Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Death Ride Weekend

I'll start by making it clear I have never, nor do I ever intend to attempt this ride. In 2008 my husband picked up a road bike and within a year signed up for the Death Ride, saying this is a hard ride is a gross understatement. 129 miles 15K' of climbing, 5 mountain passes all before it gets dark. OUCH! on so many levels, yet every year it sells out all 3500 spots in a matter of hours.

 This was my 4th year watching this ride and it never gets old. We have a friend who rents us a large cabin each year and we invite some friends who are riding to stay a few days. The hardest part is having to keep the cabin a secret or turn away friends. Markleeville is in a cellular dead zone, the cabin has no Internet and this year was the first year we had satellite TV. Getting the mix of personalities that can take 4-5 days unplugged can be a challenge, but so far we have made good choices. We discovered one year we can never allow children to stay in the cabin, it's just too boring and even well behaved kids can break.

It is amazing how much fun we can have just chatting when everyone is unplugged from their electronic devices. A few people took a few trips to the parking lot of the library to get their fixes, but for the most part people just talked. We had board games available, but none were even opened. We took a few bike rides, went in to town for more supplies, and most of them pre-drove the course in the car over 2 days. I think it's kinda funny that driving the whole course in a car was too much for a single day, but riding it on a bike was fine.

Lots of food, this is a hungry crowd. I love supporting the riders, and they all seem to appreciate it. The more we do this ride the better the support I'm able to give. We have a spaghetti feed on Friday, we usually invite a few non cabin riders to join us, this year we had a few extras from the Hammerin Wheels club and 3 riders that I've only met online that will be doing the Climate Ride with me. This year I had a lot more help in the kitchen, which was greatly appreciated. I make waffles the night before because 4am is just too darn early to be thinking about cooking. After I watch them all ride off into the dark I start the beans and chop veggies for the after ride fajitas.

This year we had a large group and a wide range of speeds. I set out earlier than I have in the past. I wanted to be at the intersection of Monitor and Ebbettes by 7:30. It's only a 6 mile drive, but I have to park the car just over a  mile a way. I have walked it before, but this year I had a lot more riders and their gear so the plan was to bring my bike and trailer and ride the mile or so. I got into town a 6:45 and the road was closed at Markleeville. I told them I've always been able to drive 4 miles down and park, the officer who looked displeased to be there just said this must be new this year, the road is closed. I parked, quickly unloaded the bike, the trailer and all the gear bags with every one's nutrition, sunscreen, and any other security blankets they may have packed, then hit the road. Going up hill on a mt bike pulling a trailer wearing jeans I was going to be pushing it to get there by 8, which is when we expected the first rider to go through. Probably a mile into my ride cars start passing me, I just told myself they must be volunteers, I didn't want to even consider that they opened the road and if I had asked the right questions I could have driven as originally planned. I passed a young lady walking and offered to carry her chair and gear, she was happy to give me her chair. Just about then it dawned on me, I couldn't fit even 1 of the 2 sets of spare wheels in the trailer so I left them in the car, and I don't think I locked it. No time to go back, I just hope no one takes them. I finally get to my spot and within a few minutes Carl rolls up and is happy to offload cool weather gear and lights. Right on schedule a few minutes after 8. Next is Sarah, she's glad I talked her into bringing her jacket and full finger gloves, after a quick stop she's off. One by one all the riders I'm supporting roll in, all looking happy and strong. I see a few other familiar faces and chat with others out supporting their friends and family. I offer up sunscreen and lots of people forgot about it, and take me up on my offer, and a few of their riders also decide another layer couldn't hurt.

I run across the street and chat with Kristina who thought I was riding my bike from town because I wanted to. She offers to take me and my gear back to town, I'm happy to accept the offer. Last year Kristina's husband attempted the ride for the first time and didn't make all 5 passes, this year he looked strong and happy when we saw him at the intersection. I still had 2 more riders I was looking for Bethany who I met online through Climate Ride and I wasn't sure if I'd recognize her and hoped she hadn't already gone through, and Ralph. I needed to leave by 10 to get back to the car, stop by the cabin to change into shorts and get something to eat. I finally see Bethany and she refills her nutrition and has to replace a lost contact and I'm getting ready to turn toward town and I see Ralph taking a right to go to town, I holler and he comes over. He's had enough of the crazy descents and the speed demons being rude. We ride to the parking lot and he helps me get my stuff loaded into Kristina's Van, we see him as we drive into town, I get my stuff back into our car, drive up to the cabin and do what I need to do, Ralph comes up just as I'm getting ready to get back in the car and we toss in another chair and go to find our cheering spot. Kristina joins us again as we anxiously wait not knowing where everyone is and hoping we didn't miss any of the fast riders.

