The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why This Hotel Sucks

Once again I am on the road, this time in Kansas City for Moodle Boot Camp (Moodle is a learning management system used to develop all kinds of ways for teachers to torture students of all ages). I am staying at the Ramada in Overland Park, KS. I won't be coming back here ever. Even if I have a good reason to come back to Overland Park, I won't be staying here. Here's why:

1. The air conditioner/ventilation system is VERY loud. So loud that when I first walked into the room, I immediately walked back to the reception desk and had them give me a different room. The second room is a little better but not much. They then put my colleague in the first room when she arrived.

2. There is one restaurant within walking distance, called Steak and Shake. Guess what I will be having for dinner tonight.

3. There is no desk in the room.

4. There is no light switch within easy reach when you walk into the room. I had to wheel my luggage into a dark room and wander around in the dark until I stumbled upon a lamp to turn on a light.

5. There is no natural light in my room. My room is on the inside of the building and the window (which doesn't open) faces the indoor atrium. I have to keep the curtain closed; otherwise people walking around would be able to see me sitting on the bed (because there is no desk) surfing the internet.

6. The towels are subpar. And one of them had many little black spots as if it had been used to clean a bicycle chain, but then washed and put back into circulation. I took it out of circulation, at least in my part of the universe.

7. There are a few tiny little bugs (fruit flies?) flying around.

8. The TV has crappy audio.

9. There is no van service to get to and from the airport or anywhere else.

10. There is only 1 electric outlet that does not have something plugged into it.

There are a few positives. I have free wireless in my room. The free breakfast includes all the fruit loops and frosted flakes I can eat. The bed is very comfie. And I have a friend that lives in Kansas City that I haven't seen in about 1 year and she recently remarried. I will be spending tomorrow evening with her. So thankfully tonight will be my last night in this hotel room. She might even have fruit loops for breakfast (doubtful).

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am at a meeting, and yesterday I had a small sliver of time so I visited the hotel fitness center. Hotel fitness centers in general tend to be crappy, unless you are staying at a major resort. This one was a little better than average. There were 3 treadmills, 3 recumbent bikes, a stepper, and a multi-station weight machine. There was a nice matted area about 5ft x 5 ft, and a full rack of really nice free weights. This was certainly adequate for a good away from home workout. I returned to the hotel fitness center this morning and pounded out a few miles on the treadmill. I glanced over to the rack holding the free weights and most of them were gone! A hotel staff person came in to make sure everything was in order, and almost had a cow when he saw the almost empty rack. I told him they were all there yesterday afternoon, but he already knew this because its his job to make sure the room is well-maintained and he checks twice a day. He said hotel guests take the free weights back to their rooms. How selfish is that! Are they too lazy to change out of their pajamas and take the elevator down to the fitness center? Are they so completely out of shape that they have decided not to be seen by other humans? Do they not belong to health clubs where the free weights are shared by all the members? Didn’t their parents and kindergarten teachers teach them about sharing? Sometimes housekeeping staff will find the weights and bring them back down, and sometimes not. Do people put these weights in their bags and take them home? Pathetic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I find that having a goal, something I hope to achieve, is a very big motivator. Last year it was a triathlon. This year it was a metric century and a century ride. Done and done. So now what? What should be my next goal?

Then I read about Amber Monforte in Sports Illustrated.
"Monforte, a 31 year-old registered nurse from Reno, NV, won the women's division of the Ultraman Canada race, a 3 day event consisting of a 6.2 mile swim and a 90 mile bike ride on Day 1, a 170 mile bike ride on Day 2, and a 52.4 mile run on Day 3. Her total time of 25:36:49 beat the women's record by more than 3 hours."

Maybe not in 3 days, but seriously, how long to accumulate 6.2 miles of swimming, 260 miles of riding and 52 miles of running? oh boy, my knees get wobbling at the mere mention of 52 miles of running. OK, then what would be some realistic mileage goals for all 3 sports and a realistic time frame for accumulating those miles? Hmmm, gonna have to think about this one.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rhode Island Century and the Sisterhood of the GOBs

The Rhode Island Century is advertised as "The Flattest Century in the East." That's why the sisters decided to make this our first century. And it was pretty flat. Someone told me the elevation gain is about 2500 feet; I would be surprised if it was that much. But compared to the hills of Westchester County, this was not challenging terrain for us. However, even 100 flat miles is a long way to go on a bike. It wasn't easy; it just could have been alot more difficult. We all made it. It was tough. And I don't know if I would have been able to do it without the sisterhood of the GOBs as my support team.

