Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RAGBRAI Special: 1st Annual Team Beaver Bar Day -- Will It Happen?

Welcome to another RAGBRAI Special. Today I am riding from Emmetsburg to Forest City today and you get a pre-written post about today's adventure.

I did it.

I went out on a limb and challenged Team Beaver to visit every bar on the route. The fun part is that there are 2 bars on the Century Loop! We have never done a loop on RAGBRAI and I figured this year was a good time to do it since it is sandwiched between two 40-ish mile days.

The Introduction from  the Beaver Tale

Will Team Beaver meet my challenge -- or will it fall flat on its face? To be honest, you will probably have to wait until Normie's RAGBRAI posts in January to find out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

RAGBRAI Special: The Kid Shuffle

Hello! Welcome to Part 2 of the RAGBRAI Special! I am pre-writing some RAGBRAI-related posts (See yesterday's here). Today, I am riding from Rock Valley (where hopefully we had a wonderfully restful night) to Okoboji.

So, you may be wondering, "Where the heck are the kids?!?"

The answer is...everywhere. Between my mom and dad, B's mom and husband, B's dad, and B's sister (Aunt Goo) -- the kids are well-covered. We decided to divide and conquer, because, let's be honest, taking care of both kids can be a bit overwhelming. Also, it seems to make grandparents happier if we split 'em...you know, more Smithers offspring to share :)

In true Smithers fashion, the kid shuffle is complicated. I tried to schedule it evenly and in chunks so that the kids could get into a rhythm with each grandparent for a few days before moving on. Plus, I went to Iowa 4 days before RAGBRAI to get them used to everyone.

I am nervous to be away from my babies for so long. I know they will be in good hands -- but it is still pretty hard. Hopefully, my divide-and-conquer-prepare-the-crap-out-of-everything-and-anticipate-all-potential-hiccups approach will help everything go smoothly.

Right.

Oh, except that my kids won't let anything go uncomplicated. The day we flew into Des Moines, my happy squishy baby became an angry clingy baby. Fast forward three sleep-deprived days...and now I know that it is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease.

How do I know?

This.

Hand and Foot Craziness. There is more on the rest of her body, too!
According to Dr. Google, it is caused by a virus and the sick feeling lasts 2-3 days with a rash that lasts a week. I am writing this on Day 4, so hoping that things are on the up and up. Also hoping that she doesn't make life miserable for all the grandparents. Fingers crossed.

Stay tuned for a post RAGBRAI report on how things went!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

RAGBRAI Special: The Beaver Tale

Welcome to the magical week that is RAGBRAI! It is too hard to try to blog from the road (I've tried it before), and let's be honest...any extra mental capacity is not going to go towards writing. Pfft.
 
I have saved a few RAGBRAI-related topics for this week to auto-publish while I am gone. Even though I am not around to write, you get a little treat while I am riding. So, while this post is publishing and instantly being read by all 4 of my followers (It's okay...I already know that you stop everything you are doing to read my posts right away), I am on my way from good ol' Des Moines to Rock Valley where (hopefully!) Normie has secured us some great camp spots for the night. It is the only town where we don't have a stay secured. (Okay...fine...if you HAVE to know. I am actually writing this on a Thursday afternoon while pumping...but let's just focus on the more glamorous things I am doing when it publishes. K? K.)
 
Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. RAGBRAI.
 
There is one very important part of my role on Team Beaver that I haven't ever really detailed on See Teacher Run. The Beaver Tale.

Beaver Tale Header
 
The Beaver Tale was actually born on the Brewery 100, but quickly became a part of the RAGBRAI experience. It is sort of like "Need to Know Info" for the day married "look at all the random crap I found on the Interwebs" and cheated with "Silly challenges and shenanigans". It is always 1 page (front and back), printed on bright paper, and created (painstakingly! -- more on that later) ahead of time.
 
There are 5 main staples of a good Beaver Tale.
 
1. The Map
Beavers gotta know where they have been -- and where they are going! In fact, half of my town stopping time is spent analyzing how far is left, how far apart the towns are, and which direction we are riding. So, when I create the BT, I am sure to take a snapshot of the route map published by RAGBRAI. This used to be much harder -- then Normie showed me the snipping tool and it is easy-peasy.

