away from home, we were fighting against the wind. I hate wind it is evil and kills me every time. Jo was out ahead pumping away and I just started trailing. But when we turned around to come back you couldn't feel the wind at all any more and I was keeping up with her easily. I was even amusing myself by drifting (aka making her do more work to my own advantage).

So all in all, good, though not spectacular, ride. We then ran all of these errands which killed the whole afternoon somehow. But I did get supplies for some Christmas presents so I'm very proud that I'm finally actually going to work and plan ahead this year. And we also got more fishies - our tank is looking significantly more awesome, and less empty, now. And that evening we watched a bit of Olympics then went and saw Mamma Mia. Which I totally recommend. It's out there and in a good many ways pretty bad. But just so much fun that it trumps any flaws. And after the movie it was even more Olympics and a much too late bedtime, again.

Date: 7/10/08
Time: 8:15am-10:15am-ish
Distance: 23.813 miles
Average Speed: 12.7 mph
Time Moving: 1 hour 52 minutes 26 seconds

It was even more difficult to get up on Sunday. But again somehow we managed it.

Honestly I don't remember much from this ride. Maybe the sleep deprivation was getting to me.

Back on the Thursday prior I had wanted to do 60 on Sunday. But riding that morning I could feel there was no way that would happen. Up on the bike while peddling away, when I am normally quite awake, I totally wanted to take a nap - not idea.

Although we really were pushing it for the first 10 miles or so. Theres this one mostly flat, maybe a bit down hill section that has gentle curves but its open so you can see what's ahead. It's my favorite spot of the ride, albeit brief and I typically race through it a bit. When we hit there today we happened to be behind a small group of other bikers. Jo was ahead and was itching to pass. So when we hit the spot, having come off of some hills, she sped up to get in front. And I sped up with her....and we were definitely flying along at 20mph for a bit. Pretty durn sweet if you ask me.

Oh! one other thing. One of the stops on Saturday errands was to Dick's sporting goods where I picked up the bike gloves that I've been drooling over for quite a while now. I wore them on Sunday and while I wasn't quite sure initially, it seemed like the padding wasn't hitting where I thought it should, I didn't notice ever having the pain in my hands that I'll normally get on a ride - yay!

We just went with one loop, 20 miles, especially because we were originally going to go hiking that day as well. But both of us were pretty wiped and wanted to do things around the house.

So the hiking was canceled and I had a nice rather lazy Sunday: cleaned my room and the kitchen, read a bit, started testing and even had time to complete my Christmas present craft (it came out well, I'm happy). And of course watched the Olympics, got sucked in, and stayed up too late.

And now just because I've a bit of a theme going (the whole stay up too late Olympics thing) I shall deviate from the bike-centric blog, which this kind of-almost was.

So oddly enough while we were out on Saturday I got in line at Dick's Sporting goods and who is in the line next to us but Ally, who has been taking ballet class with me all summer. It was one of those slightly awkward moments where you first see someone in a completely new context. But the real point is that she said that our teacher had moved class to Monday. This was news to me, last I heard she had moved it from Tuesday (which was different than the original Thursday) to Thursday. But sure enough on Monday while I was at work she called and left a message to remind me that class was on Monday. Take note that it was a 'reminder' of the thing I had never been technically informed of.

In all of the original planning Monday was to be a day off so by body was not quite so keen on ballet. But I went anyways and my teacher denied that Thursday was ever an option - that irked me a bit. It was a rather uneventful class, except that I forgot my shoes -grr. And I came home and was sucked back into the Olympics, although I did exercise some will power and went to bed earlier than the past few nights.

So yesterday I finally got my rest day of no physical activity. And I used it to get a good bit of reading before, once again, letting my addiction get me. But womens team gymnastics was live. And since they're on the other side of the world that meant that it began at 10:30. But they were actually showing nearly al....

whoa the post was cut off by the MS annoying.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Date: 7/6/08
Time: 6:10-7:10ish
Distance: 11.647 miles
Average Speed: 12.3mph
Time Moving: 65:53

I'm back!

The last time I rode was July 19/20 when I participated in the Central PA MS ride. It consisted of riding up and down 100+ miles of way too many hills in scorching heat. Rock on.

So basically I'm crazy for this all. But it actually felt quite good to be back on the bike again after about 2.5 weeks off.

