Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


November 2009

We now return to our regularly-scheduled training

My new BaixBaix:

first trip out on the new bike
my new girl

Just a quick 20-miler on the Greenway to see how she feels…and the answer is:  delicious.  Even fresh out of the box, with no computer, no aerobars, no other toys, bells, or whistles, she just sang.  She’s so smooth and she shifts like a dream (of course, my last bike experience was 350 miles on a trail bike on gravel).  It’s a little bit like driving the Corvette – you know how a sportscar just wants to giddyup?  That’s what she feels like.

I haven’t yet spoken with my LeMond – we’ll have to re-negotiate the terms of our relationship, but, like all relationships, this one has evolved over time, and to stay viable must transition according to the needs of both parties.  It will involve compromises, patience, and understanding, but if we each stay focused on the goal of mutual satisfaction, with respect, admiration, and gratitude we can arrive at a new, successful definition of bike and rider.

I know, I need a red and black helmet!

Anyway, she is a fabulous new ride and I couldn’t be happier with her.  Lots of miles between now and March 6, and I’m looking forward to every one!

Now if only new running shoes would make the same difference in the run…

Thanks for reading!

Trip to Paris

What a delightful, girlie, French week we just had!!

Amy and I headed out on a Saturday morning, and had pretty good luck getting to Paris.  Glenda met us at baggage claim where we all had tears and endless smiles!


She’s been in the city since August, so she’s an expert in the Metro, and did a fabulous job with the language.  We did a lot of sightseeing the first day, even tho we were a bit jetlagged.  We went to Notre Dame, Champs Elysses, Arc du Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower.

see Quasimodo?
right in the middle of Champs Ellysses
at the bridge near the Eiffel
at the base of the Tower

We were so glad to go to bed that night, and started the next day by going to Glenda’s campus with her.  It is located near an interesting museum/shopping area that Amy and I cruised while she was in class.

Pompidou Museum of Modern Art
Street vendor selling crepes - Nutella is at EVERY stand
One of an huge volume of bakery pictures

We ate this same snack lunch every day – cheese, nuts, olives, fruit, bread.  Restaurants are so expensive and really we preferred to eat like this.

We eat this way at home too!

Then it was off to the Louvre – Glenda’s right about how to see it – you just have to do a section at a time.  She’s been about 8 times with her class, and has done a different section each time.  Amy and I did the typical tourist thing cuz our time was compressed, and Glenda had to go to class so we were on our own.

here she is
At the interior inverted glass pyramid
twinning it up
our hostel room with view of....the street

The next day was our trip to the Musee D’Orsay – Glenda’s favorite in Paris.  It was structurally beautiful; it’s a museum of impressionism, and included some pretty spectacular pieces.

Van Gogh's self-portrait

Glenda talked so much about this Van Gogh, and then when we saw it, we understood.  The color and pattern really are remarkable.  There were sculptures and some contemporary pieces we enjoyed seeing, as well as Gauguin and Monet.  The problem with a collection like that is that you become overstimulated/saturated so quickly, so after a couple of hours of following our resident docent, we stopped for a French lunch of quiche, sandwiches, and pastry.

lunch on the street
...with dessert

After that respite, we cruised an upscale section of Paris with shops and stores – then we went into a wine-tasting store Glenda has visited in her oenology class, and of course we had to have a tasting!  We bought a bottle of white, and a cheese tray for supper.  It was delicious, with one tiny exception.  These cheese samplers are assembled at the discretion of the cheese-sampler-assembler in the kitchen, I suppose, and our plate included a cheese the likes of which I have never experienced.

the offending selection is the baked triangle at the bottom of the plate

I love stinky cheese – the stinkier-feet-smelling, the better, as far as I’m concerned.  I love Roqufort, blue cheese, even limberger.  This cheese was not just aromatic.  It was not just pungent.  This cheese smelled like nothing other than…well, let’s just say that we now refer to it as Ass Cheese .  It’s called Reblochment Fermier; we googled it when we got back to the dorm and cracked up at the colorful descriptions of other consumers.

