Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 2: Loop ride out from Lednice

Gorgeous weather today. This is technically Day 2, but it's really the first riding day of the trip. The basic route was 34 miles, but Uber-Hubby and I opted for the extension loop, which gave us a total of 47.3 today. It included one heck of a climb up and around one of the highest elevations in the region, but the reward was a close up shot of the castle ruins, an absolutely AWESOME view of the valley below, and then a killer descent that at one point had me too scared to look at how fast I was going.

We're done for the day, and we'll be off to find dinner on our own soon. Czech is much more difficult to learn than German was, but phrase books come in handy and the locals admire you for trying. The food has been really good so far, more vegetables than I was initially led to believe. Who knew red cabbage soup would be so tasty?

Hey...If you haven't already, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Day 1: Getting to Lednice, Czech Republic

So on Monday morning, we made our way by bus to the local train station in Vienna, called Sudbahnhof. We were super early, so there we were in the middle of everything, enjoying a beer at 9:30a.m. just because we could. The shuttle driver was supposed to meet 6 of us there at 10:30, but by that time we had only found one other couple, but we decided there was safety in numbers.

Our non-english speaking Czech taxi driver, Michal, rolled in a bit late due to a traffic jam, started throwing our bags into the back of his van after barely determining who we were, and motioned for us to get in. We did so with a bit of trepidation, especially since he didn't seem a bit concerned about the 2 missing people. There wouldn't have been room for them anyway, because his car barely fit all of us plus our luggage. Turns out that the other 2 had mistakenly arrived a day early, so they were already in Lednice ("LED-neet-say").

The trip from Vienna to Lednice was uneventful, mostly because the only English this guy knew was how to tell us that his real job was owning a chopper motorcycle shop. Surprisingly, there was absolutely no sign of life at the border crossing. No passport check, no nothing. Had there not been a sign to say that we were entering the Czech Republic, I might never have known. Lednice, our first little town, is only a few miles over the border, and we arrived at a lovely hotel in short order.

Our tour guides are wonderful. Jiri ("year-ee" but roll the r) is from a nearby town but speaks lovely English, and has been giving us all sorts of interesting information about the local area. Yorgos is Greek (pretty much the only handsome Greek man I've ever seen) and has a great sense of humor. We got fitted for our bikes on Monday afternoon and were able to do a fairly short test ride back towards the Austrian border. Yes, we did the border dance... I'm in, I'm out.

Dinner was together that night, and we are enjoying getting to know our fellow riders.

Remember...Get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hello from Vienna, Austria

This post was edited to include photos on 6-13-08. CLICK HERE to see the entire set from Vienna.

Uber-Hubby & I made it here safe & sound, though not without a bit of airport drama. Some guy "couldn't board the plane" in Minneapolis, so we actually had to pull back into the gate so they could pull his stupid bag off the plane, which made us at least an hour late getting into Amsterdam. We barely made it to our connection for Vienna, so of course our luggage didn't get there with us. It was delivered to our hotel the next morning however, so it wasn't all bad. I have to say that I've never been soooo happy to see my toothbrush & clean underwear...ever.

Jet lag really wasn't an issue, since we had an overnight flight & set our watches on the new time zone (7 hours ahead of Mpls) as soon as the plane took off. I was lucky to be able to sleep quite a bit on the plane, so I feel fine. U-H arranged for us to have rental bikes for our short stay in Vienna, so we spent today riding around the city & having a great time enjoying the sights and nice weather.

These are the bikes we used in Vienna, then the lovely central pathway at St Mark's Cemetery, where Mozart is buried. Below that, there's a photo of Tom & me in Vienna, then one of me enjoying a Kasekreiner (best snack ever), and finally one of me conquering a rope course near the Danube River:

The REAL trip starts tomorrow morning, when we meet up with the rest of our group & take a shuttle van just over the border into the Czech Republic to the first stop on our trip to Prague. Internet access may be spotty for the next 2 weeks, but I'll try.

FYI...German keyboards are weird. They use the Z more often than the Y, so the 2 keys are switched. I've been typing it wrong just about every time.

