more than just another bike blog

Thursday, December 21, 2006

it just keeps getting better from here....

....ah, finally! Winter solstice. I always thought solstice was a bit odd, especially living in NY where winter was just starting and would continue for another 4 or 5 months.

I hate snow. Yeah, snow days were cool as a kid, but besides that I just hate snow. Okay, the first snow of the season (usually in October) was nice, too. But we've had snow as late as high school graduation in June!

In NY, folks joked that there were really only two seasons: winter and July.

So, thank you Mother Nature, for making the days longer for me -- not a day too soon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

my first bike

This is me on my first bike. The date on the photo is June, 1970 but my grandmother had a habit of not developing her film for a long time, so more likely it's 1969. That would make me 4 years old.

Yes, that's corn growing across the street. That's the house of my neighbor, Sniffen Bellows, who called me "Windy" and taught me how to tie flies. And, yes, I grew up in the sticks.

I vaguely recall that my father won this tricycle on a call-in radio show. I remember going to a toy store to pick it up. This was the only new bike we ever had in our family. It's a red Murray trike.

My cousin, Randy, is six months older than me. But I was a really tall girl and he looks like a squirt next to me. I only had one "kids" birthday party during my childhood. I was seven at the time. There's a photo of all five of us on the couch and I'm about 18 inches taller than all the other kids. I was 5'8" by the time I was 9. I was taller than the only two men in my elementary school (the gym teacher and the principal). I guess the janitor didn't count.

When my mother died, I found my trike in the attic. I decided I wanted it, along with the cuckoo clock and some refrigerator magnets, so I shipped it back to CA. It's got a few tiny little rust dots, and the streamers are a little weary, but it's still an awesome bike. It's sitting in my living room along with all my other bikes.

I like this one the best.

Dangnabit -- I'm too young to be senile!!

I've locked my cars keys in my car or lost them three times in the last week. It's almost humorous and I'm starting to wonder if I've been working too hard.

Wednesday I drove to the park with Julie. I was chatting on the cell (ordering a computer) and discovered I'd locked the keys in the car when I returned from playing. We walked home, thinking maybe I'd left the gate unlocked for my dinner guest. No go. Final damage -- one lock-out call to my condo security (50 bucks) and one AAA call (because I don't have a second car key).

Saturday, we built bikes for kids in San Jose. We met at my house and Amy drove me and my friend Skot. When we returned in the afternoon, I couldn't find my keys in my Timbuk2 bag. Final damage -- one lock-out call to my condo security (50 bucks) and one AAA call (because I still don't have a second car key). Oh, and then I found the keys -- in my Timbuk2 bag.

On Monday I drove to the Subaru dealer and ordered two keys. They arrived in the mail today (thank goodness).

Today, I can't find my car keys anywhere. They're nowhere in the house. They're not in the car. But luckily my new keys arrived in the mail today so I can run my errands.

When I arrive home, I put some stuff in one of my drawers, and realize I DO have a second set of car keys. I put them in this special place (not with my other keys). Doh!

I really need next week's vacation.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

how do they do that?

My little dog is pretty quiet. She barks at the 13-year old decrepit poodle that can barely walk. And she barks at my one neighbor who walks humped overwith age. But she either ignores everyone else or really likes them.

Last night, at 1:00am, she got all excited about something. She started "knocking" at the slider onto my patio with such passion that I actually thought there might be a burgler. I turned on the patio light, expecting to see a masked man approaching my door. But there was no one on the patio, so I opened the door to let Julie out to satisfy her curiosity.

She immediately ran to the far corner of the patio and started trying to climb the wall, knocking over one of my potted plants in the process. The adjoining patio has been vacant for a couple of months, so I had no idea what she was in pursuit of. Then I looked up.

The mother of all raccoons was sitting perched on top of the wooden wall/fence just looking down at Julie. Then, another big-ass raccoon joined the first on top of the way. I was afraid they'd jump down and attack my puppy, so I screamed at her and when she wouldn't come I ran over and grabbed her and we ran inside and locked the door.

