Denise Goldberg's blog

Friday, March 31, 2006


I have to admit that the flight attendant's announcement when we landed was a little odd, but it did make me smile.

Please be careful when opening the overhead bins. The items may have become discombobulated?
Discombubulated? No, I absolutely did not make this up - and there were smiles on many passengers faces, not just mine!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quickly dropping orb

I'm absolutely amazed by the speed of the setting sun this week. I suspect this solar behavior is not unusual at all; what appears to be an instantaneous sunset is probably driven by my riding close to the edges of the day.

My usual habit is to be off the road well before sunset, but this week I've been pushing the edges (and yes, I really do need Daylight Savings Time to support my after-work rides!). By the time I hit the road with my bike, I had just a little over an hour to ride. Today I headed out at 4:45, and sunset was at 6:07. I was home somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes before sunset. There was still plenty of light when I rolled into my garage, but it seemed like total darkness appeared just a short time later.

Canada Geese... two by two

A short mid-afternoon walk gave me a nice break from work plus brought a smile to my face. It felt really good to get outside to enjoy today's relative warmth and sunshine. And it was a walk with the added task of greeting five pairs of Canada Geese. I almost felt like I was in the middle of a children's book.

Five pairs of geese... 1 pair sitting, 1 pair walking, 1 pair eating... The remaining two pairs of geese apparently didn't agree on the right activity for the moment; one goose in each pair was happily munching grass, and the other was looking around. Perhaps he (or she) was in guard mode.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Impatience rules!

I wonder if anyone believed yesterday's post about waiting until next week's switch to Daylight Savings Time to start riding after work. I believed it when I wrote it, but somehow the weather today managed to change my mind.

As I was driving in to work this morning, I decided to shift my work start time back by half an hour for tomorrow and Thursday. And of course I would also leave work a half hour earlier in the afternoon, leaving me just enough time for a short ride supported by daylight. Today was a gorgeous day though, and I just couldn't resist!

I've been pretty consistent through the winter (and now spring) at starting work at 7:30 and leaving by 4:30. Yes, that is nine elapsed hours, but that allows me to fit in a mid-day walk with no guilt. Today though - I left at 4! It was bright sunlight and somewhat crisp as my bike and I rolled out of the house. A 53 degree temperature at the start of my ride lowered to 46 by the time I rolled back in. I managed 18 miles; while my body was willing to keep going, the daylight was about to disappear. I knew that sunset was just after 6, and I planned my ride to return home before the sun disappeared over the horizon. Nice!

Since this weather is supposed to hold through the week - with a forecast of temperatures in the 60s - I think I will start my work day at 7 so that I can leave at 4 without any of that silly guilt. I can feel more after work rides coming.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weather complaints

So tell me, why is it that the weekend can be (relatively) cold and gray and the weather for the work week is forecast to support playing outside?

You're right, I need to stop focusing on the weather. But that's hard for me this time of year. I'm less and less interested in getting my allotted exercise on indoor equipment, and I'm still waiting for the change in daylight to support after-work rides. One more week to go for that...

In the meantime, I'll continue my walking outside this week - wearing fewer layers than I did last week. And I'll keep that daylight savings time countdown going strong. Six days!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Layers lightening

Ah, the weekend. The weather forecast was iffy, but both weekend days turned out to be reasonable given that it still is March. Saturday's riding temperature was in the low 40s, and Sunday's was in the high 40s. I'm remembering, learning the right layers as the warmth creeps upward. I had one layer too many on yesterday... Less and lighter layers today worked really well, although there was a short period of time on today's ride when I was sure I had made a mistake.

Why? When I left the house there were some clouds in the sky, but they weren't dark. But within the first half hour, some very dark gray clouds started to hover over me. What were those droplets of water coming from the sky? Luckily, the rain made just a brief appearance, then allowed me to continue to my target mileage for the day. I didn't do the route that I'd planned though, choosing instead to do multiple shorter loops. I didn't want to be far from home if the rain decided to start in earnest.

