Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quick and Dirty

On Saturday I spent a good chunk of time in the garden, pretending I actually care about my poor plants. 
Forgot to take a before picture, but the weeds between planter boxes were intense, and the gophers relocated a lot of dirt from under the planter boxes to beside them (I guess our new pet snake is slacking...).

We have noticed that every season, as we prepare to plant a new crop of veggies and herbs the dirt level in the boxes is dramatically lower than it was when the previous plants went in. This usually leads to a trip to Home Depot or the local garden center to purchase compost/Amend to boost the nutrients in the soil and bring the overall dirt level back up. However, this is an expensive way to deal with the problem, so I decided it is once and for all time to deal with the gopher problem (they relocate the dirt under the boxes, which causes the dirt in the box to fall through the hardware cloth lining the boxes which causes the dirt level to decline. As a result we are in need to gopher eliminating advice. I refuse to use poison because I fear hawks will eat a poisoned gopher, so what non poison solutions should we try? I am getting desperate :(

On the positive side, this Bougainvillea is so pretty in the far end of the yard.

We also pulled all the carrots and chard (which, sadly, tasted terrible due to hot weather), and discovered we have an aphid problem of epic proportions. This is another issue we have battled for the past three years. We bought "organic" aphid spray which just killed the plants. I bought ladybugs, they all died. I sprayed the leaves of the chard off a few times a week, nothing changed. What gives? How do you keep aphids off plants without resorting to the nasty chemicals? Help? Anyone?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mem. Day Madness

Well, the only real madness we encountered was epic amounts of fun, which in my life means lots of playing outdoors.
The weekend kicked off with an awesome workout in Blackstar Canyon (you can find me there riding up and down and up and down... every Saturday now, it's like a ritual), followed by a few hours in the garden.
The garden is far from where I would like it to be, but more on that later. I am very grateful for the quiet, solitary hours I spent pulling weeds and caring for my plants while Brendan napped. 

Another task I accomplished was tearing out all the carrots. We did this partly to make carrot cake, and partly because they have been in the ground for a while now, and the aphids were starting to think they looked yummy. 

On Sunday I got to ride up into my backyard mountains via Holy Jim Trail. The wildflowers are STILL incredible, just lining the trail the whole way up, and the views are as magnificent as I remember them. Being in the Santa Anas felt like being home for the first time in months.

Post workout I got to ride bikes AGAIN in Aliso with these fun ladies! I may or may not have forced them to do extra laps, but I think they had fun ( I mean I hope so!). Post ride we were very sweaty, so ocean swimming was in order.
Allie and I decided to throw fashion sense to the wind and rocked the sarongs we have owned since we were 14 on the beach. Unfortunately for Meryl, she was not cool enough to save hers :(

Allie, trying to be one with the whales (if oyu know what I mean ;-)

We also had a romantic 3 mile walk on the beach, in which a plot was hatched by Meryl and Allie to throw me in the ocean. For some reason, they think romantic walks shouldn't involve walking for an hour and a half, and traversing sharp rocks in bare feet. Weirdos!
Highlight of the beach trip was definitely seeing a seal and dolphins close by right after Meryl and I got out of the water (immediately after having a mid swim discussion about how wild animals in the ocean scare the crap out of us!)

Sadly, because the romantic walk was so long, we didn't have time for hot-tubbing and Settlers of Catan on Sunday night! Instead, like a bunch of old farts, we all fell asleep right after dinner.

Monday was another #outsideisfree day, which consisted of shuttling the best trail in Orange County, San Juan Trail. By shuttling I mean we parked at the top, we all rode down and then LARISSA had to ride back up to get the car in the 90-something degree heat. 
I had a little love affair with Harriet while waiting at Cocktail Rock.

Brendan got to shred with us (a rare occurance), and his lack of knee pain made my heart happy! Plus seeing him clean switchbacks and shralp rock gardens makes me swoon.

Meryl choose to wear some armor to defend against crashes. I think it helped because she was shredding too, despite having a pretty bad crash not too long ago! I failed to get pictures of Allie because I am a slacker, sorry Allie. 

