New Julius

Dear Tana,

Today my masters came home after being away for a long time, maybe a year. They said it was only nine days but I'm not good at telling time. I was so excited to see them, but then they opened a box and out came a new Julius friend for me. I knew right away that it was from you, because it smelled like you and had some of those long crinkly hairs. It looks like you're using a crimping iron again; you are always so fashionable. I took New Julius upstairs right away and showed him around. He is definitely a keeper and will fit right in here. Hopefully he won't get injured like my old ones.

I hear I may see you again in June. I don't really know what June is, but my master says it will be summer and you will be in Whistler. We love Whistler and try to go there lots, the smells are all so different from here and I have to be careful of the bears. I will see you then, and thanks again for my new best friend.

Love, Humu
Woof woof!

Box Canyon

Today Jason and I rode one of my favourite routes. Box Canyon, from Mecca to Joshua Tree. We rode this last year, and on every crappy, rainy ride since I have thought of Box Canyon and it's got me through.

The ride starts through citrus groves. Orange, grapefruit and lemon tree groves line the roads. The blooms smell so fragrant, it's intoxicating! Last year after a couple of rides through citrus groves, I said I never want to ride anywhere else. The grapefruits looked so thick and juicy, and I really wanted to stuff my jersey pockets full. Jason assured me that would be stealing, so I didn't.

Orange trees in bloom.

Yummy looking grapefruits.

We're headed to the mountains in the distance.

The road then winds through Box Canyon; steep walls to either side and lots of evidence of past geologic activity. We're not far from the actual San Andreas fault line, and it shows. The road climbs up gradually, and it's nice steady pedaling while enjoying the scenery. I also half expected Sand People riding Bantha to appear on the horizon.

Riding up Box Canyon.

We pop out of the canyon, and then it's another gradual grade before the road kicks up to climb up to the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. We turned around just before that, as Jason wanted to get back to our posh resort in Rancho Mirage to spend the afternoon by the pool. Thanks Tiimaahhh for getting us set up there!

Need a rest?

Headed back down to Mecca.

We flew back down through the canyon and hit some good speed despite a strong headwind. The Salton Sea appeared, shimmering down in the valley just as three F18 fighter jets blasted overhead. We weren't far from Edwards and Nellis Air Force bases, so I assume military jets are a common occurrence here. They did a nice arc over the Salton Sea and disappeared into the distance before we could even fumble with the camera.

Soon enough we were back in Mecca (a mecca for what, I'm not sure. Sand? Dust?), and the ride will be another memory to get me through riding in the rain again this season.

Ride of Firsts

Today was a beautiful day for a ride in southern California. Slightly overcast, not too hot, not too cool. Great company. Nice route. Some important firsts: First time I'd ridden with Heidi and Matt. First time I've ridden over 100 km in March. First ride for Kirsty's new TT bike. And the best first - Tim's first real ride on his first real road bike.

I'm not completely sure where we rode, but it did include the Elfin Forest (not exactly what I expected - not a single elf in sight), Escondido, Desmond Dene, a bike path, the coast from Oceanside to Encinitas. Rather than tell you, let me show you:

Rides like today are the reason I love my bike.

SoCal Sunshine

After a month of brutally wet and cold weather, and a drive to Seattle through the heaviest rain I can even imagine, Jason and I have arrived in southern California for a week of sunshine, visiting friends, and training in summer clothes again. We're in the LA area for a couple of days, then three days in Encinitas, and then a couple more in Palm Desert.

This afternoon we went for a lovely run along the strand in Huntington Beach. Sun, a nice breeze off the water, mushy surf (should have brought the SUPs along!)... so nice to be back in SoCal. I can never get enough.

Here's some pics from our run:

Windy Sunday

Victoria has been dubbed "The Garden City", partly because while the rest of Canada is languishing in winter, early March looks like this here:

But today, Victoria decided to compete for the "Windy City" moniker, rivaling perpetually blustery places such as Chicago and the Oregon Coast.

I had planned a ride with Michelle and Kris (and Michelle's sister Shaunna joined us, but I'm not sure if that is the correct spelling of her name...) on the "VMR" - which stands for Victoria-Mitchell Farm-Return. A nice, mostly flat cruise out through the farmlands of Saanich and Central Saanich. Our ride started uneventfully, as a pretty strong tailwind pushed us out towards Mitchell's. It got interesting as we turned around and headed back to the city.

