Thursday, July 30, 2009

La Jolla Cove

Woohoo......after a successful short swim Monday I decided to head to the cove for a swim this morning. No flip turns out in the big blue. Perfect day, totally flat, no swells and clear up to 10+ feet. The water is 74 degrees and beautiful. I was one of the few in a wet suit, but well....I am a triathlete. It was wonderful, only pain was getting the wet suit on and getting into the water, as soon as I was swimming it was great. Felt so good and the water was heaven. Plan was to swim to .5 mile buoy and then turn back. It was so nice I kept going toward the shores. There were so many people swimming and kayaking it was great. I was nearly to the shores and checked my watch, 20 minutes.....thought, hmmm 1st real swim in 5 weeks, should probably turn around. I did and by the .25 mile buoy coming back my arms were a bit fatigued indeed. So sad how quickly the fitness goes away, but the swim was awesome!! I was so excited I had to call KP. Yeah, I am back swimming, biking and running- since Kona is only 10 weeks away I need to be doing all 3.

One more reason to love San Diego.....I forget how awesome the Cove is. The last time I swam there was in March it was so darn cold, my lips were blue and I shivered for 15 minutes after getting out of the water- no so much to love there. But summer time- love it, love it!


So Zen has lost all anxiety and self consciousness about his e-collar. His new approach is the bull in the china shop. He cruises through the house as if he does not have a 12 inch collar. The noise can be alarming at times as the crashes into the walls, table, charges through the doors, hits my legs, knocks into Rocky. The collar which Rocky has used many times now looks like it has been used by 100 dogs. Pieces are missing, its bent and cracking.

Yesterday he was still sedated and sheepish....He woke up today filled with piss and vinegar fully expecting his regular run. I cannot fit his regular collar on so we headed out with a bag of bribe treats to keep him near. He immediately tried to head for the bushes, trails etc and that's all we need is the stitches torn open. The VET did a hack job and his chest looks like Frankenstein but it looks like they are double stitched, which for him is necessary. He has 2 drainage tubes which don't seem to be an issue for him. We turned heads running with his huge cone and bright yellow bandaged leg. Gotta love his spirit.

So now he has to go back for a check,$$$, follow up, $$$ and I am wanting to see an Osteopath for my ribs...but find that my $$ will be going toward the dog!

Must love dogs...... right?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


They go hand in hand.....taking an evening walk with the dogs before heading to a business function I realize Zen is lagging, what else is new. We are on the trails behind the house and I holler for him, again and then track back now angrily yelling. He comes scurrying out of the brush and then stops to frantically lick his chest/shoulder area. From a distance I see something hanging off him, only to soon learn it is a flap of skin that he caught on a buried barbed wire fence. He is not too traumatized and manages to detour to pee for the 15th time on a random bush. He walks and then stops to lick and work in his wound. Mind you he has already been through the swamp so I am thinking massive bacteria. We work out way home and I rinse him off because the swamp smell reeks and he is still determined to go in the pool. He is very hot and accustomed to swimming after his walk. He jumps in and literally he manages to elevate his entire body off the baja shelf as soon as the chlorine hits his gaping wound. He is looking a bit star struck but I figure the chlorine is good to help cleanse the wound.

Off to the Emergency Vet with JD and John meets us there and I am off to work. This is in a very awkward place and there is no longer enough skin to cover up the triangle tear.....enough graphics I know. So they are going to put him under, clip off the flap and someone stitch up what is left. So much for his next feature as Mr Chocolate Lab in the Calendar of the Month club, as he will surely have a nasty scar. Even dog hair cannot cover this one. So now we are waiting for the call to go pick him up, pay the hefty bill and nurse another loving pet back to health!

Dogs....gotta love them. well you have to love them to no end to continue to foot the bills.

Great Western Loop

It has been 3+ months since I have ridden GWL and I went out with a bit of trepidation. Not feeling so strong on the bike, I was wondering would the ride humble me, kick my arse or energize me. Well is did all 3! But mostly reminded me why I love the ride so much. Never have to clip out, minimal traffic and stunning views with very few houses. 50+ miles and over 5000ft of elevation, you gotta love it. I was so envious of the wonderful biking in Boulder and then after riding GWL I am feeling a lot better about San Diego, bottom line, this ride rocks. And you have to love the Descanso Country Store....very, very, well Descanso. Far, far from mainstream San Diego. Ice Cold Starbucks Double Shot and all is good. It was a hot day, 90+ when I got back to my car, but was feeling great and was prepared. Gallon of water in the trunk so I took a nice shower in the parking lot, opened the cooler and was good to go. 7th day of no Starbucks! And today was the hardest, parking in the Starbucks parking lot, suffering on a hot ride and I even used the restroom after the ride. I was drawn to the counter....but pulled away.

Rode early so was home by 11 and back at work. Productive day and fitness is coming back....not where it was. I downloaded the power file and was a bit disappointed but KP says have faith it will come back. I am counting the weeks to Kona and really need it sooner than later if I plan to build on it. Patience, right....

Riley comes home tonight!!! Hooray- miss that girl. Sounds like she is having an awesome time in Boulder with K/J/J/W and even hooked up with a neighbor. That girl has friends all over the US after her summer of adventure.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I went swimming.....

