Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Calories in, calories out, balancing it all with exercise. Plain and simple. (NEJM - Full Findings volume 360:859-873 Feb 26, 2009 Number 9)
Now how much money did it take to figure that out?
Bellie and I returned home safely Saturday night after 8 weeks of being on the road...
over 11,000 miles driven
2 oil changes
1 cracked windshield
1 speeding ticket (Wyoming)
1 warning (Texas)
Saw Bald Eagles..golden Eagles..hundreds of Hawks (of all kinds and in every state)..Big horn sheep...a black bear...Elk..Moose...Bison...grey Fox...red Fox....Bobcat...wild goats...wild horses..mule deer...white tail deer...antelope...and a few people who looked to be quite lost and homeless!
About $865 in gas
Spent 14 nights in hotel rooms
Saw a lot of old friends in a lot of beautiful places
Met some new friends
Had a chance to visit family
Got a chance to spend a bunch of hours with myself...the hardest part of traveling (while alone) was not having anyone to share the amazing beauty I was able to see on this journey... the barren East Texas landscape, Sedona red rocks, vineyards of NorCal , Big Sky Country, the Grand Tetons of Wyoming and the endless mountain ranges in between..all unique...all so beautiful!
I need to thank those that helped Michele and I on our travels with lodging, food and beverages and most importantly, warmth and friendship
My Brothers Blake and Brooke and his family...I love you all
Mom and Dad...Art and Shirley...you are always there for me...thanks
Aaron & Annie and family....a really nice evening together that was way to due to take place!
All the folks @ the Mill Iron Ranch...what a magical place
Mike ,Ellie and Amelia Pflieger...you got the life dude!!!...we are happy for you
Becky Broeder and Will....thanks for the hospitality u 2...we are still drooling over the Elk feast and micro brew!
John & Linda Elgart...I can't thank you enough for the hospitality and inside vantage point of Sacramento..I hope i can return the favor here in Lancaster some day!
Marian & Eric Spector & family...always good to see you all ...another great view you have!
Scott Z...what a ride Z..lets do that again with the whole crew next time!
Barb & David George...Sara & Ben...so nice to re-connect after all these years
Jon & Cheryl ,Katie and Clay Cooper..Coop, thank you so much for putting us up..felt like we picked up where we left off, all those years ago.
If I forgot anyone, sorry! The door is always open here in Lancaster!
Southern Lake Tahoe, CA.
Pecan trees outside of Medesto.
Border Patrol Check Point near El Paso.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
One and half hours after I have been home, my feet are still frozen. Halfway through the 40 mile loop that I even lopped off 5 miles - I was drenched from riding behind ten silly other riders. Once the cold rain and snow drenched my clothes and I turned into a headwind, I was a Popsicle. I could not feel my legs after a while and I talked (& complained) all the way home. All I could think about was anything with a prefix of "HOT"; hot tea, hot chocolate, hot bread, hot toddies, hot tub...
Finally home, my clothes were frozen to my skin that I could not peel them off. I'm typing with my tongue right now as I am still frozen. Missing Texas (and Asheville) right now.
Art broke his chain at the Juke Box. Ober & Wilson pushed him to our house (2 miles).
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the stupidest of them all?!
Damn. New long sleeve jersey wrecked. Hoping the grime and horse poop comes out.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Exits, entrances, and the ubiquitous frontage roads
As you drive through Texas, you may notice that exits and entrances on many of our Interstates tend to be more frequent than in other states. This is the result of the wishes of a former and long-time director of the state highway department, Dewitt Greer. It was his belief that, given the vastness of the state, Interstates should not just serve "interstate" traffic, but also "interregional" traffic within Texas.
Another byproduct of this philosophy is perhaps the most unique feature of the state's highway system: frontage roads. There are almost 6,800 miles of these along freeways in Texas, more-- much more-- than any other state. The reason for the widespread use of frontage roads in Texas again can be traced to Dewitt Greer. He decided that it was cheaper to build frontage roads to keep access to adjacent properties than it was to purchase those access rights, which is required under state law. This quickly became standard operating procedure at the Highway Department (and subsequently TxDOT) and nearly all of the state's freeways were built under this policy. In June 2001, the Texas Transportation Commission considered a major policy change that would've rocked TxDOT and Texans in general to the core-- frontage roads would not be included in any new freeways unless absolutely necessary. This was a fundamental change and caused quite a stir around the state-- enough of one that the Commission decided, after statewide hearings, to scrap the idea.
