xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: April 2009

April 29, 2009

Summer Top Ten

It's late at night and Letterman is on, so, here we go Top Ten style.

The Top Ten Reasons I'm Giddy For Summer

10.  I'm hoping to re-vamp my backyard a little bit so it feels more like an oasis and less like a slab of cement surrounded by dead plants.

9.  I'm heading to the NCWP Summer Institute again.  That means new ideas, new people, and time to reflect on my practice as a teacher.  Not to mention regular doses of Jon & Bon's.  Mmmmmm...

8.  After two weeks at the Institute, Terry and I head to Alaska with four of our friends.  We will mountain bike to justify eating unholy quantities of delicious food.  Then we'll take a zipline ride and throw it all up.

7.  Fourth of July will announce that it's birthday week for Terry and I.  I heart fireworks.

6.  On my birthday I head to Southern California to hang out with a few hundred of my favorite high schoolers, not to mention some of my dearest friends at Western States.

5.  I fly from Southern California to San Jose where I will meet up with Terry and The Rocket to ride 100 miles and show cancer exactly what I think of it.

4.  A few days later I fly to Arizona to participate in The Writing Project's National Retreat where I will soak up as much knowledge as I can in hopes that this bear of little brain can retain some of it.

3.  Five of my nieces and nephews will be spending a month in Redding.  I can't wait to squeeze, kiss and snuggle them all, especially the boys who pretend to hate all that mushy love stuff.  Deep down they love it.  Deep, deep down.

2.  In August I'll sit down for a second in my new and improved oasis, surrounded by dead plants, and laugh at the fact that I've once again failed to cure my brown thumb.

1.  Terry and I will celebrate another year together.  The best compliment I've ever received came in the form of two little words: I do.  The fact that he still does makes my heart full.

April 9, 2009

It's not a mustache. It just looks like one.

My female plumbing has gone haywire.  And that is all I'm going to say about that because I don't like talking about stuff that goes on down there.  Apparently my little daily pill, which prevents me from creating devil spawn to unleash upon the world, can also cause weird skin pigmentation.  Especially when exposed to the sun a lot.  Like say for several hours at a time while riding a bike.

I've had a couple of darker little spots on my cheeks, but really who cares about those.  I wear SPF daily and have a drawerful of face products to help my skin retain it's youth.  I simultaneously recognize, and give a bit of thanks, that I'm no longer a fresh faced twenty year old.  Scars and the occasional sun spot are proof of my adventures, proof of a life lived well.  I don't mind them.

More accurately, I didn't mind them until they started appearing on my upper lip.  First one small one.  A sweet, innocent beauty mark.  Then it invited all of it's relatives to move in.  Siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, in-laws.  One by one these dark spots traversed my upper lip and set up camp indefinitely.

Off and on, in an attempt to be helpful, people say to me "You have something on your lip."  While I appreciate this concern for my appearance, it's hard to explain that it's not something I can wash, wipe or shave off.  The other funny thing people have started doing is subconsciously wiping their top lip when they start a conversation with me.  Kinda like when you notice someone with a zipper down and automatically check your own.

On one particular day in the recent past, three separate people told me I had something on my lip.  One of them even tried to brush it off for me which was weird because unless your are my husband, dentist, or orthodontist, you don't get to touch my mouth.  Ever.

So when I talked with my doctor about my haywire female stuff, I also brought up my spot mustache.  He was leery of changing pills because my spectacular plumbing is impervious to month to month pills.  Instead I get to apply bleaching cream twice daily to encourage my spotstache to vacate.  I'm not entirely thrilled about the prospect of bleaching my face.  I mean, we've all seen how that worked out for Michael Jackson.  Yeesh!

Upon reading the box of the bleaching cream I discovered that this cream can cause redness, peeling, flaking, and burning.  Yes, burning.  As a general rule I try and avoid things that burn my face.  I'm not sure which is worse; people thinking I'm growing a stache or bleaching my upper lip into oblivion.  It's day 2 of Operation Spotstache Removal and so far no peeling, flaking, burning or other uncomfortable side effects.  I'm assuming they're all lying in wait to appear this Saturday at my big family reunion.

My mom is concerned that all 9,687 of us wear white or another light color for the family photos.  We can be all matchy-matchy.  After all these pictures will hang in our homes for eternity.  Fine. I'm wearing a white sundress with green flowers on it.  That is the least of my problems.  I've got one day to figure out how to make my face look less like Tom Sellack.  It doesn't look good.

In order to survive family photos, I figure I've got three options.  I could feign a cough and cover my mouth with my hand just before each click of the camera.  I could apply unholy amounts of make up so that I have the nice, waxy sheen of a trollop.  Or finally I could sneak around at night and Sharpie mustaches on the faces of my relatives while they are asleep.  I like the third option best, but somehow I don't think this is what my mom meant when she said she wanted all of us to match.

If you have any other ideas, please drop me a comment.  In the meantime I'll be warding this thing off before it looks like a full blown beard.

