Oct 19

Just add weekend

A fine fall weekend we had. It wasn’t long enough, but it was perfect and I didn’t do enough with it. So, yes, perfect indeed.

One would think that after a certain number of autumns you would be able to solve this contradiction. First you’d have to realize, though, that it isn’t a contradiction at all. But it is very much a thing.

Those pesky things.

Anyway, we had a lovely little bike ride on Saturday. It was a nice and warm and sunny day. We did it in the little ring, the point being lighter pedaling and a higher cadence, or something. We took one of the very traditional routes and cut it in half. Just the beginning and the end, if you please. And somewhere pretty early on I got dropped, long before it was respectable to be dropped to be frank.

But then there was the turn around and just before I got there, we crossed paths:

And then there were six-and-a-half miles back to the house. I chased on for about five of those miles before I finally got to close her down. That last mile was spent trying to bridge the final bit of the gap and get on her wheel. It was probably 20 minutes of pedaling like crazy, I had no more to give. How racers do that and then attack over the top escapes me.

Saturday night we sat on the deck and made S’mores and looked at the stars, which was pretty perfect.

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Just saying.

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On Sunday afternoon … we went for a walk.

Here’s the maple in our backyard:

We have a fruit tree which doesn’t bear fruit …

And we have a little creek that runs through the woods immediately behind our house. And I love being in the woods. A straight branch here, an almost right angle there, there’s so much personality to slowly feel your way through. Tracks, sounds of critters, curious holes in fallen trees, it all makes for a lovely experience.

This is well down the road, and almost into the string of houses on the other side of the woods, which are just as peaceful and full of magic and possibility:

It’s hard not to be romantic about a place like this:

The colors are just starting to go, too:

And we met a new neighbor, too. Behold, the friendly green frog:

She said he was also having a fine weekend. We’d probably heard her the night before. I’d like to her song all year-round. Alas.

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Oct 19

Let’s go ride bikes!

I’m more than a little disappointed in the HD quality of this upload, but it is a clip from a nice little bike ride this evening:

“My offseason goal,” The Yankee says, “is to perfect the cycling photobomb.”

I’m not sure if the deliberately done, on demand, photobomb is technically a photobomb, but that composition has style. Which is good since it also has some focal quality issues. I’m going to blame the one handed, barely breathing, back camera, keep-it-on-the-road nature of the moment. That’s where the authenticity is, by the way. That’s where the vulnerability is.

Anyway, it was a nice ride. Just using the little ring, thinking about high revolution more than speed. As I have neither, it was just a nice excuse to be outside with my best girl. The shadows are longer, the days are shorter, there’s a bit of different color in the sky, there was a chill in the air once the perspiration began, et cetera.

It made my Monday. What made yours?

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Sep 19

The exercise of the weekend

We did the Outrun Cancer fundraiser Saturday. It was a beautiful, warm, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky, late summer, early autumn day. The sort you can’t take for granted. The kind you do. It’s more apogee than perigee, but definitely neither. It could go on forever, but you know it won’t. You wouldn’t mind if it did, though. You’re not that lucky and so don’t take it for granted, this warm sun, the sting of sunblock in your eyes, the sweat everywhere.

This run on Saturday was the third run on my current rehab tour. I taped up my foot that morning, added another layer and then considered what I’d done previously. On my first run, earlier this week, I did two miles on a 1:1 run-to-walk ratio. On the second run I did three miles, with a bit more running than walking. And easing back into this is important. So naturally I started this 5K with a solid one-mile run. OK, fine, a good jog. After that I walked about a third of the rest. Probably should have had another walk interval, but I was as bored as the rest of this paragraph.

On this particular 5K course around campus you take the last left, go down a little hill and then right back the other side of the next hill. You hang one more left and there’s probably a block or so to the finish line. On that last hill I saw The Yankee working her way up the left side of the road. So I found myself sprinting up the right side of the road and hanging that last, blissful left, to hit the finish line before she did so I could do this:

No matter the distance, finishing with a smile is a big deal in our house.

