Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


July 2010

Can’t believe we at in the last overnight town.

It happens every year.  We just get a good rhythm on Ragbrai, everyone’s hindquarters are beginning to toughen up, and here we find ourselves in the last town =(.

Today was a little challenging, as Ragbrai days go.  We started out today’s 62 miles in a mild drizzle.  That turned into a soft rain.  That turned into a downpour.  That was constant.  I don’t like riding in the heat, so I’ll take the rain (or a headwind – which comes later) over the heat any day, but I will admit that it was a bit on the brisk side with a saturated rain jacket and 30K speeds!  The worst part about bad weather is that the riders tend to put our heads down, leaving the townspeople with those hundreds of pies and rice krispie treats left over.  I stopped in the breakfast town and bought a cinnamon roll I didn’t really want, and 2 slices of lemon pound cake which was the best I’ve ever tasted.

The worst part for me was the first half hour when the rain washed all my sunscreen (I was optimistic) into my eyes and mouth.  About the time I was losing my good humor about the whole thing, the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and it turned into a fabulous day – the high was about 80, and although we had a headwind headed into the town of Manchester, it was just so pretty, it didn’t matter much.  I rode into town with Jesse and Sam, who gave me a boost or two on the last couple of hills (Sam, not Jesse – Sam told me he had been pushing Jesse before they caught up with me!)

In celebration of our last night, Ben and Kirsten cooked dinner – salad, pasta, bread – fabulous after a long day’s ride.  Dustin chimed in with salmon cakes that were out of this world.  We are now hoping to go toward the square for Glenda’s last night of performance.

One more exciting note:  today Aden learned to ride his bike without training wheels!  I’m not suggesting he’s Ragbrai ready, but he did great on his Transformers bike and was really proud of himself.  What a memory to have – I dropped my training wheels on Ragbrai!  He’s also a hula-hooping champion, and works the crowd while Glenda prepares to fire hoop.

All in all, a phenomenal Ragbrai.  We were so glad to have Aden with us, and so look forward to next year!

Check back for pics and as always, thanks for reading!

Best 7 days of the year

Charles City, Iowa.  Halfway day.

Weather is flawless.  It got a little warm yesterday, but then a storm front came through last night (soaking the tents), and we woke up to much cooler temps today, with even a low of 57 degrees tonight!

Our resident cook, Dustin, has offered to prepare dinner for us tonight – steak and salmon, fresh Iowa corn, squash, salad, and everyone’s choice of beverage (lemonade/vodka for yours truly).

Today was Amy’s first day to drive the bus, and she did a great job.  We have yet to find a designated driver for that bad boy, so we all take turns.  Gayle on Sunday, Ben on Monday, Sam on Tuesday, Amy on Wednesday, and then it starts over.  (Big Jesse gets to do every mile on the bike since he’s done his bus time in the weeks before the ride).  She did get pulled over by the Iowa State Patrol (on the 75th anniversary day), but I’ll let you ask her about that in person.

Since I last blogged, we have had a great time.  The team is solid with 19, including Aden, but not Uga and Boo – they are their own entities.  They are the bus mascots and garner more than their fair share of attention every evening.  We’ve been incredibly lucky with our “campsites” in each town.  We’ve parked close enough to the square for Glenda to walk in to do her evening shows.  She does about 3 sets (regular hoop, LED hoop, fire hoop), lays open the tip box, and has come home with a high count of $220.  For an hour’s work.  You read that right.  There are 18 of us pimping her to do more, but she’s right when she says it’s exhausting.  She’s been a huge hit, especially with nephew Aden doing his own hooping while she prepares her fire hoop.  O. M. G.  Wait til you see the video.  All to come when I get home the patch cord.

Last night we stayed in Clear Lake, Iowa.  Ring a bell?  It would have to Bobby Moss.  In the history of rock and roll, the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa holds a significant place.  It’s where the music died.  It’s the club where Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens (and the Bopper Richardson, who I don’t know) played their last show on Feb 2, 1959, before boarding an airplane and dying in that plane crash the next day.  The ballroom has been preserved in all its retro glory and we thoroughly enjoyed our tour, touched as it was with bittersweet thoughts of our boy.

