Monthly Archives: March 2006

House Guests

 We’ve had house guests the last two weekends. Last weekend, Jean’s brother Tom and his wife Lynne came Saturday morning and left Sunday morning. Robert was here from Friday through Monday. This weekend, Dick and Mary Brower from Hastings (better known by all their friends as “Leroy and Loretta Lockhorns”), came on Friday and left this (Sunday) morning. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy having friends and family here, but I’m convinced that I don’t make a good house guest.

When I go out to San Francisco to visit Matt, Tonya and Anna, I get a room at a Bed and Breakfast a couple of blocks from Matt’s apartment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being with them, but I’m one of those people that needs a little private time. I know that everyone goes to the bathroom except for Betty Lou Bell and Sue Ellen Kirschner, both really hot girls in my 10th grade English class, but I believe that time to be one of those private moments. I didn’t do well in Air Force basic training when there were 10 toilets all in a row…no dividers…no curtains…59 other guys I didn’t know either sitting next to me or waiting in line for someone to finish.

When you’re at someone else’s house, you either go to bed when they do or get up when they do. Often your sleeping arrangement puts someone out of their bed or is on the couch in the TV room so you’re the last to go to bed and the first to get up. You’re locked into eating group meals at times that fit everyone’s schedule and you feel like your hosts are trying their best, begrudgingly, to entertain you. I guess I’m better off in my own little room in my own little bed and my own little bathroom.

I mentioned earlier that Dick and Mary are nicknamed the Lockhorns. Some of you older people may be more familiar with “The Bickersons” and some of you younger people may be more familiar with J-Lo and whoever she’s married to this week. At any rate, we were taking odds at to whether Mary would help Dick have an unfortunate accident about half way to Florida and someone would come across the body next week when the spring breakers came down. That didn’t happen, but they aren’t home yet either. If you hear of a man being sucked out the window of a Midwest Airlines jet at 30,000 feet, you can guess what happened.

We ran 10 miles today and plan to ride over at Clermont tomorrow. The tentative plan is to ride the Great Floridian course, a 56 mile loop with Sugarloaf Mountain about two thirds of the way through. It’s a little different than the course the Trilanders rode back in 2001 but still uses many of the same roads. I’m a little concerned about my road bike gearing. You non-bikers wouldn’t understand or care, but I have 53/42 chain rings in the front and a 12/25 cassette in the rear (my bike…not me). With 700 wheels, I wonder if a 42/25 is an easy enough gear to get my oversized body up that hill. Oh, well…I’ll find out.

We’re heading for Michigan on Thursday, the 23rd and should be there Friday by about 3PM just in time to see the early spring breakers leave for warmer climates or the ski slopes. I’ll stay until my Tuesday hospital board meeting, then head back down to Florida for the month of April. I’ll need to get my taxes done while I’m there…anybody know a good accountant? Jean hasn’t decided whether to come back down or stay in Hastings. She’s torn between missing her friends and working at the fitness center and great weather for riding her bike down here. I think she’s leaning toward staying up North, but we won’t know for sure ’til the bus leaves Hastings at 2PM on Tuesday.

Better go and nourish my body. The 10 milers are tough on an old geezer trying to watch his calorie intake.

Just (Testing The Home Brew Every Chance I Get) Jack

No See Ums

 Robert came up from Boynton Beach for the weekend and Jean’s brother and sister-in-law were on their way from North Carolina. So Friday evening Jean, Robert and I decided to go out to dinner at Mike’s Dockside Bar. It isn’t directly on the Gulf but sits back at a marina on one of the inlets. To the North is a large saltwater marsh.

We went inside to sit down and the dining area was almost bare. It’s a dockside bar (duh!) and everyone was either sitting outside (in Florida you can’t smoke inside a bar where food is served) or sitting at the open air cabana bar. We sat inside for a few minutes and decided we wouldn’t get served since they were so busy outside, so we went out to the cabana bar.

The old joke is that Michigan’s state bird is the mosquito. I know Florida swamps have a lot of them, but I haven’t seen one since I’ve been here. Florida has beautiful scenery, especially along the coast and the sunsets on the Gulf Coast are stunning.

We hadn’t been there two minutes before the first no see um found me and bit. If you’ve never heard of no see ums click here .Before long, the second one got me, then the third, and from then on I lost count. Jean and Robert were fine and may have been bitten once between them all the time we were there. It’s something about body chemistry because the mosquitoes like me best too.

We sat there for a while and didn’t get waited on. After a short time a waitress came by and said she would take our drink orders to help out our waiter who was busy with another table. As it turned out, he may have been the fraternal twin (they didn’t really look alike) of our crappy waiter from St. Sebastiaan’s that I wrote about a few weeks ago. He was never there when we wanted him, couldn’t remember what we were drinking, would forget what we ordered and we had to stop him when he was rushing by, apparently to help someone else who looked like better tippers.

It had been windy that day and they had the plastic weather protectors rolled down, so it was more like an enclosed room…you guessed it…full of smokers. Being a typical beach type bar, it was loaded with forty-something guys hovering around “well endowed” twenty-something girls wearing tight fitting clothes made from way too little material. In the girls’ defense, they are probably helping to conserve our natural resources and they’re helping keep the men occupied while their wives are home getting the kids fed, bathed and ready for bed.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that Friday night is entertainment night with a live band and we had chosen the table right in front of the bandstand. Luckily the band kept blowing fuses and we got a little peace and quiet before they started up again. After we finished our meal we looked around for our waiter and realized we hadn’t seen him for about 15 minutes. We waited another 5 minutes, still no waiter, and flagged down the waitress who had helped us with our drink order to get our bill. She brought it to the table, I put down my credit card, and we sat there another 5 minutes and no one picked it up.

