Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good-bye to an old friend

Our dog Molly with Claire, a great niece (2006)

Earlier this year we made the hard decision to put our dog to sleep after a long, slow decline and irreversible health problems. Molly was more than a pet, she was a member of our family for 14 years. She was a beautiful Beagle that brightened our lives. She was always happy to see us and was with us through all the ups and downs that life brings. My Dad was a dog lover all of his life and after having a major stroke that left him aphasic and partially paralyzed, he seemed to especially enjoy Molly's visits. No language is needed to communicate with a dog and their love is unconditional.

So this weekend we finally gave Molly her freedom and buried her cremated remains in the back yard, beyond where the fence that she was always escaping was (until recently), in a nice spot under a tree. For the past 4 months we've had a little shrine to Molly on the top of our entertainment center; her urn, picture, and collar. Visitors thought it was a little creepy, but it was our way of paying tribute to a beloved family member. All dogs go to heaven and I hope to make it there myself someday and be greeted by all these 4-legged friends who have blessed my life.

Mama Mia, Visit to Winery, Overnight in Sioux Falls

It has been a great weekend. Saturday started with a short bike ride - only 10 miles but a good work out. Average heart rate 161 for 37 minutes. I was working hard but still only averaged 16.1 mph. But it got the day off to a good start.

Later it was off to Sioux Falls where we met some friends. We saw the musical Mama Mia together in Las Vegas this winter and have anxiously been waiting to see the movie. We all thought it was AWESOME! Luckily it wasn't' the sing-a-long version, that would have been annoying!

Next we drove out to Renner to the Strawbale Winery and we enjoyed a bottle of black current wine while sitting out on the patio - what a beautiful place, very relaxing!

Then we made an appearance at our friend's daughter's and husband's place for their Labor Day party. Another glass of wine - this was white wine mixed with pomegranate juice with raw sugar along the rim of the glass - yummy!

The rest of the evening was spent walking along downtown, listening to music, a great meal at Minerva's, and some more walking. We stayed at the downtown Holiday Inn.

We intended to walk to Monk's but didn't make it there - I was a little disappointed but we all agreed to come back and go next time.

Sunday morning we enjoyed more visiting over several cups of coffee and brunch. We said god bye to our friends and Charlie and I ran some errands before coming home.

To top off a great day, the oldest daughter and husband and youngest daughter and boyfriend joined us for grilled steaks and all the trimmings. Oh, and Maggie, our grand-dog got to come along for the visit. She is turning into a very nice dog as she grows out of the puppy stage.

It's sad to think this is the last hurrah of summer! Here's looking forward to lots of beautiful fall weekends.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Have I told you lately how much I love my bike?

After getting groceies after work and coming home and getting them all put away, I thought it was getting a bit late to think about going out for a bike ride. But I was inspired by the Hooterville Mayor who has made it his goal to get out and ride every day, even if it is just for a few short miles. With Charlie gone for the evening driving a bus trip, I didn't have anything better to do so I quickly changed and got out on the bike.

What a beautiful evening! I did a 14 mile loop and averaged 15.3 mph, not a great average but it was a hilly route so I was happy with it. Since I was on some hills and the shadows were starting to get long, I turned on my Bike Planet blinky light. Wow, it seems like cars really give you a wide berth when you have an obnoxiously bright blinky light! They probably think I'm set to detonate at any moment!

The ride improved my mood immensly - I need to do this more often!

Monday, August 25, 2008

From the Quotble Cyclist Book

"When I'm on my bike, I forget about things like age. I just have fun." Kathy Sessler

My Other Bike

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Bike Ride

I rode the Irene-Viborg-Centerville-Wakonda loop again today, a nice 42 mile loop. Rather uneventful, a peacefull ride that allowed a lot of day dreaming. I made one stop in Centerville for a break - since the bakey was closed and I couldn't have an apple fritter - I stopped at the convenience store. I've become a regular there this summer and the folks are always very nice and at least seem interested when they ask where I'm biking to today. One interesting thing I saw was a large flock of turkeys (about 20) crossing highway 19.

My husband and I went to Sioux Falls in search of a fire pit but decided for the price we could probably build something ourselves - or I should say, I'm confident my husband can build it! I did find the perfect arbor though. It was not in stock so had to be ordered but that will also be one of the fall projects on the "honey-do" list.

