Going Green

I like to consider myself an environmentally friendly person– I recycle or reuse when I can, buy locally grown produce when possible, use natural cleaning supplies that are not too caustic on the environment….Ask me the year I spent living without a car. It was only a matter of time before I used my green thumb and started sewing seeds for new vegetables in our garden. *Note: I’ve only ever really picked the veggies that had already grew in the garden, never have I actually tilled the soil and planted seeds, except back from when I was a youngster.

Gardening is hard work. The digging, the planting…That, or I still have not recovered fully from the bad virus I had last week. But, it is. I was exhausted, and only planted the carrots, sugar snap peas, and “decorative gourds” (which will be non-edible). The lettuce, zucchini, and eggplant will have to wait until this week.

Seeds, seeds, seeds

Plus, a garden needs your attention. It needs to be watered, if you don’t have frequent rain. Weeds need to be pulled. You need to tend to it frequently, make sure that the garden (if you are growing edible plants) is secured from predators that might nibble the fruits of your labor.

I think this “gardening thing” started a couple of weeks ago when I planted my first little flower garden pots. I have plans to plant wild flowers and sun flowers shortly. I have no idea how any of it will turn out, but it is something I thought I’d give a shot. What harm could come out of it?

My first ever little garden

Not only am I planting, but attempting to eat healthier–greener–foods, literally. The other night I made a Kale, Spinach, and Pear smoothie for my friend. It also had almond milk, Agave Nectar, and a frozen banana in it. I previously gave the recipe to another friend of mine who loved it. I don’t think it was a hit on K’s end, but he did try it.

Thumbs up for the green

I thought it was so good, the next day I made more for myself, this time adding soy milk for more protein, which adds its own sweetness to the smoothie. And, I must admit, it took awhile to get used to the consistency of it, (but that is because I did not follow the recipe regarding the amounts of kale and spinach–I just threw lots in the blender), but it is super healthy for you.

Lastly, I end this note with photos I took on a recent, incredibly peaceful, mountain bike ride.

Peace amongst the trees

How can you not feel refreshed with a new sense of energy after riding though, and seeing this?

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Something New, Something Tri-ed

I was supposed to write this post yesterday….And, really, had no excuse not to write it, since it was rainy and yucky outside all day. I know we need the rain, but after being incredibly happy with the gorgeous weather we had last week and all the rides and runs (oops okay, run) I was able to go on, having grey, gloomy, rain and wind is simply not my cup of tea. By the way, like my play on words in the title there?

Training

Yes, last week we had amazing weather. And I was able to enjoy almost all of it. I stuck to the triathlon training plan posted last week except for the speed run work out and one swim workout. I still cannot get over the fact that I simply dislike swimming. Especially in pools. Ohh lake water, when will you be warm enough so that I can swim in you and not get hypothermia? I did some more mountain bike rides thrown into the bunch as well, since I need to get somewhat better by June 10th when my first ever mountain bike race is (that has a cave….a cave…darkness…scared? Slightly). I still fall, but not as much, at least I don’t think.

Fur Ball getting her tan on

I actually found some new routes around my neck of the woods for road rides which was awesome; and found roads which should not be ridden on a road bike. **Note: if a sign says “Uneven, Unpaved Road Ahead,” they ain’t lyin’.

Catskills in the background

What I consider my artsy shot

I also learned (even though I am a nurse and know SO much better than to do this, I do) that water and gu (ewwww I hate gu) do not really help you when heat stroke strikes. Yes, I decided to get my long ride over and done with last monday–ohh, and also decided it would be a good idea to go for 60 miles instead of the 45 scheduled– on the hottest day this year. You know, at noon when it’s ninety degrees outside. STUPID STUPID. Don’t do it. Just DON’T. Despite the consequences of my ride, I did get one good picture in, which is below.

Side of a barn in the middle of fields

My IT band injury/hip/knee problem seems to be okay, and I was able to go for a run last week–it took longer than I have ever run in my life, but I had no problems afterwards. Not that you really care about that. On that note, I was recently introduced to Strava™. Have you heard of it? It’s this program that records your rides/runs/routes, kind of like a Garmin watch, but you can compare yourself to other people who have ridden/run the same route, and see who is fastest. Perfect discovery for the non-competitive over the top competitive person I can be. Usually, though, the competitiveness was just during races. But now with Strava™….

