Reality Check

August 17th, 2018

Looking at rental bikes

We arrived in Santiago, Chile yesterday morning but our skis and luggage didn’t make it due to a tight connection in Dallas. However we were welcomed with open arms by our kind hostess Julia Romero, who is charging us a modest amount to use her spare bedroom for 5 weeks. Now that we’re here, I realize we are using her own master bedroom, which she totally cleared out to accommodate us! This isn’t something she does regularly, but it happened because of a connection involving one of my co-workers’ parents.

Unfortunately, the language barrier is a more  immediate problem then expected, because Julia does not speak English. (Thank goodness for Google Translator!) Day to day communications as we get settled are a daunting prospect for Dan, and even me at my current level. He is feeling a bit down after seeing how difficult the logistics are to go skiing from here, a significant challenge even in a good snow year.

Mountains over Santiago

The Andes are calling

Yesterday was a gorgeous winter day in Santiago. We took the opportunity to stroll the neighborhood, first with Julia and later on our own. We found grocery stores, coffee shops, a dedicated bike path right out the front door, and people going about their daily lives.

The challenge as I see it: Establish a daily routine of exercise and mealtime activities mixed with learning better Spanish and how to live like retired folks. And on the side, of course we can plan excursions.

I have already done a 15-minute workout in the stairwell this morning, going up to the 7th floor and down at various speeds. But with no other clothes to wear, I don’t want to get too sweaty.

After our luggage arrives, our To Do list today includes charging the Bip! metro card, visiting a ski shop and researching the two nearest gyms.

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June 18th, 2018

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Holiday Greetings

December 24th, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From Liz, Dan and Don

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Xmas card 2017

2017 Events and Travels

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Win Some Lose Some

November 3rd, 2017

Dan and Liz at the top of Mt. Diablo — PHEW!

Soon after the New York terrorist mowed down and killed several people on a bike path, a CNN story, Why we’ll never stop biking, caught my eye. As I read it, I found a resonating quote:

“A bicycle is a human-powered machine weighing next to nothing that can travel easily at 10-15 mph, needs only a surface on which to move, is not limited to transit schedules or beholden to fuel prices, does not pollute the environment or require large parking spaces, has demonstrable benefits to the health of individuals and the strength of economies, is easily repaired, costs nothing to operate, and is, above all, really, really fun to use.”

In mid-October, sombody stole both our bicycles from our garage — on a cul-de-sac at the end of a dead-end street. The theft was more than a material loss, it is depriving Dan and me of an important aspect of our outdoorsy lifestyle. We continue to “play outdoors” in other ways, but road biking was an activity we are enjoyed sharing for hours at a time. And at this age, it is less traumatic to the joints than our replacement choices: running, hiking, biking and inline skating.

We are already discovering the silver lining behind this cloud:

  • Soon we will have better home security systems, including cameras and a self-closing garage door
  • The latest models of Trek bikes have some very cool features we are eager to experience
  • We lost our bikes at the end of biking season; and ski season is just around the corner!

Photos: Our People-to-People Tour in Cuba

July 27th, 2017

Dan and Liz joined old and new friends on a Zephyr Adventures tour of Cuba in December 2017. Here are links to the photo albums. Scroll down the album splash pages to browse our photos, or click one to see an up close view and read captions where added.

Update June 14, 2019: Perfect happy ending to my career as an inline skating professional? I just shipped almost my entire Get Rolling inline skate school inventory to Cuba; first journey is by train to Jose M Bordas who runs Miami’s Skate Cuba. Every November he visits his homeland bearing donated inline skates and all things related. I sent him my old helmets, scads of wheels — mostly used, several sets of bearings, a couple of unused brakes (and lots of used ones), various skate hardware bits, my extra protective pads, plus chalk and cones for obstacle courses. I am delighted to have this chance to help folks in Cuba Get Rolling!

My Get Rolling skate school inventory all ready to go by train to Cuba via a contact in Miami

Midwinter Musings

February 12th, 2017
Skier Liz

It takes years to become competent but the muscle memory is always there

I am always amazed that on my first day of skiing every year, I’ve remembered how to make those delicious carved turns. One might think that after months of doing other sports, there would be an awkward transition back to skillfully sliding down a snowy slope. But that’s not true. Without fail, the muscle memory kicks in every year, and within the first two or three turns, I am thrilled by the speed and the ready availability of my skiing skills.