I could see an occasional tree sporting buds, but for the most part the trees and plants look like they haven't broken out their spring finery yet. But as I rode through a neighborhood near my home, some beatiful crocus caught my eye. I wasn't riding with my camera today, so I guess I was pretty lucky that the crocus weren't too far from here. Yes, you're right - I finished my ride, and then I absolutely did wander back to visit the flowers with camera in hand.

Attempting a close shot of some early crocus, beautifully striped purple & white

A little further away, still beauties

Friday, March 24, 2006

Walking, waiting

One of my goals for this week was to re-introduce the habit of a (mid-day) walk as a break from my work day. Somehow that habit got lost - probably within the last month - due to a weather that was just not too welcoming. And once I got out of the habit, well, it was hard to start again.

Problem solved! I managed to get out for a daytime walk every day this week. Not long, but enough. Adding a 30 to 45 minute jaunt by foot to my after work exercise makes me happy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Morning confusion

Alarm clock sounds, early morning... Is it really time to wake up? Wait, it's Saturday, I can go back to sleep. Uh, no, it's not, it's only Tuesday!

Wow! I have to say that hasn't happened to me before. I had plenty of sleep last night but for some reason my internal clock seemed to have been set back three days (or forward four). Luckily that was a quickly passing confusion since it was time to get ready for the day and for work.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Is it really spring?

The calendar says that today is the first day of spring. The weather says maybe... It was a bright sunny day today, with the temperature rising from the 20s to a high of 31 degrees. A little cold for me for a spring day.

It's funny, if you look at the entry of the seasons, it's spring that I am the most eager to greet. Spring brings warming temperatures and lengthening days, and strong support for my outdoor addiction to cycling. Of course it also brings wet weather, but it's the warmer and longer days that make me happy.

The days still aren't warm enough or long enough (from a daylight perspective) to support commuting to work by bike. But daylight savings time starts in just two weeks. That should allow me to add some weekday riding, giving me enough time after work for some sun-supported rides. Yes, we lose some morning daylight and I need that early morning daylight to ride in to work. But realistically, I know that the early morning light will return along with the morning warmth I need to start my bicycle commute once again. After all, it was late May last year before the weather conditions supported my bicycle commuting habit.

In the meantime, I can count the days on my fingers until the daylight supports after-work riding. Happy...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fire in the sky

The sunset tonight was absolutely stunning. I was driving home - sans camera, of course - and while I was paying attention to the road, it was impossible not to absorb some of the sights.

Blue sky and clouds, just the right mix. A golden ball of sun shifting downwards, throwing sunbeams up into the clouds. The underside of the clouds painted in orange, changing to pinks. Fading light, beauty...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just wondering...

This may be a little odd, but I can't help being curious.

I belong to the gym at the Marriott across the street from my office. It works out very well for me during bike commuting season since I can ride to work then have a good shower to get rid of the sweat before dressing for a normal work-day. It works out well during the off-season too; across the street means I have no excuse for not going to the gym! I've been trying to balance walking outside with gym workouts, and today I managed both. I finished my workout, and headed back in to the locker room. One of the showers was in use, but the other was free. I took off my sweaty clothes, took a nice hot shower, dried and dressed, and headed out. As I walked out, I could hear the other (busy) shower turn off. And that's the source of my curiosity...

Tell me, how long does it take to shower after working out? It's really beyond my imagination how I could completely finish my clothes changing act - including a shower - in less time than my locker room partner spent in the shower!

Hey - I warned you! Yes, this post is a bit odd!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Three days on two wheels

I'm so glad I got a jump start on my weekend riding by moving my working hours earlier than normal on Friday. As it turned out, Friday was the real winner in terms of weather conditions. I have to keep reminding myself that it is only March, and following the calendar, it isn't really spring yet.

