Saturday, August 30, 2008

Live and let Die

I believe that all little critters deserve a chance. I plant extra in the garden so that the little guys can have extra to eat. The deer ate almost all of the peaches this year, but it was dry and I bet they needed the moisture.

I dont use pesticides. Not only does that stuff kill bad bugs, but good ones, too. Plus they also poison me, and all the rest of the critters that live at Camp Runamuck.

I'm going to make an exception. Cliff and I rode early this morning so that we could get ready for the cook out we're throwing this evening. We stopped at Ukrops to get the last few things and were coming in the door when one of those MFing European Hornets got me.

No, its not like a bee sting. No, its not like getting stung by a yellow jacket or wasp. These suckers are 2-3" long, and look like a wasp on steroids. What does it feel like? I imagine like getting stabbed. I went straight down and now I can hardly move my right arm.

Two years ago I had a nest of them. They were pretty placid and were having a good time eating some kind of sap that my oak tree puts out. Then they stung my Doberman. And then they all died.

So tommorrow, the plan is to find the nest and then wait until dark. I don't want to spray where there can be innocent bystanders. But those huge suckers, they're goin' down.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sonya takes the Cake

Super Sonya wins the VACycling Omnium! Way to go girl, for a first year racer, she steadily improved all year, and showed that she can compete in any venue... up hill, on the flat, in time trials! We are all really proud of you and how far you've come!

And a huge shout out to Pave' Maria, the most consistent, fastest, nicest competition a girl could ever have. Week after week, all year long, Maria kicked my ass and then some. It doesn't hurt that she has the best equipment manager in the biz, either. (Even if he did let her down at the last time trial... just kidding, Ben.) Maria is going to look mighty fine next year in that state champion jersey.

And an even bigger thrill for little Kristin and her bud, Mallory who tied to win the Omnium for junior 12-14 girls. Tying your best friend... what a blast!

So 2 omnium winners on our girl's team. Now that is an accomplishment I'm proud of!


After not having rain for 2 1/2 months, its finally raining! It's probably too late for most of my landscaping, as no matter how much bucket watering I did the oak trees would just suck it up.

I wish I was home, laid out on the sofa watching all this wonderfulness falling from the sky. I love rain.

Tonight I think I'm goning to start the winter running early. Running in the rain is the best.

It's raining. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Personal responsibility

I got out to ride late last night as I've been trying to get a lot of work done at work. Yeah, they call it work because it isn't fun... If it was fun, they would call it fun.

I went out the backway on the rich side of Shallow Well so that I could talk to the horses and get centered again. Some days you just need to step back and do what makes you happy.

When I got on Shepherdstown the same chow/lab mix chased me that always chases me. This time, his owners were in the yard- and they didn't call off their dog. So after I yelled at him, jerked my leg away as he tried to bite me I slowed down until I wore him out.

And then I turned around and came back to talk to the owner...

I asked this 50ish lady if the dog was hers. Then I introduced myself and told her that I was really afraid that one day, when her dog went to try to bite me he was going to get squashed by a car, that it had almost happened a few times. She shrugged. Then she told me how it was cyclists fault for luring him into the road.


I asked her when she watched her dog chase me and almost bite me what I did to lure him into the road. Well, cyclists call the dog out by yelling and then pepper spray him.

So yelling "dog", and then scrambling to get out of the way is luring him out? Apparently so.

Its pretty funny when you come to think about it. So I thanked her, extended my hand which she was kind of forced to shake and then I told her that she may want to think about that. You know, neighbor to neighbor. I told her what I do for a living, and then gave her my "you are on notice speech, and how legally, if someone gets hurt because of her dog... well, it can get right expensive. You know, neighbor to neighbor.

I am always amazed that people don't do better. If you have a dog, take care of it. If something is wrong fix it. If you actually like that dog, build a fence. I find it totally strange that common sense and decency is such an out there kind of concept.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Congratulations Jenn!!!!!

Graphics Goddess Jenn and her super stud boyfriend got engaged this weekend. Adam, who is always pushing Jenn to new and bigger heights made her climb up Vesuvius on the Parkway, and when she got up to the peak proposed. Now there is a man who understands that you have to work for the best things in life! Wow, a 13 mile climb to get a diamond ring!