Decided to give a swim a try. My ribs hurt when I do most things and thought that as long as the pain is not worse lets see what happens. So putting on my suit was painful, all kinds of contortions required, or so it seemed any way. Hopped in and shocking it did not aggravate my ribs to swim, it actually felt good. I am jumping for joy, well bobbing as I am in the water, approach the wall and flip and OMG....screaming underwater as it felt like someone jammed a screwdriver into my rib cage. WOW, so swimming good, flipping very bad. I do a few more laps with very antiquated touch and go turns, in a a 25 yard pool, but am happy to be swimming. I get in a groove and habit takes over and I flip again, shooting pain, no more flips. After 700 yards I stop, don't want to be over zealous. Happy camper!!! Plan is Wed, swim in ocean, no flip turns and see about getting back my swimming arms.

Ran, hot, hot... at 7am. Amazing the heat we are having. Was a bit sluggish so kept it nice and easy. Dogs nearly passed out and protested at 30 minutes and decided to go home. I dropped them off and finished my run, came up and took a swim with Zen. Had a ride on the schedule and as the day progressed and I was very busy working, I put it off. Finally caught up, done with calls and my To Do for the day and headed out for a ride. Fatigue in the legs for sure so made it a nice spin....well until the boy had to ride by me on Carmel Valley Road. He did not blow by, was picking up the pace to pass me and then 100 yards later, slowed down. I tell myself just spin along and stick to the plan. We approach a hill and I notice he is getting bigger as I gain on him, nope not going to do it, nice easy spin. I am close to his wheel and cannot resist and have to ride by and drop the boy. At the top of the climb he is 200+ yards back and working hard. Lucky for me I turn right and am headed home. Funny, legs felt good when I needed them to. Rest of the ride was nice and easy. Came home, went swimming and desperately tried to cool down. Where is the June gloom......When is fall?? Okay, stop bitching and enjoy the summer.

Boulder Bike Ride

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home.....

I am back in San Diego and hopefully no travel until October! 6 weeks of travel was a lot.

Rest of Boulder stay was rockin. JD and I headed out at 5:30am on Friday for a great ride up to Wade, 9200 ft! Talk about thin air. We did a 4 hour ride, 4500+ ft of elevation gain and it was great. Beautiful and perfect temperature. My legs are coming back and I felt great on the ride until the final climb, it was only a bit over a mile, but was 14% grade and I was literally gasping for air. It''s all good....

Loved the fast descent back and we stopped at Adamo for some iced coffee and post ride fueling. Riley and Kathleen were going to meet us but plans changed so we fueled up and headed back to the house. I showered, cleaned up and headed to the airport. EZ Rent a Car return was easier that the pick up, nevertheless, still not all that easy, Over 10 people in line and they told me I had to wait to be checked out- don't think so.....dropped the keys and said see ya. Never to return again.

DIA is pain in the a#$ of an airport. Out in the middle of no where and massive....trams, walkways, terminals...but alas I was at the gate with time to spare and time to eat. Gotta love Einstein Bagel- Massive Turkey wrap + Venti iced latte and I was one happy camper.

Thanks to Mom picking me up I was home smoothly and quickly.....

As tired as I was, I went for a swim and cleaned up and we headed to a Happy Hour for a friend. Re-energized we had some good conversation, food and a few beers and called it a night.

Saturday.....well my legs felt the ride and the travel. Weary indeed. Did a short run and that was it for training today. John put together our new bike stand so I was eager to do a bit of work on my bike. Cleaned it up, adjusted the derailleur and swapped the cassette. I am such a grease monkey now. HA!

And then more socializing.....Off to Talene and Tony's goodbye soiree. Sniff, sniff- had a short visit and a tearful goodbye with Tal. Went to the Yorks for a reunion of sorts with good friends from Seattle. The old gang was together, parents and kids alike. for Mango Margaritas, Sangria and wonderful BBQ's delights by Rob and Jonathan Sr. It was a night of reminiscing and laughing that we have all been friends since the boys were in pre-school, and look at them now!

Sunday- up and out for a ride. Still lingering fatigue and per KP changed my ride plans to a shorter ride with less intensity. JB and I had a great ride, rocky start - but a good recovery and rolled in as it was getting very, very hot.

The next task was my the disaster of a house we have. It was filthy and needed a good scrubbing. Note to self: time to hire another house cleaner. Major cleaning makes Julie grumpy and angry with others. But the reward was heading to a Tour de France Party.....more yummy food and a big screen TV to see Lance up close. As awesome as he is to watch, I have to say I was in awe of Andy Shcleck as he rocketed up Mt Veux on the 2nd to last stage- he is simply awesome and a force to be reckoned with next year and years to come. He had the legs to take off - you could just see it, but he was working so hard to get is brother on the podium, but Lance could not be shaken. Amazing to think of the miles they have ridden..... what a feat.

Time to prepare for the next week- back to serious work and training and need to be focused to get it all done. Riles is back Tuesday night and JD has another soccer camp so there are logistics of driving involved on that front. JD and JB just headed to Poway lake for some fishing and I am headed to the couch with my book :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Boulder

Woke up this morning and headed out for another run. Headed up Boulder Canyon and it was stunning and over 3000 ft of elevation gain on the run. I was working hard to keep up with a few girls in front of me. I had to ignore the HR as it was very high, but my PE (perceived effort) was low, which is awesome. I was wiped out, hot, tired and so very thirsty. Lots of Gatorade and food and ready to rock. Got some work done and we headed to Golden. of Colorado School of Mines (where my Sis now works) and Coors Brewing Co.

