1/31/10

RAGBRAI 2010 Route is Announced...

Last night, the overnight towns were revealed for RAGBRAI 2010.

ragbrai


The route is one of the shortest, flattest ever. Sioux City, Storm Lake, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Waterloo, Manchester and a ride into Dubuque on the final day. After only doing a couple of days of RAGBRAI last year, we were planning on doing more this year. Looks like a very flat and piece of pie ride this year, so I guess we're in. I know I've got the option to choose a mountain bike race on both or either weekend of RAGBRAI, so I'll probably just join up on Monday and do a few of the mid-week days (or maybe more). My wife is going to do the entire ride this year with her cousin from California. We've got a few more friends that are considering coming out for a visit to do the ride as well (from Austria, New York and California). Who knows what we'll end up with this time around.

RAGBRAIarrives

One year we were on Team Toad and had to wear a rubber toad on our helmets. Hey, not my choice, but it was the team leader's choice. I got tired of explaining to all who asked what the "lizard" on the helmets stood for after the first day. Hence, no ornaments have been worn since to prevent the five thousand daily questions about the green creature on the helmet from happening. The year we went as Team Opera Al Dente and cooked a gourmet meal every night followed by singing a concert of opera arias still remains my favorite. We landed sweet host family stays in air conditioning and got to eat really, really good food instead of all the usual RAGBRAI fare. Oh yeah, the wine was delicious every night as well... But that was a lot of work to organize (designing a menu, shopping for all the fresh produce, dividing up the evening's cooking and cleaning duties, figuring out who was going to sing what, what accompanist was going to play, inquire about whether or not the host family had a piano or did we need to bring a Clavinova, or use pre-recorded accompaniment on CD's, etc... . Not to mention, it's not fun singing after an entire day on the bike in the hot sun. Maybe we'll try that again some day, but not this year. I'm sure we'll come up with something creative, yet simple this year.

TheFunFactor

I always enjoy visiting with folks out on the route and at the stops. I've done RAGBRAI on a tandem, a recumbent, a Karate Monkey, a full suspension 29"er and a road bike. What to ride this year? Maybe an Xtracycle and haul all of my own gear. At least the route is easy this year and one can focus on the socializing and fun factor of the event. ;-]

ragbraiviews

Hey, at least I didn't post up pictures of Team Thong! ;-]

Mark the calendars now, depart Sioux City on July 25th, arrive in Dubuque on July 31st.

Now, off to the basement for a workout on the C7i...

1/26/10

And School was Closed Again Today....

Went to bed with the news saying a 2 hour delay this morning. Woke up and checked the news and it said the entire day was canceled. Wow, the snow days are piling up. That makes 8 snow days so far this season (tops the old record of 5 from the 2000-01 academic year) - and it's not even February yet!

Funny thing is, it was sunny and beautiful today. But I guess the country roads and where the school bus routes go were not clean.

Of course, Simpson was open for shop again today which is good because we can't make days up with our schedule.

1/25/10

Snow and Wind closes schools again!!!!

Say it isn't so!!! My kids are home today with another snow day. Looks like the month of June is filling up for them with make-up days.... This will extend school just about to June 11th now. Maybe even more as the days pile up.

We didn't check the news at 6 am like we usually do when it is snowing, but around 6:30 we got a call that my daughter's show choir practice scheduled for 7 am was canceled due to a 2 hour delay. After breakfast, I headed out to remove the snowdrifts from the driveway (which is not easy to do with the wind gusting at 55 mph) so my wife and son could drive to school for the 10 a.m. delayed start. Just as I finished shoveling a few metric tons of snow, my wife pops her head out the front door and says "Honey, don't worry about the driveway because they just closed school for the day...." Gee, thanks. Then I hopped on the RIP 9 and took the dogs out in the 55 mph winds and snow for our morning walk. It was slickery and I had a few "just about gotcha" moments while trying to keep the bike upright. I didn't fall, but some of the drifts were pretty slick underneath as I plowed through them. The dogs loved the snow and wind.

Simpson is on for a full day of classes, of course. Administration seems to like to make all the professors and staff drive in from the surrounding area in the worst road conditions possible. ;-) I'll 4 wheel it for the 2 mile commute today.

I got an hour on Saturday and an hour on Sunday on the C7i grinding out some base building riding and mid-level interval variety to beat my heart up in for the weekend. My legs were just too dead to launch into the next phase of weight lifting, so I am taking a structured rest/recovery week of 5 days before more lifting starts tomorrow.

The stress of directing The Mikado with all the preparation work, late night rehearsals and higher metabolism has me dropping weight. I ticked off about 4 pounds this past week and the pace is just picking up. A lot of it is not having enough time to eat between work and rehearsals. When I do it, it's quick and not much (bagel with peanut butter, or a handful of fruit and nuts as I run out the door).

