Saturday, October 27, 2007

le Tour de Femme, raising money for cancer research

Erica, low carbing it before the rideToday I participated in le Tour de Femme. This was the second year for the ride and about 130 women participated. The number of riders double from the first year to the second year and they hope to double it again for the 2008 edition. This ride is a fund raiser for Grab My Wheel, a charity supporting the Angel Fund at Rex Hospital and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The host site was Cycling Spoken Here in Cary.

Yesterday, I was really worried about the weather. It was pouring rain and while we really needed the rain, I didn't think that riding for over three hours in the pouring rain sounded like the best way to spend a Saturday morning. I was planning to do it, and gauge my level of misery when the metric and half metric rides split. Today it was overcast at the start and sunny by the time we finished.

Lisa, at the start of le Tour de Femme. This was her first metric. Go Lisa!The ride was extremely well supported. After today's ride, I certainly plan to participate in this even annually. The route was pretty nice and it was the first time I've been on a ride where the SAG was provided via motorcycle! It was really cool the way they had volunteers at all of the turns in the Preston neighborhood, making sure that no one missed a turn and having different cookies at each rest stop, well, that's just winner!

In case you are wondering, the speed was pretty good too. The group that I rode with averaged 18.5 mph for the 61+ mile route.

Ride like a girl!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dunkin Donuts takes over

Just last week I read about Dunkin Donuts opening up shop in Las Vegas and now today I just learned that the Friendly's Ice Cream in Ramsey is now a Dunkin Donuts "with drive-thru, of course."

When I was in high school, the after movie hang outs were Friendly's and local diners like Matthew's Diner. I fondly remember drowning my high school sorrows by splitting a Jim Dandy with my friend Pam.

For the uninitiated, a Jim Dandy is a five scoop sundae with a banana topped with chocolate, strawberry and marshmallow toppings along with nuts and sprinkles -- and whipped cream.

This tradition is so ingrained in me that when I go to Myrtle Beach for the MS150, I twist my husband's arm and get him to go to the Friendly's there. I've downsized though. No more Jim Dandy's. Now I share a small Reese’s sundae.

Mom's birthday festivus

Last night we met my parents at Border's for a coffee. We gave my mom an early birthday gift while we were there. I picked up a nice piece from King's Pottery in Seagrove after I finished the Rolling in Randolph ride last month. The other part of her gift, a Carolina Hurricane's game, is on Friday.

Happy birthday Mom!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oktoberfest ride

Yesterday, I participated in a group ride that celebrated Oktoberfest. Twenty-one people showed up for this informal ride. We a total of about 65 miles going from Apex around the south end of Jordan Lake to the Carolina Brewery BrewPub in Pittsboro. We stopped there for lunch and then road back through Bynum. The route was pleasant with some hilly sections. It was a great way to spend the day!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mmm. Pie!

You Are Apple Pie

You're the perfect combo of comforting and traditional
Those who like you crave security

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Christmas catalogs

Call me a Grinch if you like. I really hate receiving Christmas catalogs before Halloween. I have made it a rule to put all holiday-themed catalogs directly into the recycling bin until after Halloween. I want to at least make it until at least November before receiving holiday catalogs, seeing holiday decorations, and please, no holiday music until after Thanksgiving!

I have two main problems with Christmas Creep

  • It's annoying. I want to live my life seasonally and late September/early October is not Christmas time. Christmas creep does not make me feel festive, it makes me feel angry. I don't want to buy wrapping paper or wreathes or cards for fake trees. I'd like to enjoy October, have my Brach's Autumn Mix, move on to turkey and pumpkin pie and then focus on Christmas
  • It's wasteful. Just think of all of those catalogs going straight into the recycling bin.
In addition, there is a question about whether or not it even good for retailers. According to Christmas Creep: The Shopping Season Is Longer, but Is It Better? extending the Christmas season may increase small purchases and impulse buys. Conversely, people know that if they wait, they can probably buy things at deep discounts. Additionally, there are still only so many shopping dollars to go around. I found an article by the Associated Press: Grinch? No, but the ‘Christmas creep’ is here
Retailers haven’t reported any big jumps in sales or profits pegged to an extended Christmas shopping season.
So pretty much, they are lengthening the holiday shopping season and annoying me and generating a whole lot of waste for little or no benefit to their bottom line.

Monday, October 15, 2007

MS150 lawsuit

I was shocked to hear that the National MS Society is being sued regarding a fatal accident that occurred during the 2006 MS150 Breakaway to the Beach. I was on that ride. It is my understanding that a family of four taking route from Rockingham, NC to Darlington, SC was involved in an accident with a truck pulling a trailer. Several members of the family were injured and a teenage girl died. This is awful. It happened on the first day of a two day event. All of the riders were upset and affected.

