Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not a Good Way to Go Down

I will be surprised if this guy didn't break any bones.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DJ Kitty Litter


Our cat Elgy is an aspiring DJ. She diligently practices every chance she gets, pausing every now and then to check on her audience. This is her first performance of many more I'm sure.

To hear her mix, turn off the music player in the side bar on the right.

Halloween Costumes

Last year I dressed our cats up as a cowboy and a devil to match my costume and with Halloween coming up in a month, I am thinking of our next Halloween costumes.  There's a store online called Halloween Mart has every kind of costume and even costumes for pets!!

So that the girls can join in the fun of passing out candy to all of the trick-or-treaters again this year, I am thinking of this Riders Cowboy costume for Havi (not sure it will fit her) and Wonder Woman, Bee, or the School Puppy costume for Elgy to match mine.  Heck, with the 10% off code "now" I can order several costumes and there's free shipping and price match to boot!

I am truly looking forward to Halloween this year.  Are you getting dressed up and if so, what will you be?

Muffins and Cupcakes

First I apologize if you came upon this post to find recipes or photos of muffins and cupcakes.  I must admit if I post such things, the pics or pastries would not be my own.  You see, I have never made cupcakes and the first time I tried to bake muffins from scratch it was a flop.  Since then I have always shied away from baking, especially any kind of bread from scratch.

Whatever happened in the kitchen to forever burn the traumatic experience into my memory?  I substituted baking soda for baking powder in the muffin recipe--I didn't know any better.  Instead of golden muffin tips rising out of the pan, the batter expanded and overflowed like lava...more like aʻā.  And that was the end of my baking days.

Today I read that baking soda produces carbon dioxide bubbles that help dough rise and make for tender baked goods.  There was a little tip for ensuring that the baking ingredient is still potent; combine 1/4 teaspoons baking soda with 2 teaspoons vinegar.  If the mixture fizzes, it's fresh enough to do the job.  If it goes flat, save the soda for scrubbing pots and pans.  My tip--don't put it in muffins.

Speaking of muffins, I asked myself what is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake?  Is it because one lacks frosting where the other one has one?  On the surface this is probably true.  I also read that when the fats, sugar, and egg ratio doubles or more, then you have more of a cake.  Ahoy--cup, cake!  So where does the name muffin ... nevermind.

Well the way I see it, why bake when I can buy?  Especially these Cupkates by Kate.  Who needs flowers when they can have a sweet bouquet?  And the spooky treats are just in time for Halloween!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Road Bike Crash Test Dummy

Each ride I take holds new lessons.  This time I didn't see the crash test coming but I aced it -- with flying colors!  Well maybe an A- (my first crash was more spectacular).  What scraped and road rashes I dodged the first time was finally due.

I followed John on Las Vegas Boulevard along the flat 20-mile stretch of road between St. Rose Parkway and Jean.  My shadow chased his on the side of the road as we sped along, ducking in and out of bushes and dipping in the rumble strips.

Rumble strips are a great road safety feature for alerting inattentive drivers from straying off the road but the same vibration is causes vehicles can damage a bicycle and lead to bike crashes or cause a flat tire.  These poorly placed rumble strips also take up much of the precious shoulder (not to mention all the debris and gravel scattered along what shoulder is left) we did not have much of a choice but to ride in the travel lane.  Not a big problem since traffic was really light on Saturday morning.  I also had not planned on sliding across it either.
Nevertheless we had a great ride all the way to Sandy Valley Lane and were heading back. We had a head wind going out and so we thought we would have a tail wind on the way back but it was not use hoping. I had read that the First Law of Bicycling was 'no matter which way you ride it's uphill and against the wind' and sure enough the wind was stronger on the way back.

We had ridden well over two hours a few miles since departure from Jean and with the wind resistance I was starting to get really tired and ducked behind John.  He offered several times to ride me back to Jean and he can pick me up in the car but I insisted on riding with him (he can tell when I am tired and sloppy bike handling skills usually follow).

Pushing hard against the wind we were still moving pretty fast, passing a group of riders who were also on their way back to Henderson.  I was drafting John and to my detriment was too close to his wheel.  In the second he shifted to a higher gear and stood up on his bike, like a sail the wind resistance suddenly slowed him in front of me.  With me hanging on to his wheel, weary, and unmindful of what was happening in front me, I half wheeled his but was too late to react.  My eyes could only watch as his wheel and mine clashed side to side--his swung one way and mine the other.

