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Monthly Archives: November 2014

…albeit it EARLY winter – first real snowfall. We had a few inches last weekend that managed to stay on the ground until this came along; I expect that we’ve seen the last of the ground until April, at least.

morningsnowAt our old house, farther up the hill, we used to get snow up to the rooftop and above – you could usually walk onto the roof from the backyard by mid January. I would have thought that, down here where there is less sunlight, the snow would pile up higher, but it seems that the southwest aspect of this condo building reflects what sun does get here and focuses it onto the ground, keeping the snow depth down. And that’s a bad thing, unless you are Lucy and use the bathroom outside.

So we keep a shovel on the porch to clear out a poop corral for Lucy; we need another shovel for the garage. Even though the parking lot gets plowed for us, there is still a pile of snow that gets left right against the garage door – they can’t plow that – so we have to clear that away before we can pull the cars out.

This last weekend was opening day at Park City Mountain Resort, and we missed it. I was too sick and Ethel was too tired (I suppose she didn’t really want to ski PCMR for her first time without me, as well). I’ve still got stuff in my lungs and sinuses, but my cold seems to be gone. I still haven’t left the house, but I am going to the dentist this morning – and I am thinking about going to a meeting. For the fourth time in thirty years, I’ve gone a week – over a week, now – without a meeting. Three times it’s been because I’ve been too sick, and once it was because I was working full time and nursing Ethel after her collarbone surgery, at 9000 feet in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado in January, when travel was not easy.

I’m considering going to my 11:00 dental cleaning and then driving from there on into to PC for a noon meeting. That’s a small room and I’d be exposed to anybody sick, but…dadgummit. At some point, I’m going to have to go out into the world. I’m rather nervous about going out there when my system is as run down as it is right now – I had shingles, then that terrible cold, and now something in my sinus and something in my lungs. But I can probably function well enough to walk up the hill to the meeting.

We’re supposed to go to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. That’ll be the first time we’ve ever done that – gone to eat turkey somewhere else besides with the extended family. But we don’t have any extended family here, and we aren’t likely to have one unless Ethel starts gestating. So we might as well get used to that, too.

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Well, we now have a season locker.

locker

As you can tell, Ethel is all excited.

We do NOT have a locker at the Canyons; as noted some weeks back, the Canyons can make more money leasing the square footage to some business than they can renting it to us (the arithmetic is interesting – our locker by itself was probably 1.5 square feet; we might have taken up 10 square feet in total. We were paying $700/season, which was maybe five months, so that’s $140/month/10 – we were paying $14/month/square foot. That sounds like reasonable rent, but obviously they could make more elsewhere) so they stopped providing season lockers.

No, we’re not at the Canyons; now we’re at Park City, which is a longer drive for us – although, thanks to the acquisition of Park City Mountain Resort by the Vail Corporation, our Epic(tm) pass is now good at both areas. So we’re driving farther – however, having skied a total of eight years at the Canyons, we would probably want to spend more time this year at PCMR, and they won’t build the connecting lift until next summer, so this will allow us to ski Park City much easier than if we had a locker at the Canyons. So we’re pretty happy about it.

This locker is in the basement at the Legacy Lodge; straight up the stairs and around the corner is the Payday Lift, a six-pack express that services terrain that is also open at night – yes, Park City has night skiing. So maybe we’ll get a few more days on boards just because of that.

It’s also a few steps from the Baja Cantina. The first time I came to northern Utah, when I interviewed for a job within my organization at Sunquest, I arrived in town, went to my hotel to unpack and get things prepped (the Little America, in the tower – at the time, the nicest hotel room I’d ever seen in person) and then decided that I was going to have dinner in Park City, because food always tastes better at elevation 🙂

It was November, so it was dark early, and as I drove east out of town, I went into Parley’s Canyon, where I-80 goes straight up for seven miles, picking up about 2500 feet of elevation change rather quickly. There were no homes between Salt Lake City at the very top of the canyon, where I went over something called “Parley’s Summit”.

When I got to the summit, after driving straight up the canyon in the dark, I looked off to the right, and there I saw all of these lights on the mountain – homes in Summit Park, lights white and yellow against a backdrop of November snow, the dark of tall pines and the silvery dark of aspen. It was beautiful.

I thought “wow. There’s the place to live – at the top of the mountain, a straight shot down the freeway to Salt Lake, and deep in snow in late November”.  I then drove on into Park City proper, drove to the ski hill, and had dinner at the Baja Cantina. I suspect, now that we’re skiing there, we’ll be eating there a bit more often, although the heart of my stomach really belongs to El Chubasco, a mile or two away.

