Friday, October 24, 2008

Champions League

Good friends Jed and Radhika are in town and we went to a 'real' football game.

We watched Chelsea beat Roma at The Shed. Alas, no hooligans were spotted. Just lots of blue and white and a great game. That's a nice piece of pitch, eh? (Also spotted were the commentators from Bend It Like Beckham. Yes, go rent the movie)
We also got free scarves. And not because it was cold.

Blue is the colour, football is the game
We're all together, and winning is our aim
So cheer us on through the sun and rain
'cause Chelsea, Chelsea is our name!

I learned lots of new Chelsea songs. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tour de Caffeine

Okay, I promise - soon there will be no more cycling posts. But this is a good one!

This past weekend the group organized the 2nd Annual Tour de Caffeine.

The ride started at the official cafe - The Chocolate Theatre Cafe. The ride was organized to go from town to town stopping at local coffee shops to fuel the next leg. You can't see it very well, but inside this tiny cafe is crammed about 35 cyclists trying to put their orders in.

Everyone was issued a scorecard to keep track of their consumption. You received points for calories or caffeine depending on size and strength. They also brought a scale along and you had to weigh in before and after the competition. Of course there were prizes for the most weight gained. Points were also taken away for offenses such as decaf coffee, anything herbal and most importantly - trips to the loo. (My apologies for the poor quality but I only had so much patience with scanning, transfering to paint, enhancing, etc).
Somehow, I ended up leading after the Prologue. I was given the coveted green jersey and it was mine to lose on the way into Marlow for the next stop.

In Marlow, we had a group photo with the jersey leaders in the front.

Stephen showing off the Combined Points Leader for most Calories AND Caffeine.

Tom won the hill climb challenge and therefore got to wear the Polka Dot jersey whereas German Tom sported the black Caffeine Leader at this stage.

Next it was off to Henley where the clouds rolled in and the air turned a little cool. I like this picture of Joe and the 500 year old church in the background.

Everyone was excited to see Howard as apparently this was the first time he was spotted on a group ride since his cycling attire was in style.

And lastly, German Tom says something witty while I nurse my water bottle. I unceremoniously lost the green jersey after almost tossing my hard earned calories all over the hill climb and removing myself from the remainder of the competition. Note to self: Hard cycling not a good idea after dark/white chocolate mousse cake, chocolate chip cookies and a hot chocolate. My poor tummy......

Friday, October 17, 2008

Best Buddies Recap

This morning the sky was clear and the moon was so bright that it cast a shadow over me and Tucker as we did our morning run. It's a great way to start a Friday.....

Since my official thank you's are out in the mail, I can finally post some photos from the Best Buddies ride last month.

Before the sun even comes up, the team gets together for a pre-ride photo. Our buddy Carlos is front and center in the orange polo.

At the start of the 100 mile ride - waiting for the sun to come up.....

The weather was beautiful as long as you stayed above the marine layer. These pictures do not do justice to the sun above and the thick fog just below.

The view looking back after the first climb.

I got a little chatty during the ride and forgot to take pictures. After 100 miles, here's the view of the beach at the finish. The marine layer is finally starting to burn off.

The group at the finish!

Me looking quite sweaty but smiling since I finished. Or, maybe it is because I'm finished with my first beer?

After showering up, it is off to the after party. Honorary Chairwoman Maria Shriver gives some opening remarks.

All the buddies take to the stage and Carlos is looking very spiffy in his tie and sunglasses.

After all the honors are given out, it's time to get the par-tay started.

"Let's get it started in here...."

Courtney, Lynda and Julia pose for the camera.

But no! It was really David Hasselhoff who pulls a Scooby Doo villain manuever and removes his Lynda disguise! Is it The Hoff or is it Lynda? Hmm.....

The party winds down with a view of the Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle.

And finally, Julia and I dip our toes in the pool. It was a good ride, great fun, full of good people and new acquaintances. Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me for such a wonderful cause.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


With the addition of my four legged roommate, my nightly routine now consists of more than just face washing and tooth brushing...

..As we wander around as part of Tucker's evening constitution, our way is lit by the soft blue glow of the... ferris wheel? It really is quite pretty in the evenings, but just a wee bit strange seeing it placed in front of a nearly one thousand year old castle.....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Of Being Sweaty and Social

Nothing at all exciting this weekend so if you are looking for something new and British, you'll have to wait for another post.

This weekend, I dusted off the cobwebs and entered the Henley Half marathon on Sunday. Since I was racing after a nice long hiatus I decided to take Saturday off from running, biking and generally anything sweaty. Conviently, Saturday turned out to be the club's Captain's Challenge triathlon were I got dragged into being a race marshall and time keeper.

The event was fun with several teams participating in the relay. In order to make it really competitive, the men had to swim, bike and run 10% more than the women. Thank goodness I'm not a swimmer or I would have been dragged into this event as well. The water looks cold!

The fans, officials and other participants - it was chilly!

After the swim, the sun came out for the bike portion..

And lastly, the awards ceremony at the pub (yes, the pub AGAIN). Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the run, I was too busy giving time splits.

As this was the final day of 'competition', the club awards banquet was also that night. Everyone got dressed up, the boys in dinner jackets and the girls in their frocks to celebrate the seasons accomplishments. Eventually, the drinking and DJ caught up to everyone and some strange dance took place. I couldn't quite figure it out but I avoided it. Sadly, it followed the Macarena. As I tried to leave to get some shut eye for my competition the next morning, it wasn't to be. Note to self: when an ironman finisher tells you "if I am going to run the half marathon hung over, then YOU are going to run the half marathon hung over", it is time to hide.

