Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't believe Thanksgiving has already come and gone! This year has flown by! No doubt, due in part to some big events - new baby, new car, new school for Gabby, and some great vacations. The Grillo family has a lot to be thankful for this year! For starters, the excellent selection of wine that was available last night!

 When the Sullivan family gets together, you can bet you're going to try some of the finest grape juice around. This year's gathering at my Aunt Carol's and Uncle Barry's was no exception. Some of the gems that were brought: Hundred Acre, Astralis, Sea Smoke, Carnival of Love, Kosta Browne, Talley Rosemary's, and Alban. Some stellar wines for sure. It was great to enjoy them with dear family members and reflect on how neat it is to see my own kids running around the same house I did as far back as 25 years ago.

Gabby and Ellie adding marshmallows to the sweet potatoes.
The Kids table.

Scotty with my cousin Danielle. He loves her!

I am so thankful for my great family and friends! Enjoy your holidays everyone!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cool Sunset

Snapped a few pics of today's sunset... Captured some good ones that included Santa Barbara Island, which is only visible on the clearest of days...

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Well, Well! Time certainly does fly. Here it is, the middle of November and I'm writing about Halloween. I think I'll dispense with the windy narrative and just post some pictures for your enjoyment!

Our little group of trick-or-treaters who are all growing up waaay to fast. In the background: Jeff Huber's election wishes. (sadly, neither one made it).

Jake Hammer and Gabby Cat.

Cowboy Owen.

Davia "Dorothy" Huber.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A busy month (Part 3 of 2)

 Note from Nic: This post is a bit late, sorry...

Alright, time to bring some closure to this windy series. This part is a fun one - it involves a party, baseball, and yes, more cycling.

A while back, I told you about my experience with Ride for a Cure and about how I had met Oscar, who I rode with that day. I rode with him again for the Steve Hartt Memorial Ride. During that ride, he told me about the Amtrak Century, which goes from Irvine to San Diego, with the return by private train. I was absolutely interested, even more so after he told me that you could send a cooler of beer down ahead of time to enjoy on the ride home! The ride is limited to 1200 riders, and I was warned that it sells out quickly, and that I should register as soon as it opened. Well no kidding, I registered when it opened at 8AM, and it was sold out by 8:30. Fast forward 3 months to 9/11 and the ride... As is typical with our crazy social schedule, we had been invited to a family friend's 30yr Anniversary party on the same day down near San Diego. Since I had already paid for the ride, I was bent on making both work. If you've ever been to one of my family's or family friend's parties, you would understand that riding 100 miles and then attending such a party would be asking a lot of one's self.  Alison wasn't thrilled about the idea of having an exhausted zombie of a husband at the party, but I reminded her of my superhuman energy stores, and made plans to drive down to the start of the ride in Irvine myself. She would drive down separately, drop the kids at her mom's (Thanks Loretta!) and meet me at the Carlsbad Sheraton where we had booked a room for the night. The second thing I had to work out was how I was going to get from the ride's finish in downtown San Diego back up to Carlsbad. After a bit of research, I discovered that I could hop on the Coaster train with my bike and be dropped off in Carlsbad! Everything was coming together nicely!

The Ride

I got to Irvine around 6AM and met up with Oscar and his wife Kelly, who would also be riding with us. We all did the usual pre-ride rituals and snapped the obligatory photos. Headed out around 7 and started on our route towards San Diego. This ride was a bit different than the last SD right I did in that it took us up into the OC foothills, and then down into San Juan Capistrano. I felt much better during this ride than on my last one and it really showed in my overall time. 100 miles, 5:35 total, with an average speed of 17.9mph. Not bad! What's more, I finished 12th overall. Now, I know it wasn't a race, but that still feels good!
I had a little time to kill between the end of the ride and my train to Carlsbad, so I called up my buddy Scott Sears. Scott happens to be part of the management structure at Petco Park, and luck would have it that a Padre game was going on just then. He invited me over to take in a bit of the game and have a beer. What a day! I stayed for about an hour, then headed out for the train station. Of course, I had to make a pit stop at 7-11 to grab some frosties for my train ride!

The Party
Although somewhat tired, I rallied and we headed out to the party. The party was in honor of my parent's good friends Jeff and Maureen Hawke, who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. It was held at Maureen's fathers house in Fallbrook. The house was unbelievable. Something like 14,000sq.ft. with a catfish lake out front, a pool out back, and a palm tree farm beyond that. The living room could have been designed by Charles Foster Kane himself. Huge, marble everywhere, and a fireplace that was bigger than my bedroom. With the sun setting behind the hills, it really was a beautiful venue for a great night! It was a great celebration with so many good friends and plenty of dancing to an awesome band (same band that did our wedding party if you were there). And yes, the rumors are true. I did end up in the pool in my boxer shorts. Another wild night in the book!


Since we were already in San Diego (kinda), we thought it would be fun to catch a Padre game with the kids. We purchased some park tickets for the Sunday day game, which allow you to hang out on the grassy hill out in right field at Petco Park. It was a beautiful day to be chilling on the grass, taking in the game.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sad to learn of the tragic death of Roger Lyon while flying doctors on a medical mission to Mexico. He was a family friend and fellow pilot. All our best to the family in this dark hour.

RIP "Chop".

