Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tetanus in Tucson

Not an auspicious start to my Tucson trip. I sliced open my thumb attempting to cut through a zip-tie that was too tight to wedge scissors through. I spent about 2 hours in the Urgent Care center and ended up with three stitches and a tetanus shot. Doh!

On the bright side, it was about 75 degrees and sunny.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Maui Trip Part 2

Well, it took being trapped on a plane to Phoenix to get me to write up part two of the Maui trip. Pretty sad, but here it is. I hope it is enjoyable. I also hope that I will be able to write about my current trip before July. :-)

Tuesday

Our first full day at the Kaanapali Beach Resort was, for me, the most anticipated day of the entire trip. I had been planning my ziplining experience for a couple of weeks. It was the one activity that I was looking forward to most eagerly and for which I had made advance reservations.

I've always been a bit of a thrill-seeker, and while ziplining wasn't really something that was on my radar screen, as soon as I heard about it I desperately wanted to try it. Unfortunately, I also knew that this was one adventure that I would be doing alone, as Geoff had planned his entire Maui trip around the rental bike and my parents aren't into living life on the edge.

I arrived at the zipline office early. I was super excited and also a little trepidatious. I actually had no idea what I had signed myself up for, and suddenly wondered what I was doing there, and felt decidedly alone. I went to the restroom and when I came back there was a group of four older women (likely in their early 60s) in the waiting room.

I must have looked a little nervous, because one of the women kindly leaned over towards me and said something like, "Don't worry - it'll be great! We've all done this before and it's fantastic!"

I laughed a little and said something like, "Oh, thanks. That's good to hear. By the way, where have you ziplined before?"

She replied, "We all ziplined for the first time last year in Northern Thailand."

OMG. Right then and there I decided that some day I would have to zipline in Northern Thailand. How cool is that? I immediately loved these women.

Anyway, we arrived at the mountainside hut, met our guides, and got kitted up. They took us to the first cable and showed us how our harnesses were secured to the line, where to put our hands, and how to jump/run off the platform. What??

One of the guides said, "No worries, I'll show you," and off he went. Yee-haw!! Wow!

I still felt slightly anxious, but the nice older women who had done it before jumped off the edge of the world with abandon, and who was I not to follow?

It was FANTASTIC! Completely exhilarating and tremendous. I loved every minute of it. The minute my harness was attached to the line, I had metaphorically jumped in with both feet and was not about to look back. And I'm so glad that I did.

Eight lines of increasingly longer distances, starting at 350' and culminating at 1000'. On the last one I held on with only one hand and used the other one to take video on my little digital camera. Anyone interested in that is welcome to view it at the bottom of this post.

I would zipline again, if given the opportunity, in an instant. It was one of the most thrilling things that I have ever done (and I'm a bike racer).

I got back from my adventure full of energy with lots of stories to tell, met my parents and Geoff (who had just returned from a 4 hour ride around the northern coastline of West Maui) for lunch, and then we all went into Lahaina and explored the town for a while.

More zipline photos.

Lahaina photos


Wednesday

On Wednesday, Geoff and I went on a kayak/snorkel trip. This was the second-most anticipated activity for me. I have always wanted to try sea kayaking. For some reason, however, I had always imagined that my first experience would be in coastal Maine, paddling in and out of coves surrounded by seals. Instead it was the cliffs of Maui and humpback whales

Geoff was also looking forward to this and took a day of the bike, which was nice because it meant that we got to do something together, as I had no intentions of cycling because I was still recovering from 'cross season (I know, I know - it was January already, and how much rest did I really need - but still).

Our previous kayaking experience has been in a tandem kayak on a lake in Norway, Maine. So we were not really that sure what to expect. It turned out that we had a tandem kayak in Maui as well. There were altogether 4 tandem kayaks and three single kayaks, including the instructor/guide.

He lined us all up on the beach with our kayaks and had us sit in them and explained and demonstrated how to paddle, how to turn, how to get out of the kayak in the middle of the ocean, and how to get back into the kayak in the middle of the ocean. Yikes. This was not Lake Norway.

While we were on the beach looking out at the water, we could see whales coming to the surface pretty much right in front of us. With our lesson finished, our guide told us to get in the water and paddle straight out toward the whales. We all paddled out until he told us to stop. We could no longer see the whales, because they had submerged, and we weren't really sure where they were or when and where they would resurface.

We waited, silently, bobbing up and down on the swells in the sun. It was warm, peaceful, and glorious. Eventually, we heard a sort of swishing sound, followed by more of a swoosh, and then we saw the mother whale rise majestically out of the water, no more than 100 yards from our kayak. She was followed shortly thereafter by her calf, and their male escort.

They were magnificent and wondrous. They spouted water out of their blowholes, and then slowly sunk back beneath the waves.

It was an incredible, magical, awesome moment that I will never forget.

After our own private whale sighting, we paddled our way around the sea cliffs over to the first of two different snorkeling sites. Geoff & I managed to put on our snorkeling equipment and slide out of the kayak without overturning it, and suddenly we were in a real life aquarium. It was wonderful to look at all of the fish and other creatures, but very quickly we became quite cold. It was quite windy and the water temperature was lower than we would have liked.

Sadly we didn't feel comfortable snorkeling very long, and got back into the kayak, where I experienced full body shivering, which was really quite extraordinary. My teeth were chattering so hard I was worried about chipping them, and my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn't tear open the packaging of the granola bar that the guide handed me.

I looked at Geoff and laughed, because he wasn't faring much better. It was actually pretty ridiculous that we were freezing in Maui. Next time we will get some wetsuits!

