Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Out of the smog; into the sun of Redondo Beach

Drew is my Calgon man. I said, "Calgon, take me away!", and Drew swept me away to Redondo Beach, California (Los Angeles area) on Sunday. He made a quick phone call to his Navy buddy, R.G., and wife Jackie. They said, "come on down, we have a guest room all made up for you." So we did. Landed at LAX at 9:10 a.m. on Sunday, borrowed their beach cruzier bikes and pedaled the 6 blocks to the beach. We were soaking up the sun and surf by lunch time! The weather was so amazingly nice - 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Quite a few people were lazing on the beach and some crazy kids and surfers in the 59 degree water. We just pedaled along "the strand" (boardwalk), people watched, and relaxed in the sand.

Drew couldn't help himself. When he sees a bike in need of adjustment, he tinkers until she's runnin' smoothly. We ate at a Cajun joint that night with R.G. and Jackie, who are great fun and entertainment. I had my first hushpuppie - yum city. We also fell off the wagon and drank beer. We made it a whole 17 days without alcohol.

The overnighter was just what I needed as an escape from the horid air quality we are having here. We returned to Salt Lake on Monday just in time to breath air with 99 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter. The US EPA standard for healthy air is 35 or less! I want to go back to LA to get out of the smog.

Here is an unrelated factoid I hope alarms you as much as it alarms me. Did you know that it takes nearly 1.3 gallons of water to produce each liter of bottled water? What a waste! We have better things to do with our ground water resources than making bottled water. And plus, what do you do with the plastic bottle? I have resolved to not drink any bottled water in 2009.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It has to get worse before it gets better, right? Fireplace #3

We plan to strip all the woodwork in the living and dining rooms anyway, so let's start now! In order to know how much tile to buy for the fireplace surround, we had to figure out if the wood underneath the 17 layers of paint was original. Good news; yes, most of it. We will have to remove the side wood pieces, which we had to do anyway, and take out the 1" strip on either side you can see here between the wider oak piece and the left side of the right-hand bookcase. Also removed will be the very lowest strip on the top. Those pieces are not original, not oak, and will not take our stain the same way. This is good news because we wanted more surface area to put tile on. This is, of course, going to be more work, but I guess we expected that. We also found a gas fireplace at a local dealer for $900 less than the one we had been looking at. That should make the payback time for this appliance only 62 years instead of 91.

After I burned my fingers stripping paint with our hot lamp stripper, we decided to go to the other extreme. Let's go moonlight snowshoeing and freeze our tootsies! Last night, with the big beautiful full moon over the Wasatch Mountains, we hiked around up in Albion Basin, Little Cottonwood Canyon. We shot the picture above with a flash, but using Drew's new fancy-smancy camera (Good 40th birthday present, Lucy! Photography is an old-man's sport, right?) we caught a more realistic picture of what we saw. The exposure below had a 1-second shutter speed.

Hot cocoa upon returning to the car. Good times.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fireplace #2

Last weekend, Drew was due to arrive home Sunday morning. I started this fireplace project the previous weekend, so I felt somewhat responsible for trying to finish it. Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday I played, including two days cross country skiing. I was feeling slacker for goofing off while my poor husband worked his tail off, so Saturday night, I decided to stop by to see if Home Depot might have a demo hammer for rent, as Andy suggested. By 8 PM I had my work cut out for me.

I am my mother's daughter, and I find home-improvement projects a fine way to spend a Saturday night. For those of you that don't know my mom, this is a woman who, in her 50s, re-shingled our house - the two story farmhouse. Just last month she was hanging drywall. She is 77 years old for cryin' out loud! What an inspiration. Anyway, I got a little crazy with the demo hammer.

You can see, it got pretty bad for a while, but underneath the ugly mauve tile, rebar, reinforcing wire mesh, and 1.5 inches of grout, the original 1910 tile was in tantalizingly good shape.
Finally, at 12:30 AM I had to shut it down, but underneath, the tile was very exciting. It is an olive brown tortoise-shell variegated pattern. Alas, there are some pretty damaged spots that I don't think I created with the hammer. We don't think we'll be able to salvage it, and the corresponding original tile on the vertical surface is no where to be seen. It was a good try at preserving the original, but we are now looking at some "restoration tile" (read "ka-ching") manufactures on the web.

The good news is, the wood trim around the hearth is in decent shape and with a little light refinishing and repair, should about match the rest of this old house.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008 Highlights from Drew's perspective

Each one of those 365 days was filled with wonderful memories and experiences. I would like to say another year older... another year wiser, but 2009 is still in its infancy!