Anyway...Until next time, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Monday, May 19, 2008

Like no other restaurant on Earth

In short, this place is the bomb. We take most of our out of town guests to a place called Chino Latino, located in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. It's a really groovy mix of Asian and Latin foods "from the hot zone"...all around the equator. I've never EVER had a bad meal there, though I do wish it wasn't quite so noisy.

Anyway...We took U-H's father & step-mother there last night. His daughter went with, and I was pleasantly surprised at how willing the 10 year old was to try new things, especially the sushi. A proud moment, indeed. FYI...If you've never had a drink called a Mexican 3 Way, I highly recommend it. 3 shots of good tequila, tamarind, citrus juices, etc...I had to self limit to only 1, but it was worth it.

Predictably, I'm up a couple of pounds worth of water weight, but the weather is looking really good for the rest of this week and I should have a couple of good days of riding to and from work before we take of on our trip, so I'm not worried.

Chino Latino...Get there if you can. Until then, get off the couch and

Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weekly Ticker Update

Well, there it is. Down another pound this week. It would have been two, but we've been eating out about one meal per day while the 'rents have been in town for Uber-Hubby's graduation. All in all, that isn't too bad. I think I've made some pretty decent food choices, all things considered.

U-H and I are taking turns going on rides while his daughter is in town. Unfortunately, she has no interest in learning to ride a bike, so we aren't able to take her with us. I have just under 96 miles to go to hit my goal of 1000 before leaving for the big trip next Friday, which is a bit less than 24 miles per day if I ride at least 4 out of 5 days between now and then.

In other news...
Graduation went fine, all things considered. U-H's mom and her husband flew into town that morning, went to the ceremony, then went to spend the rest of the weekend with friends. Dashing in on the morning of is pretty much their m.o. They did the same thing at our wedding.
U-H's dad and his wife, on the other hand, have been here since Tuesday and will be around for a week. We've spent time with them every day, so they've gotten quality time with their granddaughter in addition to showing support for their son's success. Tonight was grill food and Trivial Pursuit 90's Edition. Let's NOT talk about how I totally got robbed, and U-H will no doubt rub my face in it for months to come. This is him and his father at graduation:

Guess I know what I'm getting in about 30 years. Luckily Dad's a good guy. :-)

Travel update...Picked out the hotels for both before and after the bike tour. We'll have an extra day or two in both Vienna & Prague. We leave on Friday afternoon. I can't believe it's almost here! I'm sure I'll procrastinate on packing, as usual. Oh well.

Until then...Get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eyes bigger than your stomach?

If so, there's a reason. CLICK HERE to read an interesting article about how portion sizes have changed over the last 20 years. The standard slice of pizza is bigger than it used to be, the tub that your movie popcorn comes in has gotten bigger, etc. Something else I found interesting is how the dinner plate itself has gotten larger over time, going from 10 to 12 inches.

It's common sense, really. Use a bigger bowl and you're going to probably eat a bigger portion of ice cream. Your mind thinks you have to fill up whatever dish you're using. After reading this article, it occurs to me that since I've been on the SSHE program, I've been using my small little salad plates MUCH more frequently than my dinner plates. Coincidence? I think not.

Good news on that front, by the way. We've had family in town for Uber-Hubby's graduation this Friday, which means we've had dinner out the last two nights. I'm holding strong, however. On Tuesday night I had a dinner salad (about the best you can do at that restaurant), and last night I ate my SSHE dinner before we went, then just had some veggies & dip when we got there. Once the Aunt Flo water retention is gone, I might actually be down as much as 2 pounds this week. This CAN be done, people. All you have to do eat less & move more, so get off the couch and

Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Monday, May 12, 2008

You'll never amount to anything looking like that.

That's what Uber-Hubby's teachers in high school said to him because he looked like this:

That's right, folks. A no-kidding mohawk. Rocket Fire Red, to be precise. That's Tom getting into his chicken costume for Halloween that year. Good Lord, America.