Throw in a good protion of delicious food, cider and dog petting, and that is our weekend in a nutshell! Of course we spent some time thinking about those who have died in combat serving our country, and listened to a very interesting NPR story about how we basically treat our vererans like crap in this country. A sad story, but a topic worth thinking about. So thanks veterans (I know it's not veteran's day, but they always deserve to be thanked), and thanks to those no longer with us!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dreamy Flow

That's how I feel about life right now. We are living in this flow week to week, which includes a lot of work and a lot of fun, sometimes at the same time. Besides wishing I could fix Brendan's knee pain, I wouldn't change much about our lives right now (ok, ok, and getting goats, and having Davey be less of a jerk, I would change that too). Here's what we've been up to.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are Connors family core nights. Brendan has been patiently teaching me proper plank position for weeks. Apparently I still need to develop many of the muscles necessary to keep my back straight for a whole minute. 

I've been working my arse off on the pump track to hopefully help me get faster at descending. I think watching myself/having the Sprocketheads critique my form is helping. Tuesday was a pump track shred sesh, until the 13 year old neighborhood kid showed up and schooled me. How does he get airborne so often?!?

Davey was a major jerk this week and decided to punch out a vintage stained glass window in our back door. Thankfully we have a few friends who are knowledgable about stained glass, so maybe we can get it fixed? In the mean time, everyone is mad at Davey. What was he so excited about? Oh NOTHING! Just a neighborhood dog he sees LITERALLY EVERY DAY walking down the street.  

Lastly, we had a nice (short) visit from our favorite Doctor-to-be, Dan. Although we didn't get to spend much time with him it was still fun lookng at funny internets, and hearing about all the things that can go wrong with your butt hole (gross, I know, I had to listen to the list!)

Now on to the weekend. Summer is closing in on us!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekend Shenanigans

To most people, it might seem like we don't have very interesting lives (Brendan, Davey, and I that is). At least my students tell me that all the time. Regardless of their critique of our idea of fun :) I had a freaking blast this weekend riding bikes, baking, cleaning, and working on bikes! 
The weekend started with a training ride here
to beat the smoky gross air down there.
The air quality has been a bit less than ideal thanks to smoke from all the fires in San Diego. No problem for us thought, we have Blackstar Canyon a rideable distance from our front door. Plus, an evenly steep fire road with no motos or Jeeps? Why haven't I been taking advantage of such a legit resource? 

Next we scoured the house which hasn't been really cleaned since, oh I don't know, March! Ewwww. We finally have sparkling floors again! (that is until our asshole dog ran through the kitchen with muddy paws! Seriously!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                As a reward for all the cleaning, we made strawberry rhubarb pie! It turned out SUPER tasty (but made a HUGE mess in the oven, Ha!)

Then we did some work on the skylight cover project. Brendan is very fond of napping during the day and sleeping in on the weekends. This skylight cover, which will be rigged to a pulley system for easy opening and closing, will make his naps 100 times more pleasnt. A lot of light comes in through that thing. 

Sunday was all about learning to ride bikes super fast down hill. A few of the Sprocketheads and I headed out to SART and had a great time riding in much cooler temps on flowy fun, sometimes scary trails. I even got to ride with coach, which was rad to the power of 10. It meant I was seriously riding at my limit on each descent, and we even had a complete conversation about farting at work/on rides! Added bonus, seeing a super pretty orange and white snake, and TONS of wildflowers.

This is what our Sunday evening looked like, working on bikes out on the deck and eating tasty snacks. Building up the ninja trail beast is getting a bit frustrating because we keep realizing there is some obscure part missing, and completing the bike keeps getting delayed. boo :(

BUT, we did put sexy new XX brakes on my baby Harriet, so that was exciting! 

