Friday, February 27, 2009

Where were you?

I now interrupt my regular programming to bring you all something a little more personal and a bright spot in my life. I alluded to the this post earlier this month. Between life and work keeping me hopping and me wanting to keep things under wraps for just a bit, it's taken me a while to decide on putting this out there. And now to the original piece I wrote back on February 3rd:

So where were you the last time you knew your life was going to make a major change in some way shape or form? For me, that's today.

I was sitting at my desk, 11:30 in the morning and Miranda calls. Have you checked your text messages she asks? Nope, I've been buried trying to figure out the next batch of work orders on this stupid casino and in and out of my office trying to keep my anxiety and stress levels manageable. Well, she says, do you want some good news? I had a pretty strong instant notion of what that news would be as soon as she coyly asked me. Indeed, we were pregnant.

I think I flipped through a million emotions in all of 2 seconds flat. Apparently it was a bit longer though as Miranda was concerned over my silence. I was happy, I was scared, I was... everything all wrapped in one big package of emotion. Being that we were trying to get pregnant and it will be our 2nd child, I guess I'm not overly blown away or caught unawares, but its still a life changer for sure.

Now the worry starts along with the elation and anticipation. I as set here and type this, we're setting in the middle of a massive recession (some people say its a depression), our retirement savings plummeted by over 1/3 in the past year, and we have a few thousand dollars in liquid cash. I know we made the right decision when we started trying again, but the analyst in me still looks at the frightening stats and wondering how it will all come together in the end.

In my head I've all ready started a plan for things that must be completed, changed, built, sold, etc in the next 8 months. Its crazy to even begin to fathom how much must be taken into account and readied for. 8 months seems like eons from now, but I know that time will still run short and things won't get done. However, life will continue and I imagine we'll soon find ourselves fully ensconced in the new changes and enjoying the arrival.

I guess this is as good a place as any to voice my wish for us to have a boy (all ready having a girl) and not planning to have any more after this one. However, I'll be supremely happy just to have a healthy beautiful baby to call our own. Here's to you our little baby, I can't wait to meet you, Daddy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I can't quite classify yesterday as warm, but comparatively speaking to what we've had lately, it was damn nice out. While I'm not quite ready to bare the legs yet, I did don only a pair of leg warmers and shunned a jacket in favor of a long sleeve winter base under a short sleeve jersey. Just about perfection for the temps. I showed up on the cross bike assuming that would be what Squirrel and Conlan were riding. Nope, both of them were rolling fat tires. Normally, I'd think I brought a gun to a knife fight, but with Squirrel training in full swing, it was something a little more mixed...

Heh, you can't imagine how long I've been waiting to use that shot!

We headed off through Berwick, Bondurant, and out towards Chataqua park before making a quick stop at the bridge. We found a bit of wildlife hanging out under the bridge snacking on some varied carcasses that had been dumped (thankfully not human). The wildlife had to antagonize the wildlife so it made for a couple good shots.

We rolled back with a hefty tailwind and fairly well flew back towards Ankeny. Conlan peeled off to head back to his truck while Squirrel and I tagged on another 20 minutes rolling down through Berwick again before heading back. Unfortunately we'd rolled south of our starting point and had to turn back north into the wind again. I decided to crank it up for a bit and rolled off into the wind alone, but a slight miscue in merging with traffic left me hanging out on the side of the road as Squirrel rolled by to leave me in the dust again. Something about slow and steady wins the race came popping through me head about that time...

I headed back home and as I was just about there a friend called needing some assistance with a flat tire. I halted my search for grub and went to play knight in shining armor for a bit. We changed out to her spare and headed back to my place to plug her tire and get her back on the road. I didn't feel quite right about sending her another half hour down the road running on one of those damn donut spares. I'm sure it would've been just fine, but when you've got the tools and time handy, why not get it done?

I finally made my dinner run after 7 and sat down to watch some trash TV and enjoy a brew or two. The hot tub siren song was singing so I grabbed another beer and soaked my legs for a bit. That was all she wrote though and I was down for the count at 9:30. I couldn't even make it through a quick conversation with Miranda before the combination of beer, biking, and the hot tub effect had me swooning and needing to lie down or fall down.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Smooth move ex-lax

I can't say that I've never lost anything before. I'm usually pretty careful with my expensive toys, but I've been known to have a momentary lapse of consciousness here and there. My latest came at the end of a relatively disappointing attempt to ride Saturday.

