Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tiburon Loop, China Camp and French Fries

Has it really been so long since I have written a blog post?
Could be because Jerry and I were off the tandem for quite some time. I did ride some while not writing, but not much.

But now we are gearing up to ride from New York to Washington DC at the end of September, so the training is going to have to get serious. We are doing the Climate Ride ( in case anyone wants to donate...) which raises funds for a whole host of non profits. Jerry and I have picked Earthjustice, a non-profit law firm that has done pro bono work for a large number of environmental groups, and World Bicycle Relief, which builds and supplies bikes to developing countries, seriously changing lives.

My back went out a couple of weeks ago, but we have managed to do some riding, and the riding has actually helped a good bit. When I'm on the bike I don't feel any pain. It's so wonderful. The back is slowly getting better, and I'm convinced riding is helping.

Our last couple of rides have been around Tiburon, but today we decided to ride out from the house and cycle China Camp, a beautiful park quite close to our house. It has some hills, but nothing hideous. I had found that pushing hard to climb was aggravating my back, but today was no problem. We rode fast and strong, though only a little more than 20 miles.

We plan to ramp up our mileage the next couple of days. Tomorrow, we are heading for Cottage Grove, OR. There is a small airport right next to an inn, so we've booked a room and will be able to cycle on over. It's around 25 miles from Eugene, so one plan is to hop on the tandem and ride to Eugene for lunch. It's fairly flat, so 50 miles should not be a problem.

Along with ramping up the miles, it's time to ramp up my healthy eating. Along with not getting much exercise, I have been eating lots of not great for me food: a terrible combination. I have been having a love affair of late with extra crisp french fries. I believe in everything in moderation, but I've gone really over the top with fries. So, while I have no plans to cut them out of my life, they are going to have to seriously become a once in a while, not twice a week, food.

To try to make up for my unhealthy eating, I've been keeping the house well-stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. Today is the day I would normally go to the Farmer's Market for lots of organic produce, but alas, it is July 4, and the Marin County Fair is in full swing. I assume there is not market today, and even if there was, I'm steering clear of that area.

We did do some pretty spectacular eating and drinking for our anniversary, which was June 23. For the last two years I've been out of town for our anniversary, so we decided to make this year special. We had dinner where we got married, and spent the night at the Inn at Occidental, where we spent our wedding night. We also visited some wonderful Russian River wineries, did some tasting and brought home some lovely wines.

The winery where we got married has changed hands, so the food is no longer Greek, but it was okay. We got a charcuterie plate to share, and honestly, we could have stopped with that, But dinner came next. For the life of me I can't remember what I had. So while I remember I enjoyed it, it was seriously not that memorable. I have stronger memories of our wedding dinner. Desserts didn't interest us-- they were mostly chocolate, which I don't eat-- so we passed on it. I did have coffee, which was also pretty unmemorable. Not strong enough for me.

We are going to go out to lunch today, and I will do my best to steer clear of fries. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Boise and Trout Amandine

I have not blogged in a long time because I have not been riding my bike. At all. I was having some back trouble for a while and lately life has just gotten in the way. But in a good way.

This weekend Jerry and I went on a really great adventure. We loaded 20 small dogs into the back of the Mirage and flew them to Boise, Idaho. There are lots of large dogs in Boise, but not very many small ones, so they are a shoe-in for adoption. They were pulled out of a shelter in Oakland, along with an additional 20 dogs flown in another Mirage by Yehuda and Cindy. Yehuda lives in Southern California and Cindy lives in Livermore, which is where we picked up the dogs. They have rescued scores of dogs this way-- picking them up from crowded shelters in Southern California and the Bay Area and flying them to Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Vancouver.

The dogs were incredibly well behaved during the flight. We'd hear an occasional yowl or whimper, but I think they mostly just relaxed or went to sleep for the two and a half hour flight.

Once we got to Boise, it was a different story. They wanted out. But the only out they were going to get was to be loaded into the Boise Humane Society trucks and vans. Once they reached the facility though, they were unloaded into warm, cozy cages replete with blankets and doggy beds. I think their future looks pretty bright.

