Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Break - Part 1: Racing, Building, Planting, and Packing

I can't believe it's Spring Break already because it seems like the semester just started.  In reality, there are just four weeks left after break, and then a week of finals.  Somehow, I haven't been as stressed about school as I normally am, and I think that's because I've been doing a relatively good job of staying on top of my assignments.  However, I have a few to do this week and have yet to do much with any of them...  I will probably need to be responsible and carve out some time.

So, I started the weekend off with work followed by a last minute assessment of my bike.  The tires I had just put on a couple days earlier were holding air and not holding air.  The ardent I have on the front is made of some of the thickest rubber I've ever seen, and that thing set a mighty tight bead that hasn't leaked a drop of air.  On the rear, the ignitor just didn't seem to want to cooperate.  I finally added some more sealant, blasted it up with air, and spun the living crap out of the wheel for a few minutes.  The next morning it was mostly full of air...

The King (Queen) of Burlingame Time Trial is a fun way to kick of the season and a rather fun race course with a little bit of everything except any major climbs.  Last year, my time was 49:20, but I didn't look that up until after I got home from the race Sunday.  After pre-ridng half of the course with Melissa, I checked that rear wheel again, and the tire seemed to be holding air - good thing because I definitely forgot to buy some CO2 for my pump.  Ooops.

There were 8 of us pre-registered and all 8 of us showed up.  Not only were there that many of us in expert, but 12 women signed up to race the sport category and 7 in beginner's.  It's so great to see that many women racing mountain bikes, especially this early in the season.  We went off every 30 seconds following all of the men.  I think they had us wait in the cold for all of the men to go because they know we are way tougher than them.  Anyhow, my start was a little lame because I couldn't find my pedal to clip in, but I took off feeling pretty good... that is, until Karen caught up to me within the first 5 minutes or so.  Everyone says that endurance is her specialty, but I would definitely like to argue that she is just rip-shit fast no matter what kind of racing she does.  Yes, she can ride fast for hours, but she has skill and the kind of stamina that's good for short races as well.  I can not wait to see her kill it out
there this season.

Getting caught by Karen
So, I didn't get caught by anyone else, but Crystal wasn't far behind.  I knew she'd be close since she only just finished an insane cyclocross season a month or two ago.  With her starting a few minutes behind me and finishing right on my heels, she definitely had me beat.  In fact, Karen and Crystal finished within ten seconds of one another, and Karen set a new course record.  After the rest of the ladies came through, I found myself with the third fastest time, and my teammate, Liz, was fifth.  I was super excited about how good I felt out there.  I never felt like I was about to die.  Now I'm thinking that may be a bad thing... I obviously didn't push hard enough to feel like dying.  I also rode sloppy.  Regardless, for a horrendously wintery winter here in New England, I am feeling mighty strong for this time of year, and I'm happy with my first results of the season.  I'm extremely fortunate to have such high-class competition to race against, some really cool teammates (as well as non-team-mates), such awesome events to race at, and circumstances which allow me to keep training and racing.

The rest of Sunday, I attempted to work on some schoolwork, but really didn't get much done because Spring Break mode overtook me.   However, Monday and Tuesday were production-mania, except for the fact that I continued to do NO schoolwork.

And so... here is the story of our greenhouse:

Mike and I decided to order a kit because all the parts and pieces you need come together for one price with instructions, and we wanted something that had been 'peer reviewed' which means, other human beings have bought the thing and written some sort of review about the process...  It came in two giant boxes, and in those boxes were a bazillion pieces all with different numbers on them.  The instruction book was thick and scary looking.  Every step was a wordless diagram, and the only writing was on the first page where you got the warnings: do not set up in wind, do not skip steps, do not do steps out of order, and so on...  So, we started setting it up a week or so ago on a lovely sunny (and horribly windy) day.  At about 4pm of that first day, we realized there was no way in #%*! we were going to finish.  Our options were take it all down OR brace it from the wind as best we could.  We went with the latter and did what we could to prevent wind damage until we could get back out there.  Now, anyone who knows either of us is aware that we don't have many days off together...  let alone days where the weather is decent (it's been extraordinarily windy lately).  So the greenhouse has taken one hell of a beating while waiting for someone to finish assembling it.

Shower door table top
I made it my number 1 priority to get that thing finished by TODAY (Tuesday) because I leave tomorrow for Colorado (hence Spring Break Part 1 in the title).  With a whole lot of help from my brother, it is now complete.  Some mistakes were made, and some cursing occurred.  It isn't exactly level which probably did not help us with assembly.  Not only that, but some of the aluminum parts got bent slightly from the wind.  Despite all that, now that it's together, it's quite sturdy, and I used all of the cardboard that it came in to seal up the drafty spots.  Corrugated cardboard is made to insulate!  Seriously, it was warm within a couple hours of sealing up the drafts and getting some cloudy sunlight. I'm assuming that when the sun starts to blaze it's going to be unbearably warm in there.

Rather than buy tables or use something nice, I went to my dad's junk pile and found some snazzy old buckets, a shower door, and a beautiful piece of stainless steel for one low row of tables.  On the other wall, I made a taller planting table using a wooden platform and a portable commode.  We will likely put some shelving in there, and the roof has some little metal brackets in the center for hanging a few plants.
That's not for pooping.  It's a table base.

I'm holding off on starting a lot of my seeds because it's still too early for many, but I did go ahead with some peppers, cucumbers, squash, and dill.  I plan on transplanting anything that successfully sprouts as soon as it grows 'true leaves' and to make it simple, I planted my seeds in biodegradable egg crates.  I also put all the crates in corrugated cardboard trays with the hope that they'll hold some of the heat from the greenhouse into the soil overnight when the temps drop.

grow plants here
seeds in dirt in egg containers
dill - even the seeds smell like dill
Now that all of that is done, I can start packing for Colorado.  The plane leaves early tomorrow afternoon, and the plan is to ride bikes and eat a lot for the rest of the week until Sunday.  We (my buds and I) fly into Denver, then drive to Grand Junction, and ride around there and Moab...  It's going to be a blast.  Stay tuned for Spring Break Part 2.

Okay, obviously I don't want you to stay tuned, but check back in at some point because I will hopefully have some cool stuff to write about (or at least some really dope photos).