I’m sorry I don’t have pics – they’ll all come in a rush when we get home.  Today Aden both fed and rode an elephant (please don’t ask me why there’s an elephant in Central Iowa, because I can’t answer).  Our rookies are killing the ride and except for a little minor road rash, we’ve all stayed safe and healthy.  This morning was team picture morning, which I always dread, but that went particularly well, in part because I dragged out everyone’s team jersey and rode them on my bike to the laundromat and back.

The bus has held up well, considering the abuse we put it through, and not an evening goes by that we don’t do at least one tour through it to show off Jesse’s handiwork.  We think we have the coolest bus here – and we look closely at everyone else’s.

If your significant person told you they would call regularly, it’s not because they are not trying.  These 20,000 cyclists simply overwhelm the network, and it’s so tough to get through.  Know that everyone is well and is having a blast.

Internet is slow and sketchy; I’ve been trying to blog the past 2 days and even now am not confident of the connection.

Sorry about the lack of pics – go to for general shots, and I’ll put mine up soon!

Thanks for reading!!

Iowa. Storm Lake. Ragbrai for the win.

Well, of all the things I forgot, the phone cord to put my pics on the computer has been the worst…

So…a blog without pics, til I get home.

We left Murfreesboro on Friday at 4:45 (record time – we had planned on leaving at 4 – that’s our PR for late departure).  We went to the south side of town to a truck stop for a fill up, and to see Jesse’s truck driver brother Ralph for a few minutes.  When we got back on the interstate, we got exactly one exit before we had to pull off because of brake trouble.  Super fix-it Big Jesse had us back on the road within about an hour.  We drove through the night (my personal shift was 10p-2am, and my driving buddy was Jordan, who was adorable asking me questions to keep me awake) and arrived in East Iowa to meet Ben and Kirsten around 6am.  They (and their crap) jumped on and we rode across the state and arrived in Sioux City around 4:00.

We had our riders’ meeting, assigned bus duties, and off we went to town.  Most of the team watched the Ragbrai documentary, “A Million Spokes”.  The town was festive and did a good job of welcoming us.  Smashmouth was the concert of the night – some of the team went to that, and said it was good.

This morning started with the sun, and off went the team in their stunning Livestrong-colored Team Fly jerseys – try to imagine it, but pics will come when I resolve my camera issue.  Aden is traveling in the kiddie-cart with Ben Daddy pulling him, with his squirt gun and DS – I’ve heard he was a little bored in the beginning, but I’ll get the complete report when they roll in.

I hate to do this to my Tennessee readers, but the high up here today was 84 degrees.  It’s now shady and cool at our camp site, and we’ll slip on sweatshirts later to go into town to see the vendors, eat some fried s**t on sticks, and watch Glenda hoop.  That’s the forecast for the week, with possible thunderstorms.

I don’t think I’ve done a very good job telling what a great time this.  We may not get the kids home for Christmas, but everyone marks their calendar for the last full week of July.  Glenda and I drove today, and even that was delightful.  Tomorrow is the century day – it’s an 80-something mile day with an optional loop to make 100.  Can not wait.

Stay tuned for more news, and maybe pics…

Thanks for reading!

Catch up

I said I would try to catch up the post, and since we leave for Ragbrai Friday and I’ll be wanting to post about that adventure, here’s the catch-up post!

When Amy and I left England, we left Glenda behind with BF Sam for another week.  We flew to JKF, then Atlanta where we got a short visit in with my brother who was recovering from surgery.  Then a quick drive home to Nashville, where son #2 had arrived from New Zealand.  If you’ve been reading the post for a while, you’ll remember that Sam introduced us to the NZ treat Tim Tam cookies (2 chocolate covered graham cookies with creme between).  The Tim Tam Slam has the added feature of dipping a corner of the cookie into hot chocolate and sucking the liquid through the cookies, completely disintegrating the whole chocolate gooey mess…

Tim Tam Slam!
Tim Tam Slam Instructor
ahhhhhhh, slam afterglow
Sam on Sally

Then we took the bus up to Gallatin for a trial run to a family get-together.  Aden went with us and we spent a delightful day catching up with relatives.

bus ride
the Three Sisters
some of the cousins

We played a bit with Amy’s hair, thanks to Shannon and her magic touch, and as I write this blog Glenda (who made it home from England) is in the chair having her turn going red/orange/yellow!  Pics to come.