Nice tour of the office and campus.....a bit of shopping at the bookstore- have to show off CSM back in San Diego and then off to a park. I left 90 degrees in San Diego and today was one of the warmest days of summer in Boulder, nearly 90. Very hot!

After a lunch break at home, we were off to Jamie and Willa's gymnastics class. Viewed that for a bit and then headed for some coffee with K and RM. Picked up the girls and found the Newton Running Retail those shoes, gear etc. Refrained from breaking the bank and headed down Pearl Street. Outdoor Diva's is a rockin store and picked up some nice shorts. Meandered some more and got to University Bikes and picked up my rental bike. Nice rental for my ride with DeRose tomorrow. Bike feels great, stem is too long, but we are planning on a lot of climbing so it should not be an issue.

Big Pasta and Pizza dinner and well fueled for a good ride tomorrow!!!.


We arrived in Denver late....rented a car from the worst company I have ever experienced EZ Rent-a Car. NOT SO EZ. 15 minutes from the airport and a dumpy little house that rents cars with too many miles and rude customer service.

Off we went and headed to Boulder to see the family. Arrived in absolute paradise...they live in N Boulder in a stunning house at the foothills. Hilly and tree lined and stunning. Cool weather and so great to see my sis and her family. We had a great night and settled in for a relaxing night of sleep.

Up, not so early, and headed for a run with my bro-in law and well the altitude is tough. A mile high makes is hard to breath. Perceived effort was high and HR was off the charts for the pace I was running, but it was stunningly beautiful. Trails and streams and runners and more runners. And the cyclists were all over. Good run and was feeling better toward the finish.

Off to Denver for a day of work for me while Riley and the girls went to the Reservoir with the Nanny. Productive work day, few meetings and very worth the trip. Glad to have the work done and back to Boulder for some fun.

Riley was awesome and stayed with the girls and DeRose, K and I went to the Kitchen for an outstanding dinner. Very, very cool place. Loved the atmosphere and the casual elegance. We had a table full of appetisers and some delicious wine. Great conversation and soaked in the Boulder scene. I am falling in love with this place...even started picking up Real Estate fliers. How many years until Riley graduates......

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Can you say mass chaos...since returning from Europe it has been crazy. Settling back into training as been great but also a bit stressful. My ribs are bruised and I still cannot swim. Going to have to take off another week, hope I remember what to do when I get back in the water :) And with that I had to pull out of the Solana Beach Tri this weekend- no swim, means no Tri for me.

So I am running and biking...and I have lost fitness. With 3 weeks of taper and then 3 weeks of wind, cheese and olives, I guess that is to be expected. But well, I am not a patient person and I really don't want to have to wait. But I am doing volume and not looking at power, HR or any gages. Each day I am feeling better and stronger and after my longest ride to date yesterday 3:20 I was tired and sore. And the sick thing is, I loved it. I like that feeling of fatigue when I am walking up stairs or when I wake up. Slowly working my way back up. Hoping by next week I can get in a long ride, 5+hours. I am sticking to what KP says as I don't want to risk injury or any other set backs.

On the rest of life front....took a quick trip to the Bay Area over the weekend for my 25th HS Reunion. Wow.....not a lot to say really, other than it was so good to see my close friends from HS. We met prior to the shin dig and it was so great to catch up and we were chatting away as if not time had passed. They all live in the same area and see each other frequently so it was really me that was the new comer and had all the catching up to do. So many good times, memories and felt great to reconnect. And scary to think of having a Sophomore in HS! We were in trouble by that time and I am hoping we (as parents) are more vigilant parents and can guide the kids through with less risk. The actual reunion was fun for a short time....but awkward as well- everyone checking out name tags and then thinking, "do I know that person?" Or "do I remember that person?" I even want to talk to that person. Felt like a work event in some cases. See when I was in HS I was totally wrapped up in swimming and HS was a small component of my life. I had my great group of awesome girlfriends but not a large group at school, thus....did not have a lot of reconnection's. Did have some and it was great fun, good laughs. Glad I went and really glad to have connected with a few on FB and we can keep track of each other from there.

Remove Formatting from selectionQuick trip but alas another trip.....JD is working at Mission Bay Aquatic Center this week. 7:30-3:30, so much for sleeping in during the summer. And a complete chore to get down there, who's idea was this? Actually it is all good- he can catch a ride with a buddy, we just have to run him to their house at 6:45 and then we have split duties in picking them up. It's good- he is tired, loving it and getting good community service hours. Monday he spent the day taking kids sailing, not a bad way to spend the day.

Meanwhile Riley and I are off to Boulder to see my sis and her family. I have a few days of business in Denver so the trip will be a bit of work and fun. My bro-in law and I have a big ride planned Friday AM, should be great- climbing and the altitude to boot.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Taking control of my bike.....

So I finally did it! I took off my race wheels, cleaned my bike, switched the cassette to my training wheels!! And I am damn proud. John has always done it for me and I decided today that is ridiculous that I am not taking care of my baby....the Kestrel that is. I cleaned the cassette and decided to put the smaller cassette on for training, maybe a bit tough in the beginning, especially I am well feeling very unfit, but will be good in the end.