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lobster hunting in catalina

If we don't catch any lobsters tonight, we surely won't starve...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Busy Month (Part II)

Upon returning from my adventures in The Great White North, I was ready to spend a great weekend with the fam. But first, one more mini adventure before the busy family weekend. A few weeks prior, my friend Dan Rodriguez had invited me to see the 49ers vs the Chargers. In SF. Since we share a love of aviation, he also had the great idea that we should fly up there together. It took a lot of convincing to get me to agree. So, the day after I got home from having abandoned my family for a week, I turned right around and abandoned them again. But only for one night this time! I flew up to Paso Robles (PRB), picked up Dan, and we made our way up to SF (SQL). Did some great tailgating with Ryan Grenier and Craig Henderson. We cracked open a few brews, and Dan showed me how to core jalapeƱos "the mexican way", which was a lot faster than the "whiteboy way". Great game with great friends! The next morning, after some fried chicken and waffles, we had Craig take us to the airport to start our journey back. We departed SF (SQL) for Paso (PRB), but decided to make a detour to Coalinga and Harris Ranch (3O8) for lunch. Yes, I had a porterhouse. For lunch. After fried chicken and waffles for breakfast. If you've never been there, Harris Ranch is the third largest beef producer in the nation, and has their own runway outside their restaurant. Pretty unique. They have a store where you can buy steaks to go, and they will package them on ice for your trip home! They also have AvGas, which we were in serious need of.

Not even pausing for a single night's sleep in my own bed, I got home from the airport and helped Alison load up the car with kids and gear. Really, I didn't do that much. She had everything ready to go when I walked in the door. She handed me Scotty with instructions to put him in the car. Of course, SHE contends that she also handed me her suitcase with all her clothes/running gear. I recall no such hand off, but more on that in a minute... After catching a quick glimpse of my home, we were off to the Sheraton Anaheim and Disneyland so that Alison could run the Disneyland 5K the next morning. After an uneventful, traffic-free drive to the OC, we arrived at the hotel and began to unload kids and gear.
Somewhere during this chaos, Alison asked (in a bit of a panicked tone) "Where is my suitcase?"
"Suitcase?? What Suitcase?"
Then, in a more panicked voice: "The one with all my running gear that I handed to you by the front door and told you to put in the car!" she gasped.
"You didn't hand me a suitcase. You handed me a kid in a carrier!"
"I handed you a suitcase too!!!"
"No you didn't!"
"Yes I did!!!"
"No you...."
Because I could tell this was going nowhere fast, I decided to listen to my husband's sense of self preservation and bite the bullet.
"Okay, after dinner, I'll drive home and get it."
Crisis averted. Hey, what's a few more hours on the road?? No big deal.

We met up with Kati Sears for dinner, a friend of ours who had signed up for this run with Alison. We had a great dinner at Catal, a Patina group restaurant at Downtown Disney. Alison and I have dined here a couple of times, and it's a pleasant upscale escape from the tourist mess that is Disney. After a couple glasses of wine and an excellent meal, we headed back to the hotel and I prepared to make my dreaded round trip. It ended up being not too bad. KROQ was in the middle of a flashback weekend, and my mind was kept occupied singing along to tunes not heard since my high school days. Doctor Green Thumb by Cyprus Hill anyone? It was about midnight by the time I made it back to the hotel, absolutely exhausted.

Somehow, we were up at 4:30AM to get going. Alison headed out to meet Kati, and I got the kids up and going. The kiddos and I made our way over to Disneyland to get a good spot to see the girls run by. As it turns out, the course winds its way through the park, and finishes in California Adventure. We were let into a spectator section near the finish line, and I selected a great spot to get some good shots of the runners. I got some REALLY good ones of Alison! Hehehe!

Hey, this is getting pretty long and I'm kinda tired! I think I'll make this a 3 part series... Stay tuned!

A Busy Month (Part 1)

Boy, time sure does fly. This may be a long one. In fact, I think I'll just make this a two part deal. It's been more than a month, and quite a bit has been going on. When last I wrote, I had just come off of a night out with the boys. This time, I have a few more solo outings to report on (Part I), but also some excellent quality time with the fam to round it all out (Part II).

I had to attend the ASRS meeting in Vancouver, BC in late August. Being just a short drive from Whistler, I decided to head up a day early and head up there for some mountain biking. I arrived the night before my ride, and shacked up at the Westin. I was given a room looking out on the village and barren ski slopes. Since I was hungry, I ventured out into the village to find some grub. I checked out a few spots, and settled on a tapas bar. Can't remember the name, but it was the only such place in the village. On a tip from my buddy Craig, I selected an entree called "Poutine". A local delicacy consisting of fries, covered in: cheese curds, grilled onions, bacon and foie gras gravy. Washed down with a local IPA, I was in heaven. Fat and happy, I headed back to my room to get a good night's sleep before my adventure the next day. I hired a guide and a bike from Whistler Bike Guides. I opted for the full day ride, and it was seriously epic or "gnar" in the local parlance according to my guide Brian. I was excited to arrive at their shop and find a Santa Cruz Carbon Blur LT (about $6000 worth of hardware) waiting for me. That's like stepping up to the rental counter at Hertz and being told "Sorry sir, but the only car we have left for you is a Ferrari". Well, that's ok THIS time... Ha! I couldn't wait to get going. I was introduced to my guide Brian, who happened to be the local grocery store manager, and took side jobs as a mountain bike guide. He was great, and made the day worth every penny. I won't bore you with every detail of the ride - the pics that follow should tell you what you need to know - but I would absolutely go back and do this again. It was supremely beautiful and challenging terrain.

