Monday, December 31, 2012

Wool for Weenie Woman

If I could hibernate until Spring, preferably under the covers with the opposite sex,  I would. 

In the meantime, wool is as good as it gets for the cold spell we've been experiencing.  I particularly like the DeFeet wool gloves.  No, that's not snow above.

Ah, how could I not end the year with an article in the Paris Review about librarian fantasies. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reindeer Topiary

Well, apparently Helen of Sparta in my neighborhood is catching on elsewhere.  I was biking home from work when I came upon this -- the photo above.  That's actually a hedge that has been sculpted into the shape of a deer, I think.  Or a fantastic animal.  It was not lit up when I saw it.  A strapping young man, more precisely, a lanky fine looking man in jeans and sleeveless undershirt, saw me standing there.  He turned on the lights just for me.  I'd like to believe he said something like, "Would you like me to turn you on?" or perhaps he said, "Would you like me to light you up?"  Ah,  fa la la , tis the season for joy and merriment.  I'd like him to come down my chimney....

A Sweet Home

Every year, during the holiday season, the Fairmont San Jose showcases a display.  One year, it was a river of chocolate (still my favorite).  This year, a house built by Bijan Bakery.

The sugary smell assaults the senses as you approach this house of confection.  I think the rooftop shingles are meringues. 

 Down the corridor, I found this painting upon a wall.  "I'll build a stairway to paradise with a new step every day." [George Gershwin, An American in Paris].  Reminded me of the time The Boyfriend and I vacationed in Montmartre, Dec 2007.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

In case you were wondering what Helen the Reindeer of Troy looks like in the evening ....

I think I shall spend December documenting that which catches my fancy ... on that note:  I give you The Pallet of the Penguins, an art installation at San Jose State University.  Below two photos I took.

The artist has a statement to make but I simply saw, because undoubtedly I'm just simple, a penguin amongst bikes and that caught my fancy.

I mean, sometimes, you just go with your instinct, as in, wow, I like that or not, without further interpretation or contemplation and sometimes, you do indeed attach the whole enchilada and think about the meaning of life.  Sigh, right now, I'm thinking, I'd like a boy toy to serve me a drink topped with fruit and a little pink umbrella.  Yeah, I'm deep. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reindeer of Troy (Sparta)

Where have I been?  Seeing the World as usual but with little to share.  Today, plans changed and as I lounged in my pyjamas, waiting for the fog to burn off, I contemplated my options.  Stay under the covers?  For one brief moment, I thought about going out on the bike in my jammies.  I decided it was time to check out the newly paved Guadalupe Trail. 

 Even with the sun, a chill remained.  However, I wore my new SmartWool baselayer and was good to go as I came upon Alviso.  The trail is not finished but I enjoyed the outing.

 Now as to the title of my blog.  Okay people, what do we think?  First impression for me was, "Oh my God, it's Helen the Reindeer of Troy."  You literally must go under it to get to the front door. 

It's across the street from my home.  At night, all lit up, it's quite a sight.  My second reaction was to wonder where they plan to store it the other 11 months of the year.  Ah, the Season of Joy is upon us.  Rejoice....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pictorial Panoche Road

Club ride today on Panoche Road out in Paicines, aka bucolic country.   Some club members offered to carpool.  Yay, no driving for me.

We started, in my opinion, much too early, with the temperature hovering around 40 degrees.  

 Despite blue skies and a bright sun, I found the temperature not to my liking.  It did warm up some but my body was meant to be in a bikini, on a beach with white sand and clear blue water along with a waiter serving me a drink with an pink colored  paper umbrella and some pineapple.  Note to self:   buy wool jersey.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

LKHC Soda Springs

Time for another Low Key Hill climb -- arriving at the start of Soda Springs.  Whew, not exactly a bikini weather day.  Quite chilly in fact.  High 40s maybe 50 degrees.

When I was a little girl, I used to host tea parties for my dolls and stuffed animals.  We'd discuss Schopenhauer and Kant while painting our nails and eating bonbons.  After tea time, I'd get out Barbie who would then proceed to call Ken and G.I. Joe (borrowed from my brothers' collection).  Even as a child, I realized that there was something anatomically incorrect about their bodies, but still, Barbie had herself a swell time.  What does any of this have to do with biking you ask.  Well, nothing really, other than I'm sharing the sorts of things that run through my mind while climbing 2,368 feet on the longest continuous climbing road in the Bay Area (8.41% grade).

Alison caught me at mile 3.41.  I was determined to meet my goal of beating my previous LKHC time back in 2009.  How'd I fare?  Back then, 66.32.  Today, 60.11.  Now, off for a hot bath with my rubber duckies.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Licking the Mountain

I received an invitation to do Mt. Hamilton on Sunday.  We were blessed with warm temperatures, blue skies, and no wind, in other words, ideal conditions for this ride. I should have worn a bikini! 