Had a great run today.....for 30 minutes and then struggled. But hey no one passed me :) Came home and ate, ate, ate...hungry girl I was this morning. Then worked my way onto my bike. Today, I rode alone. No one to make me feel slow, no gadgets to tell me my power sucked and no monitor to tell me my heart rate was too high while I was riding too slow. So just me and my iPod and it was all good. I swear my rear was sore....okay enough whingeing (as they say down under) I had a good ride and was happy to be back on my bike and was motivated to get my Kestrel back in training form as my road bike sucks. Needs a new chain and cassette, hey I replace the cassette- putting on a new chain, maybe my next project. Anyway the old chain and cassette mean that the gears drop and sometimes I cannot get in the big chain ring, oops sorry whingeing again.

Great family night....JD learned a new card game in Spain, called Trump and has been dying to play. So after dinner, the family + Riley's friend learned the game. It is quite fun and I particularly enjoyed the game as I won every hand. The funny part of the game is that after each hand you have a rank- so with 5 people there is President (that was me), 2nd place is VP, 3rd place the middleman, 4th Vice Ahole (nice I know but it was kind of funny) and you got it 5th palce is the Ahole. Mind you this was taught to JD by 15yr olds. We had a good chuckle when Riley blurts out "looks like I'm the ahole again." We then changed the names to Burro and Vice Burro. It was just one of those nights when it all worked so well. Braman was singing away old Simon and Garfunkle songs, the dogs are barking and howling and we are all laughing we practically cried.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Julie was dropped by everyone....

Back training and well...a bit sluggish from the trip, post IM fatigue, hard to say. Up for a nice run with the pups and then met Jen for a short ride. Was suppose to be an hour but pushed it a bit longer as I wanted to see how I would feel. So let's just say, I mostly recall Jen looking back at me, especially on the slightest of a hill, actually I had a hard time keeping up on the speed bumps. She has been rocking doing double Great Western Loops and I have been drinking wine, eating cheese and well not getting any faster. Toward the end of the ride 2 boys cruise by, clearly pushing the pace to pass us, she looks at me and we know we are faster but well, we know Jen was faster today and had to let them go. They soon turned around so the rapid pace was obvious. But not much later....a guy passes us on a Mtn bike in flip flops! I am not kidding and the dude did not have an electric bike. I was dying and not sure I could have gotten out and chased him. Nope stick to my plan, ride easy and don't stress. All is fine and then the 80+ year old guy goes by.....there went my ego. Under the bus, in the gutter, truly pathetic.


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Rocky and Zen were their usual bounding, happy pups when I returned. Mauling me with licks and wags....But interesting since I have been home for 2 days. Rocky, the very emotional attached dog is somewhat distanced from me. He is definitley letting me know he is pissed that he was left. Zen on the other hand is clingy. Under my feet, under my desk and alwasy near by. Mind you we are having a heat wave and a furry dog touching me is not helping any.

This AM after our run, Rocky decided to forgive me. He ran up, tail wagging and gave me a huge wet kiss as if to say, okay forgiven. Funny how we are back in routine, up early (no more Spain time), out running....etc. With the heat, we have to run early or Zen will not make it. Even at 6:30 he is panting and so hot, has to take a dip in the pool before breakfast.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back at it....

Well I was geared up to resume training with intensity but my ribs are badly bruised and I cannot swim at all, can run with pain and can ride pain free. So....I am running and riding every day, but KP will not let me go hard yet and not too long. Critical week, still recovering, even though I don't feel like it.

Mentally I am ready for some long rides and to start gaining fitness, but alas....will listen to the coach.

Settled back in with the pups and picked up JD today. Hot, hot.....not as humid as Europe but was a warm night and hot day. Still catching up on sleep to heading to bed and looking forward to riding with Jen tomorrow.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Back in the USA

Back in the USA….

Loved, loved our trip, travels and adventures but it was nice to arrive in Boston Friday afternoon. For those looking to travel to Spain, do not, I repeat do not fly Iberia. Lower fares yes, does it show yes, old planes yes, small plane yes…I could go on but we are here safely and all is good.

Baked from the flight JD and I hit the Dunkin Donuts, 32oz iced coffee for me and donut for him. Picked up our rental car- cheap Ford, reeked of smoke, returned our car and was “upgraded” to a new Ford, cheap car, did not smell of smoke.

Our plan was to drive through the Sumner Tunnel and check out Fenway Park and then pick up Riley and John at 6. The speedy and efficient rental car process took over an hour and I needed to get to a pharmacy for some bandages. So I’ll digresss….our last AM at El Vinanova I wanted to take a last run before we flew home. 30 minutes on the beautiful trails the are just below Montserrat. I am thinking about the trip, flights etc and wham, no clue what happened and I am falling hard and fast. The trail is very rocky and I land hard on my left side. Tear open my hand, elbow and knee and hit hard on my left ribs. Hard to breath and am completely startled. I pick myself up and am okay, adrenaline racing and head to the cabin. We have 30 minutes to get packed and out the door. Everyone is dead asleep and we are moving quickly. I clean up and bandage up and we hit the road. The 45 minute drive to the aiprot and my ribs are hurting, my body is stiffening….Ugh. Nothing broken but bruised hip and painful ribs, hard to breath, move and get comfortable on the flight. What a clutz…..

