Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Heart Rate Hijinx

Thanks to Dan, I can now log heart rate over the course of a ride. Here are examples of a few recent rides (speed + HR):

Ride to Klondike on the Katy Trail (look at the spike at the end going up the hill to the park!)

Ride back from Klondike (I didn't have the strap on the first 20 mins or so)

Maplewood Saturday morning group ride
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Monday, September 29, 2008

Katy Trail ride back home.

It began raining lightly as I loaded up the bike for the return trip. I was apprehensive. I hadn't expected any rain; in fact, I had postponed the trip from the previous weekend because of predicted scattered thunderstorms (it didn't rain until later, though). But I had thought this weekend was going to be dry.

Since I hadn't expected any rain, I hadn't brought any rain gear at all. I put Jacob's "soft shell" on him. But it wasn't a true "shell" at all - the fabric is like a soft shell, but it didn't have significant water-repellant ability.

For myself, I just put on my regular bike outfit - shorts and a jersey. I had a long-sleeved base layer, but I figured I would save that for when I got to feeling really miserable.

As we began on our trip back up the Katy, we passed a few riders who had left from Klondike (many of the other campers had brought bikes along, although I was the only one who biked in.) They were all bundled up in long hooded raincoats.

We hit the trail and I brought the rig up to cruising speed. The rain was coming down, not severely, but sufficient to get us wet and cold. I remember thinking to myself, "Ok, this seems bad now, but in about an hour, I'll think back about how comparably comfortable this half-soaked condition was."

Interestingly, we saw several times more bikers on Saturday, even in the rain, than we had seen on Friday night.

Thankfully, the rainshower was short-lived. By the time we got to Defiance, the rain was no longer falling. We pulled off the trail and rode to the bike shop in Defiance. At the shop, we bought a 24oz of Coke (Jacob had dropped one of our Aquafinas playing "baseball" at the camp and broken it), a couple of ponchos (just in case), and some special Jelly Belly jellybeans.

The Jelly Bellies were raspberry and blackberry flavored, and were made of a central jellybean part covered with little cruncky candy bead "seeds". Jacob wanted to get them for his mom... sweet. The whole family enjoyed trying them on the next day. Reviews were mixed.

Anyway, thumbs up to the bike shop in Defiance - they were friendly folks with clean restrooms. They do bike rentals, and they even have Ted Drewes frozen custard.

We left the bike shop and continued on our ride. Jacob decided to start singing. So we sang, There is a Fountain Filled With Blood, Grace Greater Than All Our Sin, and, On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. I think some of the other trail users were a bit puzzled. And I was riding so hard that I barely had breath to sing.

After we had ridden for a few miles, Jacob told me to stop - he had seen an animal at the side of the trail. He said it was white, and it looked like a hedgehog or something. I figured that what ever it was would have run away by the time we got back to it, but we pulled over and walked back to see what it was. There, in the grass about 20 feet or so to the side of the trail was not a hedgehog, but the biggest mushroom I have ever seen!
It's a giant puffball mushroom!

Did you know puffballs are edible? We left this one in the woods, though.
We kept on riding. Some of the trail was like this: road and fields on one side, trees on the other.

We found two box turtles. One of them was shy and hid in his shell, but the other was much bolder and continued crawling without paying much attention to us at all.
Jacob is wearing my base layer under his "soft shell" to give him more warmth. I was plenty warm, just from pedaling.
Jacob complained that he was tired when we were about a mile and a half from the St. Charles trailhead. And before we knew it, we were back at the car, loading up!
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Klondike Park Pictures

Hmm, it may take me longer to write about the Katy trip (in hours) than the whole trip lasted. Anyway, we rode around a bit on the paved trails at the park. There's a nice paved path that goes around (and slightly over, across a low bridge) a lake created by the former quarry. After we rode around the lake a couple of times, I headed up the road to the conference center. On my way, I ran into a friendly bike-mounted park ranger. Like most people, he thought our bike was pretty cool, and he asked me a few questions about tandems. I guess he was thinking of getting his own tandem. I asked him about the trail to the overlook, and he showed me what direction it was. He didn't follow me up the overlook trail.

