Sunday, May 25, 2008

a varied ride

I never get tired of riding my bike, but sometimes riding the same places isn't so exciting. This can be an issue here in ABQ because there aren't that many roads outside of town. By roads, I mean paved roads. On Sat, we decided to seek out the forest roads in the east mountains, unsure of what was in store. We hopped on our trusty steeds, Jill on her road 'race' bike with slightly fatter tires and me on my cross bike with same 28 mm tires.

I drew a picture of the roads that are shown on google maps (we almost never need to print anything so we don't have a printer) and made a plan to hit Forest Rd 462. 462 starts out as a single lane gravel road that is quite steep at the bottom. After a mile or so, there's a small sign that points up a rock wall, and the difficult part begins. Lots of loose rocks and some boulders made the going tough for us 'roadies'. I had to walk at least 2 sections, and Jill walked a few more.

As an aside, here's the short answer to why we didn't ride mtn bikes. The gravel road is about 15 miles from our apartment. A road bike is usable on most dirt trails and excellent on pavement. A mtn bike is very nice on dirt trails and usable on pavement. We prefer the former. The unspoken alternative is to drive to the trail, but let's leave that unspoken.

We met up with a couple riding their brand spanking new full suspension mtn bikes who asked us if we knew where we were. I pulled out my drawing, he pulled out his 1998 trail book, and we guessed our location. He was very surprised that we could ride road bikes there. In fact, he later told us that he told his wife that if he saw us again up the trail he would sell his not needed mtn bike on ebay. He saw us after they turned around to head back.

I really hoped that my drawing was correct, especially the scale, because we were getting hungry and we appeared to be in the middle of a large forest. The options were to turn back and ride (okay, walk) mostly downhill over the rocks or to press on to parts unkown. We pressed on and found much better going. Soft dirt roads with large gullies made by 4x4 wheels worked well for us. We rode in the middle.

We exited the forest in a neighborhood several miles east of 17 at I-40. Guess what wasn't too far away? That's right, for the 3rd Sat in a row, we had burgers at Burger Boy. We can't do everything different every time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


There's a compelling article by Mark Sisson in the recent Rivendell Reader about endurance athletics. Sisson was a competitive triathlete and marathon racer until he discovered an alternate exercise plan. This plan is based on evolutionary ideas: that mankind has historically walked around most of the time with sporadic bouts of sprinting. For example, a hunter slowly wanders around looking for game until he finds it. Then, he sprints all out to catch it. On the other hand, he could jog at brisk pace for several hours looking for food. But if the prey appears late in the jog, he might be too tired to capture it. Sisson's theory is that our body systems have adapted to function optimally under these conditions. So maybe super long, hard runs and bike rides aren't actually good for us.

I've sort of taken this approach with my bike riding lately. But what I changed the most is my eating routine. I've started eating less than I can at meals, and I don't eat any snacks (has been candy bars) in the afternoon. Not surprisingly, I'm often hungry. I'm also very excited to eat when it is meal time. The food tastes great!

The most curious thing I've encountered is that I don't know when I'm 'full'. And this is especially challenging since we eat different food every day. Even if I could remember how much pasta I ate last night, that doesn't tell me anything about how many grilled cheese sandwiches I need to eat tonight.

I think my brain is not happy with the situation. It will probably win in the end.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Repeat ride

The first of my 3 3-day weekends in a row just flew by. Nothing as coincidental and exciting as last week, just a very nice set of events. On Friday we visited the local Flying Star.

I had a butter cookie with lemonade. We brought books, but didn't read them as there was too much interesting stuff to discuss. I also sent my resume to 3 engineering companies in town that are advertising jobs. Even though I did this online, and hence nearly anonymously, it's still stressful. I really don't like job hunting-- in fact this is really the first time I've had to do so. School lasted a long time, and then I was asked if I wanted my last 2 jobs. Call me crazy, but I just don't like getting rejected.
On Saturday, we rode to the same place as last week, but found some gravel roads in the area. The going is slower which allows for more time to enjoy the scenery. Take note of the bag on Jill's bike: it's a brand new Carradice Pendle, supported by a Velo Orange rack. It's a great size for a short day ride since it can fit a raincoat, some food, camera, books, and more. Very excellent!

After eating GCCBs at Burger Boy, we took a detour up Monticello Road. We are really blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

Some final thoughts: the recipients of our economic stimulus rebate were International Development Enterprises, World Vision (for Myanmar specifically), and ABQ Rescue Mission... We've been thinking about hell recently. We might write a post here someday, but it would probably be too long for this format... We're thinking about parking all bikes indoors this summer and putting a table on our porch. That way we'll be the fogies sitting on the porch watching the people walk by. Hopefully, we'll chat.... Speaking of which, a neighbor was grilling ribs while I was grilling hot dogs. She says grill for 30 minutes on low for medium rare. Periodically douse the ribs with marinade (water, vinegar, nature seasoning?, and honey). Also, buy the ribs when ribeye and prime rib are on sale as this means extra ribs are available. She offered me some, but I declined. Was that dumb?

Thursday, May 15, 2008


When we first leave our home state of Indiana or Michigan or California, we don't think much about the risk we're running of never living there again. And we don't think of the distance we're putting between ourselves and the people there. At least I didn't give that distance much thought. Now I think about distance a lot. I say I want to start a commune, but what I mean is that I want the distance from my front door to yours to be a few steps. Then, naturally, I would borrow eggs from you, you would drop by unannounced and end up staying for dinner, Chad would fix your bikes and maybe help you with your math homework.

