Wednesday, April 27, 2011

3 Random Photos

Happy Easter! Sorry for the delay but I've been spending time enjoying the long weekend and the sunshine. I'm also being very lazy as I just haven't had the energy to upload some new photos. However, I do have some new ones coming up. I finally ventured into Windsor Castle so I've got a few photos from my tour to show you. In the mean time, I don't want to neglect everyone for too long, here are a few recent, random, photos.

I thought this was a good artsy photo of Tucker. It was actually taken in the winter but I finally found it in my pictures folder and wanted to share. It's been about three or four posts since you've seen a picture of my dog so I know you are going through withdrawal.

Also quite a cute photo.. the other day I spent the evening in London visiting my friend Angie (check out the India posts for my info on her wedding) so Tucker had a sleep over at Ronny's house. I dropped off Tucker's bed on Sunday night and then left it up to the dog walker to play taxi on Monday and drop him over at Ronny's house after his Monday walk. However, before Tucker arrived to claim his bed, Ronny thought he would give it a test as he waited for his buddy to come over to play.

Lastly, I decided to embrace the unseasonably warm Easter weather and dust off the wetsuit for my first open water swim of the season. I'm not the only nutter who went into the water, you can see quite a few colorful hats behind me. Needless to say, once I got over the shock of the water, I was then hampered by my lung capacity. I am seriously out of swimming shape. Maybe time to eat a few more doughnuts to help my buoyancy. ;o)  Actual photos you want to see coming soon....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Navigation Skills

Don't have the money for any of those new fangled Garmin GPS devices?

No problem. Just ride with Darran. 

He is kicking it old school with a post-it and some tape. Oh yeah. This is how we roll...and we only got lost twice.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Translation: Fancy Dress

As with losing the plot, I'm sharing another decidedly British phrase for my American friends. In the UK, someone might invite you to a party and say that it is 'Fancy Dress'. To me, that meant, whahoo!, you get to dress up in your nice clothes. Long dresses for the girls, suits or tuxedos for the boys, that's what I'm thinking... Alas, fancy dress actually means 'Costume Party'. Therefore the fancy dress invite generally comes with a theme. 

For my friend Pippa's 50th birthday party, it came with a Hawaii 5-0 theme. Therefore, time to pretend we were in the islands. As my brother lived in Hawaii for a couple of years, I was looking forward to a night of fruity drinks and saying Aloha and Mahalo to everyone.

I wasn't disappointed as the party was a blast. Here I am with the birthday girl. Can you believe this women turned 50?!!? I am signing up for her ageing plan. I'm pretty sure it involves wine and triathlons so I think I'm making a good start.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guard Dog

The weather has been absolutely lovely as of late. Bright sunshine, so much that sunscreen was required last weekend on the bike.

Tucker decided to take advantage of the sunshine and as soon as I opened the front door, decided he needed to bake in the sun.

I think he makes a pretty good deterrent.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Break - Ending on a Happy Note

It's the last of my lovely spring break photos and this was a great way to end the week. I chose to ride for a bit in the morning and then join the wine tasting for lunch. I wasn't disappointed.
Upon arrival, we were met by budding olive trees and grapevines and our table set up in a wonderful location.

I am not the only one who thought it would be a great way to end the week. The table looks lovely.

All smiles... it's not everyday you park your helmet on a table overlooking a vineyard.

 Lysandra was smart enough to wear the appropriate sleeveless top for sitting in the sun. Although, I think she has some very interesting tan lines from the week.

Some of the riders get a little too excited about the prospect of wine. Needless to say we had to keep an eye on a few people to make sure they could cycle back to the hotel!

Our guide for the day, Edi, entertains the gang while people relax and shop.

As usual, when there is good food involved, I can't resist a photo of my plate. It was heaven. We had wine, cheese, cured meats, bread, olive oil, balsamic and even some bubbles. Ahh... the joys of spring break.... I'm thinking Tuscany next. Who's with me?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Break - Barbeque, Beers and Some Lovin'

More spring break photos... these two days were dominated by the barbeque day and our grand tour day. The Grand Tour day is otherwise known as, A Long Time In The Saddle.

On the day of the barbeque I upgraded myself to the faster ride and clung on to these gentleman (Chris, Steve and Simon) for the day. They kindly made sure I arrived back in one piece. 

Darran and Lysandra went in the other direction and decided they preferred a leisurely 8 mile ride to the barbeque site instead of our 45 mile circuitous route. They also arrived early enough to reserve the best seating. Not sure if you can see the lounge chairs around the blinding white light that is Darran's legs (and mine but you won't see that) or his classic, greying Nike socks.

Jo and Pippa are happy to pose for the camera now that it is time to rest and refuel.

 A view from up above. Everyone enjoying eating lunch outside. You can't beat it. Not in that weather!

 Another good shot of the BTS crew. Simon, Jo and Heather are a good advertisement. Again I'll admit, its fun to travel with 20+ people. There is always someone to laugh at.

A shot of a few of us. I'm actually in the picture wearing my team kit as well. Happy picnic!

