Saturday, March 31, 2007

1st Quarter Bike Stats

Can you believe we are through the entire first quarter of the year already? It almost doesn't seem possible! I've been biking outside whenever the weather is tolerable. Here is a table showing the number of days I've ridden and the total miles I've recorded.

Today, Jeff and I rode 32.17 miles around the scenic towns of Mystic and Stonington in CT. We met up with Debby and Chris, but were not able to do a full ride together though we did get to see Debby's beautiful new Fuji bike! We had dinner together at Mystic Pizza followed by coffee at Borders and talked about bikes A LOT!

I snapped this picture of Jeff as he pedaled along Mystic Harbor.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Scenic Bike Ride Pic

We stopped here for a pic during our ride today.

Edited to add: I was kind of in a hurry the other day when I posted this picture and completely neglected to tell you anything about the scene! Sorry to leave you wondering! It's Paradise Park in Middletown, RI. In addition to the windmill, there is an old school preserved by the historical society and some historic homes in the area as well. In the distance you can see the stone tower of the Gothic cathedral at St. George's School in Newport. The windmill is similar to the one at Prescott Farm in Portsmouth and another in Jamestown.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Birthday Bike Ride at Cape Cod

Today is Jeff's birthday! We have a history of taking road trips on Jeff's birthday, it's just something we started when we were first together. I guess it came about because this time of year (especially when we lived in Maine) we both would have cabin fever and his birthday is often one of the first days that actually feels like spring. We'd go for a drive somewhere a little unusual for us and explore. Today, we packed up the bikes and went to Cape Cod!

There is a great rail trail for biking there. We parked at the trail head in Dennis and set off through a scrub pine forest growing on sand dunes. There were some road crossings as we went through villages. Then, there were a number of ponds and cranberry bogs. The bogs are such an amazing color as you can see from these pics.

Sometimes there are overlooks on the side of the path, so you can pause to enjoy the view. Here is Jeff taking a break to rehydrate.

Sometimes, instead of fresh water ponds and bogs, there were marshy areas like this one.

I guess this is a good time of year for construction work on the trails, so some areas were torn up in preparation for repair and we had to go carefully over bumps and gravel in some places and sometimes do a detour altogether. This was a rather treacherous part where the pavement ended abruptly!

We followed the trail all the way to the end which is at mile marker 22 at Wellfleet. It seemed like a good place for pics, so here's one of Jeff.

And one of me!

On the way back the way we had come, we took a detour to Marconi Beach to look at the dunes and sea. There is a nice boardwalk to the beach as you can see in this picture of me.

The dunes are quite amazing here and always make me think of camel or dromedary humps because of the way the tufts of grass grow out of them like hair.

Once we got back on the rail trail again, we took one more detour on a side shoot and biked east almost to the Chatham town line. It was more in town along this stretch and busier.

Finally, here is a picture of my Garmin cycle computer at the end of the ride showing our total distance: 53.56 miles! Yay!!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Show & Tell: Handbags

I figure it's time for another installment of Show & Tell. I'm trying to feature one of my collections each month! A lot of these things spend most of the time tucked away in closets, so it's nice to have an excuse to get them out to look at and enjoy a bit.

Family members have given me a number of handbags over the years, so I have inadvertently ended up with a collection and will show you several of them. The first three pictured are Whiting & Davis bags. I've actually never used the white ones, but I did use the black one a bit in college. They seem to go in and out of style on a regular basis!

These last two are sweet petit point purses that I really quite like. The first one I've never used, but I have on display in a curio in my living room with other 'girly' vintage things.

This one I especially like and I've used it as well. One time, I took it to a midnight poetry reading and concert at Marble House, one of the amazing Newport Mansions!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pics From New Camera

I've been playing around with the new camera. Saffy reluctantly posed for me while sniffing the air. The breeze was lifting her ears.

Mainly, she wanted to show me this side. She loves tummy rubs.
Silas likes close ups.

Here's part of the garden. We'll probably till it in early April. It's very wet and muddy now.
These are some gourds I grew and dried.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A New Toy!

I've had just one digital camera since April, 2003, and with all the advances in technology, it was definitely time to buy a new one. I've been researching and reading reviews off and on for awhile, but got serious about it in the past week and made a decision. I got it today! It's the Sony Cyber-shot and it's PINK! There was a little charge on the battery when I got it, so I was able to test it out right away and I'm happy with it so far. It has features I'll use and I love the styling too. It's very comfortable to hold and operate. So far, it's been intuitive to use and I haven't even needed to refer to the instructions.
I thought this stone church would be a pretty subject for a series of test pics.

It has lovely stained glass windows.

This beech tree is in the church-yard and isn't it a perfect subject for Project Spectrum?

The new camera is tiny and will fit in a jersey pocket so I can take it with me on my bike rides!

Edited to add: The church is Saint Columba's in Middletown, RI.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Is On The Way!

It's the time of year when mother nature teases us with a few beautiful, warm days and then freezes us again with cold, gloppy days. Despite the erratic weather, cycling season is picking up!

Last Saturday, we watched criterion training races in Connecticut. Our friend Chris rode brilliantly and finished 6th. In this picture, he is on the outside of the curve riding a red bike.

The weather was about 45 degrees at the races, but it felt more raw and cold than that. The four of us had hoped to ride the rail trails after the races, but we were cold and the trails were still covered with snow in the shadows.