The two raccoons sat there, probably contemplating if there was something yummy on my patio, when up pops raccoon number three, just as big as the other two! Three raccoons perched together on the corner of a little tiny six-foot wooden fence. It was almost comical.

What to do? It's 1:00am? These little masked men were scary. What if they jumped down onto my patio and ate my niterider (sitting on my patio table)? Should I call security? Or animal control?

I did what every good blogger would do -- I grabbed my camera and started shooting pics. Apparently raccoon #3 was camera-shy, because he immediately crept back down the wall. But #1 and #2 smiled, posed, and soaked up the attention. After I got a bunch of photos, I decided I'd had enough and wanted to go back to bed. But I wanted the intruders gone. I clapped and growled and hissed -- no reaction. Then I banged one of the wooden patio chairs around and #2 crawled back down and out the door of the adjoining patio.

But raccoon #1 was having a challenge with this. The other two raccoons had squeezed out of the wider slats on the patio door, but raccoon #1 kept getting stuck. It was almost comical. He finally retreated to the far end of the patio, crawled down the wall (it's weird how they walk upside down on the walls like squirrels) and the three masked intruders rambled away to the far side of the courtyard.

This morning, Julie wanted to smell everything on the patio over and over again. I don't know if she remembers the raccoons, but she knows something is different in her little world.

But my real question is, how do dogs do that? She was snuggling in bed when suddenly she knew there was an intruder (or three) outside. Could she smell them? In the house? Did she hear them? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

soup sleuthing

I've been craving soup. But not just any soup. I want to make my own soup -- healthy, delicious, and nutritious.

I collect cookbooks. My grandmother was a great cook and a professional baker. My mother (no relation to my grandmother) couldn't boil water or make toast without burning it. I was always a picky eater and didn't touch vegetables until I was in my 30s. I was enamoured of a produce buyer, but that's another story.

Anyways, I've decided to make some soup, so I opened the cupboard where all my cookbooks are stored to see if I might have a soup cookbook. I have a pasta cookbook, a salad cookbook, a smoothie cookbook, three copies of the Joy of Cooking (1931, 1946, and 1964). I bet they still publish that one. I've got a cookbook from the PBS station I worked at in 1988. And one from the theatre where I worked in from 1989-1998. And one from the Girl Scout council where I volunteered (including a recipe by me). I've got sushi cookbooks and cocktail cookbooks and even a Corn Flakes cookbook. There are probably 50 cookbooks, big and small, new and old in my cupboard. But no soup cookbook.

When my grandmother died, I inherited her collection of cookbooks (at least two of the Joy of Cookings are from her). But there's also this other book that fascinates me. It's a leather bound book with pages that look like graph paper. As I touch it, pieces of cover and pages crumble a bit and flake off onto my desk.

There are 100s of clippings from newspapers and magazines hidden among the pages -- recipes for butter cookies, brownies, cheese bread, yam muffins, buttermilk fudge, and molded ocean perch salad. and the directions to use a "spring-flo" faucet spout end. There are hand-written pages that contain recipes for "Chicago Chicken Legs," Stuffed Spare-Ribs," and "Beef Rolls En Brochette." There's a hang tag for an American-Standard Sink Faucet, directions (with diagrams) for cutting a ham, and typed instructions to adjust the volume of your telephone ringer.

There's a newspaper clipping from 1946 entitled "Tough Time on $2,000 -- Elmira Case Cited in Income Study," detailing the life of the Dobbs, a family of six who lived in my home town and made less than $1,600 a year. I wonder who the Dobbs were and why this article was in my grandmother's cookbook.

On the title page of the little leather-bound book is handwritten "Mommy's Book for Recipes" The next page is written "A B" in what appears to be a child's handwriting, possibly a child learning to write and practicing their alphabet? Below that in beautiful script is "Lumber Purchased." The next 20 pages or so appear to be a ledger of lumber sold to various contractors, complete with type of wood, prices, dates, and a mysterious code. These entries date from 1890 to 1895 and the names lead me to believe the book was once located in Buffalo, NY. Since my grandfather was born in 1898 and I know he lived in Jamestown (near Buffalo), I have to assume this book probably belonged to his father.