After we transferred the dogs, we headed to downtown Boise, which was actually a bit bigger and cosmopolitan than I had imagined. We stayed at a very nice hotel, Hotel 43. Large bed, fluffy towels and even a little stuffed bear in a bathrobe to great us. The room also had a Keurig with dark roast coffee.

We made plans to have dinner with Cindy and Yehuda, and I set out on line to find a good place. Not easy to find a reservation at 7 on a Saturday night, even in Boise. The top Yelp picks were booked until 8:30 or 9 but I took a chance on a place called Cafe de Paris. I saw they had Idaho trout on the menu, and I figured, how could I go wrong with that.

And right I was. The trout was really perfectly cooked and the slivered almonds were wonderful. The sauce was not too heavy. It was accompanied by asparagus and rice pilaf. Jerry and Cindy had salmon, and they thought it was great. Yehuda had a chicken dish. He didn't rave about it, but he ate it, so I would call tht a success.

We even ordered a bottle of Idaho wine-- a Meritage that was perfectly acceptable. The only downer was they were out of creme brule, so I made do with a cup of good coffee.

Sunday morning we found a good breakfast place and ate too much, but the red potatoes were so good I had to eat at least some of them.

We strolled around town and then made a pilgrimage to the Boise Goodwill. We found Jerry a nice sweater and I bought some holiday tins.

The flight back went without a hitch, which is as it should be.

I hope we get to hear some news about the dogs we delivered. I'm rooting for them to get great homes.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fairfax and Glop

Jerry and I aren't really training for anything, but we know for our peace of mind and body, we need to ride. So on the weekends we are getting out the tandem and taking it for a spin.

Today we meandered along a bike and walking path and then hit the road to Fairfax. The path was pleasant, running alongside a creek. Mostly, we could get around the walkers and the slower bicyclists, although admittedly our speed was slower than usual. What bothered me more than slow walkers and cyclists was dogs off leash. Believe me, I love dogs. Love them. Want each and every dog in the whole wide world to have a home. But what I don't like is for dogs to be off leash while walking an on-leash path. It really is for everyone's safety. We weren't chased, but we did have to swerve to avoid a dog sniffing his way around the path; neither he nor his guardians were paying any attention to what was going on around them.

Once we hit the street it was better. We headed through the land of 1,000 stop signs until we got to Fairfax, where we had to dismount. Fairfax was holding what was I guess, an antique car show. We had to walk through, and there is little I like to look at less than old cars. I'm not all that wild about new ones either. But we made our way to Fairfix Cafe.

I'll start by saying I really like Fairfix Cafe. Their hummus is wonderful; I love their felafel and I've rarely had better tabouli. But today, I ordered the chicken gyro, figuring it would work well since I overindulged yesterday.

I was wrong. The bits of chicken-- I'm pretty sure it was chicken-- was drowned in what I presume is their version of tzatsiki. It pretty much tasted like nothing and there must have been two cups in there. It was like a really overmayonnaised chicken salad. I opened it up and picked out some of the tasteless chicken and wiped off the tomatoes and ate them. But it was horrible. Horrible. I'll stick to felafel from now on.

We finished and walked our way back through the cars to a spot where we could get back on the tandem. We ran into a fellow ALC'er who was out for a far more serious ride than ours. We say hello and then both took off.

We took a different route home, mostly staying off bike paths, which increased our speed and my enjoyment.

A shower and some relaxing, and we'll head out to a movie later. Last weekend we saw "Premium Rush," which starred actors playing bicycle messengers. It was a hoot. Very not real world, but with that many bicycles in it, how could it be bad?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Carrot Cake and Mindful Eating

Weight Watchers is all about mindful eating. Portion control. Trade offs. But this week was Jerry's birthday and I admit, frequently, my eating was mindless. It was all about senses-- sight, smell and certainly taste.

On Jerry's actual birthday we went to the Panama Hotel, a neighborhood restaurant that is a favorite.

