Archive for January, 2010

Winter for a cyclist can be a little depressing. You go from cycling 3 to 4 times a week to nothing. Well, nothing as far as cycling goes. I did try winter riding for 2 years. Every Tuesday night, Full Moon Vista Bike Shop organizes the Tuesday Night Urban Assault (TNUA) ride (we pronounce it tuna), which takes place around the downtown area. The ride is very well organized. Each person gets a number at the start of the ride and no one is dropped. Also, every one follows the leader, Scott Page, who decides the path as we go. They also stop frequently to ensure that everyone is there. The ride is great because it teaches you bike handling skills, since we ride around lots of obstacles (trees, curbs, stairs, etc.). Also, Scott gives everyone pointers about how to better ride in a pack of riders as well as in a pace line. It was great fun! Then last winter, I decided that I no longer liked it. :( It was a snowy evening… a wet snowy evening. Scott decided that we were going to practice pace lines. After what it seemed like an hour, I was getting very annoyed. Riding in a pace line requires each rider to ride very close to the rider in front of them, which yields lots of road spray if the roads are wet. I think that I ingested about a gallon of salt road water (yuck!) and my clothes, helmet, and bike were a mess. That was the end of the TNUA rides for me. So this year I decided to find other activities during the winter.

I recently pulled out the rollers. (For those of you who are not familiar with rollers, you can see a picture of them on the Performance Bicycle website.) I like them, but can only tolerate riding on them for half an hour. :) I remember when Joel bought them, I told him that there was no way I was riding on them. But after watching him ride on them, I decided to give them a try. My first time was very unnerving. I was so tense that after 10 minutes my neck and arms were in pain. 2 years later, I can ride more stable, faster, and take my hand off of the handlebars to take a drink. This year, I am practicing taking my right hand off of the handlebars and even standing up. The standing up part is a little scary. :)

The next activity that I have tried this year is running. I hate to admit it, but I kind of enjoy it. My attitude towards running has always been negative. It was partially due to the fact that the first time I ran, which was about 9 years ago, I thought that I was going to die. I was not in shape at all back then. I like the fact that I can just start from my house and get a great workout in about half an hour. My neighborhood is hilly, so that adds a little bit of a challenge. I was amazed how sore my legs were after my run. I thought that my legs were in good shape. It’s a great complimentary workout for cycling.

This Christmas we were lucky enough to get snowshoes. The first time I went snowshoeing was about 6 or 7 years ago. We were snowshoeing up a ski mountain in the Adirondacks. I remember it being a lot of fun. I was so excited when I opened my Christmas gift! :) Our first outing was in Mendon Ponds Park on a snowy evening. We snowshoed the loop that takes you to the water tower. It was actually a little unnerving being in the middle of the woods all by ourselves in the dark. We did not see a soul, not even a deer. The snow was a bit crunchy so we were pretty noisy, which explains why we did not see any deer. I know that there are plenty of them around. Also, our headlamps were not that great. Despite all of this, it was pretty exhilarating to hike at night while it was snowing. I was imagining hiking up Everest, except that I did not have to worry about the altitude and death threat problem. :)

I always look forward to cross country skiing when winter comes. Joel and I went during an evening a few weeks ago. It was not snowing during this outing. Also, Joel took his powerful light that he usually wears while mountain biking, which really lit up our path. Each time he looked into the fields, we saw a bunch of little green lights. They were deer eyes! They were everywhere. :) That was fun.

As I write this post, the snow is gone and it is supposed to be in the upper 40s this weekend. A bike ride sounds good. Too bad that the roads are salty! :(

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Mom’s Birthday Cake

When my parents left Romania, they packed only two suitcases. The suitcases included the usual: clothes, family photos, etc. The suitcases also included a few things that you would not think about packing and carrying across the ocean. They included my mom’s favorite pressure cooker, a cast iron manual food mill, my dad’s favorite spoon and fork, and a small booklet filled with a bunch of our favorite recipes. I am still in awe that my mom actually packed the pressure cooker and food mill. I should not be that surprised though. The pressure cooker was a huge part of my mom’s cooking. How else will she be able to cook the traditional cabbage rolls? And the food mill ground mounds and mounds of walnuts that were used in a few of our favorite desserts. One of these desserts included my mom’s birthday cake. She has been making this cake for our birthdays ever since I can remember. In my opinion, it is one of the best cakes that I have ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of cakes. :) Every year I look forward to one of our birthdays in order to eat a few pieces (yes, I said a few pieces).

Since my birthday was coming up, I decided that I wanted to make my mom’s birthday cake instead of purchasing one. I called my mom to ask her for the recipe. With a paper and pen in hand, I was patiently waiting for her to list the ingredients. 10 spoons of finely chopped walnuts, 10 spoons of sugar… “Wait a second”, I interrupted her. “What spoon are you using?” “My soup spoon”, she said laughing. My mom nicely offered to meet so we can make the cake together. We also decided to measure all the ingredients using a kitchen scale, Tablespoons and teaspoons, and real measuring cups. Per my mom’s instructions, we baked the cake the day before decorating it. Two days later, the cake was decorated just in time for my birthday party. I was so excited! I could not wait to eat it!

I am savoring the last small leftover piece as I am writing this post. I look forward to the next family birthday. Actually, now that I have the recipe, I can make it anytime! :)

I apologize, but unfortunately I cannot share the recipe with you. It’s a family secret. :)

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