Saturday, July 29, 2006

Oh...I know Mom!!!

So we're at the grand opening celebration for the new local bike shop in town, Surf City Cyclery and while we were waiting for the raffle to begin, we started browsing their selection of bikes. The tiny bikes caught Marcel's eye, but in an effort to keep him from hopping on and plowing into the titanium Litespeed bike, I encouraged the kids to keep walking and looking at all of the pretty new bikes.

That's when it happened. Two junior sized road bikes caught the eye of my eight year old, Gavin. Now the boy has been asking for a road bike since the day that I brought mine home and up until today, has been satisfied with my reply that they just didn't come in his size and that he would have to wait until he was oh...ten...yeah ten...that's how old he'll be when he'll fit onto a road bike. We round the corner and his eyes fix immediately on two bikes sandwiched between cruisers and mountain bikes.



There was no denying it at that point. He's tall enough for a junior road bike and he knew it. His eyes lit up as we checked out the Bianchi and the Specialized Allez Junior and he turned to me and said, "if I had one of these road bikes, I could ride with you mom." My heart melted and then I turned over the price tag...yikes. $570 for the Specialized Allez Junior and that was on sale. Luckily, Gavin had the perfect solution.

"Oh...I know Mom!!!! I can ask Santa for this bike for Christmas and then no one will have to pay for it!" Ahhh...if he only knew. Looks like it's time to start saving for Christmas presents from Santa.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I might have melted...

just a little bit. Yesterday I met up with a group of posters from Bike Forums for a ride from Irvine to Oceanside. When I saw the weather forecast a few days prior to the ride, I started my whining right then and there. They were calling for 94 degrees in Irvine and needless to say, that's entirely out of my comfort zone for sedentary activities...I couldn't fathom what it would be like cycling in it. Not wanting to be a wuss and back out, I decided to give the ride a shot and I'm glad that I did.

We met at 9:45 a.m. at the Irvine Amtrak Station and quickly started introductions. I knew that I would never be able to keep all of the usernames and real names straight, but I tried my best. I was thrilled to see that one of the forum members had brought his wife along and that another poster had brought another female friend. Nothing against the guys, but it somehow made me more comfortable to know I wasn't the only girl out there on the ride.


At 10:00 a.m. we were off and I soon realized that this ride was not going to be like any other ride I've done. It was fucking hot and only getting hotter. You have to understand that I'm a total wimp and that I normally avoid the heat entirely by riding at 5:15 a.m. More than once, the thought that I bit off more than I could chew crossed my mind. Of course, my ego was able to quiet those thoughts and I kept on pedaling, downing more water than I thought was humanly possible. At the time, had I known that it was hovering somewhere around 104 degrees while we were riding through Camp Pendelton, it probably would have killed the ride for me. I'm glad that I didn't have that confirmation until the ride was long over!


The promise of ocean breezes and cooler temperatures carried me through to Oceanside where we stopped for lunch and contemplated our next move. Some of the guys were planning to turn around after lunch and ride back to Irvine and two of the guys who rode up from Oceanside to meet us in Irvine were calling it a day. My original plan was to take the Amtrak or Metrolink back from Oceanside, but it seemed as though most of the group was going to continue on to Solana Beach. It was so much cooler in Oceanside and the rest of the ride promised oceanfront views and breezes, so I decided to keep on going after lunch. Our food choices in Oceanside were pretty limited, as not many places had outdoor seating that could accomodate all of our bikes. We finally settled on Dairy Queen, but not being able to stomach the thought of consuming actual food (if you can call it that) from there, I snuck off to the Mexican restaurant next door to grab some good food. One other rider had the same idea and we were thrilled to grab some yummy carne asada burritos, which we brought back to eat at DQ with the rest of the group.


After refilling our waterbottles for the second time, we were on our way to Solana Beach. The ride was gorgeous, though sketchy and unnerving at times with all of the cars parked alongside the road. I was feeling good up until the very last stretch when I thought to myself "I'm DONE!!!" Fortunately, the Amtrak station was a mere block ahead, so we really were done...with riding that is. We arrived at the station and had logged just over 62 miles for the day. It was my second longest ride so far, but with the rolling hills and the heat, it was by far my most challenging. By the end of the ride, I was a human salt lick.


