Friday, May 29, 2009

Let Your Legislators Know NOT To Close State parks

Here's the link to find out who your state legislators are (put your zip code in upper right hand corner). Please e-mail them and let them know how much you love the state parks and they should NOT be closed.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Biking and Kayaking PA State Parks on the Hit List to Close

PA State Government is struggling from the slumping economy just like business and people losing their jobs. So much so the Senate Republicans proposed a budget that would close 35-40 of the state's 117 state parks (as a comparison, the Governor's budget did NOT propose to close a single park - but his budget was $2 billion more than the Senate Republican budget). Here's the story on all the parks on the hit list. Close to home for my hubby, me, and my mountain biking friends who enjoy some of the state park trails, are the following:

Ralph Stover (Tohickin Creek Dam release for WW kayaking in spring and fall)
Ole Bull
RB Winter

Saved are Pine Grove Furnace, Caledonia, and the Lehigh River Gorge (WW kayaking). But if this would really happen, Pine Grove Furnace, Caledonia and all the other 60 or so that stay open would likely get really, really full. How sad this is.

The Bicycling Craze in PA - Related to Organic Gardening??

Organic Gardening magazine and the Rodale Institute have long been part of my repertoire of hobbies/reading since I started gardening somewhere back in the early 90's -- long before I had any interest in bicycles. Then a Cannondale Scalpel came into my life somewhere around 2001 and the organic gardening took a back seat for a couple years. Last year, the gardening came around again and I'm balancing the two pretty much equally now. I always knew Rodale owned Bicycling Magazine and many, many other fitness mags (Runner's world, Mens Health, Womens Health, Prevention, etc), but I never knew the real impact the Rodales had on the fitness world until recently, AND the fact it started as organic gardening and moved into healthy living and fitness. I'm reading Our Roots Grow Deep, the Story of Rodale. It's a fascinating story of the 3 generations of Rodales and the empire they've built -- including the huge health and fitness division to include the above mags and oodles and oodles of health and fitness books. South Beach Diet? Rodale. Biggest Loser cookbooks and other books? Rodale. Pilates books, yoga books, all kinds of diet books? Most are the brainchild of Rodale. When Grandpa organic guru J.I. Rodale passed away in 1971 after bringing the organic movement into mainstream, his son, Bob Rodale took over and focused on growing the health and fitness divisions. From the book, "Bicycling has an appeal that went far beyond competition and recreation. For Bob Rodale, the bicycle was something like the perfect machine. Energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and healthy, the bicycle offered people the ability to take greater control of their own lives. And increasingly, he used the company's resources to promote both traditional and new uses for the bicycle.
He was an active guy himself -- an Olympic skeet shooter. When he went to the 1968 Olympics, he was fascinated by the track bikes; thus, in 1975 Rodale donated the land and money to build the Velodrome and purchased Bicycling magazine. The rest is history - Rodale has been diligently promoting health and fitness since through their many magazines and books. I've never been to the Velodrome, but its on my list of things to do someday. Of course I'll then want a track bike. Ha! I truly believe we have the Rodales to thank for many decades of making the public aware of the importance of health, fitness, and an organic lifestyle. Very inspiring.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Narrows Paddle Report - Memorial Day 2009

Hubby is obsessed with whitewater kayaking. He had 5 days off for the Memorial Holiday weekend, and three of those days were spent in the water. Yesterday, I planned to stay home and relax, but when Ricky couldn't find a single soul to play with him in the narrows, I decided to go with him to keep him company and watch out for him. The narrows, for those that aren't aware, is where the Susquehanna River "narrows" to flow between two mountains near Dauphin, PA. The water there is swift and rocky -- a perfect practice area for whitewater kayakers to eddy, surf, spin, etc. Ricky's been upping his game this year and he's really, really doing well with it; thus, he wantsto be in the water as much as he can. When I say the water is swift and rocky - that's at a "normal" level that I'm accustomed to in the Narrows - somewhere between 3 and 3.5 feet. Yesterday, the level was 4.5 feet - ever so slightly above normal. I knew the water level was up going into it, but really hadn't expected what we found, thinking 1-1.5 feet couldn't make that much of difference? (yeh, I thought 1200 cfs in the Lehigh wouldn't be that much different than 750 cfs and I swam not once, but twice after a two year hiatus of no swims!) Rick forewarned me "there will be a lot of water when you get up to the narrows," but I guess I just wasn't thinking it through. He was in at this level two weeks ago and knew what to expect. When we got there, I could tell right away there was "a lot of water." There were few rocks sticking out, and you could really feel the turbulence under your boat of that extra 1-1.5 feet of water flowing over covered rocks. The eddies were squirrely and the waves were big. You had to constantly be on the lookout for rocks just under the surface. Slots that were easily attainable at the 3 foot level, were not -- new sections for attaining had to found, but there weren't many because of the higher and faster flow, and of course few rocks to rest behind once the attaining was finished. Rick was having a ball and enjoying himself immensely. I was a true eddy flower and looked for every opportunity to sit behind a rock and watch his back. I was scared! Actually, I was tired as hell from 9 days of vacation and biking and gardening, and my arms were literally dead at this point. We spent about 1.5 hours in the water and it WAS fun, even though I did very little. Rick had a great time -- which was the goal.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Paddlin' and Pedalin' for the Holiday Weekend