Warmer weather arrived on Sunday, so Jeff and I did a 14 mile ride together. Since the clocks changed, it means that it is light enough for Jeff to ride after work. On Monday, I biked 50.32 miles and Jeff did about half of that ride with me. On Tuesday, we did another 21. It looks like we'll have an afternoon ride today, but then the cold weather will be moving back into the area for several days.

At last my total miles count is starting to go up and I'm closing in on 500 (see my sidebar).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mtn Biking Book

I bought this book last night. It's in cartoon/handwritten form and is hilarious, but also very informative. I'm looking forward to heading out on some trails this spring and now I'll have some new techniques to try!

Symmetry At Last!

Finally, two parts of the RYC Lace Top that I don't think I'll have to frog! I knitted at a relentless pace yesterday to get these done. I was getting sooo frustrated with all the frogging! Now, I think I can make the back yoke and sleeves look the same.

The front yokes (not blocked yet):

My latest knitting book purchase (a 'reward' for sticking with the lace top, LOL!):

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Shopping, Struggles with Lace, Weekend Cycling

Friday night, on my nearly daily trip to the Barnes & Noble for Starbucks, I treated myself to two books. First, The Knitting Answer Book, with the hopes it might help with some of my lace knitting issues, and second, Victorian Knitted Lace, so I could enjoy all the lovely pictures of mainly rectangular lace with no armhole decreasing/shaping issues. I've been admiring VKL at the store for some time and finally had to have it home on my own coffee table. The pictures are gorgeous and there is something very romantic about beautiful fabrics draped over old stone statues, buildings, etc. I loved the imagery in the latest Jane Eyre film of the red scarf blowing from the tower and it instantly reminded me of the VKL book when I saw it.

I continue to be frustrated by the RYC lace top and can no longer fool myself into thinking that I can carry on with the two row asymmetry. I MUST get it right (or at least manage to thoroughly hide it in a seam) or it will bug me forever and end up thrown into the back of the closet in disgust. The good news is that I seem to be making slow progress towards getting it right as I work on the front yoke, but the bad news is that there will be a lot of frogging in my future if I get it right and then have to rip out the back and possibly the sleeves. Aarrrgh!!!

We had torrential rains on Friday morning. Even the Labradors, who generally live to play in water were thoroughly disgusted. It was liked having buckets of water poured over us and they both looked at me reproachfully like the weather was all my fault! Fortunately, after the rains cleared out on Friday afternoon, we had fantastic weather and I was able to get outside to enjoy the fresh air and at least temporarily clear my mind of knitting woes.

Saturday was our first really spring-like day! The temperature even got up into the low 50's! Jeff and I biked 26.25 miles along the ocean. The views were awesome. The surf was bottle green and the waves were very high from the stormy weather off the coast. We saw at least a hundred surfers in the waves. The seaspray hung in the air like fog and we tasted the saltiness on our lips. That night, we were able to view the lunar eclipse!

Sunday, we drove inland to the NW corner of Rhode Island to join the NBW club ride. I'd forgotten how much more snow they get over there! The snow banks were still melting and the temperature was several degrees colder. There was still a lot of salt and sand on the roads, so it was a cold, dirty ride. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the headwind that plagued us for most of the ride too! Not my favorite route! I guess we were warned, it is officially called the 'Ville' ride as it goes through Burrillville and Harrisville, but at the start of the ride, the organizer called it the 'Vile' ride. That was about right!! Well, I'm being a little hard on it. If weather conditions had been better, it probably would have been quite nice. We passed by farms including one with a beautiful stone barn. There were little villages with old stone mills and old wooden shop buildings too. Some of the ride went by frozen ponds. Other parts of the ride passed though dense pine and fir forests that I'm sure would be invitingly shady in summer, but were frigid this time of year. We rode 20.24 miles in all. I'll include the elevation profile from the ride as it shows we did some hills! It's kind of hard to find hills in most parts of Rhode Island, so that was a novelty for us. The overall elevation for the ride was 1,579 feet. That first climb was quite a workout, but the downhill that followed it was fantastic and seemed to go on and on. The downhill part followed a gently curving, tree lined county road with stonewalls and was definitely the highlight of the ride!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Lace Knitting Question, Cabin Fever

On the RYC lace top, I am having a problem with asymmetry that is bugging me, but I'm carrying on with it anyway. Do you have experience with shaping lace knitting? My problem is that I have to decrease for the sleeves and armholes while *keeping in pattern*. Well, I can mostly keep in pattern, but what do you do when you can't because, for example, there is a yarn over at the end of the row?

What has happened is that I have two more rows on one side of each sleeve and the back. The front will end up being the same way. (At least it will be consistent for seaming up!) It's not a huge deal, so I'm going to continue as is, however, I'd love to know how to deal with this issue in future!

My biggest frustration is the fact that every picture they show of the finished top is carefully cropped or arranged to *not* show the crucial bits. That makes me very suspicious that they had the same trouble I'm having and didn't want to show it!

Anyway, I'd love your advice about this. Perhaps you know of a book that teaches 'advanced' decreases, etc, for keeping in pattern while working lace?

I'll take some progress pics for you soon. It's too dim for photography at the moment.


Earlier today, the sun was shining and even though the temperature was only 35 degrees, Jeff and I went for a mid-day bike ride. We both have such cabin fever! We did one of our favorite 20 mile rides that has hills spaced perfectly for interval training.

I'm still having a lot of fun with my Garmin bike computer. Here is a chart from today's ride showing the elevation in green and the speed in purple. (You can click on it to see it clearly.)