After the pharmacy it was close to time to get John and Riley so we chill out and in not time they are in the car and we are off to Newport RI. The Braman family reunion is the next day and John is reaponsible for the bulk of the food. We find a Costco and suddenly here we are….as far from Europe as you can imagine. From El Vinanova to Costco. Although we were happy to speak English, eat Frozen Yogurt and fill up with our favorite US snacks.

On the way to Annie’s, Riley asks if there will be any girls her age at the reunion. John ponders….calls his buddy Jay who has a 13 year old, whom Riley met 4 years ago. After 2 weeks with her parents, Riely is craving someone her own age and not her brother. So we detour to the Chrisman’s. Not only is Julia 13 they have 2 horses. After a few reintroductions Riles takes her bag and is off with Julia and another girl. I have not seen her since.

We settle in and fall dead asleep only to awake at 4am, after all its noon in Spain. Reunion was great fun- All 11 siblings are there with their children, grandchildena and even more. A wonderfully relaxing day and so fun to hear many of the Johnny stories of his past. It is enderring to see how much his family loves him and to realize he has always marched to his own beat and that I am not the only one who thinks he is nuts and love him too.

Coming off Coeur d’Alene for 5 days, 2 days home, and now 2.5 weeks I need to get home, settled down and see my pups. JD comes home tomorrow for soccer camp and John and Riley on Tuesday night. I left JD at Peters riding dirt bikes and Riley riding horses…nice way to finish off the European adventure.

Friday, July 10, 2009




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Last days in Europe....

8 July

We took off on our bikes into the mayhem of the Tour Village and headed for the center. The Press Caravan was well underway. The Caravan drives the entire Tour route for the day, leaving 90 minutes prior to the start of the Tour. They are major sponsors etc and throw out schwag. We met up mid stream and decided to ride ahead and get ahead of it so JD could see firsthand what it was like. John says “let’s go” and off and JD go. Riley’s bike was stuck and suddenly they were gone. We waited about 10 minutes and the rode a bit and came back to our spot and nothing. Within 30 seconds of losing John I realize my phone is locked in the car so now we have zero communication. Another 10 minutes and we give up and decide to proceed on our own.

The streets are closed and packed with people as we try to navigate our bikes. We are up and down curbs and finally just start riding along the tour route and soon people are clapping and shouting for Riley and me as if we are tour riders. It was quite hilarious with me on a Mtn Bike and Riley on a big ol beach cruiser. Riley was embarrassed and I soon started ringing my bell and waiving and the crowds loved it. It was great fun for 3K and then the Gendarmes (police) made us get off and walk which we did for a bit and then would ride again until we were yelled at again. After about 5K expected to be at the official start but got lost on a major roundabout and could not get back on the right road. We decided to get some water and café for me and chill a bit on the route. Within minutes the peloton came through. They did a 5K ride through town and then hit the official start line.

It was great, we are old hands now and knows the riders, the peloton is not as thrilling, and we are not taking pictures but just watching they whiz by. We then ride back and enjoy the show. The road was still closed and we were not supposed to be on the road but well, we played dumb, no comprend??

We soon were back at the hotel and found a note from the boys and figured they too would make it back. Riley was starving, 10K bike ride so we ordered a pizza, which is everywhere in France. Very, very thin, no crust and quite delicious. JD finished the pizza and was still hungry so we loaded up on baguettes and water and hit the road. Baguettes are the best 80eruo and usually hot and fresh and we eat 2-3 a day. That with some local cheese and we are good.

We took a leisurely drive and decided to take JD to meet Andreu and Turin at El Vinya Nova. We had a great day in the car, touring the coast and working out way back into Spain, where the people are nicer and everything is priced more reasonably.

9 July

Our last full day in Europe….we awoke with the Roosters on the property at 5am but thankfully was able to fall back asleep. We enjoyed another delicious meal at El Vinanova last night. Dinner was served around 10:30 so it was another late night. We have all taken a liking to the toasted bread, with olive oil and a sliced tomato rubbed over the bread to give it some juice, touched off with salt. Absolutely delicious. Next we enjoyed some wonderfully fresh salad with berries and vegetables all from the garden. Roasted peppers, goat cheese and pastry, a delicious scallop soup and a few other items we are not quite sure of but certainly tantalizing to the palate. Cava was the beverage of the evening and the kids had a bottle of their wine, no alcohol, but very nice tasting. Monk fish was my entrée and was grilled to perfection with seasoning and so tender and juicy lain over beautiful vegetables. Andreau had the chef grill chicken for Riley; he knows her preferences now, steak for JD and Braman. Topped off with ice cream and we fell into bed stuffed and John joined Andreau and the local businessmen for talk of the current rise in Socialism in Spain, the 18% unemployment and the fear of theft that landowners have with so many unemployed. It’s not that I was not welcome to join the men; I was tired and had enough Cava and liquor that surely followed.

Unsure of plans for our last day we decided to sleep on it and awoke to a significant drop in temperature and rain. It is simply delightful and 65-70 degrees. Finally I pull out the rest of my clothes that I had brought. After a few café’s con leche I headed out for a beautiful run in the rain through the Montserrat National Park. All trails and quite hilly and with a steady falling rain. I intended on 45 minutes but took a path I thought would circle back and well let’s just say I enjoyed a 1:15 run. Shorted out my iPod but was all worth it. Arrived back to the cottage soaking wet to find the kids and John and Cherub (the boxer puppy) curled up on the couch watching an old movie.