I was going sooo fast, not even the camera could stop me. HA!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A great boy's night

I had a great night out with the boys tonight, and I am compelled to write about it. Even at midnight and with a broken hand. It started with an invitation from Jeff, who had come across some excellent tickets for a Dodgers vs. Padres game in an auction. He asked me, as his lone Padre enthusiast friend, to join him, Keith, and Paul for game 2 of the current 4 game series. I humbly accepted. I offered up a pre-game dinner downtown, but only Paul was able to accept. We all made angements to meet up in our seats.

Paul and I stopped in for dinner at Fleming's at LA Live. It was a fantastic dinner of the finest beef, complemented by an excellent '05 Silver Oak Cab (alexander valley). I wish that Jeff and Keith could have joined us, but it was great to share a rare one on one brother in law moment.

We made our way over to the ball park, where Keith and Jeff were waiting for us. They had procured a few beers to welcome us, and the boy's night began. It was a close game, and there was quite a bit of shit talking among us. It is tough when all of your friends don't share the same team allegiance, but it was light hearted banter. Of course, the Dodgers went on to win the game 2-1, but no matter. This was simply one of those nights that it just felt good to be out with the dudes. After all, we did win 10-5 the night before. After the game, we spent some time in the Base Box club, putting down a few more Bud Lights and free cookies. I must say, never before have I left the stadium AFTER the rest of the fans. 

I drove Paul back to his car, which was at his office. As I was driving home, I got a call from Paul. "Hey, are my keys in your car?" Sure enough they were, so I drove back to his office.

As I was driving home, several things occurred to me:
1. Boy's nights are a good thing.
2. Family is a good thing.
3. I really enjoy being a Dad, and the most important thing to me these days is watching my kids grow and learn. Helping Gabby shed her training wheels was the highlight of my week month year.
4. I am really lucky to have a wife (really more of a best friend) that balances me and makes me whole.

So I'm really glad I decided to tap this out before I go up to bed, but I'm tired now. Good night.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ride Report: Steve Hartt Memorial Ride - San Pedro to San Diego

This is a ride that I had been wanting to sign up for since I first started cycling three years ago. Back then, as a new road cyclist, I joined the Peninsula Cycle Club which is based at The Bike Palace in San Pedro. They organize an annual century ride (100+ miles) from San Pedro to downtown San Diego. This year, I was free and in decent cycling shape, so I decided to sign up.

As luck would have it I contracted a nasty cold about two weeks prior to the ride, which was right in the middle of my training ramp up. I also injured my right hand in a softball game the week before, having fallen on it after making a miraculous game saving catch. Well, not really miraculous or game saving, but I really did catch it. Since the swelling and pain were significant, my first thought was that I might have broken my fifth metacarpal bone, and that I'd be done for the ride. But I did a few test maneuvers and since I could still hold a handlebar, I decided that I'd do the ride anyway. I figured if it still hurt on Monday, I'd go see the doc (FYI - I have an appointment today at 5).

The Ride
I woke up early to help Alison get the kids ready since they were going to drop me off at 6:15am and then continue on down to the SD Zoo. Somehow, amid all the packing and makeup application we made it out of the house on time. We arrived at the ride, where I unloaded the bike and got ready to go. Alison and the kids wished me luck and headed off on their 2 hour trip to San Diego as I prepared for my 7 hour one. I met up with Oscar, who I had ridden the Tour de Cure with back in May. I was glad to see him, as I didn't know many people on this ride, and we are pretty similar in cycling ability. After some pre-ride anouncements, we got underway. Just outside of the parking lot, I rode over a set of railroad tracks. The bumps from riding over the rails went directly through my bike, to the handlebars and of course - into my right hand. Ouch! I knew right then that this was going to be a looonng day. And so it was with every pothole, pavement crack, and driveway. Eventually I got pretty good at pulling my right hand off the bar just before such obstacles, and was able to manage the rest of the ride in this way. I started off with the fast group, and stayed with them until the first rest stop at Huntington Beach. It was a bit of a stretch to try and keep up with them, and burning so much energy early is likely what caused me to bonk later in the ride. I regrouped with Oscar and we started out on leg 2. We rode at a good pace, but not quite as fast as the lead group. I fell into a good rhythm, and we were in Dana Point at stop #2 before I knew it. I had been keeping up with my energy gels and hydration pretty well, and was feeling good at this point. I refilled my bottles, had a snickers and some fruit and was ready to go again. This leg was the most interesting to me since it covered some ground through San Onofre and Camp Pendleton that is inaccessible to cars and that I hadn't seen before. At one point, we were riding on a runway that the marines use for training! We also had a brief stint on the 5 freeway that led us to our lunch stop. After lunch it was back onto the 5 for another 3 miles and made the exit for Oceanside and the Coast highway. Somewhere around Carlsbad at about mile 80 I began to fade. For awhile, I could barely turn the pedals and it was everything I had to keep it moving. The next 10 miles or so were a blur. I regained some steam by the Torrey Pines hill climb at mile 94 and made my way to the top. I felt better for the last 15 miles, and once I hit downtown, I was reinvigorated. I charged through downtown and made my way to the finish. There was a cooler of beer, which was a welcome sight. Coors Light has never tasted so good. I sat with Oscar and enjoyed my beer. He mentioned that he kinda deflated around mile 80 too. I think next year I will definitely remember to start out a little easier and conserve some energy for the long haul!