2008 Bike Statistics

307: Hours on the bike
2,465: Miles on the bike
261,686: Feet of climbing

Best Ride:
This past year Lucy and I embarked on several grand adventures. 2008 will be remembered as a year in the saddle for both of us. Our main goal was to train for and race in the 2008 BC Bike race. This required countless hours in the saddle and time away from some of the other things we enjoy in life. The race took place on the British Columbia coast which is known for its very technical riding. Unfortunately the "endurance" race was only in its second year running and there were many logistical issues we encountered which hampered our progress. Day after day we raced on incredibly difficult trail systems. Our bodies and our bikes were pulverized! Lucy and I thought it was our lack of skills which kept us from completing each stage in higher standings, but seeing B.C. locals stumble out of the woods bloodied with complete bicycle frames snapped in two we knew that the course had been advertised as an endurance event, but designed as a highly technical "freestyle" type course. In the end we finished the race, but not without misfortune. Lucy had a mechanical on day three which forced her out of the final standings. What I witnessed on days 4-7 was a woman more determined than ever to complete the race. She could have easily throttled back and enjoyed the rest of the week, but she came back with a vengeance. With long days in the saddle, incredible heat, and lots of personal pain she rode by my side. I was humbled by the experience and so proud of her. Races are usually scored by rankings as one crosses the finish line. For me endurance races have always been races against myself. In 2008 I won a personal race with my wife. We bonded on so many different levels! That week up in B.C. 2008 will be a very dear memory for me!

The year can also be summed up by Lucy's reactions as seen through my eyes. In 2008 there were the "Good", "Crazy", and "Ugly" times.
  • 1) Were going to Moab for a long weekend

2) The latest bulb and seed catalogue just arrived

  • 3) I am spending time with Drew

4) Time to go start the tiller and work in the backyard

5) Three days on the White Rim with Drew and friends

6) This haircut looks really good!


1) You want to do both the BC Bike race and the AMC race in 2008!

2) That is such a lame joke

3) I just spent 4 days in my office with no windows reviewing a publication on my computer!

4) I am having a bad hair day!


1) You signed me up for another race!

2) What do you mean it is Monday morning already!
3) Drew has to go back to work.

4) Time to move my summer clothes in to
the basement for storage and get ready for winter.

5) Ohhhhhhh I need a haircut!

So 2008 has come and gone. It was a wonderful year and 2009 looks promising as well. We look forward to seeing all of you soon and sharing some wonderful adventures. Just remember the following in 2009:

"We can not tell you where the journey will lead,

because you're the one who sets the goal!"

Happy 2009 Every-one!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lucy's year in review 2008

I was inspired by Bob's post about his year in review. Here is my version.

Lucy's riding stats for 2008

Miles ridden: 2813

Hours in the saddle = 353 hours, about 41 of those hours were on a trainer or in spin class at the gym

Number of rides: 197 (including the 41 stationary bike rides and my sometimes daily bike commute to work)
Longest ride, time-wise: 7 hrs 30 minutes on day 4 of the American Mtn Classic MTB race in Brian Head
Longest ride, distance-wise: 80.4 miles on day 2 of the BC Bike Race MTB race in British Columbia. That is longer than any road rides I did. Huh. Weird.

Longest ride in training: 4 hrs 50 minutes

Total climbing: 214,869 feet or 40.7 miles

Most challenging race: BC Bike Race 7-day stage race in British Columbia. By about 100 times any other physical effort I have attempted. So many hours of pain and riding technical trails in British Columbia that were way over my head. Thank goodness Drew was there to drag me on or I might have killed those cheerful volunteers handing me gross, gut-curdling gels.

Most unexpected race: American Mountain Classic 4-day stage race in Brian Head, Utah. I thought, "after BC, I can do three big days no problem." Boy was I wrong. Because Drew and I were racing individually, I didn't have his wisdom with me to slow down and pace myself when that other girl in my class was right behind me. As a result, I went out way too hard on day 2, the first big day, and had to push my bike some of the way through day 3. Drew stuck by me (what a husband!) and we rode most of days 3 and 4 together. Despite my wasted quads and mushy body, the riding was grand.

Best Race: Wolverine Ridge 1st place sport women. I love that course, and I had been wanting to win that one since last year when I had a stupid loss due to a flat tire on my stupid tube tires. I love tubeless. This win in the big points race bumped me into 3rd place overall with only 6 races in the ICUP series. I guess some would say I should move up, but really, I think this year was a fluke.

Best ride of the year: There were lots of great rides, but one of my favorites was in September, after all the racing was done, Drew and I went to Park City to ride Mid-Mountain and Deer Valley trails. Fall colors were out, but it was unseasonably warm. We just had a great ride, got the heart pumping, and it was all for fun. Don't get me wrong, I like to have goals as much as the next mtb chic, but on this ride, all the goals had been met - or at least given up on - and we were free to enjoy riding together. That's what it is all about.
White Rim in April with the Revolution gang was also a hoot. It was more about the company than the riding.

I learned a lot this year. I learned the importance of proper recovery. There was the time we finished a 2.5 hour training ride, then chatted in the parking lot for 30 minutes instead of woofing some food. Then we went to Ed's to help stuff SWAG bags for the next ICUP race and Ed offered me a beer. I never really say no to beer. Beer on an empty stomach is not proper recovery meal. My bum was a-draggin' on the trail the next day trying to keep up with Steve, Jim and Drew!

I learned some things about the mechanics of my bike, like that you should try to pop the bubbles on your tires if the layers start to separate. That cost me being able to ride on day 3 of the BC Bike Race and consequently, I didn't get their stupid ugly finisher T-shirt and pound of tasty coffee.

I learned I can count on Drew. I guess I always knew it.

I learned that biking can be a way of life. It is not a bad life!