Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day, flying the nest and Love 105

I had to work today (Father's Day) so Tammy, Rachel and I went out for dinner Friday night. We called ahead to Outback Steakhouse and got our name on the list to shorten our wait for a table. I don't think we've ever been disappointed with our food or service there.

Tammy had asked me what I wanted for Father's Day and my reply was 'a chamois' for cleaning our cars. She gave me a funny look but I told her that I could really use a new one and that I'd be happy if that's what she got me. Anyway, sitting at the restaurant she brought out a couple of gift bags for me to open. Inside the first bag, I found a sweet new camera. We were browsing cameras a couple of weeks ago at the evil BestBuy but I wasn't very intent on buying least not from them. (It's a bit of a story and can be found here) The camera she bought me is much nicer than those I was considering at BB. It's a Panasonic Lumix They also bought some accessories to go with it including a 1gb memory card. Needless to say, I was very surprised and pleased with the gift. To top it off she told me she got it at Ultimate Electronics and not BestBuy. I haven't had much time to play with it yet but managed to snap this yesterday morning.

We've got a family of Wrens living in the birdhouse in our front garden. The little ones have been chirping quite a lot and poking their heads out the entrance. If they didn't already leave yesterday I'm pretty sure they'll be gone today or tomorrow. I captured this video of them last week. I suppose I could take a chance and set the camera up for a couple of hours today with hopes of catching the little ones in the process of leaving the nest but that's truly a long shot.

Lately, I've been listening to a reformatted radio station, Love 105. They went from alternative rock to a '60s - '70s format. Stations have come and gone playing similar music but these guys are doing it right in that they're playing some of the more obscure stuff. It's odd hearing some of these songs in an FM format as I'd previously only heard them through my old AM clock radio or the AM radio in the car. It would be fun to hear them the way I used to—stripped-down and tinny from a piece of crap speaker.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The law of averages or is that God speaking to me?

Tammy was out of town with her mother and an aunt over the weekend. She'll put well over a 1000 miles on her wheels before she returns sometime tonight. I was able to get out and take advantage of some beautiful weather, if not just a bit breezy, for some nice rides over the last few days.

I got up early Friday morning to take the little guys for a walk so as not to leave them feeling neglected while I spent the day on my bike. I ran into a neighbor, Tom Ferguson, as we were finishing our walk. He was curious about my riding and wondered how I handled the occasional flat tire. I told him how flats weren't really much of a problem as I'd sometimes go over a thousand miles without flatting. I carry two tubes with me and seldom have I ever had to use them both on a ride. But what if I flat twice he wondered? Tom is a pilot for Northwest and I'm sure it's only natural for him to think in terms of worst-case scenarios. I told him that if I were to flat 3 times during a ride that I have a patch kit I carry with me for just such a thing. I thought for a moment and realized that I actually didn't have the kit in my current ride's saddlebag—it was on my other bike. Note to self: just to be sure, have the patch kit with me for today's ride.

I was on the road by 7:30 pressing into a northwest breeze. One mile from home I came upon a crashed motorcycle. The rider had already been taken away by ambulance while his bike was laying on its side on the shoulder as two police officers directed traffic.

I was intent on going long this day but wasn't sure just what that meant; hopefully something on the other side of 100 miles. I picked my way through to Hwy 7 in Excelsior then headed west. I had gone this way several times last year and now find it to be one of my favorite rides with a mix of heavy traffic to rolling two-lane highways with moderate amounts of traffic. Here's the route I took.

The wind kept me slowed for the first 55 miles but once I was able to turn my bike out of the wind I started making good time toward home. I had to add some mileage to the ride as Hwy 212 was under construction east of Cologne. It forced me on to roads I otherwise wouldn't have taken but I was glad for the diversion.

Just south of Carver I had an older guy on a moped pull out onto the road ahead of me. I could see that he was watching me in his mirror as his head was cocked the entire time I was behind him. I found a flat stretch where I dialed the speed up and rode alongside then in front of him. In time, I came to a steady climb and he left me behind.

Now I come to 'the law of averages or is that the voice of God speaking to me' part of this story. As I was telling my neighbor Tom that I seldom flat. Coming across the Minnesota River into Shakopee I flatted. No big deal. I was back on the road a few minutes later having changed out the rear tube. Not more than a dozen miles later I'm pushing through Prior Lake when I feel a sponginess in my tires. I figured it had to be something with the road's surface as the odds of flatting both tires at the same time were pretty slim. It wasn't the road surface. Both tires were going flat. I pulled over a bit disgusted as I just wanted to finish the ride now.