The winds were whipping and the people were bailing so I bailed on the ride too. In retrospect, fighting the winds would've sucked nearly beyond comprehension, but it would've made me stronger and now that I look back, richer (or at least less poor). Pete and I shot over to the center trails in hopes that the ice had melted off and the trails would now be a nice frozen pack. Well, they were indeed frozen, but they were also covered in large sheets of ice. We rode just enough of rollercoaster to kill our buzz and head off in hopes that Denman's would be less icy. Wrong again. By now we were about 30 minutes in and still trying to salvage something, anything.

We crossed the little bit of track left on J11 and hopped on. Eureka, we found a little bit of track that wasn't a solid sheet of ice. We made a lap and headed back for a second round. At the very end we had to cross a bit of a brush pile and sure enough I found a thorn and an instant flat. Not really into changing a tube in freezing weather for another 10 minutes of riding I opted to walk it back to the truck as Pete took another spin through. I made it back to the truck pretty quickly by cutting across the tracks and through the bottom of rollercoaster. That's where things went awry.

I put the bike in the truck, got my deflated tire/wheel put into the back of the truck and headed towards the shop to fix the flat. I remember hitting the stop button on my bike computer to shut it down and that's the last I remember seeing it. Now, if I just lost or broke my bike computer, I wouldn't be too upset. Shoot, I've got 3 or 4 setting in my bike box. Nope, I managed to lose a REALLY expensive bike computer. The cheapest replacement I've found is a shade under $200 for a refurbished unit off ebay. Doh! Not exactly what I want to be spending my money on right now. I've got a lot bigger fish that need that moolah.

I tore my truck apart, searched my bike clothes and gym bag, and even took a trip clear back to Ashworth pool parking lot in hopes that a lack of people using the trail Saturday might have left it laying in the parking lot. Near as I can guess, I probably took the computer off my bike and sat it on the bed rail of the truck. I simply forgot to grab it in my hurry to head off to the shop and it simply fell by the wayside. The only other thing I can think of and isn't as likely to me is that I left it on the bike and someone decided to crawl up in the back of the truck while parked at the shop or down off Court avenue and steal it off the bike. A pretty unlikely scenario in my book, but still possible. So, I'm pretty pissed at myself for being that dumb. Man what a bummer.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tour is cancelled for today

On account of everyone wussing out including myself. I'm cancelling the tour. I'm still planning to ride somewhere and end up at the CITA meeting, just not heading out of town and into the winds and wilds. Possibly I'll head down to Denmans and maybe even over to sneak a peak at the center trails. Have fun out there today!

If weather holds, I may try to get this thing going again next weekend as I need a good warm up before Cirrem.

Friday, February 20, 2009

3 Hour tour- map

View Larger Map

Here's the anticipated loop for tomorrow's 3 hour tour. Should be roughly 3/4 gravel on this route. *Disclaimer- route may change pending weather, participants whining, pace for making it to Vaudeville by 1pm, and/or any other whim as I may deem fit.

Ride is still currently a go unless we get a bunch of ice with the snow tonight. In case of snow, I might recommend something with a little fatter tire just in case there are any hidden ruts or other dangers lurking out there. Cross bike should still work fine depending on your comfort level. I probably won't make a final decision on what to ride until morning.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

3 hour tour on Saturday- you're invited

A combination of several things leads me to believe that a 3 hour tour would be a good plan for Saturday. Even if we get some snow Friday night, the temps should keeps things nicely frozen and hardened up. So, come one, come all, for a 3 hour mix of gravel and pavement looping down to Summerset State Park and possibly a couple points beyond if we have time. And did I mention free beer at the end of the ride? Starting 10 AM at my place, email me: for directions. With winds forecast out of the NW at 14 mph, be prepared for a kick in the junk on the way back, but it'll all be good once we hit the free elixir.