Like the people involved in the lawsuit, I had participated in prior years. The route was the same. The traffic control was the same. Participants are reminded repeatedly that this is an open course and that there will be car and truck traffic on the roads. Participants sign a waiver agreeing to hold the MS Society "harmless" in connection with anything that happens during the event. Since they road in previous years, they knew exactly what risks were involved. Why is this family suing? I just don't get it. Of course it's awful and it's a tragedy. Is suing a nonprofit going to help anyone?

Lawsuit filed in fatal bike ride
Family Sues MS Society After Teen's Death in Bike Ride
Family sues MS Society over fatality during 2006 bicycle tour

Names names names

I don't really like the name of my blog. I picked it as a placeholder. I found a few names that seem OK that have not yet been used

  • Will ride for chocolate
  • Caffeinated echo
  • Ride on
  • House chocolates
  • Skinny Mocha Latte
  • Chocolate Chatterbox
  • Notes to Self
  • These Days
  • Caffeine Junkie
  • Coffee Junkie
  • All this Junk
  • Soapbox - this has gotta be taken
  • Looking for Elvis
  • Elvis is Everywhere
  • Busy living life

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tour de Pig

Today I rode the Tour de Pig. It's a bike ride that is part of the Barbecue Month in Lexington, North Carolina. I did the 100k route but there were also several other distances -- 20K, 35K, 50K. Nearly 500 riders participated in this year's event.

I was surprised that the ride was a lot flatter than a lot of the routes closer to home. It was definitely less hilly than Rolling in Randolph!

The ride started at 8:30. The temperature in the car at 8:10 was 38. Yikes! I was shivering in my shorts and arm warmers. I did have on my Illuminate jacket but I'm not sure that helped much! By the 20 mile mark I was peeling off layers, I took off the jacket and put it in my handlebar bag, and it was definitely shorts weather at the finish. Rest stop food was abit meager -- bananas and Nutrigrain cereal bars along with water and gatorade. I'd do it again. It's fun to get that many riders together.

It was a hair under two hours from my house to the start at Davidson County Community College. We took I-85 there and took US 64 back time wise, and it was a wash.

At the end of the ride, barbeque was served (shocking, I know). DH had dropped me off for the ride and continued on to Concord where he did some mountain biking at Beech Spring Mountain Bike Park. Then he joined me for some porcine goodness. The event was catered by Barbecue Center. I'd have to say that this was not the best barbecue that I've every had and that red slaw still looks very wrong to me. I think that I may prefer some of the cue from the Wilson area. I may have to go there to compare!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Shoe Queen

I have no idea what made me pick up The Shoe Queen by Anna Davis. I'm not a shoe person at all; I'm much more of a sock person. Heck, I wear fun socks every Friday just because it's Friday!

I won't go into the details of the plot here. The basic story line is that a young English woman, Genevieve, marries an American man, Robert, in order to escape the English countryside. In fact, on the day that they became engaged, Genevieve told Robert, "You have to get me away from here." They left England for Paris where Genevieve became a patron of the arts with the help of Robert's money. All the while, she had a secret. She became friends with Lulu of Montparnasse and met Paolo Zachari, whose customer she became. There is a lot more to it than that but I wanted to present a basic outline, without spoiling the book.

The book is very well written and the plot moves along easily for the reader despite being woven together with flashbacks. Throughout the book Anna Davis uses rich language to describe the events. Three examples or her use of language are below. Each quotation is taken from a different part of the book.
"Shoes connected a person to their world -- you walked in them, you danced in them. Without your shoes, you could barely step out of the house. The marks on their shoes were the outward sign of a lived life."

"This couch is not comfortable. That lamp is not bright. Your world is full of stupid, useless, expensive things."

"She was thinking about a game the little boy downstairs played if he saw you in the lift or the hallway. He thought that if he covered his eyes with his hands, he was hidden. He couldn't see you and therefore you couldn't see him. He as invisible. She wished she too could cover her eyes and vanish."

The book is full of contrasts. Paolo Zachari is everything that Robert is not. Zachari is passionate and creative but not dependable and he did not live the life of the wealthy. On the other hand, Robert was very dependable and wealthy but not passionate or creative. Similarly, Genevieve is also known as Vivi. Her friend Lulu is everything that Vivi is not. Lulu is very artsy and popular with the Left Bank crowd. Vivi tries hard to be a poet but ends up being more of a benefactor and hanger on.