And that's it. Another weekend flew by, sending us straight into Monday morning at 100 miles an hour. I don't mind too much though, because I see the light at the end of the school year tunnel, 21 days! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rest Week

Boy did I get lucky with the timing of this easy week of training! Today's commute home saw the highest temp reading I've ever seen on the Garmin.
Again, I know it wasn't really 113 degrees out. It didn't even feel that terrible, which might mean I've acclimated to living down here, or that it really wasn't that bad. Reguardless, I don't think I could have done a structured workout today, even my water was hot to drink by the end of the ride.

Other than everyone having NOTHING to talk about besides the heat, here are a few highlights from this week so far.
This kick butt trophy came my way yesterday. I won it at the Keyesville Classic back in March, but there was a mix up and it wasn't on site for the podium pic. Either way, I am stoked to wear this belt on casual Fridays at work from now until Keyesville Classic 2015! (obviously just kidding).

I saw this awesome moon rise on the Tuesday night ride. It was much prettier in real life, I swear. Silverado can be suprisingly beautiful sometimes.

While the moon was rising behind us, the sun was setting in front over this glorious field of weeds. It was warm, the breeze was blowing just right, and it was a bit magical. 

Lastly, fanny packs are making a come back like no other. Who knew the staple of the nerd closet would be a hit with mountain bikers, the most fashionable people around! So far at least 3 of the Sprocketheads are sporting these rad accessories, will the trend fully catch on?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Weekend Update

Once again I have failed epically to document in pictures the beautiful vistas of this weekends mountain bike rides. Pics or not, I can assure you they were epically painful, pretty, fun, shred fests, and I am content with another great weekend of training (not racing) here in Orange County. Today's ride was especially fun, as I got to follow the infamous Jon Kearly around the Oaks to practice going down hill really fast!
Thankfully Jon snapped this pic of the great view we had out in Wier Canyon. This was right before we dropped into Cliff Hanger trail. So fun. You can't tell from this picture, but it was much greener than I expected in the oaks, and the trails were more fun than I remember them being!

Aside from riding bikes, Brendan and I got a huge chunck of our to-do list done.
We made a wooden cover for the skylight in our bedroom (so Brendan can nap better during the day!)

Davey tried to carry around a 5 foot long "stick". His friend Tilo would be mad jealous.

We cut down a dead tree in the yard. Brendan was stoked to use his Christmas axe. It worked brilliantly!

We also FINALLY filed away all our most important documents that have been unfiled since we moved here 3 years ago. Go us! Throw in some dog walks, an awesome mid-day nap, and some delicious home made chicken tikka masala, and I would call it a first rate weekend.

Now off to finish building the ninja bike because this was in the driveway when I got home!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Summer is getting close and although there are no races for the next three weekends I am already looking very forward to where racing is going to take me this summer.

Here is the tentative schedule:
June 18- Fly out to Missoula MT for the Missoula XC on June 21
June 23- Little road trip with the boy through Sun Valley Idaho and Salt Lake City to Denver, CO.
June 28- US Cup #4 in Colorado Springs
July 9- Fly out to Madison WI, for WORS Cup

Plans are still a little unclear after WI, but will probably involve flying to Pennsylvania for XC Nationals and then to VT for another XCT. To summarize the summer, I wont be on California soil from June 18 until Aug 1 (for my favorite race of the year, the Downieville Classic). Let's hope I like living out of a suitcase and bike box!

                                                                                              ^^Racing the WORS Cup in WI last summer.

Last year I had trusty (and sexy) mechanic Brendan at my disposal at all the races I traveled to.

If you have any advice for me going into this crazy summer of travel and racing I would love to hear it. Although I did get to travel a bit last summer, I have never attempted anything like this trip before, and much of it will be solo. Also, if you know of cool places to visit in the areas I am traveling to, or good places to eat hit me up, because I love good snacks, NEED to know about good coffee, and would love to see some sights along the way!
I found my happy place a few times in CO last summer. Hopefully my good travel luck will continue and I will get to see this epic view again (from the Contenential Divide on Monarch Crest Trail in CO)

Happy place here I come!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Is it Friday yet?