I'm looking for a couple of guys to join in. Pace will be mostly mellow depending on your riding form this year, but nothing killer. A good mix of hills, flats, gravel, and pavement. Laving at 10 AM, making a stop at the CITA meeting at 1 and then looping back to my place afterwards (if you aren't riding to the start) Your choice of cross or MTB. As long as the snow doesn't hit hard Friday night, I'm planning on the cross bike. See you there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All in?

I'm officially in for some pain.

I'm not down with this due to scheduling. (and I'm bummed)

I'm also down with this.

Oh ya, and this one to.

Some good early season fun built in this year. My only problem is lack of any long rides. 3 hours has been the single longest ride this year. I've only done that once outside and once on the trainer. Beyond that I've got a lot of 2 hour rides in. That may be ok prep for some things, but I definitely need to hit a few long days before Almanzo rolls around. My goal is to beat last years time of 8 hours. Not getting off course for 6 miles and taking less than a 35 minute break at the checkpoint should be good for taking at least 45 minutes off my time right there.

Beyond that, I need to set down and evaluate the IORCA schedule for the year and single out some important races as I can see right now there is no way I'll be able to race everything listed. I'm hoping to hit maybe 6-7 of the races in that series. Add in possibly doing a road race or two and some local crits and it's a damn full season considering the things I also need to get done before fall rolls around.

So how is my fitness you ask? Well..... Actually, I think I'm probably as fit right now as was at any point last year and maybe even more so. I know I've done a ton more focused riding and spent more hours on my bike than ever before. I just don't know what kind of snap I have. Another big question in my head is how I'll feel once the ride goes past the 2-3 hour mark. Even though our gravel grinders from last winter were pretty slow, they gave me some experience with going long in the saddle. All in all, it looks to be a fun year. I think I'll be competitive moving up to Cat 2 (the old sport class) in MTB and starting as a Cat 5 on the road until I get enough mass starts to move up. I guess that means I should go ahead and drop the $ to get my license coming now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bowl me over

I feel like I'm getting in a rut here just reporting the weekend news, but suffice it to say, other than just being generally busy, not much notable seems to have gone on during the week for a little bit. I haven't been able to get my outside riding in and that has contributed to my blah attitude as well. At least the weekends have been full of some good times.

Friday in the midst of the snowstorm I opted to hold our plans to get together with Pete and his daughter for a fun evening. We hit Hu-Hot for dinner and Miranda decided she'd like to tag a long since it's one of her favorites. Who was I to say no. Plus, it gave her the opportunity to get to know Pete just a bit as well since they really hadn't met. The food was good as always. Really though, if it isn't very good, you've just about got to blame yourself for making up some weird combo of meat, noodles, veggies, and sauces since it's all up to you. Pete and I each polished off close to two plates full before we decided enough was enough and closed out the tab.

You'd have thought the hour and fifteen minutes it took me to get from the east side to dinner on the west side would have been the eventful part of the evening. Or maybe it was hopping up on the median island to go around two cars stuck side by side going up a hill. Nope, the real fun began when we tried to hit our planned after dinner activity. We were going to take the girls to Glazed Expressions to try to get some craft time in and maybe have them make something neat for mom's for Valentine's day. Alas, we pulled up and a nice sign informed us they were closed due to weather conditions. Bummer. We floated the idea of hitting the inflatable indoor kids park called Jumpin Jacks and headed that direction. It was equally vacant. Finally, we settled in on bowling. Funny enough, that probably was the best fun we could have had. The girls had a ball, Pete got scolded for walking down the lanes after a dead ball, and we both laughed like madmen watching the girls.
The girls contemplating a split

Corley waiting for a 3 MPH ball to ease its way down the lane

Part of her victory dance when any pin was knocked down

Pete giving Ava a pointer or three

I can't quite tell if she like bowling or not...

