Wednesday, December 31, 2008
To backtrack, we rode out of Luang Prabang on the 29th and had a hard day's ride with two large mountain passes with many ripply hills in between. About 50 miles total, over 6000 feet of climbing, including a 15 and 25 k climb and comparably long descents. I was still feeling rather poorly, but did the ride, going unbelievably slowly. It was so gorgeous, photos to come. One of the most lovely days of riding I've done in a long time. We spent the night at Kiu Kachan, a truck stop town on top of the mountain. The views were amazing, but the facilitieswere a bit limited. My tummy troubles reactivated during the night and I did not enjoy leaving the room with a flashlight to use shared rural toilets!!! Multiple times! Ughhhh!
The next day was another hard day and I was not in a happy place. I did most of the ride, but skipped one of the climbs, electing to ride in our truck and nap instead. I did make the most of the super long descents, which had frequent patches of unpaved road which were fun to hammer through on the mountain bike.
OK, must get ready for our New Year's eve dinner. Ben our guide has procured lao lao (rice liquor homebrew) mixed with goat's blood for the festivities. Not sure I'll try this one, but I am hoping Sue will! Dan is still feeling the effects of his cold and may stay in for the night. I'll be having an early night as well!
Happy New Years! And I will post again, probably in a couple of days from Vientiane.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I feel a lot better today, though still not eating much, and I plan to ride tomorrow, but may not make it through the entire day which features a 3000 foot vertical climb at the end of nearly 50 miles of hilly riding. Dan has a mild cold, and is quite fatigued but has been riding. Quite a lot of the group has caught this cold, one guy opting to fly out early today rather than continue.
Map of our trip, prepared by Peter.
Our first rest stop in Thailand was at a gorgeous temple complex up on a hill over looking the river. there were dozens of these statues, and several wat as well.
Dan and Sue on the prow of the boat. The pilot of the boat let us sit out there, even though it is apparently less than legal. It was a terrific view! The slow boat was really scenic, and we passed numerous villages, observing fishing, farming, washing and other village activities on the shore. I spent most of the 7 hour trip looking at the view.
Kids running to see us in Ban Faen. Our tour company has provided charitable support to this village,including aid in building the school structure in the rear of the photo. We were treated to some Lao dancing by adorable little girls and given flowers.
Kids at the school.
Young monks cycling. The monk on the right was leaping aside to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic, but the the left hand monk hung in for the photos. They spoke decent English and we chatted a bit.
Getting warm during a long rest stop in the rain. We had quite a wait for the slower riders and for our support truck, so joined these villagers around their fire. Peter in our group helped saw some wood.
Bamboo bridge across one of the two rivers that surround Luang Prabang. It seemed terribly fragile and I tried to keep my feet over the supporting bamboo bits.
Dan in the day market. He bought a big bag of what he thought was persimmons (orange things) but turned out to be something inedible and hard that is meant to use to brew a medicinal tonic. As he was crunching into the first one, a women advised us that they were inedible. ooop!
OK, must have dinner. next post possibly in Vientiane.
Monday, December 22, 2008
this will be short. We are in Chiang Khong across the border with
Laos (pictured, Laos is, as seen from our hotel room). We'll cross
into Laos tomorrow and take a boat ride down the Mekong.
First full day of riding today. It was fun, hot, mostly gentle
rolling with a couple of short steep hills. Traffic was limited to
mostly motorbikes with smiling people shouting hello to the riders.
More detail from Internet cafe, probably in two days.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
flight. After lunch, which included some yummy gelatinous desserts, we picked up the bikes. Sue and I elected to rent mountain bikes which were deemed by the tour group to be more suitable for rough roads in Laos. Dan brought along his Ritchey breakaway road bike.
After a bike fit mini-drama, with Sue's first bike being teensy and some fit tweaking for me, we set off on a little ride. Once again, we gravitated to the food (local market, pictured), tasting tamarinds, sticky rice prepared in sugar cane leaves, and gawking at the insects and larvae (pictured, lower). After a visit to a local temple, we managed to get totally lost as it was getting dark. We asked for directions a couple of times (Dan cleverly showed photos of our destination to bridge the language barrier) and made it back ok. A fun shake-down ride! Ok, time to eat roasted chestnuts from the market.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We've also done some exploring, along with Sue who also arrived on Thursday. Friday was a veritable templefest- Wat Pho, Wat Aran, and the royal palace (photo is from one of the dozens of structures in the palace). We could climb up Wat Aran which was wildly exciting! Bad photo from this in the next post. We recovered from temple overload by riding river ferries and taking a dragon boat ride in the canals.