It appears that the next 20 or so pages were torn out of the book (good, sewn binding, btw). And then the hand-written recipes begin -- chocolate chip cookies, elderberry wine, chili sauce, vanilla ice cream, six-way cookies, lemon meringue pie. The final 75% of the pages are blank.

I have a cousin named Randy who is six months older than me. When we were kids, we spent all of our free time at my grandmother's house. She lived next door to me and because she was a baker there were always yummy things to eat. My grandfather had an upholstery shop right behind the house and he taught us to put a handful of furniture tacks in our mouth and grab them out with a little hammer that was magnetic. He also used to give us a dime to get ice cream from the ice cream man when he came by in his truck.

When I was 10 I was fascinated with matches. I'll never forget this weekend, because my parents had gone away to see my sister Susan graduate from college and I spent the weekend with my grandparents. It was 1976. On Saturday evening, I sat in my grandfather's shop lighting matches and trying to catch the upholstery batting on fire then putting it out. Apparently batting smoulders and several hours later our neighbor came running into the house to tell us there was a fire in my grandfather's shop. My grandfather was quite sick at that time (he died a few months later -- November 1976) and my grandmother and the neighbor and I put the fire out. I denied any involvement in setting the fire. I remember worrying that I wouldn't be allowed to buy my sister's bike -- she planned to sell me her Free Spirit 10-speed for $50. I continued to ride that bike through college.

The upholstery shop is gone now. There was a big burned section of insulation on the ceiling where the fire had risen from the chair that was propped up on the saw horses. My grandfather got sick pretty quickly and this was one of the jobs he was working on at the time. He never finished it. Everytime I went in the shop I felt guilty. The memories of my sick grandfather panicing and trying to get out of his chair are seared into my memory. For many years I thought he died because of what I did.

My grandmother remarried in 1983 and moved about three miles away but kept her old house. She rented it out to various and sundry folks -- usually people who couldn't pay the rent and took advantage of her, but she was too nice to ever kick anyone out.

My grandmother died in December 1994. Her little tiny house was sold and the new owners tore down the shop and the connected cinder-block garage. The cement had deteriorated from between the cinder blocks and the garage was practically falling down. There was a tree growing too close to the upholstery shop, raising one corner of the building up about 18 inches and the roots were poking up through the floor. The shop and the garage were nothing more than unfinished shacks but they represented my grandfather's business and his ability to keep his family afloat during the depression. In addition to their two children, my grandparents were foster parents to more than 100 children over the years -- all in a tiny two-bedroom house. I remember seeing a newspaper article about them but it wasn't in the cookbook.

I guess I need to get a new cookbook and find a soup recipe.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

bragging rights

This just in! USA Cycling has named Velo Girls the 2006 Women's Club of the Year. This is the second time we've received this honor (1st time in 2003). In 2004 we were the Division II Club of the Year. Last year, I think the dude in Colorado Springs lost our applications or something......he was no longer an employee of USAC about a month after Club of the Year was chosen. But now we're back!

This honor wouldn't be possible without the dedication of all our members, volunteers, and sponsors.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

stick a fork in me

I'm done! It's been a great season but I'm ready to move onto training for the road season. Yesterday's Surf City race at Watsonville was mudilicious fun, but my heart just wasn't into it so that tells me it's time to move on. It's time to clean the 20 pounds of mud off my cross bike and hang it up for the season. Bummer, because it looks like we're just starting to get some real cross weather!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

this photo just makes me really happy

kim, erin, lorri, jenny, yvonne, lauren (courtesy of tom feix)

"boobs out, bellies in!"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

both feet off the ground

I'm not a runner. I mean, I've done a few 5ks here and there, but only because there was some charity event that I did with friends or a team at my old job. I'd call myself more of a shuffler.