I made one serious adjustment to my bike. I raised the seat probably about 2 inches or so. Now I'm not a bike or fitting expert but I'm pretty sure that my bike frame is too big for me. So to compensate when I first started riding I lowered the seat so that it was all but sitting on the cross bar (this is a good 1+ inch lower than the 'do not lower past this line' on the seat post). This was just more comfortable for me. However as I rode more I realized that I wasn't extending my leg as much as I could, and should, but I didn't want to raise the seat before the big ride #1. A random guy on the ride actually said it looks like you should raise your seat...and I was like yea I know.

So anyways the seat is up so now I do quite literally have to hop on and off of the seat when I stop being as my leg does not reach the ground from the seat. But I do have quite a bit more power to my petal. It was pretty sweet. Felt weird...but hopefully I'll get used to it. I could get up to 16mph and maintain it much more easily. Although I was fatiguing quickly, I think that was more to do with the break/out of shapeness.

So seat change = good. Now I should just clean the drive train again (that was a mess last time) and if I can actually zip tie my cycloputer (thing that gives me those stats at the top) instead of twist tie-ing it to the frame my bike shall once again be tip-top.

Now that I'm done rambling on about that the actual ride:

Uneventful. Jo was sore from the gym so I went on my own. But it was just a short jaunt. I wanted to do an hour at try to make 12 mph. Check and check.

A rather amusing thing that happened was as I was approaching the big steep hill that is the start of the Greenbelt this other biker came out of no where and passed on my left. I don't know what I was doing but I was just poking along, still getting used to the new seat position I think. He was an older gentleman riding a mountain bike/maybe hybrid. I could tell that he was a somewhat serious rider by how he moved. And he was also wearing a volunteer shirt from the Tour'de'belt that I rode a few months ago.

So anyways he kind of blows by me in a not really 'greater-than-tho' fashion, but not particularly friendly like either. The gap between us grew, partially because I go slow on those crazy switchbacks. But then once we were down on the trail I found that I could go fast given my new bike-awesomeness so I kept him in my sights most of the whole ride. Then fairly close to the half way point he stopped for some reason and was standing there when I breezed (is that english?) by. By now feeling quite confident in my bike off I went. But then I soon started being all slow like again and was taking a drink when he came up next to me again. "I thought I left you way behind" he said. "Nope" I just smiled as he proceeded to get in front of me again and pedal away. I proceeded to not stay right on top of him, but definitely kept up for the 1 maybe 1.5 remaining miles before I turned around. I'm pretty sure he kept looking over his shoulder to see if I was there.

So that all was quite amusing. The most crazy part of my ride, in my humble opinion, came right near the end. The last 7/10 or so of our ride is downhill. Which is pretty sweet. So I'm just cruising along, seeing what speed I could keep up for it (a little over 20 mph). And I just happen to glance down a fairly wooded driveway on my right and what is standing in the middle of the drive way but a peacock. Now the plumage did seem a bit on the ragged side, but I'm positive it was a male peacock. Well that or I'm positive that I am delusional and I saw a male peacock. I was incredibly amused, considered turning around to check for my sanity's sake, but decided the uncertainty was more amusing, and proceeded home.
Jo says that peacocks do exist in the wild....but I think it's crazy that one could exist in 'the wild' of someones drive way in suburban Harrisburg.

Good times.

I intended to ride today but there a Thunderstorm so that plan was scratched. The new plan is to go out tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. 60 miles by Sunday maybe?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

40, 44, 25 - I am a slacker.

Sorry for the lack of posts just in case anyone is still reading this. Life and a lack of motivation caught up with me. So here's the rides I've done since I last posted. You may notice that they are much too few and far between.

Saturday July 5: 40 miles.
Jo and I got a fairly late start at 8:30 that morning. But being as I was perpetually out late at concerts that weekend so it goes. It was a bit overcast and we even were lightly misted upon but overall it was uneventful. After one lap Jo wasn't feeling it and her bike seemed to be complaining as well, so she went off home.

I was determined however. Given that the event was looming even then I knew I needed to do more. So I went for the second lap. I saw a doe and fawn at one point. They didn't even run completely away - crazy.

I made it home a bit before 1 and moved on to have what turned into a fairly rotten weekend. But thats neither here nor there for the purpose of riding.

Saturday July 12: 44 miles
So I didn't ride all that week in between. Total slackerage. But the rotten weekend blurred into my week and Jo wasn't feeling great either.

On Friday some bike stuff that I ordered from Amazon finally came in. Most importantly was a cycloputer. So now I know how fast and how far I go etc. Sweetness. Although go figure the package was missing the instructions. I've figured out most everything anyways I think.

Saturday owing in part to my excitement about my new gear and some half decent weather I was out by approximately 7:30. Jo was away all weekend so I was on my own.