The earliest we expected anyone was 11 if they didn't stop for lunch. Finally around noon we see Carl and he stops for a spritz of sunscreen and something from his bag, as he's pulling over I see Sarah chasing a couple of fast guys, she sees us and says she's good. I expect to see Todd next but the next group was Helen, Craig, Alex and Mica and they tell me they saw Todd not looking so good on Ebbettes. They all look strong and happy, Helen forgot her inhaler, so Ralph takes the car to the cabin to get it and finds her on the course and gets it to her. Jav rolls in with Gil and I almost missed him, but Kristina saw him. Whoever thought of hot pink Hammerin Wheels jerseys is a genius. They totally stand out in a crowd. He tells me Jacob blew up and he will be taking a long break before he comes into town. Todd speeds through and grunts something as we cheer him on, he obviously has recovered and is looking strong. Bethany comes through and grabs a few things from her bag, this is also her first time and she looks strong and happy. I think Mark (Kristina's husband) was next, he looked happy and strong, he was well ahead of his time from last year and I have no doubt he was going to finish. Jeff pulls in and he looks good but he seems a little irritated, but determined. Apparently they ran out of sandwiches at lunch and he decided to just go get a sandwich at the shop and took his break with us. He let us know that Sharel was done and she's not too far behind us. He takes off knowing he'll be cutting it close on the cutoff, but as long as he keeps moving he'll make it. Jacob finally rolls in and he looks wiped out. He asked the time and seems to be pondering trying to finish, I told him not to worry about it, he's done this twice before and frankly he didn't look good, he went to the cabin and napped hard for a long time. Sharel rolls in and she looks happy, but has no interest in trying to attempt the 5th pass.

Back to the cabin hoping we get there before Sarah gets back, we did. I start the rice and start watching for the riders. One by one, tired, happy cyclists make it up the hill to the cabin. I start grilling up the chicken and veggies, I get to visit as I keep a steady stream of hot food coming off the grill, we get a few extras for dinner. This is my favorite part hearing each of them talk about the beauty, the fear, the doubt, the laughs, all the people they see along the way and the amazing emotions they feel when they finally get to the top of the final mountain. There is always a first to arrive and a last, dusk was setting so a few people went to see where Jeff was on the route, we'd already had enough updates to know he'd made all 5 passes. The hard part is trying to find a sober driver and leaving enough room in the car to pick him up if he wants it. He was just coming into Markleeville and wanted to call his wife to let her know he was safe and sound. I keep grilling until I'm sure everyone has had their fill. They stay up late chatting about their epic adventure and either swearing they will never ride a bike again or planning how to do it better next year.

I'll be there and will continue to find better ways to support them, so they all have a great experience, It sounds like lunch will need to be an option for those not lucky enough to make it early enough to get a sandwich. I'll also make sure to have ice creams in the freezer for post ride.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bike as a vehicle

Today I started talking you a young mother who was visiting the Exploration Center with her kids. While they were busy checking out the Giant Garbage pile we got talking about running and cycling. She was saying how she wishes more cities were like Davis and would love to see people choose bikes over cars. I totally agree with her and we began talking about how unique our culture is with it's car obsession.

I know almost every other country has a larger percentage of people using bicycles as transportation than the US. It appears that about 5 times as many bikes are produced world wide than cars. An average of 40 million bikes are sold in the US and Europe each year, yet many Americans don't consider them as a way to commute or run errands. Last month was bike month and our local region logged 1.75 million miles in a single month. The largest percentage was recreation miles at just over 1 million, commute miles were in 2nd place with 500K and errands just 60K. Of course there are some people out there that are totally commited to cycling and don't even own a car, but most of us think of our bike first as fun and many don't consider it for function.

