Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One Small Explosion.....

... can change your whole perspective. And it wasn’t even our explosion! It was our neighbors! Now that I have gotten your attention, a brief synopsis of our latest adventure follows.

Something just seems all a-kilter

Sunday evening, we went to visit a neighbor for a few hours. When we came home, we noticed a few things awry. Pictures on the wall were off-kilter, or on the floor, and things in general looked out of place. Having lived in California, and enjoyed a 6.5 earthquake, our first inclination was that we had experienced an earthquake. Further inspection found quite a bit of minor damage. Most everything on the north and east walls of the house was on the floor. Our curio rack in the master bedroom with all of our porcelain treasures had fallen and was partly on the bed and on the floor.

Now, a slight panic is setting in. What the heck happened? A quick phone call across the street to our neighbors got us the news that our neighbor’s air compressor had exploded in his storage shed/engine repair shop in his backyard. Terry, our neighbor, had just left the engine shop to go get pizza, and luckily wasn’t hurt. The force of the explosion was enough to blow the 12 ft. shed door out, and cause a lot of damage to the engine shop. (According to what he originally told the city, “It’s storage, really!”) Riggggght.

Surprisingly, none of the glass was broken!

So, the upshot of all this is that a lot of our treasures were broken. Things we had collected and had emotional attachment to for the last 30 years are now gone. They were just porcelain things, small treasures, but a part of our life and our adventures for the last 30 years.

Kinda reminds me of some weird Toy Story scene....

Initially we were very upset and angry about the things being broken because of “you-know-who’s” engine shop. Don’t get me wrong, we are still kinda mad. But, then we had a slight change of perspective. We realized that we could have been hurt during this little gem of an explosion. The pups could have been hurt and real serious damage could have occurred to the house. This put a little different spin on things. Yeah, things got busted, but it could have been a lot worse. But, it brought the value of our health, our happiness, and our little house into a little clearer focus.

Amazing how a little event like this can change your point of view. I know that Jake’s Blogpost of 1/21 addressed a person’s end of life issues, and whether or not you (or I) would want to keep life sustaining machines running even though all hope is essentially lost. This is a deep, broad, painful, and sometimes divisive subject and I will not hazard my opinion here in this post. Suffice to say the past few days I have had the opportunity to realize how lucky we really are everyday. And on that positive note, I will end this little missive and wish you a great week.

That’s the news from here, more news and maybe a report from the gym next week. And lastly, this Sunday the entire country will close up shop and watch the Super Bowl. So, here's my commitment. I will root for the Bears. The Colts will never be the same since they abandoned Baltimore! I'll watch the game from the seat of the Little Red Bike, why not get a good spin done!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Really, It's Just a Haze Layer

"After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow."
H.G. Wells
(Yeah, right, maybe when it gets above freezing.)

Well, the cross training continues, or rather the indoor training. Last weekend I had a friend ask why I hadn’t been on my bike for the last 5 weeks and I regaled him with stories (or excuses, rather) of weddings, newsletters, going to work, Christian holidays, and of course the snow, cold, and worst of all, the temperature inversion.
I need a word to describe this...

If you look closely, there really are mountains out there..
Yes, folks, temperature inversion. Something that suspiciously isn’t in the Utah tourist brochures, and in fact was left out of all those beauty shots of the Salt Lake valley during the 2002 Winter Olympics. You see, in Utah in the winter, we get snow. The cold air settles to the bottom of the valley and becomes stagnant. Then, with the nights being longer than the days, the air mass never warms after the lovely –5F evening temperature. Next thing you know, it’s 10 degrees in the valley and 30 degrees at the ski resorts! So, the valley fills up with smog, haze, gunk, whatever you want to call it. Even if the temperature screams all the way to 20f, one just can’t get motivated to go outside and ride in it. Of course, going to the mountains to ski or just get above the haze and stare at the sunshine is usually very therapeutic. I have included some photographs extracted from live webcams of the Salt Lake Valley. I hope you get the idea of just how lovely it is this time of year.

Otherwise, I train indoors. Mostly I have been spinning on my Cycle-Ops Fluid Trainer. This handy device makes it possible to ride the Little Red Bike in the family room, and keep my spinning form even though it’s really cold outside. I was spinning in the garage, but it's cold in there too! So, I turn on the NFL, or perhaps a West Wing rerun, or just my Ipod, and spin away for about an hour each day. I keep the spin rate around 85-100 and keep working my legs up bigger gears. No bets as to whether I can spin on the road at 100 rpm!

I also have been spending a lot of time lately over at the gym, working primarily on quads, glutes, and general circuit weights. Yesterday, I had a consult with a personal trainer who in his calm, and quiet way has helped Kathy and I find all sorts of muscle groups that haven’t been used in years. It should be interesting to see how all this work will translate to miles on the open road. The weather should modify some as the month progresses, and then I think it will be time to start riding some outdoor miles.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mill Creek in Winter

Hi all,
January has brought the opportunity for some cross training as the fog and inversion season is upon us. I just can’t seem to get motivated to go out and ride in the fog and grunge. I have been able to enjoy a few trips to the gym for general weight training along with emphasis on leg press and machine squats. More enjoyably, I finally made time to go cross-country skiing up Mill Creek Canyon. You may recall a nice long ride up Mill Creek last fall. Monday brought cloudy but mild weather, perfect for a nice long ski. The lower part of Mill Creek is generally in the shade, so temps in the 30’s were quite welcome.

There was plenty of snow up the canyon, I would estimate around a 3 ft base over the road on the higher portions. I enjoyed about a 2.5mile climb, making it around a mile past Elbow Fork. Mill Creek is a long steady climb until passing Elbow Fork, and then it flattens out and is a very enjoyable trail. The only issue I encountered was slow skis! I found that my skis didn’t run well on the downhill leg, and I had to do quite a bit of poling to maintain speed. I don’t know if it was soft skis bottoming out, or the wrong glide wax. I think I will have to come ski again and do some more research!

Along with skiing up Mill Creek, I carried my new Garmin ETREX Legend GPS! Santa was very nice to me and left it under the tree. I have enjoyed using it so far, and have figured out how to upload tracks to Google Earth. I hope to take the GPS on all of my longer rides, and will share data and images with you. And maybe later this year Kathy and I will try some Geo-Caching too.

My Mill Creek Ski on Google Earth

That’s all the news for now, the weather forecast for the next week most assuredly indicates more indoor training!