It was a mostly uneventful ride save a few interesting occurances. First I noticed some fire truck setting up in the Farm Show complex on the first lap so I was like show or something? But didn't may that much mind. So then later as I'm just going on my merry own way down Riverfront park next thing I know I'm suddenly in the middle of some sort of Fire-people-history-i really don't know festival. Whoa. I carefully navigated my way through and at the first opportunity took to the road (front street). Now I don't even like driving front street because its like 3 tiny little lanes. I do not recommend being a slow bicyclist on it. Not cool. And then farther down it turns into just one lane one way (the opposite way) and people were parked all along both sides with people trying to drive through and me trying to bike going the opposite way past them. Really not my favorite.

Later on my second lap I 'rescued' a turtle. The path goes through this decent sized nature park and theres a road up into it. So I was just going along and past something on the road. Realized it was a turtle, stopped, turned around and proceeded to chase him to the other side/nearer to the pond/lake thing. Good deed done.

At the farm show there were dozens of fire trucks on display on the second lap and later at front street I managed to again not die.

Pulled in home just before noon. My average speed was 11 something. Not so fast as I would have liked but o well. At least I finally felt like I stood a chance at 50 miles.

O its also notable that I hit a top speed of 29.9 mph. Its even more interesting that that happens to be on a road with a speed limit of 25. Yay for large downhills.

Monday July 14: 25(ish) miles
Really it was just a basic uneventful ride around the loop once by myself.

The thing to really talk about actually occurred Sunday. I decided to clean my bike. I'd actually decided this a while ago, it was purchased from a yard sale and I think it sat in a garage or something for a long time before it came into my possession. But it was rather dirty in spots. So after doing a bit of shopping (purchases included padded shorts which btw are very very good) and gathering up supplies I set to work mid-afternoon.

Ideally one has a bike stand on which to put up your bike. Things are rarely ideal with me but I like to improvise. I backed my car up to the garage and put the bike rack on my trunk and angled it really low so that I could set my bike on it and have it still be out from the car. Score.

I then proceeded to remove the wheels (improperly of course being as I couldn't figure out how to release the brakes) and pin the chain back up using a knitting needled so i could still run it without hitting the frame. Yup - I'm awesome. I scrubbed that thing as much as I possibly could. The result: one moderately clean bike and me covered in grease splatters. Good stuff.

When I went out on Monday though you could feel the cleanness. It was amazing. And peddling was practically silent. I love it.

That is all. Jo and I are going out tonight for a loop before So You Think You Can Dance.

Good times.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

11.2 - I am slow

I was figuring on a short ride yesterday. Inevitably I have other things which make me not want to loose all of my evenings to crazy rides. So I was figuring on a short ride right after work. The idea was to try and go faster for the short distance.

That was the plan. Then I ended up staying over an hour later at work than I normally do. But I was still determined to go on the ride. So finally a bit after 6 we started off.

I am no good at riding fast. I couldn't maintain any higher speed than what I normally ride at. I just get fatigued so quickly. It's disheartening.

In general I feel for the past week like I've been becoming overwhelmed. Not just with these rides but kind of everything.

Now you may be thinking But Carlin there's a holiday weekend coming up. You'll have extra free time off and be able to rest and recuperate.

Nope, instead of having a nice little vacation I have 5 concerts to work. And realistically they're fun concerts and it's not like theres a box office to run. But still no possibility of evening rides or evening relaxation.

I shouldn't complain and I'm sure my positive demeanor should be returning soon. But some days.....

Monday, June 30, 2008

32.4 - and wet

On Sunday the weather did not cooperate. We had intended to go out in the morning again for another, probably not as long, ride. But when we woke up the skies were overcast and it looked like rain. All day it would go back and forth - sunny - ominous. And basically we totally could have ridden. But chickened out for fear of the crazy little storms that have been going around and terrorizing my plants.

So anyways, it was determined that we absolutely must get out today. The goal was 30 miles. And a secondary goal was to keep the pace at 12 mph or above. And Jo decided just to torture me even more by riding out ahead at faster rates thereby forcing me to be all somewhat speedy like.

When we reached just over 15 miles we stopped, had a snack, and then turned back around (thereby avoiding the nasty hills - yay).

One of the awesome part of our rides (except for all of the other people one must not hit) is riding along riverfront park. For those of you not familiar with Riverfront park it's just a thin strip of land that runs for quite a few miles along the Susquehanna and downtown Harrisburg. It is quite pretty.

Today we went both down and then back up riverfront park. At first it was just a normal trip back up. I was tired but still going. Then probably a third of the way up there was a bright flash of lighting off over somewhere a few miles on the other side of the river. And along with the singular lighting were giant grey clouds. Uh-oh.