We ran into a friend at Lowes and chatted awhile. He is the county road supervisor so I asked him about what roads are going to be chipped sealed this year. Here is the bad news of the day - starting on Sep. 8th they will chip seal the Wakonda road (302 St), the road south of Meckling to the Timber Road, and the Burbank Road.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Riding with the Guys

CDV posted a ride to our biking group for this morning (Saturday); distance ~50 miles, pace 16-17 mph. I have ridden a lot of long, slow distance rides this summer but have not been pushing my speed. Last Saturday with near perfect weather and assisted by a fast pace line, I managed a higher average speed and it felt good. Wanting to ride with the group at least for a few miles, I left my house about 6:30 am and rode towards Vermillion, meeting Biking Brady, CDV, KS, and DW about 3 miles out of Vermillion (21 miles into my ride). We rode for the next ~13 miles together but I could not maintain the pace posted. But being the gentlemen they are, they slowed down and Biking Brady and I rode a little behind CDV & DW.

The guys are so strong and I admire how easily they attack the hills and their speed. I'm glad they let me tag along to give me the chance to push myself more than I normally would if I was riding alone the entire ride.

Having to get back for a 9:30 bridal shower, after departing ways as the guys went on to Centerville, I tried to keep going strong. I had 39.33 miles on my bike computer when I got home and being a bit OCD, I had to keep riding to hit the 40 mile mark, even though it was already 9:10 and I had to shower and get ready for the shower.

It felt good to get a 40 mile ride in and I was only a few minutes late for the shower! This afternoon we're off to a wedding!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Big Friend, Little Friend Ride at Elk Point

Loved this ride! Cindy and I started off sucking the wheels of a pace line of about 8Siouxland cyclists for about the first 25 miles - that was fun! Around the Spink overpass the group broke up as some riders skipped the Union Grove loop. Of course, we chose to ride all the miles so we headed up towards the park. By this time Ed had joined us.

We were on a time schedule as Cindy had a wedding to attend in Brookings - so there was no lollygagging! But we were riding at a pretty good pace and found ourselves a bit ahead of schedule which meant we had time to share a piece of pie at the Spink Cafe.

It was a perfect day for a ride and the three of us had a great time riding together. We finished with an aveage speed of 17.3 mph for the 55 mile ride. So we even had time for a quick bite to eat at Los Amigos in Elk Point before Cindy's husband picked her up.

This was my fastest average speed of the year and it felt good!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Great Bicycle Quote from the "Quotable Cyclist" Book

"It is no longer a beast of is a friend. Destiny has accorded man (woman!) this new friend. It is a faithful and powerful ally against one's worst enemies. It is stronger than anxiety, stronger than sadness. It has all the power of hope." Maurice Leblanc, Wins to Fly

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday Century Ride

I love riding my bike! Especially now when I’m feeling my strongest following RAGBRAI a few weeks ago and the MS Ride last weekend, so I just want to ride as much as I can! Charlie is enjoying his hobby; restoring a car he bought earlier this summer which gives me time to bike without feeling guilty!

I seriously thought of going to Watertown to ride their century ride on Saturday with a biking friend, I really wanted to go but didn’t want to spend a 4th consecutive weekend away from home for a bike ride. I decided to do my own century around home. But I also wanted to sleep in a little and didn’t get started until 7:30 am. A stiff south wind also slowed me down and I wasn’t sure I would get a century accomplished but I took it slow and easy. With seven hours of riding time (14.3 mph average) and two total hours of break time, I finally finished at 4:30 pm.

A perfect day; I got to spend the day riding, we grilled steaks for supper, and then spent a quiet evening watching a movie!

One more thing, I had lunch in Vermillion at HyVee with my minister who happened to be there at the same time. We had a really nice visit, I found out that on RAGBRAI we went through the area of Iowa where she grew up and she has family that continues to live there. It happened to be my favorite part of Iowa and I remember the area well (some of the towns run together that we went through and don’t stand out). I want to go back sometime to the Lisbon, Mount Vernon area, it is very Americana, like a Norman Rockwell print. We were talking about biking and pastor said to me, “I never realized you were such a hard core biker.” I don’t think of myself as hard core but I told her my motto: “Anything worth doing is worth over doing!” I have thrown myself into a few serious hobbies over the year; ie. genealogy (I dragged my husband through a lot of cemeteries!), scrapbooking, etc., but I never would have dreamed I would take up biking!