I zipped up the mountain until the last 3 miles where I lost a lot of steam.  Descending was a pleasure, especially the section where it felt like we were gliding, so smooth and silky.  Some trees have turned yellow and red, reminding us that Fall is here but today, it felt like a summer day.  Enjoyable.  For once, I felt like I "licked" it even with the stumble the last few miles. Thank you for inviting me to do this climb.  I had a really nice time.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

LKHC Hwy 9 Time Trial

While at a stop light on Saratoga Avenue, a hot looking male cyclist pulled up next to me.  I looked at him, he looked at me, and let's just leave it at that ....  I parked at the lot at Skyline and Hwy 9 for this week's LKHC climb, a time trial beginning in Boulder Creek.  I ran into, well not literally, Ron who had the same thought, to bike down Highway 9 to the start.  Guess who I met after I registered inside the Rainbow's End cafe in Boulder Creek.  The male cyclist from the intersection!  I knew he looked familiar and sure enough, he's a regular LKHC. 

Being one of the slower riders, I was set to go early in the lineup.  Wait wait, I said, I'm formulating my game plan including topping off the mimosa....  The time trial involved 13 miles of flat and hill along Highway 9 from Boulder Creek to Saratoga Gap, the summit of Highway 9.

The Plan:

1.  Catch Dan the Man who was running the course!
2.  Beat the kid cyclists for once. Sad, I know.
3.  Clock in under 90 minutes.  Sigh.
4.  Don't get distracted by hot male cyclists.  That's a tough one.
5.  Don't finish last.

Yeah, I'm bad.  I met my goals.  Yay.  Sure, men and women passed me but it gave me a boost.  I pushed myself and even got a surge towards the end, taking me across the finish line at 82 minutes. The other women's scores were smoking hot.   We have another time trial next week with a steeper climb.  I don't know my strategy yet but it's going to include having a swell time, like I had today.  Thanks to all the volunteers who made today's event spectacular.  Before I left, a fire truck pulled into the parking lot.  Ah, one last dose of eye candy....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LKHC Morgan Territory

I was chauffeured to Danville where my companion and I proceeded to bike 10 miles to the staging area for this week's LKHC event -- Morgan Territory Road.  As you can see, the weather was just spiffy, doing wonders for my hair... The ride to the start was peaceful and pretty, full of cows on the hills and my favorite kind of animal -- male cyclists.

 I became cold waiting for the event to begin.  I met this man (no you say!) who let me stay inside his warm van.  Break out the mimosas! 

We did the climb in small groups.  This shot was taken after the ride.  During the climb, the visibility was obscured by the dense cloud cover until we reached the finish line.  You couldn't see anything other than what was in front of you.

 It was a fast start.  The plan was to beat Miss A.  I managed to get ahead of her for awhile on the 5 mile climb but she caught up to me after one steep pitch. The revised plan was to cross the finish line with her.  Didn't happen.  She beat me by 29 seconds.  I had a fun time in beautiful territory.  Must return sometime.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

LKHC Week 2 - Quimby

We (volunteers) were barely set up, shivering and quivering on Quimby Road when The Bushnell and the Tracy came barrelling across the finish line.  Even the Alpaca took notice.  All of the cyclists out today for LKHC Quimby were winners.  Outstanding job.

Ah, such a display of manliness post ride. And the women who braved the challenge of Quimby and its switchbacks.  Some cyclists decided to do it again!  "Once is not enough," they declared.  You got that right, Mister.  Of course, as usual, my remark has nothing to do with cycling....  Til next week.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

LKHC Montebello Strategy

Ring ring from The BF, out of town, in another state --
The BF:  What is your strategy for this year's LKHC series?
Me:  Show up?
The BF:  C'mon Woman, give me more than that.
Me:  Have sex the night before?
The BF Not appropriate.
Me:  I think it is -- given my high BP, it'll help open up the blood vessels, the veins,  ....
The BF:  Any excuse.... C'mon, follow through, give me a plan.
Me:  Apply the first, second and third laws of Newton's Laws of Motion?
The BF:  Now we're getting somewhere.
Me:  If a hot male cyclist exerts force upon my body, I will accelerate.
The BF:  Sigh, I'm dealing with an idiot savant nymphomaniac.
Me:  You're so sweet. I appreciate the compliment.


Oh my Gosh, the excitement of the first week of the Low Key Hillclimbs series with 155 registered riders.    And this year, for Montebello, the teams came, decked out in their swanky jerseys.  So much eye candy.

Two riders went down at the very beginning unfortunately.  I zipped around them, determined to beat my time from last year.  We had a great crisp Fall day and I hope a super time had by all.  Thank you to Howard, David, Brenda, and the rest of the volunteers.

Ring ring from an airport somewhere in the U.S.