Saturday was the return of Valentines. We opted to stay pretty low key this year. Sometimes we do a little more for each other and other years we just enjoy our time spent with each. As long as you show your partner on a regular basis how much they mean to you and you love them, do you really need a day where you pay homage to them by trying to outspend the next guy in line? Seriously, its such a farce to think that a single day of gift giving could make up for 364 days of not giving a rat's ass. OK, enough ranting for now. I hit a little over 2 hours in Lou's pain cave on the trainer along with Pete and Kris. I still wasn't feeling all that great, but I put in a decent effort. Saturday afternoon we found ourselves enjoying some time with my cousins who were all in town to help celebrate our grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary. It was good to see all the family.
Keeping with the low key theme, we rented a movie on Saturday night and snuggled the night away on the couch. I know I'm a bit late on the bandwagon here, but Iron Man was a pretty kick ass movie and will probably be one we add to our collection.
Sunday was an early up and meet a few other hearty souls for an hour of snow shoeing through the fresh powder at Denman's. Squirrel had been out laying tracks and Saturday and I definitely felt a tinge of jealousy knowing I didn't have time to get back out to enjoy some bike time on perfect singletrack. We did have a good time shoeing though and even crossed a few of the ice flows that were dotting Denman's due to the river backup. A scant hour later and I was on my way home to spend some quality time in the garage.
I have this engine project that has been ongoing for closing in on 3 years. A guy paid me to build a motor and transmission for his car and it took about 2 years to get all the payments in place. In the mean time, life got busy and shifted directions as well so I hadn't put it together yet. Well, it's finally time to pay the piper so to speak and I started in on putting it together. It's amazing how quickly all the little things come back on building these motors. There are just so many little steps that I developed as I learned how to build these and things I won't skimp on. So, it actually slowed me down a bit as I had to run and get a few various supplies that I hadn't had the need for in several years. I did get a small dent put in it and now I'm on my way to crossing another thing off my list.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Creeping in

Winter, the greyness, SAD, the blahs, whatever it is you like to call it; it's creeping its way into my head and heart. Those cold steely fingers are starting to grasp at my willingness to get out of bed in the morning or do more than lie in wait for bedtime on the couch at night. My work day is filled with the work of avoiding work and then stressing about the work that I've successfully put off. It's that time of year. The time when winter has pretty much kicked my ass and I'm ready for some sun, fun, and frivolity.

I'm supposed to be working, I'm supposed to be training, I'm supposed to be getting things done around the house, I'm supposed to be happy. Yeah, all them things I'm supposed to be just ain't really happening right now. I need some sort of kick in the ass to get things jump started again. I thought the huge weather shift from last week and hours in the saddle would get my heart pumping and motivation rolling for the upcoming season, but the joy was pretty much limited to while I was on the saddle with no real carryover.

I've been looking at a lot of things lately and viewing all the stuff in my basket. A lot of it is there by choice and is cluttering things up. I think its well past time to start weeding it the lesser important things out of there and sharpen my focus. A few things I see needing to get gone would be- an engine project for a guy that has lasted a few years now, my play car needs to get running and probably sold, finish out the last 10% of our basement remodel, and do a major sort and purge of stuff we have stored both at the house and our storage unit. I think getting a few of these items and many more small details crossed off my list will help change things out and freshen life back up a bit to help focus.

I hope this Friday the 13th turns out to be more Friday than the 13th for you!

Monday, February 09, 2009

A weekend on the bike

You can hardly complain when the temps top 50 and 60 degrees during the first week of February. I made sure to pay homage to the nice weather and did my best to enjoy it thoroughly. I bolted out of work a shade after 3 on Friday just to make the most of it. After Thursday's snowshoe through Denman's I was pretty sure the trail could/should/would be ridden so I packed the mountain bike along for the ride Friday morning. After hanging at the shop for a few minutes I set my sails towards the woods in search of my most excellent adventure.

Before long I was churning my way through a mixture of slush, ice, water over ice, mud, and about every other type of undesirable surface you can think of on the trail. Thankfully, the mud was limited to very few spots and mostly around Little Italy. While the slush was rideable, it didn't leave much for traction so I still had to hike a few little spots, but mostly I rode. It took me around 45 minutes total to traverse the trail.

