Friday, March 30, 2007

HRIDE: Week 7 Training Report

Well, let me tell you. A week where none of my rides are canceled sure does fly! It seems that Spring has finally sprung here in Brooklyn, and this past Saturday's 5 laps (30 miles) around Central Park felt great. The day was warm and sunny, and despite the fact that I felt on laps 1, 2 3 and 4 that I would never make it to 5 and climb that damn Harlem hill yet again - I did. Thankfully that is the last time I will have to ride in Central Park on a Saturday, as people traffic picks up significantly with the warming temperatures. This coming weekend we hit the open road.

My 6AM rides are also becoming more manageable. The mornings are a bit warmer and the dark does not last as long. Most surprisingly, I am actually starting to get used to how it feels to wake up so early! I hit a spin class at my gym this week for a little cardio boost on a windy day when Prospect Park was not seeming so tempting. Riding on the gym spin bikes made me realize just how comfortable I have gotten on my own bike over the past month.

You could say I am hooked. Continually intimidated by the increasing distances, I am greatful when I complete them. I am having a blast and feeling healthier and stronger by the week and also starting to make some great new friends withing my team. I have just learned that my application to act as a mentor on the upcoming Fall team - El Tour de Tucson - was accepted. The cycling will not end with Tahoe and I think by the end of this whole experience I'll be eager to stay on my bike and share what I have learned with the next team.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Like A Message From Above

For those of you who check this blog regularly, you might be starting to wonder what I have been doing besides riding bikes. Well, the cycling and fundraising have been keeping me busy, and in addition, working for myself as HM Project has begun to be quite a lot of work. Business has been flowing in, it's almost overwhelming at times, but great to have so many design projects in the works.

In the past week or two, having little time outside of work and biking, I have begun to feel uninspired about dinners. My usual routine of reading cooking magazines and books in my downtime has been sacrificed and I have been opting for quick and easy. Just the other day I had realized there were no dinner supplies in the fridge and just couldn't call up the creativity for a menu for that night, when I came across this article in the week's NY Times Food and Wine section. Titled, In Case of Emergency, Extract Sausage From Freezer and Enjoy, it was as if a little food angel came down from heaven and snuck up behind me at the computer.

The article begins by talking about what cooks keep on hand in case of emergency. My answer to that poll would in fact be sausage. I love sausage. I am forever collecting it from the various sources I have available to me in all forms – chicken sausage, sweet Italian sausage, African brand sausage and most recently wild boar sausage to name a few – and freezing it for future use. I forwarded the article to Brad, who occasionally claims that he is "sausaged-out", asking if it sounded good for dinner and he responded, "Wow, did you write that article?"

Well, no. I didn't. But that night I did make the recipe, and as I just enjoyed the leftovers for lunch, it occurred to me that this little gem really must be shared. So, for those of you who will read this blog post when the article is no longer available, the recipe is below. But I do recommend that you read, and then cook!

Chorizo with Sweet Pepper and Onion Stew and Fried Croutons

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

5 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed for frying
2 pounds spicy fresh (uncured) chorizo, pricked all over with a fork
1 8-inch baguette, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked or hot paprika
2 large red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 Spanish onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped.

1. Mince 4 garlic cloves and reserve. Mince remaining garlic clove, put it in a small bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a very large skillet or Dutch oven. Add chorizo and cook until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a plate.

3. Add as many bread slices to pan as will fit in one layer. Cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer croutons to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Heat a little more oil in pan and repeat with remaining bread slices, frying them in batches if necessary.

4. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in pan. Add both paprikas and let cook for 20 seconds. Add onions and reserved 4 cloves minced garlic and cook until limp, about 3 minutes. Add bell peppers and sauté until onions are golden and peppers soft, about 7 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes, chicken broth, black pepper and bay leaf to pan and bring to a simmer. Cut chorizo in chunks and add it to pan along with any drippings from plate. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and let cook at a low simmer for 25 minutes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar to pan and simmer uncovered, until stew thickens slightly, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

5. Remove bay leaf and stir in reserved garlic-vinegar mixture and cilantro. Serve stew topped with croutons.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

HRIDE: Week 6 Training Report

Thursday Evening Ride: CANCELED rain and low temperatures
Saturday Morning Ride: CANCELED snow and freezing rain
Tuesday Morning Ride: CANCELED freezing temperatures

I did manage to squeeze in a solo ride in Prospect Park when the temperature warmed to the mid-40s on Tuesday afternoon, but otherwise the week in training was uneventful. I have had a bit of anxiety about the work still ahead of me, since the weather ruined my first opportunity to hit the 30 mile marker on the weekend ride. I am quickly approaching the 2 month countdown to Tahoe and still am a long way from 100 miles!

I am also approaching the 2 month countdown for my fundraising deadline and am only at 10% of my goal. Sadly, I have not had as much response as hoped to the two lengthy email letters I sent thus far. With unexpected, non-training downtime this week I have been trying to concoct new ways to encourage donations in support of my ride and the L&L Society's cause. I'd tell you, but then that would ruin the surprise, wouldn't it? If you haven't already donated, what are you waiting for? Go to my site and make a 100% tax deductable donation now!

Week 7 is looking brighter and warmer already - hopefully I'll have more cycling progress to report in my next update.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

HRIDE: Week 4/5 Training Report

The past two weeks have hosted several milestones in my training progress. Most notable, I have finally hit the open road! Well, the open park drives at least. Despite the spring temperatures that have teased me in the afternoons, 2 of first the 5 team rides were canceled due to bad weather. 2 of the remaining 3 team rides happened in chilling morning temperatures, but riding outdoors still beats spinning class any day. Having learned my lesson the hard way, I have some thermal tights and protective boots on order for this coming Saturday's 35˚ ride.

And what, might you ask, have I been riding on? Well, my new bike! That's right, and she's a beauty. Light, comfortable and easy on the eyes, I am definitely in love. On my bike I have learned yet another important lesson through discomfort - thanks to advanced technology, "boy seats" and "girl seats" are definitely different. And so, also on order is the "Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow" saddle, which I hope will ease the pain.

But enough about the gear (there is certainly a lot of it) and more about the riding! It's great, I'm hooked. The weekend park rides are approaching 30 miles, and so far I haven't felt any soreness, just exhaustion. Naps have become a routine on training days, especially after this week when I attended my first 6AM ride. It wasn't easy getting out of bed in the dark, but circling the park as the sun came up was blast - especially while I was riding the back of our little pace line, sailing on the effort of my teammates. I am getting comfortable with clip in pedals and have been schooled in gear strategy so even the uphills are manageable. Now when I walk with Francine in Prospect Park and see other cyclists doing laps, I can't wait to hop on my new pony and ride!