I managed 21 miles Friday afternoon, arriving home before the sun dipped to the horizon. Saturday was cooler - in the 50s - and still windy. It was a 32-mile day. And today? It was very gray, looking as though it was going to rain, with temperatures again in the 50s and the wind still making itself known. Although it did sprinkle on me and my bike, the weather never degraded into real rain. My ride was shorter today, but today's 24 miles added to Friday & Saturday's jaunts on two wheels brought me to a total of 77 miles for the weekend. That would be a low mileage total for me if it were in the middle of the riding season, but at this time of the year it makes me happy.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sharing the beach with sea gulls

Ride over, sky still shining blue with high wisps of clouds changing, moving...

It was time to switch vehicles and head to the coast. I made a quick stop at Yummies in Kittery before heading to the New Hampshire coast. Yes, you're right, I had to drive past the coast to get to Yummies, but it was well worth the stop.

Quiet, it's a secret! I thought I'd construct a care package for (my brother) Neal. No it's not healthy, but packages of candy can be fun - especially candy that brings back memories of summer when we were growing up. I can't tell you how many people I overheard saying "penny candy!" as they browsed the crowded aisles. Oh, you think that Neal will find out about his package before it arrives on his doorstep? Maybe, but I'd be surprised if he checks my blog on a regular basis. And if he does - hey Neal, there's a taste of fun on the way...
Next stop, the coast of New Hampshire... The tide was out, and the waves were pounding. Still windy and still in the 50s made it a very reasonable day to walk along the beach. I wasn't alone in my wanderings; there were other people, and there were a lot of sea gulls too - flying, swooping, and joining the people walking down the beach. As the sun sank in the west, the surface of the water and the edge of the sky started to pick up a glint of pink. Beautiful, and a wonderful place to lose a little time on this Saturday afternoon.

It was fun trying to catch the waves with my camera...

...and to catch the sea gulls in action too!

More pictures from today can be found here. This gallery contains pictures I took on the New Hampshire coast on a day in late January as well as today.

Ah, wind!

As promised, I woke to find a clear blue sky and temperatures a bit cooler than yesterday's 68 degrees. It was 51 degrees when I started riding, and 55 when I finished. From an early summer-like treat yesterday to today's normal March weather, accompanied by a strong and blustery wind...

No complaints here though - it was still a beautiful day to be wandering outside. And it was accompanied by the sounds and (some) sights of early spring. Birds singing, or perhaps I should say screaming, wind-blown ice chunks on a pond singing their own unique tune as they were pushed together and to the shoreline (and yes, I did have to stop to figure out what that sound was!), Canada Geese flying across a very blue sky... Skinny tires rolling along roads, dodging patches of sand and winter-damaged road surfaces, but happily finding the smooth spots.

Ah, a good early season ride.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A gray, damp, and cool start... a white cloud studded blue sky and a glimpse of early summer warmth!

The forecast for today was questionable at best. The temperature was supposed to go into the 60s, but it looked like there was a pretty good chance of showers, and more than a good chance of high wind too. In fact, the National Weather Service posted a "High wind advisory: Strong southwest winds of 25 to 35 mph are expected through this evening with gusts as high as 50 mpg". I looked at the forecast last night and I chose to ignore what I considered to be the unfavorable sections. That is, the sections that said it would not be a good cycling day. I woke to a gray and damp day, but I headed in to the office early enough to put in a full day and to leave at 2:30 to go play with my bike. And my "just in case" maneuver definitely paid off.

It took a long time for the sky to lighten up, but by noon I could see patches of blue between the gray clouds. By the time I headed home the sky was blue and studded with clean white clouds, and the temperature had risen into the mid-60s. Ah, the first ride of the year in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey - with no extra layers! What a nice feeling... Other than the temperature, obvious signs of spring were missing. The trees are still very bare, I saw not a hint of flowers or buds, and there was still ice on most of the ponds and streams. But the temperature! That definitely made me believe that spring can't be too far away.

I thoroughly enjoyed my ride in the warmth, even with the occasional gusts of wind trying to get in my way. The wind did a good job of cooperating though; the strong whipping winds waited until darkness fell. I spent the evening sitting comfortably inside, listening to the wind slam around outside.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Product curiosity

...or maybe I should call this manufacturer curiosity!

