Thursday, October 28, 2010

Max the Model

Last night I looked after the Lukester and Max and as part of their routine, they had baths. Max decided he wanted photos taken and since I only had my iPhone with me, we had to make do. All the photos below were taken under Max's direction. He decided the pose and the camera angle and I just followed his command. I was amazed at the creativity of this little 4 year old. Do we have a budding movie director or portrait photographer in our midst?


Fall on the Water

Barb and I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday to get the boats on the water and see the fall colors. We drove to Bull Run Marina where we were lucky enough to find only a few others present and soon we were paddling into silence except for the sounds of nature. This is such a therapeutic past time, I could actually feel the stress from the week slide off my shoulders with each dip of my paddle.
 Barb chillin' on the water.

We saw plenty of blue herons and this one let us get quite close before he took flight. 

The leaves were spectacular and we were so lucky to have this breathtaking display to ourselves. The water was like a mirror doubling the beauty of our surroundings with its reflections. It still amazes me that in such a heavily populated area, so many people prefer to shop or just sit in their homes instead of getting out and enjoying nature's wonders.
Not us!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"You came through 'cause I almost said goodbye." Frampton '95

Friday afternoon rocked my world because Rob called. And later he came to see me. And we're back together. The distance is a huge issue but he thought we had something worth saving, and he was right. I'd never let go and he said he never went away. So now I am pain free and happy again, fervently praying the period apart can make us stronger together.
So not many photos were taken over the weekend and I'm not going into details about every moment, but Barb and I had planned to go down Gordonsville way on Saturday to drop into Jessie and Jim and also show her some of the sights, some abandonments and the flea market in Louisa, so we still did that. This house was on our travels... was Gordonsville Lake.

We also went into town to check out the abandoned building by the railway line.
Walking along the track Barb pointed out a Santa Claus toy in one of the windows which I assumed had been there for some years. We wandered around to the front of the building and I was surprised to see clothing on rails and some furniture out on the porch, and was then astounded to see that the building I'd thought was empty was actually very much in business as the Gordonsville Emporium. I had been so sure a few months ago that the building was vacant. We were glad we hadn't climbed in through a window from the back. Dammit, lost photo op, the owner's face would've been a picture!
We went to Rob's where Barb got to have a drive on the tractor and Rob let us go up the road and back on our own.
We finished the evening with steaks on the BBQ and beers and then we took Barb back home. We passed an old Citroen CV2 and noticed a world map with a route marked out was painted on the side. I did some research and found this. Give it a few minutes to load as it's translating from French. It's not up to date but is interesting. I also found the car's history here. We saw them heading south on Rte 29 so they were on route to Florida.
The next day Rob and I spent alone apart from some time chatting with Jessie and Jim. Well, I chatted with Jessie while Rob and Jim played with Jim's tractor. 
It felt right to be back with Rob and as well as a lot of talking, there were also a lot of laughs. Earlier on in the day, I'd helped Rob with some exterior painting. He was on the roof and I was on my ladder. I couldn't resist a dig. "So, you really thought you could've found someone on to climb ladders and paint your house then, did you?" I asked. Quick as a flash, he responded, "Sure did, she's over there," and nodded in my direction.
Walked right into that one then. We nearly fell off the house laughing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seagull Century Photos

Occasionally along the route of the bike ride we would see photographers crouching down by the side of the road. These took photos of each and every rider on the route and I'd foolishly assumed that we'd get a token photo sent to us as part of our registration fee. No such luck!
So I was sent a selection of 'proofs' from which I could select the ones I liked and pay an extortionate fee to have them printed and mailed to me. The cheapest 5 x 7 option was $13.95 for 1 photo. Stuff that, so here's the 'stolen' proofs that I thought were OK. They're obviously low resolution so not really worth Photoshopping but they're good enough to post up here for the sake of memories. All these were taken near the start of the race since I still have my sleeves on but the only one of me without sleeves is at the finish line.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seagull Century, Salisbury, MD