During this extra rainy winter of 2016-2017, I’ve ridden a couple hundred miles  on my bicycle  mounted on a trainer in the garage. We rode outside for the first time today, a sunny February weekend when we’d managed to resist the call of the  Lake Tahoe slopes. Setting out, I was confident in my aerobic endurance. But early in the ride, I found myself thinking that a person needs more than muscle memory to get back in the saddle in the Great Outdoors. I was forced to recognize that my drafting and bike handling skills were slightly regressed. On the first two hills of significance, I totally blew my gear shifting. I knew that last year I’d come up with a special hill approach that helped me improve my times, but today I could not remember what that was.

My all-season trusty steed both indoors and outdoors

So I must conclude that unlike my experience with skiing, when I set out for a early-season bike ride, besides recalling the muscle memory of the basic skills, I have to use my brain, too, because riding on streets and with other bikers requires a lot more strategic thinking and mid-ride planning.

Still, what a glorious day, and what a glorious way to get out and play! But you’ll find me on the ski slopes next weekend.

Ecuador! Amazon Rainforest & Galapagos

December 8th, 2016
Flamingos

Flamingos

What a great experience! From touring Spanish colonial architecture, the farmland of indigenous people and Inca ruins — to hiking in the Andes and bird watching in the jungle — to snorkeling and hiking in the Galapagos — we reaped the rich diversity of an Ecuador vacation in November 2016. And it’s so easy there: the same electrical outlets and the same money, US dollars.

These are the photo albums that tell the story of our visit.

Dan’s 50th Class Reunion and Gorge Hiking

August 7th, 2016

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Here are photos from the week-long trip we took to Le Roy and upstate New York in July of 2016:

  1. of 3: Reunion Weekend, New York
  2. of 3: Kiddy Demolition Derby!
  3. of 3: Gorgeous Gorges of the Finger Lakes

Bike Touring in Italy, Fortresses in Croatia!

June 26th, 2016

Here are our travel photos from this wonderful vacation we took in May and June of 2016:

1 of 6: Puglia People and Places
2 of 6: Bicycling Puglia
3 of 6: R&R in Polignano a Mare and Bari, Italy
4 of 6: Two Days in Dubrovnik 
5 of 6: Croatian Coast from a Bus Window
6 of 6: Stupendous Split

The Five Thousand Mile View

April 9th, 2016
5,000 miles and counting. No more white sidewalls and no more white handlebar tape. (It'll look cleaner more of the time!)

5,000 miles and counting. No more white sidewalls and no more white handlebar tape. (It’ll look cleaner more of the time!)

Anybody who read my early biking days posts will understand my delight to have passed the 5,000 mile milestone. As a little reward, I bought new tires and will soon be riding with an upgraded computer.

What have I learned since 2013? A couple things.

Being in great shape is simply is not enough to keep up. I can build strength and endurance with all the leg presses, chin ups and top-to-bottom ski runs I want, but as serious biking season approaches, I know I’m still the most likely rider in my (sneakily) competitive group to bring up the rear on the flats and downhills. My new cycling computer will track my speed, time and  distance as before but will also capture heart rate (one less readout on the handlebars) and revolutions per minute. For RPMs, the guiding rule is that fast spinning combined with proper shifting (every hill is a learning experience) should  keep my legs fresher longer. We’ll see!

Distracted biking, oh no! Where fear once compelled me to stay focused on my surroundings, now I find myself processing work issues, mulling over a foreign language, or imagining some wonderful or difficult future. For me, this is actually a form of blindness.  I am constantly reminded that it’s bad for me because my day-to-day job tasks are all related to safety: I work with a global facility management group’s safety team; write and share corporate communications about health, environment and safety; and provide editorial support for incident investigations to determine the root causes of workforce injuries. Not following procedures and mental slips are the two prevalent human performance issues behind almost every accident.

The stoplight dilemma. More experienced road bikers assess an upcoming street intersection with the expectation that the light will stay green. If it’s not a high-risk gamble to ignore a yellow light or run a red, they’ll do it. Despite the negative of being dropped by whoever I’m riding with, this is one area where I do retain my feeling of vulnerability.  As a distracted rider already, I am much safer with the instant decision-making of having a rule to always follow: red means stop. And for me, yellow from about 3 car lengths back also means stop (easy to anticipate if you scan the cross traffic streets). Riding alone, that’s not a problem. But on group rides or even with one co-rider, if I decide to set aside my safety rules and give away that power, I may end up getting hit by a car.