This one isn't much better:

That's him in college, at his sister's wedding. I'm sorry, but that goatee looks like it was drawn on with a pencil. It just doesn't match up with his cute little baby face. Thank God I didn't meet him until later, LOL.

At any rate...His teachers in high school seriously told him he wouldn't amount to anything because he had crazy hair and had no "school spirit". Would the mohawk somehow have been more acceptable if he had colored it school colors? Bleh.

It occurs to me that I should remind you what he looks like in present day, for added perspective:

That's us a couple of years ago when we got married. I was skinnier then, but he's still just as yummy looking today. I honestly don't have much that is more recent.

So this guy who could so easily have turned into a drunken, drugged out, do nothing drain on society is graduating this Friday from the Graduate Periodontics program at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. This guy who would "never amount to anything" figured out how to pay for 13 years of post high school education on his own, with no real help from his parents, while holding down at least one full time job (sometimes more) and dealing with his psycho (now ex) wife and the daughter they have together. He served his country in the U.S. Navy for 3 years and will now go on to serve his patients in Mankato, MN as he joins the practice of one of the most highly successful and respected periodontists in the state.

Beat that with a stick, you high school teacher assholes.

Talk about perspective

If I've said this once, I've said it a thousand times. Just when I think I have some kind of problem that has me teetering on the edge of self pity, something always happens to knock some sense back into me and make me realize that my issues are miniscule compared to what other people deal with every day with grace and dignity. Thanks to Uber-Hubby, I have yet another good example.

There's a guy who calls himself Fat Cyclist who has a blog, and lately his posts have been detailing his wife's battle with breast cancer that has metastasized into her brain. I don't know these people, but I find their story both incredibly sad and mind blowingly inspiring at the same time. They are doing their best to live their lives as normally as possible, but they are also taking steps to preserve important memories in the event that Susan loses her battle. They've started recording videos of their conversations so that F.C. and their kids can look back on them later....Stories of how they met and fell in love, what happened when they found out they were having twins, what Susan expects of the children as they grow up, etc. That's a priceless gift to leave your kids and other loved ones, and it's an example by which we should all strive to live.

Another important thing this family has done is allow their friends and family to help. I know this from experience, so I can say with absolute authority that letting people in your life at times like these is CRUCIAL to everyone involved. Nobody can do anything about the fact that there's a battle against a deadly disease going on here, but they CAN do things like bring over food, donate money, and show up for bike rides with their beloved F.C. to give him a break from the caregiver's duties (at least for a little while). Each person has something to contribute, and it's all meaningful.

I encourage each of you to click over to read some of Fat Cyclist's blog entries. If you are so inclined, there's a link in the upper right corner of his page where some close friends of the family have set up an account to help with medical expenses. They've even got it hooked up through PayPal for added convenience. Starting next week, you'll also be able to purchase a very snazzy looking F.C. bike jersey. Keep checking back for the link to the Twin Six apparel website, which I'll share as soon as the jerseys go up for sale.

Remember...Get off the couch, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weekly Ticker Update

Woo hoo! Finally back in the negative direction on the scale. The weather has been a lot better lately, so the last few days have been awesome for riding. Today's adventure was the first 60 mile ride I've done in a LONG time, so I was a bit nervous about it before we started. Not to worry, though...It was the MS Bike ride, which starts on the Gateway Trail and goes out into Scandia, then back to the Maplewood Community Center. The weather was pretty good the whole way, despite dire predictions of dumping rain. Personally, I think THIS is what saved us:

Ok...So Uber-Hubby made quacking noises every time he rode past me, but pretty much everyone I talked to today totally believed in the power of the yellow rain hat. Don't hate.

Here's something else cool that we saw at the bike ride this morning:

Zoiks! Where's my Scooby snacks?

Anyway...You'll note that I've revised my mileage goal that I want to hit before leaving on the bike trip. 1500 was just way too ambitious, especially since I didn't know how much time I would be spending away from my regular job location (that 2 week period plus most of the next 2 weeks as well), which means I only have time to ride after work, never mind the impending arrival of various family members for Uber-Hubby's graduation. 1000 is much more doable. I'll take another look at the overall summer mileage goal after we get back from our trip.