Barb and I traveled up to Salisbury, MD on Friday afternoon to take part in the Seagull Century ride on Saturday. This would be the furthest I'd every ridden, the previous longest trip had been about 20 years ago when I rode 80 miles from London to Brighton in England. So on Friday night we stocked up on our carbs and downed a few beers with a steak dinner.
We woke on Saturday morning at 4:30am and slowly roused ourselves mentally and physically for the day. I'd had every intention of eating a healthy energy packed breakfast but the most I could manage was a half bagel with cream cheese. I watched Barb in admiration as she scoffed her cereal and milk along with a hard boiled egg fueling her body for the miles ahead.
We drove to the parking lot along with hundreds of others, pumped tires and checked emergency repair and food supplies then headed to the start. The start time was between 7:00 - 9:00am and we were there for 7:15. The sun was only just peeking over the horizon and I was glad for my sleeves in the grey chill.
I felt a little apprehensive, was I really up for this? But before I could ponder too long, we were off! It was exhilarating to be part of such a huge moment and I was grinning from ear to ear. A couple in front were arguing furiously because she wasn't wearing her gloves and he was insisting she return to get them. She didn't.
There were no cars on the road and almost immediately we were in the countryside where it felt as though the temperature had dropped further.
I remember I looked at my odometer and thinking 1 mile down, 99 to go but quickly pushed that thought out of my head. I pedaled faster to get into the sunny spots as I was freezing and my fingers kept going numb. Of course, it was only the girls who were audibly complaining about the temperature, the men were just gritting their teeth.
But after an hour or so, we warmed up as the sun rose and before long we were at our first rest stop of 20 miles.
 By now I was ravenous, and woofed down another cream cheese bagel, a banana and a fig newton. I noticed people were stuffing their shirt pockets with supplies so I grabbed a few things too. I met a guy who was also riding a Bianchi and he was amazed that I'd managed to find a helmet the same color as my ride. Duh! I'm female, of course I'm gonna match.
Our view while eating breakfast was spectacular but at 30 minutes, we spent too long at this stop and resolved future stops would only be 10-15 minutes.
So off we went again, but I still kept my sleeves on as the air was still brisk.
I was amazed at how little traffic we came across and the vehicles that did approach were very considerate. Cries of 'Car!' and 'Car Back!' went back and forth to keep everyone alert. Pace lines started picking up speed with groups of cyclists hurtling past and I was itching to join them but being my first long ride, I decided to be cautious. Definitely next year I'll join some of those. Everybody chatted to each other and then I pointed out to Barb some cyclists in front. It was the Calamity Couple from earlier who were now arguing about how their helmets should be worn. I considered staying behind them to enjoy the entertainment but decided I really didn't need to listen to them on such a beautiful morning. We stopped for our 40 mile break but I only ate a banana as I was still full from earlier. After a brief 10 minutes we were off again.
Yay! Abandoned house. I wanted to explore but had to satisfy myself with a photo. I spent the next 20 or so miles chatting to other cyclists. One guy was 70 years old and couldn't remember the exact number of centuries he'd ridden but it was between 50 - 70! Another guy introduced me to a 79 year old who was cycling his first century and had just returned from a vacation in Colorado where he'd been rockclimbing. I was humbled by these seasoned athletes and proud to have met them. I only saw one teenager on the route riding alone, a couple of others were riding tandem with parents. 
A  DeLorean DMC-12 seen on the side of the road, the model used in 'Back to the Future'.
 I rode to the top of the bridge that linked the mainland to Assateague Island, our 63 mile rest stop. Here's Barb approaching...
 ...and me racing down the other side. We saw 2 ponies and a foal who were by the side of the road and that was enough. Before, I'd wanted to check out the island but now I was focused on finishing with no distractions. We fueled up but again I didn't eat much despite being told to eat as much as possible because we would have headwinds all the way back to Salisbury.
I had to get a photo of these two as it's not too likely I'll see people with helmets on playing in the surf in the near future. The water was warm enough to frolic yet I was anxious to leave. I didn't want to start relaxing. We were already seeing SUVs loaded with people and towing trailers laden with bikes. People were dropping out. We rode to the bridge again and immediately noticed the change in the wind, it was against us. I picked a guy in front who was maintaining a steady 14-15 mph and paced him for the next 10 or so miles before he slowed down so I overtook. I'd lost Barb by now but we stayed in touch by texting.
This pretty scenery prompted me to pause momentarily and snap a photo but I'd lost interest in taking pictures now and needed to focus on keeping my pedals rotating at above 10 mph. Occasionally along the route there were small groups of people handing out free water, brownies, bananas or encouragement with ringing cowbells and shouts and placards. At each rest stop, these folk were present again with their cheery chanting as they heralded our approach or sent us on to the next leg. I'm sure these people were aware of how grateful we were, they certainly helped me to keep going. The knowledge of apple pie and ice cream at the last stop kept my legs pumping especially since I'd heard that it would only be there until supplies ran out. But strangely enough once I had the plate clutched in my paw, I didn't want it. I had a few mouthfuls and then chewed on some beef jerky. 
 Me with the Green Genie. After filling both bottles with water I set off again. I'd covered 86 miles and 101 miles was the finish line. A 15 mile ride to me is usually like walking to the mailbox and back but today it seemed like the end of the world. The headwind was still with us and only a mile or so down the road, another SUV and trailer went past filled with those unable to finish. My heart went out to them and I hoped they'd succeed next time. There weren't too many other riders at this stage and the pace lines had long gone. I stuck my head down and pedaled.
My last photo before I finished was this Farmall tricycle tractor, my favorite make. I had passed a father and his small son earlier sitting on a beat up old tractor and had yelled out, "Massey Ferguson?" to him as I passed. He had beamed in acknowledgment and I was well chuffed I'd managed to identify the vehicle successfully.
I watched my odometer as the miles dragged by and refused to let my legs slow down. At the final 3 miles point I began to pick up speed again. I approached a junction with another cyclist and immediately the police officer stopped traffic so we didn't even have to slow down. We called out our thanks and he responded, "Go bikes!". The police were absolutely superb throughout this course helping us through and as we passed through small towns, the locals were happy to stop and let us by. The only wanker I saw was a guy on a motorbike in one of our rest areas who nearly ran a woman over and then yelled at her. She'd done nothing wrong.
As a group of us cycled back into Salisbury, we saw a lady in a wheelchair on the curb smiling at us and waving, and I heard her call us 'incredible'. I was glad to be wearing sunglasses as that selfless comment made me cry.
And then there it was, Salisbury University and the tunnel to the finish line. We crossed the line to cheers, bells and horns and an incredible relief that I could finally separate my posterior from the bike seat. 
 I parked my bike near others that had been abandoned and grabbing a bottle went in search of water. None to be found! Not that I looked very hard as round the corner was the beer tent which was much more appealing. I grabbed a glass then went back to the finish line to await Barb. One guy asked me to take photos of him crossing the line so I obliged and then Barb came through.
He's the one posing in the middle, bless him, nearly stealing Barb's thunder.
Once Barb was done, we didn't hang around. It was back to the hotel to shower and then head out for dinner and beers. Our euphoria didn't last too long though after we'd eaten. Tiredness flooded over us and our heads drooped. We couldn't believe it as we scuttled back to the hotel before 9:00pm. But Barb reckoned our legs had turned around 60,000 revolutions so we didn't feel too guilty. My rolling time had been a modest 7:16 hours, which next year I hope to knock down by at least 30 minutes as I'll be going faster over the whole course. We were very happy bunnies that night and slept like logs. 
I was amazed to find that the next day although my legs felt tired, I didn't have any pain or soreness. And none in later days. We spent the Sunday exploring a little town called Berlin which we'd skirted on our bikes during the course. I had an excellent seafood omelette and 2 mimosas, finally awake enough to celebrate our success. It was two very smug and satisfied ladies who drove home later that afternoon!