There are several ramp configurations used with frontage roads. The "diamond" interchange is pretty standard, with the on- and off-ramps connecting to the frontage roads in the general shape of a diamond relative to the cross street (see illustration below). Sometimes, especially in urban areas, the ramps are reversed in an "X"-interchange with the exit ramp for the next cross street preceding the entrance ramp from the previous cross street. This allows traffic to weave on the frontage road rather than the freeway. Occasionally, if space is limited, both the on and off ramps are built at the same location in a "braided" arrangement (i.e. one ramp passes-over the other).
Frontage roads with diamond interchanges
Frontage roads with "X" interchanges
Speed limits on frontage roads generally range from 60 mph in rural areas to 40-50 mph in urban areas. In urban areas, access roads are one-way in the same direction as the adjacent freeway lanes. In rural areas they are generally two-way. On the frontage road, traffic leaving or entering the freeway has the right-of-way. Yield signs are usually posted, but in many areas they're lacking. Many drivers don't realize that even if there's no sign, they're still required to yield.
Our ubiquitous frontage roads are an oddity unique to Texas. However, within Texas, frontage roads have their own oddity. If you travel through the state, you may notice that people in each of the major cities call their frontage roads something different: in Houston, they're "feeder" roads; in Dallas-Ft. Worth, they're "service" roads; in San Antonio, they're "access" roads. I've heard that they're known as "gateways" in El Paso. The term used in Austin and the state's official term is "frontage" road, which is how you'll see them marked on guide signs statewide, even in the aforementioned areas where the popular semantics differ. You can often tell what part of the state someone hails from just by asking them what they call that road next to the freeway.
It should be noted that frontage roads (or whatever you call them) are not just found on
Interstates-- the freeway segments of many US and state highways also feature frontage roads.
Texans are frequently surprised when they go to other places and find no frontage roads. I often hear people talk about their trips to _____ and one topic that often comes-up is, "They don't have frontage roads on their highways!" Most native Texans don't realize how much of an oddity our extensive frontage roads are. Conversely, many out-of-state visitors immediately notice and comment on our frontage roads. It's usually about 50-50 between thumbs-up and thumbs-down.
More than half of the state's highway system is comprised of the Farm-to-Market (FM) road system, which also includes Ranch-to-Market (RM) roads and Ranch Roads (RR). Although started in the late 1930s, the system really grew after the 1949 Legislature set aside $15 million annually from the state's General Fund for their construction. General Fund money is no longer used, but the FM system is still paid for entirely by the state. The FM system is the most extensively developed rural highway system in the nation. Its nearly 41,000 miles is more than double the entire state highway mileage of the six New England states combined. There is no difference between FM, RM, and RR routes-- just more Texas highway semantics.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This is what happens when you live out of a hotel. When we did the Sunday, S.A. Wheelmen ride, we thought we would be going back to the hotel so I did not pack an extra set of cycling clothes or any "going out" clothes. After the first ride, we realized we did not have time to drive back to the hotel. Then, after the tourist ride, it made sense just to stay downtown to check out the Riverwalk. Luckily I had the shorts. I was styling.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
We rode on 6-lane highways. Crazy. The weather was in the mid-60s and it quickly rose to the low 80s. I felt as if I was moto paced by the guys (and probably traffic) all the way to Mansfield Dam. When we took the Low Water Crossing Road right after the Dam bridge, my legs started to fail. We climbed a walking path off of Low Water Crossing Rd for Bradley. Road across the bridge again and then climbed. The next hill that killed me was Big View Dr. Our detour (River Pl Blvd, Big View Dr-down&up, Narrow Ridge Dr, Westminster Glen Ave then left onto City Park Rd) to avoid the death defining descent of route 2222 became a dead end at the bottom of Big View Dr. Flying down Big View was scary enough and it was in a posh neighborhood. 2222 is 4-lane highway with no shoulders so I was happy that we had the detour until we had to TURN AROUND and climb up Big View Dr.