The idea of heading to Barcelona for a day in the city and following the Tour was soon abandoned and we settled in for a relaxing day with falling rain outside. Andreau assured us we were welcome another night so we are staying.

Barcelona is less than an hour and our flight is 10:15 (JD and I) and RM and Braman fly out at 12:30. We will meet up in Boston, rent a car and head to Middletown, RI to John’s sisters house for the last of our trip. The annual Braman reunion is Saturday and I fly home Sunday and the rest of the family on Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Le Cap D'Adge

Great night sleep and we awoke to a lot of commotion...loud speakers (all in French) announcing various tidbits about the Tour, of which I get about every 3rd word. The city is packed with people streaming in and about, excited to see the Tour and what it brings.

Went for a beautiful run along the path the parallels the beach. The weather here is the nicest so far, the humidity is gone (due to our location on the Med) There were lots and lots of runners and casual cyclists along the path. The parking lots are packed with the 220 press vehicles. caravan (which are cars, floats and crazy motorcycles with coffee cups, gummi bears and the like)

Could not find the team buses...perhaps they are in hiding. Feeding the troops and going to head out on our bikes to find the teams and fix our location for the start. The official start is 5K from the beach and all roads are closed going in and out of the city, so it will be tricky, but we will see what we can do.

Showers in Europe are quite interesting....most are handheld and so small you cannot really turn around effectively. The other interesting component is that there is always one bottle or pump in the shower that is multi purpose, whatever the liquid, it is meant for shampoo, soap and any other washing you may need. Lotion is non existence and the soap/shampoo/face soap is so drying you hands frequently stick together in the shower. Funny things we are accustomed to in the US and get away and realize are very US. Most hotels have pumps and no small plastic bottles, certainly more environmentally friendly. And there are recycling bins near all trash cans, makes it very easy to do the right thing.

Off for the day.....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Arles to L Cap D'Adge

So the room in Arles was pure luxury and we slept past 10....wonderful garden breakfast (which we later found out was $20 each - ouch!) The order for the day was to deal with the car so John took off for Barcelona airport to swap the car, the only location they have cars, and was 4+ hours away. Riley and I extended our reservation but moved to a room with 2 beds which was much more like previous rooms, tiny, tiny....but clean and air conditioned. All was fine as we were wiped out and relaxed in the morning and finally went to explore around noon. We came back around 2 for swim to cool off, it was over 90 and humid.

The riders were due around 3:30 so we headed out and it was a 2 minute walk to the bridge we were to see them. We waited, and waited and, finally around 4:15 the VIP cars, press and police started coming, but we knew from experience not to get ready until the 4 helicopters are overhead. 4:45 the helicopters where whirring and we scurried to our spot on the narrow bridge and the lead pack of 4 came by, honestly, not all that thrilled. At this point I am thinking, is this really worth it all.

5 minutes later the motorcycles come, which means the peleton is right behind them and it was amazing....175 guys that create such a force it blew off peoples hats. They were packed from sidewalk to sidewalk on the bridge, wheels are <1 class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_7">peleton but I could not believe it when it went by, it was like a freight train. It was so exhilarating I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes. You can see their muscles working, the expressions on their faces, truly amazing!

After that we had to rest....we were wiped out. The trip was catching up with us. New hotel nearly every night, walking for hours each day and going to bed at midnight.

Meanwhile Johns trip to Barcelona took 6+ hours due to a major accident but he did get the car swapped out- Yahoo!!! Love that guy. And then he headed to Lloret de Mar to meet up with JD. He met up with the group we started with, JD's soccer team, for the farewell beach dinner and a night with JD. They hit the road around 10 and met Riley and I around 2pm. Riley and I slept until 10:30 and barely got out of the room by noon. We had a nice cafe lunch and toured Arles. There is theater and coliseum that holds 20,000 that was built in 6AD. Very old Roman ruins, what you expect to see in Italy. Riley was very interested and it was true European history.

Once reunited with the boys we hit the road..... We stocked up with food as we now have our biggest consumer back on board. Side note, Europe is so, so expensive..... I cannot tell you how much we are spending as it would be shameful. And we are frugal. A simple breakfast cafe, water, croissants and fruit is 15Euro which is about $22. They have no tap water and each bottle is 4Euro, $6. We stopped keeping track and save when we can and enjoy the rest of the time.

We decided to not chase the tour today and head for the next Tour start, stage 5 in Cap D'Adge. About 2 hours and we found it and the Tourist Bureau was once again so helpful. We booked family room about 300M from the beach. It has Queen bed, unheard of in Europe, usually they push 2 twins together, and then a loft with 2 twins for the kids. We can see the beach and all is good. Pricey....well yes of course.

The kids and John headed for a swim in the Med and then the pool and I did a bit of work. We then rented bikes for 24 hours and went exploring. Beautiful seaside town, not too touristy and very quaint. We decided to eat in and bought a roasted chicken, warm baguette, salami, cheese, chips, cold bottle of local wine, Orangina and some pastries. We made a nice dinner on the patio. even used a towel for a table cloth. It was terrific, we laughed and are happy to be a family again.

JD did miss us and filled us with stories of his adventures in Spain when we left.

We plan to get up early, which is about 9 these days, and head to see the team buses and the riders. JD has not gotten the feel of the tour so we can do that. The official start is about 5K from the beach so we plan to ride our bikes and see them take off.