I have to admit, on short trips it's easy to hop on my bike and do my errands. When it's hot, raining or I have more than 1 stop it is just much easier to hop in the car. Last year my son finally got his license, he also started a job and going to college in the next town. We decided to see how it goes with me not having a car, and really it hasn't been too bad. I do miss the freedom of knowing I can get into my car and go anywhere. I'm hit an miss about doing my errands via bike. I have a good setup with locks and a trailer and very few places that I go on a regular basis are more than 5 miles from my house. Since May was bike month, I decided to do all my errands via bike, it was fairly easy. If we lived in a utopian world where I can leave my purchases from one store in my trailer while shopping at a 2nd store it would have been perfect. Instead I had to bring my farmers market haul into the grocery store to finish the shopping list. I have also had to make single stop trips which take much longer to acquire all the things I needed. I did find out that I could put all the components I needed from Home Depot to make my chicken feeder in my front basket and I can fit nearly 50 veggie plants in my trailer with out a problem.

I will continue to consider my bike as my primary form of transporation and eventually find solutions for the reasons why I don't choose my bike first. I do have a cute little skirt I wear over my cycling shorts. It's funny how I have no problem pulling into one of our favorite cycling eateries all sweaty and wearing spandex but I'm to embarassed to walk through Whole Foods in a kit.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Friends make it so much more fun.

Just a few of the wonderful people I ride with
May is over and I rode much more than originally planned, but still less than I could have. The whole May is bike month side tracked me a bit, but it was so much fun trying to get lots of miles to try to get our club in 1st place for MIBM. We are so close with today being the final day to log miles, we are behind by a couple thousand miles. Even if we didn't take top spot, we rallied as a team and did much better than last year, more than 83K miles and 133% of our pledge is impressive. Regionally we logged more than 1.5 million miles.  

A rare meeting of the mountain climbers on a big ride.
No surprise my new friend Richard knows Helen.
                                                               Completing my first full century with 60 people who all knew each other was great. I have met so many wonderful people in the cycling community, and with my husband riding with so many groups I run into people all the time who know him as well. Since I started riding almost 2 years ago, I have been the slowest person on nearly every ride and have always appreciated and been surprised at how many people show up to support a beginning rider and all the encouraging words. I'm slowly moving up to being able to keep up with the back of the pack and can hang with the big dogs if they are riding a recovery pace. One of the things I love about cycling is there seems to be something for everyone, I ride with people who love to climb mountains and think The Death Ride is "fun", people who do doubles and Brevets, and then there are racers of every sort. I know many multi sport athletes who run marathons, Tri's and Iron Man competitions. Thanks to our years with the Mountain bike race team we know plenty of off road people as well, some enjoy a nice scenic ride through the woods while others enjoy the thrill of bombing downhill on ski runs. Then there is the group I fit in, the sane people who pedal for a bit of fun and fitness, or that have a cause they want to support. The "sane" group still find ways to challenge themselves and occasionally one will get the bug and join one of the extreme groups. The one thing we all have in common is our love of the people powered wheels, not matter what style of riding we do.

Our Halloween ride.
I'm not sure if only nice people ride or if riding makes people nicer, but I have felt welcomed on every ride I've been on and encouraged by friends and strangers along the way. This weekend was no different. Several of us tackled the Auburn Century, most of the people I know were doing the 110 mile 12K feet of climbing and for many of them this is the hardest ride they have done. I was riding the 40 mile 3K+ route, and this was the toughest climbing ride I've done. I've done that distance and that much climbing, but not that many feet per mile. After the ride so many of the people who did 3 x's as much riding and climbing asked me about my ride and congratulated me. I stand in awe of the endurance of these people, but they recognize that we all worked hard that day. I always seem to meet people on rides as well. I realized that I often don't even introduce myself, but I chat with many people along the way. I know it helps me to chat and keep my mind off of all the time I'm pedaling, I really hope they enjoy it as well and just aren't strong enough to break away from the chatty cyclist in pink.

Princess Promenade, one of my first organized rides.
If I were to try to list all the people that have encouraged and motivated me on my rides it would sound like an acceptance speech from the academy awards or something. Many have become good friends and others I only see on the road. I'm starting to get to know enough people that even when I set off on a ride all alone I often will meet people who know me or someone in my group. I love wearing my Hammerin Wheels jersey, although many people know me because of my jersey with the dog on the pocket. I've also discovered that my love of pink makes me easy to spot in a crowd or on the trail.