Final Metrics:
112 miles
16.5mph average speed
3400ft of climbing
7947 calories burned

It's broken. Fracture of the 5th metacarpal. Have to see a specialist. Possible surgery, cast at minimum. Greaaaaat. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I made it.

112 miles. 6:47. That hurt. I'm calling room service to order 3 double cheeseburgers. And then I'm going to bed for a few days.

Friday, July 23, 2010

LA-SD ride tomorrow

So tomorrow's the big ride. 112 miles. I've been under the weather for the past couple of weeks, which cut out a large chunk of my training. I'm not worried about being able to ride the distance, but I certainly don't expect a record time. As usual, I've enabled my location, so feel free to follow me down the coast!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad...

I've had a whirlwind of activity surrounding me lately. Work has been exhausting, with my company having announced a recall of our main piece of equipment. Since I've sold 20 of them, I've had about 20 fires to put out this week. Some infernos, some embers, but none of them easy to go through. It's hard not to feel like a jerk when you've convinced someone to spend a very large sum of money with you, and then have to come back and tell them that it doesn't work right and that they can't use it for awhile - regardless of whether or not it's your fault. Dealing with the ins and outs of daily life on top of that has left my emotional gas tank pretty low. I've tried to keep a good attitude, but sometimes you just can't help feeling like crap. One thing is for sure - my wife has lifted me out of the gutter on more than one occasion.

Like last night - She surprised me with reservations for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, and arranged for my folks to watch the kids. A date night is a special thing, especially when we get to go to a romantic french bistro way across town. But what I didn't yet know, that was going to make it really special, was that she had discovered that they were doing a Tour de France inspired prie fixe menu! We walked in, and I noticed a small advertisement sign for the dinner and said "Hey look, they have a Tour de France menu!". She gave me a coy look and said "Yeah, I know". Sometimes there are just not words that express how much you appreciate and love someone... The food was outstanding, the service was excellent (as always with Patina restaurants) and the evening - perfect. Thanks babe - You make my life rich.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Napa Gran Fondo

This weekend, I took the family on a road trip up to Napa, CA to participate in the Echelon Napa Gran Fondo. In Italian, gran fondo means "big ride". Big ride indeed at 100 miles and 4500+ ft. of climbing. I was joined by my college buddy Ryan Grenier, and his friend Chris.

We left LA on Friday and made pretty good time up to the Bay area. We stayed in SF Friday night so that we could have dinner over at Jeremy and Damara's house. It was great to visit with them and introduce them to Baby Scotty. After a great steak sandwich dinner, we headed back to the Airport Westin. Got up Saturday and had a light breakfast before heading into the city to do some shopping and meet up with Ryan. I had previously agreed to transport his bike to Napa, since he drives a very small sports car (he's a pretty small guy). As always, we had a lot of fun shopping in the Union Square area of SF. Alison, picking up some new clothes, and myself getting a new pair of Oakleys for riding and some new Livestrong apparel at Niketown. You'll see these awesome eye shields in the pics that follow.

In the afternoon, we headed up to Napa, and checked into the Westin Verasa. A fairly new property, it's located right on the Napa river, and just over the bridge from downtown. They set us up in a  two room suite, complete with a kitchenette! Since we had some time to kill before our 7:30 dinner reservations, we took the opportunity to enjoy happy hour in the hotel bar. We had a great carb loaded dinner that night at Bistro Don Giovanni with Ryan and his friends Chris, Gina, Brad and Mickey. It was a great evening, and despite the late hour (for us anyway), the kids were great! By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 11PM - much later than I had planned to go to bed. Oh well.

Woke up before my alarm at 5AM. Went through my ride prep ritual and headed downstairs to get the bikes set up. Grenier showed up at 6:45 and we made our way into town, where Ryan's friend Chris was staying. We met up with Chris and had his wife take the obligatory pre-ride photo. Surely you can see why it's been suggested that I offer my services to Trek as a male model. Since the Bumblebee (aka Ryan) drank so much coffee, he had to make a pitstop. Fortunately there was a large collection of Port-a-Potties at the start line, so we headed that direction.

The Ride

What perfect weather for a ride. It had rained the evening before, but today - no clouds in sight. The temp was a pleasantly cool 65 degrees with no wind. We took position in the starting chute and waited for the gun. We had lined up a bit early though, and wound up waiting for about 45min. Eventually they got around to it, and kicked things off with the national anthem. Shortly thereafter, the starting gun fired and off we went. Despite the intense rotor-wash of the helicopter that was on hand to take pictures, we crossed the 3rd street bridge under Police escort and made our way out onto the course. We rode the first 20 miles or so at a rather lively pace, averaging almost 25mph. Life's pretty easy when you're in the middle of the peloton! At the turn towards Lake Hennessey, I backed off my pace a bit and settled in for the first big climb of the day. It wasn't too bad, about 6% average and 2 miles long. Ryan and I caught up with Chris at the first checkpoint. After a quick bio break and water refill, we were back in motion. This was the starting point for the time trial. Another climb of about 4 miles, and we were at Lake Berryessa. Chris took off somewhere during the hill climb, and that was the last we saw of him for the rest of the ride. He ended up finishing about 45min ahead of us. The route paralleled the lake, with several rolling hill sections for about 15 miles. Ryan and I got separated during this section, but I ended up waiting for him at the next stop.