It is also notable that riverfront park is still a good 10 miles or 45 minutes to an hour from home.

Jo made some comment about how we were going to get wet, we started contemplating various places to seek shelter (underpasses, gazebos, public buildings with overhangs...), and began to pick up the pace. Jo says we were doing about 15 mph back up the trail. I just know that it felt like I was going as fast as I possibly could (which was true).

We kept going and going up riverfront, to the east/north through a suburb, up over an evil bridge which is going through construction work. All as it got gloomier and gloomier.

On the other side of the bridge was the first really ideal safe-haven (a large gazebo in a nice park) but I opted to keep going as it was right after a downhill into a long straight stretch which I figured was the last I'd be able to crank out. On we went.

I promptly regretted continuing. And after a bit more it started truly raining on us, lightly as of yet. But we could see the rain off just a bit to our right (our west at that point).

Then the gusts of wind started hitting us. The rain I could deal with. I don't like being wet, and it was cold, but I could still peddle. The wind however...that stuff nearly stopped me in my tracks.

The rain was picking up and so we rode in to shelter under an overhang on the local community college campus. We contemplated who we could call to come rescue us as it began to serious pour. And by luck of the draw it seemed like there was no one around to rescue us.

After just a bit the rain seemed to be slacking off. From our shelter, looking south, it had never seemed like we were really in the storm. The sky was overcast but not stormy. It seemed like the storm was passing to our North!

Sure enough just about then my valiant prince charming returned my call. But given that his noble steed of a tiny black two door wouldn't be able to transport our bikes anyway I voted for continuing the ride and we'd call him if it got bad again.

Off we went again. There were some drops but the closer we got to home the more dry it seemed. We rolled into our garage at approximately 8:45 having left sometime around 5:40. Slightly drowned-rat-esque, but really no worse for the wear (at least so far).

Once I managed to move off of the couch we got ice cream from Friendlies being as they sent us a coupon and their marketing ploy worked and has had me craving ice cream the past few days.

It is way late now being as I had a project I needed to complete so I want to sleep. But first something needs to be mentioned of the fact that I've met goal #1!!!!!!!

Millions of thanks to everyone who donated. I really need to spend a better entry devoted to how much all of your support really means to me!

Thank you so much!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

30- Whew

I did it!

Given that we weren't able to get out last evening a 7am start time was decided upon.

We managed to be on the road by 7:25.

It started as quite a muggy foggy and a bit dreary day. But it did clear up some. Although the humidity never let up.

You may notice from my new picture up there that I've added some awesome things to my bike.

First there is the strange blue tube. This is part of an idea I had a while back. See I fail at water bottles. I have this bad habit of taking a drink then reaching down to put it back in the cage. But then I miss the cage, drop the bottle, and my back tire then runs right over it. Ooops.

Actually I had this idea before that ever happened but its a fun story so moving on....

I was thinking about/ discussing with Jo the usefulness of a Camelbak (that tiny backpack looking thing that has water and a tube from which to drink it running up over the shoulder). She said that she had used one and wasn't the biggest fan because the weight really can get to you on a long ride plus the whole makes your back hot. So then I came up with the idea of making a kind of water pouch that would hang from the frame on ones bike and then you could have a tube from which to consume the water. I would occasionally speculate on how I would accomplish this (I figured that sometime when I had too much free time I'd hang a plastic bag and use a tube from the hardware store or something and see if the idea was at all feasible.)

Jo and I however have this quite interesting dynamic going on. As with the formation of our riding team I spurt out random ideas and then she goes and actually does them. So this week a box from amazon showed up. She had purchased just the inside plastic part of a camelbak as well as the largest bike frame bag she could find. These items were promptly installed on my bike.

Over all I was very pleased with the system. The whole keeping of tube on frame and having it mobile enough to easily reach my face could use a little work. But I declare the idea good. I should patent them and sell them.

Second and more obviously noticeable/cool but it had less thought involved which is why I talked about the other first is my new 'hood' ornament. I sewed him completely by hand being as he is so crazy tiny using a pattern I found a while back online. He's awesome I love him and I'm making Jo one. We're also planning a trip to Jo-Ann fabric later today and I plan on getting many awesome colors from which to make many awesome penguins.

Think I could sell them to raise a bit of extra $ for the ride?

Thats all for now. I ought to try and do something with my day now.
Wish me luck that the next 30 won't hurt so much.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away

Well I was planning to get a good ride in today. But it just started pouring (like alot). Thats quite disappointing. Also, I hope it doesn't hurt my plants. Some of my vegetables actually have fruit!