My first duathlon is this upcoming Saturday. I’m not quite sure how I’m feeling. Well, truth be told, I’m fine about the biking, just terrified of the running. I know the course–it is nice and flat–and in my old ‘hood, so we shall see how that goes, and how my hip and knee will like my sprinting (insert terrified face here).

The Saturday after (I cannot believe racing season is here already!), I’m doing the Trooper Biathlon which I did last year (if you are bored you can read about it here). It is actually a duathlon–run then bike then run). But this year, I decided to do it as a team–I will do the biking, and she will do the running. Perfect! We are actually trying to think of team names for ourselves, so if you have any ideas, feel free to give your suggestions.

Strawberry Cake Pops

Back in February it was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to bake her a surprise birthday cake. I did most of it, but something came up and couldn’t make it. So, two months later, I decided to finally bake a cake for her. Well, cake pops to be more precise. I also made cake balls, as I soon tired of making the cake pops. I didn’t make ordinary pops either. I made strawberry cake pops. If you want to see how I make my basic cake pops, I wrote a post about it here.  I’m still new with the whole cake pop making thing, so they aren’t perfect.

Ingredients

  • Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese frosting
  • Haribo sour straws (green colored–cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • Green, red, and multi-colored candy coating
  • Sprinkles
  • Sugar pearls
Flowers
First, I made the flower tops for the strawberries. To do that, I melted green candy coating in a candy piping bag until it was melted enough to use, and piped flowers onto grease proof paper. It took a couple tried before I actually got the look I was aiming for, so in the picture, that is why you might see loads of flowers. I piped the outline of the flower first, then filled it in.

Ingredients, and melted candy coating in piping bag

Once the flowers were dry, which doesn’t take long at all, I removed them from the grease proof paper and turned them onto the other side, which was completely smooth. I then piped a dot of green onto the middle of the flower and placed a sour straw and let them dry.

Before....After

I know they aren’t perfect…As I said before, it’s still a learn-as-you-go-trial-and-error baking craft
Cake Pops

I actually made the cake in advance and froze it then defrosted it, which came out fine–I’ve never frozen a cake before so was slightly concerned about that at first. Anyway, I formed the cake balls in the normal fashion, but for the strawberries, shaped them into rounded cones (thank you, Bakerella–I still strive to have my cake pops look as good as yours).

After freezing, I dipped them into the red candy coating and immediately added sugar pearls. After they dried, I added the top “flower” by adding a touch of red coloring as glue. Then, for the first time, I actually put the pops in styrofoam to dry, which is SO much easier, and sturdier, to keep them from tipping over, than an egg craton that I used in the past. Although, a flower holder (which is in the picture below) works well, too. It is important to refrigerate the pops afterwards, because of the cream cheese frosting….And, so that they do not melt.

Before entering the fridge

Since my friend likes to plant, I decided to display the cake pops in a terra-cotta planter that she could re-use later.

End result

And, to be somewhat crafty, I individually wrapped the cake balls (made out of the same Red Velvet cake) into a box. For the cake balls, right after I dipped them in coating, I sprinkled the toppings on top.

Now, I’m off to the dreaded pool to show off my lovely bruised and scratched legs, thanks to you, mountain biking.

Triathlon Training Week

I don’t think I have ever written what a training week looks like. Scratch that, I have. My desire and love for mountain biking, and the fact I want to crush some of those races have taken over some of my training sessions. But now, with 17 weeks until the big race,with only a couple weeks until the shorter duathlons, it is time to start once again training down to a T—hopefully one day it will be warm enough to swim outside! No offense to Bard’s swimming pool, but it can get warm.

Lake Onteora--my favorite place to swim

This week’s schedule is below. However, due to different things I need to do, might get switched around a bit. And, training for mountain bike races as a beginner mountain biker can be a bit daunting. But, it is actually great cross training for triathlons!
Monday
Bike = turbo or outside
•  Bike turbo intervals   time is approx  repeat
do this workout with your front wheel elevated about 4-6 inches.