I finally had enough, got up, and carried the bill and the credit card up to the bar and forced it on the first person I saw. Of course, they didn’t have a credit card machine at the cabana bar and had to take it inside to process. A few minutes later they were back, I signed the slip and we walked out. As we left the cabana bar our waiter, for the first time in half an hour, met us on the steps and thanked us, probably for the tip he felt he deserved.

We had endured a poor waiter, a room full of smoke, loud music blasting in our ears and a cloud of no see ums that had bitten me on every square inch of exposed skin. By then I was so upset that I’ll never go back (until next Friday night when Dick and Mary Brower are here to visit).

Just (Anemic From Blood Loss) Jack

Bike Week

 You may think I’m referring to the famed Daytona Bike Week but that’s not the case.

Wednesday we did a short bike at Starkey Park of 24 miles. We took it fairly easy, but there was enough wind to make it into work. On Thursday, which is normally a run day, Jean set up a ride over at San Antonio with Larry Reade (from Buffalo and lives near us in Club Wildwood), Joanie (a good biker in Jean’s age group from Buffalo), Bob St. Pierre (a 75 year old biker from Buffalo that I can barely keep up with) and a friend of Joanie’s named Randy Anderson. Randy has a place at Bellaire in Michigan and will be there when we have our mini bike camp at Diane’s at Torch Lake.

Anyway, it was supposed to be an easy ride of 40 or 50 miles but, as you can guess, Jean, Joanie and Randy took off right out of the gate. I stayed in my usual place a couple of hundred meters or so back, and that’s the last we saw of Larry and Bob. Jean waited for me at every turn so I wouldn’t get lost, but I was the one with the map and I knew where I was going. Joanie started getting tired at around mile 35 and the pace slowed a little the last few miles, especially on the hills. We ended up doing 45.98 miles (not 46…45.98) and felt good but a little tired afterwards.

Friday Jean and I decided to go out to Starkey Park and do an easy 22 to spin our legs and help the muscles recover. About halfway out to the Suncoast, a guy around our age rode past us without saying a word. You can imagine it was more than Jean could stand, so she came by me saying something about experimenting with cadence and took off after him. She caught up with him and rode to SR-54 on his wheel.

He stopped at the picnic table, we looped through the parking lot and away we went. We got back to the spur that goes to Starkey Park, turned and headed for the car 6.5 miles away. A mile or two down the trail, the guy came by us again. This time Jean didn’t say a word and took off after him. She caught up with him quickly and rode on his wheel for a mile or so. Then she went around him and he stayed on her wheel for a while. I caught sight of them about a mile from the trail’s end and they were riding along chit-chatting. He is from Germany and stays down here at Heritage Pines (you know where that is…up on County Line Road). Sound like Jean?

Saturday I had a stress test and the good news is that my heart seems fine. I’ll explain. Jean set up another bike ride,  again out at San Antonio. This time it was with Larry Reade, Joanie, a friend of Larry’s named Cindy and a friend of Cindy’s named John. Of course Joanie, Jean and John took off, not really riding that fast, and I took up my usual position. We never saw Larry and Cindy again. Larry is around 72, has been a champion biker all his adult life and has had some health problems this year. I think he rode with Cindy because she isn’t used to the longer distances yet and doesn’t ride very fast but I think it kills him not to be a part of the lead pack.

It was the same route we rode on Thursday, but Joanie and Jean didn’t remember where the turns were and John had never ridden San Antonio before, so they waited for me again. Our plan was to ride around 60 miles, so we added a 6 mile out and back to Trilby. We got to US-98 and did our turn-around which would give us about 58 total. We just got back on Thursday’s route when John’s front derailleur lost a bolt, fell onto the chain and he couldn’t ride it back in. His legs had started to cramp because he wasn’t used to the hills (he’s a flatlander from Tampa) so the breakdown was probably good for him. We were 12 miles from the car and told him we would ride in and come back for him.

We took off down Packing House Road (just so you know where we were) and met back up with CR-41. We went up a hill and started flying down the other side. I was going 34 mph when a pick-up truck went by and two boxes flew out of the back. They were sturdy boxes about the size of beer cases and they bounced along in the far lane.

Just then another box flew out and bounded down my side of the road. I touched the brakes slightly to see where the box would end up, but I was going so fast the bike started to shimmy (is that a real word or just mechanic lingo?). I got off the brakes and was catching up with the bouncing box. It came to rest 6 inches from the side of the road, there was traffic coming behind me (I heard a car hit one of the boxes…it sounded like an explosion) so I couldn’t swerve left, so I chose the 6 inches between the box and the gravel shoulder at 33 mph.

My heart was pumping but it didn’t explode, so I guess the stress test was a success. I was shaking like a leaf for a couple of miles afterward. I knew if I hit the box, I would go down and, at that speed, it wouldn’t be pretty. I caught up with Jean and Joanie and told them about the mishap. Joanie prescribed a couple of beers to calm my nerves when I got back home. She isn’t a doctor, but she did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

I’m starting to look ridiculous (here’s where you can add your choice of A – What do you mean starting? B – At least it’s an improvement. C – Don’t always put yourself down, you idiot. or D – That’s not true. You look like a fine upstanding young man…that one’s for Mom).

I got back from the bike ride and took a shower. As I stood in front of the mirror naked (a scary sight) I noticed that the tan on my legs is great but only goes from my ankles to just above the knee. The tan on my arms is also great but goes from my wrists (I wear bike gloves) to just above my elbows. My face is tanned, but it’s white from the middle of my forehead on up (shows off my bald head), I have a wide white line across the bridge of my nose where my sunglasses go, and a wide vertical white line down each cheek where the chin strap covers my face.

Oh well, there’s plenty of time to lay in the sun to even things out.

Just (Dodged Another Bullet) Jack