This happened once before but this time I was too weak to fight and knew I was going down in to the shoulder.  My right elbow and knee landed on the rumble strips; they scraped my flesh like a cheese grater.  Then momentum carried me forward placing my right arm under and behind me as I went sliding across the shoulder on my side in to the gravel and dirt.  In that instant, I heard the sound and felt the sensation of coarse sand paper across my skin and knew I would be left with some raw dermis.
I did not feel any pain that would indicate broken bones so I layed there on my side, face on the gravel and admiring the road from a bug's eye point of view. I saw John stopped and turned back, riding towards me. My right foot was still clipped in but tangle in my bike which was facing the opposite direction of traffic so I didn't bother getting up until he lifted my bike off me.

The group we had passed caught up to us and asked if I was okay. I was good enough to ride and fortunately my bike was too or I would have been stranded awaiting a vehicle like the last time I crashed.  We rode the rest of the way, about 15 miles home. The wind licked at my scrapes; they stung but I didn't care. I just wanted to be home and out of the blasted wind.

When I cleaned up and cut away dead tissue I saw the extent of my injuries; fortunately just flesh wounds but they needed to be taken care of to prevent scarring or infections.  The inside and outside of my elbows and knee got the worst.  My shoulders will heal quickly and my hip soon thereafter.

I am grateful for all the advice from our friends who had a wealth of experience from crashing and treating their own road rashes.  I will have to post those resources for future reference because I am sure this will not be the last time.  Hopefully I will not continue this trend of monthly crashes.  Not only is it expensive but soon I will not have much of a bike left if I keep grinding it down (John jokes).

I know this ride did not end on a high note but it does not change how I feel about cycling.  I will still ride and I cannot wait to ride again soon.  Especially now that I have bandages as padding for the next time my skin meets the road.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jean

Saturday morning we rode west on St. Rose Parkway and turned left at Las Vegas Boulevard heading south 20 miles to Jean.  We had a slight head wind but it was not too bad on the flat open road.  The morning was quiet and there was little traffic as we passed many riders going the same and opposite direction.
After arriving at Jean, we stopped at the gas station for coffee and fill our water bottles.  A large Biking Las Vegas group and McGhee riders were also there at the gas station; their turnaround point.  The BLV group would soon ride back to Henderson where coffee and bagels await them at Whole Foods.

With all of the activities surrounding Interbike week we didn't ride at all so John and I needed to get in some more miles.  Instead of looping back, we turned right and continued straight on NV-161 W.  John needed to get some hard riding in so he rode ahead while I kept my pace riding solo.  He turned left on Sandy Valley Road and went out for a few miles, did a loop and came back where we met at the NV-161/Sandy Valley Road intersection and road back towards Jean together.

The wind had picked up but since there was little traffic on the scenic stretch of road, we practiced rotating to share the work.  So John would ride in front, blocking the wind while I draft and rest.  Then he would pull off to the side while I pedal to the front and he fell behind in my draft to rest.  This was good practice for when I train with my team or if we were racing and in a break away, I can share the workload.

We stopped briefly in Jean again to take photos and then it was a long ride home.  Out and back we rode 51 miles.  It would have taken less than 3 hours if I had not crashed my bike ... again.  Besides that and the blasted wind coming back it was a great ride and a gorgeous day!

Moments Later

Havi attacked the grocery bag and hysterical laughter ensued...at Elgy's expense.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Interbike 2010 in Las Vegas

North America's largest bicycle trade event and show was in Las Vegas this past week.  You would think I would have attended since I love cycling but strangely I had no interest.  That's because I had never been and from the report from John it sounds like I missed quite a show.