our wine and cheese experience

So we began the next day.  Glenda had class, so Amy and I headed out to Versailles, about a half-hour’s train ride from Paris.  The weather was awful – cold, wet, windy – but it was our one chance to go, and there’s that Jordan family motto thing, so off we went.  It was as dramatically spectacular as we knew it would be, but seeing it in person has a huge impact.

the Chapel at VersaillesThe Hall of Mirrorssome of the formal gardens

On our last full day, Glenda’s wine class went to a wine-tasting expo in Paris.  It was composed of independent wine producers, and many residents purchase their annual supply of wine here.  There were probably 300+ vendors, all offering tastings and sales.  Best 6 Euro we spent on the whole trip.  There were food vendors too, so you didn’t get too buzzed, and we spent the better part of the day here.

having a great time at the Expo!

That afternoon when we returned to the dorm, we created the French version of Thanksgiving, and we had a blast doing it (that may have had something to do with the fact that we were marinating in Expo-juice!)  A couple other American students joined us for our feast, and now Glenda is enjoying the leftovers.

Traditional feast for us: sweet potato casserole, green beans, dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pecan and pumpkin pies

All in all, it was a phenomenal trip, and we hated to see it end.  Glenda put us on the train to the airport the following day, we had great seats on the plane, and about 13 hours later, via Atlanta, we were home!

Daughter Amy has to fly back to California for another 2 weeks of classes, then a week of finals, then the fam regroups in Colorado for Christmas.  Oh, and in the meantime, I’ll attempt to return to training/nutrition for my race!
Thanks for reading!

Tramping in New Zealand, part 4

Day 4 and trip back home…

Day 4 was even wetter than day 3, if that was possible.  I took pictures in spite of the moisture, because the landscape was so very beautiful.

typical trail section
Falls were even heavier because of the rain - breathtaking
another lovely suspension bridge
I built this little cairn on the side of the trail cuz the rocks were so pretty
The reason for the trip to New Zealand

The trail ended at a place called SandFly Point.  Google SandFly.  The little nasties were the Kiwi equivalent of mosquitoes; ultimately we all decided they weren’t quite as bad, but oh so close.  Boat ride, bus ride, van ride to a hostel in a little nearby ski town.

Our hostel room in Wanaka
That's a group of cyclists on the wrong side of the road

We had another half-day the next day while we waited for a flight; we had a little mini-cookout in Mr. Bongo atop a beautiful ridge in Christchurch.

sausages, wine, bread, cheese - mmmmmmm
Sunset group shot - great trip!

Our trip home was a round-about:  Christchurch to S ydney to Atlanta to Nashville.  We certainly enjoyed our terminal time, as always, and caught up on our reading.  We highly recommend this trip; we’ve tried to think what we would do different, and have been unable to come up with anything!

 One more big trip, then we will return this blog to its regularly scheduled training reports.  Oh, yeah, I’ve got an Ironman coming up in about 14 weeks!

Thanks for reading!

Mt. Cook

Tramping in New Zealand, part 3

Okay, day 3 and McKinnon pass…

cold, wet, windy at the top

We tried to get up there before the rain began, but we didn’t quite get that done.  There was a hut at the top, a very welcome hut where we made coffee and ate a snack.

us (and 38 of our closest friends) at the warming hut atop the pass

When we took off after our break, we were at a run, backpacks and all, for about a half-mile to get out of the sideways rain, so we didn’t get our panorama shot, but it was beautiful in spite of it.

Jesse didn't want to get lost...