Off to brave the snow and wind in my Element...

1/23/10

Big Meat Tires!

After all the internet discussions regarding the Maxxis Ardent 2.4, I decided to mount up some big meat tires on the RIP 9 now that the snow has melted off of the streets. I put a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 on the front and a lighter, race XC friendly Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 on the rear. I knew they would roll with less resistance than my Fire XC Pros, but man - they roll a heck of a lot better at least in the neighborhood which is about all the outdoor riding I can do this winter with the snow.

Regardless, here's the combo which feels pretty good (although I will probably toss my other Ardent 2.4 on the rear in spite of my weight weenie mindset).

RIPwBigMeat

And a different angle. The big volume tires are really perfect for the RIP and this bike is one fun machine. I should probably just sell everything else I own and ride this for everything. Two wheelsets, one for fun and one for racing, and I'd be set. Hmmmmmm....

RIPwMEAT

My skid plate and new 30T/40T custom rings arrived, so I can protect the bottom of the frame and move from my 22/32/38 rings to a 22/30/40 crankset. That's due to the crazy fit issues of an XT crankset with the RIP frame. They made clearance for those huge meat 2.4" tires to fit in the rear. However, what gave was the big ring clearance in the 42/44T sizes of an XT crankset because of the chainstay yoke's extra width to accommodate big tires. I was not creative enough or was too lazy to come up with another one of my cranksets on the RIP, so I just ordered Bruzed's custom XT rings. The 30 will be easier to push around for my XC climbing and the 40 will get used a lot in all the flatness of Iowa. The 20 or 22T (I have both) will be my bail out gear for the Black Hills when I ride out there.

I took 2 days off (outside of my 20 minute rides every morning with the dogs in the neighborhood) to recover from the 3 weeks of hypertrophy. The legs are still feeling it today, but I will do about 60 minutes on the trainer to work out the kinks before going on to more weights tomorrow. Ah....I got in from the dog walk/ride just in time as it is now pouring rain.

Rehearsals have been going well and ACT I is completely staged. We worked until 11 p.m. last night and today we'll work from 1-4. After Sunday nights ACT II musical rehearsal and choreography work session, we'll run ACT I twice on Monday night and then move on into ACT II staging on Tuesday. I've got a lot of prep work and choreography to figure out between now and Tuesday...

No rest for the weary...

1/20/10

Iced in with my last serving of Hypertrophy!!!

We woke up to an ice storm this morning and checked the 6 am news to see the cancellation of all schools today as about 1/2" - 3/4" of ice has built up. After coffee and oatmeal and the usual laying around on a stay at home day, the wife and I headed down to the dungeon of pain....

HomeGymWeights

On tap for me was my final session in the Hypertrophy Phase. I was in the mood to get it over with and move onto the next phase of weight lifting. I worked it hard and could really feel my body was ready to move on as after about 2 weeks, I adapt to the work load and am ready for more plates anyway. So today's session may or may not have been beneficial as I only started to feel fatigue on the last few reps of my final set in the bigger muscle group lifts (squat and dead lift). So, the 6 week Adaptation Phase and 3 week Hypertrophy Phase are now in the bag. And, as usual at this point in the off season lifting, what always starts out in the fall with me thinking no way I can lift that much weight grows to me thinking at this point "bring on the plates!!!".

The difference this year over the previous two off season phases is that I did not stop riding this time around (both on the trainer inside and outside on the RIP with the dogs). I kept working on some intervals, hour long base building sessions that were mixed with various levels of intensity through the grueling three week Hypertrophy Phase. Call me a glutton for pain and punishment, but so far so good. I'm still standing and have managed to stay healthy. I tried my best to manage my nutrition and not gain too much weight in this "I'm starving for protein morning, noon and night" condition.

I'll take 2 days off the weights and move right into the 2 week Strength Phase which is where the plates pile on. And I'll keep the riding going on the exercise bike in the basement.

Time for some tuna fish...

1/19/10

2nd Consecutive State Championship!!!!

Proud parents always have to announce certain things, and I'll join that parenting club in this post. My son and daughter are both on the Indianola High School Debate Team which for the 2nd consecutive year, took the State Championship this weekend in Iowa City. This was Alexa's first trip to the state tournament as a freshman and it was Zack's second year at the tournament. Both participate in the Public Forum category.

Final scores for the top 3 teams out of the 33 teams that competed were:

Indianola High School: 210
Ankeny High School: 209
Iowa City West: 200

Way to bring home the bacon IHS Debate Team!!!! And kudos to Coach/Teacher Spencer Waugh for building the team over the past few years with very little financial support from the administration. Here's to future success in upcoming seasons.