June is dedicated to climbing, it started with the Auburn ride and will continue with hill repeats and the summer hill series my friend Daphni will be leading. I'm considering tackling a route similar to the 40 mile route I did this week, but somehow they found more climbing. I will conquer Iron Point aka Costco hill, soon. For today, I stay off the bike and bake, it's cold and wet outside and I can afford the carbs today, so bread and cookies are cooling on the counter.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Completed my first Century

Kevin, Jeff, Javier and Kallie
Gil our rolling SAG wagon
I belong to a couple of wonderful bike groups, but my primary group is Hammerin Wheels and every year the wonderful founder Jeff Sanford puts together a beginner century. It is a bit of a challenge to find 100 miles of not to scary, flat roads to take a large group of riders with varying experience on. This in not an officially supported ride, but we did have help from his family and another rider who is just returning from injury and couldn't do the full route and our rolling SAG, Gil who pulled the tool trailer the whole distance. This century is also unique in the fact that he really tries to keep the group together as much as possible. We had about 60 cyclists riding a double pace line down the levee at one point, it was really a sight to see. We had kids waving and pointing, cars stopping out of courtesy and for the most part a warm reception from all those we interacted with on the road. It really was a great experience.

I was surprised that there were only a handful of us that this was their first century and 1 person who road part of the route, it was her first metric. To see 50+ strong riders go out on a leisurely ride just for fun was really wonderful. I have to say, there were a few places on the route when we drove within blocks of my house that I really considered bailing. Fortunately I had a couple of great people distracting me with witty conversation to keep me going.  It was super nice to see Jeff's wife and 2 adorable little girls at our 2nd rest stop. They made a cute poster for us and had yummy treats. We as usual on a flat ride had winds, which seemed to be a head wind no matter which way we were heading, and had an area of road that really need to get repaired.
Best rest stop volunteers ever

Just out riding with 60 of my best friends
The day was not without incident: When we were in a pace line the I was chatting away with Daphni, who has been one of the riders who has really inspired me, when the guy right in front of me almost went down, I was able to avoid him and he was able to keep it upright, I think he may have touched the wheel in front of him, my heart rate was racing but we were all ok. A while late while we were mostly single file on the road we were coming to a stop sign with cross traffic, so we were stopping and all of a sudden I hear Adrienne yelling I can't unclip, I see her legs flailing trying to get her shoes out of the pedals, and her slowing, then I just see a bunch of hands catch her and stop her, it was quite amazing, they just held her upright as a group (although I think Daphni was doing most of the work) until they were able to get her foot out of her shoe. We were just a few miles from the rest stop and some how magically Adrienne rolled in with flat pedals. As we were rolling through Lincoln we saw a fire truck in the middle of the road, and we all feared the worst, as we got closer we could see it was our group, with it being right at an intersection I was really scared it was a car vs bike. Fortunately it wasn't too bad, it did involve a trip in an ambulance, but good news Alan was wearing a helmet and althoug it is trash now, it did it's job. He suffered a separated shoulder, but was able to go home within a few hours. Now we were a few miles from our lunch stop and we have the same number of bikes, but 1 less rider. We started off with Jeff trying to roll the bike next to him while he rode, then Todd decided it would be easier just to carry it. I just love how this group is willing to do anything for the other members. We were able to have someone pick up the bike at our lunch break. As we were leaving the lunch stop Mary tumbled into the rose bushes, but Daphni to the rescue again helped pull out the thorns so she could get back up. I know we had some flats along the way, I got one less than 10 miles from the finish, our rolling SAG and Jeff changed it for me and off I went again.

Todd the Sherpa

Alan all patched up
I was in the back of the pack when we finished, although for the first time not dead last. I think I've done well to figure out what I need to put into my body to keep it going on long rides. I road with my new bag, it isn't light, but I find it much more comfortable than stuffing my back pockets till they are buldging. 101 miles took me 7 hrs. 30 min. and other than a little tingling in my left wrist didn't seem to be hurting. Some of us stayed to eat at Chevy's which I was surprised I wasn't hungrier, I did eat again after I got home. The next day I think I spent the whole day eating or sleeping. My legs were pretty tight, but not too bad. Walking up and down the stairs at the house wasn't painful, just took some effort.