He enjoyed looking at all the bikes and bike parts, checking out the Italian cycling clothes, getting autographs from professional cyclists, and checking out time trails and road bikes ridden by grand tour winners. Sadly the international bike expo will not be hosted here next year but in Anaheim, CA instead (I have nothing against Anaheim but will never forget the experience I had from staying in one of the hotels around the convention center).
The best part of Interbike, we both agreed, is seeing our friends who came from out of town for the show--and us of course ;-P

We had the pleasure of having one of John's friend stay with us.  He filled us in on his race season and life.  His company was invited to the Sinclair imports party at JET nightclub inside the Mirage so we went along.  Inside we saw Bob Roll, Jen Voight,  George Hincapie, Bobby Julich, and others.  Outside of the dark room most people may walk right past them, not knowing who they are but inside they were cycling celebrities--in real life.  It was surreal to see the very same people we saw competing in bike races onscreen, in person within an arm's reach as if they jumped out of the television!
Another evening we joined John's long-time friend since high school and his wife for dinner at Buca di Beppo.  They came from San Luis Obispo with a couple friends for a visit and to see the bike show.  Everyone besides me has never been to the Italian restaurant.  I think their food is always good but what really makes the place enjoyable is the atmosphere and the company.
As I mentioned before there were many neat things John saw at the show including the road bikes ridden by Alberto Contador, winner of this year's Tour de France and second place winner Andy Schleck.

Now this ... THIS bike would have been worth the day-long immersion in bike talk to see in person: Fabian Cancellara's time trial bike.  Where Contador and Schleck's bikes were encased, any one could reach out and touch the Swiss Spartacus's TT bike as John had.
This is the very same bike that Cancellara won 1st place in the prologue; the opening stage of the Tour de France!!  I did not let John wash his hands for days after that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Logical Fit Ride

I came home Friday to a package full of custom kits for Logical Fit, John's bike fitting business using the Retül 3-D Bike Fit System. Inside the box of Canari made jerseys and bibs were my very own set!

Finally I have bibs that (unlike shorts) don't cut in to my stomach or I have to pull up every now and then. The chamois makes riding the 6 inch saddle feel like riding in a Cadillac. I love the jersey because the lycra sleeves are soft and don't chaif my armpits, the pocket material is made of strong mesh (to keep me cooler and perspiration from ruining my electronics); 3 pockets with an extra zip pocket for IDs and bank card. The jersey also has a full zip which I have undone to cool down quickly when the temperatures rises. Full-zips are definitely the way to go for the ease of taking off bib straps when you need to use the restroom; you don't have to pull a soaking wet jersey over your head and risk fishing the toilet bowl for your stuff, LOL. Our jerseys also have little holes for radios or routing the iPod cord. The best part of my kit--I get to match John.
We rode from our home near the M Resort & Casino along Horizon Ridge to the River Mountains Trail in to Boulder City, down Memorial Way, up through the Boulder City neighborhoods, and down the street which overlooks the neighborhoods near Lake Mead. We made a quick stop at John's parents to fill up on water, use the restroom, and tell Maggie (since John was out riding his horse) we love and miss her before getting on the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail which starts on Pacifica Way.

Our ride went counter clockwise on the River Mountains Trail Loop along Lake Mead to the north side of the Lakeshore Drive entrance. Then the dreaded climb up the switchbacks I so love to descend. I made it--that's all that matters! Then we took Lake Mead Boulevard to Wigwam and headed towards the Starbucks meetup.

By that time we were four hours in to our ride, the weather was getting hot, and all that was in our tummies were gels and water with electrolytes. We needed some real FOOD if we were to make the 7-mile ride home!! After some cold ice teas and sandwiches we were ready to hit the road again and BOY was I relieved to be home. I was so sore and luckily the rest of the afternoon would be relaxing--some time with my friend Kristen and we were going to the theatre to watch Resident Evil in 3D. What a wonderful Saturday!

Finding My Passion

The other night we had dinner with a friend who is single and who we would love to find someone for. When we asked him what he looks for in a date he replied that he admires someone who is passionate. It didn't matter what the source is as long as the person is passionate about something.

I thought about our dinner conversation and reflected on my current situation. What was I passionate about? I searched the web for 'finding your passion' and came up with some questions.

What puts a smile on your face?
What do you find easy?
What sparks your creativity?
What would you do for free?
What do you like to talk about?
What makes you unafraid of failure?
What would you regret not having tried?
What excites you?
What do you read about?

Asking myself these questions was an eye-opener...or rather an affirmation for me because I agree that doing what we really love is absolutely necessary if we want to be fully happy.