At Mile 60, the Howell Mtn. hill climb began. It was a 4 mile long climb up Ink grade, with the grade varying from 6%-14%. It was brutal. Thankfully, it was well shaded by trees. At the top was another rest stop where I had a sandwich and rested my rather sore ass. Filled up the water bottles, and back on the bike. The ride down the hill from there was pretty awesome. Speeds of 40+mph and some fun curves. The road made its way back down to Silverado Trail, where we turned north to Calistoga and the turn around point. This was a tough 10 mile section, as a strong wind was in our faces the whole way to Calistoga. We were only averaging about 14mph here. The final aid station was at the turn around, offering the last energy drinks and snacks of the ride. I downed a Coke, grabbed a handful of energy gels, and went to wait for Ryan who was frequenting another Port-a-Potty. With 25 miles to go, we got on the road heading back the way we came. This time with the wind at our backs, as evidenced by an average speed of about 24mph. This section was relatively flat, and was pretty much just a mindless spin back to town. The last few miles were kinda fun as the excitement of finishing got closer! We made it back to the Start/Finish line just barely over 6 hours after we started. My goal was 6:30, so I'm pretty pleased with that.

Will I do this ride again? Absolutely. It was a beautiful and challenging ride. I will certainly work on my training strategy though. Next year, sub 5:30 for sure!

Final Metrics from the ride:
Avg Speed 15.8
Max Speed 41.8
Calories 7933
Avg Heart Rate 153
Total Ascent 5075 ft.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The 100 Miles of Nowhere (a.k.a. 62 miles in my garage)

Over the past year, I have become a fan and regular reader of the Fat Cyclist blog, written by Elden "Fatty" Nelson. This year I decided to participate in his 100 Miles of Nowhere ride. Scheduled for May 8th, and intended to support Livestrong, it is a 100 mile ride that you do on a trainer, rollers, or in a very small area. Actually, you can do it wherever, or however you want. And make up some kind of ridiculous category that only you will win (or enter for that matter).

My ride got off to a slow start. I intended to get up early so that I would be able to finish by late morning and have the rest of the day for the wife and kids. I was going to be riding in my garage on the trainer. Since I just moved my home office out there, that meant that my new computer complete with Blue Ray drive was all ready to show me the complete 4th season of Magnum P.I. while I rode.

Ran into a bit of a problem at this point... A few weeks back, I dropped my Garmin Edge 305 while running out to the garage, late for a group ride. Still worked fine, with the exception of the Mode button. No big deal, since I only really use the Start/Stop and Reset buttons and it was on the screen I normally use. So as I mounted my bike to begin my ride, it occurred to me that I wasn't going to be able to access the menu to disable the GPS and use the wheel speed sensor to calculate distance. Crap. What to do? Crack open the Garmin and do electronic surgery, that's what. A brief search of the internet granted me instructions on how to crack open the case, and it was on!

So as you can see, those three small parts comprise a lever of sorts that press down on that gold button when you push the rubber side button in. Simple enough concept. Now, if I could just find a leprechaun or someone else with very small hands to reassemble this button... But then I remembered that I am a sales rep of retinal surgery equipment\instruments and have all the tools necessary to work in a very small space (like an eyeball or a Garmin GPS). Thanks Alcon!

So to make a long (and tedious) story short, I got the button reassembled, and put the Garmin back together (with superglue, so I hope nothing else in there breaks). Turned it on, and it actually worked! I could now begin my ride! But since I promised the family I'd be done by 11, I now was left with 2.5 hrs to ride my 100 miles. Which meant I was going to have to average 40mph. Couldn't think of any 100 mile long steep descents nearby, so I opted to ride as much as I could in that time, and come back later that night after the kids went to bed.

On to the Ride...

Despite the fact that it was an absolutely beautiful 72 degree Southern Cal day outside, I was happy to spend the morning in my garage for such a great cause. Especially since I had such a great chance of winning my Category 6 race. I ended up getting about 35 miles in before my time limit expired, so i hit pause (another benefit of being the only racer in your category) and reported for family duties. Had a great day, and made it back to the garage by 9PM to continue my ride. Cranked on, this time watching Iron Man (Thanks for the idea Fatty). By Midnight, I was beat. I decided to hang it up. Final Distance, 62 Miles. Looking forward to doing it again next year!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Post Ride - Long Beach Tour de Cure

I started my day at 4:45. Woke up with great excitement about the Tour de Cure. I've been looking forward to this for awhile, as it was my first organized long ride event and I'd be riding for a good cause. I selected my Cal Poly Wheelmen jersey and shorts for nostalgic purposes, and also to be easily recognized by my family and friends who were going to be on the course cheering me on. Grabbed a bowl of Wheaties Fuel - a new cereal that Alison picked up for me. Eating Grape Nuts all the time gets old - gotta mix it up, ya know?

The sun was rising as I headed down to Long Beach and the Queen Mary. A beautiful morning indeed.