Amtrak was having "issues" with a train and they were running behind schedule by several hours. When they finally got the train up and running they told us that no bikes would be allowed because the cars were full and that another train would be along shortly...of course, that didn't happen and we were finally allowed to board the third train. It was after 10:00 p.m. when I finally arrived home, exhausted and glad to see my kids who thought I had abandoned them.

Thanks to The Fixer who was our official photographer on wheels. I swiped some of his shots to add to my flickr site.

A big thanks to all of the riders yesterday who kept me going with their encouraging comments. It was more than a little intimidating to know that I would be riding with all of these experienced riders, but they made me feel very welcome.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes...


Why hello Mr. Armstrong. This my friends, is proof that women do indeed ogle men. This picture was mentioned on a thread entitled "Lance eye candy" on a women's cycling forum and damn...did I mention that it's getting hot in here? One of the posters said that she had a framed Annie Leibowitz print of Lance Armstrong naked on a bike in the rain and I had to see this myself. Feeling confident that Google Images would not fail me in my quest, I set off on my search...

Annie Leibowitz Lance Armstrong-nope
Annie Leibowitz bike-nope
Annie Leibowitz Lance-nope
Lance Armstrong nude- little tiny picture...but getting closer
Lance Armstrong naked- nope
Lance Armstrong Vanity Fair- ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

Damn! Can I say damn anymore in this blog? I probably could and will, but look at him. Damn! Now that's some nice eye candy.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Unexpected Metric

4:05 a.m. That's the time that my alarm went off this morning. I got out of bed, threw on my shorts and jersey and started making breakfast and coffee. Oatmeal with protein powder and frozen strawberries...YUM! After eating and gathering my gear, I set out to meet Tiff and Clark at a park near the Santa Ana River Trail in Huntington Beach. Clark is a Spinning instructor at our gym and has had to endure our neverending road cycling questions for the last couple of months, so we thought it was only fair to invite him along on a ride with us.

Clark and Tiff getting an early start

In case it looks like Clark is bordering on giant status, he is. The man is ginormously tall...six foot eight to be exact. We figured that we'd be safe riding through the darkness with him in tow. We set off across the wooden bridge where I'm never sure if I'll actually make it to the other side, or if today might be the day that I plunge to my death into the Santa Ana River bed below. It seems like every fourth plank is loose and riding across it makes an awful racket. I'm still trying to decide whether the *ride it as fast as you can and get the fuck off* or *take it slow and steady so if the bridge collapses you have a chance to grab on* approach is best. I pretty much alternate between the two and I've survived. So far.

Since the Santa Ana River Trail is flat with the exception of the underpasses, the ride was less challenging mentally than the hilly ride that we did last week. The biggest challenge was sitting in the saddle for an extended period of time. It was nice to do a steady ride to gauge our endurance for the upcoming century. I was able to get the hang of eating on the bike and not having to stop to refuel and I felt much better over the course of this ride than I did last week. It's amazing what a difference eating just a few hundred more calories over the ride make. Well...that and no hills ;)

Clark and Tiff riding the SART along the 91 fwy

Yours truly

If you look closely in the upper right corner of my picture above, you can see the sign that says "Orange County Line." I say it on almost every ride that I take, but it still amazes me how cycling makes the county seem so much smaller to me. Maybe it's because I don't really enjoy driving and sitting in traffic, but I'm finding that I totally enjoy riding to someplace that is 30 miles away.

Clark and Tiff crossing the bridge in HB

Our timing on the ride back was great, the headwinds hadn't picked up too much yet and we were able to keep a good pace. Clark had a lunch meeting to be at, so after we crossed the bridge we said goodbye and he headed back down to LeBard Park, while Tiff and I continued down to the beach, determined to finish the entire Santa Ana River Trail. As we approached PCH I asked Tiffanie where we were mileage wise and she said that we were at 58 miles. I looked at her and know...if we ride up the beach trail for just a little bit before turning around, we'll bag a metric century. She started talking about having to go get her TB test read at the doctor and I turned the pleading up a notch and she quickly changed her mind. Honestly, it didn't take much to sway her. As soon as we hit the beach path the headwinds hit us and it felt like someone turned the air conditioning on. Relief from the soaring felt so nice! We turned around before we got to Newland and started the ride back. Damn. There went our nice air conditioning and now it felt like the oven was on. No worries though, we were almost done. The ride back was quick and when we pulled into the parking lot we realized that we had gone over 63 miles! It was a great ride and we exceeded our mileage goal for the day by six miles. Can't wait for the next one. :)