April 1, 2009

Cycling in March: March Madness

Dear friends & family,

I hope you're fully steeped in college basketball and all sorts of other March madness. Let's talk about the madness of cycling in March.

  • 246.787 miles this month: I even managed to ride 99 miles in a weekend.  No, the fact that I have to ride 100 miles in a single day has not escaped me.

  • 12 %: The idea that I have to ride 100 miles in a single day has been on my mind, oh, approximately all the time.  You see, I caught a glimpse of the course route and there is a 1.8 mile climb that ranges from 7% to 12%.  12% is very, very steep.  And I am very, very aware of that fact.

  • 37.7 MPH: My fastest speed this season was achieved on a beautiful downhill from Igo.  It was a Friday afternoon, about 80 degrees out, and a perfect day for a quick spin after work.

  • 5.1 MPH: My slowest speed this season.  You may remember Howard the Hill from past seasons.  Howard is a master at mind games.  Sure he looks innocent enough, all short and narrow.  I have ridden longer hills.  I have ridden steeper hills.  I have ridden hills that are both longer and steeper.  But I've got a history with Howard and he knows it.  Each time I face Howard, he brings up season one when The Rocket and I had to do the walk of shame up his smiling face.  No matter how many times, I've bested Howard, his trash talk always hits home. Go ahead and stop for a second and then you can keep going.  Nobody is looking, just get off and walk.  The top is further than you think.  Yes, legs can spontaneously combust if you push too hard. Howard is relentless, so I decided the time had come to face him again.  In fact, I faced him at mile 33 of a 34 mile hill ride.  I started up Howard and dropped into my granny gear, spinning slow, steady circles.  Pretty soon I was halfway up, then almost to the top, and finally at the crest.  I smiled.  And what did Howard have to say about that?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Funny how that works.

  • 1 powerful smell: My first spin class in March was on a cold, damp evening.  The windows to the spin class were wide open, creating a crisp breeze as I sweated out every drop of water I've ever consumed.  I was cruising along, enjoying the breze, when I was accosted by a smell.  You think my verbage is too strong?  I respectfully maintain it's accuracy.  I am a sweaty, stinky person.  In addition to my superpower of crashing over nothing, I can out-sweat everyone I know.  Including men.  So when I say I was accosted by a smell, you can bet it was foul.  In spin class, everyone sweats copiously.  Upper lips are dotted with perspiration.  Tops of arms glisten.  Sweat drips down legs.  Spin class is a sweaty, stinky place.  When I was a kid, I remember an advertising slogan "You are what you eat."  I've always thought it was a wise saying, and never more true than in that spin class.  A guy in spin class must have eaten a polish dog before parking himself on the bike in front of me.  That guy was sweating terrible, meaty drips.  Mixed with my own salty tang, this was almost more than I could take.  My stomach was churning.  Thank goodness the windows were open, blowing our combined heavenly aroma throughout the room for all to enjoy.

  • 0 crashes or flat tires this month: It seems a little odd that my body is protected by a thin layer of Spandex, but my tires are equipped with Kevlar.

  • 4 people on the team: In January my team consisted of just me.  In February, my friend Laura joined in the fun.  In March Terry and my former team captain, Nick, couldn't stand the fact that Laura and I were out having all the fun.  So, they signed up, too.  A team of one was good.  A team of two was exponentially better.  A team of four is starting to feel like we're real athletes or something.

  • 44.77 miles: My longest distance this month.  This month I found a loop that makes me climb to Shasta Dam, drops down to Keswick Dam, spits me out on the River Trail, and then leaves me with a nice little climb home.  Most of the time it's a great ride.  That's right, I said most of the time.

  • 1 day I wished I had pepper spray: One Sunday in March was so full of wind that trees were blowing down left and right.  What was I doing on this particular Sunday?  Yup.  Riding my bike.  I set out to ride the Dam Loop.  It was one of those days when it seemed like the wind was blowing in all directions.  I rode North and the wind was in my face.  I rode West and the wind was in my face.  I rode East, same deal.  South, same thing.  I was trapped in some sort of weird wind space continuum.  It was miserable and although I was riding with three other people, we were riding at such different paces that I may as well have been alone.  In fact, the dark blue truck full of dudes that pulled up next to me on the way to Shasta Dam probably assumed I was alone.  As I turned the cranks, several of them hung out of the truck gesturing and yelling.  They drove off quickly, but I'm sure they said "Your mother's a trucker!"  Silly boys, my mom's not a trucker.  She's a teacher.  Too bad I couldn't pepper spray them and correct their error.  A few miles later on the way down to Keswick Dam, the road is wide and I was all the way to the right of the white line when Truck  #2 of Stupid Dudes pulled up behind me.  Instead of passing, the driver decided to intermittently bare down on my wheel, screech his brakes, and honk incessantly.  This started before the Dam, lasted all the way across it and beyond until I turned off on the bike trail.  This guy and his guffawing companions obviously needed a driving lesson.  I'm telling you, pepper spray would have been so handy, you know, so I could stop them and give a friendly driving lesson.