Saturday we went to the incredible Chatachak market- 8000+ vendors in an outdoor market selling anything and everything. Plus thousands and thousands of shoppers. Really cool and I wish I had a photo of some of the stalls to share. Then to Lampini Park where we found an international street performance festival attended mostly by locals. Today, we join the bike tour and fly off to northern Thailand to start riding towards Laos. More later if I have internet access.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
realized at three pm that our flight was that night, not Wednesday
The flight was otherwise uneventful and we are laying over here en
route to Bangkok. More interesting photos to come
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The cross season was really fun and way too short, especially because I missed a ton of the early races because I was sick. I ended up doing 5 races- 3 super prestige and 2 of the Livermore series.
I tried something different at the last BASP race at Coyote Point- pushed hard in the first lap to stay with riders who were going pretty hard, and rode much of the race with folks in view (ahead or behind) to keep me motivated. I went a lot harder and was really happy with the race.
Overall, I had a good time, overcame some of my pre-race apprehension (last year I dreaded racing, though loved it once I got going. This year, I looked forward to racing much more) and generally had greater confidence. Technical stuff seemed easier and my mounts/dismounts were smoother, though I was still covered with mystery bruises after every race from smashing into the bike while racing. Things to do differently next year-- more intensity training prior to the season for sure. I'll need all the help I can get in the Bs (or possibly masters) next year.
This was a strange year for me, with shifting plans and goals. I started the year with a road race, felt it went rather poorly and launched on an organized training program, my first ever in my life. While I enjoyed this a LOT (I love having a plan, and especially loved weight lifting), I really really missed my long and/or fast group rides with friends (which didn't fit well in the training plan, or were not so much fun due to tired legs from the training plan, etc). I also didn't start mountain biking. Generally, failed miserably to balance the training and the fun part of riding. And I didn't do any racing all summer long, which sort of negated the hard work I had been doing. All in all, a little unsatisfying and I hope to do a bit of thinking about my goals and plans next year before embarking on a similar training effort. For now, I'm planning to do some of the early birds and start mountain biking in January. And yes, probably some weight lifting as well because I really love it. And more riding with friends this year for sure.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Bridge fog and me
Originally uploaded by NadiaMac
Taken at Chrissy Field in the marina. The fog was lying heavily on the bay, filling the space between the water and the bridge roadway, but the area was otherwise bright and sunny. It looked really cool and made for a nice backdrop for the chi running clinic I attended at sf presidio sportsbasement.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred (ref: http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ )
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten (regular bold is not showing up, so I am making the font larger for the items I've eaten).
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating (I am bracketing [[ ]] because I can't figure out how to strikeout text).
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
[[36. Cognac with a fat cigar ]]
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (
43. Phaal (possible that I've had this, but can't confirm. It sounds good!0
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (note, would need to trust my chef!)
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (ed: looked it up, and I have had this. Mmmm, love fermented/pickled things)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (only under duress!)
56. Spaetzle (ed: looked this up, and I have had it)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
63. Kaolin (oddly, the link is to wikipedia's page on geophagy, the practice of eating chalk or dirt)
65. Durian (update: had durian candy in Laos. Does that count? Wasn't very strong, so probably should not count)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (all of the above!)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (would try only a little sip)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (no, though I was once offered a laboratory bunny carcass to try. I declined)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (update: have since had Harissa, but not rose harissa)
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Will not eat under any circumstances-- 1 (cognac and cigar. I can't imagine ever smoking a cigar, ever)
Huh, I've got some work to do here (and part of the project will include looking up the unknown items on the list!)
2011 update: slightly disappointed to find that I've added just one item since 2008. Oh well...
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Giant glacier shot- that's me riding in the front (barely visible)
Me and Sue in front of giant glacier (Athabasca glacier in the Columbia icefield). I've known Sue for about 32 years. Wow, that's a long time!
Bill and Sue's most gorgeous picture from Glacier Nat'l park area (Bill is pictured). Not sure if this is in Canada or Montana as I didn't go on this part of the trip. This photo is really incredible- love the little lakes.