I expect most of you have noticed that there has been little mention of Rob in the past few weeks. This is because our relationship has been floundering and is now over. The distance was causing issues and there wasn’t enough between us to sustain our bond through the weekdays when we didn’t see each other. I was also acutely aware that my life in Centreville was being severely neglected because of every weekend being spent in Gordonsville. Rob had little interest in getting involved with my side of the world and I was feeling the toll with having to do all the traveling.
I have no regrets as I have found two wonderful new friends in Rob’s neighbors, Jim and Jessie, and I can now identify tractor models. It has felt wonderful to get back into my activities again and to not feel so exhausted after each weekend. Autumn has arrived and I am looking forward to paddles, pedals and hikes to see the beautiful colors, getting back into urbexing and most importantly spending more time with the very dear friends who were neglected during the summer. And just maybe, I can find someone who wants to do these things with me...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Another Day at the Office

So we had one of our top clients call the office in a distress. “I need to order another 150 shoehorns for Monday! They have to be delivered on Monday!”
We looked at the order. “But you have 150 shoehorns, why do you need more?”
She nearly screamed, “Because I’ve just rechecked the order and there’s 150 pairs of shoes, so that’s 300 shoes, so I need more shoehorns!”
Yes, she’s blonde...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Blue, Big Red & Green Genie