The BF:  So, how'd you do?
Me:  Well, Mister, I think I shaved 2-3 minutes off last year's time.
The BF:  Way to go!
Me:  Well, I do believe that I might have improved even more had we engaged in nooky.
The BF:  Sigh.
Me:  There's still time before next week's Quimby....

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Levi GranFondo 2012

 Saturday, September 29th

Notice how I deftly maneuvered myself  into a crowd of men at the start of Levi's 2012 GranFondo.  Then again, with 7,000 participants, this wasn't exactly hard.  Can you spot The Boyfriend?  He's the one in cycling clothes.  While we waited in the chilly foggy early morning light, I met 2 guys (geez, what a surprise you say) from the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA.  People come from all over for this wonderful event, including some celebrities, like Patrick Dempsey and The Fat Cyclist.   Let's get started. 

Oh my God, what a challenge it was to bike with hundreds of other cyclists at a pace of 16 mph for over twenty miles until the first rest stop.  I was on the 62 mile course and it was a very different experience to always be biking with other cyclists.  I was exhausted. 

Our morning began in mist until mile 42.  Love the signs in Sonoma County, like "Born and Grazed here."  Adorable.  

I'm on Highway 1 now and it's still misty and chilly but beautiful.

And romantic.   The route is spectacular made even more so by the spectators cheering us on everywhere. 

I met these guys (geez, really, you say) and they took a photo of me.  I was bundled up.  The hottie flashes leave me cold and damp.  Sigh.

Ah, Coleman Valley Road.  Our big challenge.  I zipped up this baby despite my high blood pressure.  I met this guy (geez, really, you say).  This was his first time.  He did the shorter route last year.  He was obese but the man was a clear winner, giving it his all and I was so proud of him.  Especially after seeing all these other guys dressed to kill who were off their bikes, walking the hill.  You rock Mister, whoever you are. Finally, blue skies, a great descent into lovely Occidental. 

Anyway, I had a swell time.  What a day.  What an event.  Interestingly, my time was exactly as it was for 2009. 

Just the Stats:

62 miles
12.9 avg mph
33 mph descent
4 hr 47 min

The Night Before

Friday, September  28th,

On the eve of Levi's 4th Granfondo, The Boyfriend and I attended the premiere of The Levi Effect in Santa Rosa.  Guess who showed up?  Patrick Dempsey.  He's just as handsome in person as on screen.  He's participated in previous Granfondos and he also has his own charity event in his hometown in Maine, called The Dempsey Challenge. 

And of course, The Man, himself.  He's nice on the eyes, too.  I told The BF that I only have eyes for him.  He's stud enough for me.  We enjoyed the documentary and panel discussion afterwards.  Tom Danielson was a scream.  The film focused on Levi's desire to give back to the place he calls home, to build a better community.  We all can do that in our communities, give a little or a lot of ourselves to make a nicer, caring, loving place.  At the end of the day, I'd like to know that I did something that had a positive effect on someone else.  Wouldn't you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Whitney Portal

Tuesday, September 18th

Like the end of a fireworks show, I'm sending you a blast of photos of our last ride:  Whitney Portal (el. 8,371).  The route starts tame and ends up tough with an average grade over 9% for the last 5 miles. 

Me:  I don't see why I'm doing this, after all, I could be lounging poolside next to that lovely german boy, the one dressed up hot leather on his motorcycle.  I think I shall call him Dieter.
The BF:  Really woman, this is our last ride.  Make it epic.
Me:  Oh I can make it epic Mister, lounging poolside, in my bikini, with Dieter.
The BF:  Get on the damn bike and if you're lucky, I might wait for you at the top.
Me:  Oh sure, promises. 

I try to remember their names but so many men, so little time.   I must say that I was perhaps somewhat prompted to pedal a wee bit faster.  Listening to music from James Bond films helped.  Goldfinger....

Omg, this is frigging painful.  Had I not had Janet the last few miles to keep me in line, I'm not sure that I would have kept going.  It was far harder than Onion Valley.  Release me, please.  I had to get off the bike to pop my back several times.  I practically begged for mercy except even Mercy knows to beg me.

Ooh, lookey there's The BF.  Then again, at this point, any man would do....

We all made it to the top.  Yay.  And The BF waited for me at the top.  Of course, he did.  After all, I'm worth waiting for.   And then the grand descent.  Loved it.  

Hard to believe that only a few hours earlier, I was on that road.

Oh, look, Heaven.  My reward.

And then, thanks to an ACTC rider, we were treated to the beauty of the Alabama Hills, an unbelievable treasure.  My photos do not do justice to this tranquil road of delight. 

 Alas, our journey came to an end.  29.63 miles of sheer joy and pain.  I averaged 5 mph to get to the top.  And it took 3 hrs. and 41 min. to finish.  Later in the afternoon, The BF treated me to a date at the movie museum in Lone Pine.  Do go.  Many a western was filmed in this area along with contemporary films, such as, Tremors and Iron Men.  One last happy hour and farewell until next year.