sheltering in (a very nice) place

Happy housiversary to us! Yep, one year ago today we moved into our Rim Drive house, and I have to say that considering we have been "forced" to spend a lot of time here lately, it was an excellent decision.

Great Room and view

Tuesday was our wedding anniversary, too; I joked on Facebook that the 28th was houses, and the 29th facemasks and toilet paper. Who knows what our 30th (!!) will bring next year?

Happy Anniversary (champagne and view)

Of course the Covid-19 pandemic has affected our lives, but we are fortunate enough in our situation that it has not been terrible or terrifying. I work at home anyway, so the only difference is that my cow-orkers (yes, that's deliberate, a habit from my old talk.bizarre days) are also online during our meetings - and actually, this has caused us to switch from a voice-only plus screencast type of meeting to Google Meet and Zoom, where we all see each other, and I think it has made me feel a bit more part of the group. Britt is mostly retired and so things aren't all that different for him, either; he still spends a lot of time on the phone, no change there! Our ski areas never reopened, but after a month of closure and putting new systems in place, the golf course did, so Britt has started playing again.

I'm still running, even though the other race I'd registered for, the Steamworks Half Marathon in early June, just canceled. (In addition to Canyonlands, which was supposed to be mid-March, and canceled the previous week.) I like running, though, so even without a race I'm happy to get out and enjoy the world. Our White Rim bike trip, which would have been next weekend, was also canceled, but we're still hoping that the hut trip in late June will be allowed to proceed (though I'm dubious it will). I feel bad for people who are truly stuck at home, or in tiny apartments in cities (like our Barcelona friends, who can only go out for grocery trips), but our governor recognizes the importance Coloradans place on outdoor recreation, and it's considered the necessity it is - provided, of course, that one practices proper social distancing:

Be the llama!

So we have gotten out for longish rides on the mountain bikes a few times, which has been a lot of fun, and I'm running around the neighborhood most days. I haven't ridden my e-bike that much because when I've gone shopping (twice in the past four weeks, go me!) I want to get more stuff than will fit in my panniers. But I did ride down to a quiet country road to do a run last week, locking my bike by my favorite bakery, and then bought bread there. (They only let one person in at a time now, but it was a nice day, and nobody really minded standing in a sparse 6-foot-apart line.) I also rode over to the college (a mile and a half) to pick up some eggs, greens, and bacon from the college-associated farm collective which does my CSA, though that won't start until next month. I'll be getting more eggs from them, as well as honey, on Tuesday.

We've done a few social distancing happy hours over Zoom and Hangouts and WhatsApp, and a friend had a Zoom birthday party for her 40th, but really, I think we're just antisocial people who are happy to spend time together in our wonderful house.

I hope all of you are healthy and happy and doing well! In conclusion:

Sunrise alpenglow

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So today I was going to run the Canyonlands Half again, for the first time in some years, but (probably to nobody's surprise) it was canceled due to the need for social distancing. The company that has taken it over, Mad Moose Productions, offered runners the choice to run 13.1 on their own and send in the GPS track or Strava link to receive a medal and t-shirt, or a 65% credit on a future Mad Moose race up to and including next year's Canyonlands, which is what I opted for as I'm terrible at making a race effort on my own. We had originally planned to just go to Moab anyway and go mountain biking, but the weather's terrible, off-and-on rain with hail and lightning all day, and really, it's not so bad being stuck in our beautiful house watching the storms go by. This is a photo from off our back patio earlier in the week, sunrise fog rolling through the valley:

Fog in the valley

I've been riding my e-bike a lot again, and it's great; also running, and last weekend we got out on the mountain bikes and did a little dirt-road riding. The ski area claims 11" from these past storms, after pretty much zip for the last three weeks, so maybe we'll go skiing again on Monday! ETA: Nope, Governor Polis has closed all ski resorts for a week. At first I thought that was silly, because how do you spread/catch a virus when you're all bundled up in mittens and parkas? Well, duh, when you stop for lunch at the restaurant, or use the restroom, you take off your ski gloves - and lift lines (not that we have them at our tiny place) and chairlifts put you closer than 6 feet to other people. So I'm bummed, but I get it.

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review, preview

Hi, not dead. :-) I started dealing with Spain photos and then got massively distracted by end-of-year things and stalled out over here, oops? But have a review/preview for last year and next.

Running: I just totaled up my running mileage, and I ran 1145 miles in 2019. That's more than I've run in a year since 2016, though it's much less than my more competitive years 2009-2014. Biggest month (157 miles) was May, getting ready for the Steamworks Half Marathon; smallest (12) was July, after I broke my toe doing laundry after the holiday (CLUMSY IS ME). Not much racing, just a 5K in April, Steamworks, and the Reach the Beach relay.