Riding Time: 4:28
Total Time: 4:49
Distance: 64 miles
Avg Speed: 14.2

Saturday, July 08, 2006

On the road to Los Angeles's not far, but I did have to drive on two different freeways to get there. Our trip today is brought to you by the manufacturers of NoAd sunscreen. Thanks to their crappy product, my kids are one burn closer to skin cancer (insert mommy guilt here) and our weekend plans to lounge around the pool and be lazy were thwarted. Being stuck in the house with three children arguing and whining didn't sound like a ton of fun, so I needed an alternative that didn't involve large amounts of sunshine. When James announced that he was carpooling to work today, I jumped at the opportunity to snag his little 38 mpg car and drive the kids up to use our museum passes in LA. I've been promising them a trip, but I'm boycotting longer trips thanks to my gas guzzling truck and my propensity for being a cheap ass.

Normally we head up to Exposition Park and visit the Natural History Museum and California Science Center, but today our destination was a new one. They've resumed their summer excavation of Pit 91 so we headed up to the George C. Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. The minute that we got out of the car the kids found a fenced off tar pit in the parking lot and they immediately bombarded me with non-stop questions. Why is it bubbling? Where is it coming from? Is it hot? Are there dinosaurs in there? Why is there trash in there? Why would an animal go in there? Why couldn't they get out? Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Stop shouting at me and wait until we get into the museum young ones, and all of your questions will be answered.

We wandered around inside of the museum for a few minutes before deciding to heading outside to Pit 91 to check out the excavation before it closed for the day. We carefully studied the chart that listed the Ice Age fossils that have been found this season...sabertooth cat, ground sloth and coyote among others and we matched up the colored flags to the bones down in the excavation pit. Moving on, we took some time to look at some of the other pits around the park and enjoyed watching some big bubbles form in one of the larger pits.


Starting to melt from the heat and realizing that we were supposed to be inside and out of the sun today, we walked back toward the museum. Perfect timing, we walked in right as the educational movie was starting so all of the questions that the kids had were answered, and then some. After the movie we wandered over to the paleontology lab and then onto a great display of over 400 Dire Wolf skulls, which represent just a small portion of the number that they have discovered at Rancho La Brea.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Brandy on Santiago Canyon Road

Brandy on Santiago Canyon Road
Originally uploaded by cyclemama.

Tiffanie on Santiago Canyon Road

View from Santiago Canyon Road

View from Santiago Canyon Road
Originally uploaded by cyclemama.

Tiffanie choking down a Clif Shot gel...she almost puked after I took this picture!

Originally uploaded by cyclemama.

We did it!!!

The clock is ticking and the Cool Breeze Century is just six weeks away. Tiffanie and I decided that we needed to step up our mileage this week, so we've been rising before the sun and getting out for some early morning riding before it gets too hot. Monday and Wednesday we did just over 25 miles each day and the plan for Thursday was to do a long and hilly ride.

I mapped our route and came up with a plan to leave the Back Bay area in Newport Beach and ride through Irvine and up to Santiago Canyon Road looping back around through south county and back to our starting point. As I planned the route, I noticed that it had a little more climbing than we were accustomed to. Okay really. It had a shitload of climbing in comparison to the very flat routes that we normally take along the coast here in west Orange County. Feeling great about our rides earlier in the week, we felt ready to take this one on.

3:45 a.m. and my alarm is going off. As I walk down the stairs I hear little couldn't be...yes. 2/3 of my kids are awake and sitting at the kitchen table drawing. What the hell?!?!? James tells me that they woke up when he got in from work a little after 1:00 a.m. and they were just so cute that he couldn't send them back to bed. Ummm...okay. They're your problem now buddy, I'm going riding! I ate breakfast gathered my things and drove off into the darkness.