Brad cruised along City Park Road and Andrew and I sucked wheel to the bottom of 2222. The highway rolled up and down and the heat started to take a toll on me. All I could say is that I soaked it all in and was surprisingly not freaked out about all the traffic. At one point I almost grabbed a car because my legs were not used to all the tempo riding and I wanted help to get my ass back to the shop. Thanks to Austin Andrew for giving us an awesome 55 mile ride West of the city.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Since we were close, we drove downtown to do the Riverwalk. Yay! Dinner was a 60 oz Margarita. Thank goodness we shared it and had a little help from Dave.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
At the rest stop, I was able to talk Denver Jim into doing a second s.a.w. ride in the PM; "grand tour of San Antonio Central (City)". As I unhinged into the wind, and took a few pulls with Denver Jim and another guy, I questioned the 2nd ride - even if it was going to be at 12 mph. Brad finished his interval and we caught back on. We let him roll off alone on his next effort and for the last, one guy and I worked the sweet spot until we hit a pass over.
So the out of towners ruled the ride and I hope it was okay - Thanks S.A.W. Denver Jim, Dave joined us for the 2nd ride and we made it halfway. If you thought an "any town club ride" could be dangerous, try doing one that was geared towards tourists. Wow, we were six abreast after the ride leader gave us a detailed "rules of the road" lecture. Luckily, the drivers were gracious. I rode in the back "sweeping" with the camera. Not used to riding the Trek in a while, I had to stop to take pictures. Multi-tasking didn't work so the sweeping turned into sprinting. It was a fun and entertaining way to see the city as Ken, the rider leader, knew his history. The best part was Williams St. This area's restoration was started by one man. Right, I was taking pictures and did not get to hear all the stories first hand. Google hasn't helped me out and I am getting sleepy.
Tomorrow is a big day as Brad, Denver Jim, Dave and I will be riding 87 miles from a "mapmyride" ride. Hmm. Hasta manana.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
They talked about their professions (one is a special education teacher working with autistic children, husband unemployed, art historian??), their kids, family, veteran/war experiences and the state of the economy. These people did not know each other before they entered the train but they could have as they lived in many similar places across the country (Portland, Fairfax, family in Lancaster). It is comforting to know that we still have an interest and care for each other.
As I waddled from one train to another, a smile or a chuckle at what a sight I might have been made me laugh, too. I love the sense of independence, connection and freedom in traveling. Wishing I could stay in Philadelphia to go to the Art Museums, eat in fabulous restaurants and just breath the city, I am again thankful of my home. We live near the best metropolitan cities in the world (DC, Philadelphia & NYC). We could be at any one of them in less than three hours (especially if Brad is driving). So here I am, sitting at the airport, loving home.
So I am doing the train. The station is 1.3 miles from my house so I walked. I forgot about the bags. I walked into town last week for dinner (2 miles) and had no problem. Plus, it was 60 degrees and I had no bags. Not even a purse. Damn. My shoulder are killing me! My hips are kind of humming, too. Hey, I made it, though. I kept adding crap into my bags because I figured I would be driving back from San Antonio. Ugh. Even my purse is heavy because I have food and drink in it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Eventually I met a good friend and she invited me to join her and a bunch of her friends at Jethros; a local neighborhood bar. That is what it is - a bar, booths and tables that fill a row home. I have lived in Lancaster City, extended - for ten years but I have known about Jethros for twenty but never stepped foot in the place until last week.
I went to meet other friends and I was really late. Cramped and too packed, I walked in and left. Tonight, I had the same feeling but Marilyn saw me and I could not leave. We really went for the music but luckily had time for a meal, too.
I met really great people and they all went upstairs (yes, upstairs for those that don't know about the 2nd floor - house party with music). I was crammed in a booth with five of us so I ended up moving to the bar when they when upstairs. Now the bar scene is another story. All I can say is that I have had a few "pay it forward" experiences since last weekend. Steve Young said the "pay it forward" statement in an NPR story before all my experiences happened. And they happened to me - so eventually I will have to do my part and "pay it forward" for others. Sorry, I digress.
After I had a glass of wine, soup (herbed tomato) and an appetizer of mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto, I made my way to the music.
Marilyn saved seats for us - thank goodness. The space is small with metal rocking, lawn chairs, benches, folding chairs, etc. The drywall bubbled in one section, another was ripped off, the ceiling had cracks and water spots, and the window behind me sent a draft of cold air through the crack in the window. There was a string of white Christmas lights, a high heeled, fishnet stocking lamp, Parcheesi-board games on the "bedside" table, and old pictures with bee-hived women.