My passions are not suprising. In no order they are:
  • photography (what it captures--food, friends and family, nature, life, and memories. It allows me to be more clutter-free when I can capture documents and sentimental items before donation)
  • our cats Havi and Elgy (can you tell?)
  • cycling (the sport, friendships I've made, clothing/gear, and freedom it gives me)
  • my job (I love what I do and grow each day)
  • my best friend/love of my life (who I come home to every day and cannot spend enough time with. I am a better person because of him)
These are the what I love to talk about, read about, spark my creativity, excites me, I would do for free, some I find easier to do than others but they never fail to put a smile on my face.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Side I Have Never Seen

For the longest time John and I have been talking about taking our bikes to the River Mountains Loop trailhead down by Lake Mead to ride but never got around to it ... until this past Sunday.  We took the loop from the Lake Las Vegas side all the way to the other entrance where it spits out near John's parents' home.

We had not planned to ride 60 miles that day since we had finished 70+ miles the day before but it was so easy to do when there was so much to see and we were enjoying our time together.  Why not do a longer ride than the weekdays? At least we were together and we had no where else to be.
Our Sunday started at Starbucks; we rode there from our house on our bikes to meet John's cycling team (Allegiant Air) at 7 a.m.  All of us pedaled down Warm Springs to Gibson and rode a bike trail to Lake Mead Boulevard. Our group was moving fast down the long, flat road. At one point I looked down at the head unit on my bike and we were going 28 miles per hour. You see, when riding in a pack it takes less effort to pedal if you are in the middle or towards the back of the group because there is less wind resistance. Plus there are more people sharing the work and we can move faster as a unit.
After we passed Lake Las Vegas, there was a long incline and I kept up with the team as long as I could until I started to fall back.  John stayed with me until I recovered and started going downhill.  By then the group was at the trailhead of the River Mountains Loop and would ultimately head to Callville.

After the first leg of the trail where the Allegiant team rode north, we turned south to ride along Lake Mead. The view I saw along the way was so beautiful--it was a side of Lake Mead I have never seen and am so glad to finally have the chance to ride the trail. It felt like riding a roller coaster except all was quiet instead of hearing people screaming all around you. This is where the fun truly begins and I will let the photos do the rest of the talking.  It was a gorgeous day and one of the best rides we had together!!

Chicken Thighs with Orange-Ginger Glaze

Last week I made this meal. The recipe calls for chicken thighs but I didn't defrost any so I used pork tenderloin instead. John is not a fan of brown meat though I think chicken thighs are more flavorful. I served the pork with roasted broccoli with almonds and a side of steamed rice. Why they call it "steamed" rice is beyond me because I boil my rice, LOL.

These recipes yield 4 servings and as always are pretty quick to make with simple ingredients.

Chicken Thighs with Orange-Ginger Glaze
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 ½ pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Chopped green onions (optional)

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (chicken skin is easier to remove if you use a paper towel; lay it on the skin and tear the skin off). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 to 4 minutes each side or until browned.
2. While chicken cooks, grate rind and squeeze juice from orange and 1/4 cup juice. Add orange rind, juice, honey, and ginger to chicken, scraping bottom of pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 7 minutes or until chicken is done and orange mixture is syrupy. Move pan to a cool range or the sugar may burn. Sprinkle with chopped green onions; it looks pretty and tastes good!

Roasted Broccoli with Almonds
1 ¼ pounds fresh broccoli crowns (about 3)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 475°F (we love using our toaster oven for this). Cut broccoli into 3-inch long spears and place in a single layer on a shallow pan coated with cooking spray.
2. Combine olive oil and garlic; drizzle broccoli with oil mixture, and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 14 minutes once oven reaches 475°F (do not stir).
3. While broccoli crowns roasts, cook almonds in a small skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Sprinkle roasted broccoli with toasted almonds.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce

This meal took about 30 minutes total to make so it is quick and easy. I served the pork chops with rice and green beans but roasted red potatoes and steamed broccoli are also good choices. If desired sprinkle the finished dish with chopped fresh parsley; I really think it adds a nice kick to the pork and sauce.


First I started cooking the rice because it takes 20 minutes total and then I started on the pork chops and sauce. This yields 4 servings (1 pork chop and 2 tablespoons of sauce).