But I've been running pretty consistently for two months now. And I'm finally getting to the point where I can run 7.5 minute miles. I know, big deal. It is a big deal for me. I'm a shuffler, remember? I've always been a 10-minute miler, so dropping the pace to 7.5 minutes is pretty incredible. Somehow I've learned how to lift my knees and kick back and my stride has lengthened and I got faster.

It didn't seem to help in the sand on Sunday, but maybe if I'd started running in July as planned I'd be up to speed by now.

So, on the treadmill tonight, as I was pushing the pace faster and faster throughout my workout, I had a crazy thought. I really like running. Maybe I'll do a running race. Just for fun. Or a triathlon. Or maybe I'll just keep running on the treadmill, pushing the pace button faster and faster until I get dizzy and fall off.


Here's a burnt thumb update just for Funke:

The skin on my thumb was purple all day. No blisters but you could tell it was funny. So at the gym tonight, as I got all hot and sweaty, the skin on my thumb turned ashen white. I think it's going to fall off.

tragic culinary accident

ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!!!

Last night I made some corn-on-the-cob. I love corn-on-the-cob and probably eat it three or four times a week. I still have a little post-it note with the microwave recipe I got from my mother on the phone, which is amazing in and of itself.

See, my mom was a funny lady. My mom was a bit of a late adaptor. My sister gave her a big, fancy microwave for Christmas one year and it took my mom almost a year to find a cabinet for it and take it out of the box. And then it just sat there for another year or so, never being used. My mom kept reading the directions and an entire microwave cookbook, trying to memorize everything! I finally suggested she pick one recipe out and try that. Once she'd mastered that, I suggested she pick something else. I think she started with a cup of instant coffee.

Next thing you know, she was nuking everything and the conventional oven sat dormant on the other side of the kitchen.

I remember one time I almost burned down the house with the microwave. It was 1988 and I was living at home for the summer, working at a local theatre. The production was a HUGE historical musical drama about the life of Mark Twain (he married a woman from my hometown, lived there for 20 years, and was buried there). I worked crazy-long hours and would frequently go out with the cast after the show, drinking beer and shooting pool until the bars closed down at 2:00am. Of course, I'd be starving when I got home, so I'd nuke a microwave dinner before going to bed at 3:00am.

So, one night I'm nuking my dinner (6 minutes if I recall), sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, and apparently I fell asleep. Unfortunately, I programmed the microwave for 60 minutes instead of 6 minutes and the dinner caught on fire, the microwave melted on the inside, and it set off the smoke alarms in the kitchen. My poor father woke up and was furious with me -- I had ruined their beautiful microwave.

So, last night, I nuke my corn-on-the-cob and when I lift the Saran Wrap off the glass dish, steam instantly burns my entire thumb. I've never had a burn like this. I ran it under cold water for at least 30 minutes and it wouldn't cool down and stop burning. I couldn't sleep it hurt so bad. No blisters yet, but it's still kinda hot to the touch and completely red/purple and I can't really feel anything in it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Two years ago tomorrow I found out I had thyca. It was a Saturday afternoon and I'd just finished racing cross at Coyote Point. Someone had left me a voicemail on my cell during the race. When I checked it, I found a message from my doc. No, she didn't leave a message with the result of my biopsy, but she did leave a message that I should call her on her cell phone immediately. Docs don't give out their cell phone numbers to just anyone, so I knew she meant business. I sat in my car in the parking lot of Coyote Point while she gave me the news. I was numb. I didn't want to go home alone, and I didn't know where to go or who to talk to. So I sat on the curb overlooking the bay at Coyote Point, watching the next race and told Dylan Snodgrass what I had just found out. I'm sure he thought I was crazy.

That weekend was the series finale of the Bay Area Super Prestige Series, with back-to-back races planned at Coyote Point. I almost didn't race on Sunday. My heart was someplace else. I had no energy. I felt like the walking dead. But I didn't know what else to do. Racing was my life. All my friends are racers. I needed to do something "normal" to affirm that I was still alive. And for all I knew it might be my last race.

