Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas !!!

            Christmas 2009 is almost here. In Maryland, we will be having a white Christmas for the first time in quite a while. It is a little 'too' white for me. 1 or 2 inches on Christmas eve, staying on the ground for Christmas Day and melting away on my birthday (that's December 26th... there is still time to get those gifts in the mail.). 20 inches of snow is, like I said, a little too white.

             Cycling in this much snow is nearly impossible. The 5:45 group got our last ride in on Friday morning with a trip to The Hard Bean at City Dock. We all knew that if we got the amounts of snow that were being forecast, it would be a while before we would be riding again. On the ride back, plans were made to move the Christmas Party from Saturday to Sunday because of the forecast. This turned out to be a very prudent decision. This past week emails have been flying about how 'itchy' every one is to get out and ride. I rode the trainer this morning... it's just not the same.

              On Saturday morning, I looked outside to see what amounted to about six (6) inches of snow on the ground. I thought "This isn't so bad, we must have missed the blunt of the storm." ... I was WRONG. We had not gotten to the worst of the storm yet, and the computer models had Annapolis directly in the path of the worst of it. I waited a couple of hours until 'some' of the neighbors would be awake before I ventured out to begin making a dent in the snow. I was not worried about getting the snow moved, after all, I do have a John Deere lawn tractor with a snow blade on it. As long as I don't let the snow get too deep, I should be just fine, right?. WRONG again. For those of you who have never seen our driveway, it is about 35 yards long, wide enough for 4 cars and the top and funnels downhill to a single lane at the bottom. Not a HUGE driveway, but lets just say, I was happy to spend the couple hundred dollars for the snow blade so I wouldn't have to shovel it any more.

             I did have the foresight to bring the John Deere down from the shed and parked it in the garage, plow facing out. When I opened the garage door, I noticed that the couple hours that I had waited (or wasted)  had turned the six (6) inches on the ground to nine (9) inches with snow still falling. I fired up the John Deere, lowered the plow and pushed the first load of snow down the hill. I pushed as much as I could before the wheels started spinning. I tried to back up to get to the top of the driveway, but my wheels were spinning in that direction as well. I was not able to get any traction on the hill. I had plowed this driveway before with only minimal problems with traction. What was going on here? Maybe I went too straight down the hill. Now that I have one strip of the driveway partially cleared with my first push, if I could get back up the hill, I would plow side to side across the hill, instead of up and down it. This did not seem to work either. I was not able to get traction at all in the driveway. Then it hit me... the last time I plowed this driveway, I had an extra 100 pounds of traction. I was certainly missing that traction now. I managed to get about one third of the driveway done. Any neighbors looking out their windows must have gotten a good laugh watching me plow. What I did was attach a long rope to the bumper of my 4-Runner in the garage. I would hold on to the rope while I was plowing, and when I got stuck, I would put the rope over my shoulder, lean back as far as I could towards the garage, grab the rope and pull forward like I was doing a sit up . I am the only person who can get a good ab workout while plowing a driveway on a John Deere tractor. Once I had reached the end of my rope, both literally and figuratively, I put the John Deere back in the garage, shut the door and went inside to warm up. I was defeated.

               Sunday came and I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to actually use a shovel to dig out a path down the center of the driveway so that I could get the John Deere through and just 'nibble' off a little snow at a time from either side of the main path. I started shoveling and shoveling... and shoveling and I was surprised at the progress that I was making. I was also surprised at how good I was feeling doing it. I was breathing heavy, and sweating a bit, but my back was not killing me and I didn't feel like I was going to die right there in the snow. SO, the 100 pounds of traction that I was missing on the tractor, I was certainly not missing while I was shoveling. It felt good, and since I couldn't ride my bike I could get a work out by doing this.

               After shoveling for a few hours (which would have been impossible a year ago) Bev brought me a cup of coffee. Just as I sat down in the garage to enjoy it, I saw my neighbor, Tom, at the bottom of the driveway with his snow blower. I honestly think I heard the "William Tell Overture" (for those of you who don't know... Google it). The only other time that I have heard that in my head was when I saw our friend Charlie show up with his bobcat when we were trying to spread topsoil. Words cannot describe how happy I was to see him. He cut a path up the driveway like a hot knife through butter. I got the measuring tape and measured 17 inches of snow in our driveway. The snow blower gobbled up and spit out the snow in record time. Good neighbors are SUCH a blessing.

               Because we were all dug out, we were able to attend the Severna Park Peloton Christmas party at Clint and Sherri's house. That was a GREAT time and Bev got a chance to meet the crazy guys that get up and ride at 5:45 in the morning, and their spouses. We got to see a video of Clint and John's America by Bicycle trip, talk about the epic brevet in the snow that some of the members did a couple of  weeks ago and generally laugh and enjoy a great time with a bunch of great people. I think Bev enjoyed herself, I know that I did. Clint and Sherri were wonderful hosts.

               I mentioned in an earlier post that the Christmas party was really a recruiting party for the Ashland brevet. Well, it's on. I have committed to riding on January 9th. One of the other members of SPP who just began riding seriously this past year sent me an email asking if we could ride together. This is fine with me, because some of the people who ride these are doing them to set course records... I am just trying to finish in the allotted 13 hours and 30 minutes. So, to have someone that will ride with me will be help to keep us both  motivated. There are currently 13 SPP riders signed up for this brevet. It is my understanding that the brevets usually only have about 30 riders anyway, so it will be nice to have nearly 50% of them be people I know.  I have also found out that the people who do NOT ride in the brevet wait anxiously on pins and needles to read the ride reports that the riders do after the brevet. I will make sure that I post a painfully honest report of what it feels like to ride 125 miles in one day.

               Tuesday was weigh in day (right before Christmas... good planning) and I lost 3 pounds. I was pleased with that considering what I ate at the party Sunday night and without riding since Friday morning. The total is 103 pounds, because I had to re-lose the two pounds I gained last weigh in. I am thrilled with those results and I am motivated to keep moving forward. I took a couple days off from eating my 'normal' foods. Tuesday after the weigh in I brought in Cream of Crab soup (made with half and half) to share with everyone in the office. Other people brought in bread and butter, cookies and chocolates. Then Tuesday night Bev brought me to fado' for dinner to celebrate my birthday. (My birthday is not until Dec 26th, but I have 2 daughters and a step daughter and a fiance, they get to have birthday "weeks" so now it is MY turn to extend my birthday celebration) I enjoyed my dinner and dessert but them I realized that my body was not enjoying the stuff that I was feeding it. My stomach did not feel good at all Tuesday night or most of the day yesterday. I am back to eating my 'normal' foods today.

               Tomorrow is Christmas, I hope everyone who reads this, and their families, have a VERY Merry Christmas. I will post again soon.

1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas to you all. Wish I could join you but not possible.

    Also have a Wonderful BIRTHDAY. We love you. Will call.