Friday, August 31, 2018

Rested and Ready, I Hope

Tammy took me out to see our first game at Target Field for my birthday last Saturday night. Neither of us follows baseball and I could only name one player on the Twins but we were there for the experience more than anything. The Twins lost but that didn't matter. We enjoyed ourselves and both commented that we'd like to do it again. We even drank beer and munched on salted peanuts the way real fans do.

I golfed in the annual retirees Red Eye Memorial golf tournament Tuesday. There were off and on rain showers the first 2 hours of the tournament but the rain let up by the time we made the turn. It's always a fun time, especially the gathering at a local pub in town where we get a chance to catch up with one another afterward. There were two older men in our foursome, Archie and Roger, age 84 and 87 respectively, and I was so impressed by them. I would not have guessed their ages based on their golf swings. They both said that staying active is the key. They didn't have to convince me of that. I have a difficult time sitting still for very long.

I took all of last week off my bike. I've been riding quite a bit more than usual the past 5 weeks in preparation for tomorrow's annual Dawn to Dusk ride put on by the Silver Cyclists group out of Lakeville, and it finally caught up with me. I did a 110 mile (177 km) ride two weeks ago this Sunday and although I felt fine on the ride, the next day it hit me hard that I needed a rest. I spent the next several days in such a tired state that I couldn't even consider riding. My resting heart rate was about 12 beats higher than its normal 38 - 41 beats per minute. That's a sure sign that my body needed a rest. I sprinkled in some walks over the next 10 days but that was all.

I went out with Rob and Steve Wednesday morning for a few hours of easy spinning. I'm good-to-go for tomorrow's big ride and my bike is ready. I'll be leaving from home in the dark around 5:30 to rendezvous with a group of about a dozen others. We plan to roll out at 6:00, a few minutes before sunrise and return around the time it finishes its arc across the sky. We'll hook up with a group of about 30 riders in Northfield and they'll lead us out to a point about 20 miles south of the city. We'll take it from there. I'm quite sure it'll be dark by the time I get home after a celebratory beer with the finishers. I've added a headlight to my bike.

For anybody interested, I'll put a link to my Strava beacon on Facebook that will show our progress throughout the day. I believe it updates every 30 seconds. Here's a link to our intended route. The weather forecast couldn't be better with a temp in the low 80s (27ºc) and light northwest winds.

Our hummingbird feeders have been getting lots of use lately by a pair of hummingbirds that I'm quite certain are the same pair that returns each year. They're especially active now as they work to store up as much fuel as possible for their long journey south to warmer climes -- a journey that takes a couple weeks. I expect they'll begin that journey in the next few days.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Toby is 15 and Too Much of a Good Thing

I'm sitting out on the deck with the pups, listening to Augustana while a hummingbird chirps its dissatisfaction at my presence. The cool evening air feels nice. If I never see another 90º day again in my life that's fine with me.

Our city, Lakeville, has contracted with a company to get its residents a discounted price on the preventative treatment of our ash trees for the Emerald Ash Borer. It's a daunting little bug that will destroy any ash trees in its path if the trees aren't treated with a chemical. We had 2 of our 3 ash trees treated last week at a cost of around $120 each for a 2-year application. Because it stands on the boulevard, the remaining tree will hopefully be treated by the city next spring, or so they say.

I'm a little late to the party but I finally signed up for Nextdoor, the neighborhood social media site where people can post about events in their neighborhood; lost animals; items for sale; reckless drivers, and whatnot. I'm not sure how much I'll use it but in less than an hour after signing up I was able to find a new owner for a fertilizer spreader I no longer needed. I was surprised to see how many of my neighbors had already signed up; I would estimate around half. 

Toby turned 15 a few days ago but he didn't feel much like celebrating. We'd had him in to see the vet a couple days earlier and he's still not fully recovered. This is such a difficult phase in his life and I feel so bad for him. He can only hear loud clapping noises, and his vision is limited due to cataracts. He shows little interest in walks anymore, and up until a few months ago, he used to love them. I was able to get him out for a little less than half a mile yesterday and he surprised me by sprinting home from a few houses away. He still has that in him. Hopefully, he'll be up for walking more when the weather turns cooler.