The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier, or as Sue put it, the "Going To The Sun Road should be renamed Going To The Snow/Sleet/Wind/Rain/Hail Stinging Your Cheeks/36 Degrees In August/Sun My Ass Road". The road looks really epic, but I am not so sorry I missed the climb, at least on this particular day.
Pictures borrowed with thanks from Sue and Bill's photoset.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
This view is near the top of Sinclair pass, the sufferfest climb out of Radium Hot Springs on highway 93 (two days ago). While it was modest by norcal standards- about 1800 vertical feet in 11 k- it included several 8 and 10 % portions and this was a slow grind with the 50 pound-plus bike. The view at the top looked out over the Kooteney valley and was quite gorgeous. The trees are dying from a beetle infestation which turns the trees a red-brown color, and thus the mountains have bands of red dying pine trees amid the green living trees. It was striking, but I am not sure you can see it in the picture.
I said farewell to Sue and Bill this morning in Banff. They are riding south to head into Glacier National Park, ultimately ending up in Montana in a couple of weeks. Wow! I am sad to be ending the trip but am looking forward to going home to hang out with Dan and the kitties.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I am here.
The ride into Banff from Marble Canyon campground was one of the easiest of the trip, or perhaps I am finally used to riding with a 50 pound load? The day started with an easy ~600 foot climb up Vermillion Pass (crossing the continental divide), then a sweet descent. I saw two flocks of mountain goats near the bottom of the descent. They were clambering around on a rocky slope which overlooked a river. Then it was easy pedaling to the junction with highway 1A.
After a stop at Castle Mountain to refuel (chocolate! PB&J!), and at Johnson Canyon to hike out to the lower falls and back, I sped onto Banff, making good time on the gentle grades despite the heat. HW 1A is a pretty road and has relatively light traffic (and no big trucks). I passed yet another black bear eating berries and then a pair of bighorn sheep! I made it to Banff pretty early in the day and trudged up the hill to Tunnel Mountain campground, passing some hoodoos on the way up. About 45 miles for the day.
I set up camp, showered and chatted with other cycle tourists in the campground, then Sue and Bill called and I went down to Banff to meet them for dinner in town. Our last meal together as I am flying out tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We stopped at a beekeepers (Beeland, pictured below) across from the above-pictured view of the Bugaboo mountains and ski area.
He gave us a tour of his production facility and we tasted honeys and petted his three kitties. After lunch on his porch (honey! preserves!), we rolled on to Radium Hot Springs where we will hit the hot springs after setting up camp.
To recap the last couple of days: after a morning un-loaded ride up to Moraine Lake, we rode from Lake Louise to Kicking Horse campground (18 miles), in rain on the Transcanada highway. My glasses inconveniently broke on the mountain pass and I had to mend them with electrical tape so I could descend in the driving rain. Sue and Bill had duct tape and I improved the repair job at the campground when they arrived. Amazing stuff, duct tape is.
After a cold rainy night, we rode on to Golden (45 miles) in cold, drizzling rain, with a long stop in the cute Victorian railroad town of Field where we loitered for quite some time in a warm cafe. I had hot chocolate flavored with cardamom. Mmm! We indulged on a motel room in Golden (actually fairly seedy) and woke up nice and dry for today's ride.
Next up-- two days of riding to Banff. I must confess that I am dreading the climbing a bit. We've lost quite a lot of altitude over the last three days and will need to hump back up. Most of the climbing will occur tomorrow as we climb Sinclair Pass first thing in the morning, then gradually climb for about 40 more miles to Marble Canyon Campground.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This is the big glacier of the trip, which we hit midway on day 2 of riding. It was fairly spectacular! You can take a bus onto the glacier, but we declined choosing to have an enormous early lunch at the cafeteria in the visitor centre instead. Then we rode onward, happy to leave the crowds behind.
We've ridden about 140 miles (in doses of 54, 54, and 36 miles) and have completed the spectacular icefields parkway.
This photo is the view from the Beauty Creek hostel, where we stayed for our first night on the icefields parkway. (oops, posted the view of Athabasca Falls. Will post hostel view next). The hostel was charming- no running water and gas lanterns and a shower created by Roger the hostel manager hoisting warm water to the roof and gravity doing its thing. Roger also makes pancakes and we had six different varieties for breakfast.