Amy's new look

Last night we did yet another trial bus run – friends Emily and John, Shannon and the boys, Mike and brother Casey hopped in for a quick drive to dinner.

on the bus ride
The Pottses!
Shannon and Glenda
Joshua wiped out

So that brings us to now, at Shannon’s hair salon, still trying to get everything ready for Ragbrai.  The next blog should be Ragbrai-oriented as we leave Friday at 4.  Bus is great with the new turbo engine, and I’ll post pics of this years improvements.

Thanks for reading!

To London, to London…

…home again, home again, jiggety jog.

(If anyone knows where that rhyme is from, let me know!)

GREAT trip to England, what and all if it was only 5 days!  Amy and I are safe and dry at home; Glenda stayed behind to attend Sam’s college graduation, and to see his parents again.  There’s so much to tell, I’m going to let the photos walk me through the visit…

In March of this year, at the Lake Taupo Ironman in New Zealand, I met Irongirls Ali and Liz.  They live in Woodchurch, England (which is near Ashford, which is near Kent, which is near Canterbury) and are just about the nicest people I have ever met.  We became fast friends in the few days of race preparation, became Skype and Facebook friends, and have now established a fine tradition of transatlantic visiting!

The whole fam - George in Liz's lap, Monty in Ali's, Callie propping up the wall

We arrived in London where the girls met us and brought us to their absolutely charming country home about an hour’s drive south.  Callie and Monty, the canine contingency, and George, their feline counterpart, met us with wags and enthusiasm.

Monty's the little brown guy

Later in the day, Liz drove the girls and me to Canterbury where we left them in Sam Miller’s care.  (He’s working at the Embassy school again as director.)  That evening, Liz and Ali’s neighbors, Jade and Liam, had a cookout and I got to spend the evening listening to the delightful accents and trying to pick up on the nuances of British lingo.  The food was delicious – don’t believe what you hear about English food – this cookout was fabulous!

That night I had an adventure when, because I left my window open, I had an unexpected visitor:  a little lost bat came flying into, and then around, (and around and around) my bedroom.  I tiptoed to the girls’ room to let them know the noise they were about to hear was a bat roundup.  This was not as tricky as it sounds – he had lighted by the time I returned, so it was just a quick matter of covering him with a towel and flapping him back out the open window.

The next day the girls had a wedding to attend in London and I spent a luxurious day with no cell phone, no car, just me, my Kindle, the Tour on TV, and the pets.

I left the TV on the Tour channel - this is what came on afterwards: Dominoes on British television, for the win.
Sweet Liz configuring a bike for me

Sunday we took a delightful little bike ride around the English countryside – not on my list of 50, but should have been, and now can be marked off!  We went into the the town of Tenterden (?) where we had a scone (another first) and then later a bittershandy (half  bitters – kind of a beer – and half lemonade – most refreshing drink EVER!).

Scone, pronounced "scon" by my friends
Liam, Ali, and Liz and stop #1
beautiful English countryside
wild swans in a waterway along the road
our second stop for the bittershandy!

The next day the girls (daughters) and I met up and went into London.  Glenda and I have both been to the city, but Amy hadn’t, so we hit the usual tourist highlights on our walking tour.

outside the National Gallery
eating traditional Cornish Pasties at Covent Gardens
won't post the next shot that we made obscene with Big Ben...
Buckingham Palace

The next day, we went sightseeing in Canterbury, with its spectacular cathedral and quaint shops.

I couldn't help taking this picture of the colorful girls and colorful rose clusters
even more breathtaking than the picture suggests
tea at the cutest tea shop in Canterbury

Tuesday night found Amy and I back with the girls at their house.  We did a quick road trip to Hythe, a little coastal town where we had yet another traditional offering, fish and chips.

Alil doesn't ALWAYS wear a dog toy around her neck; only when it matches her outfit!

That night, we had yet another encounter with a bat, but this time I had help from Amy, Ali, and Liz in capturing the little bugger and flapping him back out the window.

Did I write that the girls had only just returned from their Ironman Austria experience?  I cannot resist posting this picture of their dining room.

Best Bike Shop, EVER.

I mentioned earlier in the post that Ali and Liz were about the nicest people I’ve ever known.  That is not just my subjective opinion; I can cite examples.

1.  I am infuriatingly spontaneous.  I sent Liz and Ali an email on Tuesday night telling them I’d be leaving Wednesday morning – they skyped me by 8am, insisting that not only would they pick us up in London at the airport, but that I would be staying with them with the use of their second car.