Anna Davis' crafting of The Shoe Queen can also be seen in the book's structure. The novel is broken into eight parts: quarters, vamp, sole, collar, tongue, insole and heel. All of the section titles are parts of a shoe but all of them are used with a dual meaning. Quarters the shoe part or quarters the part of the city? Heel the back part of the shoe or heel the end of something?

I enjoyed the book very much. The vivid writing, the tight plot and the intriguing structure made it a very pleasant novel to read.

What's for dinner? White chili

Meal planning can be challenging. We eat dinner at home six or seven nights a week and we eat together about as often. Even two people can make up a family and we make an effort to have meals together. Finding recipes that we like that aren't too time consuming, calorically dense or sodium filled -- or leave us with a month of leftovers -- can take some effort!

Last night we tried a recipe for white chili for the first time. It was a hit! I used some homemade broth but I did use canned white kidney beans. The cumin and oregano were both from Penzey's. I make it a habit to use bulk spices from Penzey's, The Spice House or the bulk section at Whole Foods.
White Chili

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 ounces ground chicken or turkey breast
1 4-ounce can chopped green chills
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cider vinegar (or 2 teaspoons lime juice)

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground chicken/turkey and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in chills and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minutes. Stir in drained beans and broth, bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar (or lime juice).

Source: Eating Well: Serves Two

Tonight, we just had omelets but I think that I should get bonus points for making the dough for tomorrow's pizza!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Training Plans

Since aggravating my lower back a few years ago, I've worked with a coach. Well, I call her a coach because I don't know of a word for it. I get training plans from her every other week. This keeps me sane -- or rather, keeps me from doing anything crazy or stupid with my training -- and it simplifies my life. My goal ride for the past two years has been the MS150. I completed my third MS150 last month and I started to think of my goals for the upcoming year. This is what I have come up with

2008 Goals...
  • core, I saw the YogaFit stuff and was inspired.
  • try mountain biking and hopefully get a bike (and use it!)
  • English century
  • climb better. I feel that I was not a very good climber this year
  • gain some speed
  • stay healthy
  • Tour de Cure in June, MS150 in September
I guess I need to find an English century to put on the schedule!

The current plan:

Wednesday - 60 min elliptical and lifting
Thursday - Spin class and core work
Friday - Off
Saturday - Tour de Pig (Hey, the logo is a pig riding a bike. How can I go wrong?)
Monday - Off or easy spin class
Tuesday - Spin class and core
Wednesday - 60 min elliptical
Thursday - Spin class and core
Friday - Off
Saturday - Ride 60-90 min, easy pace
Sunday - Brewery Ride
Monday - spin class

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sunday Ride

This morning I went on a group ride. This is a newly formed group ride that is slightly out of my comfort zone. That's not a bad thing -- I want to push myself with this ride.

There were about 18 people there today. I think that we had 25 or more last week. Today's route was 41.5 miles and I averaged 19.3 mph. I lost it on Roberts, which is not really that difficult of a hill but it did get me today!


Today is my hysterversary. One year ago, I had a total abdominal hysterectomy. I've spent a lot of time in the past year recovering from that -- GI problems, back problems, energy problems and so on. I'm very proud of myself for completing the Tour de Cure and MS150 bike rides despite all of the problems. I'm looking forward to a much better year.

I recently read a novel that mentioned and old wives tale that I had never heard before -- the grieving process takes one year and one day. You have to go through every birthday, holiday, and anniversary -- including the anniversary of the death -- one time before you are fully recovered. I choose to think that my body has been having it's own little pity party and that on Monday, it will be back to itself again.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thoughts on the season opener

I was disappointed in last night's game but not surprised, really. Cam Ward looked good as did Mike Commodore. Unfortunately, Commodore was one of the few players making hits -- along with Cullen and Ladd. Hedican had his good and bad moments. He seemed a bit, well, old. Early in the game I turned to DH and said, "This is his last season." He made a few really smart plays and then he scored. After that, he really had a fire lit under him.

I think that the team needs a few games under their collective belts to get some communication issues worked out. The passing was kind of bad.

Thanks to Cam Ward's excellent goaltending, the Canes came out of the game with a point.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Opening Night

Tonight, the Carolina Hurricane's are hosting the Montreal Canadiens to open their NHL season.
I'm really looking forward to the game. To say that last season was a bit if a disappointment after winning the Stanley Cup in 2006 would be an understatement.

Matt Cullen is back after a year that I choose to view as a sabbatical, Cam Ward seems to be on track and I'm excited about some of the new players that have joined the team. I'm also glad that we kept Spock, aka Scott Walker!

Go Canes!