This year I'm considering running Canyonlands in Moab this March. I haven't run any of the Moab races since they were taken over by another race director a few years ago - my last was The Other Half in October 2016 - but I'm thinking it might be time to go back. Probably won't do RtB again this year, but not ruling it out.

Biking: We did our annual White Rim trip in 3 days rather than 4, and July 4th long weekend in Telluride, along with lots of local day mountain bike rides. We also bought e-bikes in late June, and as of the end of 2019 my odometer read 650 miles! I was riding about 40mpw in the summer, and I'm down to about 10mpw this winter, but I'm definitely still riding, mostly for small grocery trips and to go to the river trail for an occasional run.

This year, we again have a 3-day White Rim ride in April, which will be good training for...doing the Purgatory-to-Moab mountain bike ride in June, which we did before in 2016. Hopefully the weather will be better and we will not be plagued with mud! I'm also looking forward to riding my e-bike a lot this summer in lieu of driving, again.

Skiing: Britt bought new skis at the end of last season and new boots at the beginning of this one. We went twice in December and are hoping to go 1-2x/week this season. (Including tomorrow!)

Hiking and backpacking: Last year we did quite a bit of dayhiking, but no backpacking (the broken toe put a crimp in my style!). This year I hope to get out for at least a Weminuche backpack in the summer, plus maybe some desert hiking in the spring or fall. If we travel (see below) that will be another hiking trip!

Travel: We spent three weeks in Catalunya, Spain, but I am sucking at getting my photos up on Flickr and doing a write-up here. Maybe someday? This fall, I'm hoping to go do one of the classic walking trails in Scotland or Ireland, but ugh, that means planning.

I hope your 2019 was fun, friends, and I hope 2020 is even better!

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Beach, reached!

I am back from Spain and sloooowly putting together a trip report. But, as you may have forgotten, my vacation actually began with a trip to New Hampshire for the purposes of running across (much of) it, so I want to put down a few things about that, mostly for my own purposes (but you can read, too). Also some photos, taken by my teammates (mostly by David Sheehan).

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belated update

I have been intending to make a new house post, but lost my Round Tuit, as they say. But: the landscaping is done, and the furniture's in place, and most of our artwork is on the walls. We are still waiting to get back some of the artifacts that were discovered during our pre-construction archaeological survey, so we can display them in the niches in our rock wall; we have put some of our other treasures in those spots for now, but we will need to have glass display shelves made for those niches. I don't have time (see below) to take photos and make a nice fancy post, but have a picture from yesterday morning:

Morning visitor

Anyway, the reason I'm posting now is because I'm heading to the airport Real Soon Now. First I'm off to Boston, and thence in a van to New Hampshire, for the Reach the Beach relay with a team of mostly internet-friends. (I ran this race once before, in 2015, with the same team.) On Sunday I'm flying down to Virginia to spend the week with my parents, now in assisted living, and help my brother prepare their house for sale. Britt will join us on Friday night, and on Saturday morning...we are off to Barcelona for three weeks! We have not been on a proper vacation in some time because of the whole home-building and moving thing, so we are hoping it will be an enjoyable and relaxing get-away.

We've got Google Fi so I won't be completely cut off from the internet, but I will likely not be posting here (because typing on a phone is ugh) or reading my flists (because busy). I may be posting photos on Instagram (because it's easy): I may not be! In any event, see you (for, you know, social media values of 'see') in October.

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ebikes are awesome!

It's been a month since Britt and I bought our Priority Embark ebikes. Verdict: YAYAYAYAY!

In this month, I have ridden mine 172 miles! The longest ride was ~25 miles: a bunch of errands, followed by a long ride up a dirt road into the mountains for a picnic, and then back home. But I also rode 6 miles each way to a doctor's office twice, as well as lots and lots of shorter rides: to the library, to go running along the river or at the high school track, to the farmers market, to the grocery store, to the recycle station...basically everywhere I would otherwise have to drive.

I'm a lot more comfortable with the throttle-style gearshift for the continuously variable transmission now. Also, it's become second nature to turn up the motor assist going up hills, and turn it down on the flatter terrain. I rarely ride with the assist off completely, but I pretty much always strive for the combination of gearing and assist that means that I pedal against a little-but-not-a-lot-of resistance. This works out to being in eco or tour mode most of the time, with sport mode for hills and turbo mode for steep hills; I have only actually tracked my mileage after one battery charge, and that gave me 48 miles on the charge, woohoo! (I am trying to charge only to 80-90%, because that is better for long battery life, and I don't run the battery down completely because I want to be able to get home up the hill with some assist, so I suppose if I charged it all the way and ran it down all the way I'd get even more mileage.)