We were pretty saturated by the time we got off the hill, and had another 6 miles or so to go.  We took a little side trip of an hour or so to see the beautiful Sutherland Falls – Jesse, Sam and Laura crossed the river and stood behind the falls, but there’s no pictorial evidence, because my phone resides in a ziplock bag when it’s wet out – why does the lady who does every outdoor experience possible NOT have a waterproof digital camera????

soggy but happy

On the Milford Track, there are two types of tramping that you can register for:  the Independent Hikers option, which gave us a bunk in the huts each of three nights, and cost about $100, and includes the bus/ferry rides in and out, and the Guided Walkers option, which gives walkers a hotel-type room, hot showers, breakfast/lunch/dinner prepared daily for the economical fee of FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!!  (That’s in NZ dollars, which is about the same as US $)!  So of course, we independent trampers used every opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for our wise financial decision while we pretended to enjoy our freeze-dried chicken teriyaki.

My Inglorious Basterds

These boys are Dore, Ben, and Dechell – our Israeli friends I mentioned earlier.  We fell in love with these boys; the morning we woke up after leaving the Track, Sam said “It’s just not the same without hearing bickering in Hebrew”.  We hiked with them on and off most of the trail, and we all hope to cross their paths at another time.

The evening of day three we stayed at the Dumpling Hut, with Blaine as our Ranger Host.  There was a wood-burning stove in the common room and there were clothes draped on every possible surface.

38 soggy hikers' clothes

Okay, that takes us to the final day, day 4 and the hike out.  Check back for the last installment of our Tramping experience.

Thanks for reading!

Tramping in New Zealand, part 2

Second day on Milford Track, spent the night before in the Clinton Hut…

What an American! Instant Starbucks coffee saved me!

Again, because it was cool enough, we were able to carry in some pretty delicious food:

Ham steaks and scrambled eggs - this is the little kitchen area

We enjoyed an interesting talk by Ranger Ross the night before; after breakfast he came in with a New Zealand possum, or as he said the “troublemaker”.  New Zealand did not have any mammals before they were introduced by settlers.  What they have an abundance of is birds, of whom they are all very proud, and they don’t like the mammal predators (rats, stoats, possums) that eat the birds.  So Ranger Ross was delighted to have caught this one in his trap.

at Clinton Hut with Ranger Ross and the unfortunate possum

Day 2’s walk was delightful.  It was cool in the morning, warming up to shorts and tees in the afternoon.  Sam tried his hand at fly-fishing a time or two – we could see the beautiful trout in the river, but no luck.  The forest was very canopied, lots of the enormous fern plants; altogether very LOTR movie-feeling.  Green hills around with cascades and waterfalls, bigger snow-capped mountains just behind.  The trail is beautifully maintained and follows the Clinton river most of the day.

Flat Aden
Sam and mom taking in the view
Aden at the Avalanche Danger sign
Mintaro Hut - 2nd night - that's a down jacket and I'm still cold!

We hiked about 10 miles this day, and enjoyed a meal of pasta, chicken, cheese, pesto, and the ubiquitous Peanut M&M’s for dessert.  Ranger Ian was our host here, and the bunks in this hut were all in the same upstairs area.  Hikers were of two varieties:  the 20-25 year old backpacky-kid-college-student, and the 50+year old backpacky-granola-tree-hugging-tramper variety.  The group was split about 50-50, and we enjoyed everyone in our tramp group.

Day 3 takes us up and over McKinnon Pass…more pics to come!

Thanks for reading!

Tramping in New Zealand, Part 1

Back in my house in the United States, after having traveled across the date line and through 16 time zones.

What a trip we have just taken!  I hope to convey with words and pictures just how fabulous our adventure was.  I anticipate it will take a couple of entries so check back if I don’t get it all done in one setting!

Readers of this blog will know that we have arranged to take along a number of friends with us on our journeys in the form of Flat Facsimiles:

My Flat Friends - that's Emily and Susan in the front!