Map of my ride – never more than 25 miles from home.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday Evening Ride

A beautiful evening for a ride! I posted a ride for 5:30 pm for the Bluff Road/Meckling loop (28.5 miles). We had a total of 6 show up for the ride; some of the usuals like Biking Brady, Craig T., myself, as well as John who I haven't ridden with since the summer before last (welcome back to biking!), and two students. I hope the students didn't mind riding with us old people! I wish all of our students rode bike, I love getting to know them outside of school and a bike ride is conducive to great conversation!

All in all, a great ride! Only a couple of small glitches, dogs on the Bluff Road chasing us, but no close calls, mainly because a minivan was behind us which helped to block the dogs. And Biking Brady had a problem with his bike - he was stuck in his big chain ring - I chose not to ride in my big chain ring climbing the hill into Vermillion in sympathy for Kevin!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

One Last RAGBRAI Post

Here is a link Mark Ebert's RAGBRAI diary - he has the perfect name for his RAGBRAI diary "10,000 Maniacs." That sums up RAGBRAI pretty well. Mark also used the ShuttleGuy camping service. It's fun to hear other people's stories - especially those who you know!

Monday, August 4, 2008

MS Pedal the Plains Ride

For the first time, I wasn't excited about the MS Ride for the following reasons:

1. It would be my 3rd weekend in a row away from home for a bike ride.
2. The forecast with the heat and wind sounded horrible.
3. My hometown was having their annual CornStalk festival which I have missed for the past 4 years for the MS ride.
4. It had been a very busy week getting caught up at work, starting orientation with a new group of students, was gone every evening, blah, blah, blah......

But the magical power of the bike took over as soon I was on the bike and on my way down the road with 350 other riders. What a great feeling to be pedaling away on a beautiful morning - and so far the wind wasn't very noticeable!

Ashley and I were riding together and soon we were joined by Cindy and then Holly and then Eric and then Pamela. It seemed to be a nice comfortable pace for us all and the time went by quickly. And it was nice to have others to commiserate with once the winds picked up!

Loved the sign at Melissa and Nick's house "Two LaneHogs live here," along with a decorated bike! Bet they were tempted to just go home when they passed by but with their determination they kept going - whereas if it was me, I would have been very tempted!

We actually made it in to Vermillion earlier than I had anticipated, I think around 1:15 pm. Seemed like it was too early to quit riding for the day so Ashley, Pamela, and I headed out to conquer the Century Loop. I will admit it was painful against the wind and I hadn't remembered that hill pass the Vermillion-Newcastle Bridge to be quite so LONG! But the trip back definitely made it worth it - downhill with a tailwind for several miles.

I'll repeat what others have said, it was great to meet the bloggers! Hopefully we'll all be together again at the Margarita Ride!

The banquet was inspiring as usual. As a proud aunt, I have to say it, I think Mandy does an awesome job (along with Janey and Jennifer) at the MS Society. And her and Nathan have the cutest daughter. Of course, all 57 of my great-nieces and nephews are gosh darn cute! No kidding - my husband and I have 57 great-nieces and nephews!!).

Sunday was HOT. Here is the short version: Had a flat tire outside of Beresford, didn't want to hold the group up as it got hotter, and didn't want to NOT ride all the miles by sagging ahead to meet them at a rest stop. So rode the last 50 mostly by myself after sagging back to the school to get my tire fixed. Did not mind riding alone at all - I usually ride by myself and I'm good at keeping myself company. Thought about the book "The Last Lecture" when he starts out by saying he won the parent lottery. And I thought about how that statement applied to me as well. Basically I was out in the heat reminiscing with myself about what a great childhood I had and how loved I was by my parents and grandparents......yeah, might have been a combination of heat stroke and nostalgia!

Anyway - it was another great MS ride despite the wind and the heat - as Snakebite would say "deal with it," (note I left out the rest of his statement) and I think we all dealt with the conditions well. Our fatigue and aches and pain last a short while. Hopefully we have made a difference in the life of someone dealing with MS who lives with fatigue and aches and pains daily.

RAGBRAI - Day 7 Tipton to LeClaire (52.7 miles, 1,835 feet of climb)

Saturday, July 26th - Our last day! It was a short day but we were out on the road at our usual time; 5:45 am! This was our last chance to try to RAGBRAI traditional foods; the Pork Chop Guy and Beecham's homemade ice cream churned with antique stationary engines. We came across both at the same farm at 8:30 am. So it was a second breakfast for Ashley and I of a pork chop and ice cream which we shared. Very tasty!