4 (4-ounce, 1/2 inch thick) boneless center-cut loin pork chops
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup fat-free half-and-half or evaporated milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Sprinkle both sides of pork with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray or little bit of oil before adding pork. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side until brown and done. Meanwhile start boiling water to blanch the green beans. Transfer pork to a serving plate; keep warm.
3. Add chicken broth to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in half-and-half or evaporated milk, mustard, and lemon juice. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 6 minutes or until sauce is slightly thick, stirring occasionally. The water to blanch the green beans should be boiling so start cooking the green beans.

Spoon sauce over pork; sprinkle lots more parsley than I have pictured (if desired) and enjoy!

Live Package

cat in a box
She's passed out inside a cardboard box.  Hope she doesn't accidentally get shipped, LOL.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fair Weather

Almost every day of this past week we have had gorgeous weather with temperatures in the 90s. I couldn't help but take photos during a walk back to the office. From where I was standing, I could see the Las Vegas Strip and Red Rock beyond.
At times when I look up at the sky, the cloudless clear blue seems unreal to me.
As I round the pathway to the building where I work ...
I take one last look at the beautiful day and soak in the warmth before I head inside. There I put on my jacket and slip on fingerless gloves given to me by a friend for Christmas.
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Lake Mead Ride

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Something New for Everyone

Variety and new experiences can keep you young I've heard.  I suppose you can apply that to anything--whatever that means for you.  This past Saturday meant riding new paths, exploring new neighborhoods, and reaching a new milestone of over 70 miles (the longest ride for me).

Our day started with a fun stroll through the Henderson neighborhoods, past golf courses, and down a different multiple-use-path following John and Rafe.  The three of us were like kids on our bikes and we all agree that's one of the reasons we love to ride.

Our adventure continued all the way to Boulder City where we stopped for lunch at a place recommended to us.  Hopefully it will become a regular stop during the next group rides.

Saturday was not only full of exciting and new experiences for us, we also introduced our friend to something he has never tried--Pho.

We took many photos during our bike ride to Boulder City for lunch and back. This ride was an absolute ball!!
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Seared Herbed Tuna and Nicoise Salad

I bought some beautiful fresh tuna from Costco and it was perfect for this recipe.

Seared Herbed Tuna
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce, 1/4 inch thick) tuna steaks
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 lemon wedges

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Brush fish with oil; sprinkle with her mixture.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fish; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Niçoise Salad
4 small red potatoes, halved (about 1/2 pound)
8 ounces fresh green beans
1 (5-ounce) package gourmet salad greens
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olive halves (about 12 olives)
1/2 cup light balsamic salad dressing (Newman's Own is a good one or make it from scratch)
2 precooked peeled eggs, quartered
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

1. Place potato halves in a microwave-safe casserole dish, spread out in a single layer. Cover bowl with plastic wrap but don't let it touch the potato; leave room at the edge of the wrap to vent. Microwave high for 2 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, trim green beans. Add beans to potatoes, re-cover and microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until tender; drain. Rinse with cold water until cool; drain.
3. While vegetables cook, combine salad greens, olives, and salad dressing; toss well. Place about 1½ cups greens mixture on each of 4 plates. Place 2 potato halves, 3/4 coup green beans, and 2 egg quarters on each plate. Sprinkle with black pepper if desired and enjoy!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Nice Legs

She can't be more content with her napping place.
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Over the Hill

My friend Dolly and I met for lunch at Bahama Breeze today.  We had lots of girl talk to catch up on since the last time we saw each other was ... last year?  She's doing very well in grad school, things have never been better at her workplace, and her and her husband are expecting their first child (a boy) mid-January.

Dolly is an avid runner and ran several marathons including Boston's so naturally our conversation included our endurance sports while we ate lobster and shrimp quesadillas.
She is very familiar with the Horizon Ridge, a slope she ran many a times.  Out of curiosity I went to MapMyRide to look a the elevation and percentage of slopes (I think she would enjoy this as much as I since we both like to analyze numbers).

This was the dreaded hill when I first started riding and could only go up halfway in my first attempt.  On weekday rides we would only ride up to the point where Horizon Ridge meets Horizon Drive and turn back down the hill.  On weekend rides, we would ride up further and make a left on Mission Drive.  Next time, I will try to go all the way up to East Paradise Hills Drive!
Horizon Ridge is the hill where I like to take a photo of the Las Vegas Strip.