We made 18 friends, including Aden, for whom Jesse assumed responsibility most of the trip:

Big Jesse working his magic at the kiosk in the airport

We had great luck on our trip to New Zealand – Nashville to Atlanta, Atlanta to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Sydney, Sydney to Queenstown, New Zealand!  Sam and Laura live on the North Island, and took a ferry to the South Island, then drove about 15 hours to meet us in Queenstown.

Queenstown Airport
view from the hotel in Queenstown

We spent the next day sightseeing the town, grocery shopping for the hike, driving Mr. Bongo on the WRONG side of the road, looking at Laura and Sam, the usual.

That's Mr. Bongo to Jesse's right

The countryside is just beautiful, and Queenstown is a little ski/tourist town near the Remarkables Mountain Range.  We enjoyed eating in town and shopping for the last few things we needed for the trip.

That's Dora pigging out on chips the day before the competition diet begins!

The next day, we parked the car at the Visitor Center and loaded up for our 4-day, 54 kilometer hike.

At the Visitor Center at Fjordlands National Park

Getting to the trailhead involved a bus ride and a boat ride through a beautiful area.

boat ride from Te Anau Downs to Milford Track Trailhead

The first day’s walk was only 90 minutes.  This hike, or Track as they are called in New Zealand, is an organized trail to 3 different huts over 4 days, with a group of 34 other hikers.  The huts are bunkhouses, and have a general cooking area with sinks (no hot water), and propane cooktops.  The group consisted of lots of Kiwis, some Aussies, some Germans, 2 other Americans besides us, 2 Brazilians, 2 from Czech Republic, 3 Israelis (more about them later), and 2 Dutch.

Trailhead - see how clean we are?
One of the many suspension bridges we crossed
That's a huge beech tree behind Sam

Because we had such a short walk the first day, we brought in salmon steaks for dinner, and they were DELICIOUS.  What’s the expression about hunger being the best appetizer?  We were starving, and Laura fixed couscous corn cakes and steamed broccoli too.

You have no idea how good this meal was!
my little bunk in the Clinton hut, with my Flats
look at this adorable girl!
not luxury, but so haaard to get out of in the morning!

So that takes us to the first night, so I’ll conclude this post and start another.

Thanks for reading!

Training….sort of

I want to state unequivocally that I fully understand the commitment to training that is necessary to compete in an event like the Ironman.  I fully understand the need to be dedicated and devoted to one’s training program. 

But, and I have a big but here (haha), there are times when life overrides training.  (Seems like there are been lots of these times lately, but it still stands).  Tomorrow morning, before light, we begin a journey to the other side of the planet.  Jesse and I are going to join Sam and Laura in New Zealand for a 4-day backpacking trip to the Milford Trek, billed by National Geographic as one of the Top 10 Hikes in the World.

Sam has arranged for the reservations necessary in the huts along the hike, and we begin hiking on November 12.  We won’t have cell or internet service, so no blog or Facebook posts until we come out at the end.  This is the whole Lord of the Rings area and the views are supposed to be spectacular!  So the training becomes 6-8 hours of daily hiking with a 30# backpack instead of swimmingrunningbicycling.  Just like last week for 6-8 hours of daily biking. 

There is a children’s book called Flat Stanley, where a paper representation of a real Stanley travels about; I have a Flat Family of my own, and am taking along 15 friends who have expressed an interest in traveling along.  There are laminated to withstand the damp weather we are expecting along the trail, and some are highly personalized facsimiles of their actual persons.

these guys are tagged individually on my Facebook page

On a more serious training note, Jesse surprised me today with my birthday/Christmas present – a new racing bike.  First step is to get fitted for it – a Specialized Roubaix that I have nicknamed BaixBaix (pronounced bay-bay).  Should be here when we get back from this trip.

the "fitting" - put a level between your legs like a bike saddle....ahem

And lastly, kudos to my girl Becky for completing her first Half-Marathon – you inspire me sweet girl!!

