1/1/12

Happy New Year!!!....and the past year in review....

Happy 2012 to everyone!

This year was ushered in with us going to a party in shirt sleeves it was so warm here in Iowa at 6 pm. Coming out of the party, the winds were blowing 50 miles per hour and the temperatures had dropped into "We need winter parkas!!" territory.

A recap of 2011 which was all about friends, family, food, and travel.

We started 2011 off with a bang by celebrating in Vienna - not to mention a sleepness night considering the kids didn't get back to the apartment until breakfast time!

New_Year's_Eve,_Vienna

In spite of that small curfew breach, we had fun visiting friends in Vienna for Christmas and New Years. It was nice to get back to the opera house in Vienna and catch up with some old colleagues and friends. The trip was also Zack's senior present that he wanted. Hänsel und Gretel, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Beethoven's 9th, all of our old favorite restaurants and some new, shopping, visiting, etc.... - it was a great way to usher in 2011.

RathausChristmasVienna

Christmas Market at Night

Back home in Iowa, the snow was at record levels for the winter and I was glad to have Dad's old snow blower to help me take on the inches and inches of white stuff that kept falling. In spite of all the snow, I didn't stop taking the dogs for their daily morning and evening walks. I did, however, outfit the Surly with the Ardent 2.4's and used it as my "Snow Monkey" for the walk/rides. They salt and sand the streets so much here that anything else gets ruined - so the Monkey gets winter duties from now on because I don't care if it gets trashed...

SnowMonkeySS

As January unfolded, the kids had some dressing up to do for the annual school sports dance event, so they posed in their outfits before going...

Zack&Alexa

We had 2 Birthdays to start off the year - Tara's in January and Zack's in February. Zack turned the milestone of 18 and we celebrated at the Japanese Steak House before going back home for cake and the post meal party...

Zack's18th

Blowing out 18 of 'em

The month of March was an emotional month as my colleague and Music Department Chair - Maria DiPalma - passed away after an 8 year battle with cancer...

dipalma

We celebrated her life in a glorious way with two events at Simpson that meant a lot to everyone involved. We still miss Maria and it is very visible in terms of the void she left.

April approached (got my taxes done in time this year!!!) and Zack got his senior pictures taken...

Zack senior picture 2

After a long and cold winter with not ideal base training, I started the 2011 XC Racing Season in April with a bit more girth than I have been in previous years. Chunk City for sure!!!! I had 3 events in a row to pedal away the chunk - a race across the river in Nebraska, a race across the other river at Sylvan Island in Illinois, and a race called the Bone Bender in Kansas.

45+ CAT 2 start line

RIPPING it through the trees...

Bone Bender Sweet Singletrack

April also brought the kids high school prom which meant more pictures...

Prom2011

Sibling Fun

On Easter Sunday, our good friend, Gayla Tighe, was featured in the Des Moines Register and on their website about her accident in the tornado and subsequent recovery.

Gayla

This is what April was pretty much like in Iowa as the once every 50 years or once every 100 years rains pounded us week after week...

Weather Right Now

I did manage to perfect my abilities of making pastrami and brisket on the Big Green Egg in 2011...

DSC07698a-1

Pastrami!!!

The month of May was a fun one for me as I went along to Italy with the Madrigal Trip as a Chaperone for the Simpson College students...

Waiting for the Pope's morning address and blessing.

Waiting for the Pope to Bless us...

Trying to drum up an audience for one of the evening's Madrigal Concerts. Standing on a corner passing out pamphlets and trying to sell the concert to anyone who would listen became a routine between our tour guide and myself. Sometimes, we were fortunate enough to draw quite a crowd. Other times, we managed to only convince a few people to come in and listen. The kids sang well regardless...

Working the pavement to get an audience for the evening's concert

Students Lydia Schettler, Jessica Mallow and I in Sorrento before we went out for a night on the town...Sorrento style.

Sorrento, Italy Hotel Lobby with Lydia and Jessica

Sampling Limoncello with some of the students (this is Aimee Allen) in Rome...

Drinking Lemoncello with Aimee and the girls in Rome

Goofing around with Lydia and the white pigeons...

Playing with the birds and Lydia

Listening to Christine Dunn's report in Florence...

ChristineDunnWaxingOnInFlorence

Resting my tired legs in Italy when Marcus Simpson snapped a photograph of me. I think we all walked dozens of miles per day while there...

Resting my tired legs in Italy

The downside of traveling to Italy during May was that I had to miss my son's high school graduation. I missed it by 1 day!! Grandpa Brown and Aunt Becky made it out for the special event. I was, however, home in time for the post graduation party we hosted in the back yard.