We ordered appetizers of a beet salad (mindful) and mushroom ravioli (no doubt, mindless). I stayed pretty well under control with my entree-- grilled salmon with root vegetables. I ate only half, saving the rest for another day. And one glass of Zinfandel. But I did have dessert-- a peach cobbler with Tahitian vanilla gelato. And I ate it all.

The next day was austerity mode. I know skipping breakfast is generally seen as a no-no, but I woke up absolutely not hungry. I met a friend for lunch and had a blt, which believe it or not, is Weight Watcher friendly. No mayo, two slices of bacon really does not add up to a lot of points.

But last night we had a birthday dinner. Our friends Sha and Lora, and Jerry's sister Donna and her spouse Linda were guests. Donna and Linda are vegetarians, so I decided to do a no animal flesh dinner. The dinner was to be simple, so I went heavy on the appetizers.

We had a feta and sun dried tomato dip with endive for dipping, Jerry's favorite aged-Gouda cheese, olives, and roasted Brussels sprouts with Balsamic vinegar. All pretty light and mindful.

Dinner was another thing. No matter how you look at it, pesto is fat and calorie laden. The pasta itself, and then the pesto, which I made with pine nuts, garlic, butter, olive oil, Parmesan, and, of course, basil. I used angel hair pasta, which for me, is the right pasta with pesto. I had gotten some tofu with garlic and black pepper at the farmer's market, so I added that as well.

I roasted some lovely squash I got at the farmer's market, and that was dinner. For dessert, we had a carrot cake that I made with olive oil. It was light and really delicious. I made a cream cheese frosting.

And I had a million glasses of wine. We started with a Wellington Victory Reserve, which was delicious, and moved on to a cab and a Zin. Really, three bottles of wine for six people isn't outrageous, but it seems every time I turned around I, or someone, was filling my glass.

So today I am back to austerity. We shall see what Tuesday's weigh-in brings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Peanut butter, Bananas and Tortillas

I have been ignoring this blog for far too long. I have been busy with Race Across America but that is now over, and I can get back to doing what I love to do. Riding and eating real food.

My week on RAAM was mostly peanut butter and a banana on a tortilla. The racers ate a variety of mostly boring but nutritionally dense food. Quinoa with vegetable soup and chicken made into a sort of stew. Nothing you'd eat at home, but they seemed to love it. Pasta with cream sauce was another biggie.

I felt that the prepared food was for the racers and didn't partake. Hence the bananas and peanut butter. In a nutshell, my diet was hideous and I gained weight.

So once my laundry is done and my life is a bit more normal, it's back to Weight Watchers. I had lost 10 pounds pre race. I think about three of those pounds are back. But I will eat well and healthfully and in time I'll take that weight off and maybe five pounds more.

That is not to say I didn't do a bit of high caloric celebrating when the race was over. Annapolis is my old stomping grounds and I was not going to let a little thing like weight control keep me from soft shell crabs and crabcakes. Yes, we have crabs here in Northern California but they are not the correct crab. I am a blue crab east coast crab girl.

I stayed with my friend Luisa and we went into Baltimore to my favorite restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. She had never been there so it was a real treat for me to introduce her to the place.

As always, the food was perfect. We had a zucchini dip and braised snow peas and pea pods for appetizers. For entree Luisa had a cold plate with farro and vegetables. And yes, I had a soft shell crab.

I was going to order a glass of Peju Cabernet, but the waiter nudged me toward a Maryland Cabernet from Black Ankle Winery. I was not sorry. I can drink Peju here in NoCal.

And it would be a sin not to order dessert at Woodberry, so we got two and split them. One was a raw rhubarb tart with buttermilk cream and rhubarb sorbet. Stunning! I had never thought of using raw rhubarb and I'm going to have to give it a go. The other was a delicious sour cherry pie with cream ice cream. We had a pot of a mellow French press coffee (chocolate overtones-- the only way I have chocolate is in the overtones of coffee and red wine).

I managed to sneak in one more soft shell crab for lunch on my Monday traipsing around Annapolis. I stopped by the dock and saw two solo racers come in. Not much of a crowd on Monday so was glad to add a pair of clapping hands and a cheering voice.