Bonus for the club, with over 50 completing the full 100 and another 10 or so doing portions of it, we pulled into 1st place for May is Bike Month. The gap is closing, but I have no doubt we will at be in the top 3. It would be nice to be #1

I also learned it's probably better not to take too many days off before a big ride. I did 60 miles on Sunday then nothing all week, so I could finally get my garden in, and I felt sluggish for a long time on the ride. Not as strong as I was feeling the week before when I rode almost every day. I'm also learning if I can push past the point where my body starts to feel weak and get some quick calories in my I can get another burst of energy. This week I plan on riding at least a few times and then doing a huge climbing ride this weekend. It's only 40 miles, but the hills are big.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May is Bike Month AKA Let the Craziness begin

This is the 2nd time I've participated in May is Bike month. This is our regions way of participating in the National month for bike advocacy. I was very pleased with myself last year with my 87 logged miles. This year I decided to really dedicate myself to cycling so I pledged 400 miles. I have been steadily increasing my milage and this seemed like a reasonable goal. A funny thing happened, some how MIBM became a compitition, actually lots of compititions. My primary cycling club The Hammerin Wheels had a real shot at taking the top spot for clubs, so I decided I would ride a little more. Then I realized I was 3rd in the city (my employer) for miles and I hatched a plan to attempt to get the most miles one week for my work group. Not to mention the silly little badges that have no real meaning, but I have more than my husband and I like that. So, here I am half way through the month and I've already logged 324 miles and plans on increasing my weekly miles.

This month I attempted my first full century. The Wine Country century which is in a beautiful area which I've never visited before. The day started out great with a small group of cyclists from our club, it was chilly, so I had lots of layers, which I'd rather carry for 80 miles than be chilled to start a ride. If I didn't mention it before, everything I own for cycling is pink and my whole family has a sock addiction, so my hubby got to witness how many comments I get on my pink wheels and my socks as we started on our ride. That day I wore my green m&m socks that say melts in your mouth, I got lots of comments. I knew there was a lot of climbing and I made it up the first set of hills with some difficulty, but didn't have to walk. The second set was another story, it had a few too many roads with grade and canyon in the name and one really dumb hill that was reading at 24% grade. My wonderful hubby had planned on riding the longer route but decided to hang out with me instead, he helped me up a few hills. I'm not talking about encouraging words, he put his hand on my back and pushed while we both pedaled up the hill. It is kinda like taking about 4-5% off the grade of the hill. By the time we got to the 2nd rest stop at mile 50 I was feeling pretty beat. I wanted to take an extended break, but we were running short on time and had to leave if we had any chance of getting to the lunch stop before they packed up. I could tell my hubby was loosing patience with me, so I insisted he finish the ride without me. I pedaled along the rolling hills singing my silly little songs, and really hoping no one was close enough to hear them. I had to smile when I passed a very fit looking young man on what looked like a high end time trial bike with matching kit. I'm not sure why he was getting into the aero position every time we hit an incline, but I passed him and it made me feel good. I made it to the lunch stop at mile 70 before they closed and caught up with a couple other riders that I'd met once or twice, but didn't know well. If the last 30 miles had been flat I would have pedaled out of there, but just climbing out of the lunch stop seemed impossible and knowing there was a long steady climb after that and a steep climb toward the end, I opted for SAG. It was my longest ride to date 70 miles and over 3000' of climbing according to my garmin. I don't like Strava's numbers, they always knock off a good portion of the climbing, I don't care if it is more accurate.
I started leading a slow beginner/casual ride on Sundays. The ride serves many purposes, recovery ride for me, trying to get my sister started riding and giving back to the cycling community that helped me get my start. I decided it was time to ride mulitiple days in a row, went on a 30+ mile ride with a cycle shop, ran errands and attended the city MIBM lunch, then went from Folsom to the Capitol with another MIBM group. I'm not sure how I figured that I was only going to ride 40 miles going to the Capitol, I think because I was planning on starting at the 2nd start point, the total for that day was 65 miles. I was supposed to do an evening ride and actually felt like I could, but didn't want to kill my legs for my climbing ride on sat. When the sat. ride came I was surprised at how great my legs felt, I actually did pretty good on the climbing portion and for probably the first time wasn't the slowest person. After our break and our final climb I was actually cruising pretty fast (for me) and was able to keep up with the group on the rolling hills. I'd been so worried about resting my legs so I could do my climbing rides on the weekends, I had no idea that I could ride that much and still be strong. I think I'm also getting better at knowing what to eat and drink during the ride.