Tomorrow's route map
2. The Host Info
This part is much more entailed and is actually the last part I do on the BT. For a couple reasons. First, we don't always have the addresses and contact info for our hosts until the couple weeks leading up to RAGBRA. And, second, I hate it. I basically have to toggle between the town's RAGBRAI site, Google Maps, and MapMyRide. The town's site shows me details of how bikes enter the town and I then use google maps to figure out the best route for us to find the host house. Finally, I use MapMyRide to actually map a route to put a screenshot in the BT. I used to try to draw arrows and such in Word, but that was pain in the butt. Finally, after a couple years I have a "system" that makes the process much quicker and easier.

The directions always look simple. They never are.

3. Memes/Comics
Normally this part is really hard. I like to find the perfect funny little jokes/pictures that are funny -- but don't take too much brain power to understand. We don't have brain power to spare on RAGBRAI. Apparently, last year's "Lance Meme of the Day" was a hit. This year I had the bonus of spending A LOT of time surfing the internet on my phone while nursing a squishy little baby. So, every time I found something funny online, I would email myself the link with the subject line "Beaver Tale." Then, when it came to writing the BT, I just searched my email and Viola!

From Last Year's BT

Another one...

4. The Scavenger Hunt
The highlight of the BT! There is one "item" introduced each day, but it is cumulative. So, the item doesn't need to be found that day, but all of them should be found by the end of the week. This means that the Day 6 and 7 "items" need to easier to find because riders have less time to find them. Last year, I switched to an all photo hunt (nobody wants to be carrying extra crap around in their jersey pockets). I also added in Flat Steven (that's me!) to be included with some of the pics, since I was anything but flat at home gestating squishy baby.

This year, Normie suggested that I make the scavenger hunt a reflection of the fun that I want people to be having. Game on. A new addition this year is Flat Ranger Dave, since he can't be on RAGBRAI because he has "races" and "birthdays" to attend to.

An example from last year

5. Team Brewhaha Bar List
This is not as much of a needed part of the BT (until this year...ah, yes, that is foreshadowing!), but I include it anyway. Team Brewhaha researches each town and lists the bars that will be on the route. Most of the time we stumble upon good bars or hang out in Beer Ghettos. However, it always good to have an idea of the bars in each town.

Bars!
Writing the Beaver Tale is a little stressful. The best part of the BT is the element of surprise, which means creating it without any input. Sometimes I am not sure it will go over well or if it fun enough. Beavers seem to enjoy it...so I will keep up the good fight.

I decided to take even more risks this year. I am nervous as to how they will be received and you will hear more about it here on Tuesday in Day 3 of the RAGBRAI Special.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

So. This Happened.

I was on the fence about Fat Cyclist's 100 Miles of Nowhere. See, about a zillion years ago said he was going to ride 100 miles on his rollers. A bunch of people thought he couldn't do it -- so, in true Fatty fashion, he did it to prove them wrong. Then, he made it a thing. Great swag bags, t-shirts, donations to a cancer charity...and all the crazies that read his blog loved it.

B did it a couple years ago. You basically choose a ridiculously small route and ride 100 miles. People do trainers, driveways, around the block, etc. You then write the story and send it to Fatty and he publishes his favorites.

I have wanted to do it. And this year the swag included a 100 Miles of Nowhere JERSEY instead of t-shirt. I texted Normie on registration day to tell her that she should do it. I thought I was opening a great conversation. Instead, this happened.



Um. Okay. I guess I am doing 100 MoN!

I was out and about with Sprocket, and I wasn't sure how fast the ride would fill up, so I pulled over and parked the car so I could use my cell to sign up.



I want my 100 MoN to mean something. The profits from the registration are going to Camp Kesem, which is a camp designed for kids with cancer and their parents. However, I want to go beyond that. I want it to be creative and great, but most of all, personally meaningful. I got an amazing idea yesterday and Normie and I are already discussing the details of what I hope to be an epic adventure -- and it could be a doozie. So, Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seven Reflections of Brewery 100

Normie over at Half The Rice, is an ah-mazing story teller. She can tell stories about things that happened when I was there, and I still find myself enthralled. I have found over the past few years that trying to parallel that with my own recount of events is...well...uninspiring. Yeah, yeah. I am sure others might enjoy it (all 5 of you), but I find it really hard to write.
 