Which was an awesome start to the day, and we really needed it because we started out with a 1500 foot climb to the first big mountain pass, which included 1.8 miles of steepness. By steepness, I mean an 8-10% average grade with two rumored 12% sections. I practically died with the load and my modest cogs, but pedaled through it at about 45 rpm.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I took a nap rather than hiking today, so no grand panoramas were viewed today. I'm shopping now (wine and other necessities have been procured. Wine is not something I thought we'd be carrying on a bike trip but I defer to Sue and Bill's expertise in this regard!). Sue and Bill hiked to the top of one of the local peaks, also served by a gondola.
I'll post again in a couple if days when we have cell coverage again.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
We did a ride today. Yeah, we rode up winding mountain roads, past an incredibly scenic mountain lake, and even stopped for a hike along a nifty ravine carved by the river. But most importantly, we saw mama bear and two fuzzy cubs eating berries by the road!!!!! I was wildly excited, never having seen black bears before. Bill suggested that he should test out the bear spray on the cubs, but we restrained him (jk).
We ended up with about 45 miles riding, 45 minutes of gentle hiking. I felt somewhat crappy on the bike, still getting used to the feel of my old bike (left new wunderbike at home). The seat was too low, which didn't help. I'll get used to it soon.
Tomorow, we move to a campground, still in Jasper. Hiking is on the
Today we are off to a test ride (no load), after going to a bike shop to get Sue's wheel trued. It's bright and sunny this morning. I can't wait to ride after two transit days!
Monday, August 4, 2008
We are assembling the bikes now. Mine seems to have survived the trip largely intact.
We will cycle the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff starting in the next day or so. We will likely continue on from Lake Louise through the Golden Triangle: Lake Louise to Golden on the transcanada highway, Golden to Radium Hot Springs on HW 95 and Radium Hot Springs to Banff on HW 93 and HW 1A.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
This weekend we went back up to the Sierra. I took Dan to his race early Saturday morning and headed off on the bike to climb Carson Pass, the final pass of the death ride route. The climb is in three parts over about 14 miles. First a climb up to Pickett's junction from Woodford. Next, a very gradual grade winding through a mountain meadow. Finally, the 1500 foot climb up to the summit of the pass. None of this is particularly steep except for a bit in the last mile or so.
I had a most enjoyable climb! Car traffic was minimal due to my early start and the air was quite clear despite the forest fires in the area. I reached Pickett's junction and pedaled through the meadow enjoying the view (pictured above).
The steeper bit started next, and my pace slowed due to the grade, a moderate headwind and the effects of altitude on my heart rate. I stopped to admire the view of a mountain lake, then made my way to the top. There I hung out a bit, chatting with a college student who was riding from Indiana to SF. He had climbed the pass in a 38-21 gear, towing a 40 lb loaded trailer. Oh, to be young again...
Then the descent. I hit 54 mph on the upper region, aided by a tailwind. And maintained a fairly fast pace back to Diamond Valley, where I hung around the race and tried to hand up water bottles to guys in Dan's club. After the race, we headed back to Markleeville for ice cream, a visit to the hot springs and some lolling around the river by our campsite. Nice!
We woke up Sunday to dense smoke, apparently from the fire near Yosemite. We decided to ride to Minden taking backroads, about a 25 mile trip each way. As we climbed up gorgeous Airport Rd, we wondered why this hadn't been included in the road race. The answer was provided when the road turned to dirt! It seemed quite rideable so we proceeded, winding past another pretty lake and up and down some short climbs. The surface was pretty firm, though there was severe washboarding on some of the descents. Made me excited for cross season! The scenery was gorgeous and it always feels adventuresome to ride on dirt on the road bike!
We hit pavement again on Diamond Valley Road, and rode for a few miles to the next turn onto Mud Road. Where was the road??? It turned out to be little more than a dirt cowpath, or at least that's how it seemed to me as I was a bit hot and thirsty at that point. So I vetoed further progress on dirt and we decided to turn back to Markleeville. We rode back on the reverse of the Diamond Valley course. There was a stiff headwind and the smoke was very smelly. I was becoming tired and at the edge of a grumpy bonk. After crawling up the hill to Turtle Rock (at least I was crawling. Dan was gliding as usual, damn him), we descended into Markleeville. There I recovered my good mood after a drink and snack and some time resting on the porch of the general store.