With all this riding I still don't have my summer garden in, but we did get the beds tilled and filled them with compost. We also got my monster sized trellises installed. I just have to get the irrigation installed and I can go on a planting spree. I'm hoping tha day will be sat this week.

I'm feeling a lot more confident that I will be able to finish the Climate Ride even if I have to walk a few hills. I'll be taking a bit of a rest this week to get my garden in and start next week with a plan to ride close to 300 miles, I know I have 65 for Sun. and 100 for Sat. so a few regular rides during the week and I've got it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Nay Sayers and Other Mean People

With Earth Day just finishing, I've been in contact with a lot more of my Eco community than other times of the year. I think we get busier and reach out more this time of year knowing a few more people will be seeking information as the media puts the environment in the spot light.

The one topic that seemed to come up often was Hypocrisy and other attacks on our choices. I was invited to speak to a local group working on sustainable issues recently and had decided that would be one of my speaking points, that same week I saw 2 different posts from other bloggers talking about being called a hypocrite.

I'm not sure why people think you have to achieve perfection when you are working toward a goal. The one thing I've learned on my journey to live more gently on the planet is it's hard to not only get to 100% sustainable, zero emissions or what ever your goal may be, but it's also very hard to know how to achieve it. There is so much conflicting info, so many things to consider that we all have to set our priorities and be realistic.

One problem I've run into time and again is feeling like I have to defend my choices. I was asked if I considered myself a hypocrite because I have a freezer and a second refrigerator in my garage. I felt I had to justify that 90% of my energy comes from my solar panels and I have a side of grass fed beef from a farm 40 miles from my home in the freezer and I need the fridge to store my abundant harvest from my garden sometimes because I don't always have time to preserve the produce the day it needs to be picked, well that and it's great to have space to store more beer in the summer. I've had family members get down right hostile about my choices, basically calling them a fad and that the things I believe are not only irrelevant, but I can't have any impact so why bother.

My latest attack came today. I'd just finished an awesome bike ride and conquered some new big hills and was on top of the world. We were working in the yard and I heard the door bell. It was animal control, my first thought was someone turned in my dogs for barking, and I got ready to let her know it isn't my dogs, but the ones next door that start at 5 am or the people behind her that bard about 10 hours a day. She said I was told you have chickens. My heart sunk, my head started to race. I know I had looked up all the ordinances and made sure I was in compliance with all of them. I'd even talked with my neighbors, one was concerned the hens would get over the fence, so I fully enclosed their yard so that wouldn't be an issue, I couldn't imagine why she was there. I asked was I supposed to get a permit or license them? She said no, and that they are only allowed in certain areas of the city. I told her I didn't see any mention of that in the code. She asked if they were 20' from each fence line? I told her yes and she's welcome to measure. She then told me it was a complaint about the smell. I was instantly pissed. My chickens haven't had enough time to create a smell. This was an attack on my choice to legally own an animal. I was trying so hard not to show the anger welling up inside of me. She followed me into my back yard and was surprised out how much space my suburban lot has, I took her through the dog run, which if anything smells in my yard it would be that area, no smell today thankfully. She asked if I had any roosters, I told her we won't know till the end of summer and I know I can't keep it if any of my flock is male. She gave my coop and my yard a good looking over and she said she couldn't smell any odor, she couldn't even see any signs of chicken poo and not only do I appear to be in compliance, but my coop is cute. I was so relieved, but still upset that someone would turn me in on a false claim. She asked for my full name and phone number and said she would put a note in my file in case there are any future claims.

I could go on and on about all the noise and other pet violations my neighbors have and the thought of starting a war crossed my mind. I still may take some sort of action, I was considering a huge sign in my backyard that could say something like, I have the right, I am in compliance and you need to just get over it, with probably some name calling too. I may write a nice letter explaining that I got the visit I'm in compliance, I have the right and if they ever have a real problem knock on my door and I will address it. I'll give myself a few days to cool off before I do anything.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting back on track

I'll admit I can really be on the lazy side, I'm the queen of procrastination. I'm so easily distracted and get side tracked way too much. When I was younger I was so much better at tackling many things at once and doing well at all of them. I'm going to but the blame on parenthood, some how putting the boys priorities over mine, made it really hard to focus on what I need to do. At least that's what I'm telling myself so I don't have to consider it may be hormones, age or personality defect.