Now done with the hard part, I was wondering which route to head. Apparently I thought I must have gotten cheated out of something on Wednesday nights ride as I headed off to do somewhat of a reverse of that loop. Actually, I was trying to figure out someplace to ride to and get dinner and a beer. I ended up settling on El Ray over on Grand which actually meant I'd be riding the entire loop before hitting dinner. So, I better get moving. The first misstep came when I headed up the trestle to trestle trail. I was heading over to Johnston in hopes of looping through Urbandale and then back down the Windsor Heights trails. I completely forgot about T2T being built up with mud due to the floods of last summer. 10' into the mud, my memory was quickly jogged as my drivetrain clogged and drug me to a stop. I doubled back trying to keep as much mud off of me as possible and took surface streets over to Beaver and jumping back on the trail.

The rest of the loop was less exciting, but still interesting in its own right. Urbandale sucks for not plowing their trails! I jumped back off them quickly and hit city streets again. Then back on the trail the melting led to some interesting conditions. Low spots were dominated by 6-8" deep puddles that were punctuated with large ice chunks and/or on top of sheet ice. It made for a few puckering moments to say the least. 3 hours down and I made my well to El Ray for the burrito and beer recovery food group. MMMMM.

I started off Saturday with my mind set on a nice easy 2 hour spin. I had to be back at the house by 9 so I was off nice and early. Most everything was still thawed out from the warm temps and I took the cross bike as a respite from the heavy resistance of studs and knobs. Off towards Carlisle and ultimately Summerset park I headed. The sun was coming up and made for some very welcome warmth on my face along with setting a few nice pics.

I wondered if they even plowed the Summerset trail when I took off. Even these guys out in the sticks apparently know that you should plow trails (hint Urbandale). Unfortunately, not far outside of Carlisle the trail crowns pretty heavily to both sides leaving a lot of missed patches with ice build-up. After dodging a few and a runner informing me it only got worse down the trail, I opted for the gravel. The gravel was actually in almost perfect condition. As I got to the park, my options were to turn back or suffer some hills and loop back through Norwalk. At this point I decided I might as well hit it hard and see what popped. Funny enough, my legs popped about halfway through the rollers headed to the West. I barely made it home in time, but another 2 hours and 30 miles were down for the count as I hit the showers and headed off to our appointment.
A ride was called up for Sunday morning with most of the usual suspects- Pete, Pig, and Kunze. The weather was a bit of a concern due to the refreeze on the road, but we opted for a couple hours of good endurance riding on the cross bikes. Almost an exact repeat of last Sunday, we rolled 63rd to the Maffit loop, but extended our sojourn through the housing development as we dodged icy spots. I'm not sure where Kunze and Pig ended up, but Pete and I opted for 3 loops of the Ritual Ride route before rolling back down Railroad to our starting point. I was pretty trashed with just over 2 more hours on my legs and the heaviest of the efforts for the weekend.
All in all, 7 hours was great on the bike. I can start feeling the fitness a little more with each ride and getting outside just makes it so much better. Hopefully the warming trend keeps up (though I wouldn't mind a quick snow dump to get one more snowshoe session in). I just need to start cranking up a few longer rides now. I hear the Winterset loop calling my name and will be hitting it one of these weekends very soon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A warm wandering afternoon

The warm weather forecast for yesterday and the rest of the week had me worried that I might not get the chance to play with my new toys this winter. Being oh so fashionably late, I didn't order my new snowshoes until winter was pretty much over. On the plus side, I scored a pretty sweet deal with a 20% off sale and stacked another 10% coupon on that allowing me to buy a pretty high end set of shoes along with poles and a bag for less than the shoes normally retail for.
New shoes

Lots of grippy things (aka crampons)

The shoes are Atlas 1125 series along with Atlas collapsible poles. I went for something with a lot of grip in case I ever find myself scaling the hills of Colorado or more likely southern Iowa at our farm. They definitely work as advertised as I took off sidehill next to the levee trail towards the Denman's entrance. Sidehilling was pretty sweet as I barely slid at all. The only thing I really noticed right off the bat was these things fling snow. I mean like over your head if you get moving! I think it has something to do with the binding being set on a pivot point that is supposed to help pick up the tail when you walk. They definitely do that! I actually zipped my jacket up to keep any additional snow from shooting down my back. Beyond that small gripe, these things rock.

Don't you wish you were hot like me?