Sunday dawned gray and foggy which made fabulous running conditions. Also note the wonderful start time. While standing in the line for the bathroom all the women were complaining about how early the race started this year. It started at 9:30AM instead of 10AM! I am definitely not in Kansas anymore. Okay, so this is the longest post ever about nothing - I promise things will get more exciting soon. And oh yeah, best run ever - a new personal best. I think it helped that there were only 1500 people in the race so I didn't have to play Frogger. Chip Time: 1:36:02 - 14th female overall. (I told you the race was small....or maybe it was the 6 glasses of wine with the Ironman?)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Credit Crunch

Another tiny hassle of moving to a new location with today's risk adverse lending...

This is the 5th time in four months that one of my credit cards has been turned off due to suspicion of fraud. No matter how many times I explain that yes I live in the UK (see the address attached to the card), yes I moved (that is why I'm spending lots of money at IKEA) and yes everything costs more (hello? exchange rate?) - apparently my spending habits no longer comply with any model. I've learned to stop being embarassed about this little game the credit card companies keep playing with me. Note that the email comes about 12 hours after they've already suspended my card. Convenient, eh?

In the spirit of capitalism and the economic meltdown, I went to the London Cycle show after work with some guys that I ride with. We met to drool over some bikes and then make our wish lists over a couple of pints.

While the guys talked stems and cogs and wheel sets and blah blah blah, I wandered around and looked at all the shiny bikes. Its a good thing my credit card was just turned off as it reminded me that I shouldn't use it. So I made out my Christmas list instead :o)

I'm really not that knowledgeable about bikes but it was fun (and eerily relaxing) to browse and watch people taking some of the new models for a spin. You could test out road bikes, commuter bikes, folding bikes, kids bikes....

and those that go on dirt. All indoor!

And for all my cyclocross friends, I thought you would like this quote. To me it invokes a primal joy of being outside. But then again, what do I know? I'm typing this from the couch...Enjoy the weekend...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


October is a big month for my family - it is particularly a milestone event for my father this year.

My father is retiring this month after working for General Motors for 45 years. I've always been amazed at his work ethic but this boggles my mind. My hat is off to GM as well. Even though most of my friends would never buy an American car (for various unfounded reasons) I'd still like to thank the company that kept my father employed for so many years. I, in turn, was the lucky recipient of food, clothing, shelter, volleyball camps, soccer camps, barbie dolls (yes, I had them, they were there to ride the plastic horses), Lite Brite sets and everything else that was provided for by that paycheck. Thanks GM and way to go Dad!

You'd think after 45 years though, my dad would learn some fashion sense. Geez, dad...

The rest of the family is also celebrating some special milestones. Older brother Bob and sister-in-law Tara are celebrating their one year anniversary this month. (And for the record, this is the ONLY photo I have of the two of them, taken before they were even engaged. You'd think a guy would send a photo to his sister once in awhile. Especially since she lives kinda far away)

Younger brother Ken and sister-in-law Rachel are celebrating their two year anniversary this month. (Nothing to give them a hard time about at the moment except for maybe their wishy-washy travel plans next month)

And Mom and Dad are celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary this month. What is it with October weddings among the men in my family?

Congratulations to Dad, Mom, Ken, Rachel, Bob and Tara. I love you all and am looking forward to our Christmas reunion (without Tucker unfortunately).


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Politics and Portobello Road

So with the election looming and the financial institutions in meltdown mode, I constantly feel like I am one day behind everything. From college football to the MLB playoffs (poor Cubbies) to vice presidential debates, I get up in the morning and watch CNN to get myself caught up on everything that happened the day before. I'm like the Saturday Night Live skit of the man who is always one minute behind everything. Good news though - my absentee ballot arrived and I'm sending it off in the mail on Monday. So in one respect - I'm finally ahead! One month ahead even. And yeah, I'm not waiting for the rest of the debates - I've made up my mind. :o) (Don't forget to vote!)

This weekend, a classmate of mine from grad school was in town and invited me to do a little shopping with her on the famed Portobello Road.

I joined the crowds and eagerly ducked in and out of stalls looking for some treasure. Portobello road is (in my mind) one third antique shops, one third a giant garage sale and one third crazy street fair. Where else do you watch a guy comparing silver spoons next to the girl with the churros and chocolate sauce?

Alice's seemed to have a lot of interest. Tea sets were very popular...

In case you were wondering where you go when you need a telescope, I guess you visit the guy next to the man selling pub signs and cricket rackets (as famous as this is, the Ann Arbor Art Fair is WAY better).

I did score this nice vintage print of TinTin though. I drove a mean bargain and got the price down to five pounds. That was really the only thing that caught my eye but you never know - I might have to head back for Christmas shopping. C'est bon, n'est pas?

In keeping with my political day, I stopped to take a picture of the house where George Orwell lived. I am so a tourist. But perhaps, a good time to re-read some of his novels. Animal Farm might be particularly applicable in this election......

Unfortunately, Sunday dawned not so bright and clear. I was supposed to do this ride in Wales but as the weather was rubbish (translation: crap) I chickened out. The climbs would have been fine but with my poor descending skills, I figured I would end up doing more damage then good. So instead I spent the day inside and just made brownies. Nothing like a rainy day for some brownies and a good book....