There is so much that I want to do and accomplish, but I have to keep my goals  realistic for me, and keep myself focused on just a few things at a time. With so many things distracting me over the past few months, I'm finally getting back on track. I have set my goals and made plans to reach them. Here's a list of the big ones.

  • Get my veggie garden installed and grow lots of food
  • Train for Climate Ride enough that I'm not walking all the hills and taking SAG to the rest stops
  • Learn to make yogurt and bread at home
  • Make more meals at home and do better at following my food ethics
  • Accept more invitations to do fun things with friends
  • Invite friends over more often
  • Find new volunteer opportunities
  • Write to my elected officials often
I finally feel like I'm actually training for the ride, I'm already over 200 miles for this month and have been doing a little climbing. Now that I understand a little more about climbing, instead of looking at total elevation gain look at feet of gain per mile. My worst day for the Climate ride is just over 70' per mile and I've already done one ride that was 50 miles and over 55' per mile. I'm slowly being introduced to all the epic hills in my area one by one. Some are tougher than others. I'm finding I can do a long gradual hill with out too much trouble, it's when they suddenly change to a steep pitch that I sometimes have to stop. I found it very convenient that the 2 hills I had to walk Costco hill and Oak Leaf were on the 2 rides my hubby set up for me, but was unable to ride with me because he broke his pelvis. I'm also learning a lot about what to put into my body on a long ride. I was unable to finish the final 15 miles of Party Pardee because I didn't fuel well. On the other hand I did surprisingly well on the hottest day of the year thanks to my new love Hammer Fizz tablets. It's also getting easier to not talk myself out of rides when the weather isn't great.

My garden is starting to take shape, we have tilled the new large bed and I'm in the process of putting a boarder on it so I can add several inches of compost. According to my soil analysis I need to add 7 yds of compost for every 100 sf over the course of this year. I have one 4'x6' bed planted with carrots and beets. My large 3'x40' is ready to plant, just waiting to get the trellis installed before I start my beans there. I have 2 smaller beds that need to be tilled and one needs a trellis for the cucumbers. I've had mixed results with my seed starts. As usual all the squash seem to be doing amazing. My peppers are just starting to set their real leaves. The tomatoes seemed to have stalled, I've been advised I may have been over watering, so I've cut back and hope they will recover. My cucumbers are catching up with the squash and have been the fastest growing plant so far. I think I may have over heated my flowers and herbs, so I'll give them a few more days and reseed the pots to see if I can get them to sprout. I've also added some enzymes to the pool area in an attempt to help break down all the roots in hopes to be able to plant there later in the year. I have potatoes growing in a few locations and they seem to be thriving. I just hope I'm able to harvest the ones in the pool bed, I'm worried the roots may make it difficult.

On the cooking front, I've been feeding my family crap lately. I have made a few loaves of bread that were pretty tasty. Still working to find the recipe that will be my standard. I attempted to make a sour dough started without success, I will research and try again. I made my first batch of yogurt, at last something very easy to do. The only thing I have to worry about is forgetting about the hot milk while it's cooling. I was worried that plain yogurt wouldn't go over very well, but both my guys said it was good and have found something to mix into it for a little sweetness. I'm now on a mission to use up things in the freezer in preparation for the summer harvest. The next few weeks could be interesting.

Last weekend the Utility Exploration Center where I've volunteered for the past 4 years had their 5th annual Celebrate the Earth Festival. This is my 4th time at this event and it just keeps getting bigger and better every year. I've been a volunteer and student in the Green Gardener program for the past few weeks and have a few more to go. This is a wonderful program that has been adapted from the professional program which was created by our local water resource boards. I'm learning so much. I've signed up to be considered for the Master Gardener program which is a 16 week workshop that will start in Jan. I'll find out in Sept. if I've been selected. I was recently asked to give a 10 minute presentation to a wonderful group I didn't know existed, Placer Sustain, this is a rather impressive group of individuals and business owners who are getting together to try to create a more sustainable community.