13.1 Done!

Thanks for reading – check back in a week to catch up!

running and strength training

Good to be back to something besides bicycle riding, at least for a week or so…

Today I had intended to run about 30 minutes on the property, but because it was such a beautiful day, and I was feeling so good, the dogs were with me, I’d been on the bike for 8 days, I just kept running.  Did the loop 3 times, so it was close to a 7 mile run, about and hour and 25.

Here are my running buddies:

my girl Boo
my girl Uga

Also had a great strength training session at SportsCom.

Three-way tie for iPod shuffle:  Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Dylan; Beautiful Liar, Beyonce; Here We Go, Dispatch (Live version)

Thanks for reading!

Follow-up blog for bike ride

Home again, home again, jiggety jog…

Just wanted to do one last posting for the conclusion of our bike ride.  We’re back home now, back to jobs, home, asphalt, and wanted to wrap up our postings of our Ride 09:  Pittsburgh to DC.

We left our hotel in Georgetown Monday morning with a pretty weak plan:  Ride around town, find mile marker zero on the canal, see the sites at the mall, come up with bike boxes, ride to the airport, fly home.  Notice anything wrong with that plan??  Maybe the “find the bike boxes, ride bikes to airport” part?  How big is a bicycle box?  Remember the pictures from the beginning of the trip?  Coincidentally, you can fit a bicycle into a bike box, so riding with one balanced on one’s bike might not be the best idea…

Flat posse on last day - see how they no longer have their little elastic tag? And what a mess they made in this hotel room!

Jesse spent the morning SHOWERING the bikes in the hotel room shower (true) and Gayle spent the morning, ummm, seeking and finding a Starbucks coffee shop (true).  As a side note, let me just tell you, our bags/dirty laundry REEKED.  We’d even done laundry at the halfway point, but we were still pretty stinky.  Too bad for the people downwind of us, and next to us on the airplane.

We found the historical marker in Georgetown,

intentionally left blank

and Mile Marker Zero (hint:  it’s very near the Watergate Hotel and the Kennedy Center)

started at MM 180 - after 200 on the other trails!

Then we zipped into DC for the obligatory sights:

Lincoln Memorial
Washington Monument (don't I look pretty here? - need more Starbucks)
Capitol Bldg

Then, because, believe it or not, Jesse had never been to Arlington, across the Lincoln Memorial Bridge we went.

crew mates of my dad's VP5 squadron who died in a crash in Greenland in 1962
Ted Kennedy's new marker
Iwo Jima Memorial which is hard to find

By now we’ve called a bike shop or two and struck out finding boxes…why, there’ll be some at the airport we can buy, of course.  So off we go on the Mt. Vernon Bike Trail which leads straight into the Reagan National Airport – kinda cool.

final trip picture - good, huh?

Anyway , in the interest of making a long story longer, no bike boxes at airport.  Get out the handy iPhone, start calling bike shops, find one nearby with boxes, Jesse starts disassembling bikes, Gayle gets taxi to shop, shoves 2 full-size bike boxes into small-size taxi (!), pack up bikes, get on flight to BNA via ATL, fly two legs, drive home, crawl ever so gratefully into bed.

All in all, fabulous trip.  Would we do anything differently?  Minor things:

 if you must start from the Pittsburgh airport, enjoy the Montour trail with all its imperfections.  If you have sag support, or the ability to begin at a different location, lop off those 45 miles and begin in the town of McKeesport, Pennsylvania on the Great Allegany Passage.  That’s a great trip by itself (3 days). 

If you want to, go ahead with the 3 days on the C and O Canal Towpath, but be prepared for lots and lots of mud and harder effort.  If you want just the flavor of the trail, just do the last 60 of the 180 mile trail, starting in Harper’s Ferry, coming into Washington DC, seeing the working lock, the Great Falls, etc.

The Continental Divide cuts the trip in about half, and the smartest of riders would begin at the Divide and go one direction, the get sag support back to the Divide and go the other direction – all downhill!!

Happy Trails!!

Thanks for reading!

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