I selected the longest available ride which was 60 miles. It was to start at 7AM at the ship and make its way over the two terminal island bridges (closed to bikes every other day of the year) and then up through San Pedro and around Palos Verdes.

Showed up at 6 and made my way over to registration, picked up my number (465), and headed back to the car to get ready. Put on the helmet and gloves, and pumped the tires up to the standard 120psi. I was ready!

I made my way over to the starting chute, and since there weren't a whole lot of people lining up yet, I ended up near the front. I noticed a guy wearing a Peninsula Cycle Club jersey (same club I belong to) and introduced myself. His name was Austin Oscar and we chatted for a bit.

The Start

After a nice rendition of our National Anthem, we were off... Passed under the baloon arch and was on my way. I started off in the lead group, which was about 30 riders. It was a fast pace, but not too fast. We rolled down Shoreline Dr. to Ocean, and made the left for the bridges. On the uphill side of the first bridge, the lead group splintered a bit, and I dropped back. By the time we got to the Vincent Thomas, I was about 1/4 mile back of the lead group. While climbing the VT, Austin caught up to me and offered some encouragement. I joined up with him, and ended up riding the entire ride with him. Little did I know that we would end up the #1 and #2 finishers!

We charged through San Pedro, and came to the Anchovy St. hill. My Garmin reported that it was a 16% grade for about 1/2 mile. It took all I had in my smallest gear to get up. I know it was all I had because my heart rate monitor read 185bpm... Right about my max! At the top of the hill was my family, all cheering for me! It is amazing what a little encouragement from your family members will do for you! We passed the lead group at this point, who had all stopped to help with a flat.

We pressed on, starting the loop of Palos Verdes. Pretty uneventful for the next 20 miles or so. This is my usual weekend ride route, so I felt comfortable and led the pace for awhile. About the time we hit Malaga Cove, the wind had picked up, and was unfortunately out of the east - the same direction we were heading. It made the next 10 miles pretty rough! By the time we reached the switchback climb of PV Dr. East, I was beginning to feel the burn. I powered through it and made it up to the top. From there, it was mostly downhill for the remaining 15 miles. Austin Oscar led the pace for most of the last part, which helped me to keep my speed up. I was tired, but I wanted to beat 3:30. We flew back along Anaheim and ended up back at the Queen Mary 3 hours and 28 mins after we began. Austin Oscar came in First, I was second.

It was a great ride, and I look forward to doing it next year!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ready for Tomorrow

All set for the big ride tomorrow. Washed the bike, loaded it in the truck with the rest of my gear. Even laid out my Cal Poly Wheelmen jersey. I was especially good at dinner, limiting myself to one cocktail. Shocking, I know! I've added my realtime location to the map above so that you can follow my progress. The ride starts at 7AM, and I'm guessing I'll finish around 11AM. I will surely write about the whole experience later tomorrow! Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Milestone

So lately I've been cycling a lot, with the goal of building endurance and getting faster. I have signed up for several events this spring and summer, and I'd rather not look like I have no business being there. While reviewing my training history in my Garmin yesterday, I noticed I've been fairly successful. This despite having two kids (one brand new), and being extremely busy at work (worked 5AM-8PM Monday). Fortunately I have a very tolerant and extremely capable wife, and have gotten good at picking the right times to get out and ride. Usually very early Saturday morning, or when the older kid is at school. Anyway, as I was scrolling down the Garmin log, I noted that when I started cycling last year (or was it two years ago?), my average ride was about 10 miles with an average speed of about 15mph. I also weighed the most I ever have - 217lbs. Lately, on weekdays, I'm averaging 22 mile rides at a pace of 19mph. On the weekends, I'll usually do a 50 mile or longer ride. Last weekend I did 60.2 in the hills of PV and averaged 17.2mph! Not too shabby (for a middle-aged fat kid anyway)! All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my effort and the results I'm getting. Which brings us to the Milestone...
I stepped on the scale yesterday, and for the first time since college, the first digit wasn't a 2. That's right folks - 199.8lbs. Next stop: 195!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to the Grind..

Today was my first day back to work after taking some time off for Scott's birth. I really enjoyed hanging at home with the family, but I'm also looking forward to getting back to work. I've got some big numbers to achieve this year, and in sales, business goes on hold when you are on vacation. Sure, the boss can put out a fire or two for you, but the big stuff requires me.

Last week was quite an adjustment, mostly in terms of sleeping. But even with all the changes, it's remarkable how quickly it all began to feel normal. Alison and I worked out a pretty good nighttime schedule. She would feed, and hand off to me for the post feeding diaper change and sleep re-initiation process (harder than it sounds). The first few nights were pretty rough with Scott sleeping for 2, or sometimes as little as 1 hour at a time. It felt like as soon as I would fall asleep, Alison would wake me up. It did get better... Now he's going at least two, sometimes three hours between feedings. He also falls back to sleep much quicker. My friend Dan gave me some encouragement today by telling me that his son is now sleeping through most of the night after 5 months. Awesome. Only 4.5 months more of this. It's not all bad though. The entertainment factor is pretty high. This kid is extremely explosive, and the noises involved have caused Alison and I some ridiculously intense 2AM laughing fits. I'm talking can't breathe, face turning blue type laughter. Maybe we were delirious...