I've had plenty of opportunities to spend social time with friends, my cycling friends know all the great places to eat in our area. I'm loving spending time with friends and trying new restaurants.

I think now that the weather is being a bit more cooperative I'll be making greater progress toward my goals and having fun along the way.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Season of Distractions

I really did plan on writing more often, but it seems there is always something else going on. This winter was filled with distractions, family tragedy, family drama, projects gone wrong, injuries and bad weather just to name a few. I don't want to dwell on the negative so I'll skip all the family stuff and move on to the other stuff.

My food forest project was derailed by poor planning and a budget. Instead of doing what I knew I should have done, which is have the company put pen to paper, I let them start work and was shocked when I got the bill and so little was accomplished. Yet, I continued on this path until my funds ran dry. So, for more money than I want to admit, I now have a plant free yard. Unfortunately the area where I intended to plant all my vines and trees is so root bound planting is out of the question for this year, so that will be looked at again in the fall. I decided to go another direction and hired a wonderful lady from a company called Peas and Harmony, I met her and her partner when they were giving a class on permaculture and after a few hours of consultation and more money I now have a 3 season multi-year vegetable garden plan for my raised bed area which will ultimately be moving from raised beds and go directly into the soil. I'm happy to say I now have some food growing in the yard, I was able to put in a bed of root veggies in 1 large bed and several varieties of potatoes in various other areas that won't be planted until the fall at the earliest. I've also started several hundred seeds indoors in an attempt to save some money and not have to buy plants this year. I have over 100 tomatoes, lots of bell peppers, some celery, chard, pumpkins, several varieties of melons, and zucchini that were started a few weeks ago and some are already in need of transplanting. This week I started cucumbers, herbs, green onions and companion flowers. So far, all look to be doing well. I have hope.

I got my chickens a little sooner than I planned, good thing I got the coop built last fall. We set up a web cam so I could watch them and it took pictures of them. They are so much fun to watch and they all have names. The Rhode Island Red is Helen, because from the beginning she was the bravest, she's named after our good friend Helen who is crazy when it comes to her running and cycling. My sister Belinda got to name one Betty Lou, she chose the Americauna. Jacob, my son who's taken Russian History named the 2 Wyandottes, so the Gold is Anastasia and the Silver is Natassia. I named the Black Astralorpe Henny Penny, because we always had one in our flock when I was a child. They stayed in the shower of our downstairs bathroom for about 6 weeks and just recently moved into their coop. They really seem to like it and it only took a few days for them to figure out how to get themselves in without my help. The first day was like a slapstick comedy, I'd put one in and turn around to grab another and the first one would have jumped back out. I had to close the door behind each one which was a challenge, since they are getting so big.

On the food front I decided this year I will master bread and start making my own yogurt. The yogurt was easy, mostly had to buy the machine and heat milk, mix in culture and pour. So far no one has tried it, I guess I should have mixed in fruit. I'll make them eat some this weekend. I made the first loaf of bread in my machine and baked it in the oven. It came out good, but I'll experiment with recipes to see which ones I'll be making on a regular basis. I started my cultures for sour dough, it will be at least a week before I know if it works.

Now for cycling. The weather has just been so unpredictable it has been hard for me to ride. I am definitely riding more than last year, but not as much as I'd like. Jan = 41 miles, Feb = 138 miles, Mar = 184 miles. I'm definitely getting more climbing in, I was averaging 39' per mile in March. With 2 rides this month I'm at 50' per mile. I did my first organized ride for the year, Party Pardee it's a metric century, but I stopped at the last rest stop at mile 50 and took SAG back to the start. I hadn't been fueling well and was concerned on the major hill that was coming up, I'm OK with walking it, but I worried about the descent. I'm also picking up speed on the descent, I got up to 36 mph on the Pardee ride. I owe that to my wonderful hubby who did all kinds of upgrades to my bike. The most important was new wheels since my stock ones weren't true and would pulse when I hit the brakes, it was too scary to allow myself to pick up too much speed. I've joined a few more cycling groups and I'm starting to connect with lots of women who are available to ride during the week which is perfect for me. This is also a good thing since my Dear Hubby will be starting his Death Ride training and will be leaving me in the dust soon.