The plan was to arrive on Saturday afternoon and go out for a short 20 mile ride to check out our bikes and get a little loose. Sisters Ellen and Judy had some major work done on their bikes in the last week and wanted to make sure all the parts were working. But Saturday was a wash-out. So we had a lovely dinner and went to sleep early. We arrived at registration at about 6:30 and got on the road at 7 am. The first 30 miles went down easy, but I have no impressions of where I was. It was pretty foggy. Sister Ellen lost her rear derailleur at mile 7. She had to call for the SAG wagon. They picked her up and brought her to the first rest stop where there was a bike mechanic. The diagnosis was obvious-- the cable had snapped and he replaced it! Off we went in a paceline, and before we knew it, we were at the second rest stop at mile 47. We shed some clothes and I put on my sunglasses. We were starting to see little breaks in the clouds and I was optimistic that the sun was going to shine on us. The next 30 miles were beautiful. We ride along the beaches and channels and back country roads and the sun was dipping in and out of the clouds. When we got to the third rest stop at mile 70, we were all getting tired. We tried to think of it as 70 miles done instead of 30 miles left, but 30 more miles....... Miles 70-85 were the toughest. It was hard to enjoy the scenery, I think all I saw was my odometer, ticking off 1 mile at a time. At about mile 85 I sucked down a Hammer gel, and that definitely helped. My legs were tired but I didn't seem to mind quite as much. I coasted as much as possible; didn't try to push the big ring to move faster. Even the littlest rise in the road felt like a mountain. The last 5 miles were kinda irrelevant. I knew we were all going to make it, and I just kept pedaling to be done with it and get off the bike. When we finally finished, there were hugs and kisses all around and hamburgers! It took us about 9 hours; yes, the sisters are slow but we are still mighty.

At 5:00 I got in my car and began the long trip home. The other sisters stayed over and are returning today. If I had realized how far it was (about 200 miles!), I probably would have done the same. I did get to sleep in my own bed, although I'm sure I would have slept well almost anywhere. Today my legs are tired, and the back of my neck and shoulders are a bit sore. But it sure feels good to have completed my first century and to be able to share that with the sisterhood of the GOBs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Road Trip

I'm getting ready to drive to Rhode Island for the RI Century. Tomorrow is the day. The GOBs started the season with a bicycling adventure in Northampton MA and we are making this second trip for another bicycling adventure, in pursuit of our first century. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Empty Nest Week 1

On Friday, son #2 was deposited in his dorm at Northeastern University in Boston (Son #1 had taken himself back to school a week earlier). DH and I spent Friday evening with some friends in the Boston area and came home on Saturday evening. We were up early on Sunday for the Golden Apple, our bike club's annual bike touring event. DH was a marshall and I was a Gatorade Barista at one of the food stops. On Monday, I went for my ride with the boys, went food shopping, did some cooking, and had a little BBQ at a friends house. I've been trying to keep myself busy and not spend too much time at home because it feels a little too quiet. Even though I am used to them being gone during the summer, this feels different. It really is bittersweet. On one hand, the freedom from the daily activities of parenting is awesome. And then there is the pride at looking at them as independent young men. But I guess I just plain miss them, too. I want to hear their voices and share stories. I want to help them and protect them, too and it's hard to let go. I know they can help themselves and I can't protect them from all the bumps and bruises that may come their way.

I was putting away some laundry and I came upon a stack of T-shirts that son #2 had stashed away, his own little T-shirt Hall of Fame. One was a shirt he wore when he was about 3 years old, and it came down to his knees. Where has the time gone, it doesn't seem possible that he is now 18 and a freshman in college!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Riding with the Boys

Today was another great day-- temps in the mid 70s, sunny skies (that gave away to clouds in the afternoon). The roads were surprisingly quiet on a holiday morning. It doesn't get much better when you are setting out for a bike ride. Today I rode with 3 guys that I had never met. None of the GOBs showed up, so I rode with the boys. They are all stronger faster riders than me, but they waited for me for the first half of the ride. Then Mark and Paul took off. Charlie stayed with me. He was my GPS.

Charlie's nickname is Action Figure. He had both of his knees replaced about 1.5 years ago, and after the grueling rehab process, he is determined not to smash them or otherwise screw them up on a bike ride. He rides slower than he used to, in lower gears, and never stands on his bike. And, he wears mountain biker protective gear on his legs and elbows. I'm not sure why he wears the elbow gear as well, but when he gets into it, he looks like an action figure with articulated joints. But he is low key and was humming and singing as we rode along.

We rode up and down the hills between Bedford, Titicus Reservoir, and the Salems for 40 miles. It was all good.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tour de Putnam

I returned home from DC on Saturday evening and immediately checked my email to see if the GOBs had plans for the Tour de Putnam. This bike tour through Putnam County has several mileage options. The GOBs had decided on the 50 miler, starting at 7:30. When we all arrived and checked in, Gail had a brilliant idea. The 75 mile ride has an option to bail at 48 miles. The 75 miler is on much nicer roads than the 50 mile route, so we decided on that option. The only downside is that everyone passes you. You are traveling with riders on the 75 and 100 mile routes, who are stronger faster riders needing to move to cover the mileage. But that never bothered me or the other GOBs. In fact, we are used to it. So off we went in the morning fog on our 50ish mile voyage.

We stopped to admire some beautiful gardens.
Gail, Judy, me, Irene.

Billy (a friend of the GOBS) took the photo. He surprised us with his new look. He was too lazy to trim his beard so he shaved it off instead.

We rode up and down many hills, through portions of Fahnstock Park, and along the reservoirs. The sun came out but it never got really hot. We ate watermelon and fig newtons at the rest stops. We had the chance to talk about planning for more bike adventures, soon-to-be-born grandkids, the new Yankee Stadium, and how much Irene can eat on a 50 mile ride. The last few miles were kinda ugly as we made our way back to the park where we started. But there was lunch and some other club members who had returned from their rides. Our ride was 53 miles with about 1900 ft. of elevation. I must admit, I thought it was much hillier than that. But it was a beautiful ride and a great way to spend some time with the GOBs and Billy.