Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Break

During university days, Spring Break conjured up images of beaches, fruity drinks and road trips to places south. For my own adult spring break, at least I kept up with the going South theme. I went to Italy for my second annual Spring Break/Training camp with the triathlon crew.

Unfortunately, as we were flying into Bologna, we were greeted with this view. Not exactly what I had in mind. I just got done skiing! Alas, snow was on the ground in Italy.

Luckily, the sun was shining and the roads dry (unless the snow melt was running down them) This is what a group of adults look like on spring break. Well, a group of adults with 7 bike boxes....

Every day the sun was out which was great. It was still a bit chilly early in the week as evidenced by my overdressing. Who told me the temperature was going to be freezing up the mountain? Liar!

Riding up cobblestones on the way to the coffee stop.

The group enjoys the sunshine

Paul and I with team kit on. What kind of face is he making? Geesh.

A hazy view of the beachfront with Rimini at the bottom of the hill

Part of the charm of our cycling spring break is that you get to climb up some hills. We do have those in England but you've got to find them and they are a bit shorter than the average. So on this trip, we climbed. We climbed a lot. Here is a good picture at the bottom of the hill where I have people around me and we are merrily chatting.

So we are climbing... enjoying the view... la dee da......

More lovely, sunny country side... la dee da.. climbing... climbing... breathing.....no talking....

And then later on the hill no more friends to chat with as we are all busily trying to breathe and get a bit strung out on the hills. Its tactics really, I'm just looking for someone's wheel so I'm not doing all the work. :o)

Sometimes we even climbed to the snow! I was still overdressed as I was sweating like a you-know-what but fun to see that I'm now surrounded by snow!

Here Chris gives us a back drop to the snow around him. Thank goodness we were almost at the top.

Most innovative use of snow for bike parking?

Or perhaps you prefer to park your bike like this?

Holly and I put the arm warmers back on and zip up to get ready to go down the hill. It might have been a warm journey up but it is going to be a chilly descent.

Do you think there are enough signs behind Simon telling him which way to go? He still looks confused.

No snow bike parking. It's not your usual Starbucks coffee stop now is it?

Riding in such interesting conditions leads to a few wardrobe challenges. How hot will it be? What will I need for the descent versus the climb? Louisa solved that issue by buying some long socks at the airport. Her (mainly) black outfit was complimented very well by her yellow, brown and pink socks and her new, shiny, white shoes. She did win the fashion award by the way.

Chris displays his traveling buddy. The cute lion in his back pocket was cute until he tormented you by passing you up the hill. Nothing against Chris' superior cycling ability, but I have to believe the boys weren't happy to be passed by a man with a stuffed lion in his shirt. I loved it.

When we weren't cycling, running or swimming, there was various other fun to be had. Some people spent some time in the cold plunge pool to try and relieve the sore legs after 5 straight days of climbing. Needless to say, I just took Motrin instead.

Of course, there were the standard gelato stops. That's my cone in the front thank you very much.

And really, who are we kidding? After the rides we celebrated with a bit of calorie replacement. Beth and Katy don't even make it out of their cycling clothes before the prosecco is opened. I'm jealous that they started without me.

And I have to end again with a picture of my good friend John Booker. This is how we roll. A fabulous week with very fun people. Now I just need to lose a few of these pounds that I gained. I'm going to blame the Italian food for my excess calories. Yup, it must be just the hearty Italian food........

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tucker's New Look

While away, my dog gave my poor friends Phillipa and Wayne (wonderful house sitters) a bit of a scare. His big head got caught in a cat entry flap and opened up his ear. Don't ask why my dog thought he could fit his head, let alone his body, through a cat flap.

Since you can't exactly put a bandaid on it, you've got to stop the bleeding somehow. Notice how he is also lying on Wayne's lap? Oh the trauma.......

