Back to Tri’s

I feel like it’s been forever since I have written about some sort of training, and, indeed, it has. Creating Cake Pops, trying new foods, fevers, building a bike, and attempting to get my cat Lucky to accept my newly adopted kitten Fur Ball (well, she’s about a year old, still a kitten in my eyes) has been taking me away from training. I’m not saying I’ve been inactive. But it’s February already–can you believe it–and time to settle down and get back on track.

Meet Fur Ball, the newest addition to the family (and no, for the first time, the newest addition is actually NOT a bike!)

Yesterday we were blessed with almost- mid 50 degree weather–in February! Last year at this time we were still up to our knees in snow. I’m happy with such forgiving nice weather, but it does kind of inhibit my use of my new cross country skis. Anyway, even though according to my plan for the week, my longer ride isn’t scheduled until Saturday (with a transition to run afterwards), I had to take advantage of the blue sky and went for an amazing ride on some roads I’ve actually never been on.

Just a heads up: If a sign on a road warns that the surface is uneven, for once road authorities are not lying. Despite the warning sign, I did decide to take a road that had a surface which was rideable, and it was gorgeous. Upon stopping to take the photo below, and wipe my non-stop dripping nose on the sleeve of my jacket, I noticed someone driving in an old red Kawasaki tractor from behind the farm close to where I was standing. As the farmer drove up to me, I put my phone back in my pocket and started to clip in. Then, he stopped next to me with a huge toothless grin. I noticed an old Border Collie in the back of the truck next to a well-used wooden cane.

“You okay?” He asked, cheerfully.

“Oh, yeah, I’m fine, thanks.”

He nodded to my bike, “you broken? I have tools if you need help.”

I think my heart melted inside. It is rare to meet genuinely sweet people in this world full of  greed–where people only think of themselves.

“No, no, it’s not broken, I was just taking a break. Cute dog!”

“Okay then, you drive safe,” the farmer nodded and smiled with his toothless grin and drove off, the border collie taking in the scene. I could not help but feel a grin appear across my face and thought of the farmer’s words for me to “drive” safe on my bike.

My almost-40 mile loop through Dutchess County

Our interaction may have lasted less than two minutes, but it reminded me that not everyone out there is a self-centered human being—something which I worry about when I see a lot of people nowadays who could care less about other people. It made me happy.

View from Odak Farm Road

The 40 (well, 39.98)mile ride was awesome, and it felt wonderful to be in the sun, even though some little things somewhat annoyed me (i.e. the odometer on my bike wasn’t working, not was my HR monitor). Today’s plan is a long run, and depending on the weather later, I might take my Contessa out for a spin.

Goals for 2012 Race Season (yes, I said race season)

  • Compete in a mountain bike race (meaning I need to get over my fear of going fast through trees) without killing myself
  • Finish a road (bike) race–nothing to insane
  • Finish an actual triathlon (not a duathlon)–to be more specific, finish Timberman
  • Finish a half marathon (totally do-able, since I ran 14 miles for “fun” a couple weeks ago)
  • Work on race nutrition (so I don’t “bonk” on long rides/runs)
  • Biggest goal: not compare myself to other people training for race

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Mark Twain

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Cake Pops and my 130th Post!

I remember looking at Bakerella’s site on cake pops–she is brilliant at crafting cake pops and decorating them, and scrolled through all her different cake pop ideas, while trying to contain my drool. Since it is almost Valentines day, and the fact the Super Bowl is coming up, I decided to take an idea of Bakerella’s and do some Valentines day teddy bear cake pops. It was the first time I had ever used them before, but, you need to learn somehow. I also made some American Football mini cakes–some actual footballs, and some NY Giants helmet cake pops, even though I won’t be watching the super bowl since I really am not a football fan. Should I say that out loud? Cake pops aren’t too difficult to make–you just need to practice lots, and you will get better at it. So, since I somehow retrieved a sinus infection and could not go outside (I swear, I have no idea why all of a sudden my immune system has hit the rocks), I decided to make some of these cakes in between a quilting activity (inactivity and Molly just don’t go well together, can you tell?). My Valentines pops look a lot different from Bakerella’s, which are stunning pieces of art, but bear with me, as it’s the first time I’ve ever attempted to create something like this since I don’t like cake myself. Hahah, like that punDon’t worry, even though I myself do not like cake does not mean I do not bake it for others. I love decorating cakes.

Molly’s Cake Pops

  1. First what you do (and I took this method from Bakerella), is mix the cake mix according to directions, bake it according to directions,  then let it cool completely.

    Ingredients for cake

  2. When it has cooled, its time for the fun part. Run a knife through the cake making small squares. Then, pour those squares into a bowl. Some people use cake beaters, or big kitchen aid mixers to help crumble up the cake. I just used a fork.

    Squish squish crumblecrumbs

  3. Since the crumbs were still slightly warm, I placed them back in the refrigerator for a bit to help chill them, before adding the container of frosting. Add the whole container of frosting.**Note: you can make your own cake and frosting. I was being lazy.

    After frosting has been added

  4. After mixing the crumbs, I placed them back in the fridge to cool a bit before taking them out to form (roughly) one inch balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. For the footballs, instead of making balls, I formed mini football shaped “eggs.” Then placed back in the fridge.
  5. While the balls were cooling, I prepared my decorating station and started to melt the candy melts according to the directions. Note: if the candy melts get too hot, instead of becoming a liquid, they turn solid. Simply add a couple teaspoons of shortening and re-heat, stirring every 30 seconds. If using the microwave to melt, use 50% (or the defrost mode) and stir every 30 seconds. You can also use a double boiler. 