Tonight was my women's hockey team party with Hot Flash. We took second in the state this year, a big improvement over last year, and no small feat when you consider that it's only our 3rd year in existence. I was a good girl, though. I packed my SSHE meal in a cooler and had that instead of the catered food, though I did have a little dessert and some chips & guacamole. Oh well...Considering my 5 hours of cycling this morning, I figure I'm okay. The party was good fun...We tie-dyed team t-shirts and watched the video that PROVES we were robbed in the championship game of the state tournament. I was also REALLY flattered that several people on the team said they wanted me to still be on the roster next season, even though U-H and I are moving to Mankato and I won't be available for at least half the games. It's been a long time since I felt included like that. I know several of my team mates read this blog, so THANK YOU.

My tie-dye job came out great. U-H says it looks like a professional stoner did it, LOL. Pictures to come after it dries.

Until then, get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nice ride, but that's a gay little hat.

That's us riding after work today. Uber-Hubby is practicing taking pictures of us using his new X-Shot...It's a telescoping stick that screws into the bottom of his digital camera, so you can do self portraits and stuff without looking like the camera is right there in your face. No more having to ask strangers to take your picture! Sadly, U-H felt it necessary to buy another cycling cap, aka "That Gay Little Hat". Seriously...Just look at that thing. He's threatening to wear it in every single vacation picture on our bike trip, "just for me"...There may have to be some kind of "accident". Maybe I could somehow disguise it as a dog toy & then blame it all on Rocky. Hmmmm....

Anyway...That's another awesome ride this week, and this time we checked out some new trails that connect Elm Creek Park Reserve with other regional trail systems. We're very lucky to live in a place with such great bike paths.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

It's the fault of the unwashed masses.

Being sick sucks. The weather has finally been nice this weekend, but I've done nothing but lay on the couch and snooze. Well, there WAS the expedition downtown last night to retrieve my drunken husband and his friends that were celebrating their impending graduation, but that was pre-planned. I also took Rocky to the dog park this afternoon in an effort to get at least SOME sun and fresh air, but I wimped and took the car instead of hooking up the bike trailer and giving him a ride. I've just been sooooo tired the last few days.

After working in my company's Billing and Collections Department for the last 10 months or so (with my only patient contact being over the phone), I spent the last two weeks back in my old clinic, covering the front desk duties. Dozens of strangers crossing my path every day, and no telling what germs they carried around with them. The building itself is about 40 years old and has a history of environmentally questionable issues, not the least of which is mold in the basement because it leaks with hard rain down there.

Sigh...Big surprise, at the tail end of the two weeks, I started feeling loagy in the back of my throat on Wednesday, made myself go to Uber-Hubby's Senior Dinner on Thursday night, and had almost completely lost my voice by Friday. My ears felt plugged up and people were constantly asking me what the heck was wrong with me. I thankfully managed to leave work early that afternoon and have basically spent the entire weekend snoozing on the couch. I haven't slept this much in YEARS, but I'm hoping it pays off because I really want to ride to work tomorrow morning.

Needless to say, no progress on weight loss this week. It's a bummer, but back in the old days things could have been MUCH worse. I'm just glad to be on the mend.

If you're reading this, go take your Vitamin C. Even YOU, Uber-Hubby. You know right where it is, too.

Remember....Get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off

Friday, May 2, 2008

My husband's ass is famous

Ok...So I figured out a long time ago that Uber-Hubby has a fabulous looking rear end, but who knew that it would one day gain him world wide recognition? CLICK HERE to read all about it. His ass now apparently runs in the same circles as J-Lo and Kim Kardashian. Yikes.

Don't get me wrong...I'm down with gay dudes and all that, but {insert Z formation triple snap here} HANDS OFF, honey. He's mine. :-)

This seems a particularly appropriate time to say

Get off the couch and
Pedal Your Fat Ass Off