Lazy Weekend Days

I know earlier this spring I made it a goal not to have weekends that were spent doing nothing. But, after what seems like a chaotic month composed of meetings, work, classes, and races, this weekend was spent being lazy. By that, I mean it was spent around the area, spending time with my man, and, least we forget: bikes and running shoes.

What shoe problem? I have no shoe addiction whatsoever. #asics

What shoe problem? I have no shoe addiction whatsoever. #asics

On days off, I’ve been able to engage in some solo time at 909 (a local mountain biking area) learning which paths went where (as well as paths to avoid). Finally, I could show Kevin some local trails he was unfamiliar with. He was able to help me work through some technical parts I’ve been unable to manage (rather, too wimpy to attempt while riding alone). Somehow, he always managed to get ahead of me. I think I need to ride with him more often– I tend to push myself harder physically and mentally when riding with him (and others in general)–mostly, though, in order to keep up with him.

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Dutchess County Trees

A shot by Kevin, whilst waiting for me to catch up.

After showing being lead through trails at 909, it was imperative I introduce Kevin a place I stumbled upon last summer where we could cool off post ride…Ahh, the refreshing nature of rivers during the summer. It’s during the summer when I reconsider taking up triathlons–simply because of the cooling aspect of the swim portion.

Kevin, also a water mammal

Kevin, also a water mammal

Returning to my water roots

Returning to my water roots

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about road bikes.

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My Deutsch jersey, thanks Mom!
My Deutsch jersey, thanks Mom!

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Kevin stopped next to a sign thinking it needed to be posted in the blog. Alas, I already posted the same sign three years ago here!

We lounged on the porch of the “country house” as Kevin calls it, escaping the heat and humidity, catching up on good reads, and fixing bikes. Life is all about bikes.

Ice cold fizzy water and lemon...The best on a humid, hot day

Ice cold fizzy water and lemon…The best on a humid, hot day

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Taping the handle bars of his newly acquired Serotta

No blog post is complete with an awkward photo taken of you.

No blog post is complete with an awkward photo taken of you.

The evening brought cooler temperatures, and outdoor dining opportunities.

I'll allow for him to have his hot dogs this time.

I’ll allow for him to have his hot dogs this time.

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I missed our after-dinner walks around the neighborhood

Sunday morning, we were able to take a  trip to the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, a small but quaint market I had not had a chance to visit until this weekend.Kevin’s favorite part was his falafel. Mine was organic local mint tea–a much needed refreshing drink on a humid day.

Local cider

Local cider-wine

Waiting in the sun for a falafel

Waiting in the sun for a falafel

Musical greatness, stopping in town from New Orleans

Luke Winslow-King, musical greatness, stopping in town from New Orleans

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Mmmm bread.

Mmmm bread.

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The weekend ended with thunderstorms, sweeping away Northeast humidity…For now.

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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

Another Fork in the Road

Another Fork in the Road

A Finer Diner

It has been awhile since I’ve written about food–a large part of mine, as well as many other people’s lives. Perhaps the documentaries I have seen as of late on the obesity rate in the United States, added to my concern of everything (okay, mostly everything) I put into my body, have increased my awareness of the food that is consumed on a daily basis. And when I read reviews of diners in Dutchess County, it was only a matter of time–or a matter of hours in my case–before I dragged a friend to have breakfast with me at a diner in the area.

It is called “Another Fork in the Road, a Finer Diner,” located in Milan in Dutchess County, almost to the Taconic Parkway. I have passed it numerous times, with the same thought in my head each time I pass it: Who would have a restaurant there? Along with the sign, and the fact it is a small building almost in the middle of nowhere, are probably why I have never eaten at this Diner. I love old Diners. The atmosphere. The greasy, unhealthy food served; the fact you can order breakfast all day; the unlimited supply of (usually) normal tasting coffee.

This, however, is a different diner. As in the title, it is a “finer diner,” a place many have surely missed on their way from the Taconic towards Red Hook or Rhinebeck as it is simply a wooden building with windows. The “finer” aspect of the diner refers to the fact that everything there is fresh. All ingredients– from the meat products to the vegetables–are local, organic, and fresh (I know! A diner? Crazy!!). And, everything is very reasonably priced. *Consumers note: they only take cash. 

We arrived around lunchtime to find a large room with wooden tables, chairs, a small bar, and children’s play area. The waitress allowed us to sit where we pleased, and was quick to bring menus and our drink orders. The restaurant was pleasantly quiet, despite being full. As with every other restaurant, I am one of the most indecisive people when it comes to ordering food out. The waitress was very informative in giving her suggestions in what was good to eat there (next time, I’ll be sure to get their homemade mozzarella). After much contemplation I settled on the Winter salad with a side order of french fries (fried food craving), and X ordered some type of Corned Beef Hash.

Alas, the food took no time whatsoever before it was served, and a salad filled with arugula, spiced walnuts, silvered apples, a type of crispy thing I cannot recollect the name of it, and a side of maple dressing was placed in front of me, along with a side order of perfectly cooked, organic, locally farmed french fries.