Best wishes you two for a lifetime of love and happiness!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


For Cliff's birthday I got him some little things and the big TA DA, a wine dinner at Lemaire, the 5 star restaurant in the Jefferson Hotel. I scored big time, getting us in for 1/2 price, one of my better deals of this year.

Worth it, oh yeah!

Pre-dinner reception with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc, fried oysters in grits, fresh figs, etc... yum.Then we were ushered into a single room with a long dining table. We were lucky enough to sit across from a med flight pilot and his wife, and a lovely lady who works for International Blood Services. She told us some very interesting tales of her travels and travails in Africa. Yikes.

Course after course of unbelievable food, paired with wine from Washington... all presented by the vintner. Getting to sit next to her and ask her questions all night was the best. Wine and wine making are facinating and she didn't disappoint in that regard.

Got a couple hundred laying around and want to do something really cool? I highly recommend doing one of the wine dinners at the Jefferson

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Winning is fun

Some weekends just turn out picture perfect. Not usually, but the rarity of it makes it all the more sweeter when it happens.
Saturday was the last Go Fast Turn Left Race of the season. I won't lie, I hate going round and round a speedway, but I love racing, and these races give me a prime chance to ride for my team mates.
It took all I had three times to finally get J into a breakaway that would stick. J works for me all the time. Getting to help her every now and then makes me feel worthwhile. Sharon and I blocked while J, Pave Maria, and Emily lapped the field.

J, by the way is the chick that everyone hates to be behind. She's a total monster. Skinny as a rail, strong as an ox. You just flat can't draft off her.

In the sprint she took second to super sprinter Emily. Then came Sharon, to take the cat 4 race. Sharon has been working on sprinting drills all summer, and one up, you are not going to get her. What did Sharon say about her win? That it was all the sweeter because she had a part in getting J up the road. And special kudos to Jenn... Jenn's big goal for her first year of racing was to be able to hang with the pack for an entire race. Congrats Jenn, last race of the year, and YOU DID IT!

It wasn't just a team love fest, either. We LOVE Kevin Dillard. Somehow he always finds a way to make a stinky bunch of chicks on bikes look great. He's always around, taking pictures for free. Of course, those cool ones in this post are from Kevin. We love ya man, mean it!

Sunday it was back in the Queen Cab at 4:30 to get to the Sportsplex for the Coastal Crit. Those 4 am wake up calls get to you after awhile. I was a bit concerned about such a flat course, with a mixed field of cat 4, 40+, cat 1-3 race with cat 1 racers, but it all worked out just fine. A few near misses, but no crashes in our race.

10 primes. 10 primes in one race, geez they must have worked like dogs hitting up every business at the Beach! As I don't live anywhere near the Beach, and don't do tanning beds, the primes were not for us. So what did we come home with? First 40+, First Cat 4 (Super Sonya on her 2nd win of the season), and 2nd Cat 4 for Sharon who started her sprint from way back.

All in all a good weekend. I think we'll keep it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Eau du Bike Racer

Coming home from the Coastal Crit I glanced in the rear view mirror to see the pretty, blue, flashing lights. After all was said and done I called J and told her that a cop pulled me over. In the background I could hear her hubby- Dave say, "What, she was driving too slow?"

Ok, so I"m a safety first kinda girl. As a litigation Specialist for a large insurance company I've seen all kinds of ways that people can get messed up, and more messed up is just not something I need. So I try to be safe, always. Yeah, and I race bikes. But like Gilbert told the women's field before our start, he knew that our race would be safe, because if anyone did stupid stuff, that I'd yell at them. (and everyone in the field nodded their heads...)

So this young officer came up to my door and asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. Now I've handled enough police shootings to know that lipping off to a kid with a gun and a badge is a bad thing. It is, trust me. I did have to tell him though that I hadn't a clue why he stopped ME!.

Now if he had pulled over J or Sharon, we would have known, me, no clue.