Then we took pictures for a couple in the corn and they returned the favor for us....very corny pictures indeed.

Hard to believe how little wind there was on RAGBRAI but we did have some on this last day - and it was a perfect tail wind! Combined with a mostly gradual down hill ride to the Mississippi River Valley - I believe it was the easiest 55 mile ride of my life. The only scary part was how steep the road was directly down to the river! But we made it all 475 miles safely. What a feeling of accomplishment to dip your front tire into the Mighty Mississippi - it was awesome! Feel like I can cross an item off the "bucket list" now! And I'm so fortunate that my newly-wed-daughter would take a week to do this with her Mom. Thank you Ashley!

The rest of morning and early afternoon was spent meeting up with the Siouxland Cyclists, packing up the bikes to put on the truck, cleaning up with one last solar shower, getting something to eat, and then on the charter bus home with the Sioux City group. After watcing 3 incredibly silly movies: Idiocracy, Office Space and the Big Libowski, we arrived in Sioux City around 10:00pm.

All in all, I'm really glad to have ridden in a full week of RAGBRAI, and experience every cyclist should try at least once. Would I do it again? I believe I would if the opportunity came up to do it with a group of people I knew. But for now I'll be content with the more low-key Tour deKota ride in my own home state. Although I might like to try the Midwest Scenic Tour with a friend next year!

RAGBRAI - Day 6 New Liberty to Tipton (64.1 miles, 3,051 feet of climb)

Friday, July 25th - More rolling hills and scenic country. The towns looked like they came out of a Norman Rockwell print. My favorites were Lisbon and Mount Vernon, which were only a couple of miles apart! Some day I would love to go back for Lisbon's Sauerkraut Days. Being half Czech I appreciate a good kraut and they have a bike ride during their festival, it doesn't get any better than that!

We tried to really slow down and enjoy the pass through towns. The best food I had all week was at the pass through town of Mechanicsville. They flew in 2,500 pounds of fresh shrimp and a Cajun chef to prepare the shrimp Cajun style. It was absolutely delicious! And these weren't any shrimpy shrimp - they were huge!

It was a very fun day - besides great food and beautiful country (even if it was hillier than I'm use to!) we had a lot of fun visiting with people. With 10,000-15,000 people on RAGBRAI I never expected to find other people I knew on RAGBRAI but it seems like our paths crossed quite often. For example, I knew one of our medical students had taken a week of her vacation time from her senior year to ride RAGBRAI with her Mom - how special is that! So when our paths crossed again on this day we thought it was about time for a moms and daughters picture.

Ashley was also found by Mary, her husband's cousin, who was riding just this one day. They were sure surprised to see each other and I'm glad they had a chance to get together for awhile in Tipton.

Our camp was at Tipton was in the backyard of the nicest people I have met. Sonja, the assistant manager of the ShuttleGuy, bravely went to their door just the week before and asked these complete stranger if they would take in 60 campers. Not only did they allow us to camp in their beautiful yard (just 2 blocks from downtown and the center of the actitivities) but they treated us like royalty. Doug, an avid hunter, was grilling up various cuts of marinated venison and serving us these thinly sliced delicious bits of meat. I would have sworn it was beef steak. Not only that, he stocked his refrigertor in his garage completely full of beer specifically for the campers! And his wife made us taco dip, cheese spread, etc.

Oh, and I sat on that funky looking recumbant with the fly eye like shield and back and white checkered zip aound cover so only your head is exposed when you ride. We called it Dennis' bike apartment....thought he probably had a TV and microwave in their with him.

And our party guys in the group entertained us with stories of their day...which was considerably shorter, more time for drinking that way, as they took a short cut that included 6 miles of gravel roads but took 30 miles off the route for the day!

RAGBRAI - Day 5 Tama-Toledo to New Liberty (76.1 miles, 1,377 feet of climb)

Thursday, July 24th - These were the best days of RAGBRAI for us, I think just knowing we were going to make it to the end made us more relaxed. Also getting to know our camping mates better and bonding with them added to the camaraderie of RAGBRAI spirit!