We walked back to the car in front of this going on in one giant parking lot:

I counted 25 air fans supporting the front of the bounce house, which is billed as the largest in the world. You wonder if there’s serious competition. And if the other guy has surreptitiously come to one of these events and measured the thing, and found it lacking. You wonder if that’s just a trademark, or if there’s something in China or Indiana or Washington state that is just as big or bigger.

You also wonder about why there were security guards in security t-shirts stationed inside the thing. You wonder about how much those people must hate their boss who made them wear the black one today. It was warm.

Now, ordinarily, I’d be especially excited about a bounce house. But the amount of perspiration would only create even more flesh-on-plastic stickiness.

There was a ball pit, and I missed out on it. I had my fill working at Chuck’s in high school, but this ball pit wasn’t like that. The bounce house was so large that for scale the ball pit was filled with beach balls.

They’d be even more demanding to clean after the inevitable accident, I’m sure.

On Sunday we went for a bike ride in the afternoon. It was a nice 20-miler on another Chamber of Commerce day. I got out front early, because I figured if I could hang on through at least two of the pre-planned turnarounds first she’d give me a big smile when we met one another. (She’d do this if she was in front of me, too, but that somehow didn’t occur to me when I was breathing hard.) At one point I probably had about a minute on her and three guys from one of the Little 500 teams picked me up. I stayed on their wheel for a few miles until their route differed from ours, but mostly answered my lingering question: yes, they are faster than me. And younger, too, what’s more.

So through the first turnaround I had the lead, down by the house with the big drive just before the side road rejoined the bigger state road. And then, at the second turnaround, on the quiet little neighborhood road that feels like a private drive, I saw her again. Closer this time. So now I have to pedal harder and faster, because the next section of road favored The Yankee’s strengths, but after that was the one sorta-hill, which favors me a little bit more, somehow. And after that big hill was the third turnaround. And if I got there then that’d mean three smiles!

And that’s how you trick yourself to going a little harder than you think you could. After that it’s hang a left, two rollers, then a right and down to the second of the big hills. Two more quick turns and then you’re back in the neighborhood and through that area I know there’s not going to be an opportunity for her to catch me. Great! I can do the gentlemanly thing and open the door for her.

As I got back to the house I remembered: She had the key.

Sep 19

A fast race

It’s difficult to put a full day of racing, and the many weeks of training beforehand, into less than 60 seconds that you shot on a phone. So I won’t try. But this, nevertheless, was Saturday, a half Iron. That’s a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile ride and a 13.1-mile run to you and me:

The Yankee won her age group, cause she’s awesome:

Her goggles broke in the water, so she swam with one eye, and was the fifth woman out of the water. Her knee was aggravating her on the run so she wisely took it easy. What we’re saying here is that she can go faster if she needs to.

Sep 19

Half parmesan pretzels and a pie, please

When I was in college — ahh, sweet college — there came this new restaurant downtown. All the drinkers liked it because they had a bajillion beers on tap. I forget the number, somewhere between 27 and 72, I’m sure. Truly it was impressive for the time, and probably still is today.

It was a pizza joint, and it turned out to be a really good pizza joint. You can have the taps, bring be the pretzels:

Ate there a lot in school. And then we moved back there years later and ate there almost weekly. And by then there were more franchises of Mellow Mushroom opened up nearby. So I could enjoy it several places.

And now I live in a college town with exceedingly average pizza. It’s a bizarre phenomena, really. The old Pizza Hut is now a Mexican restaurant, El Ranchero Mexican, which kept the iconic Hut silhouette and gets good reviews online. The consensus best pizza in town is on par with a good day at the Hut way back when. In a college town. Isn’t that sad?

So to get good pizza, to get Mellow Mushroom, we have to go an hour-and-a-half up the road, to the north side of Indianapolis. If you think I’m not trying to find reasons to go there regularly, or how to enlist students from that neck of the woods to bring me some back when they return from home you’re wrong.

So very wrong.

My social media campaign to get Mellow Mushroom to open a store here and clean up is also underway.