I've been wearing Pearl Izumi Ultrasensor cycling shorts for many years now. The design has changed - or maybe I should say evolved - but usually it was an improvement. That wasn't true a few years back when the cut of the shorts was changed so that they dipped down so far in the front that I was afraid to stand up. Luckily that change didn't last very long, and I managed to not need to buy shorts that year.

Unfortunately, they made one of those infamous changes this year, and I find the new design totally unacceptable. This time they changed the chamois, using the chamois from their more expensive Microsensor shorts. I suppose there must be women out there who like the design, since it has been used in the Microsensors for quite a few years. Unfortunately, I'm not one of the people who approves of the change that was made.

My new shorts were waiting for me when I got home tonight (yes, I'm still following my usual habit of not going to stores!). I tried them on, and found them totally unwearable. So what was wrong with the chamois? To start with, there's so much stiff fabric between my legs that there is a line between my legs parallel with the ground! It sticks out in the back too, and is just generally uncomfortable.

Funny, there was a discussion in the TE forums this week about the size of the chamois in different brands of shorts, and apparently many of the manufacturers (probably including PI) use the same size chamois regardless of the size of the shorts. Sugoi shorts were recommended as a good choice for smaller women; I think I'll order a pair and hope that they are a comfortable fit.

So tell me, was this design change in the Ultrasensor shorts really supposed to be an improvement?

Hidden on the road

It will never cease to surprise me when I see cyclists on the road - in the dark - with (almost) no visibility aids. I say almost because the rider I saw tonight did have a very small flashing red light facing to the back. That helped; I realized that someone was in the road. But a single bulb red flasher really isn't enough on a dark and somewhat narrow road. This cyclist was wearing dark clothing and had nothing reflective on his (or her) body. Yes I realized someone was there as I approached, but as I was passing I looked over to the side and saw absolutely nothing - just a big dark space.

I know it's possible - and easy - to make yourself visible on the road at night. I don't like to risk it myself, but I have seen cyclists commuting home on dark winter nights who have stood out from the darkness. What does it take? Reflective clothing, multiple lights facing backward, multiple lights facing forward - and I'd recommend lights on both the bike and the body.

Do you suppose that the rider I saw (by pure luck) was trying to hide in the darkness?

Monday, March 06, 2006

An experiment in comfort...

...for my feet, that is!

My normal footwear consists of a mix of Merrell Slides and Clogs for the cold weather months, and Chaco sandals for the warm weather months. Recently my feet decided they would like to try an experiment, something for a change of pace. I've been thinking about trying Dansko clogs for a while since they are supposed to have good arch support - and my high arches are in charge of selecting my shoes. And my sister has a pair, and I think that she likes them. And come to think of it, my doc wears them too.

I tried a pair on in a local shoe store. Good thing I did, because the recommended size 36 did not really work for my high-volume feet. I wasn't sure about the fit of a size 37 either, so I left the store without the shoes. Still curious though, and you know me, I didn't want the standard conservative black (or other dark colored) shoes.

Ah, Zappos to the rescue. I found a pair in a color called Sky (yes, they really are blue). And since Zappos has a dynamite return policy I could try these shoes knowing that it was possible to return them for a full refund even after wearing them.

So far, so good. My new shoes were waiting at the door when I got home tonight (nothing like 2-day delivery from a store that doesn't charge for shipping!) and they jumped on to my feet immediately so my feet and the shoes could start molding together. Comfortable so far, I think I'll wear them tomorrow...

An experiment in comfort...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Blue skies, temperature rising

It's amazing how much difference 10 degrees makes... after yesterday's temperatures in the 30s, today's 40s felt so much warmer! It was really a combination of the temperature and the much lower wind speeds that made today such a nice riding day.

Trees reaching into a beautiful cloudless blue sky... branches empty, still sporting their winter skeletal look... oh! watch out for those rough spots in the road surface... two wheels rolling, and rolling, and rolling...