Althought I do love a good weekend, I shouldn't be anticipating it so hard! The weeks are flying by, and I'm not sure I want this school year to end so soon. I kinda like the routine of going to work, training, Tuesday night rides and brutal interval Wednesdays. Even so, I am also looking forward to doing some house projects with the boy, sleeping a bit, and goofing off on my mountain bike! 

Here are some highlights from this past weekend/week.
We "adopted" a gopher snake (more like relocated from a neighbor's yard). Brendan and I hope he snacks on our gophers because those assholes keep rearranging the dirt in the west side of the yard. Not sure how Davey feels about this new pet! 

LOTS of wildflowers in Silverado right now. My favorite are these Matilija Poppys (I think that's what the white fired egg looking flowers are called).They smell amazing, and are popping up everywhere right now!

^^I love seeing Mariposa Lilies. Despite the lack of rain this year they seem to be out in force in the last 3 weeks.
Many other flowers are blooming as well, but I am trying to use self control and not stop every 10 seconds when I ride to take pictures of them. We have some super vibrant Indian Paintbrush, and Lupens lining the local trails, making every ride feel like a fairy tale (I'm such a girl, not many of the guys I ride with care about the flowers!).

Lastly, we are still working on the house and random construction projects. Recently we finished this ladder shelf situation. I'm pretty pumped about how it turned out, and now our guests can easily find fresh towels, soap, etc! 
Hopefully this weekend we will accomplish more house reno projects because there are no races to travel to! First though I'm going to make the most of a few more school days!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Team Non-Dot, You Rock My Socks!

The cell phone alarms of many Orange County mountain bikers went off pretty darn early this morning, letting us know that it was time to go shred the gnar out of Aliso/Woods Canyon Parks! Good thing it was early too, because we set that park on fire tearing up Medows, down Mentally Sensative and then twice up Mathis and down Rock-it trails.

There were four women in the combined Pro-Expert field, and I felt a little nervous at the start after not getting an ideal warm up (something about a mandatory riders meeting right when I was supposed to be doing my warm up  :) Thanks for that Jon). 
We had our work cut out for us as Andy explained how we were supposed to catch the expert men on the climb up Medows (they had a little over a minute head start). I tried to make Andy proud by passing about 10-15 men by the top of the climb, and had a gap on the other women going into the Mentally Sensative descent. Mentally Sensative is a pretty technical trail, and on my hardtail it was a sketch fest. I still had a blast though, sliding around in the sand and trying to stay upright. At the bottom I was still out front by quite a bit, and I worked to keep it that way up Mathis the first time. 
(Awesome action shot by Bill Freeman)
Unlike being off the front in a road race, where you can get splits telling you how much of a gap you have on second place, in mountain bike racing you often have no idea how much of a lead you have. This is a tricky situation, and I played my cards poorly on the first Rock-it descent, riding on the safe side and not taking chances. I was caught doddling at the bottom by Pua, and knew from that point it would take a massive effort on the next Mathis climb to hold her off on the second Rock-it descent. Alas the "W" was not in the cards for me today, because Pua flew past me in the rock garden on Rock-it and I wasn't able to keep her pace descending (I did make it to the top of Mathis in the lead again, but only by 45 seconds or so). I worked my tail off on the 4 mile flat trail back to the finish, but couldn't catch her in time. 
Breaking the rules of the podium once again because hubby left with the car, and subsequently all my clothes. 

During my cool down I decided getting beat by a womam with her name and picture printed on her car is not something to be too bummed about. Plus Pua is a rock star and a half. One day I will descend like her, hopefully! I also have to say that racing in Orange County, where so many people apparently know my name is pretty radical. The cheering from spectators and volunteers made my day, even the fools yelling that "Carl was right behind you" and that "the rads are catching you". Ha. 

My advice if you live in Orange County, go check out an OC Classics race for yourslef! Talk about good grassroots racing fun with the most positive fun vibe you can imagine. Well done team Non Dot! You guys knocked this one out of the park!
This isn't a picture of me racing, but look how pretty! You could have been there!