Fabulous night to wash away the world. It seemed as if everything was okay in the world. I felt like I was having a martini moment, t00. (The first time I had a martini - nineteen years ago - was at a blues night at the Lizard Lounge and I wrote poetry.) Anyways, I could ramble on.
Let me just give you the songs and local musicians. We jammed to Sittin' on Top of the World ("since you have been gone - a song played in tribute to Mike Malone), 16 Tons, Back Room Girls (I think it was an original), Cover Me, Shes Got the Stuff (??), Mustang "Sally: __ (Sheila, Sandra, ...).
The musicians that I can remember: John - seemed like he came from work in his really nice, lawyer-like suit (he played with sunglasses and a fedora hat), Jimmy Blue (belly full of a jolly, black man), Kenny T (young guy - "white chocolate" as Jimmy called), the owner of Jethros and a congo drum man that I cannot recall his name. (Hey! I only had two glasses of wine.)
Hmmmm. What a night.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The wind picked up from the start to 15 mph from the North. This did not become apparent to me until we made our first left hand turn West towards the foothills of Paskenta. I was about mid-pack into the turn and immediately was thrown into the gutter single file... game on! The gaps forming were immediate and I was quickly assessing my best options for getting back to the front. I was in the third split and there was a steady stream of riders coming back... about 70 guys in the lead pack. I got with about 10 others who were beginning to move back up and we slowly made our way through the second chase. About 10-15 minutes later we caught on and the lamenting quickly started at the back as to how freakin' dumb we were to get caught out so early. Precious energy was spent by that and we vowed to stay more alert!
I grabbed a Powerbar and took a huge bite and as I did this there was a surge at the front and the same thing happened ALL OVER AGAIN. I was redlined in the gutter with a crosswind and gaps were all over the place. I surfed up from pack to pack as best I could but started to fear that this could be the end of my day! I barely latched onto a small group that had formed on the right side of the road, enabling us to echelon and to make time back on the front pack. I struggled but managed to regroup for a moment at the back of the chase only to realize I still had a huge chunk of Powerbar in my mouth from 10 minutes earlier.
With the help of some of the bigger teams that got left out, our group made it back to the front. I tried to finish refueling and made a mental check of how the hell was I going to survive this if I kept putting myself in this position. There was plenty of horse power at the front of our now 50+ lead riders so the pace remained brisk for the next 20 minutes or so. We approached the midway point and the gravel section. Local pro, Jessie Moore, sets off the front alone into the rollers before the 4 mile gravel section and one by one a small group of 3-4 get together.
I don't know if they ever made contact with him but there wasn't much panic in our group as we still had 45-50 miles to go. We began to ramp up the speed into the gravel section. The downhill left turn reminded me of the Poolesville RR entry - really fast and dangerous if you take the wrong line. AND I had the wrong line!!!! I scrubbed all my speed and end up going back to about 15th spot as the hammer is thrown down. No rain here made this section dusty and loose. It sounded like my frame was taking on enemy fire from all the stones that were being shot back through the group. I make sure that my mouth was closed so I didn't take any in the teeth. My helmet caught a few larger stones but luckily none hit my head. My shins took a few hits but nothing too severe, either. Three flats happened right in front of me all at once and I frantically tried to nudge my line to the other side of the road. Some parts were 2-3 inches thick with 1"-3" stones and rocks so changing your track at 27 mph was a hair-raising prospect. In good position as we flew downhill into a sharp off camber left turn with thick gravel over the entire road, I couldn't find a line I wanted and seriously out of control with too much speed and no ability to turn AND with riders near me in the same predicament, I braced for a nasty spill either in the gravel or at best just off road in the scrub bushes. I veered off the road - quickly brake and turned through some bumpy mounds and into an open field and somehow managed to stay up right. Others were not so lucky. The guys that braked hard in the gravel all flatted and another dude did an ass-over-tea kettle.