As it happens, it took me three more years to actually move there, to Summit Park and Parley’s Summit, and when I did, I stayed there seven years – and when I left, I regretted it immediately and constantly for eight years.

But I’m back now, and I hope I never forget again how wonderful it is to be here. I live in Park City, Utah. Let me pause for a moment of awe and reverence and say that again – I live in Park City, Utah. Wow. A po’ boy from Flat Red Clay, Alabama, and I live in Park City, Utah.

AGAIN. Most people never get to live here at all, but I’ve been allowed to recover from my mistake and get a second chance to live in Park CIty, Utah!

Someday, maybe, we’ll be old poops, and we’ll have more money and more time, so then we’ll move to Deer Valley and ski the groomers away from the snowboarders that infest the rest of the Wasatch Back like a plague of locusts (with pants that don’t fit). But we’ll still be in Park City, Utah. And I hope that we have a season locker 🙂

Ethel wants a Wahoo Kickr for Christmas.

kickrNow, if your are (say) “not of the cognoscenti” – one of the hoi-poloi, in the rank-and-file of the unwashed masses – you might not know what a Wahoo Kickr is. Well, that’s your misfortune. Don’t admit to that anywhere, because – well, people would make fun of you, is what.

And, when you can get a Kickr for only $799, well, then, that’s like MAKING money!

A Wahoo Kickr is, basically, a bike trainer. You can buy bike trainers for less than a hundred bucks – heck, I bought one at a yard sale for ten dollars. I also have a good bike trainer, a CycleOps Fluid2, which I got for maybe $250-300.

But those are trainers that normal, sensible folks might buy. But a Wahoo Kickr (you’d think that, for that much money, they could have spelled out the whole word. How much would an ‘e’ cost, anyway?) is a bodacious power-meterin’ cadence-controllin’ Strava-uploadin’ computerized-trainin’ gadgetosaurus rex that will vary the load based on how many watts you want to push or based on some mapped route you downloaded or a whole of other parameters that I’m not smart enough to understand.

I don’t need a Kickr. I’ve only done four triathlons.

But ETHEL needs a Kickr, after only doing one triathlon!

(Editor’s note – I have to admit that everybody that I know who’s used a Kickr wants one (it seems). They seem to be really cool gizmos. And, of course, anything that Ethel wants, she can have, and I say that emphatically. I, myself, don’t need a Kickr; for one thing, Kickrs are to help one train HARD, and for the next several months, I’m just trying to regain my aerobic fitness, and off of my cycling is recovery work, done around 17 mph with a heart rate around 100. If I do do any hard training, it will be running, because, well, that’s who I am.)

Truth be told, Ethel went to a Kickr training session at her coach’s house, and came home raving about it – and anything that gets Ethel that excited simply must be obtained. It’s so much fun watching her do this training thing that I’m helpless to resist and request; enthusiasm is its own salesman.

And I paid almost that much for my own power meter, a Stages crank assembly for the bike – now, my power meter can’t simulate a route segment of the Tour de France, but you can’t actually ride up Big Mountain Pass with a Kickr on the back of your bike, either.

One problem with getting Ethel her Kickr, though, and that is that it’s going to make the Office of Ouch very, very crowded. Right now, we have my work desk and chair, the dreadmill, and the CycleOps trainer; when we put the Kickr in here, that’s going to mean walking around something to get anywhere. We’ve talked about swapping out the guest bed from upstairs – in Ethel’s office – and putting all of the workout stuff up there. This makes sense, as we are working out every day, but we’ve never actually HAD a guest stay in that guest bedroom.

What am I thinking? I don’t have to wonder about all of this stuff. It’s Ethel’s Kickr – let Ethel figure out where to shove it! 🙂

Last Tuesday, I managed to get a flat tire on my bike – while riding indoors, on the trainer.

indoor_flatI’m sure that this happens; a friend told me that the trainer actually heats the tire up more than the road, and that this can cause flats. He said that you can buy special tires to use on the trainer. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. “Hi, I’d like a special tire to use when riding indoors”.

Those who’ve read this blog know that I bought a Cannondale Slice, and that the next day it fell off of my car while I was driving down the freeway, and the next day I bought another Cannondale Slice. Well, <bassvoice> AllState </bassvoice> has paid the claim, and has declined to take the old bike off of my hands, so I’m going to take the rear wheel from that bike in to the bike shop and see if it can be trued (“trued – made true; in other words, can they straighten that wheel out, so that it doesn’t rub up against the frame of the bike?) so that I can then use that as my trainer bike; that way, I can leave the race bike downstairs and not have to carry it up and down anymore. When you’re training at high volumes, that’s just energy and time that you have other uses for.

