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Archive for May, 2012

As I mentioned before, there would be no riding this week. That is because I am writing this from Krakow, Poland! Garret and I arrived last Saturday after nearly 24 hours of travel from Washington DC to a layover in Zurich, Switzerland and finally landing in Warsaw. All in all it was, thankfully, an uneventful flight. Flying is NOT my favorite method of travel but a necessary evil.

We met up with one of Garret’s former co-workers. He is stationed with the US Embassy in Warsaw. There we explored Old Town of Warsaw and enjoyed some traditional Polish cuisine (and beer!). My favorite are the various types of pierogi – almost like ravioli, often fried. We also toured the Summer Palace of the last king to rule Poland and the surrounding botanical gardens.

One odd thing about Warsaw is that all the parks, including the botanical gardens, are only for walking (not including dogs). No cycling (forget skateboards and anything else with wheels!), no running, no walking on the grass, no fishing, no littering, no dogs, no … you get the picture. We called them the No Fun Parks. Krakow is different. At least in the Planti (what used to be a wall that surrounded Old Town Krakow, now is a wooded park) you can do all of that and then some. No, I didn’t do any “then some” to test boundaries.

Our second day in Krakow, Poland was absolutely wonderful. We started out with a good walk to Bagelmama for breakfast. It is a bagel shop owned by Americans (yes, I know… I’m in Poland and should eat as they do! 90% of the meals are that way). All I will say is that it was well worth the bit of a walk we needed to take.

Afterward it was a quick stroll to see Schindler’s Factory. Wow. Well worth the entry fee – which is maybe three US dollars. I think it was the best museum I have ever gone through. Each room was completely different and we were immersed in the environments that were carefully chosen. There was plenty of reading in each room and quite a few videos to watch but it was done incredibly well. Even the floor changed with each room making you feel you were at a train station, or in a barber shop, the streets of the jewish ghetto, or even a concentration camp. If you ever go to Krakow this is a definite must see!

With a long day of walking behind us we luckily stumbled upon a great little restaurant tucked away underground in the historic district of Krakow. It was sheer luck that I happened to get curious about an alcove. Inside were steps to a restaurant called Chimera. The atmosphere alone is enough to say “go there!” The food was also decent. Maybe Garret’s pheasant was a little dry but my goose breast and dessert was lovely. I had a wine from Moldova – I love trying wines from various places. As I’ve already said, it was a great little find.

Next it was a necessary trip to Auschwitz. Like Schindler’s Factory… wow. Just wow. It is incredible to walk through those spaces and to see the vastness of the concentration camp. To walk in the gas chamber. To touch the same railing that an SS officer touched. The Death Wall (where hundreds were executed). Surrounded by barbed wire. The emotion is strong and the experience incredible. It is a must-do for everyone. Just to begin to understand – and don’t think you ever will… or ever want to fully understand the atrocities that happened. You won’t. But it is an important reminder. A point in history that we must avoid to repeat at all costs (I am not so naive to think genocide no longer happens in our world…).

The rest of this trip will be relaxing. My day in Auschwitz has left me plenty to contemplate. It makes the upcoming Tour look like not a big deal. It is a big deal for me because it will be a physical challenge I’ve never done before. But it pales in comparison to what other humans have gone through… by choice or force. I am grateful for this trip. For all the times I thought it as bad timing… turns out it may be just right, if not perfect.

Good night and see you all back in the States!

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Minus the sunburn.

The weather was absolutely beautiful this weekend and since I didn’t have to work on Sunday I decided to take the opportunity to put in some longer mileage because there was some rain predicted for this week. I “bonked” last ride so I made sure to pay attention to fueling before, during and after my ride. My muscles were tired during the ride but I suspect that had more to do with two long days at work, mostly on my feet moving around, rather than nutrition. The last 4 miles felt the best and I think I put in a strong finish. I mixed up a stronger version of my recovery drink and I never felt drained for the rest of the evening. Today I definitely feel like I can ride again. The rain came so I will probably put in an hour on the trainer. Hopefully I can get back out on the road between now and Friday because these are the last days to put in “real training” before having to cut back due to travel and needing to rest my legs before the big ride. I am glad yesterday was a good ride. Mentally, I needed it.

Unrelated to Sunday’s ride, here is a photo of the calf I helped a cow deliver during work on Saturday:

Meet Izzy!

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I’ve accepted the fact that regardless of what I do in the next week and a half I am going to feel (and most likely be) under-prepared for the big ride on June 2nd and 3rd. Since my last post I’ve had a couple of rides. One where I “bonked.” For non-cyclists, that means I did not fuel my body correctly and as a result my muscles began to cramp and it was like pedaling through water. It was a good reminder – though I am absolutely frustrated that I am still having issues with fueling! – of how important fueling will be to get through the 170 miles, 85 miles each day.

Wednesday was a rest day for me. Yesterday I had planned to do some running but ended up cross training at the farm. We are setting up for our annual Spring event this Saturday. Since we are currently short-staffed on the farm I was asked to leave my normal desk-job and help with putting up large pole tents and pounding stakes into the ground to create temporary fencing.

For anyone who knows me… this was not something I hesitated to do. I’ll take manual labor over desk work most days of the week! My day-to-day job isn’t bad but I still love the immediate results and feeling of a job well done that comes with labor.

Anyway, it wasn’t a ton of work but it was good work and I am going to call it cross training.

Because pictures always make posts better, here are two shots from my last ride:

Helped this little turtle cross the trail.

My favorite bridge on the W&OD trail.

 

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Work has taken a lot more energy than I originally expected and is part of the reason I’ve disappeared for the last month. I also feel I am way behind on my riding. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you the mileage I’ve put down in the last four weeks but I know it hasn’t been much. With one month before the Big Ride I have to say I am freaking out a bit. Technically I have between now and May 18th to get any and all “real mileage” in. After that, I need to cut back because of travel plans as well as to ensure I have fresh legs for the Tour.

Oh, and I can’t remember if I mentioned this or not… The ride map was published online and it is 85 miles each way. 170 miles total. 20 more than I was expecting. But I guess when you get to 150, what is 20 more? *sigh* I’m nervous.

My two recent rides:

– Rode Saturday, after being sick on Friday, for only 25 miles instead of the intended 50.
– Ran 30 minutes on Sunday after work.
– Put the bike on the trainer for an hour last night because when I started it was too late for me to get in a decent ride. I kept myself entertained with some Indiana Jones on the SciFy channel.

Most likely another night on the trainer tonight. It isn’t my favorite but at least it is mileage.

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