Friday, 29 April 2011


The to get lean.

Over the past year and a half I've reinstalled about 15 of the pounds I dropped during my 12 in 12 year. Not running or riding will do that. Daily doses of red wine will do that, too. I am fixing both of those problems.

I have the Bay to Breakers to run on May 15th. Hoping for a good one, with my friends Patti and Juliette. But then I'll be saying goodbye to the running for a while, except in a very casual sense. I have recently discovered that I get excited about long rides, while dreading even short runs.

The sun has finally come out in the Bay Area, after an insanely wet, cold, dismal, windy, horrid Winter and early Spring. In celebration, two days ago I got on the bike...and headed out for the day. Rode down the San Francisco Peninsula to East Palo Alto, across the Dumbarton Bridge, into Fremont...51 miles of mostly-goodness.

I got lost a couple of times, but broke down and asked for directions. I had a couple snacks, but overall burned 6000 calories, according to my Garmin 305. I had no flat tires or any other mechanicals. Some of the scenery was stunning, some not-so-much. The traffic on El Camino Real is a real challenge, and most of the Peninsula cities don't seem to care much about making things safer for cyclists. Kudos, though, to South San Francisco, for spending upwards of $6M on the Centennial Way Park and bike path. Someone in City Hall apparently gets it.

The best part of the day, though, was when I hit a moment when I realized I wanted it to be over, but it wouldn't be for hours, and reconnected with a mindset I first experienced while on my ride across the top of England in 2000. That mindset when you just kick things into gear, realizing you're in it til the end, and you just keep going, knowing you WILL finish. I have felt that during many a marathon, as well. I just hadn't felt it in a while, and it was a good moment.

Last weekend I downloaded a calorie-counter app on my Blackberry, and started keeping track of every morsel I eat and every drop I drink. The reviews for the app were almost-unbelievably glowing. I was shocked to quickly see how each little snack, nibble and sip adds up, especially the empty calories of wine, one of my favourite things. Since then I've had none of the fruit of the vine, and I've dropped five pounds, down to 189. The goal is 175.

Time will tell.

Gotta ride!

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Perhaps you have noticed, if you've returned here on more than a couple of occasions. There's a subtle (?) theme to many of my posts. That theme, food and/or drink.

I have traveled a lot. Ireland, Eastern Europe, Spain, the UK, throughout the Western US, Canada, New York, Big Sky Country, the Eastern Seaboard, the Midwest, New England...even Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The single experience that links all those places for dinner. If you name a place I've been, I can probably tell you where I ate and what I ate.

One of my fondest meal memories is from my cycling trip across the top of England in 2000, on the Sea to Sea (or C2C) route. I booked a room at the Crown and Crossed Swords in Consett, primarily because it was reasonable and had its own restaurant. I had a pizza and some cheap red wine. It was not the best pizza ever, except for the fact that I believe the best pizza ever is the one I'm having at the moment. I was the only person in the place...the entire evening. I was beat, and hungry, and in no mood to move quickly. So, I lingered. All this time, a very attractive young lady was manning the cash register area, all the while labouring over some obviously-pressing paperwork. My assumption was she was ordering for the other nights in the week when this place was "jumping." After dessert, and the wine had achieved the affects I desired, I approached to settle up. I told her she looked like she was very busy, despite the fact I was the only custom of the evening. She replied, "Not really. I just wanted to look important." Turns out she was bored beyond description. Had I not been there, she could have closed up and gone home.

I'm fairly certain I run/ride to eat, rather than the other way around. Today, though, I did it a little differently than before.

I was a tad depressed this morning, so I watched a Jamie Oliver cooking show in which he made some apparently scrumptious risottos. He was visiting Venice, and met with the so-called Italian risotto king. My interest in the day on hand was awakened and I decided today would be a risotto day. But I was NOT going to drive to the markets...I was going to ride my bike.

I took off late morning, heading for the organic Farmers Market in Oakland's Jack London Square. My goal here was to acquire asparagus and celery. That was all. After that, I headed north, to Berkeley's Berkeley Bowl West. There are only two grocery stores I enjoy more than this one. One is a massive Tesco's near London's Olympia. The other, the so-called mega-Wegs, in suburban Rochester, New York. BBW is a foodie Disneyland. Here I found the special Carnaroli rice that Jamie says is the ultimate for risotto. I then headed home, with my food stuffs stuffed into the Jandd panniers I haven't used in 8 years...the last time I attempted the End to End ride that's on next year's schedule.

The picture above is from that same ill-fated journey. I had spent a grueling day on my bike, along the stunning but insanely-challenging-for-a-cyclist Cornish coast. As I rolled, slowly, into the town of St. Agnes, in which I had no lodging reservation, I realized I was crazy-hungry, on this Sunday afternoon. The first place I came upon was the Railway Inn. It was here that I was treated to the Sunday meal of my youth. Roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and three veg. YOU have never been happier than I was at that moment, sitting outside at a picnic table, with everything I ever wanted from life.

I am hoping to reap similar rewards from next year's adventure. Between now and then I am going to train for them...with meals like tonight's. More to come.


Gotta run...gotta ride!