“Training at high volumes” – okay, not exactly. Last week was 30 miles of running, 4000 yards of swimming and just under 50 miles on the bike, because of travel problems; this week should be 33.7 miles of running, back up to 6000 yards of swimming, and 50+ miles on the bike. I’m holding steady (generally) at 50 miles on the bike and 6000 yards in the pool, while increasing my running mileage by 10% per week. It’s my intention to do this until I get to 40 miles per week; however, before that happens, ski season starts, and I don’t know that I can maintain that kind of training volume while skiing on Saturday and Sunday.

Dadgummit, I’m old.

I can look back in my running log and see weeks where I was over 50 miles, and while living in Tucson, I was commuting to Salt Lake, and skiing Saturdays and Sundays – and running 20 miles before skiing all day on Sunday, and then taking a late flight back to Tucson, and get up and do it all over again for the next week. Of course, I was in my 30s at the time. Now I’m closer to 60 than I am to 50, and things just don’t come that easily anymore.

You wanna know the truth? The truth is, when I was doing that in my 30s, I knew guys in their 50s who were slowing down and couldn’t keep up the volume and intensity, but I actually, truly, really believed that, since I was training so hard, I would be in better shape when I did get to my 50s than those guys were. Lo, how the mighty have fallen. “Hubris, ate”. (if you don’t feel like Googling, that’s Greek, and the simplest translation I can give is “Overweening pride precedes the downfall”).

Now I look at my training log and shake my head, and I look in the mirror and close my eyes. It happened to me, just like it happened to those other guys. No amount of hard work could keep it from happening.

But I’m still out there, at any rate. I’m trying to hold back the darkness, and – even though the darkness is still advancing – I keep trying because I don’t know what else to do.

In my Franklin Planner, I saw a quote the other day from Anne Frank – “Laziness may appear attractive, but work brings satisfaction”. Well, the work I’m doing (in a physical, training sense) isn’t satisfying me, but the laziness is just plain terrifying.

Ever seen an Audi TT? You probably thought that it was a little bitty sports car, didn’t you?

Well, to me, it seems BIG.

tt_z3Here’s my new car sitting next to my old car. The TT feels like a big fat behemoth next to the nimble little Z3.

And, truly, it is. The TT is a lot slower – heck, the Z3 has a 3.0 liter engine while the TT, much bigger and heavier, has only a 2.0. Now, this is not a concern for me, as I am not going to drive the TT as fast as it will go – and I certainly never took the Z3 to its top speed. Both of these cars go faster than I will drive them.

The startling thing for me was just how much more comfortable than the Z3 the TT is. I never would have thought of the Z as being uncomfortable – heck, it’s a BMW. But it is much more of a driver’s car – no doubt the TT is as well, but it feels like a two-door Caddy compared to the Z. (Not long after I bought the TT, a young man – twenty-something – saw my Audi key and asked me which one I drove. When I told him that I drove the TT, he said, “yeah, my grandfather has one too”.)

Now that we don’t have a season locker, I’m gonna have to retool my Thule ski rack to fit these Audi cross bars. They are already rather noisy; with the ski racks on, they are gonna be plumb loud. But that’s why God made amplified sound systems – so that you wouldn’t have to hear the wind in your ski racks. (“First World Problems!”)

Ethel has to buy racks as well, for her Nissan Juke; this is causing her no small amount of grief, because she really likes the profile of the little insect-mobile, so roof racks will mess that up, but hitch racks are much more expensive (especially since you can buy cross bars that will support ski racks and bike racks, but you can’t buy a hitch rack that will hold both skis and bikes. “First World Problems!”)

Not having a season locker is opening us up to all kinds of issues that we simply had not considered because we haven’t had to deal with them for fourteen years or so. My solution was simple – move to Steamboat – but Ethel said no (she’s so mean and selfish) because when we moved a year ago she had to do the actual moving, as I was in Pleasanton for five weeks for training, and the experience really left her not wanting to move again. So we’ll deal with the whole tote-the-skis issue until the Canyons gets more season lockers or Ethel decides to move.

Speaking of moving – we’re heading back to Alabama this week to see family. I’m pretty sure that visiting with grandkids is going to hit Ethel’s grandma button pretty hard, and she’ll be wanting to move back to Alabama. She doesn’t know this. Ethel doesn’t know Ethel like I know Ethel. But when it happens, I’m going to say “Remember the drive up into the mountains east of Beaver? Remember Soapstone Basin? Remember the aspens in your yard?” I’m suspecting that this will provide the necessary stimulus. If not, then I’ll say “Humidity. Bugs. No skiing”.

If she’s still wavering, then I’ll play the big card – “Your grandkids will soon be teenagers”. That’ll shock her back to reality.