Here's what I missed and can only relive it in photographs and stories...

HSGraduate

TheLadiesCongratulate

Gramps&Zack

Mom&Zack

Dad and my sis at the house on the morning of the graduation...

Dad&BeckVisit

Congratulating Natalie Nielsen at Simpson's Graduation along with her teacher, Dave Camwell. We had like 25+ music majors graduate in May which is a pretty significant number compared to other years.

Simpson College Graduation, May 2011

Later that day, I went over to the Lickiss household to celebrate former high school and undergrad student of mine, Erik Lickiss' graduation from grad school at the University of Tennessee Knoxville...

Celebrating Erik's Grad School Degree

The month of May was over, and June brought my XC bike racing to the fore again. I got the JET all ready for the crux of the XC season...

RacingJET

And I monster truck tired the Dos Niner for XC racing as well...

MonsterTireDos

Ah, if you've seen one race, you've seen 'em all, right? Well, here's a bunch from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois...

Bluff Riders Charge banking the turn

Rolling out at the start on the Dos

I passed this sculpture/creature out in the woods at a race in Manysoda...

Single Track Attack Sculpture in the Woods

Climbing off the beaten path in Wisconsin after being "pushed" over across a drainage ditch...

BorderBattleClimb

I even wore the old MOB kit at a couple of races due to me forgetting to wash the BikeIowa.com kit, or forgetting to pack it...

Great Hawk Bridge Crossing

At a muddy race in Duluth...

Great Hawk Power Grind Corner

Great Hawk Race Start

Monster Truck Tires roll...

Wheelhouse Drops

Border Battle WORS finish line...

BorderBattleFinish

I blew my rear hub on the Cyclocross Climb at Sugarbottom right at this moment...

Snap

Crackle

I had to DNF, but Sterling was able to rebuild my rear hub at Rassy's, so it's golden for a few more years!

The summer continued and we had the most organized garden that I can remember...

OrganizedGarden

Unfortunately, the rains wiped us out yet again taking the basement. That's 4 floods in 5 years, so it was time for a permanent solution. That involved jack hammers, major construction, addition of an internal drainage system, additional pair of sump pumps, digging up the yard and a refinance of our mortgage to pay for it all. Basement under construction was a nasty mess...

BasementUnderRepair

It's all done now and we should be flood free going forward from the heavy 50 and 100 year rains that seem to be coming every year now.

Summer brought fun as well as a torn up basement. Alexa and the gals had a "girls night out" for her 16th birthday which began with non-alcoholic mimosas at our house...

Girl'sNightOut

Non-Alcoholic Champagne Toast

I hit some RAGBRAI in July to take on the day with 66 hills...

66 Hills on day 5

Talk about a great crowd this year...

Crowded!!

I found myself in the driveway once a week doing what seemed like non stop bike cleaning from all the muddy racing...

Prepping the JET for a race

One that wasn't too muddy...

Single Track Attack Race Grind

Alexa posing this summer before going out on a date...

Alexa

Summer gave way to fall and the school year started at Indianola as well as Simpson. So our household was back to the usual academic routine. Zack entered Simpson as a freshmen voice major. The fall opera was cast for Die Fledermaus and Zack was cast as Frank. Tara began new speech therapy school assignments with A.E.A by working in Indianola and Milo (as opposed to Indianola and Truro).

At the conclusion of one weekend's choreography rehearsal for Die Fledermaus in late September, I had not bothered to shower as I was going over to Joel Hade's for a guy's night of grilling and drinking. The wives were all headed to Des Moines for dinner. Or so I thought. Instead, it was a well kept secret 50th Birthday Party for me and I was clueless it was being planned. Everyone else in town knew, including my students and colleagues, but me. Well done Tara, kids and everyone involved!!! I remain surprised to this day.

Live music, as well as my voice students were there and did a skit/parody, my colleagues, my neighbors, my friends, etc... all joined in for a night of fun at Joel and Deb's house. Thanks Joel and Deb for hosting!!! Everyone was dressed up, but me. The one day in the year I chose not to take a shower, and it's a party for me. That's why I'm there in a ball cap!!!

50thCake

50thFriends

50thStudents

My colleague, Jamie, and his band provided the music...

50thMusic

50thBand

50th&Neighbors

It was a great evening of food, fun and fellowship to mark the big Five-0! Thanks to all for such a great surprise.