However what is less disappointing is that I managed to sew an awesome tiny stuffed animal penguin. He is amazing and I shall make many more of him in many more colors. Yay!

*pictures coming soon (we hope)*

And millions and millions of Thanks to Chrissy and the Benfields. You guys rock!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Today we rode 28.4 miles.

It's rather amazing how easily one can kill an evening biking. It's also amazing how much water one can consume.

Overall I'd say it was a good ride. I felt rather strong for the first 2/3 of the ride. Hit a low point at the same place as last ride. But once again managed to gather a second wind after getting up the hill. And powered it back all the way home. Hooray. And I didn't walk any hills at all.

Also of note today I put the toe clips back on my bike. The jury is still out on their worthiness. Plus they do make crossing streets a bit more dangerous, but it could just be a learning curve issues. Besides they make me feel like maybe I actually know what I'm doing.

Next up on the biking equipment get list is a pair of biking shorts and sport sunglasses. Something definitely got in my eye today. And after those acquisitions a gel seat would make my rear significantly less angry with me.

Along the way I also contemplated the fact that between this training and dance class I'm going to end up with actual potentially even defined muscles in my legs. Whoa. Now if only I could grow me some abs we'd be in business. (Actually Jo and I in discussing this made a pack to to appropriate abdominal exercises every night - wish us luck.)

This was long, wandering, and rather off topic. Oops!

PS: Kudos out to my father who 'pledged' $50. My parents rock!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life is like riding a bicycle.

Two weeks ago my roommate and I took the opportunity to hit up some yard sales around us. The first place we stopped had a bike. I've been itching to get a bike because J, said roommate, used to ride a lot so then I'd actually have someone to get some exercise in with. The bike seemed like it should actually be small enough for me and it was $30. Sweet deal.

*Side note: I also got 2 CD's elsewhere for $1. I'm hooked on yard sales. Last weekend I found a medium size tent (which will go well with my big and small tents) for $10, a CD for $1, and a game for $.05. Now I've got to kick myself for spending all this money on things I don't need. But it's so cheap it's too tempting.*

Being as the tires were both flat it wasn’t quite in ride-able condition but off to the bike shop it went and returned this Monday in working order. The excitement was too much and I had to try riding it.

It was scary.

Inevitably the bike is still a bit big for me. I had lowered the seat past where it was supposed to be positioned already but still could barely get my toe on the ground. Plus it’s a real street bike with tiny tires so the balance was a bit iffy.

And yet at the same time it was incredibly freeing. It’s so much easier and faster than running. I liked it.

Back in the garage I lowered the seat literally into the cross bar. And it was decided that J and I would go for a ride on Tuesday.

Now people have this bad habit of thinking that I am in shape. It stems from the fact that I am tiny and thin. However the reality is that my appearance is mostly owing to the fact that I don’t like to eat much. Given I’m not horribly out of shape. I’ve always been able to hold my own at sports like activities, but my endurance really isn’t that great. So I was a bit iffy about how I’d do at this whole ride thing. That and I was still afraid of falling off.

Tuesday came and it was all rainy and generally crappy weather, nuts. But miraculously it cleared up by evening and was literally sunny. We ventured outside.

Amusingly enough as we were headed out the neighbor on the end, a later middle aged divorcee with two cats whom J watches when she’s away, came out to talk to us, or well more accurately J. Apparently she has a bike and wanted to know how intense we were. I said I was a complete beginner and would give her the real scoop. And as we pulled out the in-between neighbor, earlier middle aged single, was returning with her dog. Neighbor 1 was heard to say “P do you have a bike?” It’s possible we shall be having end of the development almost all single, I’m the exception go figure, female, intergenerational bike riding. Go figure.

So finally off we went. We happen to live just a mile from the trail head to a city ‘greenbelt.’ And it really was awesome. Since I’ve lived here I’ve not appreciated the constant house and developed ness everywhere. So this trail was really an amazing find with its lush greengage and seemingly not in any kind of city-ness. Plus, most likely because of the earlier rain and the coolness of the evening we were practically the only people on the whole trail.

Physically I couldn’t believe it went so well. I did end up walking up 3 hills, but other than that it was fine. After a bit I’d reclaimed my bike balance and it was all good. I even became somewhat adept at shifting gears.

In under an hour we went 9.6 miles! It really did feel so good and free.

I’m excited to go out again now. The whole loop of the greenbelt is 20 miles so really I think I could be there quite soon.

It’d be nice if my butt could recover first however.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”