After that.....well hard to say! We may go back to El Bruc so JD can meet Andreau and Turin, Riley can see Cherub and we can our last 2 nights relaxing in Spain... Will see tomorrow.

And training...right, this is/was an Ironman blog before I started drinking wine, eating cheese and baguettes every day. Let's see - ran 45 minutes today in 90 degree weather. That's about all there is these days. Come next Monday, I am back at it.

Side we rented very cool bikes. New Mtn bikes, nice shocks etc. First time I had ridden since IM CdA. All I can think of is, the bike is so darn heavy..... I am dreaming of riding the Tour Rider's bikes....

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 2 Tour

So after a fitful night sleep in the horribly small room...we woke up excited to see Stage 2. Let me digress, the room was clean yes, but that was the only redeeming quality. Tiny. worn, uncomfortable bed, tiny bathroom...and the list goes on. But the location rocked, 2 blocks from the team buses. start and finish of Stage 1 and start of Stage 2. The staff was so hospitable and nice, all is good.

Started with the cafe au lait, we have come to love and a baguette and butter. Off to see the boys. With a 12:00 start we were down near the teams by 11 and it was steaming activity. Cars being loaded up, stacked bikes, wheel sets and parts we could not even see. It is hard not to drool over all the top of the line gear, absolutely stunning. Another triathlete once said to me that bikes and wheels like what we saw, were his version of pornography. Hard not to get excited. I keep thinking, just one quick spin....or they would never miss 1 bike. The custom bikes are so amazing, Lance of course has a tricked out paint job on his, Cancellera was riding a yellow bike to honor his yellow jersey ride. The many custom paint jobs on the zipp or HED wheel sets were too cool. Many of the Americans had Red/Wht/Blue and it looked pretty cool. The riders were all over and very close and most very personable to all. They were talking, signing whatever fans asked and as we approached the start they began getting on the bikes and riding the 500M to the start. They all rode right past us and it was great, waiving, acknowledging the crowds. Lance was the only one with a few body guards but he waived and said hello to all.

We saw the mass start from a distance as we hung back a bit too long waiting to see Lance and Contador. It was great to see the peleton heading up the road under the arch and off to Montpellier.

We headed out of town soon thereafter in search of a midway point. Our major issue is that we have car problems... to put it succincingly when you change gears (manual transmission) the engine rotates and sounds like it is going to fall out. According to John, after checking it out, one of the brackets that holds the engine broke. After multiple unsuccessful calls to the rental car company we finally learned due to the holidays they local companies do not have any cars. It took John many hours of calls after calls only to find out our only solution is to take it to a VW dealer and get it fixed. And of course it is Sunday and all the dealers are closed. So we are driving a car that sounds like the engine may drop out at any time. Scary indeed. With the problems John did the driving which left me to navigate and well that is the wrong combination. I am the driver and John is the navigator. So we had a very trying day....only to get to our first rendezvous spot to find a massive traffic jam and lear that we most likely missed the riders. Onto the 2nd spot and well we underestimated how fast these guys ride...25-27K per hour.

The frustration level was mounting and we bailed out and decided to head to the finish. En route John realized we were near a viewing spot and according to the schedule we were right on time. He dropped us off and we found a spot on the route. John soon joined us and we waited for 10-15 minutes in the hot, hot sun. Official car, after car, motorcycle after motorcycle came by. Soon we saw the helicopter and knew they were on the way. It was so fast.... the lead pack had 4 riders and the peleton was a few minutes back, this was the point they were gaining on the breakaway riders. And 2 poor riders were 3+ minutes back. It was exhilarating and so very fun!!

It was soon over and we were back in the car. By this time, we decided to head to a point we wanted to be for stage 3. Off we went and it was hours of pain full driving, only to then try and find another spot, only to then go back to the original spot in Arles, France.

We have been sleeping in total dive hotels that cost well over $200. I used the trusty Michelin Guide and the description seemed to good to be true. We are skeptical and very wary....we arrived to what seemed and Oasis. On the Rhone, stunning rooms, 1 large King Bed and a nice bed for Riley . Huge rooms, separate toilet from the bath, a pool (unheard of) and we are so very happy. We made an error and ate on the way to the hotel only to find a stunning Courtyard with candles and delicious fare.

First on the list were showers....nice big shower, lots of soap and I sent Riley to the bar for a nice glass of Chardonnay. No problem, shes 13 and its France and she returns and all is good...



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Tour de France

3 July

We woke up in Marseille to a lot of noise and traffic of a city. Huge city and is very, very busy. We slipped out of the hotel and walked to the port for some café au lait and croissants. It was polluted and very industrious so we left soon thereafter.

Once on the road we got off the Highway and drove through spectacular scenery through Provence. So lush and green with the hillsides and mountains in the back ground. Still very hot but we were having a great day. Few navigational challenges, especially getting out of Marseille. We managed, Riley turned up her iPod and soon we forgot the stress.

We wanted to follow the Tour de France route but realized 186K was a long drive and would still not get us to Monaco. We redirected and got to the highway…..a total of over 20 Euro to get us through the roads and we came upon Monaco.

Stunning country nestled on the cascading slopes into the Mediterranean. The entire city/country is very hilly and all streets, eventually, end near the waterfront which has a harbor filled with million and millions in luxury yachts. And this is where we say the Tour signs…. The start of the Tour is seaside where the Grand Prix commences. The village is massive with media, vendors and the team trucks. Did not get close as they were shutting down but it was so exacting. Saw a few skinnies cruising on bikes but hard to say if the are Tour riders. The town is alive and excited. Le Tour signs and merchandise is on every corner.