The trail up to the overlook was really steep (I didn't have my Garmin on, so I don't know the exact grade - I bet it was over 10%.) but it was quite short. It was fun and just a little strenuous. Here are some of the sights from the overlook.

Labadie power plant on the other side of the Missouri River.

You could see really far, even on an overcast day.

Some cliffs in the background, even up on top.

Don't throw stuff over the edge!

After checking out the view, we headed back to the campground and began packing up. Right as I was taking the tent down, it began it rain...
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Breakfast on the Katy

Breakfast on the Katy was pancakes, and they were pretty iffy.

I really had never made pancakes before. I used a box of "just add water" pancake mix. And just added water. So far, things were going swimmingly.

I poured a pancake into my $7 steel "nonstick" fry pan from Wal-Mart. A short time later, I tried to flip it. BURNT and STUCK in the middle, still pale around the edge.

I did the same with the next pancake.

Finally, I worked out a system. I would take the pan off of the fire, slip a little peice of butter into the pan, and mash it around with a paper towel. Then, I'd pour in a tiny little (2-3") pancake and cook that.

Our nifty little tiny propane stove also puts out a tiny little circle of heat. So it's really easy to scorch a pancake while the outside is still practically raw.

I brought two cups of mix, and we eventually ate almost all of it, except for what was used in the pancakes below.

One thing that worked like a champ was the little lexan French Press; you can see it full of coffee in the picture. I made a pot on Friday night, but I didn't want to drink it all because I didn't want to be up all night. It was good and strong. The coffee on Saturday morning was mighty fine as well, and I think I drank it all.

After brekkie it was time for cleanup (again), and we dropped by the playground. This was one of those new-style playgrounds with all the rope equipment, and the little climbing wall. Jacob was a little too small for it.

After some time at the playground, I grabbed my camera and we decided to check out some of the paved trails in the park...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A little more Katy

We got to Klondike Park a little bit before dark. Klondike Park is a pretty new park, I think. It used to be a sandstone quarry.

The quarry part in the middle is now a lake. There is a trail that goes around the lake and over a corner of it on a bridge. For some reason, the lake reminded me of Yellowstone. It's a little bit other-worldy around the lake, because there's a lot of fine white sand underfoot and the vegetation is a bit odd. I didn't take any pictures of it, though.

Like I said, Klondike is a pretty new park, and its camping facilites are fairly luxurious. You can rent, in decending order, a conference center, cabins, deluxe tent camping sites, and basic tent camping sites.

For some reason, Klondike calls the deluxe sites "basic", and the basic sites "primitive". The nicer of the sites has a picnic table on a concrete slab with a metal roof overhead. I didn't see the "primitive" sites, but I think their picnic table is uncovered. Personally, an uncovered picnic table is not really "primitive" to me, but I don't know much about camping.

There are ten so-called "basic" sites, and we got No. 9. One thing that's weird is that the tent sites were all clustered fairly close together. I guess that's nice if you're camping with another family. The family next door in No. 10 was a couple with a maybe 3-y/o girl, and they were nice and quiet. Some of the other campsites were noisier, but 9 and 10 are slightly set off from them, so it didn't bother me.

We got our tent set up before it got dark. Our tent (The North Face Tephra 22) was certainly the smallest in the campground. Then, I tried to get a fire going... a couple of false starts and a lot of blowing, and we had enough fire to roast some hot dogs. I put some pre-doctored baked beans on the propane stove while the weenies were roasting.

We ate in the dark wearing LED headlamps.

After hot dogs, I cleaned up in the very nice camp kitchen located on the side of the bathroom/showers building. Then we made S'mores. Then I cleaned up again, and we went to bed.

Our chocolate bars had become totally liquid on the ride down, but I laid them flat on our metal pot lid and the chocolate hardened by s'morestime.

Jacob (with a few tips from Dad) was a masterful mello toaster. He perfectly browned every one.