I tromped through the woods for close to an hour and worked up a nice little sweat. The one thing I noted about Denman's is that unless you see someone on the trail while you're riding, you really never get a feel for how close the various tracks run to each other. Walking through, I could hop from track to track to track and barely cover 50 yards of distance and in some cases much less. Once everything grows up in the summer, you'd never know how close that other track is. This is definitely a way to get a better perspective of the woods and the flow. I'll have to get back out there and do a little more off trail hiking/exploring this spring and summer for sure.

I ran across a structure I hadn't noticed before. This shelter is a scant 20-30 yards off the main track and I'm guessing must have been put together this winter. I thought it might be a bunch of flood debris from afar but as I got closer I saw this:

Are there tree spirits active in Denmans?

Apparently they like fires and sitting around them...

Still spooky looking

Maybe Squirrel or someone can shed some light on who put this thing up. Looks like it would be a great winter camp spot.

All in all, a nice way to kill off an hour on a warm afternoon. I've got to invest in some gators or snow pants as the snow flipping off the tail soaked the back of my legs from the knees down. Of course this might not be as much an issue in below freezing temps. The shoes worked pretty flawlessly other than that. Even the poles worked great. This was quite excellent considering I noticed I forgot to take off the plastic caps that cover the spikes as I was putting them away after my hike... Ooops. The poles are definitely a worthwhile add when buying some shoes though as they help to keep your entire body more active, plus work well for testing any possibly wonky areas you're getting ready to traverse.

I'm headed out for a couple hours tonight. The singletrack sure appeared to be rideable. I'm planning on giving it a try. There were even a few areas of bare dirt! Woohoo.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Just Fahgetaboutit

Man, what a pain in the arse of an evening just trying to get out for something simple as a ride. The simple plan was to get out for 2 hours or so with some buddies or alone if need be. I was getting out to ride either way. I did hook up with Conlan, Gov'ner, and Chad for a bit and having a decent ride when all was said and done, but man, I'd have lost my head if it wasn't screwed on tight yesterday.

It started off getting ready to go in the office. Hmm, seems I forgot my bike computer. Ahh well, I can live without it. Wait a minute, where are my bibs? Shit, now I have to go home. Sure I could run for a couple hours without my bibs, but really, I enjoy that layer of diaper between the seat and my junk. So, instead of meeting at the shop at 4:30, now I had to run home and grab a few odds and ends and figure out a new meeting spot. We settled on Principal Park and I boogied to get down there in time. Once home I found my bike computer wasn't charged yet, double strike for that now. At least I plugged it in for a few minutes to the portable charger and got a little data.

From there I jumped in the truck and sped off to rendezvous with the boys. Once down there, I went to put my lights and such on the bike realizing I'd now forgot my main battery sitting in my gym bag at home. Doh! Ahh well, I still had my helmet light, which anyone that has ridden with me, knows its enough to vaporize most anything that comes into its path all on its own. So, I suit up and hit the trail. all is right in the world now.

We loop back through Grays and Waterworks, heading back towards Windsor Heights and Chad splits off for home. Once up in Windsor Heights, my plan was to work over to Urbandale Ave and hit the interurban for a loop back downtown to my truck. Conlan and Gov'ner pulled off to head back going down Beaver and I headed onward. By now dusk was settling in around 5:45 and it was time for headlights. That's really odd, my vaporizer headlight wasn't lighting up. Apparently the battery was either dead from the last time I used it or had drained down to nothing. In either case, I was a man without a light.

Luckily it wasn't that dark yet, but by the time I worked my way down towards the botanical center, darkness had pretty well set in. The dead end road where the trail comes out was a massive ice field that I felt lucky to escape with nary a fall. Beyond that, it was pretty uneventful heading back to the truck. I shorted myself to 1.5 hours out, but at least it was outside. On the plus side, I made it back in time to scarf some burgers and head out for a couple hours of rec league volleyball with my wife to finish off the night.

I'm shooting for an hour or so snowshoeing through Denmans tonight right after work if anyone happens to be interested. Might be one of the last days possible with all the warm weather headed our way.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Have you ever?

Written something so complete and so full of your own feelings, thoughts, and emotions that when you go back to re-read it, it brings you to tears? I have. I hope to share it with you. For me, its fully a game changer. I hope the suspense doesn't kill you!