I couldn't be more pleased with the external power pack I bought from Garmin to power my Edge 820 on longer rides. Without it, my 820 is only good for maybe 9 hours at the most, and that's not enough especially when I'm in unfamiliar places and I'm in map mode where power is drained more rapidly. There are less expensive ways to attach an external power source but I like the way these two pieces work together.

I got up early Sunday for a longish ride and was on the road a few minutes before sunrise. There's something about a Sunday morning that no other day of the week can compare to because of the lack of traffic -- especially the route I took to the south into a light wind. It's not a stretch for me to say that it's somewhat of a spiritual thing for me out there with so little to distract me from my thoughts.

I'm taking a few days off my bike to let my body more fully recover from all of the riding I've been doing. I'm over-trained. I like seeing how many miles I can ride in a week but there's a price to be paid and walking around sleepy all the time is part of that price, as is being more prone to illness. I like that I'm itching to ride because that means I'm not burnt out. That's never a good place to be. I look forward to riding the trails at Murphy again on Thursday.

I'm hitting the links tomorrow morning with some fellow retirees. Willingers Golf Club in Northfield is now part of the PCC membership that many of us belong to and we're going to check it out. It's been at least 25 years since I've played there, and of all the courses I used to play in my younger years, it was one of my favorites. I would guess it's in the top-ten of courses in the metro area.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fair Talk, Plotting Courses, and Lots of Pedaling

I was plotting out a course on my laptop late one night last week for a bike ride the next day when I received an Etsy notification that one of my large stained glass panels had sold. A notification that should've caused a feeling of elation, caused instead my heart to sink a little because I was sorta hoping none of my larger pieces would sell. We enjoy having them in the windows of our sun-porch, and they help prevent birds from crashing into the windows the panels hang in front of. I have them on my site to display my ability more than anything. I quickly accessed my Etsy account and increased the price on the other remaining 6 large panels to soften the blow should they too sell some day. The panel that sold was the first of the larger panels I did last winter. I'll be making another to replace it when I finally find my way back into the studio in a few months.

We made it to the Dakota County Fair last Thursday to continue our tradition of watching the demolition derby. Maybe it's because Rachel couldn't be there with us, or maybe the derby didn't quite live up to our expectations but it was sort of a letdown this year. We left after 3 heats. I was talking with a neighbor who was also there with her daughter that night and they too were disappointed, leaving the same time we did. We kicked around the fair for a while afterward taking in some of the exhibits and getting our fill of fair food. It's our warm-up to the State Fair! I mentioned to Tammy how Tim used to love coming to this local fair.

The route planner (mentioned above) I was using to plot my bike ride is the one found on RideWithGPS. It's a nifty tool. I made a tutorial video for it in 2009 and the guys at RideWithGPS stumbled onto it and used it on their site for years before making their own. It's especially useful for mapping longer routes where I'm riding in areas I'm not very familiar with. It suggests less traveled roads but it won't distinguish between paved or gravel, and I really wish it did. Instead, I'll drag the little Google man over the road I'm considering using to see the Google Street View of it and what its surface is. I've been using the program quite a lot lately.

Between my fat-tire bike and my road bike, last week was a big week for me on the trails and on the road. I had 260 miles in my legs for the week before deciding to attempt a double century (200 miles) ride on Sunday. It all worked out well but there was a time around 4 hours into the ride where I was seriously thinking of abbreviating the ride and giving it a go another day. The forecast wind was for 7 mph out of the south but it was easily 12 to 15 mph instead and it was putting the hurt on me as I tried to keep my speed up. It didn't help matters that my #2 knee wasn't at all happy with the extra demand I was placing on it. I kept telling myself that once I got to the halfway point and I could put the headwind to use as a tailwind I'd be okay. And I was.

It was difficult staying hydrated with the temp in the lower 90ºs (33º c) but I was able to find places along my route to grab some Gatorade and get back on the road. I find these little guys especially useful for getting a quick fix of sugar into my muscles to fuel me. The extra stops added to my overall time but I had no other choice. As determined as I was to stay hydrated, I still lost 3.4 lbs by the time I finished.

Here's a link to my ride on Strava or click the image to the right and then click it again after it opens for a zoomed in view of the route I took.