We came into Monaco to get the lay of the land and then planned to drive out of the city and find accommodations. I had done some preliminary work to find the hotels booked and over double the price. We found our way to the Tourist Bureau to get the lay of the land and understand the bus schedule and ended up booking a room 3 blocks from the Tour Start. Very low end and somewhat reasonably priced but all things considered decided it was worth it. The room is tragically small and with one bed but enough blankets to make a nice bed for Riley. She is a total trooper and agreed to sleep on the floor. The hotel is basic and very old and anywhere else would not work for me, but here, for the location and to be able to walk around, well worth it. Our first room was simply but spacious with 3 twin beds but no air condition. In this heat, that was not an option, so we opted for the tiny room and comfort in temperature.

John and I were captivated with everything related to the Tour but Riley is not too excited so we are balancing our excitement and ensuring she still enjoys her time here. I am going to get up early and go for a run and check out the city waking up for the start of the Tour. I can hardly believe we are here and get to see it all. We booked for 2 nights and will see the Time Trial and then the start of stage 2 to Brignolles. We will then head out and determine where to go next. We have a list to see 1- Start 2- Time Trial 3- Start of a stage 4- Finish of a stage 5- Feed Station and 6- hang out in a bar with locals when the tour comes through. The 7th is of course the peak of a mountain stage, but we have to leave before that. Oh well, we will be back, I am sure of that already.

So the question of the hour is…..where is Lance???

4 July

Tough night for us all- too hot, too cold and finally we worked it out around 3am and fell into deep sleep. I was up at 8 and eager to see what was happening. I slipped out early in my running shoes and headed to the waterfront. It was already humming with activity and I headed for the team busses. They were just starting to unload bikes and gear so I took off and ran along the waterfront. Amazing houses, yachts and a setting that is hard to covey. Already it was over 80 and humid. I explored some more of Monaco, was tragically lost and my short run was nearly an hour. All good and I have a good lay of Monaco. Came back to a sleepy room and John and I snuck out for some café and tried again for an internet connection. We met an Aussi who lent us a great guide and we made some copies and at 10:30 came to wake up Riley, still in a dead sleep.

By 11:30 we were enjoying croissants and café and started the day. We wound our way though the cities that was rapidly filling up and were soon near the team busses. Speechless….the amount of bikes, equipment and techs was stunning. Each team has at least one massive bus and most 2 and the doors roll up to bike after bike. The TT bikes were out and getting set up. We could practically touch the bikes and I was rapidly snapping photos. I was all but drooling over the amazing bikes and the aggressive set up. The Specialized bikes do not have a stem so the riders are so low it is amazing. All have discs and some are colorful and stunning. Checked out the Kuota’s, all are Queen K’s. So many more. The techs are working and some of the riders were spinning on the trainer. No one we knew but they all look skinny and fast. Biggest crows around Astana and Confides. As we pass Robobank a rider cruised in with and hopped off his bike. He took a sip of his bottle, waived to Riley and tossed her the bottle. We learned coming in that the coveted tour souvenir is a rider’s bottle. Well, day 1 and she has one. I’m going to have to wait or possible pimp Riley out to get me one.

We came back for a respite from the heat and soon hear cars and booming voices over the mic’s in French. We ran down our street to see the Caravan which drives the course and tosses out schwag. We missed a lot so ran down a few blocks and were soon in the thick of it all. 5 people deep yelling and reaching for the goods that were thrown. There was water and cycling hats, t shirts and some jerseys. We screaming and in it all. I ran down a bit to get a jersey and snagged one! Amazing how caught up you can get so quickly. The energy is tremendous and people are so excited. Lots of yellow Tour Gear all over and people wearing anything they find.

We left soon thereafter for the start. It was so amazing…we walked right to the start and were able to stand on a wall and see them line up and then roll into the booth for the start. One guy counts on his fingers 3,2,1 in front of the rider and they are off. We waited until Lance took off, #18 of 180, seated by last year’s tour. So Sastre was last, preceded by Evans, Contador and Cancellara. After Lance took off we ran up to the 3K mark, the TT was only 15K. We missed Lance but saw many others and then headed back to see more of the starts with fewer crowds. John took off toward the Team busses and phoned to say Lance was giving an interview right in front of Liquigas. We tried to run over but did not make it; he had jumped in a car and was off. We spent the next hour watching riders cool down, warm up….the 1st rider went off at 4pm and the last at 7:09 and the TT only took 20-22 minutes. So riders were starting and finishing for a few hours. We saw Levi warming down and waited to see Contadar warming up.

The one resounding factor of these guys is they are tiny and have zero body fat. Bulging veins in their arms, neck and if a shaved head in their necks. The sleeves on the jersey, probably size small, are loose on their skinny arms. All the mass is in their legs.

The bikes are stacked so deep it is hard to not drool and look at them. Each TT rider had a car with 3+ bikes, full carbon wheels chasing them. Oh to have a ride on one of them!!! The technology is top notch. When the TT was over the techies took the bike apart and spray washed the wheels, pressure dry, soaped and washed the frame and pressured dried and they were meticulous. The bikes went back in the truck nearly new again.