2.  They reminded me to pack my riding shoes and pedals for us to go for a ride.  Of course I didn’t get that done, so they configured a bike for me to use with my sneaks, even finding cages for the pedals!  This is not as easy as it sound since I’m so much taller than they are.

3.  They allowed me to take their precious Callie on a run with me along a trail loop.  (Honestly, she was not as much help with directions as she led me to believe she would be, but she was great company).

4.  I left the window open the day I went sightseeing in London.  The girls realized this when their experience with a bat began…3 bats in 3 days (beginning and ending with my arrival and departure).

5.  I ran out of English pounds in Canterbury and wasn’t able to get more, so the girls not only bought our fish and chips in Hythe, but Liz went in a dead sprint to and from a cash machine in an effort for us to catch our bus to Heathrow, which we didn’t succeed in doing, leading us to needing yet another ride to the train station, on a morning when they had an important council meeting to attend.

6.  In spite of the fact that I knew it was Great Britian, I neglected to pack any kind of a jacket.  I borrowed what turned out to be one of Liz’ favorite sweaters (jumpers), and she was nothing but gracious.

7.  They waited on me, offering me coffee, vodka!, food, first showers, more blankets, clean towels, and I expect Liz would have ironed my clothes if I ever wore ironed clothes.

These girls were the ultimate hosts, besides being warm and funny and interesting and kind.  I am inspired by them, moved by their relationship to one another, humbled to call them friends, and so looking forward to their visit to the U.S.  Love you Girls!!!!

I promise I’ve been working on my list of 50…since I last blogged, Sam has come home (woo hoo – after a year in New Zealand!) and now we are getting ready for Ragbrai, so I vow to update as soon as I can!

Thanks for reading!

Blogging at 35,000 feet

completely irrelevant to blog, just a pic to make you smile!

To my dear flight attendant:

I made a covenant of sorts with myself when I started writing this blog that no matter the time frame, no matter the insignificance, no matter the minutae of the moment, I would seize the opportunity to write about things which affected me; this is one of those moments.

I am on the plane, somewhere over the Atlantic, on my way to England to 1) share an adventure with my girls (refer to Promise Made To Children, 1993) and 2) to visit with my Irongirls, my friends Lizzie and Ali in Canterbury, my sweet sisters from Ironman Lake Taupo.  The girls (the daughters, not the friends) and I were very strategic in our planning and chose a flight most likely to allow us to ride in Business Class; we were successful in our strategy!  I am in seat 1B, and am peacefully digesting a delicious experience (cannot call it a lowly meal) of champagne, vodka-cranberry juice appetizers, steak, shrimp, salmon, cheesecake, port, and cheeses.  Around the second vcj-with-lime, my flight attendant (did you know you actually have “your” flight attendant up in business class?!  OMG) leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, “You have no idea how much I wish I were you right now!”  This came at a time when I had my feet up in the La-Z-boy seat, I was reading my Kindle, sipping my drink, and was chatting with my seat mate.

I live a life of gratitude.  For as long as I can remember, and particularly for all of my adult life, I have had profound moments of absolute and complete joy and bliss for simply drawing breath, having eyes that see and ears that hear and senses that feel and a tongue that tastes and a nose that smells.  Tonight, on this airplane, at that moment, I experienced one of those astounding events.

I love my job.  I love both halves of it:  the challenge of the personal training and the intensity and energy and commitment that it requires, and also the joy of the massage therapy and the calm and healing it brings.  But there are moments when, as I assume everyone does, even those of use who fiercely love our jobs, each of us would rather be in another place, doing another thing.  Sometimes when my posse is meeting for beer or wine after work and I still have a 5k run to help a client through, complete with cheerleading and encouragement and advice and direction, or another 90 minutes of massage on a muscular, damaged, aching body, I host my own little pity party of waawaawaa.

So, dear flight attendant, thank you for your 13-word comment.  Thank you for reminding me to let the moment take me.  Thank you for serving me and doing such a great job at YOUR job.  Thank you for being open, and honest, and genuine, and funny.  I hope you’ll read this, and it will give you a moment of gratitude and reflection.  Perhaps not; you have already served to help me appreciate a moment I would have thought I was already grateful for; thank you for showing me another angle of that gratitude, in a routine moment played out over and over and over again all around the world.

When you are relaxed and peaceful and having one of those spectacularly overwhelming moments of serenity and contentment, remember the girl in 1B, in whom you choose to confide, to whom you chose to be open….thank you.

Ben's chaco'd foot

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