I love my hubby -- so much so I'll kayak with him when the poor little boy can't find anyone else to play with -- even when the week of vacation was SO jammed packed with things-to-do that today (Memorial Day) was to be a total R&R vegetation day. I had planned to sit on my arse the entire day and do absolutely nothing. But.... plans are made to be changed and we're heading to the Dauphin Narrows for a little attaining, surfing, and eddy practice. We were just kayaking on Saturday on the Lehigh River, and in the Susquehanna on Friday; but hubby, like me with biking, can't get enough of the sport he loves. Can you blame him?

My big accomplishment for the weekend though, would have to be the RCST Memorial Weekend Ride. We hold this event every year, and the turnout varies. This year was a group of 9, and no one really wanted to do the whole Rattling creek loop with me, but one kind soul trudged along with me 'cause he didn't want me to have to do it on my own. He was glad he did. And the accomplishment? It was on my singlespeed - the entire 20.5 miles. I know that doesn't sound like much to many of you, but for me, its huge. 20.5 miles of rocky terrain, on one gear, on a hard-tail is definitely a fitness builder for aging bones. I was tickled pink to finish the loop, and I actually feel pretty good today (rather than dead tired). I'm still debating on the Stoopid 50 in 3 weeks -- many say the trails are awesome and not near as hard as Michaux or Rattling Creek. That 50 miles of mountain trails intimidates me a little, as does the cost. Do I really want to PAY $70 bucks to ride? Can't I just go in the woods and ride for free for 50 miles? It's SO nice having folks to ride with; thus the reason for doing the Stoopid! AND they have an old gals category. Just not sure.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My EZ Vacation Ride - Wed May 20

I can't recall the last time I went on a long road ride - at least a year or more. The landscape has changed -- folks chopping down their trees, new houses, more cars - junk ones that is, sitting in the back yard. But no dogs this time! It was Western Schuylkill County -- Hegins area. They have a couple hills. And Ricky decided to take vacation today and tomorrow and wants to do stuff! So it's a mountain ride today (ez with Ricky), and flat water paddle tomorrow (finally!). Lehigh River is on tap for Saturday and the RCST ride for Sunday. B.U.S.Y.

It was only 40.88 miles, but had an amazing (to me) 4,157 feet of climbing. Shit!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

R&R - All Week

I'm on vacation all week and you'd think I'd wanna take advantage of it and ride until my heart's content? Think again... I'm one of those people that will do what I feel like doing when I'm on vacation and after a couple years of training for biking and following those damn training plans and having to ride, ride, ride, I'm not feeling a bike ride. For this vacation, it's planting, planting, planting... see what's up in my backyard. I'll squeeze in a long ride today or tomorrow so I can keep up the endurance for the 12-hour event the end of June, (I was gonna go Monday, but 55 degrees didn't entice me much), but for the most part, I'm getting dirt under my fingernails.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The "New" Breed - Out Into the New World