Dolly was trying to follow the route I did this past Sunday with Team Fluid to the point where I met my new hill from hell known as "Little Italy".  It is a mile long stretch climb of almost 300 feet marked by the red line on the map below.
It felt like the longest mile I have ever ridden.  The grade on Marina Drive is steeper than Horizon Ridge to give a perspective on the level of difficulty for me.
Then after we left the little green gas station, we crossed the highway and rode up Nevada Way, the scenic route overlooking Lake Mead and the homes nearby.  After Marina Drive, this hill didn't seem so bad.
I was so sore after we got back from the ride but by the end of Monday I was ready to hit the road again. I am actually looking forward to trying these hills again!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rain in Las Vegas

The precipitation we felt this morning would be categorized as "rain" in Las Vegas which was nice to see but was short-lived. Now the sun and blue sky is out again!
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Monday, September 06, 2010

Gotcha

John usually rests on his back while watching t.v. but tonight he opted to lie on his side. Havi, not finding the usual chest to snooze on decided to sit on him anyway and wrap her arms around him for stability!
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Why the Laundry Didn't Get Done

When you are a pet owner it does not matter whether your clothes are freshly laundered or not--you are always sportin' pet hair. I actually shave Elgy and Havi to reduce their shedding but it must be why Elgy burried herself in the laundry because she's cold with the A/C on.
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New Music Tracks

I finally changed up the music tracks in the player for my blog. Some I found at the start of this year that I still like to listen to; others are old favorites I like to keep on the list. Most are great songs for working out to.

You have to forgive the beginning beats of most of these songs which are used when queueing it up to mix in with the outgoing track. Of this line up, I would say "Find Yourself", "Lost", "Time" by Paul Webster, and "Out of the Sky" are one of my top favorites. I hope you like them as much as I do.



I'm listening to "Time" and it makes me want to pound the pedals on my bike in this rain!
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing

John's new favorite salad.



Grilled Chicken and Peach Spinach Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing

Prep: 6 minutes | Cook: 8 minutes

2 peaches, halved and pitted
4 (4-ounce) chicken breast cutlets
Cooking spray
Sherry Vinaigrette, divided
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 (3-ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled

1. Prepare grill.
2. Coat peach halves and chicken with cooking spray; brush chicken with 1/2 tablespoons Sherry Vinaigrette.
3. Place peach halves and chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill chicken 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Gril peach halves 1 to 2 minutes on each side; cut each half into 4 wedges.


Sherry Vinaigrette Dressing

Prep: 4 minutes

2 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot (about 1 large)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 4 teaspoons which may not be enough for any person who likes more dressing than a dribble).

Riding to New Heights

All of the weekend rides I have done up until Sunday did its best to prepare me for a group training ride with Team Fluid although I really had no idea what I was in for.  We met at JT's Bicycle shop on the corner of Horizon Ridge and Horizon Drive (luckily we drove up the horrible hill, LOL).  John and I grabbed coffee and a bear claw while we waited for the group which was led by Nathan (he doesn't mess around so we departed at 7 a.m. sharp.)
MapMyTracks ride with Team Fluid
We rode from Horizon to Boulder Highway and got on the River Mountain Trail to the outside of Boulder City. So far so good. Then we flew down Veterans Memorial Drive past the golf courses and Boulder City airport (where it meets Georgia Avenue) and started to ride uphill. John and I did this route yesterday where he pointed to a street which turned off to the right where it starts to get steep. That's where our group turned and I knew I would be the last to the top.

Melinda stayed with me and helped me pace myself.  It is hard to see everyone riding away from me and want to catch up by pedaling faster but had I tried, I would have spent all my energy before the rest of the ride was over.  She said there would be more hills like this and some sketchy descents so I could be prepared.
Downhill is where I belong, as long as I had the wide road and can see my turns I am fine.  Just as Melinda had warned there were some tight turns and one time I went wide in front of an oncoming car.   Luckily the driver saw me and slowed down--he had no where to go since there were cyclists on the opposite lane and I was in front of his car.  I rode back to the right side of the road scolding myself for not turning my head once again so my bike would follow.   We regrouped before crossing U.S. 93 to the side of the highway where John's parents live.   I had NO idea what I was in for as we strolled past their street.