The picture above is two really bad pancakes from breakfast. Maybe I'll BLOG about that tomorrow!

view of the lake

The mighty Labadie power plant is across the river, and we could hear its steady thrum all night long. I pretended it was a soothing drone like the pounding of the surf at the beach.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Katy Trail Part 1

It took a long time to get everything set up after we got to the trailhead (by Trailhead) in St. Charles. I think we finally hit the trail at about 3:45.

The trail conditions were pretty good. Occasionally, I would ride over some deep ruts that had been cut across the trail by our recent rainstorms. But overall, pretty smooth sailing. We rode for about 10 miles or so without any significant stops. I was hoping to get halfway before we started snacking...

At about ten miles in we stopped at a historical marker (Lewis and Clark slept here) and ate some "GU".

This stuff isn't really a good snack for youngsters. I also had some Hot Tamales candy (Jacob called them "Hot Duds") that worked better for Jacob.

The section of the trail from St. Charles to the Page Extension bridge is fairly dull and unpleasant, but once you pass under the Page bridge, you enjoy riding that is more secluded and scenic.

Sometimes we had fields to the east and trees to the west. Sometimes we had trees to the east and trees to the west and trees over our heads. Sometimes we had trees and swampy flooding to the east and bluffs to the west.

There was a lot of flooding. Some of the water was green on top. We had a brief discussion about whether the green stuff was algae or duckweed. I'm in the algae camp.

This is the Daniel Boone Judgment Tree Memorial. There used to be a big tree here where Dan'l Boone would listen to people's cases and pass judgment. But the tree died, I guess, and there's a small tree there now.

Here is our bike at the Judgment Tree Memorial. You can see that it's loaded down. We had firewood, a tent, sleeping bags and pads, food, cookware, a camp stove, clothes, and probably some other stuff that I'm forgetting. You can see that Jacob has a horn and speedometer on his handlebars.

Here is Jacob goofing around at the Judgment Tree Memorial.

At one point, I ran over a dark-colored snake that was stretched across the road. He was only a foot-and-a-half long or so. We stopped to take a look at him, but by the time we had walked back to where the snake was, he had gone. I guess that means he survived.

We had forgotten water bottles, but Rebekah had set us up with some 20oz Aquafinas. Water was running thin on this trip. The guide map says that there is no water between St. Charles and Defiance. Believe it. There is a nice trailhead with restrooms at Weldon Spring, but no water. Even at Defiance, I think you'd have to go into the town to get a drink; the trailhead is without water (correct me if I'm wrong).

It was starting to get darkish when we finally got to Klondike Park.

The final hill into Klondike topped out at 15%, according to the Garmin. My HR topped out at about the same time (194), as can be seen on this graph:

Hmm, my last two pictures aren't clickable; I'll need to fix that.

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Getting Ready for the Katy

Last Friday, Jacob and I went on a Katy Trail bike camping trip. In the morning, I loaded our tandem on my car and took it to work. In the afternoon, Rebekah brought Jacob up to my workplace, and Jacob and I left from there.You don't have to have a special tandem rack to carry a tandem bike. You can carry a tandem on a trunk rack if you take off the wheels. Here I have a 1998 Cannondale RT1000 on a Saris Bones trunk rack. I tied the forward and aft ends of the bike to the loops under the bumper for a little more stability. It worked - the bike was very stable on the rack.

While I was putting the bike on the car, a couple of hot air balloons flew over our house. Last weekend was the Forest Park Balloon Race.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

The Lawn has two daughters: "Give," "Give."

Lawn care is really a pain. The more energy (and time and money) you devote to making your lawn fertile and lush, the more energy you must devote to keeping it cut short. Also paradoxially, the people with the nicest lawns never seem to spend any time outside playing in them.

I have heard that people in the Southwest where water is scarse have lawns that are just rocks and dirt, but they are painted green. That sounds pretty weird, but at least it wouldn't be so much of a hassle. Or maybe you'd have to repaint it all the time?

I don't really know anything about how you're supposed to take care of a lawn, and our yard shows it. Our small backyard is also a playground, and it is getting worn bare down the middle.