Warmup 10:00

Main Set:
4 x 7:00 as (5:00 Z2 / 3:00 Z3) with  3:00 RI between the intervals

cooldown: 10 minutes

T-run = 10 minutes

if you want to ride outside — LSD for 60-90 minutes.  ride the hills harder. Getting your HR into zone 3 (HR = 155-164bpm)

Tuesday
run = LSD
6 miles in morning

If possible, mountain bike ride in afternoon

Wednesday
Swim = speed   50-60 minutes
swim = total 1900 yards

Warmup = total 500 yards.
200 yards drills then swim 3 x (swim 50 yards / kick 50 yards) focus on one aspect for each 50 yard swim (such as high elbow, hand enrty, fingers, pull technique.)

Mainset = 1200 yards
3 x 200 with :20 RI then 4 x 100 with :15 RI.  then 4 x 50 faster with :10 RI.

Cooldown as you like for 200 yards

*possible Mountain bike ride in the afternoon if I can

Thursday
Run = speed intervals 50 minutes
warmup: 10:00

main set:  6 x 400m (or run 2:15 if you are outside).get your HR into zone 4 (170 bpm). take 1:30 easy walk/jog (HR down to 120) between these intervals.

cooldown 10:00

Friday
Swim = endurance 60 minutes
swim =  total 1900 yards

Warmup = 300 yards.
Your choice 300 yards.

Mainset = 1500 yards
5 x 300 with :30 RI between

Cooldown as you like for 200 yards

Saturday
Bike = 194 minutes
bike = 45 mile LSD another one 🙂
you can start to ride the hills harder. Getting your HR into zone 3 (HR = 155-164bpm)
T-run = 10 minutes
Sunday

Mtn bike ride/hike/ day off? Time will tell

Cycling Mishaps, The Brick Yards, and the Eggs Nest

You know, there are some days when you are just not meant to go for that 46 mile road ride to show a friend the sites of Dutchess county. And, Saturday was that day.

Start of road ride

We started off at 8:30 and made it almost to Turkey Hill when I realized I had a flat. I did have a patch kit, but no spare tube with me (when will I learn to always bring a spare tube?). We manage to get 6 miles into the ride before this happened  on a beautiful day. So, I used my patch kit to patch up the hole in the tube, my friend pumped it up, and we were off for another two minutes when the tube went flat. Again. More patch kit used. And that is when we realized I slashed my tyre and would need a new one (how I slashed it, I have no idea. Bummer, because I just bought a new tyre about a month ago). So, I road down to route 199 if you are familiar with the area of Milan, and waited for my friend to sprint the 5miles back to my house so he could pick me up. Well, there went that idea of a fun long road ride.

Two flats within 5 minutes

But, we did get another mountain bike ride–my “Urban Mountain Bike” experience later in the day down by the old cement and brick factories along the Hudson River close to Kingston point. I must admit, it was much trickier than the riding I’ve been doing as of late– the terrain is very slippery due to dust and tiny fragments of old cement, and it is quite rocky. I’ve been riding in the forests, so this was a whole new world to me. It was interesting, and we were not run over by motocross fools, but it did leave my nice clean Scott covered in dust pasted to the bike frame by mud. Ohh well.

Brick yards

Checking out the Urban Jungle---old cement and brick factories

Perfect riding partner.

bikes in the background...Not sure what Kevin was upto....

Due to our ravenous appetites, we decided to go to The Egg’s Nest, in High Falls, NY. I’ve been here a couple of times, and the atmosphere of the place is like one of no other restaurant. It is eclectic on the inside and out–painted different colors inside, with chandeliers decorated with decorated eggs….The was even a branch hanging from the ceiling with a small white tiger (toy) walking along the branch. Ofcourse, there were eggs hanging from those too.

The Eggs Nest in High Falls, NY

The menu was great, and food delicious. They have very good options for both vegetarians and vegans alike, and can do gluten free.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with my triathlon training and update you on that!

Cantilever Brake Installation: The Rear

To me, brakes are one of the most important parts of a bicycle. Not only are they used when rip-roaring through trees down hills, or in my case, pushing your bike up steep inclines (using the brakes helps stop the bike from rolling down–yes, I’m weak); but they stop you from speeding into farming equipment backing out into the road, and also slow you down if you are on the TD (torture device…aka trainer).