Next up was my hosting of the Lake Ahquabi bike race dubbed The Mullet Fall Classic. We had a record turnout of 155 racers this year and fun was had by all in the perfect 80 degree temps in October. This picture is me handing out 1st Prize to the 3 hour Marathon winner, Eric Brunt from Kneebraska.

HandingOutMulletFirstPrize

CITA teamed up with me and really did a great job of trail work, hosting the beer garden and providing post race food. It was a perfect year-end party for the Iowa XC Mountain Bike racing scene. I hope I can whip up some nice weather on October 7th this year as well....!!!!

I convinced, forced, coerced my daughter Alexa into doing the Des Moines Dirty Du with me. I thought a father-daughter event would be fun. She thought otherwise. She did the run portion and I did the bike ride. Due to opera rehearsals, we had to do the beginner race earlier in the morning and since it was Alexa's first, we qualified (sort of). She was not happy, but did it for her old man's sake (with a little convincing from Tara)...

DirtyDuWithAlexa

AlexaPostRace

Hey, we won 1st place in the Duo category and came in 2nd place overall. That changed my daughter's attitude and she was astounded. Hopefully she will do the event with me again next year now that she has the bug.

Alexa and the girls for homecoming 2011...

Homecoming 2011

It was back to staging rehearsals and the performances of Die Fledermaus which went off really well in Pote Theater. The entire cast and crew did a marvelous job and along with my new colleague, Bernard McDonald, opera at Simpson was taken to an entirely new level. We plan to keep it there.

Here I am posing with one of my favorite student singing actresses out in the lobby - Alicia Suschena - after one of the performances. Alicia played the role of Adele and was really funny. Everyone did a great job!

PostFledermausWithAlicia

We flew out to San Francisco for Thanksgiving and had a blast with the inlaws. The kids and I saw Carmen at San Francisco Opera and had a fun night out on the town. We had a big family get together Thanksgiving Dinner in Burlingame (at the home of Tara's Aunt). All the cousins were there and it was a really meaningful evening to hold for the sake of tradition. I think it will continue as my generation and our kids all want it to continue.

I rented a Cannondale Jekyll for some biking in the East Bay (Diablo and Briones). I had a bit of a hard time keeping the front wheel down on climbs since the bike was too small for me and had a super short stem...

2011-11-26 Jekyll in CA

2011-11-26 Jekyll size L

It was a fun bike, but I needed about a 130mm stem instead of a short 50mm stem.

I scored some Specialize Roval wheels just before Thanksgiving. Once the Rovals arrived, they went on my RIP to change the performance of that bike to a more XC speed machine...

Roval Trail SL's on the scale - 1520g

Took a pound off of my RIP9

This bike is going to be fun to run at some races in 2012!!

The semester wound down and a much welcomed "recharge the batteries" vacation took place after a very busy fall semester. We drove out to Rapid City on the 22nd of December for my nephew's wedding, my Dad's 85th, and Christmas.

Zack, Alexa and I hit Terry Peak for two days of skiing on actually very good snow...

Skiing Christmas Vacation 2011

I had a very productive few days at the end of year as I prepare to direct Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. I've been studying the translation we are using and coming up with staging ideas for the opera.

In addition, we hit the basement store room for a cleaning and reorganization. Most everything had been jammed in there after the flood this summer, so it was time to clean it up and get some organization back like it was. I simply didn't have time this fall to take it on, so now it is done and we enter 2012 with a clean slate. All the "honey do list items" for 2011 were completed (except I never got the garden tilled under due to fall rains). Oh well...

Temperatures have been warm this past week. Because of that, I ended up getting 8+ hours out on the bike on dirt and pavement. Days with temperatures of 61 degrees, 49, 52, 54 - unbelievable!!!

New Year's Eve 2011 had me puttering with bikes in the garage since it was in the upper 50's. I swapped out the Maxxis Ikon's on my I9 wheels to a 2.25 Ardent LUST up front and a Raven 2.2 in the rear to use for racing. Normally, I change tires so often I don't ever get Goobers in my tires from the sealant. The Ikons, however, had been mounted for months and months. So when I took them off yesterday, I ended my year with quite a pair of Goobers that had formed to show off...

A pair of Goobers!

The CD case, along with me holding the goobers in my hand help show the scale of these suckers!!

We went over to Nancy and Hugh's last night for homemade pizza (made by Chuck Tighe) and had fun visiting with Gayla, Chuck, Nancy and Hugh to end the 2011 year. We actually were awake through Midnight. Of course, the kids came home from their celebrations after midnight and I don't think we got to sleep until 2 a.m. .

All in all, a fun 2011 filled with travel, food, family, friends and moving forward in life.

All the best to everyone for 2012.

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