In this great commune-in-my-dreams, we live right next door to my Aunt Jan, my cousins Amy, Beth and Brent and my first cousins once removed Josh and Ally. We really could do this if we moved to Michigan (and I can tell you that Chad is keeping Beth and Brent's basement in mind in case of economic disaster).

Of course we'd prefer to move all our family, friends and blog-readers to New Mexico. But we were the ones who left our homelands, so we can't expect to convince y'all to relocate. Sometimes we do convince you to vacation here.

Josh called me "tour guide extraordinaire." In one day, we did cliff dwellings at Tsankawi and Bandelier and ate dinner on the plaza in Santa Fe.

Another day was zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens.

We took the tram to Sandia Peak.

And we enjoyed Explora, Albuquerque's plaza, and New Mexican food. Ally discovered a passion for sopapillas.
Chad was initially considered a suspicious character by Ally and Josh. They didn't know him well, and they needed a suspect for a mystery they were inventing. But he won them over by climbing in and out of caves, wrestling, and insisting on being called "Captain Cool."

I wish Michigan and New Mexico were just next door to each other!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Burger Boy ride

The sun was shining, the temps were perfect, the wind was blowing, and we had some free time on Saturday. The east mountains were calling our name, and we were on our way. Not wanting to completely wear ourselves out, we decided that our destination for the day would be Burger Boy, grillers of the best green chile cheeseburger in the area. But that wasn't quite enough climbing for me, so I convinced Jill to ride up Sangre de Cristo Rd to the top of a small ridge on the east side of 14. The bottom part of the road is excessively steep, then it flattens out, before a few more steep parts near the top. Below, Jill climbs near the top.

On Woodbridge Rd, I wanted to knock on someone's door to ask if we could take a picture from their backyard. From the road, we could see that there was a great view to the south across a small valley. But I chickened out, so no pics for you. Instead, here's a picture of the road and my back. Sorry about that.

On the way down, I was coasting along at about 25 mph when I hit a wall of wind, easily the strongest wind I've ever felt. My speed plus the wind speed in the opposite direction was too scary for me. I slowed dramatically to make sure that Jill was okay also. She was, but an older woman in a black pointy hat and gown on a bike was blowing away with the wind.

While waiting inside BB for the GCCB, I said to Jill, 'That guy looks a lot like John from church,' but I decided it wasn't. Then, Oliver from church joined him. It was John. Those two, along with one of John's coworkers, Andrew, had been rock climbing in the area. Despite their sore forearms, they had no troubles with the burgers. Andrew was even able to hold and eat the DMGCCB (double meat). A good time was had by all.
On our way home, we stopped by Oliver's house and got the tour. You can take a virtual tour here. Very nice!

Happy Mothers' Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

fun with kids and strangers

One of the many effects of having kids around is that strangers are much more open. Here are two examples from our time watching the 'Beeks.

After church on Sunday we went to Mendez Brothers for lunch. While taking our order, the waitress noted the strikingly blue eyes of the kids. Then she looked and Jill and me and became confused. Upon learning the situation, she told us about her experiences in military families. She also told us to pass along how grateful she was for Bob's service and sympathised with Susie's extra workload at home while he was away.
After lunch we took the kids to our apartment for some play time and exploring. One of the buildings in the complex is 3 stories high with an elevator and external staircases. The kids ran up and down and rode the elevator. On the 3rd floor, someone had their door open, so the kids stopped outside it and peered in. I was on the ground floor watching when the resident invited them in. I hadn't met anyone up there before, so I ran up the stairs to join them. She had already offered them some candy (okay, now I was getting mildly concerned. But I think that most (all?) candy poisoning stories are myths. And who keeps poisoned candy in a gated apt complex?) and offered me a piece also. I ate it and was fine. The kids were fine, too, whew!

The woman loved the girls' matching blue church dresses. She expressed surprise that it was Sunday. We ended up having a nice talk about her roommate Johnny's model trains (he wasn't there; kids thought he was her son), how she was nearly out of money (the kids reply: "our daddy has lots of money"), and how she was about to take a walk with small weights for exercise.

Back on the base, one of the sprinklers near the house was broken and produced a nice stream. I showed the kids how to make a dam, and much fun ensued.

Otter Pops are still as good as they ever were.
J mixed red chalk and water to make a very effective war paint on his chest and face and pants and... A little warm water and scrubbing got it off outside.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Things are back to normal

This is just to say that our big month of activities has come to a close, and we're doing fine. We'll get around to putting some pictures up of the Halls' visit and our time watching the 'beek kids.

For today, I'd like to talk about leaf blowers. I hate them. I was reminded of this when I arrived at work today. A leaf blower was walking the perimeter of the bldg to 'clean off' the lovely rock gardens. At our apartment complex, the leaf blower comes out every other Monday to 'clean off' our little porch. Yes, the leaves go somewhere else, but huge clouds of dust form. Where does the dust go? On our 2 bikes that are parked there.

But Jill is no dummy. She came up with the brilliant idea of moving our bikes inside on Sunday night and returning them on Monday night. Find somewhere else to land, foul dust!