What you will need: grease, allen key,strength, housing, and Cantilever brakes

1) Mount shifters and brake levers onto the handlebar, temporarily tighten to the approximate desired position.

shifters on, then tightening with an allen key.

tighten tighten tighten

2) Install coil springs on both brake posts. Install the coil springs clips onto the arms as you put the arms onto both posts. Tighten the brake mounting bolts onto both posts.

 3) Insert the post of the pad holder into the brake arms and tighten appropriately, so that the brake pad makes complete and even contact with the rim…In other words, adjust the brake pads so that they contact the braking surface evenly and do not go under the rim track.

4) Measure brake housing length so that it isn’t too excessive or too short. This is the black outer rubber rope looking part, for those of you who have no idea what break housing is (don’t worry, I had no idea what any of it was). Make it nice and swoopy, but not too long. Depending on the brake levers you use,
a reducing ferrule may have to be used to ensure a proper fit of the housing to the lever body. If you have the old housing, you can use this as a guide for the length of your new housing.

tools needed to cut the housing

cutting the end of the brake wire

some times it takes brute force to get the little ends on the ends of the housing.

measuring, threading, and installing

5) Thread the brake cable through the lever and through the housing all the way to the rear brake. Thread through the straddle wire hanger (the bit that pulls the straddle cable to activate the brake) and tighten so that when the brake is engaged, the straddle wire hanger does not come into contact with the rear housing hanger (the part that holds the end of the rear brake cable housing, usually attached to the seat post binder bolt).In simpler words, Install the triangle cable guide so that the brake shoes have 3-5mm on each side between the pad and the rim. Make sure the cable angle on each side clears both of the pad holders.


6) Re-check that your brake pads are centered on the rim surface and not too low (hanging off the rim) or too high (rubbing on your fancy new tires).
7) Adjust the toe in if possible, so that the front of the pad touches the rim surface before the rear. This reduces brake squeal.
8) Test your brakes to make sure everything works (don’t forget to tighten your brake levers!)
9) Go ride!

My Giant cyclocross has this type of braking system!

*Thanks of K.Young for the help in writing the instructions, as well as the instructions which came with the Cantilever brakes.*

Falling Head Over Wheels

It’s funny to think that last year yesterday (well, the day of the Tour of Battenkill for those of you who are roadies) is when I took my very first mountain bike ride. I fell head over wheels for the sport–literally.

This past weekend, awaiting Easter to arrive, I was lucky to be blessed being able to spend three days in a row mountain biking. It’s amazing how (1) time flies and (2) how much you improve at something. I’m far from being a mountain bike pro, and falls happen more than I’d like to admit….And I cannot wear the Easter dress I was going to wear today due to all the scars, bruises, scratches, and scrapes that cover my lower limbs. But, those bruises were worth the short amount of pain during the crash. You continue to ride, and if at first you don’t get over a log, just try it out again. You’ll be surprised at what you can do, and how you can overcome your fears so easily!

Here is the original post of my first ever mountain bike ride just a year ago: Me? On a Mountain bike?

And, some photos from a ride through Jockey Hill (the Fats in the Cats have GREAT group rides, and since I’m still learning, go with them,) and then some from Ferncliff Forest which we did today.

Jockey Hill

My Leader

Oops

Love riding!!!

Kevin, of Fats in the Cats, loves biking!

Kinda dicey

You know, taking photos at 0730 in the morning.....

Comin' through!

Photo op

I can be gansta when I wanna be.

Ferncliff Forest

Easter morning, 0715. First ones there!

Waiting for me...I probably fell or something

Looking out at the Catskills

It goes down very steepily (is that a word?)

Peddle peddle peddle

Riding through pretty flowers

Showing off his skillz

Nice singletrack

Break time.

Taking more photos. What's more fashionable than being in skin-tight lycra biking gear?

Duck pond

Artsy head shot

Whomever says you can't be stylish in bike gear is lying to you.

Happy Easter!

And, I pray you have a blessed Easter, and a spring that is full of new exciting adventures, happiness, love, a renewed spirit, and take time to thinking about what the holiday is really about. 

Easter creations and decorations

Yes, I got lazy and made an Easter cake instead of Cake pops....

When was the last crazy post written?

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