Today will be laundry, refilling prescriptions and definitely some food shopping. Loads of fresh vegetables will be in the cart. Can't wait to start eating well again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bike Fit, Beans and Rice and AIDS

This past weekend would be anything but Weight Watchers approved. Wine on Saturday. Wine on Sunday. And dinner from Sol Food on Sunday as well.

I think I'll work backwards. Jerry and I went to the Trips for Kids fundraiser last night (Sunday). Marilyn Price, the founder and director knows how to put on a good fundraiser. She has a way of talking almost anyone out of donating, helping or at least showing up. There was great food, great wine and beer, and a host of silent and live auction items.

Jerry and I went home with a new bike pump and a bike fit from Colin Beardsley from StudioVelo in Mill Valley. I just got my bike fit from him. Four hours of meticulous tweaking, suggestions and adjustments. While Jerry is reasonably comfortable, I figure getting precise dimensions wouldn't hurt. We bid pretty much the asking price, but hey, it's for Marilyn and the kids.

The speaker at the event was Shimon Iforgethislastname, who takes incarcerated kids in Israel on mountain bike rides. His talk was endearing, inspiring and insightful.

The live auction, which included a custom made Tom Ritchey frame and a bike signed by Robin Williams was fairly successful. And considering everything is donated, my guess is the organization did quite well.

The dinner was catered by Sol Food. It is a favorite restaurant of many of my friends, but Jerry and I have never been all that enamored. Until last night. The beans and rice, after being doused with their house-made hot sauce were fantastic, and to my surprise, I loved the plantain fritter as well. We both drank too much wine and I'm a bit dehydrated today, but it was a great evening.

Earlier in the day we did our traditional ride out to Pt. Reyes. The bike had new handlebars, a new saddle and last week's new crank and shims under my right cleat. Each change made the riding experience better. While I don't think anything will help me completely get rid of right side chafing, it was markedly improved.

We again rode faster than usual out to Pt. Reyes. To our delight, when we arrived we ran into a passel of Positive Pedalers having lunch, so we joined them. Not only did we have great company, we had great leftovers. Congratulations all around on my election to their board, which was heartening. The Pos Peds have just opened their board to non-pos people, and I'm one of the first batch. I anticipate a lot of hard, but rewarding work.

On our way back we started having serious chain trouble. Definitely time for a new chain. We had to stop a couple of times to untwist it, and the ride was a bit rough, but we made it.

We stopped in Nicasio for a port-a-pot break and a little rest. On the porch sat a woman, probably in her 80s, eating a hot dog. I was wearing my Pos Ped jersey with the Nelson Mandela quote on the back. She read it and was obviously moved. Turns out she lost two sons to AIDS in the 80s. She was pro gay marriage and joined our sentiments for a cure. She lauded us for our years of riding and supporting HIV causes.

This was the second time in one day when I was reminded of how AIDS has taken too many from us. Earlier in the day I saw a posting on Facebook about Larry Wisch, who died on Saturday from AIDS. Larry was one of my best friends in Baltimore. We met playing volleyball. The night I badly sprained my ankle coming down from a spike he sat with me for hours in the Emergency Department at Union Memorial, telling me stories and making me laugh. We became great friends after that long night. We lost track of each other after one of us left town-- I can't remember which one of us left first-- and I didn't even know he was living in San Francisco. And now he's gone.

AIDS is still killing people. The treatment has come a long way but we are still too far away from a cure. I want to see that, and I want to see it soon.

So that was Sunday. We spent Sunday with another tandem couple: George and Nancy. They are taking a year off from being bike techs on AIDS Lifecycle. They are both great techs, but my guess is, Nancy will be especially missed. People who have ridden all year line up for Nancy to do bike fits on Day Zero, and then throughout the week.