Taking a short change from riding, riding, riding, let's talk about college graduates. I spent the weekend in Morrisville NY attending my nephew's graduation from College - nothing unusual there. The normal family stuff - hurrying up and waiting a lot. It was a 4+ hour drive, stopping a lot to pee, getting wet in the rain, sitting and waiting in the graduation, fighting crowds of people, getting a kick out of the kids. You know -- the norm. But the part I found interesting was the degrees these kids are getting today. When I was young... (here we go), we went to the school of hard knocks and learned the hard way -- through hard work. A kid would graduate from high school and be thrown into the world to fend for themselves without a piece of paper to say they can do this or that. A kid could easily get a construction job building houses, or pitching horse shit and eventually work his way into training and driving the horses. Today? There's actually a degree in "Equine Race Management" which is the fancy name for pitching that horse shit. And there's a degree for "Residential construction" and "Horticulture" which of course is the gardening part of the world. And speaking of those Equine Race Management graduates, I learned something new about the Thoroughbred vs the Standard bred horse industry. I used to subscribe to PETA, and I'd get e-mails about the abuse horses take in the horse industry and I used to think no way, my dad and family doesn't abuse their horses! They are standard bred people. The thoroughbred people are the abusers! They don't condition their horses before that Kentucky derby or Preakness. I found that appalling. Its just like you or me getting on the bike and racing as hard as we can and not really getting any training prior to it. Imagine how we'd feel. That's what the Thoroughbreds do -- they light run them a time or two, or they "breeze" them (walk them) prior to races -- never going out for an "opener" prior to a race. Its all about bloodlines and breeding, not the training. The racing life of a thoroughbred is only 2 years. So the horse that broke his legs (or had some sort of leg trouble last year) and was put to sleep? In my opinion, abuse -- he wasn't trained and he broke down. I'm told they throw dead horse on a pile a Penn National -- what!!!??? True, they are run to death, literally. I have to do a little more research in this arena -- I'm appalled at what I learned about thoroughbred racing. Standardbreds racing is nothing like that -- they train their horses like you and I train -- a lot - before racing. I watched my dad for many years jog horses everyday for miles, upon miles, upon miles, to get a horse ready for a race. And he trained them too -- a mock-race a time or two before a "real" race. Funny how we train like horses , or vice versa. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Waz Up?!

FINALLY!!! A vacation is here in less than 2 days. An entire 10 days of no commuting to the 'burg to deal with politics. I SO need a break with the budget crap going on right now. (The state Senate Republicans passed their version of the budget disputing much of Governor Rendell's budget and my little part has been pulling together documention to say how great our programs really are that the Senate wants to eliminate... it's exhausting!). It's not an R&R vaca though...all but Memorial Day itself is jammed packed with lots to do:

Sat and Sun -- Binghamton NY to see my nephew graduate from college. Would you believe he's getting a degree in "Equine Business Managment?" Yup, he found out how to get a degree for pitching horse shit. Lucky Dog. Actually, he's graduating and heading to Maryland to be a trainer for standardbred horses. That brat.
Mon - Nice, long, ez 5 hr ride in Weiser State Forest.
Tues- Dr appointment in Camp Hill - maybe a paddle with Ricky if the weather holds out.
Wed - GARDEN! Seed planting time. PM RIDE - Are they riding at the farm this week??
Thur - GARDEN! More seed planting and herb garden organizing/planting/weeding (fennel, basil, dill, coriander, etc.). My mom has some bush-trimming on the agenda too.
Fri - RIDE! Maybe a little climbing. Local Farmers Market - flowers!
Sun - RCST Memorial Day RIDE
Monday - R.E.S.T.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Paddle Report on Wheels

Yesterday was the first Lehigh River Whitewater release of the year. It was PACKED! We ended up parking in the furthermost lot. The group had a nice mix of old and new friends which totalled eight. Regulars were Rick, Tony Labato, Tim Garland, Jen Kulas and Barb Sears. I can't recall the new folks names. Chili opted out of the boat trip for fear of water-borne bacteria wedging its way into my fresh, new, not-healed grafted gums. But I really wanted to go along 'cause the Lehigh River Gorge is absolutely beautiful. So what to do for 4 hours while hubby boats? RIDE BIKE! At first I thought, yuk -- rail trail. But it turned out to be a steady, decent, semi-hard workout. I took Jake the Snake (cyclocross bike) and pumped up the pace to get my HR at the endurance rate for the 3-hour ride. No hills, no stops, no rocks, no logs, no obstacles -- oops, except for the rattlesnake I had to go back and get a 2nd look at. It was flat, long (45 miles total), with a sustained pace that was perfect - it reminded of the trainer (believe it or not, I LIKE the trainer because of the sustained workout). And the rail trail itself? Gorgeous. Not boring like the one at Dauphin. The Lehigh River runs parallel to the trail the entire length and because there was so much action on the river yesterday, I was entertained a good bit of my ride. Inexperienced, non-English-speaking rafters always bring a smile or two. And mom nature held out for a change and kept us dry. Rick had an equally awesome day -- he got 3 combat rolls! I'm so proud of him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On the Recovery List - AGAIN