Paul seems to be holding court with the ladies.

And why is Mr. Booker smiling? Could it be because they are serving lemoncino shots at the barbeque? Only in Italy......

Moving on to Grand Tour day (or A Long Time In The Saddle) - otherwise known as 135km or about 85 miles we rolled through some lovely countryside. 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you ask, the majority of the ride was climbing. Ouch! Here, Julia, Holly and random Belgian man are smiling despite the pitch of the road. Or they are grimacing. My camera is not that detailed.

At the end of the ride, a few of us headed right for a specific refreshment. Note: these are not all mine.

As all the groups did the long distance, Beth and I were still in our cycling clothes when we hit the sofa. Simon doesn't seem to like the idea that we aren't drinking at the moment. He's just jealous because the fast group got home way before we did and he got to change. Or maybe I have that backward.......

In any case, Ralph didn't make it to the showers either and joined us in the lounge for beers and lunch.

Needless to say, Ralph didn't make it out of the lounge for a while.

From there, the dehydration turned into a bit of alcohol rehydration and I was on the receiving end from a little Darran lovin'. Not a bad way to end my Grand Tour day if I do say so myself.

Lastly, John and Beth decided to dress as if they were going to Cedar Point (they wore the same outfit) and enjoyed laughing at me. I tell you, that's why you travel with people... there is always someone to laugh at... although often, they are laughing at me. :o)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring Break - Cycling, Coffee and Gelato

Another year spent in sunny Italy where we cycled, drank coffee, ate gelato, ate, drank and did some wine tasting. It was a wonderful trip with good friends. I've tried to pick some of the better photos but my camera is just not doing the trip justice.

We had 23 people make the trip this year. This is what it looks like when trying to fit bikes, luggage and people on the bus.

Simon is smiling as he brought the 'good bike' out this year.

I'm smiling because I rented a brand new Scott carbon fiber bike for the week. Once again, how did I end up with a bike that had never been ridden? It was lovely and much better than having to disassemble and bring my own bike along. Even though I love my Scott at home.

 The usual antics as we navigate our way to coffee after a couple of hours in the saddle. Most of them climbing on this trip.

I did actually stop this time to take a few photos of the countryside. Sometimes you get a little too caught up in watching the wheel in front of you or climbing on your own, and this year I vowed to stop and smell the roses more often. After my shoe incident, I realized it was crucial for my mental health.

The boys waiting as we re-group. Notice the Italian flags in the background. This year, we surmised it was a national holiday somewhere near the date of our trip as the Italian flag was flying everywhere. It made for even more scenic riding.

I think I've taken this photo in the past. A pretty cool front door.

Can you see the rider in this photo? That's Holly climbing to the top. Amazing the number of towns build on hills with massive rock walls surrounding them.

Rob is all smiles after our traditional gelato stop. Oh yeah. The hardship.

We stopped for coffee in Urbino one day. The statues and architecture were magnificent.

Look! It really is me on Spring Break and not just someone sending me photos. :o)

Our coffee stop destination ahead. Every time we started at the bottom of a hill our guide would say either '3K' or '5K'. Every climb was either 3K or 5K. Then again, I really think that might have been all the English that they knew.

Another coffee stop. This one had better bike parking for a change. A lovely sunny day and it wasn't a hardship to stop for a bit.

And I can't forget this guy. His Belgian parents were there to ride and he spent the days with grandma and grandpa. However, every morning he would zoom around to see us off. Take note parents! Teach your kids to ride a bike early. More photos coming up....

Friday, April 1, 2011

San Marino

It's that time of year again, spring break in Italy. Unfortunately, these posts are going to be out of order as I haven't had time to organize the photos yet. This one is relatively small so I thought I would put it out today. Oh, and I've been told I need a better camera. Even the iPhone was taking better pictures than me!

On our 'rest' day, we decided to cycle to the principality of San Marino. Technically, I left Italy for a couple of hours. Here you can see the walled city on top of the hill in the distance.

A little hazy, but you can see a few of the towers on top of the rock in the distance.

There was a small group of us, only 7, so easy to chat as we putted along.

 Getting closer... This ride was great as it was 90% uphill on the way out, so we took an hour and a half to get there, but only about 45 minutes to get back. Fantastic descent.

 Still on the climb, just on the edges of the lower walls. You don't find this in mid Michigan.

Still on the way up. Love this scenic ride.

Almost there, almost there... notice the walls still extend up? As I'm in the middle of reading a fantasy novel right now, I can easily picture this place being defended in battle. Although the orcs in my novel are pretty nasty.

Just about there, a rooftop view with some houses in the distance.

Finally, we stop for coffee with a view overlooking the valley and we can see the water. Excellent! Time to reapply the sunscreen and put on a layer. It's a bit windy at the top.

Chris decides he needs to fuel up with some spaghetti for the race downhill.

A view from where we started. If I was fancy I would put a big arrow at the start, but really, I've barely got time for the blog at the moment. More photos soon, it was a great trip, lovely weather, good friends and fun cycling. I love spring break as an adult. :o)