    Wilton baking suppliesCandy needed for bears

    decorating station

    melted chocolate

  6. For the helmet color, I used special candy coloring (similar to food coloring) to the white candy melts until I got the blue color I was looking for.
  7. Take the balls from the fridge. For the bears, form them into a peanut shape and press a 1-inch conversation heart into its belly. Then place in the freezer for a few minutes so they retain their shape.

    pressing the heart

    with the ears and noses attached

  8. When they are firm, take a pop stick and dip the end in the candy coating, then stick it into the bottom of the pop. I did this for each cake pop so the coating has a chance to firm up and, literally, stay stuck in the pop.
  9. Dip sides of chocolate chips and place on the sides of the head for the ears, and then place one chip on the face which will act as the nose. You can use frosting to use as “glue”, or the melted candy coating. Once they are attached, dip the whole bear into the coating, tapping against the side of the bowl to get excess coating off.

    coming out of the chocolate bath

  10. Since I didn’t have a styrofoam mold to stick my pops in so they could cool, I improvised and used an egg carton.
  11. When the candy coatings have firmed up, now time to decorate. Dip the pointed sides of two Hershey Kisses into the candy coating and hold against the lower body of the bear until they stay by themselves. Then, add coating to the back of a conversation heart and press on the belly of the bear. Attach two M&Ms to the sides of the heart for the arms. Using black piping gel, make the mouth and eyes and nose (you could also use those pens that can write on cakes). Then pipe two dots, one on each Kiss, and press a small heart decoration in its place. Et voila, the bear is complete!

    My very first cake pop!

  12. For the footballs, I dipped the cake “football” into the candy coating, letting it cool, and then used a white piping gel to decorate it.
  13. For the Giants helmets, I dipped the cake balls into the blue candy coating and let them cool. Then, I used white and red piping gel to decorate.

    NY Giant Helmet BallNY Giants Cake Pop

    NY Giant Helmet pops

The balls can be decorated however you want them to be–I’ll be sure to post pictures of the rest of my Valentines Day themed pops!

My lazy little helper napping

And now, I’m off for an easy, trail run and mountain bike ride…Don’t worry, soon I’ll return to posts about my training…which has been somewhat lacking the past two months. Gotta get ready for the 1/2 marathon in March!!!

Impressive Bike Handling Skills

Watch, and you’ll be in awe of Danny’s skills.

The Down and Dirty of Mountain Biking

If you don’t get hurt once in a while, you’re not trying hard enough.

Riding bikes along the forest paths of Bambesch and Hermeschter as a child first introduced me to the idea of riding a bike in the woods. In fact, most of the family bike rides when I was a child occurred on these paths–it was not until I was older when I realized the endless road routes that could be done on a road bike. Perhaps the fact I grew up riding in the woods had something to do with my desire to start mountain biking. Scratch that; I know it had something to do with mountain biking…Along with the fact I turn to putty in bicycle shops and have no self control whatsoever when it comes to purchasing bicycles.

Um, which side do I ride on?

It’s taken awhile for me to become accostomed to mountain biking–actually, do you ever really become completely at ease? I feel I’m never in control of the bike. I’m terrified of bridges (perhaps because I fell off a bridge while riding? I’ve written about that here) but am working on that fear. My biggest concern, however, is falling, which is somewhat irrational, as I’ve fallen off my bikes more times than I’d like to admit. And today for the first time I realized the reason mountain biking has been a difficult sport to grasp is that I’ve been allowing my fear get in the way of enjoying myself. My hands have always been white-knuckled, clutching the handlebars and brakes as if my life depended on it. With mountain biking, it’s actually more difficult when you go slow. You just need to peddle, look where you are going, and know that at some point, you’ll fall. It’s bound to happen. And, falling isn’t the end of the world. Stopping before a large branch is more time consuming, and actually more difficult, than simply riding over it!

Instead of going for my scheduled 40-mile road ride today (I’ll do that tomorrow), I decided to go for a mountain bike ride followed by a short run. I could not ignore the gorgeous weather we’ve been blessed with, and wanted to check out some new trails to which I was introduced to the other day. I’ve ridden in this particular forest before (it was the first place I rode my Scott in the spring) and the riding conditions were perfect. The winter chill hardened areas of soggy mud, making riding over it easier. There’s nothing better than weaving your way through trees with the warmth of the sun gleaming down, it’s rays causing the frost on leaves covering the ground to sparkle–a phenomenon you miss when only riding on roads. Totally epic.

Newly found paths!

I arrived at the newly discovered trails which have clearly been ridden on recently, and, I must admit, are great trails to ride on off the main trails of the forest. Not only are they “off the beaten path,” but they are slightly more challenging and rocky (I would say technical…then again, I still think most things are technical when it comes to this biking). I was actually pretty proud that I managed some of the “more technical” bits.

And then the inevitable happened–what I’ve been fearing. I fell.  It was my silly back wheel’s fault of course, and had nothing everything to do with the fact I was going incredibly slow, trying to maneuver the bike through jagged sharp rocks, and turn to go uphill. Yes, it hurt, and yes, my run after the bike ride was slightly painful and I have a black-and-blue knee, but I’ll survive–just like every other mountain biker who falls off their bike. Mountain biking is like anything else in life–it’s a matter of trial and error, patience, trusting your own athletic and bike handling skills, and just a matter of getting out there and going for it, with gusto…and speed.

All I need is a Canadian accent, downhill bike,  insurance, body armor, a full face helmet and soon I’ll be riding just like these guys.

When was the last crazy post written?

February 2012
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