I'm really tired of it, but its my own fault and I gotta suck it up and get through it. Phase 3 just occurred with the replacement of the teeth that got knocked out in that fateful bike accident last year. I thought maybe Phase 2 was the last of major "surgery", but I was wrong. I'm getting dental implants and Phase 1 was the extraction of the remaining roots along bone grafting - that happened last August. Phase 2 was the implant of the titanium posts that would eventually hold the crown, and I had some gum tissue added at that time also. That happened March 17. Well, Monday's check-up resulted in phase 3 which is a SECOND addition of gum tissue 'cause the first wasn't quite enough. The Doc warned me this might be occurring. He removed some tissue from the inside roof of my mouth and grafted it on the front above the implants. Yes it hurts. Yes I'm on pain pills. Yes, I'm sleeping a lot. Yes, I can't go to the Lehigh now (chance of bacteria getting in the wounds), yes I'm sick of laying around and yes, I'm antsy and want to get on the bike and in the backyard weeding/planting. My boss used to be a nurse, and it was HER who told me to stay home and rest -- the grafting really needs some time to grow and the best way to do that is lying down and resting. Damn it - doesn't she know I can't lay still very long? Oh well....back under the covers. I sure hope I can get out on the bike this weekend. Ricky said he'd ride with me on Sunday (maybe -- he's now talking about kayaking both Saturday AND Sunday that dirty rotten scoundrel). Drat.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pics from Michaux Maximus and Some More Reporting

Mud, slime, pools of muck, creek crossings, mudpit crossing, sliding corners, slickery boulders - you name it, it was there. Michaux dishes it out and we were stupid enough to take it. I DNF after ten miles and near got hypothermia, Donna toughed it out for 8.5 hours only to be told she can't go any further (bastards) and THEN rode bake Bendersville road to rub it in a little after they asked - does she want a ride? huh!? Are you guys nuts?! And Brett -- he whooped up on Mr. McMillar on his own 40-mile course - a very nice finish to a hell-of-a-day. I heard other experienced elite racers were walking many sections. The general comment was, "it sucked." Brett didn't think so though! Here's a couple shots from the race -- certainly not Uncle Don quality (Rick knows it!), but pics nontheless.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2009 Michaux Maximus - Chili's DNF

I sure hope Donna fared better than me -- she looked like she was doing awesome (I didn't talk to her yet to see how she did).

I flatted, pumped it up thinking Stan's would do its trick. It didn't because it was a bent valve stem issue. So I had to put a tube in a tubeless and it took me 39 minutes because I couldn't get the tire back on the rim. Donna wanted to wait and I said NO -- it may take me too long and it did. I'm such a girl at changing flats. I'm REALLY, really, glad she didn't wait. After that 39 minutes, I was cold and turned off and said fuck it and DNF'd at the 10 mile marker. But the worse was just starting -- Rick wasn't there when I quit and it was steady raining. He went to one of the crossings and was watching for me for about an hour and finally said he thought maybe he'd go back to the parking lot. Doh! So for two hours and 15 minutes, I was attempting to stay warm. I rode up and down Bendersville road 3 times. I swear I now know what hypothermia feels like. My feet were not feeling anything -- neither were my hands. They wouldn't bend when I tried to get out of wet clothes. Rick had to help. I was shivering all over. I can't recall feeling that cold -- not even at 15 below in Whitegrass.

Today sucked for Chili. Disappointment is an understatement. Of course Rick has to remind me how I shouldn't race. I'm starting to believe him after days like today.

Oh, check this out:
Hypothermia in milder weather. Hypothermia can happen not just in cold winter weather, when there are low temperatures or low wind chill factors, but under milder conditions as well. A rain shower that soaks you to the skin on a cool day can lead to hypothermia if you don't move inside to warm up and dry off. If you stay outside, evaporation of the water from your skin further cools your body, lowering your internal temperature. A wind blowing over the wet parts of your body greatly increases evaporation and cooling.