Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hills and Knobs

Wild Card Cycling held its annual spring get in shape weekend in Southern Illinois this weekend. Rather than rooming with another guy and his smelly cycling shoes, I brought the whole family along. We stayed in the honeymoon suite of the Valley View Cabins near Anna, IL, where the 'view' is mostly of the interstate, but is quite pretty nonetheless.

We drove the 3 1/2 hours down on Friday morning to meet up for our noon ride. The plan for Friday was a relatively 'easy' 40 mile ride to Bald Knob, an impressive hill with a giant truss cross on the top. Large signs warn that the cross could fall any moment due to structural instability. It was still standing when we left. We rode at a moderate pace most of the way to the big climb with many stops to regroup. On the big climb to the Knob I got dropped like a rock by strong men Jason, Jay, and Martin.

The big ride was Saturday to Golconda, a small town on the Ohio River, and back to Valley View. How small is Golconda? Small enough that there's no bridge to cross the river into Kentucky. We started off with a group of about 20 with blue skies, 45-50ish degrees, and a slight wind.
At mile 20, I was feeling sprightly enough for a self-portrait riding the warmup hill after our first stop. I wore a wool base layer, wool sweater, and my jersey. The other guys ragged on me the whole ride about how hot I should have been. Maybe I didn't notice because I was so worn out, or maybe I was slightly dehydrated. Neither of the stops at 20 and 40 miles had any water, so I had to beg a swig off Luke in Eddyville (mile 40). At Golconda, I drank about 2 bottles in the bathroom and left with 2 full bottles. I rejoiced greatly at mile 80 when Jay requested a stop to get more water.
Now you might know that winters tend to be cold in the midwest, so generally cyclists take it easy and gain some holiday weight. The 5 other guys I rode with the whole route did not follow this custom. On the flats and rollers, I hid in their draft without problems. The long, steep hills revealed the truth, though. I was clearly the slowest. The strong 5 graciously waited up for me at the tops.

My view for most of the ride.
While I was being ground into a woolly blob, Jill and Clara took a couple rides in the nearby valleys. When we ride together, we stop at nice places and take photos and eat good food at places like the cafe in Cobden. With the racers, the stops are at convenience stores. My lunch was banana nut muffins, fig newtons, and peanut M&Ms.

Clara, as per usual, was a big hit with the patrons of the cafe in Cobden. In fact, she was a hit with the team as well, as she and Jill won a Wild Card mug for 'most supportive family' on the team.
Lots of rain on Sunday, so only the hearty rode. I saw Scott, who had to work on Friday, take off wearing rain gear. The rest of us headed back home. We took a short detour to Ferne Clyffe state park, which in fact has a cliff and a lovely lake.
I should add that the roads were generally excellent, and the drivers were quite courteous, despite the lack of other cyclists in the area. Perhaps they were enjoying the wine trail enough to not be bothered by us.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More baby skills

Clara is getting skills quickly lately. Last week, she started to roll, now she rolls all over the place. This week, she can sit up by herself. Occasionally, she stops paying attention and topples over. Surprisingly, she rarely cries after thumping the back or side of her head.
Yesterday, Clara convinced us to let her eat big girl food again. For the third time, we mixed up pre-cooked rice cereal and her milk.
This time, she ate, loved it, and was happy.
Spring continues to be beautifully perfect. This may be the best time of the year as it's warm and the grass is not growing yet. I joined the Wild Card crew for part of the Sat ride (see Paul's recap). Jill and Clara are out riding with the chariot daily. A couple times they brought me bubble tea at work.

Speaking of work, I finished writing my first proposal this week (should I add finally? should I give some excuses?). It's small and somewhat simple, but I'm happy with it. Maybe the clean coal institute will be also.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

new normal

My primary enjoyment from this blog is recording the fun and unusual happenings of our lives. Well, as the last 2 weeks have shown, sometimes very little unusual happens, or unusual that I care to write about. I choose to write no more about recent sewage troubles.

But what goes on during an ordinary day in this small family of ours? I'm glad you want to know.

Let's begin with morning, which starts between 7:10 and 7:30 am. Either the alarm or Clara wakes me up. I pick her up and change her diaper, then make my lunch, eat breakfast (sometimes alone, sometimes with Jill), do some personal hygiene, kiss the gals, and head for work.

I get home from work around 5:30. Now it's play time with baby while Jill cooks dinner. We're about to eat, and baby starts crying. We ignore crying, crying increases. Hold baby, feed baby, baby is now happy and sleeps for about 10 minutes. After we all eat, I read, write a blog, watch 'Chuck', work on bikes, or just collapse on the floor. Baby cycles through a rotation of jumpy chair, rolling on the floor, being held while yelling or smiling. Wow, is it 10:00 already? Dishes might not get done tonight. Feed baby for a top-off. Please go to sleep, baby. Jammie time, some crying, hold the baby, no crying. Finally asleep, or more crying. I sleep.
Jill will have to fill in the details of what I miss while working, but it seems that much fun happens. With the balmy weather this week, Clara got to play in the park. She loved swinging for the first time.
Jill's last Christmas gift came today, an electric piano. She hasn't played much since giving up lessons in her youth, but said that what she knew is coming back. Higher culture, here we come.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Big, big change for the baby this week. She is partially mobile. First, we put her here.
Not much later, she is here. Tada!
Clara is fond of this book, but maybe only because of the title.