Nancy and George are members of several wine clubs, and they took us to a Cinco de Mayo celebration, which, according to the invitation, included lunch. The invitation was wrong. There were not all that many appetizers being passed, with no main course in sight. We had each had a glass of wine and we were ready for a real lunch. So we decided to head out to Napa to look for real food. When we finally found a parking space we headed to the first spot we saw: a pizza place. I tried to keep Weight Watchers conscious with a mesclun salad with dressing on the side. The dressing was tasteless, so I opted for plain greens. Jerry had a little pizza, and I admit, I had a small piece. The pizzas were much better than the salad, but I was still keeping things fairly in check. We headed to a winery where Nancy and Georg are members, and I tasted two reds. They were good, not great, so I was not tempted to have any more or purchase any.

Since we knew we were busy Sunday night, our usual movie night, we headed out to see the Avengers Popcorn with no butter would be dinner, so ultimately, despite the wine, I kept within my Weight Watcher goals.

The movie was a lot of fun, with a few of those unmistakable Joss Whedon lines. Again, not great art, but fun.

I have not cooked in about a week and my eating habits have not been stellar. My plan today is to make a batch of pasta sauce with eggplant as a meat replacement. I cook the eggplant in the microwave until it collapses and add it to my simmering red sauce. It gives it bulk and "meatiness" and makes it pretty satisfying.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Riding, Yes. Eating, Not So Much

The last couple of weeks Jerry and I have been trying to amp up our miles. We rode "Day on the Ride" last weekend, which is an attempt to simulate what it is like to do a day on AIDS Lifecycle. Except the day is generally harder than any day on the actual ride. This year the ride took us over almost every hill in Marin and then into Sonoma. We clocked 77 miles, which is shorter than most ride days, but there is no day that has that many difficult climbs. I'm happy to say we completed it, though the usual spot where the crease in my leg meets my behind was screaming by the end of the day. I knew it had to be time to schedule a bike fit. A fitter in Mill Valley came highly recommended to me, so we made an appointment. I know there are lots of great fitters out there, including at least one friend, but Colin was close by and had rave reviews, so we took ourselves over there. He made some very important discoveries. My legs, are indeed, significantly different in length. It wasn't just my lopsided shoulders and hips; there was a great deal of leg length discrepancy. He put shims under the cleat on my right shoe and recommended we get a shorter crank on the right side. My hope was with less straining to reach, the pain and irritation on the right side would subside. No such luck. On Sunday's ride things seemed to start out well, but that nagging, gnawing began at around mile 40. I do have to say though, that my pedaling power is definitely improved with the changes made. I felt a lot stronger and Jerry and I rode our fastest average time ever. Our hill climbing clocked slightly faster, and overall, we had good to great speed. Jerry's cyclometer is out of commission, so he didn't realize it. He was pleased with the news. We'll go back to Colin later this week for a little more tweaking and maybe a new saddle. I am determined to get this issue fixed before ALC. To get more saddle time, I've started going to spin class. While it is certainly different that riding the tandem, I know it's good for my quads and cardio, so I will make it a regular part of my routine. If nothing else, I sweat a lot. I'm still doing Weight Watchers and I earned 75 activity points this week. But I didn't touch them, and their lies what I think is the problem. I frequently do not use up my daily point allowance, and I think my body thinks it is going into starvation mode, so I am not losing any weight. In fact, this week I gained a little. So, starting tonight, things are going to change. We are going to go out for pizza, and I will have wine with it. I am going to start working on using more points, and ironically, I think it will result in weight loss. Seems counter-intuitive, but my guess is my theory will prove right. I'm not going to pig out, but I am going to start eating more. And I probably will start enjoying it more. I have definitely been in an eating rut: the same green salad with three ounces of chicken; the same cottage cheese and pears. I'm going to mix it up, add a little more excitement and a little red wine. I'm also deep into planning mode for this year's Jonathan Pon Memorial Ride. While I really should be cycling the event, I will be in the kitchen with a few friends, cooking for 200 hungry cyclists. I'm excited and a little nervous by the challenge. The kitchen at Cassini Ranch, where we have dinner and breakfast is woefully inadequate so I will be doing as much prep as possible ahead of time. This is the third or fourth time I've done it and it always is wonderful, but if I didn't worry about it I wouldn't be me.