The weather was once again in our favor, it was overcast and looked like rain when we left camp so we were prepared and had our jackets. We rode through a light rain for maybe an hour, but it wasn't too cold if you had light wool socks with your sandals like I did - these are my favorite, everyone should have a pair!!. And we heard later that right after we left, Tama got dumped on with a 2" rain, so were very lucky. But as the day went on we did have a head wind out of the east. It was funny to hear the level of complaining, it was tiring but the wind wasn't that bad. People remembering we were from South Dakota would say, "oh yeah, you live on the prairie, I suppose thisn't isn't much to you guys." They were right, I'm sure the wind was 15 mph or less!

The route brought us through a Czech town - Chelsea and then the Amish communities of West Amana, South Amana, and Homestead with their beautiful flower gardens and stone houses. I had a potatoe pancake with applesauce in South Amana. It was 'interesting' and a good carb load. I should have had a kolache in Chelsea, but alas even I can only eat so much in one day!

North Liberty really played up their "pirate" theme and treated everyone royally as we entered town. Our camp ground was at the Knights of Columbus, a beautiful spacious lot, connected to the bike trail and just a block from the RAGBRAI center. We were especially happy to find a laundromat just 5-6 blocks away. Finally - clean and dry biking shorts. With the humidity, things never seemed to dry out after washing them out the previous nights. The laundromat was next door to a coffee shop so I got my latte fix taken care of. And we met a couple from Sioux Falls on their first RAGBRAI in the laundromat who were very chatty - it was fun exchanging stories and the time went fast.

We are some good food and were ready to turn in early once again. But having a few beers at the campsite we found out we had a few younger partying guys in our camping group - they were very entertaining!

RAGBRAI Day 4 - Ames to Tama - Toledo (76 miles, 3, 123 feet of climb)

Day 4, July 23rd - I was nervous about getting to the main route from our camp and through Ames and wanted to get out early to avoid traffic. Tim from Sioux City helped us out and the three of us left at 5:30 am. It took us about 45 minutes before we connected with the main route! It was probably a good thing we weren't on the main route earlier as the road had been covered in tacks! Many people were pulled over changing tires but I think the road had been swept by the time we came through. Good riddance Ames!
We stopped at Colo for a breakfast of pancakes and sausage, complete with entertainement as we ate. Next stop was State Center, a very pretty little town. We got our picture taken on the spot that marked the center of the state.
Again, very nice weather for riding. We enjoyed all of the remaining pass through towns: Albion, Green Mountain, LeGrand and Montour.
This night our camp was in a camp ground outside of Tama on a gravel road so they shuttled us to the camp and then gave us the option of shuttling us into town for the evening or going to the nearby casino for supper. Our whole camp opted for the casino buffet rather than more of the typical RAGBRAI food in town. It was a lot of fun! Enjoyed eating with Chantel from Kansas City and the food was great! Really appreciated the salad bar as I hadn't seen a vegetable all week!

RAGBRAI - Day 3 Jefferson to Ames (56.8 miles, 1,377 feet of climb)

Tuesday, July 22nd - After two of the hilliest days of RAGBRAI and knowing we had a short day, I wanted to leave a little later from camp. Leaving at 6:30 am we ended up in a mass of people but it seemed to thin out more as the day went on. We had some fun pass through towns like Ogden and Boone and the weather was perfect - no wind, sunny but not hot. The only hard part of the day was one GIANT hill - evdiently the biggest hill of the week. We got to our camp early, probably too early as we were probably about 7 miles north of the main RABRAI activity/route in Ames. Shortly after we arrived in camp a few others came in. We checked out a winery across the road from camp with some of our fellow ShuttleGuy campers - enjoyed the wine tasting followed with a glass of delicious sangria! Tym, the manager of ShuttleGuy, shuttled people in by van to Ames. The only problem was we were dropped off in a parking lot of an apartment complex and we had to walk about 1 1/2 mile to the RAGBRAI activities. Ashley and I joined George from our camp, and we talked and walked for over an hour, wandering around trying to find the hub of the activities. We were around the campus and then took a bus to the downtown. The street was blocked and there was a stage, but no one was around. After a nice micro brew in a cool bar, we split up from George and Ashley and I wandered a bit more and grabbed something to eat. I called a taxi and we went back to camp. It was a disappointing evening but after talking with several others who stayed in various different areas of Ames, I found most people were disappointed. One couple even heard locals yelling profanities at the bikers.