I was told that what I should do was aerate the lawn, and then put down seed and fertilizer. So, on Saturday we rented a lawn aerator. This is a neat tool. It has a rotating bar on the back on which are mounted four disks of tubular spikes that dig into the ground. Each spike digs a hole in the ground that is about 1/2" diameter and maybe three inches deep. The "core samples" are continually getting expelled over the yard as you run the machine. (They look like little doggie doos.)

On my first lap around the yard, I had the machine at full throttle, and it was too fast for me. The scene was so hilarious that Rebekah grabbed the camera to catch it on video. The poor resolution of the video doesn't seem to capture my panicked state... or maybe I was figuring out how to handle it a little by then:

It was very hard to control. With a lawnmower, you push down on the handle and raise the front wheels to enable steering. But this thing had all those spikes in the ground on the back end, so raising the front didn't help to steer it much at all. You really had to raise the back of the unit to maneuver it. And that was heavy and awkward.

After I stopped the machine, I figured out that it had a throttle, so I backed it off to about half speed. I finished the job, but it was still pretty tough going.

Then I spread the fertilizer and grass seed.

Then we got hit with the remnants of Hurricane Ike, and most of my grass seed and fertilizer inthe back yard got washed away... at least that's what it seems.

-- Brian

Shaw's Garden

Today, to celebrate Melanie's birthday we went to Shaw's Botanical Garden. We had a lot of fun. The sky was overcast, but it was still really beautiful outside. The temperature was in the 60's. Fall has arrived in St. Louis (at least for today!) Stan enjoyed spending time with Aunt Mel, and so did I!
Happy Birthday, Mel!!!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Can't Take It With You

Brian and I FINALLY got a little free time to watch a movie. This is an old one directed by Frank Coppolla, the same guy who directed one of my all-time favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life. There are actually a lot of similarities between the two movies. Many of the same actors played in both. James Stewart (or as my Grandma's both called him - Jimmy Stewart) stars in both. The actor who played the bad guy in "It's a Wonderful Life" plays the good guy in this movie - really funny to see "Potter" with a heart!


We have a wood stove in the basement and next to it is our pretty small pile of wood. Sometimes the boys like to get into the pile and pull each piece to a clear spot on the floor and build a "house". When I see them begin this game, I cringe inside because it always creates a huge mess with little pieces of wood and bark and dust all over the floor. But they love doing it so I go along with it. Their "house" consists of the pieces of wood laid on the floor mostly and Jake will tell me the boundaries of each room and what each room is. The piece of wood you can see standing up is one side to the doorway (the piece for the other side of the doorway having recently fallen down). Jacob informed me that he was going to be a cowboy when he grew up and among other things which I can't remember right now, he said he would eat at Bandana's BBQ a lot. :-) Last time we were there he commented on the decor and wondered out loud if a lot of cowboys eat at Bandana's.
You can see Jacob is dressed like a cowboy complete with cowboy hat, boots and kerchief. After Jacob had gotten dressed up, Stan must have decided he needed boots and a hat too - next thing I knew Stan was coming downstairs with his own "cowboy" gear on! -- Rain boots and hat!!

Trying to be just like big brother....

but still a little finger sucking in between trips.

I don't think Providence would go for the little extras to that school uniform!

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hiking on Labor Day

We went hiking on Labor Day. We went to a trail in Weldon Springs and hiked 5.3 miles! Jacob did really well - not much complaining at all. Brian is the one who worked the hardest with Stanley's 35 pounds on his back the whole time. This was the prettiest spot on the hike. We hiked up to an overlook. That is the Missouri River you can see behind us. I was suprised at how many flowers were still blooming.

We found the neatest caterpillar. It was really big (for a caterpillar) and very vibrant light green. One of the most interesting things about it was its "feet". It had super suctiony "feet" that stuck really well to our shirts. It was like velcro when we would peel him off.
A picture of the guys. We were almost finished at this point.

One of the many butterflies we saw during our hike. We saw some yellow and black ones that were really really big.
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