We headed to the second snorkeling stop, and unfortunately there were lots of catamarans and boats anchored there and it was quite crowded with other snorkelers. It was still too cold, and so we headed back for the beach not long afterwards.

In spite of the cold, it was still a wonderful experience. The snorkeling was great (although physically unpleasant), and the whale sighting was way over the top - something not at all anticipated and yet the highlight of the trip.

That afternoon we met up with Mom & Dad again for lunch, then we all went to the Maui Aquarium, which was brand new and quite good. We headed back to Lahaina and went to Aloha Mixed Grill for dinner.

Kayak photos

Thursday

The next day was Geoff's grand ascent of Haleakala and I went hiking with Mom & Dad.

Haleakala was for Geoff what ziplining was for me, the most anticipated event of the trip. He got up early and drove the rental car over to Paia, which is more or less the "official" ride start of the Haleakala climb. He spent the next 3 hours and 50 minutes climbing the mountain. I believe it was about 38 miles and 10,000 feet. (It only took 1 hour and 15 minutes to come down.)

While Geoff completed one of the most epic rides, I joined my Mom & Dad for a "rainforest and waterfalls" hike. We were picked up at the hotel and along with 4 other people, were driven over to the other side of the island on the Hana Highway, where we hiked with a naturalist as our guide.

We learned to recognize wild ginger and lots of other unique plants that I will never remember. We ate papaya and passion fruit right off the tree, and learned about the curative power of the Noni fruit. We donned Japanese water shoes and waded through a stream in order to walk behind a beautiful waterfall. We hiked some more (including some really large boulders which required pulling yourself up using a climbing rope) and I was extremely proud of my mother for not only going along with us, but putting up with it willingly and without complaint.

It was a really interesting experience and we got to explore a beautiful part of the island, off the beaten path, with someone who could teach us all about the flora and fauna inhabiting it.

Later on, we all met back at the hotel and I think Geoff collapsed on the couch and napped while my parents sat by the pool and I went for a jog on the beach. We had dinner at the hotel and compared notes about the day.

Rainforest & waterfall photos

End of Part 2.


video

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Musings

Most of my recent posts have been about what a nice group ride I had last weekend, and while that is still true, you have heard it all before and probably don't care about the gritty details (especially as I keep failing to photographically document anything).

It's been great that the weekends have been so nice for riding outside. Hopefully soon I'll start to feel like I can train outside after work during the week, but for now I'm still going to spin classes at the gym. I'm not going to be doing any trainer workouts, because the desire for riding outside is too strong and the motivation to train indoors in my home is too weak. Spin class is a nice compromise, because I'm surrounded by other people who I feel "competitive" against, with someone telling me what to do and when to do it, while playing great music that makes me want to get up and pedal with abandon.

Before we changed to daylight savings time and those more hardy than I decided to head for the hills during the week, there was a regular group doing trainer sessions at Cathy's house. This was nice because it was a time to chat (in-between intervals of course) and watch DVDs. One week (which I unfortunately missed) someone brought the movie Dirty Dancing, which led to finding a review of the current musical, which lead to purchasing tickets, which resulted in dinner in the city and a night out on the town.

It was a fun evening and we all had a great time, but it wasn't the best show I've ever seen. However, it certainly was enjoyable, and it's always fun to see what cyclists look like all dressed up in real clothes. Everyone looks so different - it's a treat.

I have to say, I'm really grateful to be part of an extended group of female cyclists (teammates, non-teammates, racers and non-racers) who are also good friends beyond the cycling scene. I've had my share of ups and downs recently, and it's been reassuring to know that these folks are there for me if I need them. They seem to just accept me for who I am and are happy to ride with me or go to movies with me or do yoga with me or chat equally about trivialities or life issues, whether on IM or over coffee.

Thanks, guys, for being there. It's wonderful to know that I don't have to ride by myself unless that's what I want. There are certainly rewards for riding alone - it's a great opportunity to clear you head and get your priorities back in sync (not to mention the requisite intervals). But for times when the motivation just isn't there and the will-power needs a little boost, the ability to rely on friends for companionship, support, and friendly competition is edifying.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Teased by Spring

Last weekend was beautiful, with temperatures hovering near 60 degrees. It was so nice, in fact, that I ignored my training plan, which called for a rest week. On Saturday I met my friends in Lexington for my new favorite route through Lincoln, Sudbury & Wayland. By the time I got home, I had logged 3 hours on the cyclo-computer.

Jean, Michele A, Sallie, Janet L, & Christine

Sunday, when I probably should have just been spinning easily for an hour, I rode with Janet R and Michele A from Lexington on a modified version of the Tuesday women's ride and ended up with 2.5 hours (and did I mention the unbelievable headwind?).

Of course all of this weekend activity was preceded by a 2.5 hour advanced yoga class on Friday night. After I got home on Sunday all I wanted to do was lie on the couch and not move for the rest of the day.

That's why it's taken me so long to update my blog this week. I have been feeling quite tired. I don't think it helped to wake up to an inch of snow on the ground on Monday morning. That was a shock to the system. After such a spring-like weekend, and the onset of daylight savings time, I was ready to put winter behind me. But no! New England always gives us snow just when we think it's all over, so why would this year be any different?

I was really hoping that a week in Hawaii would have helped dispel the winter blahs, but I am still longing for summer. I am so glad that I am going to escape to Arizona in a couple of weeks. I am seriously jonesing for some sunshine and temps above 60.