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Cyclism Sundays and King Wilkie

25 May

Dang it. I just wrote up a big long post and forgot to save it, so after I checked the links to make sure they worked, and closed the window–poof! Gone.

Oh well, I made some good progress on the Hourglass sweater on Sunday while Chad and I were watching Cyclism Sunday and the highlights from the Giro d’Italia (it’s so fun to listen to Bob Roll butcher the pronunciation of that). I’m halfway to the second increase, and it’s really starting to look like something.

I almost did some more knitting before the King Wilkie show at the Sweetwater last night, but I did work instead.

Part of my lost post was a review of the show, but here’s the long and short of it:
The show wasn’t nearly as packed as Erika and I thought it would be (or as packed as it should have been, for how good of a band they are). The first set wasn’t as good as when I last saw them–they didn’t have quite the same groove. The guys in King Wilkie can play, and I’d venture to say that even beyond their individual musicianship, what really sets them apart is the groove they get. There’s an edge to it that seems to have more to do with punk or indie rock than bluegrass, yet it totally works. They’re in their early 20s and already playing the Grand Ole Opry. Sick! The second set was great, though, although I got the giggles during “Lee and Paige,” the saddest song in the world. (It’s Spielberg or Scorsese sad, completely manipulative in its artistry, but it still gets you.)

But the new material–I have to say I have some concerns. Ted Pitney seems to be trying to be another Dave Rawlings. Now, let me say, I love Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Their harmonies are transcendant, her songs are amazing, and his guitar work is both adventurous and melodic–a rare combination. But they’re not bluegrass, and those non-chord tones in the guitar breaks stick out a bit in bluegrass. Plus they did a Gram Parsons song, and again, I love Gram Parsons and there are few sounds more pleasing to the ear than his harmonies with Emmylou, but that’s country-rock. Once you veer into that territory, you’re an alt-country band, and that’s not where I think they should be heading. Not that they care what I think, of course. Plus with the drive they get, they just make such amazing bluegrass music.

Chad and I are heading up to Mendocino for a nice relaxing Memorial Day weekend. I hope to get some more knitting done on my sweater!

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Nicasio Reservoir Loop

1 May

Chad and I went on an awesome bike ride this morning. It was 26.8 miles, leaving from the teeny tiny town of Nicasio, up Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Rd. and Highway 1 to Pt. Reyes Station, down through Olema, up Sir Francis Drake Blvd. (starting off with a serious climb), through Samuel P. Taylor park (with terrible, terrible roads and faster traffic), then up Nicasio Valley Rd. with a few more climbs, and back to where we started. It was a gorgeous day.

I think I’ve convinced Chad to try to do the Pac Grove tri with me this year. Yikes!

(Note to fellow bikers: the Nicasio locals don’t like us. Be sure to park sensibly–away from the town center, if possible. If you do park in the town center, be sure to honor the 2-hour parking rule.)

Friday night, I finally went to the Sports Basement Fun Run. What a great group of folks! I think I pushed myself, speed-wise, for the first time in ages. I’ll definitely go back.

Spinning My Wheels

10 Apr

Chad and I did the Tierra Bella 60K ride yesterday down in Gilroy. Since the start time was anytime between 8 and 9 am, Chad booked us a hotel room in Gilroy, about 5 minutes away from Gavilan College, where the ride started and ended. It was so nice being able to get up at 6:45 instead of having to leave our house at about 6 to get down there in time.

The route was absolutely beautiful. California is gorgeous this time of year: the verdant hills have a few months before they turn the thirsty brown from the summer heat, the sky is a clear blue with perfect white clouds. Much of the ride was along a reservoir, which brought some very chilly winds, but the scenery made the ride so much easier. Riding in a beautiful place gives you something to take your mind off your legs as you’re climbing.

The first third had a fair bit of climbing and was a big trafficky, but the second third was wide open and went really fast. I couldn’t believe how quickly we got to the second rest stop. I also couldn’t believe how yummy the PB&Js on cinnamon-raisin bread were. Who would have guessed? The last 12 miles had a few more turns and some more traffic, although it was mostly residential.

I took a sheet with the 100k route in case Chad and I ever want to make it down there for another ride. It was a great reintroduction to biking this season and spurred me on to dream of doing another tri, a half-marathon, a metric century ride. It also made me realize how much I don’t like biking in San Francisco. It looks like Chad and I will be heading out of the city a bit more to ride this season.

I love biking!