I re-emerged on the road and saw the small group of 10-15 roll off in front of me. With a quick glance behind me (carnage everywhere), 20% of the group had or will have flatted by the end of the gravel section. I make it through without a flat and noticed how surprisingly good my legs felt. Fifteen seconds off the lead chase with a tailwind to help me bridge up and after about five minutes of a TT effort, I don't make up more than 5 seconds on my own. I decided to take a much needed nature break, eat and wait for a group of about seven to resume a chase back to the front.
The wind picked up a bit as we head into the hills - nothing too long or steep but some were directly into the wind. We were losing major time on the lead chase with only 2 or 3 of us doing any of the work to bring them back. Down 30-45 seconds and frustrated with this group's effort, I set off on my own hoping to hook up with possible stragglers from the lead group. A few chased after me but I pulled away and quickly gained 20-30 seconds. I could see the group in front but there was no way I was gonna to get there alone unless they sat up which was not likely. Just as I resigned to throwing in the towel, a support vehicle rolled by with three guys (who were chasing me) tucked in behind @ 30 mph. Hmmmm...what to do??? No time to think about it. I slide in behind the three others. A few minutes later, we were 300 meters behind the lead group that was all back together at this point. Two of the guys drafting with me were shot and two of us were desperately wanting to be in that front group. It was windy. The lead group was motoring and about 25 miles to go to the finish, we had no choice but blast around the vehicle and bridge the gap in one quick effort.
This was harder than I thought it was going to be. Thirty seconds turned into about 3 to 4 minutes of an all out two man rotation. Fortunately as we slowly closed the gap, we come into a small hill that ended at a traffic light into a small town. We make contact as the group rolled through the green light. There were about 10 of us left with one team having three riders and another with two - plus Jessie. I had no clue who the others were but most the guys seem tired. Just outside of the town, Jessie rolled off the front with no reaction from the group. He quickly gets 10 seconds and I wondered why none of the teams weren't working to bring him back. Hoping that everyone was as tired as they seemed, I attacked in pursuit of Jessie with one, green jersey guy, on my wheel. He was part of the three man team so it was another ideal piece of good fortune that I was having on this day. We now had his two teammates to control the pursuit of us!
Twenty miles to the finish, we rotated through but the green dude had difficulty recovering from his pulls. Several minutes into our break, green dude slowly drifted out of the safety of our draft leaving just two of us to make it to the line some 18 miles away. With green dude back with his teammates and another eight or so guys, we knew the chase was coming. I couldn't exactly see how much time we had on them. We kept passing riders from the shorter 80 mile loop on our way in and it made it hard to tell who was really chasing us from behind and who was just riding. My guess was that we had about 30 seconds. We kept it as smooth as possible and after about 15 minutes of trading 20-30 second pulls, I started to feel the fatigue build in my legs. I felt a moment of amazement at my situation. I had 4 to 5 close calls of being knocked out of this thing only to find myself off the front with the strongest guy in the race. Funny how it goes sometimes.
We didn't know the course and weren't sure exactly how far to go but thankfully a motorcycle support couple gave us information and people were marshaling at the final turn that had us four miles from the finish. Jessie was having trouble with a slipping seat post - his hamstrings tweaked and was losing power while I was reaching my limits as well. My legs were running on fumes and my back was starting to clamp up. These last four miles seemed like an eternity. We could now see 3 to 4 guys charging hard behind us. Not knowing where the finish line was, it was frustrating not knowing how to gauge our efforts. Looking back now it might have been best not knowing. We gave it every ounce of effort we had. Had I known where the line was, I might have given up.
In the last mile, we had about 10-15 seconds on the guys chasing - where the hell was the finish???? At last, we crested a small rise in the road and could see people along the finish line 300 meters in front of us and 10 seconds behind us was the chase. I rolled across the line behind Jessie....we had agreed earlier that I wouldn't contest the sprint. I benefited from a pace car earlier and even though he didn't know that, it would have been a cheeky move to go for the win. He really wanted it and was thankful for the help. I couldn't have wished for a better result than coming in 1-2 with a rider like Jessie Moore. Chico-Paskenta Century lived up to all the hype I heard these past few weeks and I would encourage anyone who has the chance to do this to come check it out. For a show-and-go event, these guys did a nice job with the support and race route - I'd definitely come back ~ Ober
I think the credit goes to "Chicocyclist" or "RodneyCox" from the Flickr pics.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Damn, I am going to have to have another glass of wine as I am all wound up now.