The group rounded a corner and ahead of me I saw homes that rose higher and higher on the street I was about to go up.  Apparently that stretch is nicknamed "Little Italy" because of its steepness.  "Oh sh*t." I said to my friend Kaelin.  She knows I hate hills as she reminded me that hills are good.  So I started to climb...and climb...and climb.

I was already in the lowest gear pedaling and pedaling. My speed slowed down to a crawl of 5-6 m.p.h.  At one point I was so ready to get off my bike and walk it up the hill--surely I would be moving faster and the pain I felt in my lung and legs would be less excruciating than cycling as I watched the group ride further up and out of my sight.

Then Nathan rode down the hill and was by my side (this crazy guy was going to go up the hill again?).  I was breathing so hard there was little room for me to hear what he said to me but in between gasping for my breath I learned some things about keeping the same cadence when standing up so I don't spin out and waste energy. I also learned not to drop my head when I am tired because it closes my air passageway thus making me work harder to breath.   Just when I was ready to crack Nathan would cheer me on until I reached the next intersection where there was some relief before continuing up the street.

Finally I made it to the top and then it was my favorite part--downhill!

Our group stopped at the gas station on the Nevada Highway to refuel our bodies and fill up on water. I had hope we would continue up the highway which was uphill but it would be short but nOOoooOOO, we went up the scenic Nevada Way and once again, I was pedaling square.

This time wasn't so bad since John stayed by my side and rode up with me.  After the climb up Little Italy, everything else wasn't so bad, LOL!!  We rode through downtown Boulder City and along the freeway out of town back on to the River Mountain Trail where we stopped to regroup.

I dropped my chain as the group started to leave.  Luckily one of the Fluid riders I will refer to as Red Saddle helped me put the chain back on.  Normally no one is left behind but they thought I was at the front of pack where I like to be on descents. 

We time trailed along Boulder Highway back to the group and took Horizon Ridge towards JT's Bicycle shop.  The wind started howling, increasing the resistance on our pedaling.  I hung on to Monique's wheel and we rode in the echelon to stay out of the wind.  Even though I struggled to keep up, it was either suffer drafting or suffer miserably alone fighting the wind resistance to get back to the shop and it wasn't long before we were back.

What I felt was indescribable...a mixture of relief, accomplishment, and gratitude for all I have learned and the support I've received from such a great group of people along the ride.  It was my hardest 35-miles yet!

From Bike Saddles to Horse Saddles

Yesterday was filled with riding of two different kinds, road bikes and Spanish horses.
In the morning we rode up Horizon Ridge a little further to make a left Mission Drive, past Nevada State College through a nice little neighborhood on a bike path to River Mountain Trail into Boulder City. This is the first time I did the Veteran's Memorial Drive loop. I loved flying down the tree-lined street as we passed the golf course and Veteran's Cemetery. The work came when I had to climb back up; payback for the fun I had. It wasn't as steep as Horizon Ridge but it was long.
Just over three hours later, we rode 52 miles and were home. It was a good ride and the weather wasn't too hot. I was lagging on the way to Boulder but caught a second wind on my way back. I like this route and would do it again.
We watched the Vuelta a España over Grilled Shrimp with Avocado Salad and Cumin-Lime Dressing. John took a short nap and then we got ready for dinner with his parents at the SouthPoint Hotel & Casino and before watching the fabulous Theatre of the Spanish Horse.  The show on horseback demonstrated the grace, beauty, and talents of the Spanish Horse.

Most of the performances were with Andalusians, one of the rarest breeds in the U.S. dancing to songs by Gypsy Kings (one of our favorite bands).  Look at this cute one prance and step about, truly extraordinary creature!
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Then Big Horse Productions took the stage with their daring acts and spectacular acrobatics. The guy rode on the big horses passing the girls as they girls jumped on the horses' backs. This was one of the moves and another time, the girl jumped on the guy's shoulder as the horses they rode on sped along--I was on the edge of my seat.
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The whole show was beautiful, the horses were majestic--their coat the so white and one was silver reflecting the light as they galloped and pranced to the music.  We really enjoyed the show and our day, in and out of the saddle, from watching the Spanish bike races to Spanish horses.