I kept Tammy updated on my position through the use of a beacon sent to her phone via Strava, a site I use to track my rides. It updates my position every 30 seconds. I like that she's able to take a quick look and see that I'm still making progress. She can send texts to my Garmin Edge 820 (cyclocomputer) which gives me a few canned responses to use for a reply. it's simple and quick. I love technology!

There's no better time during the week to go out riding than Sunday morning. The streets are quieter then than at any other time. It was a little foggy to start but with my front and rear strobes, I felt comfortable that I was being seen.

I'm not certain that I'll still be doing the double century ride with Silver Cyclists that I spoke of in my previous entry. I'm more of a solo rider after all but I've done the hard work to get myself in shape so I just may show up and help out.

That's all I've got.



Video from a ride into Wisconsin on Monday. There's a map to my route at this link on Strava.



Sunday, August 5, 2018

A Living Legend and Summer Traditions

I received this message on Google Hangouts back in June: "Hi, Kevin! I am a journalist (freelance, though this piece is for Jalopnik) and I am writing about someone you know. Wanted to see about having a quick interview with you."

I wasn't sure what to think so I messaged him back: "Sure."

The person contacting me is named David and he was doing a story about a man who lived next to us for several years in the late '60s and early '70s -- Jim Barbour. In doing his research about Jim, David came across this piece I'd written ten years earlier where I talked a little about Jim, or Mr. Barbour as I knew him. He said my blog post was about the only thing he could find online about him and he wanted to know if I had some time to share any additional memories or thoughts I may have about Jim that he could possibly use in the article he was writing. I was happy to help.

We spoke on the phone for 20 minutes. I told him of my intrigue with Mr. Barbour as I'd often see him out in his driveway tinkering with his blue Austin-Healey Sprite race car, and how cool it was when I learned that he raced it at the track in Brainerd. I also spoke of how it apparently wasn't lost on anyone in the neighborhood that a black family was moving in and how I sensed a level of concern that wasn't there for any of the other white families when they moved into their newly built homes in our neighborhood between Jefferson High School and Hubert Olson Elementary/Junior High in Bloomington.

David published his piece a few days ago, and it's very good. I believe he told me he spent 15 hours over the course of 2 days with Jim to gather as much history about him as he could. My contribution didn't make it into his story but it may in a future continuation piece or on David's podcast. No worries. I'm just happy to see Jim's story told.

From Tuskegee Airman to Racing Godfather, Jim Barbour Is the Living Legend You Don’t Know About

I'm beginning to get excited to get back down in our glass shop and come up with some new stained glass designs to bring to life. I woke up to a notification a few days ago informing me that I'd sold 2 small sun-catcher panels overnight; this in addition to another I'd sold a couple days earlier. It's not as though my pieces have been flying off the shelves of my Etsy site so this was a pleasant surprise. But my shop will have to wait until the snow begins to fall. That's just the way it is.

One of our traditions in the summer is a trip to Rochester to spend an afternoon with Rachel, taking in the food, music, and artists selling their work downtown at the city's weekly Thursdays on First and 3rd event during the summer. It's always a nice time for us to get together and catch up on whats happening in her life. She's really made Rochester her home and is putting her roots down there. We can understand why. She's continually running into friends along the way while we're with her and we couldn't be happier for her. She's thriving there.

Tammy and I made it out to the Uptown Art Fair Friday afternoon and into the evening -- another of our summer traditions. We really enjoyed ourselves, taking in the various artwork for sale and conversing with many of the artists. As a bonus, we came away with some nice pieces of art as well. Tammy spotted a print of a painting that she'd mistaken for a photo. She called me over to have a look and I could see why she liked it. Without much hesitation, we decided to purchase it. It's titled Serenity, and it hangs on a wall in our kitchen.

I had a long ride of 170 miles (254 km) on Tuesday as part of my training for the Dawn to Dusk 207 mile (333 km) ride with the Silver Cyclists club in Lakeville a month from now. I could've done the full distance on Tuesday but that wasn't the point. I'm simply trying to get some decent base miles in my legs so I have both the confidence and stamina to do the ride with enough strength in my legs to go even further if I wanted. I could go into the ride less fit and draft among the group, having them pull me home but I'd rather I be able to take my turns at the front and show the young ones that this guy isn't ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

That's all I've got.