Before I go any further, I need to stop here and say two things which struck me. The first was that they did not put salt on the fries–it is a pet peeve of mine when french fries are served to me drenched in a bath of salt. They were crisp, and yummy. The second is about the cranberries in the salad. Being vegetarian/vegan at points/ raw, I’ve had my share of “winter” salads that come with nuts and apples and cranberries. I was taken aback when I forked through the leaves to find normal, fresh cranberries. Every other salad (I kid you not) like this one has had cranberries, but in the form of craisins–dried. And, they added a sweet/tart flavor to the salad, instead of the almost-pure sugary sweet taste of craisins. Amazing!

Arugula Winter Salad with a side of Maple Dressing

The food was satisfying, filling, and tasty. According to X, the Corned Beef Hash dish he had (including corned beef, a poached egg, and diced potatoes) was quite delicious. At no time were we rushed by the staff, but we were checked on by our waitress a couple of times throughout the meal. FYI they serve dinner now, along with the breakfast and lunch. 

Corned Beef dish, and perfect French Fries

In short, if you are looking for an upscale diner dining experience in the Dutchess County that is fairly priced and delicious–a change from your normal diner fare–definitely check out Another Fork in the Road. It will not disappoint!

 

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The Biker Tan Returns!

I cannot express enough my delight with the weather we’ve been blessed with this past week. Ofcourse, it was short lived, as every day next week there are “chances of showers.” Despite attempting to ward of sickness, I’ve managed to spend as much time outside as possible. And after returning from a brilliant ride yesterday and taking off my jersey I noticed those distinct lines that mark the middle of my biceps. The biker tan has returned! As I am somewhat of a nut, I actually wrote a post all about sun screen protection and biker tans here  so I will not be redundant with the importance of sun screen. However, with this weather, I must admit I’ve been slacking on my sun protection and will need to step it up a notch for the next ride I’m on. (I don’t really need to worry about it for my runs, since I run at night).

Angry little bugger

My ride yesterday was perfect. It was warm enough for sweat production, I was hitting the hills with gusto and felt more fuel under my belt than on my past couple rides which have been torturous. Perhaps because I had riden on roads I’ve never been on. I realized that most of the roads in Milan/ that general area, have “Hill” attached to them. Like “Milan Hill,” which I like riding in the direction away from route 308 instead of towards it, “Turkey Hill,” “Becker Hill”…etc. I think Turkey Hill should actually be called “Snappy Hill” because on all my rides up that hill which tends to make me feel angry, I’ve never once seen a turkey. But, on my ride, I did see a snapping turtle crossing the road. Ofcourse, I had to stop my ride and help him so he would avoid premature death by zooming cars. (Just Imagine: my bike on the side of the road, me in  cleats, spandex, jersey, my new awesome  Evil Eye Addidas Glasses which don’t fog up, and helmet, slowing down cars on that road. The turtle survived, although his only thanks to me was getting angry and trying to attack me with his snapper mouth).Back to hills. There is also “Academy Hill” and lots of roads which should have the word “Hill” attached to them.You cannot go riding around there without hitting a hill. So, if you like the feeling of burning thighs and feeling your lungs on fire, go cycling in that part of dutchess/columbia county, and you will be in heaven.

View of the Mtns from Becker Hill

I do miss my time on the mountain bike, but for the next couple weeks (less than three weeks to be exact), I’ll be living on my first road bike baby until Mooseman, and making sure I apply some sunscreen so when it comes to swim suit time, I will not look like a complete freak with tanned lower legs and forearms and pasty white thighs, hands, biceps, and core. Then again, the only time I’ll ever be seen in attire resembling swimwear I’ll thankfully be wearing a wet suit.

And upon ending this short, somewhat useless post I must admit there’s never a better feeling nor sensation when you reach the top of a long, painful hill and the only thing you can see are fields of emerald green grass, budding trees, and the picturesque Catskills which lay right ahead of you.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away…But Not in My Job field

catskills

As my Aussie side kick’s last day in upstate New York, unsure of what other activity we could do to show her the splendor of the state, and pretty sure she would not go on another bike ride with me ever again (let’s just say my idea of a “short ride” is not really a “short ride” to non-cyclists, and our last ride was a bit lengthy), I decided to bring her apple picking. It had been a horrible week, and I needed something fun. What’s more therapeutic than picking apples off trees? Plus, my side kick  had never picked an apple off a tree, and the only places I have picked apples are from a large bin in the grocery store, so this was the perfect late Sunday afternoon activity.

I mentioned a couple of the farms that are in the area in a post already, and after some contemplation, decided to go to Grieg’s Farm in Red Hook–where I had picked blueberries and raspberries in the summer. Picking your own fruit takes “supporting your local agricultural community” to a whole different level.

apple tree

We drove to the farm, which is open on weekends until 6pm (great for when you wake up at 4pm), and found just what we were expecting: apples on trees! You could also pick your own pumpkins and autumn raspberries–I still do not know the difference between summer and fall raspberries. I thought a raspberry was a raspberry. I guess I was wrong.