So, for this Brewery 100 report, it is not about retelling the story, but reflecting on the experience in my own unique Smithers way.
 
First, pumping is more fun with beer.



Pump #1 at New Belgium -- just puttin' in the time.

Pump #2 at City Star. Muuuuch better with some hopped goodness.
After pumping sans brew at New Belgium -- I set the ground rules rolling into City Star. "Normie -- here is how it is going to go down. I am going to go pump and you are going to bring me a beer. Your pick. K? K."
 
Normie delivered -- something hoppy, since I was drinking outside the box. As she knocked, she admitted that the pump intimidated her a little bit. Later she explained that anything that seemed "dairy cow-ish" just seemed weird. However, she did express a bit of remorse over not having realized her role in the beer-pumping combination. I am sure she will perfect this skill on RAGBRAI :)
 
Second, drinking outside the box is fun!
Once I was done pumping at New Belgium, I grabbed a pint of their Snapshot -- a nice wheat beer that sort of tasted like Lemon Ass. Upon sitting down I was mocked for my wheat beer tunnel vision. So, I decided to drink outside the box for the rest of the day. I chose the hoppiest beers I could find at all the breweries. Sure, they made my tongue feel like burning...but they gave me super powers.

Hoppy!

Third, hoppy beers make me ride fast
It's true. B and I had a fun little pissing match rolling into town at mile 98. He drafted. It made me mad. Normie said it was magical.
 
Fourth, all day babysitters are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e.
We lined up a teacher from Sprocket and Spark's daycare to come over for the day. She arrived at 5:15 a.m. and ended up staying till 9:45 p.m. The day cost us $160. Money well spent, but, dang...pricey! Also, I realized at about 5:30, when the babysitter asked what the kids should eat during the day, that we didn't really have much easy-to-make food in the house. Rookie mistake.

Fifth, gravel is not that bad!
After leaving City Star in Berthoud, we veered off the planned route and took a different way back towards town. A few miles in to this new route -- too many to consider turning around -- we encountered gravel. Not one of us skipped a beat. Mile 90ish into a 100 mile ride, and we rode gravel. Ma.Sing.Ga took it like a champ and we got a quick gravel selfie.

Jay Leno Chin.
Sixth, Normie really knows how to spruce up a selfie.

 
Halfway Selfie with part of B's head
Finished at Oskar Blues! 100 miles!
And, finally, the hard one.
B and I have been talking over the past couple weeks and the Brewery 100 was just missing something this year. Everyone was more conservative -- to avoid the craziness that blossomed last year -- and everything was much more subdued. It kind of felt a little obligation-y. Like it had lost its shine.

Maybe because there wasn't a ton of lead up? Normie and Ma.Sing.Ga came in only a day or so before the ride. Maybe it has just gotten stale? Maybe limiting brews brings it down? Maybe I've just done too many centuries? Maybe it was too early in the summer? Maybe my presence adds a "no" tone to the day?

I'm not sure. But B and I both agree that it just felt like we were slogging through it this year. Like it wasn't quite the magical event that we have enjoyed in the past. It was great company...great beers...and great conversation, but it just didn't quite have the excitement as year's past.

I am sure we will discuss this on RAGBRAI, but I think we need to mix things up next year...or take a year off? I am curious to hear how Normie and Ma.Sing.Ga felt about it.

Regardless, it felt good to have one more Brewery 100 in the books!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Run Like a Cyclist

B reminded me a while back that my main source of preparation for Brewery 100 Version 3.0 (2012) was running. Sprocket was 18 months at the time and I did get out on the bike once in a while, but it was few and far between. Instead, I did a lot of running to prepare for the Pikes Peak Ascent.

I was pumped for this summer because I figured I could just put one or both kids in the Chariot and ride the trails. BUT then the floods last fall knocked out quite a few trails, so that was no longer really an option. So, B and I have been taking advantage of solo nap time riding on the weekends and both kids go to daycare on Wednesday and Fridays, so I have sort of used those days for riding.

And...AND...wait for it -- I have been running. Yes. You read that correctly. Running! On Tuesdays, I take Sprocket the Dictator to daycare and just have Spark at home. So, I have made a habit of running with both kids in the Chariot, dropping Sprocket off at daycare, and then continue running with just Spark.

