Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New House, New Projects!

So we bought a house. It's an old house (1940), but it's in great shape. There are certainly some things we intend on changing/updating, but we're pretty excited to own our little piece of the rock. Some things need rather immediate attention, such as the dead lawn, decaying garage door and the necessity of a dog run to contain our dog. Some other things are live-able, and we can change them in time - small kitchen, minimal closet space. So what is project number 1? The dog run, of course! Pooch has to have somewhere to live too, right?

Since the majority of our 13K sqft. lot is in front of the house, there is a perfect little yard in the back, begging to be fenced in. This one will get tackled first. Off to Home Depot! Back with supplies for a redwood fence. I'll build the fence first, then later I will add a base of decomposed granite and top it with astroturf (easier to clean poop off of that than off of real grass).

Firstly, a shiny new post hole digger! Didn't take long at all, and I was down to a depth of 3ft. Dropped about 6 inches of gravel into the bottom, and planted the 4x4x8 pressure treated post. Secured the post at level using stakes, and dumped 100lbs of Quickset down the hole. Added water, and voila! First fence post set.

So far so good... I'll be doing the rest on Friday. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ride Report: Livestrong Challenge Davis 2011

This past weekend was a busy one for me. Full of cycling and visiting friends and family. It started with a stop in San Francisco to visit my college buddy and fellow cyclist Ryan. I then joined my Team Fat Cyclist mates from around the country (and beyond!) at the Livestrong Challenge in Davis, CA. Wrapped it all up with a visit to my Aunt Kathy and cousins in Sacramento.

First Stop: SF
I made pretty good time up to SF once I got out of the madness that is Friday afternoon LA traffic, and rolled into the city around 6:30. Since Ryan lives next to AT&T park, and there was a game preparing to start, parking was next to impossible. Fortunately, Ryan had a solution. He had me park a few miles away, and we hopped on a train back to his house. It was rather interesting, trying to hop on a train full of Giants fans with luggage and a bike. Somehow, it worked out.
After dropping my stuff at Ryan's, we headed out to join some friends for dinner. We ended up at a place called The Front Porch. It's a cozy little place that offers several southern specialties - namely, Fried Chicken. You can also get King Cobra malt liquor, as Craig enthusiastically shows.

As usual, we ordered way too much food, and did a pretty good job of making sure none of it went to waste. We capped off the night by visiting a dive bar across the street - as in, the kind of joint that plays mariachi music, and serves Pacificos in 32oz bottles. Needless to say, the music came to a screeching stop, and several heads turned when the 4 hueros walked in the door. Ha, not really, but it wouldn't have been a surprise if it did! A few beers later, we called it a night and made our way back to Ryan's.

Ride 1: Mt. Tam
Since I had most of the day to kill before I headed out to Davis, I suggested to Ryan that we go for a ride. I asked for something mellow since I had the 105mi Livestrong Challenge waiting for me the next day. "Sure, no problem... I know just the loop for us." said Ryan. He proceeded to say something about an easy 30mi loop, but I was watching the Tour de France and was only half listening to what he was saying. My mistake.

We picked up some coffee and pastries, and made our way over the bridge to Mill Valley. Found a spot to park, geared up, and we were rolling. It was surprisingly cold, and I was glad I had remembered to bring my riding jacket. The ride started off fairly flat as we winded our way up through San Anselmo. Then we started the climbs. Up, up and away we went. All told, we ended up climbing 3100ft over 31 miles. Not quite the easy ride I was looking for, but it was a beautiful ride indeed. 

After lunch with Ryan, I headed out to Davis to pick up my ride packet, and attend the Livestrong Appreciation Dinner. The top fundraising teams were invited to the dinner, totaling about 150 people. As a member of Team Fatty, I was invited to the dinner. It was set in the outdoor courtyard of the Robert Mondavi Center at UC Davis. A spectacular venue, and perfect weather for outdoor dining. As we sat down for dinner, I noticed a familiar person walk by my table. That's right folks - the man himself, Lance Armstrong was in attendance. I snapped this quick shot of him as he said hello to Fatty's table. Yeah, It's safe to say I was a bit starstruck. The dinner got underway, which was a rather appropriate pasta dinner catered by Buca di Beppo. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session with Lance, and several other Livestrong people about the organization and where it is headed. It was a very inspiring evening, and I am very proud to be part of an organization that does so many good things for those fighting cancer. I am also very proud to be a part of Team Fat Cyclist. If you haven't checked out his blog, you really should. Elden "Fatty" Nelson received every award offered by Livestrong this year for his fundraising efforts. While I have nowhere near the super-human fund raising abilities that he does, I am happy to have contributed and to be considered part of his team! After the dinner, I headed back to my hotel to get some solid sleep.

Ride #2: The Livestrong Challenge
Being rather excited to get started, I showed up about an hour early. It was just before 6AM, and I was due to be at the starting line at 6:45 for a team photo. So, I got my bike ready and pedaled around town for a bit. While I was riding around the start line, I decided to take a picture of it. There was a nice lady there that offered to take a picture with me in it, so I happily handed over my camera. Thanks spectator lady! I met up with a few other Team Fatty members that had also arrived early, and we spent the rest of the hour chatting about our impending ride. Eventually the start hour rolled around, and the Livestrong folks brought the whole Fat Cyclist group up to the front for a team photo. 
Photo Credit -
A pretty awesome looking group I think! Next up were some pre-ride announcements, and a pep-talk from Lance, in which he talked about turning Livestrong HQ into a pie shop one day. After a very nice rendition of the National Anthem, they started the Lance and Pals group, and then about 1 minute later, sent us off. Now that he's not racing anymore, I guess he needed a head start! A large group of about 20 or so of us formed into a double pace line and motored out of town at about 20mph. At about mile 10, a faster group of 3 guys rolled by us. I must have been feeling pretty good, because I jumped on the back of them and sped up. They were averaging about 24mph, which is pretty darn fast for me. I stuck with them for about an hour, taking hard pulls every few miles, until we got to the hills. At that point, I just didn't have much left, and dropped back. Somewhere on Cardiac Hill, Fatty rode by and encouraged me to dig deep into my suitcase of courage! I gave it my all, and made it over the hills to the halfway point. After a brief rest at the turn-around, I headed out with Fatty's group again, and held on for awhile before falling back into a more manageable pace. I rode most of ride from there on out solo, until I caught the group again at mile 70. I told myself that I was going to take some decent rest time, but Fatty and several others were just heading out, and I wanted to give it one more shot to see if I could finish with them. Sadly, I didn't last much more than a few miles this time, feeling pretty cooked. I cruised along solo awhile longer, chatting with other riders as we passed each other, until the final rest stop at mile 90 or so. I refilled with water for the last stretch, and headed out. Somewhere around mile 95, MattC and a group of about 4 other riders passed by me, and I decided to jump on. A few miles on the back of their train gave me the rest that I needed to make the final push. I took a turn at the front for the last couple of miles into the UC Davis campus. After that, the group kinda splintered, and Matt and I rode in to the finish together. Even though it wasn't my best performance, I really enjoyed the ride and hanging with a great group.

Meeting up with the Cousins
After the ride, and a stop at In-N-Out Burger, I headed out to Sacramento to visit with my Aunt Kathy and my cousins. I was greeted with very cold beer, and lots of questions about my ride. I spent some welcome time in the pool with the kids, and enjoyed a very nice dinner of Ribeye Steaks BBQed by my cousin Brian. I must say, it's very nice to be in the company of family when you are away from home and exhausted! I was very glad to have the opportunity to catch up with them, and hope I get a chance to reciprocate when they visit!