I bought some cheap (in both senses of the word) panniers, and they look ridiculous, but they work well for the purpose I require, that is, to carry groceries, empty bottles, and so on.

ebike and panniers

Look, I can carry a vase of flowers! (I bungeed the vase against the rack so it would stay vertical and not spill any water.) There is also a large bag of bok choi in there, behind the mail I just picked up from our mailbox, and two six-packs underneath. In the other pannier is my u-lock and the rest of my farmers market veggies and fruit.

I can get stuff in my panniers

This last photo also shows my mirror, which is so useful that now I keep looking at the space where the mirror should be but isn't on my mountain bike, as well as the cheesy little bell the city was giving away for free during Clean Commute Week last month. Today I installed what will hopefully be my last bit of extra bike gear, a handlebar-mounted water bottle cage, because it's been really hot and I've been getting thirsty while biking around town doing my errands.

If this were a real blogger's review, I'd probably talk about the belt drive, or the motor, or other technical stuff. But you know what? I don't actually notice any of these things. I just notice that I can get on my bike, and haul stuff around, and ride places, and not get overly sweaty or tired despite the hills and the heat - but also that I feel like I'm still getting some exercise. I bought this bike to fulfill a specific purpose, and it does so unobtrusively and awesomely, and this makes me happy!

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waterfalls and fireworks and bicycles, oh my

As some of you may remember, last summer we took a minivacation in Telluride for Britt's birthday, mountain biking and hiking. A few months ago we attended a local Democratic Party fundraiser, and one of the silent auction items was a July 4th stay at a cabin in Telluride, donated by the cabin's owner (an acquaintance who is a stalwart Dem); since we had such a good time last year, I decided to bid on the cabin, and I got it! So on Wednesday afternoon we packed up the pickup with our mountain bikes and hiking gear, coffee and beer and snacks and things to make breakfast and lunch with, and headed out of town.

On the way to Telluride we passed Memorial Rock, our first time on this road since it fell in May. The huge scar on the hillside where the rocks came down is as impressive as the rock itself! We also noticed how much snow still remained in the mountains - what a change from last year. We got to the cabin, which was basically a tiny house in the backyard of another house, put our things inside, and then walked the few blocks to the main street to have some dinner.

The next morning we had coffee and blueberry pancakes, packed a lunch and snacks, and hopped on the bikes. On our visit last summer we rode the first half of the Galloping Goose trail, which mostly follows an old railroad grade. This trip we were determined to ride all the way to Lizard Head Pass! But that would be easier said than done; shortly after the climb out of Ilium, about 10 miles into our ride, we had a moderately intimidating creek crossing. It turned out to be only the first of many. Last year, of course, a month later and after a terrible snow year, the creeks were only trickles.

IMG_20190704_113907 IMG_20190704_114840

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my new electric vehicle

new e-bike!

My new electric vehicle: a Priority Embark e-bike!

When we first told our friends we were building a new house, most of them said, with dismay, "But your current house is so nice!" And yeah, there's a lot I loved about it, but when I thought about it I realized there was only one thing I was going to really miss when we moved: being able to walk or bike everywhere. Living right smack downtown we were about half a mile from the big grocery store and about a mile from the natural foods coop; half a mile from the library and a mile and a half from the rec center. We put around 5000 miles a year on our pickup truck. It was not uncommon for us to not get in the truck for days, or even a week or more.

Our new house is not that far from town (technically we're still in city limits) and we're easily within cycling distance of all the places we used to walk, but the mesa-top location that gives us those awesome views also gives us a 300-foot climb to get back home. It's doable - and we've done it - but not carrying 40 pounds of groceries or after a track workout with the running club. I'd long felt I really wanted a utility bike for just riding around town; I felt kind of silly doing errands on my fancy mountain bike, and it can't take a rack so I always had to wear a backpack for grocery runs. With our planned move, it made even more sense to get an e-bike! So last fall I started researching.

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It's interesting, actually. Riding the e-bike is like...riding a bike. It's not a motorcycle; it doesn't have a throttle. I don't really notice the boost except for starting from a dead stop, and going up hills. And it's not like I'm not riding up the hill - it's just that the hill doesn't seem nearly as steep as it does on my other bike. Which is exactly what I want!

I'm still getting used to the continuously variable transmission, which operates by twisting a ring on the handgrip (sort of throttle-like) but I keep forgetting which direction makes it a higher gear vs a lower gear. And we need to get mirrors, I think, and I want to figure out a grocery-carrying method. But so far, so good. I am looking forward to using our new electric vehicles all summer (and hopefully sometimes in the winter, too)!

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