Monday, March 22, 2010

Alpine Fun - Part 2

After getting my ski legs back with the triathlon crew, my wonderful friend Radhika flew in from Madison, WI to join me in Chamonix, France to tackle the slopes.

The village of Chamonix. No snow down here but plenty up the mountain. It was plenty cold too!

On our first day out, the fog seemed to rise out of the valley below. Visibility was fine... for a while..

Here I am, all bundled up. You can still see the outline of snow behind me.

Radhika finishing up the lovely chore of tightening her boots.

Unfortunately, the snow/fog mix continued to creep up the mountain and we had to cut it short as we couldn't see much more than 5 feet in front of us by the time it finally arrived on top of the mountain.

We made it down safely however. Here I am - waiting for the bus. Exciting, no?

Day 2 was absolutely gorgeous though! Lots of sun and blue skies. We also were able to find some runs that didn't have very many people on them. :o)

Self portrait on the lift. I'm exceeding my dork quota for this post.

Radhika in the middle of traffic. Lots of room to ski all around.

Beautiful runs - the sun was shining all day.

Ever wonder what happens when the lift breaks? You walk up hill in the snow in your boots. It was quite the workout. Ironically enough, by the time we got up the hill, it started working again. Story of my life....

Our last night, Radhika and I join some new friends for a few beers. We have to replace all those calories that we burned skiing. Yup.

I think I may have replaced a few too many as I decided to torture Hugo who insisted on wearing his ski goggles out all night. Anyway, I thought you'd find this picture funny. Hugo obviously doesn't.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Warning Signs

With my recent international travels, I'm fascinated by all the signs and different warnings. I absolutely had to share a few of my favorites.

Hmmm.. why wouldn't you obey the traffic light? Let me tell you - it is optional in India. Cars go all over the place all the time. I've never been in a vehicle that's gone through so many red lights in my life. I had to close my eyes a few times.

Don't take your rickshaw or cattle on to the motorway.

Again, a new one that is India. Along with the traffic signals being optional, so are lanes. It is madness.

In Australia, the cars have the right of way. Completely opposite than the States. Hmmm... is that why the toilets flush the other way?

In England.

In Australia - look out for stingers! I have to say I love this graphic. No question about what you are trying to avoid here.

The remedy for being stung - vinegar. Who knew my mother's kitchen was a first aid kit?

From an Aussie boat. It reads 'Do not put anything in the toilet unless you have eaten it first, except toilet paper. This includes.... ' Ew!

I just liked this one of 'No Parking By Koalas'.

And you can't use this toy under just any supervision. It has to be competent supervision. Do you think you have to take a test to watch over Bruce?
I'm traveling again next week (surprise, surprise) so might be lax in the blog. I know you'll miss me.....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alpine Fun - Part 1

After missing out last year, I decided I needed to discover all the fantastic skiing that sits in Europe. So, I took a quick trip last weekend for some ski time in the Alps. I flew an hour to Switzerland and we drove an hour to France and voila! We are at the pistes!

The weather was quite warm but there was still good snow on the mountain.

Lysandra lives in Switzerland and drove in to play with us, Julian also lives in Switzerland was the great host and tour guide, Michael, Sarah and I just played sherpa and did what we were told.

Not sure why my goggles are upside down on my head. Oh yeah. Because they awful. Also, why is it that Lysandra looks fabulous in her ski attire and I look like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man?

Michael and Lysandra pose for quick pic before speeding away.

Ahhh.. a well earned refreshment at the end of the day!

Even better, time for some fuel. I had to include these photos because this is part of why I love my friends. We ordered massive amounts of food and loved it all. Ribs, pork chops, steak ... ahh... triathletes know how to fuel up.

Nothing remains after the carnage.

And finally, Lysandra is shocked by just how much everyone can keep consuming. Dessert looks (and tasted) great. Eating is fun.

Lastly, a self portrait on the lift the next day. Properly fueled, we had a great time hitting the slopes for Day 2.