Thursday, December 31, 2009

Silver Speak

I have been listening to Blindside since the late 90's. There a band that consistently progresses every album but always keeps whatever it is that makes them Blindside. I was on a long drive a while ago and popped this album in, I forgot how much I enjoyed it. As Swedes they know hardcore. I would say this is their hardest album, not so much this song though. I couldn't find any video for this song, but here are the lyrics. Look for their new album early 2010!

Blindside: Silver Speak
from A Thought Crushed My Mind

They spoke their minds
As I stood there smiling
This brain understood their arguments
So I just stood there
Keep on smiling
Cause it's not on me they're throwing their darts
So why are they heading this way for my heart?

How come I'm the one bleeding
When you're the one being cut
And every stabbing word about you stings

An allergic reaction towards all of this
Have to respond, although without an answer back
And I throw everything back into their face
Hear my own stupid sentences and I have lost track

You have strength beyond words
And you have communication beyond my words

This battle is not mine
I try to forget
Every time they spit your name out on the sidewalk
And I will let the candle shine inside me without any regret
But where's your voice in all my talk

I'm an ant trying to protect my dinosaur friend

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter Riding

Last year I decided that I would take up cross country skiing for some winter fun and to work out. I spent about 2 months trying to track down boots that would fit my feet. Apparently, my feet are already ski-sized according to most cross country ski boot manufacturers. I have since given up on the idea. However, I have not given up on winter fun and working out. Therefore, I am a proponent of winter biking.

This year we hadn't gotten any snow on the East Side until the week of Christmas, so my winter ride of choice had been going out after dark for a couple of hours on Sunday nights. The winter ride after dark makes familiar road routes seem totally new.

Once we got some real snow though, it was time to hit the River trail. The snow on the 24th was very wet and made some parts almost easy while anything uphill was a real challenge. It took me almost an hour longer than usual to do the full loop. The conditions change daily from here on out on the River trail, so it will be entertaining the rest of the winter.

On Saturday night I combined the night ride with the snow ride and followed the lake front south. It was lightly snowing the whole time and there were actually a lot of people on the trails, and I saw 2 other sets of tire tracks. Which means I'm not crazy to be out there. Check out this blurry night picture taken from the beach in South Milwaukee. Normally, downtown would be visible from here but at that time only the port could be seen.

It has taken me a while to figure out what to wear in what conditions, but once I got that figured out winter riding has been a blast. It makes those days on the rollers much more bearable. If anyone cares I can let them know what I do for winter gear. I can ride comfortably for about 3 hours in temps in the low teens.

Monday, December 21, 2009

River Valley Mountain

My first installment of East Side riding/training is the River Valley Mountain. I dubbed it this because it rises from the Milwaukee River up to one of the highest elevations in the area on top of an old reservoir. Now keep in mind that I am not good at estimating elevation and I exaggerate things to make myself seem cooler/tougher/more in shape, but I would have to say that from bottom to top is a 1,200 foot gain in elevation. I may be off by around 700 feet, give or take.
This first shot is from the top looking down about halfway. It was taken with my phone, so it is hard to see but you can see a white soccer goal just past the snow on the left. That is pretty close to where this second photo was taken.
This part is real steep, you can kind of tell by how small the car looks at the bottom.

These were taken today, notice how we have almost no snow on the East Side! We have ice on trails and sidewalks, that is about it. In fact, right now the River Valley Mountain is far too soft to ride up. Even when taking extreme angles switching back and forth up the hill. Which is one of my favorite repeat workouts. It starts the Hills of Doom ride which contributed to my over-training mid to late summer this year. But that is a different workout.

Being too soft to ride. I have been running straight up it and then meandering back down around to the bottom and then up again. It is one of those workouts you don't really feel until a few hours later when you get up from sitting down for a while.

Anyone care to share what their favorite hill is to run/ride? I think one caveat is that it should be reachable running or riding from your front door. River Valley Mountain is real close for me. You can actually see our condo across the river.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Cocoonish Life on the East Side

It's funny how quickly we adapt to things. Our situations change and after a brief time of acclamation we rarely notice the change at all. I bring this up because last year in August we moved back to Milwaukee, but this time to the Lower East Side, not central city. Which in itself was a change for us, but we have quickly adapted.

It wasn't a drastic change at first, in St. Louis we went down to one car and tried to live much more locally. Once we moved to the East Side it got even easier to live such a life style. I had to drive to work everyday but everything else we could walk or ride to. Well, now I work on the East Side too, and we drive maybe three to four times a week. Most of those trips are less than 5 miles.

I am to the point now where I weigh in a 15 minute drive to the decision to do something or not. Especially if we are visiting our family that week, I mean that is like a 40 minute drive one way right there! That eats up about all I can stand to be in the car these days. Don't get me wrong though, I am not militant about cars, I still drive places to ride my bike. One can't be a militant non-car person and drive places to ride a bike. I just actively do not enjoy driving.

Although, with a little imagination, I am finding ways to ride (and run these days) around where I live that keep me driving even less. I think I may share some of those in the coming weeks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Chili Challenge

Last Saturday we had another installment of our cook-off potlucks, "The Chili Challenge." Lauren forgot her camera so we don't have any pictures, so let me describe it to you. Sixteen people showed up supplying ten kinds of chili, all different. There was a white chicken cheesy chili, a bbq bacon beefy chili, a chocolate cha cha chili, chorizo four bean six pepper chili, Frito topped chili, beer and hot sauce chili, and everything in between!

Now, as we have been doing more of these cook-offs we are learning what is the best portion size to sample. In the past, specifically the meatball and pizza events, people were sitting around after the meal ripe for being picked off the pack by jackals. And jackals ain't fast. So this time, especially with the high chili bean content and closed space, we went with dixie cups for sampling, and then bowls once some choices had been made. It worked out well, except for the ultra manly types who felt the cups were too dainty. Of course, the same manly types were the only ones "checking" the balcony after the meal on a regular basis. Coincidence? I think not.

After eating, the whole group played Ultimate Werewolf. I know, what? About six months ago the game guru at the Board Game Barrister suggested it to me for large groups. This was the first time we actually played it. I know it has a weird name, but the game was a lot of fun. Many people couldn't get enough of it.

All in all, it was another fun night. Next up is soup. It will be in late January. If anybody reading this likes soup, beer, fancy soda, and games, (or at least one of the four) and will be in the Milwaukee area let me know.

marc.engelhardt@gmail dot com