Saturday was a spectacular warm autumn day and perfect weather to be on the water. Barb and I headed down to my favorite place, Pohick Bay, for a day of kayaking. Today would be exercise for upper body and core while tomorrow's cycling would be for lower body and core.
There were only a few other cars in the parking lot but no one to be seen on the water. There was evidence of the recent flooding and high water; weeds covered the usually clean gravel and branches floated in the water.
The wildlife was abundant with constant sightings of blue herons and egrets while the fish jumped continuously out of the water.
 We pointed our boats towards seclusion leaving civilization behind and basked in the hot sun and the noise of nature. After a while we parked in some lillies for a break and contentedly drank a beer as we soaked up the solitude.
We paddled deeper into the bay and started heading towards the creek. The water was higher here than I'd seen it before and after battling against the current and eddies, we pulled into an inlet for lunch. Barb had a little trouble maneuvering her boat...
After we'd finished laughing we continued to fight our way upstream and it was tough. The current was strong and cascaded quickly over fallen trees, submerged trunks and rocks and other obstacles which had been carried downstream from the recent flooding. But it was a great work out and after battling a couple of small rapids we turned our boats and let the current take us downstream again.
 I had often wondered what happened to Wilson, the ball in the movie Castaway, and here he is. We found him in the weeds!
Barb had definitely got the hang of kayaking in a very short time and was feeling pretty confident about going into deeper water. We headed back to where Stuart was parked and I left Blue on the roof and put Big Red into the water. This is my new baby and I was anxious to see how this bigger sleeker craft would fare cutting through deep water.
 It was comparable to driving a Mini and then getting into a Rolls Royce. A little bit of a wobble as I adjusted to the narrower longer body and I had to work a little harder to compensate for the additional length and weight but it handled like a dream. I felt like I could paddle forever.I'd like to use the term 'precision engineering' but that's a bit silly with just a plastic hull, isn't it, but the chines made all the difference (watch the video on Big Red).
We crossed the bay and I noticed how easier it was than when I paddled in Blue although it couldn't turn as fast as my smaller boat. After exploring the coast a little on the other side, we realized that it was nearly 6pm so headed back to Stuart.
 The sun was starting to drop towards the horizon and I still needed to get 2 boats up onto Stuart's roof. The water was like glass as we pushed towards the coastline. We had been out on the water for 7 hours. I still wanted to stay out but fatigue was overtaking me.
I'm extremely pleased Barb has caught the kayaking bug as we are now planning trips to paddle and take photos of the fall foliage and even trips in the snow. A twilight or moonlight paddle could be fun also to see the night wildlife and cook dinner over a fire on a beach. Can't wait!
Round 2 started early on Sunday. I blended myself a banana milkshake before meeting Barb for our cycling trip. We were starting from Ashburn and cycling to Purcellville and back. I didn't take many photos on this trip because it was all about the exercise rather than being a tourist. 15 minutes into the ride, we came across an ambulance on the trail and some poor cyclist was slowly being edged onto a stretcher. Oops!
The scenery was pretty and we were soon into the countryside. Here's Barb's bike and my Green Genie which I've pimped ready for our 100 mile ride next weekend. We only stopped occasionally for water breaks or to stretch our backs and before I knew it, we were cycling across Charles Town Pike. That hammered it home how far we'd ridden out. 
At the end of the WOD trail is Purcellville and we decided to stop here for lunch. But no beers, or we'd never make it back.
We ate in the White Palace which was one strange but friendly little place. From the outside it looked like it had been dragged here from Arizona or New Mexico. Inside, the decor was very old fashioned family diner style with country and western music. Yet on the walls were some atrocious modern works of 'art' from local 'artists' and the owners were latino. It was awesome. The food was plain but good and hit the spot, while the service was fast and friendly. We left satisfied and glad we'd not been tempted by alcohol. We'd managed to refuel in about 30 minutes so we hopped on the bikes and got going immediately before we started feeling that 'need to nap after a meal' sensation.
We pedaled quickly as dark clouds were starting to gather and rain was expected by around 3pm. It was close to 2pm and we still had over 20 miles to go. We barely stopped on the way back as it seemed that the trail on the way back was downhill. I was surprised how fast we traveled and we beat the rain and the clouds back to Ashburn. With a distance of 43 miles notched up we felt great. We both managed to get home and snuggled inside our warm houses before the rain finally fell from the sky. What a fabulous fit weekend. I actually think I'm ready for our big ride next Saturday.