I found a nice little loop that is over 6 miles -- the farthest I have ran since 2012. I love this loop because it has a little bit of everything.

A little bit of trail with green

A little bit of trail with a creek

A little bit of suburban back road


A little bit of crushed gravel trail

A little bit of Squishy Baby -- this is her Chris Farley Face
I did this weekly run for three weeks before Brewery 100 -- and then took the week off...and then got the stomach flu. So, on Sunday I convinced B to take Sprocket with him to go food shopping and I took Spark out for a run. I left by 9:30 -- hoping to Beat the Heat. However, I did not. It was Hooooot. I was feeling pretty sluggish, but pushed through.

The trails and roads were busy with other runners. I thought it was funny that all the other runners I saw were running on the other side of the road -- against traffic, which is typical for runners. I, however, have never been able to overcome my habit of running with traffic...just like I do on my bike. I guess I just run like a cyclist.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Managing the Hanger Part 3: Lessons Learned

After BhangerGate 2014 (You know -- hunger-induced anger exacerbated by my boob/nursing status), I knew that I needed to have a plan to manage it during longer rides. Specifically, Brewery 100 and RAGBRAI.

There was a training for school that I wanted to go to on B's birthday, so we postponed his birthday bike date ride by 10 days. We ended up riding about 65 miles up to Loveland and back. More about that ride later...right now I want to focus on what I learned about managing the Bhanger (don't worry, the h is silent).

Lesson #1: Planning
To eat enough on the bike -- I have to have enough with me. On our 65 miler I had Clif Bars with me and ended up eating 3 throughout the day (although I shared some with B). By the end of the day I was definitely over the flavor/heaviness. So, for the Brewery 100 I also added some Clif Shot Bloks into the mix. Not because they were my first choice, but because we were at Target and that is what Target had. I had used them before while running and had a good experience. The nice thing about the Shot Bloks was that I could eat them easier on the move so that I didn't have to make everybody stop.

Lesson #2: Respect the Bhanger
The key is to eat the very second that I feel it coming on. There were a few times that I started to feel the general lethargy that accompanies a calorie deficit and would tell myself -- I will just make it a few more miles, or B would say "I think I see a nice shady spot in a little ways. Let's stop there."

No. I was impressed by my body's ability to so quickly affect my emotions. I would be on top of the world...feel the bhanger...and then be doubting myself more and more with each pedal stroke -- all within 2 miles. As soon as I had something to eat -- I was recharged and back in control of my emotions.

Lesson #3: Notice the Patterns
One thing I have noticed on both the 65-miler and the Brewery 100 is that I am way more hungry in the morning. Part of this is because we tend to ride straight thru with less stops in the morning, but part of it is my natural need for calories in the morning vs. afternoon. Noticing this pattern has helped me utilize my snacks in an efficient way. I think this will work well with RAGBRAI because I will be prepared to eat my own snacks in the morning when we tend to ride through more towns instead of stopping. Also, the afternoon often includes hopped calories.

Lesson #4: Surround Myself with Others that Respect the Bhanger
Normie has already threatened to fill a musette bag with goodies and set it as my caloric quota for the day. And I think that Ma.Sing.Ga appreciated my every-10-miles-snack-stops on the Brewery 100 as it helped her track the miles. B was very supportive and encouraging on our 65-miler...lots of "Boss, do you need to stop?" prompting. It was adorable. I am sure by halfway through the week during RAGBRAI that everyone will be sick of my food stops, but for now it is nice to know that everyone is on board to feed The Boss.

Lesson #5: Do What I Need to Do
At the end of the day, my boobs and my bhanger are my business (MYOB: Mind Your Own Bhanger). Of course I want people to be supportive and understanding, but I think the bottom line is that I need to be really cognizant of managing my nutrition on my own. The more that I can control, the better off I am going to be on RAGBRAI. My goal is to still be the Maybe Woman, and I don't want food needs to bring me down.

I have decided to pump on RAGBRAI. It know that others think it is stupid. And crazy. And it probably is, but I am going to do it. So, if you are going to make a decision that is probably going to annoy others, then one must be confident in that decision and be willing to personally deal with managing the consequences of that decision. MYOB.

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