So there he was peering in the truck and taking a good look and smell and I swear his head snapped back. There were no drugs in my truck. I could have used a hand full of Motrin, but there were none to be had. So I told him that I was a bike racer and all the crap in the Queen Cab was two days worth of living in the truck.

I swear his eyes were watering. Eau du Bike Racer... gets them every time. I usually put my kit in a hazmat bag, but there on the seat next to me were two days worth of jerseys and shorts. Not to mention, little ole' me, sitting there radiating the day's efforts.

Why did he pull me over? Missing registration stickers. What did he do? Let me go. Quickly.

Eau du Bike Racer. We might just have to bottle this stuff up and sell it to the military.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wickedly tired

Last night was a longer toodle day. As the season is winding down, I'm starting to show my age, and I am just not recovering very fast. So I'm going to take it slow this week, give myself a recharge and hope the stuff going on in my hip subsides. I went out for a longer recovery ride, with lots of hills that I planned on riding easy.

That was the plan, and I'm glad to say that except for a 200 meter chase to catch up with a gang of lycra clad, smooth legged, handsomness that I nearly succeeded. There I was, huffing up the long drag to the Rockville store, when I hear "It's Karen!" "Hey, Karen!" "Catch on, Karen" "Karen, where's the champagne!!!" Just makes a girl giddy to have all that testosterone flying by her, you know? So I latched on for a little bit until the cars behind me made me realize that I was not following the plan. So back to the small ring, to spin home for this tired puppy.

It probably won't help matters that I was up at 4:45 to make sure I could watch the men's tt on MSNBC. What a cool race! And what is up with the toll booths on the course! I think it was Contador who almost took one out! Geez, it was just a wicked ride, and I wish I could have seen the women's race as well. (They cut to beach volleyball, which I just can't understand. )

With track racing about to start, and then track and field, I think I'm in for a couple more weeks of sleep deprivation. I went to the wrong floor of my office building yesterday, and wondered why they moved the cubies around. I predict that stuff is going to get worse before it gets better....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just Ridin'

After a hard weekend of racing, sometimes you just need to go out and toodle around a bit. So I headed out to the rich side of the road to talk to the horses. You can learn a lot from horses if you pay attention.

1. All the horses have fly sheets and hats these days. Getting eaten up by bugs is not nice, and if you are going to go out in public, a hat can be a good thing.

2. All the horses in my neck of the woods have grazing muzzles on right now. Due to the vagaries of nature, you may have gotten plenty of rain, but in Goochland we are Sahara dry. Horses need to think they are eating all the time, but if they actually could eat all the time during the drought, they'd destroy the pasture. (and end up eating a lot of dirt.)

3. When the sun is out, horses get in the shade. Horses may be walking vet bills, but even they aren't dumb enough to stand in the sun and bake if they can help it.

4. Horses understand team work. One guy usually is on the lookout for bad things, while everyone else snacks or sleeps. If everyone was on the look out all the time, no one would get to eat or sleep. Team work keeps you safe.

A little farther down all the corn fields are getting cut already. Yeah, it's August, but since we didn't get rain when we needed the rain the corn out here is a close total loss. So the farmers are chopping it up and making silage to feed the cows. For the first time in years some of these guys were going to make a profit due to the flooding in the mid-west. Unfortunately we couldn't buy any of that rain and crops here have dried up to nothing.

Toodling on the bike is always an eye opening experience. Just going a little slower and you never know what you'll see. Like the deer in the soy beans, the foxes following the combines to get the mice and rats that get scared up... lots of stuff.

Life is good, but it sure would be better if it rained!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pride in your hide

Saturday was a great day for racing. It was cooler, but earlier(which meant a 4 am wake up to drive down, yawn!) From the get go, the attacks were furious, but futile.
One lap to go and field was still together for about 100' and then wham the attacks started again! Fast, furious, just what racing should be. Lots of bumps, a whole lot of cussing, but no crashes and no cars on the course during OUR race.

Long drive home for a birthday and another 4 am start for Sundays PLT #3.

I swear competition makes you stronger. I live for it. I would much rather get 2nd or 3rd in a strong field, than 1rst in a weak field any day. When I ran, I used to win the local races on a regular basis. What were my favorite races? The big ones- the ones with the tougher competition. I could place in my age group at Lynchburg in the 10 miler, but couldn't get up for a top placing to save my life. Yet that was always my favorite race.