I arrived at our starting point and noticed that today was street sweeping day where I had planned to park. Okay...plan B. Off to the Ralph's parking lot up the road. Some employees were arriving and I asked one of them if they had a bathroom inside that I could use and the guy tells me that the store is closed. Fine. I'll just pee in a bush in your parking lot then. Thanks.

After the illegal public urination, we set off into the early morning and quickly hit the San Diego Creek Trail. It was a beautiful ride with baby bunnies hopping on and off of the trail every so often. Once we hit Harvard we hopped off of the trail and onto the road. We worked our way through Irvine and up to Portola, finally hitting Jamboree and facing our first climb of the day. Ho-leeeeeeeeeeeeee shit. As a climbing novice, I actually thought I could take this in my middle ring and gave it a damn :::huff::: good :::puff::: try :::huff::: before :::puff::: figuring out that NOW would be a good time to drop into my granny gear. Whew! That's better! Spin, spin, spinning up the hill, we reached Chapman and our turn onto Santiago Canyon Road.

One small hill out of the way and we decide it's a good time to stop and try out some gel for the first time. I had the PowerBar gel in Strawberry Banana and Tiff had the Clif Shot Razz flavor. It was our first experience with gels, and with great reluctance and uncertainty, we ripped open our tiny packages. First taste...not too bad,'s sweet and thick...too sweet...ewwww...need water pronto! I look over at Tiff as she's sucking hers down and snap a picture. Right after I took it she was seriously on the verge of hurling...wish I would have captured that moment!

Setting off from our gel experience, we enjoyed the rolling hills of Santiago Canyon and come up on our first downhill. I keep hearing cyclists talk about how the fun descents make the climbing worth it, but as a new cyclist I was terrified of the thought of going downhill...until today. What a rush! I didn't even think once about braking and once I was down that first hill I was thirsty for more and couldn't wait for the next one. I turned around and could tell right away that Tiff was feeling the exact same way. The cool cloud cover, the smells, the beautiful scenery, it was all perfect!

The rest of the ride on Santiago Canyon went by too quickly and before we knew it, we were passing Cook's Corner and the Aliso Creek Trail entrance. Oops! Luckily Tiffanie noticed right away, so we turned our bikes around and hit the trail. We had planned to take the trail down to Muirlands but we were stopped by a detour sign and another cyclist turning around mentioned something about a large tractor on the trail and he told us to cut over to Los Alisos and then hop back on the trail down the road. After a detour through Mission Viejo we finally hopped back on our planned route in Irvine and made our way back to the San Diego Creek Trail. I was feeling a little bit hungry at this point, but we decided to keep pushing and eat after the ride. As we came up on Back Bay and the turn onto Eastbluff I hit a wall. I don't know if it was the smells of fresh asphalt and smoke as the workers re-paved that section of Jamboree or the fact that mentally I knew that I was a mere 1/4 mile away from the car, but my body just didn't feel like going any more. I slowed way down up the last little section of Eastbluff, but I made it to the truck and by that time I was starving! Tiff mentioned that stretching would probably be a good idea and I agreed. It's a little hard to hold stretches when you're greasy and grimey from sweat and sunscreen, but I did my best and then we were outta there.

We drove over to Starbucks on PCH and Bayside and made a beeline for the bathroom where I splashed my face off with water. Feeling slightly more presentable, I went to join Tiff in line and placed my order. Venti Coffee Light Frappucino, chicken caesar salad sandwich and reduced fat banana chocolate chip cake. Food never tasted so good! As we scarfed our food we both felt our mental alertness coming back to us...we had both been feeling a little fuzzyheaded after the ride. We realized that we should have stopped after we got off of the Aliso Creek Trail and grabbed some food to refuel at that point. 50 miles on one energy gel and one Luna Bar just wasn't enough. It was a good lesson learned though and we'll know better for next time.

Riding Time: 3:58
Total Time: 4:38
Distance: 51.9 miles
Avg Speed: 13
Max Speed: 30.7

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Photographic evidence...

that bringing a flat iron camping with you is a good thing. Look at that hair. Does that look like the hair of someone who had already been camping for five days? Good of the important things in life, even when you're camping.