  • 1 rescue pick up: After riding 40 miles into the wind and dreaming of gallons of pepper spray, I was toast.  I'd used up all my reserve energy, not to mention my reserve snacks.  I pulled the Rocket into the River Trail parking lot and shamefully pulled my phone from my jersey pocket.  I was tired.  I was hungry.  I had no pepper spray.  It was time to make a rescue call.  This is the most embarrassing thing a cyclist can do.  Yes, more humiliating than falling over because you stopped and forgot you're still clipped in your pedals.  I called Laura.  She agreed to pick me up and as I sat waiting for her, another Dude In A Truck pulled into the parking lot.  This dude pulled his bike out of the truck and in a lame attempt at small talk asked "Quitting early today?"  With forced cheerfulness I replied "Yep.  I'm done for the day." I hoped that my head down in my hands would convey that I didn't want to talk.  It did not.  The dude continued "I'm riding the sunny side of the River Trail.  You just putting in a short one today?" Was this dude for real?  He's going to ride six miles and call MY ride short in the same breath?  This isn't going to end well for him. I took a deep breath, raised my head and replied "40 miles was enough for me today.  Enjoy your ride."  At this point the dude sensed his impending peril and rode away. Seriously, I've got to get some pepper spray. Laura pulled up and took me home where I showered, ate a snack, and priced pepper spray.  It's $5.98.

  • 1 Rock of Love trailer: On the morning of Spring forward, I thought What better way to celebrate than heading out on The Rocket for a bike ride? Three of my friends met at my house and we set out.  It was a beautiful day.  Crisp, dry and not a hint of wind.  Just about as perfect as a day can get.  We rode out towards Shasta Dam and took the turn that makes the climb to the Dam harder, longer, and more scenic.  Of course my three friends were much faster at climbing than I was.  I slogged uphill at around five miles an hour.  I have ridden this hill several times this year.  I know this hill well.  Even when my heart threatens to pound straight out my throat and when my quads are on fire, I know I can beat it.  In fact, I've ridden this hill enough times to say that I actually like it.  I had my lone earbud in and Bruce Springsteen's Secret Garden was the perfect soundtrack for the morning.  Go ahead and poke fun, I love that song.  Aside from two cars that passed me on the beginning of the hilland a descending hiker, I had the whole climb to myself.  As I turned a corner, I looked down on Redding, still half asleep and hushed.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to enjoy nature at her fullest.  I abandoned Bruce for the sounds of birds chattering far off in the bushes.  There wasn't a whisper of wind.  It was serene.  As I continued around a corner I saw a truck with a camper in tow pulled over on the side of the road.  Who could blame them?  The view really is that pretty.  I pedaled closer. Wait, is that trailer rocking?  No, it can't be.  There isn't even any wind.  Weird.  It must be on unstable ground or something. Oh, I am so naive.  I pedaled further up the hill and closer to the trailer. Oh, man it's definitely rocking.  Oh no, it's rocking harder. At this point I'd figured out what was going on in the trailer, but I couldn't turn around and go back downhill because my three fast friends were waiting for me at the Dam.  Curses for being so slow.  I tucked my head down and tried to pedal faster, but I was already going as fast as I could.  It's a three mile hill for goodness sake.  I couldn't sprint up this thing.  With the trailer just ahead of me, I began to hear what was going on inside it.  This may come as a surprise, but camper walls aren't very thick.  I am so not into other people's private moments.  Movie sex scenes make me squeamish, no matter how "tasteful and artistic" they are.  I just don't want to see or hear that.  I shoved my single earbud back in, but even Christina Aguilera's pipes couldn't compete with the trailer.  I pushed harder and The Rocket responded by increasing to a whopping 5.7 miles an hour.  I began to sing along with Christina.  The noises grew louder.  My stomach began to churn.  My already sweaty face filled with a deeper flush.  I sang louder, pedaled harder, and fought back the heat threatening to erupt from my stomach..  Just as I became parallel to the trailer, the occupants inside reached their crescendo.  I was way too close.  I needed a brain scrubber stat. Think about puppies.  Think about your grocery list.  Think about your favorite movie.  Think about any movie.  Think of something..  Think of anything else other than the fact that you are trapped in someone else's private time.  Then it came to me: the Forrest Gump prayer. Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away.  Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far, far away. Over and over it was my mantra until I passed the trailer.  The noises ceased and I didn't look back.  I scooted downhill, shaking my head in disbelief at the madness I'd encountered in March.

  • $570 donated so far: Thank you Jean P., Amy & Steve P., Tracy H., Jeff W., Anita J., Carmen L., Chris F., and That Unicycling Guy.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity.

  • $1,430 until I reach my fundraising goal: If you'd like to make a donation, click on the link below to donate online.  You can also write a check to The Lance Armstrong Foundation and I'll make sure it gets to the right place.  If you make a donation between now and April 8th you'll be entered to win a fabulous Easter basket to be raffled off by North Valley Bank.  Tickets are $1 a piece or 6 tickets for $5.

Thanks for your support.  It's another season of great cycling adventures and I'm glad you're along for the ride.