So having BJ, Maria and now Mimi down here racing has done me a world of good. They have made me be stronger and faster. When BJ went down this spring, it took some of the wind out of my sails, but Maria was always there to kick my butt. Sunday, Maria flatted about 1/2 way, but I knew that I still had to pour on the gas or Mimi would get me. She didn't. I beat her by one second. And in order to get that, I had to have my second best time on the course ever.

This one was truly a solitary effort. I left the new computer at home. There it was, on the counter when I got back. Good thing I was a runner and can do effort based racing. I'm thinking that next year I should just ditch the computers all together, and just do tt's by feel. Maria started a minute ahead of me, and I could just make her out in the distance. I was bound and determined to keep her in sight, but lost her in the curvy roads thru the trees. Next time I saw her her day was done. The only other rider I saw was Laura Cook as she blew by me on her way to another pr.

Trust me, it can get lonely out there. At least until the 6 mile road back when the Mafia were yelling for me. Thanks guys. You know I love you.

TT's are a solitary effort. Or they are supposed to be. Please don't plan to cheat out loud in front of my truck. It gives me heart burn to hear it. Cheating just sucks. Drug cheats aren't the only cheats out there. If you aren't fast enough to beat other people... work harder. You'll get there. I did. You can.

The boys did force me to find a new favorite place down in Chesapeake... Woodchicks BBQ. Ok, service is slooooow, but the Q is grand. Onion rings, yum! And the company, the best.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ride Straight, Enter Early

Welcome to Friday where the whole week comes crashing down and you try to jam everything you didn't get done into one day, or one post.

There have been tremendous discussions in our local area about rider behaviour. My local Goochland paper has a flame war going on right now in the editorial section about how dangerous bikes are on narrow roads because someone almost got hit head on when a dump truck tried to pass a bike in a blind curve. Like a lot of the response letters have pointed out, Goochland is a rural county, and if you substitute farm tractor for bike, no one has a problem. The problem is that people insist on going 45 mph or faster on roads that you can not safely travel 45 mph on. Slow down.

Cyclists themselves are to blame for a lot of the bad rap. Group rides that take up the entire lane, and pacelines that contain 30+ riders do not meet the definition of sharing the road. Some rides have gotten so bad that I won't ride with them.

The Thursday night A ride was really bad, but last night broke up into manageable groups. So I decided to join them so I could ride with Cliff. All in all it was fast and safe. Except for swervy guy. Swervy guy, you need to ride straight. Go get a set of rollers. You will be black and blue for a long time, but you'll either eventually learn to ride, or will give up. Either way, the rest of the world will be safer. I eventually passed this guy, but it was like riding behind a drunk driver... you cant pass because you dont know what they are going to do next.

I sincerely apologize for the massive Tourettes stream of profanity that I threw out. Getting crashed by people who can't ride is not tops on my list...

Also not tops on my list is the new VAcycling competition to see who can be the absolute last person to enter a race. I envision people watching the seconds click down, waiting until it almost hits one before hitting the button. Even BAR winners, with free entries... don't enter until the last minute! As a promoter it really gives you heart burn.

Everyone got Braden's email this morning. He's going to have to pull the plug on the last Go Fast race is people don't enter now. What a lot of people don't realize is that you can easier cut off the costs is you cancel a race early vs. the night before. So for Pete's sake, enter the damn race. It's not EBAY, you aren't going to get out bid.

And people wondered why I put a late fee on the time trial. It was to stop this stupid stuff. You know you want to go, and the very few people who have to buy their spouses permission, should start that bidding process a little earlier than the day before the race!

Peace out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sometimes you just go home

Last weekend was lining up to be the driving weekend from hell. Saturday I had to be in Roanoke/Salem at 7 am for a dog show with Georgie, and Sunday I was to race and volunteer officiate at the Age Graded Road Race. Oh, and come home in between times... Somewhere in there I was supposed to sleep as well.