Even though I was a bit sleep deprived, I did surprise myself by squeezing in some solid rides, including a 61 miler on Saturday. That's my longest distance to date, and with the exception of a sore butt, I felt great afterward. Looking forward to the ADA Tour de Cure Ride on May 2nd. It is a ride to support diabetes research, and has courses of several lengths. I've signed up for the 61 mile route, and am excited to ride over the terminal island bridges, which are closed to bikes the other 364 days of the year. I'll be riding for Barry, Maggie, Emily and all the other people out there that could really use some advancements in diabetes research! If you would like to join me on the ride, or donate a few bucks toward a great cause, check out my page!
I've also signed up for The 100 Miles of Nowhere on May 8th. This ride is organized by the Fat Cyclist and supports Livestrong. It's rather ridiculous in that you don't ride anywhere, but instead ride 100 miles on a stationary trainer, or in a very small area (like a cul-de-sac). Sounds like my kind of thing. I'll let you know how I do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Scott's first few days

Well, it has been 3 days since Scotty joined us and I've loved every minute. Quite an experience to watch your baby join the world! Was all the anticipation worth it? You bet! From earlier posts, I'm sure you've gathered that I'm a pretty restless (my wife's phrase for that is extremely impatient) person. Can't sit still for very long at all, no sir. But somehow, when I hold Scott, I can sit there for hours. Seriously. I held him for his whole 3 hour nap yesterday. Okay, so I was watching Hunt for Red October at the same time, but still. I can't get enough of holding him and just watching him sleep (which he does a lot). I don't think I'll get tired of this either. At least not until he starts asking to borrow the car.

It's been a bit of a learning curve... the sleep deprivation will take some adjustment (I was quite a bit slower than usual on yesterday's ride - #tired). But for all the newness of it, there is something familiar about it. Instinct maybe? I have an idea of what it is I'm supposed to be doing, and though I may not figure out the best way to do it the first time, I usually get the job done. Like anything, skill refinement comes with time.

Skill #1: Swaddling
Watched Alison do this a few times, and had it licked. Easy.
Skill #2: Diaper Changes
Not all that hard, IF you can get him to stay still. Notice that's a big IF. Haven't been peed on yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time. Don't really mind the messiness of it, but the smell... yuck.
Skill #3: Feeding
Not much I can do for now... I get a pass on this one!
Skill #4: Getting the kid back to sleep after feeding in the middle of the night
How the hell does this work?? I seriously suck at this! I tried several things last night, some bordering lunacy, but nothing worked very well. Like I said earlier... refinement in time. Riiiiiight.

Well, gotta go, but I'll continue later and put up some more baby pics! Time to fire up the BBQ and have a glass of wine! Herman Story Syrah tonight!

Friday, March 12, 2010

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He's here!

Scott Edward Grillo has arrived! 8lbs 14oz. 20.5" long. Mom and baby are doing great! More to come later...
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Dilated to 9. They just called the doc... it's go time!

Dilated to 6 now. Things are moving! Looks like we might make my 1:00 guess!

Okay, so I'm revoking the pass I gave to the anesthesiologist. Bonehead forgot to hook up the epidural line to the catheter. After he left the room, I noticed that the line was hanging free and pumping the sweet feel good nectar onto the floor. I held up the end of it and said to the nurse "should this be connected to the catheter?" She said "um yeah". Alison said "hmmm. I wondered why I was beginning to feel the contractions again."

Epidural administered. Classic anesthesiologist; personality of a post, but he did get Alison to happyland, so I'll cut him some slack ;-) Things are moving pretty fast now... contractions every 1-2.

Getting stronger

Water broken... contractions getting stronger! Hard to see my girl in pain. Third in line for an epidural... The anesthesiologist is sure taking his sweet time!

Baby Scotty's Birth-day

Well, here we are. One week overdue, and now checked into the hospital for labor induction. Alison has been dilated to 2 for the last two weeks or so. On arrival this morning she was at 3, so it looks like things were beginning to progress on their own. So far so good... Started the petocin at 6:30 and contractions are coming every 5 minutes or so. The nurses think she'll go fast. I've staked my money on the 1:00 hour... how about you? Stay tuned!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holding patterns

As a pilot, I've never been fond of holding patterns. Endless racetracks of boredom that you are forced into with little or no control of avoiding. It seems the last weeks of pregnancy could be called a holding pattern. Almost a week ago the doctor told Alison that she was dilated to 2, and ready. She told us not to go very far. She even went so far as to say that she wouldn't be suprised to get a call from us that night. Liar! Here we are a week later, anxious out of our freaking minds! The nettled looks I get from Alison when I ask if anything is happening yet are telling me I should probably stop asking. But I can't help it! This is maddening.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010


We are officially on baby watch now. With exactly two weeks to go, and keeping in mind that Alison was three weeks early with Gabby, I am rather anxious at this point. I can't wait to meet "mini-me". It's a feeling I can relate to other big events in my life, like the night before my first real job, or the night before our wedding. Except that this time, it lasts for weeks! Genuine anticipation, excitement, curiosity and perhaps a smidge of fear.