Of course, after the State Championship was won, there was no town parade. No tailgating party. No cheerleaders. No balloons. No "tunnel of love" as the debate team entered or exited the building. No school assembly to welcome the team home and congratulate them. Blah, blah, blah....

We did recognize the efforts of our own children here at home on Sunday. ;-)

1/12/10

Semester 2 begins...and Holiday photo catch-up....

The ball got rolling again yesterday as classes started for Simpson's 2nd Semester. We started rehearsals for The Mikado last night, so I will be working day and night 7 days a week until February 14th which should pretty much exhaust me. I'm still tracking down various props we need, but we can't get to two of the storage sites at all as the driveways have not been plowed. Problem solving 101...

Old man winter looks to warm up a bit tomorrow into the 30's which will be a welcome change from the tundra we've had the past month.

For interested family - I've been meaning to get some photographs up and finally downloaded the images onto the computer.

Zack's Halloween Party costume and stern Priestly look....

Zack's Halloween Costume

Thanksgiving was out in San Francisco. The traditional dinner was held out in Burlingame and it was our first time back in years for this event. It was really fun to see all of the kids and how they have grown up over the years. Our kids had a great time getting caught up with their cousins. Here are some of the younger cousins sitting down at one end of the table...

Thanksgiving Cousins

The side of my gray head getting ready for all the pre-dinner toasts...

Thanksgiving Eats

My wife's cousin, Gary Starr, my father-in-law Joe and my sister-in-law Holly...

Thanksgiving Gary/Joe/Holly

My daughter Alexa on the left with her 1st cousin, Rachel...

Alexa/Rachel

Jared and his father, my brother-in-law Michael, with Zack (can you tell which one of those 3 plays football and which is an avid cyclist and which one plays the drums? Hint: it's in that order from right to left)...

Jared/Michael/Zack

Tons more of pictures, but that gets me caught up a bit.

Time to hit the weights in the basement and then get a good night's sleep....

1/4/10

Mired in The Mikado!!

Wow, this is a fun piece but I've got my work cut out for me. Act I is lightly sketched out after the past 48 hours. Now I start polishing it the next couple of days or so and I'm watching multiple versions to pepper my ideas....

Bone chilling cold continues. I still get out every day on the bike with the dogs for a brisk few minutes. I don't have any gloves that can take the sub zero temps long enough for me to be out more than 20 minutes at a time. Even my trusted ski gloves are no good in the -16 to -2 range.

1/2/10

2010!

The New Year is here and what better way to begin than our first cooking and enjoyment of a meal from the new Egg?

2010 is here. It's just a calendar date. No resolutions here. No need to start a diet. No need to stop doing this or start doing that just because of a particular calendar date. No, no. Life is an ongoing management challenge with hands on adjustment tweaking all the time. In spite of that - Happy New Year to all!

The Big Green Egg lived up to the stigma and reputation it deserves last night. We decided to christen it on New Year's Day with Simon and Garfunkel Spatchcock Chicken.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme....

I soaked a handful of hickory wood chips in water for 30 minutes, filled the Egg with the lump charcoal, lit a starting block, closed the lid after 7 minutes and was ready for the birds. Tara cut the backbones out of two birds we bought at the butcher on Thursday and dressed them with the Simon and Garfunkel seasoning. I put the birds skin side down for 20 minutes, regulated the heat to stay at or around 350 degrees and then flipped them to bone side down for another 35-40 minutes. The smell coming out of the top of the Egg was amazing with the hickory flavoring. It took my mind off of the sub 0 temperatures and windchill.

End result: the juiciest, best tasting chicken we've ever made. In fact, it was almost too moist if that is even possible with poultry. Spatchcocking (butterflying) a bird is a well known technique for getting a moist bird in the first place, but the way the ceramic Egg cooks locks in even more moisture. I think the reviews were correct in stating "the Egg leaves a lot of margin for error it cooks so well".

We ate one of the birds and will have the 2nd bird this evening. I figure every time you fire up the Egg for a smoke or for a roasting and are making a carbon footprint with the lump coals and wood chips, you should go ahead and do enough meat for at least two or three meals. So this will involve a little more foresight and meal planning as we utilize the new cooking toy.

-16 this morning which made my 30 minute bike ride with the dogs quite challenging. I dressed warmly, but after 15 minutes my rear hub on the bike was not engaging as the grease was freezing up. It would engage if I slowed way down and started out really slowly, but I had to keep pedaling to keep the drivetrain engaged. And Zoey's chest turned all white (not to mention my eyelids were freezing shut in the -23 to -40 windchill). So we headed back to the house a bit early from our normal distance.

Time to get to work...