I went through the traditional grieving process for the next week -- denial, fear, anger, you get it. I just didn't want to address it. I didn't call my doc back to schedule surgery, I didn't do any online research, I didn't talk about it. I just ignored it, thinking maybe it was a mistake or maybe it would go away. A week and change later I finally called my doc and scheduled surgery. And then I was relieved to finally know what had been making me sick for the past several years. And then I spent the next two and a half weeks renovating my condo -- new floors, paint, crown moulding, much of which I did myself. I was a whirling dervish of activity -- work, paint, work, paint, ride a little, work, paint, no sleep. I finished painting the morning of my surgery. I still don't know if I was trying to prove to myself that I would live (and thus deserved a sexy condo to nest in) or if I thought I was going to die (and just wanted to check this off my to-do list).

Thyca was scary. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know the prognosis. I was worried I wouldn't be able to turn my head because of nerve damage from surgery. How could I ride a bike if I couldn't turn my head? And how could I coach if I couldn't ride?

My recovery from surgery went well and I was back on the bike in sixteen days. I was out mentoring Early Birds during January and riding a lot. But then I went super-hypo-thyroid and spent all of February and most of March off the bike. In February, I learned I needed surgery for another tumor, this one in my parotid gland. I decided to wait until after Sea Otter in April to schedule that surgery (probably a mistake to wait so long).

I started feeling better in April and had an awesome two weeks of riding before going under the knife a second time in less than four months. My recovery from this surgery was complicated by a terrible infection and it took more than a month before I got back on the bike again with the exception of a one-day clinic I coached. I probably should have cancelled the clinic, but I thought if I did I was telling myself that my coaching career was over. I had already postponed two clinics that spring because I was too sick to coach. I couldn't postpone one more.

I got back on the bike for good on May 22nd, almost five months after my first surgery. Here's an excerpt from my training journal entry that day:

May 22nd, 2005: Stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in a long time -- 184.5. Fuck! I joined the club ride for the ride to Woodside. It was a struggle to make it to Woodside (only 15 miles). I should've turned around at SCT, but carried on. I'm beat!

I turned 40 on July 29th, 2005. I decided to say goodbye to a crappy decade by riding my bike around New York where I grew up and lived in my 20s and early 30s. Less than two months after getting back on the bike, I rode 1,000 miles in three weeks with 80-pounds of loaded touring bike under me. Someday I'll finish my journal about that trip. To say the least, it was cathartic.


This morning I rode my Rivendell with Julie on the back over to Coyote Point. I've been so, so busy that Julie isn't getting as much quality time as I'd like to give her. So, we ran on the bay trail for a while, headed over to the race to register, and chatted with some friends.

Julie always gets lots of attention when she's riding on the bike (and she loves the attention almost as much as she loves riding). A young woman ran over to us and wanted to pet Julie. She explained that her parents in Pennsylvania have a cavalier and she misses him. I noticed that she had the tell-tale scar of thyca so I asked her about it. She hadn't had her entire thyroid gland removed but she was now being treated for lymphatic cancer and just finished chemo. It was an eerie coincidence that she was drawn to me at the same location that I found out I had thyca.


Two years later and I'm back. I won't say I'm better than ever, but I'm working on it. It's been a long and bumpy road with lots of twists and turns along the way. My performance still isn't what I'd expect it to be. I still struggle with mental issues related to the drama/trauma of the past five years or so. But I get on my bike everyday thankful that I can ride and that I'm healthy. Yup, corny, but true.

This is the masters women's series podium from today's race. I've been on the series podium for the past two years. I think I like this photo a lot more. I can almost see myself again.

ps -- my new "look" is courtesy of my dear friend, the lovely and talented Teresa Callen of Image Arts. Give her a ring if you need a day of beauty!

things I like about California

This is one of my nutty neighbors. I like the palm tree a lot. If he hadn't already done it, I would've. He's got really pretty ornaments hanging from the palm tree that you can't see in the dark. And a HUGE blow-up santa sitting inside the window in his livingroom. I think I need to meet this man!

Friday, December 01, 2006

chilly nipples

Is it colder this year than in past years? I'm freezing my skinny white ass off! I can't remember ever turning on my heat so much. Global Climate Change?