As I worked in various hospital operating rooms last week, I was diligent about placing my mobile phone in a location that guaranteed cell reception. No way am I going to miss "the call". As previously mentioned, I've limited the distance from home that I am willing to travel so that I am not more than 1 hr away - a timeframe that Alison and I have agreed will allow me to get back before the serious fireworks begin. If I'm lucky, it will happen on one of my home office days, or in the middle of the night. Time will tell!

Over the weekend, Alison and Gabby left me alone on Saturday to go shopping with my mom. This gave me the opportunity to embark on an epic cycling journey. I've been trying to increase my mileage in preparation for some upcoming rides that I plan on participating in. Fortunately the overnight rain had cleared, and it became a beautifully clear day. It started out as several of my recent Saturdays have; cycling with the donut ride group. For those unfamiliar, the donut ride began back in 1984 at the Winchell's donut shop (now a starbucks) at PCH and Avenue I in Redondo and has been a Saturday tradition at 8AM ever since. It loops around PV with several big hill climbs, tours San Pedro, and ends up back at the start 35 miles later. I was a bit late getting out of the house, and ended up meeting up with the group about 2 miles into the ride. Similarly to the previous few Saturdays, I was only able to maintain the furious pace for 20 minutes or so and was then ejected out the back of the peloton. Not the slightest bit discouraged, I continued on with the ride. It was a great ride, and I still had a lot of energy when I got back to Redondo, so I continued towards Manhattan Beach. I turned around at the pier, and headed back home. 3 hours, 22 minutes and 55 miles later, I made it home. Hopefully I'll beat that this weekend, but that depends on the rain!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good Weather, Good Food, Good Life...

Today was one of those winter days that SoCal kids long for... 72 degrees, sunny and that much closer to spring. I worked out of the home office today; something that I have been too busy to do for the past few weeks. Having imposed travel restrictions on myself for the two weeks prior to my wife's due date, I've been working long hours and traveling a lot to make sure my outlying customers are taken care of before I check out for awhile. It makes a man nervous (especially one of the sales rep variety) to set his business on cruise control, but this is a situation that I just won't allow myself to compromise on. I'll be taking a few weeks off after my son is born, and I am really looking forward to it. Am I anxious? Just a bit.
Since I've been out of the home office for awhile, the pile of crap on my desk had gotten rather high. Fortunately my wife makes one of the best egg sandwiches around, and I had all the energy I needed to tackle such a pile. I waded through it, returned overdue emails, and took calls for the better part of the morning. I hate office work, but sometimes it just needs to be done. Lunch came and went, and before I knew it, it was 3:00. At that point, I had had enough. Time for a ride. Grabbed the new Madone and headed out.
Today was the first day of a new training program I'm trying out. The Time Crunched Training Program by Chris Carmichael, who happens to be Lance Armstrong's coach. I picked up his book a few months ago, and liked what I read. On 6-8 hours of riding a week, I can seriously improve my speed and endurance. Two things that I could certainly use improvement on, which I became acutely aware of riding with the donut ride group. Getting dropped by guys that are almost twice your age is rather humbling. The ride today was great; perfect weather, great route, and felt strong. Wasn't a fast ride at all, but focused on keeping my HR in a certain range, and keeping my cadence steady.
If you know me, you know that I pride myself on what I can do on a BBQ, and tonight was no exception. Pancetta wrapped Filet Mignons with cracked pepper and Japanese Akuni Sea Salt graced my Weber tonight. They were as awesome as that sounds. Alison whipped up some home made blue cheese dressing for the salad, and I opened some Hitching Post Pinot to bring it all together.
It's days like these that make me thankful for the great life that I have!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catching Up...

Hello All... It's been awhile since I last posted here. Mainly because this blog started out as a simple narrative of family vacations, and was sort of forgotten. I stumbled across it again as I was signing up for Google Buzz (more on that in a minute) and it occurred to me that this could be a useful tool for keeping a loose record of the events and happenings in my life. I've started following a few well known blogs on the internet like FatCyclist, and it just seems like an effective way to do it. My intent is that this is really more for my own memory, but I am also happy to share these things with you, should you be so interested. Think of it as an open personal reflection, if you will. I plan to update it frequently... We'll see how that goes.

Google Buzz - It seems like a neat idea. It appears to try to combine several services that I currently use: Gmail, Twitter and Facebook. It also adds location, which is cool in certain instances. But as I was filling out my profile, and selecting how much information I wanted to make available to the world, I started thinking about how careful you have to be with these services. Our lives are becoming ever more public with things like Facebook and Twitter, but how much is too much? Does anyone really have time to understand exactly how these services work and if all this information is being protected exactly as they desire it to be? I have attempted to do that, but it does take some time. I think I've done a pretty good job of being social without going overboard. Then I get to something like Picasa and I'm not sure what to do. There are a lot of things there that probably shouldn't be public, either for my sake, or that of my friends, and those things are properly marked private. But what about normal family pictures? It's nice to have them in a Public album so that relatives and friends can view them easily, but is that safe? Am I being paranoid, and if I am, why am I writing about this on a Public blog?? What happened to my carefree invincibility that i had back in college? Oh, that's right. I'm married with kid(s), which I wouldn't trade for the world, but it's funny to think about how I used to love being all about me and fun. Now I love being all about my family and protecting them and about how much I enjoy watching the kids have fun. So what does all this mean? Hell if I know, but I do know that life changes fast, so remember to make the most of the now! Oh, and make sure you set your Facebook to "Friends only"!