About this time a rider from Silver Cyclists rode by without so much as an 'everything okay?'

I found a tac in the front tire. I pulled it out and pitched it into some tall grass off to the side so it wouldn't make its way back to the road. It was a small puncture so I used my patch kit to make the repair saving my last spare tube for my rear tire. In my haste to repair the rear tire, I didn't check to see if the object which caused the flat was still embedded in the tire. I slapped the new tube in, pumped it up and rode off only to find that I was experiencing my 4th flat of the ride a few moments later. I knew what had happened. Sure enough, there was a broken nail still sticking in the tire which had now gotten me twice.

Back on the road for the final stretch home trying to find a rhythm after being sidelined for much of the last 30 minutes. It was still a good day on my bike all things considered. I brought it in with just under 129 miles. I hope to continue going out for some longer rides on Fridays and possibly turn out a double century (200 miles) in the next month.

I got to thinking about the conversation I'd had with Tom before the ride and how it prompted me to make sure I had my patch kit with me on this ride for without it I would've been dead in the water trying to thumb a ride home the final ten miles from Prior Lake. Was it the law of averages which caught up with me? I've never experienced four flats in one ride. There is also another consideration and that is that the conversation with Tom was actually a prompting to be prepared for what I would experience later in the day. But it wasn't Tom who was prompting me. I speak with Tom maybe a couple of times a year. Without our conversation, I'd have most likely headed out that morning unprepared for what I would face. How else do you explain the events of my day? Coincidence? I prefer to believe that God talks to us in many ways and you have to be open to His urgings. Does God really care about my ride or whether or not I'm prepared to handle a flat tire? Yeah, I think He does. But that begs the question: why wouldn't God simply keep me from flatting in the first place? I think what it's really all about is that God dealt with me in a very simple way to show me that He's there with me not only in the small details but in the entire mix of my life actively prodding me.

Do you ever notice His influence in your life?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Deborah and Mark, wine tasting and poor taste

My cousin Deborah came into town on a few hour layover Memorial Day with her Fiancé, Mark. She and Mark have been engaged for a few months and until recently it's been a guarded secret.

Jerry and Jackie picked them up at the airport and brought them by our house for pizza. It was nice to spend time with all of them. Of course I had to break out the video camera for an addition to my YouTube account. Being the proud parents that we are we also had to pop in the DVD of Rachel's recent dance recital. Toby and Allie loved all the attention. It would've been nice to have a few more hours with everybody. I need to make more of a point of getting up to see Jackie and Jerry. They're only 40 miles away but they may as well be 400 miles away for as infrequently as we get together.

I had a really nice ride yesterday. I got up early and took the pups for a walk then got suited up and was on the road by 7:30 am. I've done a lot of riding this year but no rides pushing the 100-mile mark. I headed to Hastings then veered southeast in the direction of Red Wing. I was in Red Wing by 10:15. I stopped and got a quick bite then crossed the river into Wisconsin where I worked the hills along Hwy 35 and some of the back roads. Of all the rides I do I think I enjoy this one the most. I was strong yesterday but I rode conservatively as I wasn't sure how my body would react after I'd been on the road 4+ hours. As it turned out I finished the ride with plenty to spare. Had we not had plans for later in the afternoon I may have kept going for a couple more hours. I finished the day with 112 miles and a very satisfying feeling.

Tammy and I went to Alexis Bailley Vineyards last night for a wine tasting. It's not that we're all that big on the wines they produce but it's a nice time. Last year we met some friends out there and made a full day of it. Being as I work Saturdays this year we had to plan it for Friday night. We made it through all the samples but didn't find any we had to have. Their reds are either too tart or too sweet. The whites are nice but I took a pass on the chance to make a purchase. Instead, we headed to Sam's Club liquor store where they've got a fine selection and the best prices around.

While we were standing in line at Sam's Tammy noticed the guy in front of us was wearing a crude T-shirt from Team Hard. Not one to be shy about speaking her mind she made a comment to me about the shirt which the guy picked up on. He asked her if she was referring to his shirt and Tammy said yes. He told her it was free speech which was when I told him he was about to get some free speech from her. She proceeded to tell him that she didn't think the shirt was appropriate and that if he was going to wear it in public he should expect to have people voice their objections to it. As it turned out the cash register had a glitch so he was stuck for an extra couple minutes listening to her complain about his shirt. I had to laugh.