The wind was pretty strong, and we decided to ride down to the ocean to check out how strong it really was. By the time we got to Dallas Road, we felt like we were pedalling into the eye of a hurricane. We stopped to take a couple of pictures (my phone doesn't really do the normally glassy conditions justice), and then fought the wind back to Kris & Michelle's. There was a stretch where we actually had to lean into the wind while riding along the waterfront. My glasses and jacket now have a nice layer of salt on them from the spray from the waves.

Jason and I are off to California in a couple of days. The plan is to do some riding in the sun. Hopefully! Wind I can handle, but I'm done with rain.

Now I Know My ABC's...

I've seen this on more than a dozen blogs lately, so I must have missed the memo. I'm catching up now; here is my version of the blogger ABCs:

A - Age: 40.

B - Bed size: King. We call it the Super Bed.

C - Chore I dislike: Cleaning bathrooms. Yay, for my housekeeper! And mowing the lawn. Yay, for Jason!

D - Dogs: Humu, a 9.5 year old German short-haired pointer, the subject of many of my posts.

E - Essential start to my day: Watching the news.

F - Favourite colour: Blue. And sometimes green. But usually blue.

G - Gold or silver: Neither. Platinum.

H - Height: 5'9"

I - Instruments I play: I played the piano as a kid and can still bang out a few xmas carols and my personal favourite, Downtown. I attempted the saxophone in my elementary school band. I can play the kazoo (uh, who can't?). I've played a few chords on the guitar now and then. My goal is to learn the ukelele.

J - Job Title: Science Department Head.

K - Kids: nooooooo

L - Live: Duncan, on Vancouver Island, on the lovely and lush west (wet) coast.

M - Mom's name: Kathleen

N - Nicknames: Keps, Alligator, Boo, Malice-on (when I'm bad)

O - Overnight hospital stays: most recently - 2 years ago when I shattered my elbow. They rebuilt it - better, stronger, faster... actually it's weaker but I'm still working on that. Before that - appendectomy in the early 90's, and before that - tonsillectomy in the mid-70's.

P - Pet peeves: Wow - I have many. My biggest one(s) probably is people who are inconsiderate or those who are small minded.

Q - Quote from a movie: "All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine" - Jeff Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

R - Right or left-handed?: Right.

S - Siblings: One, younger sister.

T - Time I wake up: During the week 6:30 am, weekends 7:30. If left to my own devices, I'd wake up at 8 am, I'm not a morning person and wish I didn't have to be at work before 8!

U - Underwear: Why don't they make Underoos for adults?

V - Vegetable I don't like: Beets.

W - What makes me run late: Virtually nothing. My friend Wendy once told me she feared something had gone horribly wrong if I'm not 5 minutes early.

X - X-rays: Elbow, knee, teeth, some others when I was younger I think.

Y - Yummy food I make: Vegan carrot soup.

Z - Zoo animal faves: This is a tough one for me, as there are only a few zoos which I believe do a good job balancing the needs of animals with the need for education of the public. Note "education", not "entertainment". But if I had to pick: penguins. Although I have also seen them in the wild, where they are just as cute and funny.

Faking it

I have been faking something for the past month. I have been pretending I'm a runner. I signed up for a running clinic, have been faithfully attending each week, and doing my homework (which consists of other runs during the week). So I have been pretending I'm a runner, when in reality I'm just someone who happens to run.

We have all been organized into groups at the clinic, and I have made it my goal to be at the front of my group for each run. That wasn't all that hard until this week, where it took everything I had to stay at the front. This is where pretending to be a runner may be catching up with me.

You see, everyone else there is a runner. That's their sport. So I have been going with the flow, pretending it's mine too, and not 'fessing up to anything else. I have not mentioned that I'm on week 13 of P90X (which will thankfully be over in a few days), that I have also been swimming (albeit more infrequently than I would like), cycling, doing yoga... I'm keeping that all a secret so I can be a runner with everyone else.

When I got home after Monday's run, after working my butt off to stay at the front, after feeling like I was sprinting the whole time, and after it seemed like no one else was working as hard as I was, I started thinking. That's when I realized that my double life may have some cracks in it. Of course, no one knows that my goal is to stay at the front of the group, so if I drop back a bit, will it matter? Just to me. But here's the problem - my secret activities are catching up with me, and the others are improving faster than I am (hopefully they all don't have secret lives affecting them as well, because that may mean I just suck).

I don't want to be one of those people who complain during my runs about how tired my legs are because of cranking out a tough trainer session on the bike, or wobbly legs after P90X legs, or blah blah blah. So I'll keep pretending I'm a runner, and hoping I can pull it off for the next two months. And after the 10k race, I can go back to just being me.