Name games

I sometimes wonder how product names relate to product sales. The trigger for my current wonder is the disappearance of one of my favorite Luna Bars, Sweet Dreams. I suspect that the name had something to do with this because all of the other flavors are named in a descriptive fashion. So what flavor was a Sweet Dreams bar? The descriptive part of the label listed chocolate, caramel, and peanuts. The name of the new bar that I believe is the replacement for Sweet Dreams? It's Caramel Nut Brownie, with a description of "Home baked goodness of creamy caramel, chocolate chips, crunchy walnuts and rich dark chocolate". Let's see, walnuts instead of peanuts, but other than that it sounds pretty similar. I tasted a Caramel Nut Brownie bar yesterday (yes, it was supporting my windy bike ride!), and while the taste is slightly different, I think it will easily become my replacement for Sweet Dreams.

I suppose a descriptive name works better. Somehow Sweet Dreams as a name conjures up a before-bed type of snack, and to me an energy bar is definitely not something I eat when I want to sleep. It makes me wonder what the thought process was in coming up with that name!

Luna Bars are one of the two types of energy bars that I use to support my activity level, especially when I'm out cycling for long periods of time. My other choice is the Powerbar Pria. My choices are driven by both taste and my looking for a high-carbohydrate snack the supports my energy level as I dance down the road on one of my bicycles.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Wind, two wheels balanced

As the calendar inches closer to spring, I hope for more decent days for riding. After all, I need to get many more miles under my wheels before the temperature and daylight cooperate to allow me to commute to work on my bike once more. Today the temperature was more than acceptable, in the mid-30s. The problem was the wind. I could hear it howling outside, but my purple bike insisted on riding. (Yes, as usual you're right, it was really my decision!)

I managed a 25-mile ride, and while I knew the wind was there, it was only in the last 5 miles where it really began to get in the way. I rode a series of loops so it wasn't a case of having the wind at my back for the first half of the ride and in my face for the second half. It was more a mixed tailwind to sidewind to headwind kind of day. It almost got the better of me though...

I was riding at a slight uphill grade when the wind really kicked up. In fact, it pretty much stopped me in my tracks. I quickly went from a decent pace to almost a dead stop. Those seconds seemed like minutes, but I'm sure that they were seconds. As I came to that screeching stop, I was right at an intersection, and I started to turn. As I moved around that corner, I quickly realized that the wind was now pushing directly at my side. There was what seemed like a very long instance where I was sure that I was going down. Luckily I use pedals - Speedplay Frogs - that require no pressure to release, just a quick twist and a lift of my foot, and I was saved a slow-motion fall. Ah, I hope tomorrow's weather brings a little bit less wind.

Today's wind really reminded me of the day that I fought the wind during my tour of Prince Edward Island last year. I actually had to push my bike across a bridge (yes, I really was walking) - the wind was so strong that I couldn't ride it! I guess I'm pretty lucky that the wind didn't push me over today, and that even though I had to revert to traveling by foot that I made it across that bridge too!

Are you in charge of the wind? Are you the one who made those few seconds slide by so slowly as I convinced my bike that it was a good thing to remain upright?

Hope needs assistance

Unwanted news travels fast, doesn't it? The phone lines from (my sister & sister-in-law in) Philadelphia to (my parents in) upstate New York and then to here were very active today - and they weren't transmitting the kind of news that any of us wanted. Neal started his second round of chemotherapy yesterday. The start of the treatment, the few hours in the hospital, (apparently) was much more acceptable than the first round. Unfortunately, the better start didn't stick around; he had a bad night last night and a bad day today, ending the day in the hospital.

How can a drug that makes the patient so incredibly ill help in improving health? I suppose if the drug is a poison to the cancer, it also can have an effect on the rest of the body as well. Here's hoping that the next time there is another drug that can be added to his regimen that will prevent this horrible reaction.

What really hurts is not being able to do anything to help. Is it in the realm of possibility that hope has the power to help?