Saturday was ok. I got up at 3 am and was on the road shortly there after. We got down to the tiny civic center and found that most of the open space for dog crates was taken. I finally found a nice place and stacked all my stuff. An hour later I had a lovely confrontation with some Ridgeback people who announced that that was their space and I had to move.

I was about to call them out, and then looked at them, and then at Georgie, and decided to let them have the space. I was right, and would have won, but you never know what jerks will do to your dog when your back is turned. Fun experience number one.

George was at his dazzling best and won Best of Breed. I then hung around for 8 more hours only to overlooked in the group, and then had a 3.5 hour drive home...

Sunday I got up at 3 am to head up to the road race. It's a beautiful 2. 5 hour drive over the mountains with deer on every shoulder... I got in a little before 7 and checked in with the chief ref. My job, to ride in the wheel truck in case there was an emergency on the course. This was a blast. Ken drove me around all morning and gave me the local color, and I got to give him color commentary on what was happening. We both got to listen to the moto refs on the radios- my favorite phrase... the field is NOT animated. (Heck, I wouldn't have been much animated out there, either...) I gave a little Fat Frogs boy the only fluid I had in the truck- a diet coke to try to keep him hydrated when he ran out of water. (and I picked up his trash when he threw his bottle on the side of the road.)

All in all, that was fun!

What wasn't fun was the fact that my hip was completely tied up from all the truck riding for two days. By the time I did one race my hip was screaming at me. By the time to warm up came for me, I was done. I thought about it, even went to get changed, but the numbness down the leg wasn't going away, and the course wasn't getting any easier. So I loaded up and went home.

Yesterday I spent the day stretching, icing, taking motrin, and applying kitty-heat. Fuzz, my cat, practiced his brand of kitty magic, laying on my hip and calling the kitty- Gods to make my hip heal. (I think he was calling someone as he air kneaded in his happy state.) I'm back on the stability ball hoping that its a minor nerve irritation and will be better by this weekend.

Page Valley did a great job with this race. The course is tough, but fair. The locals were wonderful and supportive, and the scenery was to die for. Congrats to all who suffered on the road, especially my team mates!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Cook with your kids

One of Cliff's lovely auties passed this week. Jeannine was a truly lovely lady. The first time I met her, she wanted to know who I was, who were my family, and that I was going to take good care of Cliff. It was love at first sight. This lady made me feel like family.

Jeannine was buried at the family plot on the old family farm. I wanted to go, and of course you have to bring food for the luncheon afterwards. It's funny how sometimes you get one of those Kevin Bacon 6 degrees of separation things. As I was driving into town to get fresh mozzarella, NPR was doing a story on a childhood memory of the author and her lovely Armenian neighbor and how she would teach the author about cooking, and at the same time share life experiences and lessons.

All of this brought me back to my mother and what she taught me under the guise of cooking together. My Mom taught me that cooking good food was an act of love. Not just providing good nutrition, but in spending time and teaching me about life and what was important.

I was going to the City to buy fresh mozzarella because my Mom taught me to do things well. This lunch was going to be outside in 95 degree heat. People were going to be hot- and a nice caprese salad would be light, refreshing and safe. But if you really cared, the ingredients of course had to be the best, tomatoes and basil picked that morning, and mozzarella that was just made.

That show had me remembering my Mom trying to teach me how to make these luscious Norwegian pastries called Kringla. Kringla is a breakfast pastry made with sour cream. There is no definitive recipe as things like humidity, altitude, quality of the sour cream can make the amounts and cooking time vary greatly. It all had to be properly blended as kneading too little would give lumps, and too much would make the pastries tough.

I never mastered Kringla. Deep in my heart I think its because once I mastered it, she'd stop trying to teach me. It really wasn't the pastries that mattered, it was the time and the stories we shared.

I want one of her pastries so bad that I'd give my tt bike for one...

It's funny how some days you get a perfect storm of feeling. The loss of this lovely lady, a simple story on NPR, and the ache that continues with the loss of my Mom. I don't remember much of the stuff that my Mom gave me. Not toys, or books, and materials things like that. What I remember most, and treasure most, is the TIME and love that she gave me.

So cook with your kids. Your kids will forget Ipods, and Play Stations. They won't forget you.