The farm was quite busy with other families thinking a day at the farm was a nice Sunday afternoon activity, but not overly crowded. We grabbed our bags and started picking. Unfortunately, my knowledge of apples consists of what color they are, and if they are sour or not, so when Danielle asked which type was best to pick, I was useless. We decided simply to pick a mixture.

Eating the forbidden fruit

After trying the apples out (quite tasty) and with more apples than needed, we went to the raspberry bushes and started picking autumn raspberries for a while. I think we ended up eating more than we actually brought back. Personally, nothing beats blueberries, but any berry is tasty, especially when right off the bush.

Then, we went on to the pumpkin patch. Since Danielle had picked a pumpkin before, and I picked mini ones in my back yard, we decided to skip the pumpkin picking and head back with our fresh goodies.

pumpkins pumpkins everywhere

Long story short, it was a fun afternoon, and I have a feeling my kitchen will be overflowing with apple pies and other apple creations in the near future.

Welcome, Fall

 

 

this tree has it's leaves changing!

I just got back from a fabulous last minute short ride this afternoon, and boy, is it turning into fall quickly, which makes sense, since it is almost October. There are so my trees which are changing colors, the scent of people containing with their barbeques. The fresh, crisp, cool are, albeit  it turned a bit muggy quickly but who cares, right? The weather has been in the– 70’s–perfect clycling or running conditions.

view from river road of sun setting,with the Catskills in the back ground

I cannot believe that it is already October and we’re getting ready for the fall festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Growing up in Europe, those holidays were not celebrated, so I never had the full American holiday experiences. My family, however, always cooked a little thanksgiving for our Luxembourgish neighbors, or for the single american teachers who were working in Luxembourg.It meant a lot for them, because they were not with their family. I’ve come to appreciate my family more as I have gotten older, and definitely appreciate the times we all get together.This past year might have been the toughest I’ve experienced, and I do not know what I would have done had I no family around. They come first im my life .

There is something special about fall, excluding the fact it leads to winter. Something about the crisp fresh dew on the grass in the mornings, and the freshness of the air as you take your first breath outside after arising from slumber. The haze has settle along the grass pastures, looking thick enough to walk on, but in reality, it only makes your feet we. The leaves of the trees turn a golden, maroon color; becoming  live masterpieces before your very eyes; the smell of warm pumpkin bread or fresh-out of the oven apple pie– the scent of cinnamon and allspice in the kitchen. Mmmm.. Fall is a busy season for farmers here as well, esp when they have fields of hay. There is a certain time frame, simlilar to luxembourg, that the farmers make huge hay rolls in preparation for winter–and before it rains–for the winter months, to keep a large stock of food for the cattle.

I am in awe of the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Living in Alexandria, you did not really see a change in seasons as well….probably because I lived downtown and there weren’t many trees to begin with. But up here, it’s evident we are moving away from summer. Welcome, fall.

Fall in the Hudson Valley offers numerous fall activities for the family, and people living solo like myself. I admit I took advantage of only a few last year, and plan on taking advantage of what there is to offer this year like a dork. There are  hayrides, farms where you pick your own pumpkins (definitely reminds me of my childhood in NJ), pick your own apples…the list goes on. In Ulster Park, there is the Headless Horesman, which has haunted hayrides and haunted houses around Halloween time. I would not suggest it for little children, as points can be a little scary (I have no back bone whatsoever–I was scared when I went). But, it’s an interesting show.

Headless Horseman

pumpkins on the front porch

Fall, that not-yet winter and not-yet end-of-summer time frame is perfect for being outside when you can. Like Christmas, you can see some houses decorated with the seasonal goods. I know, I am one of those people who insist on artfully decorating for every season. No worries though, I am not crazed in my decorating and do not go “overboard” like some houses you might have seen before. I’m a Mini Martha when it comes to internal decoration, and actually, am not too bad at it– another talent of mine: interior decorating. I should have my own show one day. Mini Martha Stewart. What do you think?

Pumpkins pumpkins everywhere

Below are are a couple places I have passed where you can pick your own pumpkins (and I squeezed in a maze of corn for ya.) Make sure you get out–there is  plethora of different places you can bring a friend, child, go by yourself, or bring along the whole family!

Pauls Maze

Maynard Farms.

Wonderland Farms in Rhinebeck, NY

Apple Hill Farm

Jenkins and Leuken Orchard, located outside of New Paltz

Neer too young to pick apples!

Wallkill View Farm Market (right outside of New Paltz, and has amazing apple cider)

Hudson Valley Farms

Barton Orchards in Hopewell Junction,NY

A gift of fall festivities for my friends in PDub

Mead Orchards in Tivoli, NY

Many of the above farms also serve hot, fresh, apple cider and baked goods (yumm!).

The Hudson Valley Magazine also offers ideas of what you can do in the area during the fall. I strongly suggest checking it out!

Hudson Valley Parent Magazine has a section on family friendly orchard fun.

When was the last crazy post written?

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