27 Jul

I do! I just did an hour bike ride after not having touched my bike for about a week. Between getting ready to go to NAMM and then actually being at NAMM, my workouts definitely fell by the wayside. It felt so awesome riding again. I went up through the Presidio, just riding up and down hills, doing little loops for an hour, pretty much just trying to use up the time in my workout. I did one loop, first downhill, then uphill three times. Each time I got a little better, a little faster, a little more savvy about when to change gears. And I successfully stood up on my pedals–multiple times!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite figure out how to get back to the easy way back up, so I had to go up Arguello. That wasn’t so bad (although it’s a fairly grueling climb for someone of my biking ability), but it meant that I missed my favorite part about riding back out of the Presidio. Once we get towards the top of this one road, it evens out and I really start picking up speed. Coming around the last part, where Arguello turns off to the left, I feel like I’m racing. I push myself as hard as I can, come around the golf course, and end up at Arguello Gate, ready to head back down to home. I got some speed going, but cutting off that first bit made it much harder to get my momentum going.

I also ran twice on the treadmill in Nashville, going for pace. I ran 40 minutes the first day (plus a 5 min. cooldown) and 30 minutes the other day (again, with a 5 min. cooldown), averaging about a 10.5-min. mile pace! WOO HOO! Now if I can just translate that to actual road.

Biking Without the Bonk

12 Jul

I’ve been slacking off this week with my trainings, I admit. Saturday morning, I was just so tired. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to sleep in, so I skipped the captain’s run at Land’s End. I slept until 10:45 and stayed in my PJs until about 4 pm. It was great.

Maybe that approach paid off, because on Sunday, I swam about 3/4 mile in an hour (6 lap warm up, 12 minute time trial: either 23 or 25 laps, 3 100s, 3 50s, and a 50 to cool down), then got ready to do the same bike ride I bonked on last week. I ate a few bites of my PowerBar (yeah, the Harvest kind), hopped on my bike, and went out, pacing myself and trying to keep up with another woman who seemed to be going at a good pace. After a while, I realized I was drafting her, so I pulled ahead to let her draft behind me, but then we got into the hills. Up, up, up.

Coach April rode by, saying, “This would be a good time to practice standing up!” And boy, it’s so much harder to stand up on a moving bicycle on an actual road than it is in Spinning class. I got up for a few rotations, but mostly powered up the hill. Then down a bit, then up another, and up, and up, and up. Until I came to the crest of one hill and saw everyone waiting at the T-intersection where we were supposed to turn around. (Colleen, my mentor, was there with Gatorade and food. THANKS, COLLEEN!!!) That was it? I couldn’t believe I had so much trouble with that ride the first time.

I grabbed some Gatorade, caught my breath, and turned around. It felt awesome, just riding ahead and cruising down the hills almost all by myself. Some fast people caught up to me on the way and I trailed behind them for most of the ride back (thank heavens, because there are a lot of confusing turns there).

When I got back to the parking lot, I realized I had just done almost the first two parts of the triathlon. I felt like I could probably still run two miles. Very slowly, but I could do it. And maybe walk a third. That’s three miles to go. Not too bad for only halfway through training. HOORAY FOR ME!

I was going to try to get up early and do the 50-minute run I missed on Saturday, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Invincible

22 Jun

I keep meaning to write about this as part of my other posts, but I get side-tracked, and well, it just seemed better suited for it’s own post. I’ve noticed this feeling I get when I’m working out for these triathlons, about three-quarters through the workout, I feel overwhelmed by the thought, “I can do it!” I feel capable of anything. I haven’t felt that way since school, when I knew I was capable of anything, at least, academically (the only classes I did poorly in were the couple of alleged blow-off classes I took and Prof. Araujo’s French class–that was a little bit too much of a challenge).

So I’m mentioning it now not only as an observation but as a reminder to my future self. In a month or a week, I’ll probably be struggling through some workout (running in Grass Valley was pretty tough), but if I can just tap into that wellspring of endorphins that bring on that invicible feeling, I know I’ll be able to get through it all.

More bike news

22 Jun

You know, the technicalities of biking is completely Greek to me. When I bought my bike on Saturday, the salesman was trying to explain to me the difference between the various types of pedals, clipless systems (that actually clip in, I still get confused over that one), and shoes. My eyes completely glazed over.

And so, after a trip back to the bike store today to make sure I bought the right bike, I realized it was a combination of buyer’s remorse and simple ignorance of how road bikes are supposed to feel. Now Chad thinks I’m not reaching enough.

I went to a Spinning class this morning, partially because I wasn’t sure what the status of my bike was and partially because I thought I could use some technique advice since I’ve missed all the bike drills so far. It was pretty interesting. It was nice to be able to get advice and tips for a full hour straight without the instructor riding out of earshot. I still need to get more competitive with the biking.

I can see now why people keep doing triathlons. There’s so much to learn, so many small points that get absorbed into your brain or muscles only partially at first and need a few reminders or a different approach to finally sink in.