Sorry for being short and cryptic, but I've got a ton on my plate at work and need to get some things shipped out to various people today as well.

Monday, February 02, 2009

10 pounds of shite in a 5 pound bag

Ugggh, that's about how I feel this morning. Like an overstuffed sausage. Now I remember why checking my self indulgence at the door is a bad thing. How are these for stats: ride time- 5.5 hours, weight gain- 3 pounds! Yup, I got outside to ride both days and other than the pain, thoroughly enjoyed it. OK, so who am I kidding, I enjoy the pain just a little too... I ate ok over the weekend until yesterday's Superbowl party at a friend's house. I checked my inhibitions at the door and let 'er rip. Ya, my weight was up 3 pounds between yesterday morning and this morning. At least I made it into the gym this morning and should be hitting some snowshoeing tonight it plans hold. Anyone interested in a late evening tromp through Denman's before we lose this snow completely?

Plans were flying all over the place for rides on Saturday. I think I had no less than 4 options of start times/points and types of rides to choose from. Being that I like to get out early, I shot over to Squirrel's for a 7 AM gravel ride. Temps were perfect at a shade under 30 degrees as we rolled out of his place and off towards Booneville. Plan was to hook up with another group rolling from Fuller's place somewhere along Booneville Road. They were running a bit behind so we headed north and over some more hills to meet up with them. Fuller, Sumpter, Anderson, and Will were all game as we headed back through the hills and the rest of the loop.

We rolled the hills pretty quickly with the exception of one quick stop. Apparently there are cougars in the area south of Booneville... Funny, most of us thought cougars were hunting mostly at night around these parts. Just to be sure, we rounded up our group at that point and left Tom and Will to fend for themselves. Funny, we never saw them after that point... I did hear they finished up later on though so alls well that ends well.

As we headed back east with a tailwind, Squirrel decided we were all in need of a serious ass kicking and cranked up his big ring. Damnit, Squirrel on a geared bike is about the worst best idea I've heard for a long time. He tore my legs up for sure as I put in a pretty good effort trying to real him back in, but gave up after 20 minutes. Fuller blew by me after I'd blown up, but didn't seem to fare any better until we regrouped at a stopping point. We rolled back into town catching the gravel out around old Army post road and back in through Water Works. We hit the shop in time to strip off some sweat soaked layers and chill out waiting for the 10 AM group to show up.

My ass was pretty well kicked at this point with my legs telling me I haven't got any distance in them this year. I chowed a bar and hit a shot of gel before feeling slightly better. As luck would have it, I'd all ready made up my mind that I wasn't going to hit another full loop. 50 miles would be plenty for me and as the big group rolled through Raccoon River Park, I was quickly off the back.

Actually, I don't think I missed too much other than some suffering, sloppy roads, and a grime covered bike. Even though I was rocking fenders, I still didn't miss this action. Kurt was wishing for some fenders I'm sure.

Above pics were all stolen from Squirrel!

Sunday I was in for a nice recovery spin. No takers on some cross bike/road action and I was fine with that. An early breakfast and then a rollout from our usual spot had me heading out towards Maffit for a planned 2 hour spin in zone 2-3. After yesterday averaging zone for for 3.5 hours, I needed some relief. I pushed a few hills, but for the most part, I let the legs spin. Ever the number junky, I was severely disappointed when my garmin failed to fire up. It was locked up and I'd forgotten the secret combination of buttons to push to get the thing running again. Ahh well, I just used my best judgement and felt good at the end of the ride. I broke out the Ritual Route for the most part, but did an extra out and back past Maffit reservoir for some bonus mileage and some nice scenery over the lake.

I was rocking the IPOD for only the 2nd or 3rd time ever on a ride. Tired of my workout mix, I hit random. Only one problem with that. I've got over 100 kids songs loaded on there for playing during drive time with Corley! Doh, nothing like jamming along and having Frosty the Snowman or the theme to Sesame Street as sung by Elmo pumping out through your earbuds. Actually, it brought a smile to my face as I felt myself singing along with a couple of the songs. All in all a nice way to spin out the legs. I'm still feeling it this morning, but at least the progress in my fitness is coming along.