Weekend of Productivity...

'Tis the Holiday Season which had a potential 7 nights in a row for me to be somewhere participating in some event. I have had to pick and chose, so I began the run on Thursday night with a holiday concert, Friday night was Tara's office Christmas party, Saturday night was a holiday dinner party at Deb and Joel's, Sunday at 5 was the Lessons and Carols at Simpson followed by three hours of student recital auditions. 4 nights down, 3 more consecutive evenings out to go. Then I have a day of rest before round 2 of holiday events starts. Actually, I just realized I don't have a night off. Alexa's holiday choir concert is Thursday night. Okay - forget the night of rest and up the consecutive night's out to 11!!!

In spite of that, I managed to get some good base mileage in on my mountain bike this weekend. I got about 2 hours on Saturday and 2 1/2 on Sunday. Saturday I decided to brave the weather by riding my bike outside, but decided it was time to ditch the booties I have been wearing over my cycling shoes for the past 10 years and head up to Des Moines to buy some official winter foot gear. I ended up with some new winter cycling shoes from Rasmussen's Bike Shop. They had size 48 Shimano shoes in stock. They weren't the Lake brand I was kind of interested in trying on, but good enough to get me through for my needs. So I sprang for them. Sterling claims they are good to down around 20 degrees for a 2 hour ride. If it gets colder than that, then maybe a layer of plastic bag between socks or some foot warmers (like I use in my ski boots on cold days). Either way - better than my summer cycling shoes for sure.

Here are the shoes I got (video courtesy of Winter Cycling Shoes website)...

I got home and before the ride, Tara and I took the dogs to the Vet to have their stitches removed from the surgery they had 10 days prior. It's always an event to take the dogs to the Vet as they get excited. Mix that with the fear they have and the anticipation of sitting in the room waiting for the Doc to appear and I think we all needed a nap by the time we got home.

Instead, I suited up to go for a ride.

I was planning on sticking to the Summerset Trail from Indianola to Carlisle and back. The snow was only about 1/2" to 1" deep and figured the Maxxis IKONs would be fine for that. As clueless as I am, I had no idea Saturday was a big shotgun deer hunting day. I came flying over a hill a few miles north of Indianola and about 10 guys in orange jackets heard me and all turned in my direction with some guns aimed my way. I quickly yelled out and we all realized who was what and no harm was done. Dang! Good thing I wasn't dressed in anything resembling an animal and Dick Cheney wasn't in the hunting party. I decided going all the way to Carlisle would not be wise with all of the hunters out in the fields that line the bike trail all the way there and back.

Plan B was to pull off into Banner Pits to see how the trails were doing following the recent snow. As soon as I turned into the Banner State Park Loop, I saw 2 guys getting ready to mount their mountain bikes and rode over to see who it was. It was TJ on his fat tire bike and Matt McCutchan. They were just heading out for a lap, so I joined them. They had decided Saturday was the day to ride with the snow fresh and before things turned into a melted mess. It was certainly fun, but challenging on the race weenie weight IKONs (a tire much better suited to dry, hard packed dirt). I kept it upright with a couple of dismounts here and there when I spun out in the slick stuff.

Matt (filming the loop) chose some appropriate music...

TJ was flawless on that fat tire bike of his. And my new shoes were nice and warm.

After the ride, I called Zack to come pick me up as I really didn't want to ride 6 miles along the fields filled with hunters to get back home. He picked me up and we listened to the live broadcast of Faust from the MET. It was a great tenor - Jonas Kaufmann - and a great baritone - Russell Braun singing and we finished up listening to it in the basement while lifting weights and visiting (along with Tara).

We had an enjoyable dinner party with 6 couples on Saturday night at the Hades. Joel prepared a perfect Chateaubriand - nice and rare to boot!! Each couple was instructed to bring a dish which makes things easier for the host. We were supposed to bring a vegetable. So Tara made an excellent broccoli thanks to a recipe from Ina Garten and we brought along some wine. It was a very tasty meal after the outdoor ride on the bike in the cold. Chuck and his son had shot two deer that day, so we shared our "hunting" stories of the day.

Sunday was a shopping day for Tara and Alexa, so I decided to ride outdoors again and chose the RIP since it was already covered in mud and gunk from Saturday's ride. I stayed closer to Indianola using gravel roads, and the bike paths to avoid any hunters and being mistaken for a deer. I ran out of water and physical energy at the 2 hour point, but had about a solid 30 minutes of riding to get back to the house. I put it in survival mode and pedaled back to the house to shower and head to the annual Christmas program at Simpson "Lessons and Carols". The choirs did an excellent job and we enjoyed the service. Three hours of student voice auditions for their degree recitals followed that before I could rush home to catch the end of the Cowboys getting thrashed (yes!!!).

It is finals week at Simpson this week, but today is an official "reading day" for the students. No classes, no rehearsals (wink, wink) and no tests. Of course, faculty have tons of things to do today so I'm off to a morning full of meetings...

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